Mideast & Persian Gulf

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Something in the Air: ‘Isolationism,’ Defense Spending, and the US Public Mood

(printable PDF full version) (printable PDF executive summary) (HTML full version) (HTML executive summary) by Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives, Center for International Policy, 14 October 2014.
Something Report-Cover Is “neo-isolationism” captivating the American public? Or is interventionism back? Will the public continue to support reductions in defense spending? The report offers a comprehensive and critical analysis of current and historical US public opinion polls on global engagement, military intervention, and defense spending. Significant fluctuation in public sentiments is evident. So is an enduring divide between elite opinion and the general public. The report assesses these in light of changes in US policy, strategic conditions, and the economy. It also examines the effect of partisan political dynamics on public debate and opinion. Seven tables and graphs.
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US Policy on Syria: War or Diplomacy?

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta, editor, Project on Defense Alternatives Resource Compilation. Updated: 23 September 2013.    A Selection of Critical Views & Proposals:   ● War or diplomacy?   ● Intelligence   ● International Law   ● International & Domestic Support   ● Congressional War Authorization   ● A broader purpose, a wider war?  ● Military Factors  ● Collateral Effects of War  ● Cost Factors & Budget   ● Alternatives to war  ● General Background
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Kerry for Keeping Option to Use Ground Forces ‘In the Event Syria Imploded’

(HTML version) by Charles Knight, Huffington Post, 06 September 2013. “A punishment raid is one thing, but using armed force to attempt to prevent proliferation from Syria is very different sort of activity. In the event of a chaotic collapse of the Assad regime and the disintegration of the Syrian military U.S. air-strikes alone will not be able to stop proliferation of the chemical weapons.”
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Military Intervention in Syria? — American People Show Greater Wisdom Than Washington

(HTML version) by Charles Knight, Huffington Post, 07 May 2013. Advocates for U.S. military intervention in Syria are presently confounded by wide and deep opposition from the American public to additional military interventions abroad. When strong majorities hold opinions opposing military intervention in Syria there is something other than isolationism going on. Indeed, a majority of Americans are far ahead of Washington in learning the hard lessons of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
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Meeting the Enemy with Serious Talks of Extraordinary Scope

(HTML version) by Charles Knight, OpEdNews.com, 05 January 2009. This commentary invites us to imagine President Obama’s Assistant for National Security Affairs or Secretary of State sitting down for serious talks of extraordinary scope with one or more of the leaders of present day ‘enemy’ nations in the Middle East.
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Yes, We Really Must Talk With Iran

(HTML version) by Charles Knight and Chris Toensing, CommonDreams.org, 28 October 2008. If American troops are ever to come home from Iraq and Iraqis are to have a decent chance at peace and prosperity, the United States must open up a new chapter in its Middle Eastern diplomacy.
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Quickly, Carefully, and Generously: The Necessary Steps for a Responsible Withdrawal from Iraq

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) (summary) by Task Force for a Responsible Withdrawal from Iraq.  A Commonwealth Institute publication, 01 June 2008. Twenty-five initiatives the US can and should take to reduce violence and regional instability as the US leaves Iraq. Preface by U.S. Representative James P. McGovern (MA – 03).
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Symposium: The Role of Force & the Armed Forces in US Foreign Policy — What have we learned?

Security Policy Working Group, 10 April 2008.

  • Andrew Bacevich, “The Origins and Demise of the Bush Doctrine of Preventive War”
  • Carl Conetta, “Out from the House of War: A Litmus for New Leadership in Security Policy” (printable .pdf)
  • David Gold, “How Much Defense Can We Afford? (printable .pdf), as republished in Challenge (Sept/Oct 2008)
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A Note on the State of Israel

(HTML version) by Lutz Unterseher, Universities of Osnabrueck and Muenster, November 2007. Focuses on selected aspects of Israel’s military security. It looks at the basic pattern of this country’s recent war against Hezbollah in 2006, and attempts to give a sketch of the problems affecting Israel’s military position today. In addition to objective factors, the subjective side is considered: in the form of impressions gained in casual conversations with Israeli citizens.
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Is Worry about Pakistani Nukes Serving to Keep the U.S. in Iraq?

(HTML version) by Charles Knight, PDA commentary, July 2007.

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Congressional withdrawal plans, permanent bases in Iraq, increase in ground troops

(HTML version) by Bipasha Ray. Defense Analysis Bulletin #4, 01 May 2007.
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US aid to Afghanistan, Taliban in government, Afghan casualties, permanent bases in the Mideast

(HTML version) by Bipasha Ray. Defense Analysis Bulletin #1, 24 January 2007.
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Resolving Iraq: Progress depends on a short timeline for US troop withdrawal

(printable PDF version) by Carl Conetta, PDA Briefing Memo #40, 18 January 2007.  The memo argues that the large-scale US military presence in Iraq makes sustainable progress toward peace and stability there impossible. It advances an alternative approach to stabilizing Iraq that hinges on a short timeline for US troop withdrawal and a new international effort including Iraq’s neighbors.

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A Troop Surge Can’t Win a Victory from a Bad Decision for War

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta, PDA Commentary in Common Dreams, 10 January 2007.

