Foreign Policy

The Pentagon’s No. 3 Departs

If Michèle Flournoy were a man, no one outside of nerdy defense circles would have noted her announcement Monday that she will be leaving the Pentagon’s No. 3 post – the under secretary of defense for policy – come …

U.S.-Pakistani Relations Continue Tailspin

So how well did President Obama’s telephoned condolences to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday go over? The call was intended to smooth relations between the two nations ruptured 10 days ago when NATO aircraft killed 24 Pakistani troops in a colossally snafued attack. The call, apparently, didn’t go over well, according to …

Obama’s War: U.S. Casualities in Afghanistan By Year

Charts can make clear too often what words only obscure. Take this arresting graphic, contained in a new Congressional Research Service study made available by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists (CRS reports are generated solely for congressional use, and aren’t released to the public; Aftergood gets a lot of …

War (un)Planning: Pentagon Unready for Supercommittee Defense Cuts

You can always tell the rookie Pentagon reporter. He, or she, is the one who whispers: “They told me they’re planning for war with Iran!” That’s when the vets around the building have to say: “They’ve been doing that for decades. Somewhere along these 17 miles of corridors, they have plans for everything.”

At least until last Friday. …

On the Departure of Dennis Ross

A few quick observations on Dennis Ross’ departure from the White House as Obama’s top Middle East advisor:

First, if there are any on the left who are taking this as a sign that Obama is finally going to get tough with Netanyahu, they shouldn’t hold their breath. Obama tried that early in the administration, when Ross was at State, …

Obama’s Iran and China Challenge

In this week’s print column, which can be found here if you’re a TIME subscriber, I deal with two foreign policy challenges that may well crash through the all-economy, all-the-time nature of the coming presidential campaign–China and Iran. The President is thinking long and hard about both right now, but these are not easy issues to deal with:

“Is It Smart to Pull All U.S. Troops Out of Iraq by Year’s End?”

It’s one of the biggest – and potentially, most consequential – decisions President Obama has made (not that he had much choice, according to some). He has announced that the 45,000 U.S. troops still Iraq will all be home for the holidays. Critics have said Iraq is too fragile for the U.S. to pull out – after eight bloody …

Who Lost Iraq?

The debate over Iraq’s future – hopeful, according to the Obama Administration, hopeless, according to its critics – has begun in earnest. It was kicked off by the Administration’s recent decision that all U.S. troops will be home for the holidays. The White House blames Iraq’s parliament, which has refused to grant U.S. troops the …

The Military Lessons of Gaddafi’s Fall

Moammar Gaddafi’s death makes for an interesting punctuation mark in the ever-evolving U.S. approach to war. The key issue: is it an exclamation point (“We got him! And not a single American died!) or a question mark (“Did we …

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