Debate: Does America overuse drones?
File photo of a US Predator UAV armed with a missile. Attacks by such aircraft have risen in recent days in Libya. (Air Force Photo)
August 31st, 2011
05:00 AM ET

Debate: Does America overuse drones?

In trying to make up your mind on whether we use drones too much or too little, check out the following post by CFR.org's Micah Zenko:

After the al Qaeda bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in August 1998, President Bill Clinton authorized cruise missile strikes against an al Qaeda complex in Khost, Afghanistan, in an attempt to kill Osama bin Laden. When that operation failed, Clinton pushed senior military officials to develop more innovative options. FULL POST

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Topics: Military
August 2nd, 2011
04:16 PM ET

Osama bin Laden: What did Pakistan know?

Editor's Note: Micah Zenko is a fellow for conflict prevention at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he blogs and where this piece originally appeared. You can also follow him on Twitter. This piece is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

By Micah Zenko, CFR.org

One month after Osama bin Laden was killed, I published a piece that assessed the available information of the U.S. special operations raid’s intelligence, decisionmaking, and operational details. Yesterday, The New Yorker’s Nicholas Schmidle presented an excellent example of long-form journalism, which set the gold standard for explaining what happened on the early morning of May 2 in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  A crucial issue that neither of us delved into was whether Pakistani government officials knew bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, and whether they provided shelter to him and his support network.

FULL POST

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Topics: Pakistan
Rhetoric and regime change in Syria
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad (Getty Images)
July 21st, 2011
03:30 PM ET

Rhetoric and regime change in Syria

Editor's Note: Micah Zenko is a fellow for conflict prevention at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he blogs and where this piece originally appeared. You can also follow him on Twitter.

By Micah Zenko

On July 11, when asked about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answered: “From our perspective, he has lost legitimacy, he has failed to deliver on the promises he’s made,” adding that “we would like to see even more countries speaking out as forcefully as we have.”

Proponents of a low-cost regime change in Damascus seized upon Clinton’s use of the phrase “lost legitimacy” to press the case for the Obama administration to see through Assad’s removal. The Washington Post editorial board, in a piece titled “The U.S. has Gotten Tough with Syria; Now it Needs to Get Tougher,” noted that it was good that the Obama administration has finally spoken that truth” but that “now it must act on its words.”

Soon after Secretary Clinton’s judgment about who should be the rightful political leader of Syria, the administration has wisely de-escalated its demonization of Assad.  During her trip to Turkey over the weekend, Clinton expressed hope that the Syrian opposition “can provide a pathway, hopefully in peaceful cooperation with the government, to a better future.” FULL POST

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Topics: Conflict • Middle East • Syria
Controlling the message in Libya
Libyans walk past a banner hailing Libya's leader Moamer Kadhafi on a wall in Tripoli's Green Square on November 21, 2008.
July 11th, 2011
01:02 PM ET

Controlling the message in Libya

Editor's Note: Micah Zenko is a fellow for conflict prevention at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he blogs and where this piece originally appeared. You can also follow him on Twitter.

By Micah Zenko

In Errol Morris’ Academy Award-winning documentary, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, the former secretary of defense acknowledged a practice common among politicians and government officials: “One of the lessons I learned early on…Answer the question that you wish had been asked of you. And quite frankly, I follow that rule. It’s a very good rule.”

Analyzing the trends of a civil war is difficult whether you are living within the country or thousands of miles away. It is especially challenging when all sides present a biased and inaccurate narrative of events. Libya is no exception and throughout the 114 day, NATO-led intervention, the level of obfuscation and doublespeak used by both sides has been remarkable. FULL POST

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Topics: Libya • Media • Middle East
5 inadequate justifications for Libya intervention
A rebel fights forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi this month in western Libya.
June 24th, 2011
11:45 AM ET

5 inadequate justifications for Libya intervention

Editor's Note: Micah Zenko is a fellow for conflict prevention at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he blogs. You can also follow him on Twitter.

By Micah Zenko

As anyone who reads my blog probably knows, I have been a critic of the U.S. military involvement in Libya from the beginning (see some of my writings on the topic hereherehereherehere, and here; and podcasts herehere, and here). As I’ve watched the Libyan adventure unfold, I’ve been particularly interested by the myriad justifications that proponents have offered for intervention.

The predominant reason given—and indeed authorized in UN Security Council Resolution 1973—has been “to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack.” FULL POST

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Topics: Libya
5 reasons stalemate in Libya is devastating
A Libyan soldier stand on top of a destroyed building at the Bab Al-Aziziya district where veteran leader Moammar Gadhafi has his base, in Tripoli on June 7, 2011 as NATO warplanes pounded the Libyan capital.
June 8th, 2011
04:15 PM ET

5 reasons stalemate in Libya is devastating

Editor's Note: Micah Zenko is a fellow for conflict prevention at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he blogs.

By Micah Zenko - Special to CNN

In the Washington Post, columnist Anne Applebaum asks - though does not directly answer - the important question, “What to do About Libya’s Stalemate?

One position that she entertains is the notion that a stalemate is tolerable, and that “it might even work. A steady but relentless bombing campaign, generous humanitarian aid and training for the rebels, a bit of patience, and we’re done with Gaddafi without too much fuss or boots on the ground.”

Western (or certainly Arab League) political leaders might not discuss Libya often these days, but a stalemated civil war there is seriously problematic for five reasons:

FULL POST

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Topics: Aid • Libya • Military
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