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Fracking, U.S. Manufacturing, and Putin’s Crimea

Fracking, U.S. Manufacturing, and Putin’s Crimea

The Russian annexation of Crimea and the continued menacing of Ukraine has given rise to a rather surprising challenge. People are calling for the United States to step up the export of domestically produced oil and, especially, natural …

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Crimea’s Impact on Syria and Iran

Crimea’s Impact on Syria and Iran

There has been a lot of speculation lately about the impact of the Crimean Crisis on the situations in Syria and Iran. The current negotiations regarding these countries involve cooperation between Russia, the United States, and other countries now directly and indirectly involved on opposites sides of the Crimean question. …

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Crimea: The Alsace-Lorraine of the Black Sea

Crimea: The Alsace-Lorraine of the Black Sea

 
This past weekend, Russian marines in unmarked uniforms (or possibly, but less likely, private contractors paid by Russia) seized the airports of Crimea, allowing Russian planes to fly troops into that autonomous region of Ukraine while large-scale Russian military maneuvers to the north distracted …

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Sobering Thoughts about the Prospects for Peace in Syria

Sobering Thoughts about the Prospects for Peace in Syria

The first round of Syrian peace conference known in diplomatic circles as Geneva II came to an end on Friday with few concrete results. Arguably, there have been some mildly positive effects. It gave the regime and the opposition an opportunity to compete for the sympathy of international public opinion. …

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The Tinderbox of South Sudan

The Tinderbox of South Sudan

South Sudan, the world’s youngest state, faces a serious prospect of ethnic civil war. When it gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, after decades of war between north and south, the world’s attention was focused on the disputed territory of Abyei. A declining oil-producing region Inhabited by southern farmers …

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Benghazi and the Search for Worthy Opponents

Benghazi and the Search for Worthy Opponents

The New York Times last week published a new account of the Benghazi attack, based on interviews with Libyan participants and witnesses and U.S. officials, which disputes the now widely accepted assumptions that the attack was planned well in advance by al-Qa’ida …

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Senators Should Let Negotiators Negotiate

Senators Should Let Negotiators Negotiate

As regular readers know, the United States and five other countries (P5+1) concluded an interim nuclear agreement (the Joint Plan of Action) with Iran, setting the conditions that will hold during negotiations on a final agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program and …

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China’s ADIZ; or, What the Heck Is Going On in the East China Sea?

China’s ADIZ; or, What the Heck Is Going On in the East China Sea?

China sent the diplomatic world into a spin on November 23 by declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. This is cause for some concern, given the state of Sino-Japanese relations. The concern has been boosted by …

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Musings on Iran, Syria, and Deals

Musings on Iran, Syria, and Deals

As readers already know, the P5+1 and Iran concluded an interim agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program. This was accomplished in remarkably little time despite some reporters’ harried declarations that the talks were on

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The Iran Deal, and the Skeptics

The Iran Deal, and the Skeptics

The prospect of a nuclear deal with Iran is in the air. Members of Congress and friends of the United States on multiple continents are pouncing on it.
Attention was drawn last week to the failure of negotiations to produce a breakthrough on Iran’s nuclear program. As in the past, the …

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Congress Models Itself on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Congress Models Itself on the Cuban Missile Crisis

The politics of the U.S. Congress can be harsh, but we do not usually associate it with the adversarial bargaining of international relations theory, much less with the tactics of “brinkmanship,” as Secretary of State John Foster Dulles used to call it. Times have changed. What we have been seeing …

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The Syrian Insurgency

The Syrian Insurgency

As many people are now aware, the Syrian insurgency is a diverse and fractionated operation. Including all the minor, local militias, there are an estimated 1,200 rebel organizations playing some role in it. Western observers tend to divide them into pro-Western and Islamist, but this is a simplification. The independent-minded …

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Syria, Intelligence, and the Reasons for War

Syria, Intelligence, and the Reasons for War

Discussions of possible intervention in Syria, like the run-up to the Iraq War, have focused on the nature of the available intelligence. The intelligence task in Syria is fundamentally different from the one in Iraq—and actually much easier—and getting the facts right is certainly worth the effort. Still, the emphasis …

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Snowden in the Greater Scheme of U.S.-Russian Relations

Snowden in the Greater Scheme of U.S.-Russian Relations

On Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, Russia granted temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, permitting him to leave the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport for the first time in nearly six weeks. The Obama administration immediately expressed its disappointment with the Russian decision, and some members of Congress have called for retaliatory …

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Chong Chon Gang and North Korea’s Arms-Refurbishing Trade

Chong Chon Gang and North Korea’s Arms-Refurbishing Trade

 
Sometimes you look at it, and it seems a fairly straight-forward, if somewhat bizarre, story. Then again, it bears a hint of mystery. A North Korean dry-cargo merchant vessel, MV Chong Chon Gang, traveling from Cuba to the Panama Canal, was boarded by Panamanian military personnel on suspicion that it …

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