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Published: Tue, 16 May 2017 06:39:43 -0400

Last Build Date: Tue, 16 May 2017 06:39:43 -0400

Copyright: Copyright 2017 by the Council on Foreign Relations. All Rights Reserved.

Small Footprint, Small Payoff

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 14:38:15 -0400

Stephen Biddle, Julia McDonald, and Ryan Baker argue that training, equipping, and advising partner militaries is an increasingly popular alternative to large U.S. ground force deployments in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and many other places where the United States has real but limited interests at stake. Yet SFA has often yielded disappointing results in actual practice. The authors explain this pattern as the result of systematic interest misalignment between the United States and the partners it must work with in these kinds of missions—and argue that these problems are only partly remediable. The authors present ways to do better at the margin, but also argue that underlying interest misalignment will limit this tool's likely utility in the future, and that U.S. decision makers must take this into account when deciding when, where, and how to use it. 


Trump's Proposed Refugee Policy Could Cost American Lives

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 12:39:44 -0500

Gayle Lemmon shares how the refugee and visa restrictions make American soldiers less safe in this Los Angeles Times piece. 


Trump's Ban Undermines Iraqi Cooperation Against Islamic State

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 14:52:55 -0500

Meghan O’Sullivan argues that the Trump Administration’s immigration ban undermines the United States’ ability to secure Iraqi cooperation against the Islamic State, thereby jeopardizing the United States ability to defeat the terror group.


Iraq Reconsidered: Ten Years After the Surge

Fri, 27 Jan 2017 12:31:15 -0500

Experts discuss the successes and failures of the 2007 U.S. military surge in Iraq, its implications for U.S. strategy in the region over the past ten years, and lessons moving forward.


Media Files:

Are Conditions Ripening for Iraqi Kurdish State?

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 14:44:19 -0500

Iraqi Kurds have enjoyed virtual autonomy for more than two decades, but formal independence might finally be in reach due to changing realities facing Iraq and Turkey, writes CFR’s Steven A. Cook.


The Meaning of Mosul

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 09:39:38 -0400

Iraq’s campaign to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State and restore the Iraqi government’s authority requires coordination among numerous armed groups with competing interests, says CFR’s Philip H. Gordon.


The Problem With Vows to 'Defeat' the Islamic State

Sun, 21 Aug 2016 15:21:05 -0400

In recent weeks, ISIS has suffered territorial losses on multiple fronts, including in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The organization may look nearer to defeat than at any time in the past two years, but there is still a great deal of fighting to be done before the group is destroyed, or more likely beaten back to an underground terrorist organization as it was in 2009.


Does Iraq Have a Plan for After the Islamic State?

Tue, 12 Jul 2016 14:46:03 -0400

Even as Iraqi special forces and Shia militias roll back the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Baghdad has done little to address the underlying causes of Sunni militancy, says journalist Ned Parker. 


Revisiting the Iraq War

Fri, 08 Jul 2016 11:26:30 -0400

The UK's Report of the Iraq Inquiry contains valuable lessons about how flawed assumptions can lead to dangerously flawed policies, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass.


What Comes Next After Raqqa and Mosul?

Wed, 06 Jul 2016 16:12:34 -0400

As U.S.-backed rebels fight to liberate Raqqa and Mosul, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon questions next steps for these cities. “Will these disparate forces stay together to form a federation of at least relative order that allows people to go to work and send their children to school?,” asks Lemmon. “Who will do the governing? Under what authority? And what comes next if that doesn’t happen?”


Why Sadr Is Returning to Iraq’s Limelight

Thu, 05 May 2016 16:42:13 -0400

Amid political paralysis in Baghdad, the populist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is pressuring lawmakers to approve Prime Minister Abadi’s proposed reforms, says expert Mohamad Bazzi. 


Is Calling ISIS ‘Genocidal’ Meaningful?

Fri, 01 Apr 2016 13:45:33 -0400

The U.S. declaration that the Islamic State has committed genocide must be followed by prosecutions to deter future abuses, says expert Naomi Kikoler.


