Free Reports

American Isolation and the European RealityFree

A general perception exists that the issue of war against Iraq has opened a massive rift between the United States and Europe. Giant anti-war demonstrations, public opinion polls and the behavior of key powers seem to confirm this view, but the reality is actually much more complicated — and very different. The majority of European governments support the United States on the Iraq issue. Though public opinion certainly opposes war, the European populace also is extremely concerned about Europe’s economy, issues of national sovereignty and the effect of French and German power over both. Governments generally have chosen to side with the United States — not because they are suicidal, but because they understand that on election day, the Iraq war will be a side issue and the power of the Franco-German bloc will be a central issue. The United States is much less isolated in relation to Europe than is generally believed. Read more…

The European QuestionFree

The Iraq crisis has redefined relations between the United States and Europe. It also has redefined relations within Europe, where the desire to build a transnational entity has encountered the desire to build a Europe that is a great power. The Franco-German entente driving European unification now has encountered the deep suspicion with which France and Germany are viewed by others. In many ways, it can be said that Iraq has marked the end of European innocence: It is the collision point between a romantic vision of Europe and the hard realities of European life. Read more…

Iraq: Is Peace an Option?Free

For nearly a year, Iraq has been the centerpiece of U.S. President George W. Bush’s foreign policy. There have been multiple reasons for this obsession, but in the end, Bush created a situation in which Iraq became the measure of his administration. However, over the extraordinarily long run-up to a decisive confrontation with Baghdad, a massive, global opposition to U.S. policy on Iraq has emerged on both the public and state levels. Creating the sort of coalition that the United States enjoyed in 1991 has become impossible. This war, if it comes, will be fought in the face of broad opposition. The question now has arisen as to whether the United States would back away from war in the face of this opposition. Our analysis is that, at this point in history, the United States has few choices left: The constraints that now surround U.S. policy indicate that Washington will have to choose war. Read more…

To War or Not To War, That Is the QuestionFree

Even as recent weekend demonstrations increased pressure for the United States to avoid a war in Iraq, the pressure on Washington to go to war is mounting. The United States has deployed the bulk of its military strike force in the Persian Gulf region, but it cannot keep it there indefinitely. Given weather conditions, the war must conclude in April. The preference to begin the war under moonless skies means that an attack is possible around March 1 or at the end of March — which wouldn’t leave enough time for the operation. Since simply walking away from Iraq is impossible for the United States and Saddam Hussein is not likely to fall by himself, the pressure for war in the next two weeks is heavier than the pressure against war. Read more…

The Geopolitics of FranceFree

France is frequently a puzzle to Americans. The country’s behavior strikes Americans as unpredictable and designed to annoy, without being effective. As with all perceptions — the French view of Americans as simplistic cowboys, for example — there is an element of truth. French behavior is not always predictable in a particular case, but there is a geopolitical driver to French policy that allows the nation’s apparent inconsistencies to be understood, if not always reconciled. France’s history and geography have taught its people contradictory lessons. On one hand, the French deeply fear being controlled by greater powers; on the other, they have neither the weight to single-handedly counterbalance a power like the United States nor the effortless capability of the coalition building needed to create a sustained alternative to greater powers. They therefore operate in contradictory ways over time and at different levels. This behavior derives from geopolitical realities and not, as many Americans might believe, out of sheer malice. Read more…

The Region After IraqFree

Desert Storm was about restoring the status quo ante. The 2003 war with Iraq will be about redefining the status quo in the region. Geopolitically, it will leave countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia completely surrounded by U.S. military forces and Iran partially surrounded. It is therefore no surprise that the regional powers, regardless of their hostility to Saddam Hussein, oppose the war: They do not want to live in a post-war world in which their own power is diluted. Nor is it a surprise, after last week’s events in Europe indicating that war is coming, that the regional powers — and particularly Saudi Arabia — are now redefining their private and public positions to the war. If the United States cannot be stopped from redefining the region, an accommodation will have to be reached. Read more…

Smoke and Mirrors: The United States, Iraq and DeceptionFree

In any war, deception is a strategic necessity. However, the “bodyguard of lies” surrounding plans for a U.S. attack on Iraq — vital to building an international coalition of support — could be confusing the American public and endangering political support for the war effort. The operational and tactical levels of the war now appear to be clearer than the ultimate goal. That is because baldly stating the strategic necessity for an attack on Iraq — the ability to station U.S. forces in the heart of the Middle East — undoubtedly would endanger the fragile war coalition. Read more…

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Editor's Choice

2017 Annual ForecastFree

Long-term trends tend to quietly build over decades and then noisily surface as the politics catch up. Such is the case for 2017. Read more…

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