Islamism and the International Order Working Group

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Ten Proposals On The Middle East For The New U.S. Administration

by Russell A. Berman, Charles Hillvia Defining Ideas
Friday, January 13, 2017

The new administration will inherit a Middle East foreign policy in tatters—and the aspirations of Obama's 2009 Cairo speech have not been met.  

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The Story of the Tunisian Revolution

by Samuel Tadrosvia Analysis
Monday, December 19, 2016

The simple narrative of a frustrated Tunisian street vendor's desperate act igniting the flames of Arab revolutions has captured the world’s imagination. Yet no serious examination has been undertaken to understand what actually took place in the halls of power that led to Tunisia’s strongman, Zein El Abedine Ben Ali, fleeing his country. In this essay, Samuel Tadros examines an important book written by two Tunisian journalists investigating the revolution. The story offers us important insights into the nature of Arab regimes, their inherent weaknesses, the culture of mistrust they sow, and how the powerful house Ben Ali had constructed was figuratively built on sand. The story of what transpired in Tunisia during its revolution stands as a cautionary tale regarding the narratives that have come to dominate the way the Arab revolutions and events in the broader region have been reported and understood.

World Puzzle
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Strategic Planning for the New Administration

by Colin Dueckvia Analysis
Thursday, December 15, 2016

The next administration will face urgent, practical questions of how to organize its National Security Council decision-making process while developing a strong foreign policy strategy.  Strategic planning can help to make international success more likely, in part by providing the president with clear, well-informed policy options.  Yet no process can work if it does not fit the individual president.  To that end, the following essay examines the new president-elect's decision-making style, and then outlines six specific NSC recommendations: 1. Learn from private sector experience, 2. Develop and execute a meaningful national security strategy early on, 3. Restore a proper balance of responsibilities between the NSC and line departments and agencies, 4. Encourage the president's national security adviser to play the roles of honest broker, policy entrepreneur, and presidential agent, 5. Appoint and empower a strategic planning directorate on the NSC staff, and 6. Consider creating an effective strategic planning board.  In the end, the case is made that strategy is possible; bureaucratic consensus overrated; and defeatism unhelpful.

Featured AnalysisFeatured

Strategy And Assets In The Middle East

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Monday, September 26, 2016

The goal of this Caravan has been to provide an account of the strategic underpinning of the challenges the US faces and which the next administration—whoever occupies the White House—will have to address. Five distinguished experts have explained how the historical preeminence of American military power in the region cannot be taken for granted. It can be maintained only through a clear strategic vision and the political will to act on it. 

Navy boat patrolling in the Gulf of Aqaba
Featured AnalysisFeatured

Eastern Mediterranean: Do Not Write Off States Just Yet

by Ehud Eiran, Aviad Rubinvia The Caravan
Friday, September 23, 2016

Do not write off states as power brokers in the Eastern Mediterranean maritime arena just yet. It is easy to do so. Great powers (past, present and aspiring) as well as non-state actors seem to have eroded the centrality of regional state actors in shaping the region’s maritime security environment in the last few years. 

Featured AnalysisFeatured

Simplifying U.S. Strategy Amidst The Middle East’s Maelstrom

by Benjamin Runklevia The Caravan
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Anybody who follows foreign affairs and social media has likely seen some version of a chart entitled “A Guide to the Middle East Relationships.” The graphic shows a hopelessly tangled web of arrows illustrating the often contradictory strategic associations in the region, i.e. the United States and Iran support opposing sides in the Syrian civil war while fighting on the same side in Iraq against the Islamic State (ISIS); Turkey opposes Bashar Assad’s regime yet attacks the Kurdish militias fighting his army; Saudi Arabia and Qatar both support Syria’s Sunni rebels yet hold diametrically opposing views on Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, et cetera.  

Featured AnalysisAnalysis and Commentary

Airpower In The Middle East—A Contemporary Assessment

by David A. Deptula, Lt Gen USAF (Ret)via The Caravan
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Since the introduction of airpower as a military force just over 100 years ago, it has played a key role in shaping the geopolitical posture of the Middle East. The first example is the success of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in exerting strategic control by the use of aircraft over regions of British interest in Mesopotamia in the 1920s. A handful of RAF squadrons and a small force of troops successfully subdued rebellious tribes in Iraq.

IntroductionAnalysis and Commentary

The Middle East: The Strategic Landscape For The Next Administration

by Russell A. Bermanvia Caravan
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

This Caravan provides a compelling map of the significant challenges the US faces in the region as well as the opportunities to pursue a strategy to reestablish and maintain preeminence. Whatever the outcome of this extraordinary presidential election may be, the next administration will face significant challenges, especially in the Middle East.

Featured AnalysisFeatured

Sea Change In The Middle East

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

America’s view of the Middle East today is shaped by our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rise and reach of ISIS, a grinding conflict in Syria, the region as a source of wider ranging terrorism and staggering outflows of refugees that is changing the political calculus in Europe. As our strategic role in the Middle East began with a meeting on the water so, too, are consequential changes there taking place at sea – the domain in which the U.S. has enjoyed unfettered access and dominance for over seventy years.   

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Orlando: An Act Of 'Shockism'

by Camille Pecastaingvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The word 'terrorism' isn't always the most incisive for acts of Islamist violence.

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The Caravan


Visit the Caravan, a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemnas of the greater Middle East.

Featured Books

The Working Group on Islamism and the International Order seeks to engage in the task of reversing Islamic radicalism through reforming and strengthening the legitimate role of the state across the entire Muslim world.

Efforts will draw on the intellectual resources of an array of scholars and practitioners from within the United States and abroad, to foster the pursuit of modernity, human flourishing, and the rule of law and reason in Islamic lands–developments that are critical to the very order of the international system. The working group is chaired by Hoover fellows Russell Berman and Charles Hill.

Visit The Caravan, a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the greater Middle East.