Assessing International Diplomacy on Syria

Thu, 28 Jan 2016 18:30:00 -0500

Experts discuss U.S. policy options in Syria and the Middle East, along with possible outcomes of the upcoming Syria peace talks in Geneva.


Media Files:

HBO What to Do About Syria

Tue, 05 Jan 2016 12:45:32 -0500

Experts analyze the current situation in the Middle East and discuss U.S. policy options toward Syria.


Media Files:

We Need Richard Holbrooke More than Ever

Sun, 06 Dec 2015 11:37:19 -0500

The late, great diplomat was right on Afghanistan. We should apply his wisdom to ISIS, too.


Islamic State's Achilles' Heel: Its Sunni Identity

Sun, 22 Nov 2015 12:20:29 -0500

The Sunni ethnic identity is both a source of strength for Islamic State and a potentially fatal weakness, if it can be properly exploited.


Islamic State Dominates the Digital Battlefield

Tue, 17 Nov 2015 12:41:11 -0500

In an article for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Farah Pandith discusses why ISIS is winning on the digital battlefield and what can be done to change that.


What Will Change Now?

Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:11:40 -0500

After Paris? By now, the war in Syria has become so complicated that 'this doesn't change anything.'



How to Fight a Real War on ISIS

Sun, 15 Nov 2015 10:08:32 -0500

Is the phony war over at last?


ISIL:Who’s Calling the Shots?

Sat, 14 Nov 2015 10:03:13 -0500

Read the Islamic State’s propaganda and you wonder if the followers might be getting ahead of their caliph.


Lessons From Iraq and Afghanistan: Facing Future Defense Challenges

Wed, 04 Nov 2015 12:00:02 -0500

Janine Davidson discusses U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and offers recommendations for the future.


Media Files:

The End of Pax Americana

Tue, 27 Oct 2015 16:16:34 -0400

The Obama administration has clearly pulled back from the United States’ recent interventionism in the Middle East, notwithstanding the rise of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and the U.S.-led air war against it. 


Iraq in Pieces

Tue, 27 Oct 2015 15:36:08 -0400

American leaders contemplating Iraq have made a habit of substituting unpleasant realities with rosy assessments based on questionable assumptions. 


ISIS as Revolutionary State

Tue, 27 Oct 2015 15:33:27 -0400

To many who have witnessed 
its brutal tactics and religious extremism, the Islamic State, or ISIS, seems uniquely baffling and unusually dangerous


Digital Counterinsurgency

Tue, 27 Oct 2015 15:30:39 -0400

The Islamic State, or ISIS, is the first terrorist group to hold both physical and digital territory: in addition to the swaths of land it controls in Iraq and Syria, it dominates pockets of the Internet with relative impunity. But it will hardly be the last.


Keeping Up With the Caliphate

Tue, 27 Oct 2015 14:21:37 -0400

In June 2014, a small force of Islamic extremists routed the Iraqi army and seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.


How Obama Could Salvage His Hapless ISIS Strategy

Wed, 30 Sep 2015 11:29:20 -0400

Sunni Arabs, trained by the U.S. in the Kurdish region of Iraq, could form an effective fighting force.


UN: Leaders’ Summit to Counter ISIL and Violent Extremism

Tue, 29 Sep 2015 13:20:25 -0400

On September 29, 2015, President Obama hosted a summit at the UN General Assembly to discuss how countries could combat the self-proclaimed Islamic State and other extremist terrorist groups.


Assessing Iraq's Regional Foreign and Security Policy

Fri, 25 Sep 2015 11:00:52 -0400

Ibrahim al-Alshaiqer al-Jaafari discusses Iraqi regional relations and global affairs.


Media Files:

Desert Storm, the Last Classic War

Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:32:31 -0400

The Gulf War, fought swiftly and successfully, looks like something of an anomaly twenty-five years later, but its lessons remain valuable today, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass in the Wall Street Journal.