State Department

Congress Sends Wrong Message to Iraq

After more than 19 years of war, including seven years of occupation, the U.S. Congress still does not grasp domestic politics in Iraq. This week, the House passed a resolution asking the State Department to establish U.S. consulates in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, as well as in “other regions” in the country. This resolution isn’t binding, but it still sends the wrong message to Iraqis.

read more

Honduran Coup: The U.S. Connection

While the Obama administration was careful to distance itself from the recent coup in Honduras — condemning the expulsion of President Manuel Zelaya to Costa Rica, revoking Honduran officials’ visas, and shutting off aid — that doesn’t mean influential Americans aren’t involved, and that both sides of the aisle don’t have some explaining to do.

read more

Defending Israeli War Crimes

In response to a series of reports by human rights organizations and international legal scholars documenting serious large-scale violations of international humanitarian law by Israeli armed forces in its recent war on the Gaza Strip, 10 U.S. state attorneys general sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defending the Israeli action. It is virtually unprecedented for state attorneys general — whose mandates focus on enforcement of state law — to weigh in on questions regarding the laws of war, particularly in a conflict on the far side of the world. More significantly, their statement runs directly counter to a broad consensus of international legal opinion that recognizes that Israel, as well as Hamas, engaged in war crimes.

read more

Lessons from Moscow and Tehran

Following three decades of mutually hostile postures characterized by minimal communication and limited and sporadic cooperation, the United States and Iran may be about to reengage more constructively.

Such a development, while important for us, would be of even greater significance for the greater Middle East and beyond. Its impact on a variety of relationships, including that between the United States and Israel, and those between Israel and its neighbors, would be transformative and positive. But much must happen by way of careful and persistent diplomacy to get the various moving parts in place. As Washington proceeds to restructure what is probably the key relationship in the region — namely, that between itself and Iran — it would do well to consider how another country has approached its own relations with Iran, in good times and bad. That country is Russia.

read more

Securing the Peace

Imagine you are the president of the United States. You have just received word that violent conflict has ended in Somalia, one of the most war-torn states in the world. Your national security advisor believes the newly signed peace agreement will stick. “Great,” you say, “now we can turn to the next crisis.”

read more

3D Security

By defining development and diplomacy as security strategies, the administration officially recognizes that building stable and sustainable peace involves preventing conflict and addressing the root causes of insecurity. The concept of “human security,” focusing on a wide range of threats to individuals rather than nations, is gaining wider currency. When former President Bill Clinton called AIDS one of the greatest threats to U.S. security he elevated the priority of AIDS from a health issue requiring charity to a security issue even for those who do not have AIDS.

read more