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National Security

The Nation-Building Trap

The more I think through the Obama administration's strategy on Syria the more worried I get. I feel like the guy in the Kingston Trio's classic tune "A Worried Man."

Congress AWOL on Mideast Action

A  chorus of lawmakers — including Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — has called for a special session of Congress to debate the contours of President Obama’s self-described “war” on terror groups in Iraq and Syria, and to fulfill members’ constitutional responsibility to “declare” (aka “authorize”) it. After saying he’d punt the issue to next year, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) now says he’ll call Congress back next week if the president asks.

Iran’s Dinner Diplomacy

Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, did not shake hands with Barack Obama at the United Nations this week, a year after their celebrated cell-phone chat. The two men didn’t even pass each other in the hallway. But Rouhani did give a quiet dinner at his hotel on Tuesday for twenty former American officials—including a secretary of state, three national-security advisers, and a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—from all six Administrations since the 1979 revolution.

Ironies in Obama’s U.N. Address

In his United Nations address, President Barack Obama had a tough-love message for the Islamic world: Grow up. Share power. And deliver the goods to your people so they won’t be attracted to extremism.

The United States is leading the military campaign to confront a new tide of extremism, but the president laid the onus of ending a global threat on the regimes in the Islamic world, especially the Middle East. Left unsaid was the ironic fact that several of those autocratic countries are participating in the new coalition against the Islamic State.

Americanasaurus and the March to War in Syria

George Kennan once compared democracy (a.k.a. America?) to a large, lumbering pre-historic animal.

The Woman IS Wants to Trade Hostages For

Pakistani Aafia Siddiqui is currently serving an 86 year sentence in a Texas jail. She was the woman Islamic State said they wanted to trade for the lives of, first, James Foley and then, Steven Sotloff. There was no deal and both men were beheaded. But what do we know about her? Aafia Siddiqui's sister speaks about her family’s response and Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Center provides his analysis of the situation.

Jane Harman on Face the Nation

Jane Harman was featured as a panelist on Face the Nation on Sunday to talk about the U.S. response to ISIL and President Obama’s foreign policy. Also on the panel were Senator Joe Lieberman, former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell, and Bob Kagan of Brookings.

The Coalition of Convenience

In an effort to avoid any parallels to Bush 43's war in Iraq, the Obama administration has studiously avoided the use of the term "coalition of the willing" in its campaign to line up allies in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). It's just as well.

New Book on the Secret History of the Predator Drone

WASHINGTON – has named Wilson Center Global Fellow Richard Whittle’s new book Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution one of September’s fifteen best new history books.

Predator, which Henry Holt and Company will release Sept. 16, is described by publishing world bellwether Kirkus Reviews magazine as "endlessly interesting and full of implication."

Kirkus gave Predator a "starred review," reserved for "books of exceptional merit."

Why NATO Needs Turkey in the Fight Against ISIS

President Obama said that NATO is prepared to combat the threat from ISIS on Friday. Rep. Ed Royce and Jill Dougherty talk about what the strategy for defeating ISIS might look like and whether Turkey and other countries in the Middle East will be committed to the fight.