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War & Consequences: Global Terrorism has Increased Since 9/11 Attacks

(HTML version) (printable PDF version) by Carl Conetta, PDA Briefing Memo #38, 25 September 2006. The memo analyzes the change in the incidence of terrorism since 11 September 2001, finding a distinct increase. It also summarizes the findings of various studies on the relationship between the Iraq war and terrorism which show that in the words of one, the Iraq war “has reinforced the determination of terrorists who were already committed to attacking the West and motivated others who were not.”

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Pyrrhus on the Potomac: How America’s post-9/11 wars have undermined US national security

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) by Carl Conetta, PDA Briefing Report #18, 05 September 2006.  A net assessment of America’s post-911 security policy shows it to be “pyrrhic” in character: although progress has been made in disrupting Al Qaeda, the broader effect has been to increase the threat to the United States, while weakening the nation’s capacity to respond effectively.
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Dissuading China and Fighting the ‘Long War’

(printable PDF version) by Carl Conetta, World Policy Journal, 01 July 2006. The 2006 US Defense Review advanced two new strategic vectors for the US armed forces – one targets a putative “global Islamic insurgency”; the other puts America on a collison course with China. 

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Lambert Guard Unit Appears Headed to Israel

(HTML version) Harry Levins. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 22 April 2006.
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More troops for Iraq? Time to just say “No”

(printable PDF version) (HTML version)  by Carl Conetta, PDA Briefing Memo #39, 09 January 2006.  There is no reason to believe that a marginal increase in the US troop presence in Iraq will turn the tide there. The memo reviews relevant data on troop strength, insurgent activity, and Iraqi public opinion. It traces America’s troubles in Iraq to the nature of the mission, which it concludes is founded on strategic error.

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400 Days and Out: A Strategy for Solving the Iraq Impasse

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta. PDA Briefing Memo #34, 19 July 2005.The memo outlines a strategy for substantially defusing the Iraqi insurgency, de-escalating the inter-communal conflict there, and enabling near-total US troop withdrawal by September 2006.
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Vicious Circle: The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq, Part One. Patterns of Popular Discontent

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) (summary) by Carl Conetta. PDA Research Monograph #10, 18 May 2005. An analysis of Iraqi public opinion data and interviews suggests that coalition military activity is contributing substantially to anti-coalition sentiments. A “vicious circle” is indicated, whereby counter-insurgent operations create support for the insurgency. The report tracks coalition military activity and relates it to Iraqi discontent and insurgent activity. Differences among Iraqi communities are also assessed.
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Should We Stay or Should We Go? The US Debate on Exiting Iraq

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta. PDA Briefing Memo #33, 07 March 2005.

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What do Iraqis want? Iraqi attitudes on the occupation, US withdrawal, Iraqi governments, and quality of life

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) 01 February 2005. Summary of data from 2004 and 2005 Iraqi public opinion polls.

 

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The Iraqi election “bait and switch”: faulty poll will not bring peace or US withdrawal

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) (summary) by Carl Conetta. PDA Briefing Report #17, January 2005. Problems of bias, insecurity, and voter confusion have undermined the democratic value of the election. Nonetheless, it will win greater international legitimacy for the US mission and enable more vigorous counter-insurgency operations. US withdrawal will not soon occur. The memo examines likely electoral outcomes and the factors shaping the new Iraqi government. An addendum summarizes Iraqi public opinion regarding the occupation and US forces.
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Is the Iraq war sapping America’s military power? Cautionary data and perspectives

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Radical Departure: Toward A Practical Peace in Iraq

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) (summary) by Carl Conetta. PDA Briefing Report #16, July 2004. Can the “new” approach to the Iraq mission succeed where the previous effort failed? “No,” the fundamental problem is mission goals that are overly ambitious, intrusive, and polarizing. The report analyzes the failures of the US postwar mission in Iraq and proposes essential steps toward peace, stability, and US withdrawal.
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The Wages of War: Iraqi Combatant and Noncombatant Fatalities in the 2003 Conflict

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) (summary) by Carl Conetta. PDA Research Monograph #8, 20 October 2003. How many Iraqis died in the 2003 Iraq war? What are the implications for stability in Iraq, the war on terrorism, and the “new warfare”? The report estimates the total number of Iraqis killed in the 2003 war, based on hospital and burial reports, combat statistics, and battlefield testimony from both sides. Uniquely, the report distinguishes noncombatant and combatant civilians. And it compares the experience of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Desert Storm. With two appendices: Appendix 1. Survey and assessment of reported Iraqi combatant fatalities in the 2003 War and Appendix 2. Iraqi Combatant and Noncombatant Fatalities in the 1991 Gulf War.
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The Sources of Terrorism

(printable PDF version) by Charles Knight and Melissa Murphy, correspondence published in International Security, Vol. 28, No. 2 (Fall 2003) pp. 192-195, comment on Michael Mousseau, “Market Civilization and Its Clash with Terror,” International Security, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Winter 2002/03) pp.5- 29.
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Civilian Casualties in the 2003 Iraq War: A Compendium of Accounts and Reports

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) compiled by Melissa Murphy and Carl Conetta. 21 May 2003.
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Burning Down the House: How the Iraq War Will Affect the International System

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) by Carl Conetta. PDA Briefing Report #15, 06 May 2003. Nothing could be worse for arms control prospects and international stability than the widespread impression that military activism and unilateralism are on the rise. This puts a premium on re-militarization and discourages de-militarization.
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