Foreign Policy in Focus – Informed Comment Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Sun, 20 Aug 2023 02:26:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Drilling our way to Climate Doom: The US leads the World in Oil and Gas Production Sun, 20 Aug 2023 04:04:40 +0000 By Edward Hunt |

( Foreign Policy in Focus ) – The United States is producing record amounts of oil and natural gas, despite the fact that the ongoing use of these fossil fuels poses an existential threat to the planet.

Even today, as the planet faces catastrophic warming, leaders in both the Democratic and Republican Parties keep pushing for more oil and natural gas production, believing that most of the world will continue to rely on these fossil fuels for decades to come.

“You can write this down, you can go to every NGO, and they’ll tell me I’m nuts, but I predict this,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the Aspen Security Forum last month. “There will be more crude oil consumed 30 years from now than there is today.”

A Fossil Fuel Powerhouse

For the past decade, the United States has been a fossil fuel powerhouse. Since 2011, the United States has been the world’s top producer of natural gas, and since 2018, the United States has been the world’s top producer of oil.

The United States became a fossil fuel powerhouse by embracing hydraulic fracturing. The technique, also known as “fracking,” uses a high-powered spray of water and chemicals to break apart underground rock formations. It has enabled U.S. energy companies to gain access to previously inaccessible deposits of oil and natural gas.

Environmental groups have criticized fracking for contaminating groundwater and triggering earthquakes, leading some states to ban it.

In Washington, top officials have embraced the fracking boom. During the Obama administration, officials boasted that the United States was becoming an “energy superpower” and the “energy center of the world.” Officials in the Trump administration were even more enthusiastic, saying that they were leading the world into a new era of “energy dominance.”

Exuberance over energy dominance remains widespread in the Biden administration. Officials boast that the United States is continuing to break new records in oil and natural gas production.

“There is actually record [oil] production from the United States,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained late last year. “We’re producing more and selling more around the world than we ever have.”

The Threat to the Planet

The U.S. move to become a fossil fuel powerhouse has come with major costs to the environment. By continuing to produce oil and natural gas at record levels, the United States is leading the world into the climate crisis.

There is a direct connection between the use of fossil fuels and the warming of the planet. The burning of fossil fuels creates greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, which are emitted into the atmosphere, where they have the effect of warming the planet. Climate scientists calculate that the Earth has warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.1 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late nineteenth century.

Unchecked global warming poses an existential threat to the planet. Already, people in many parts of the world are grappling with extreme weather events, including record-breaking heat, rain, droughts, floods, storms, and wildfires. This past July was the planet’s hottest month on record.

“Climate change is here,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a July 27 press conference. “It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning.”

For decades, world leaders have been familiar with the problem of human-caused climate change. Repeatedly, they have created arrangements for reducing carbon emissions, including the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992), the Kyoto Protocol (1997), the Green Climate Fund (2010), and the Paris Agreement (2015).

Under the Paris Agreement (2015), nearly every country in the world created voluntary emissions targets with the goal of limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and keeping it well below 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Participants agreed to meet every five years to review their progress.

Despite these steps, the world is no closer today than it was in the early 1990s to preventing catastrophic global warming. In many ways, things are much worse, despite some progress in countries such as the United States that have shifted away from coal, a fossil fuel that generates more carbon emissions than oil or natural gas.

Not only is the world producing and consuming fossil fuels at or near record levels, but the world’s greenhouse gas emissions continue rising at a record pace. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body of climate experts, global average temperature rise is on track to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in the early 2030s, about a decade away.

Moving Toward Climate Doom

The issue of whether the world will be able to avert climate doom will largely depend on the actions of some of the world’s most powerful countries, including China and the United States. Together, China and the United States account for nearly half of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Although China is the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide, largely due to its burning of coal, the United States is responsible for the largest amount of historical emissions and remains the world’s second largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

Image by John R Perry from Pixabay

“We have a responsibility, a major responsibility, around this climate issue, for two reasons,” Blinken explained last year. “First of all, today we are unfortunately the number two emitter in the world after China.” And second, “what we did for our own development, we did things that we are asking other countries not to do today,” such as use coal.

Officials in Washington have been slow to take responsibility, however. Leaders in both political parties continue to prioritize U.S. dominance in oil and natural gas over a global just transition to clean energy. The Biden administration has set a goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to half of the country’s 2005 levels by 2030, but the country is not on track to meet the administration’s target.

Republican leaders have largely dismissed the climate threat, falsely claiming that climate science is unclear and inconclusive. Republicans are organizing around Project 2025, a plan to increase drilling and eliminate environmental protections.

Natural gas is going to be “the most important energy resource for the next 40 years,” Pompeo said at last month’s event. Both oil and natural gas, he insisted, “are going to continue to be very important.”

Many U.S. officials see oil and natural gas as strategic assets. They believe that U.S. energy dominance will enable the United States to maintain influence over countries that have fewer resources, such as China.

“China has almost none of them, so we have an enormous amount of leverage with respect to that,” Pompeo said, referring to oil and natural gas.

In contrast to their Republican counterparts, Democratic leaders have been more willing to acknowledge the climate threat, sometimes describing the climate crisis as the greatest challenge of our time, but they share many of the same priorities. Not only do they view oil and natural gas as strategic assets against China, but they remain committed to increasing the production and consumption of these two fossil fuels.

For years, the Biden administration has been pushing for more oil production. Even as the administration has supported a transition to clean and sustainable energy, backing unprecedented investments in batteries and renewable energies in the Inflation Reduction Act, the administration has empowered U.S. energy companies to keep setting records in oil and gas production, leading to record profits.

“There is nothing standing in the way of domestic oil and gas production,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm commented earlier this year.

What U.S. leaders and oil companies are doing, in short, is leading the world toward a climate catastrophe. By prioritizing fossil fuel production and great power politics over the findings of climate scientists, they are creating a future in which “we’re doomed,” as U.S. climate envoy John Kerry once put it.

“The world is not living sustainably, and if you look at history, civilizations have disappeared due to that reality,” Kerry said earlier this year.


Edward Hunt writes about war and empire. He has a PhD in American Studies from the College of William & Mary.

Via Foreign Policy in Focus

Why we Need a Woke Military Thu, 29 Jun 2023 04:04:44 +0000

A strategically effective military must commit to being socially responsible in order to align itself with its own professed values.


( Foreign Policy in Focus ) – At the forefront of today’s cohort of right-wing, nativist Know-Nothings are those who specifically attack the U.S. military for the “wokeness” of its policies and practices.

The military continues to wrestle—internally and externally, in its training, its policies, and its practices—with a wide array of manliness-threatening LGBTQ and transgender issues. This struggle even extends to the use of gender-neutral, inclusive, non-threatening pronouns. Service academies and war colleges—educational institutions supposedly devoted to intellectual development and critical inquiry—have felt obliged, if not obligated, to address long-standing issues of racial disparity, dominance, and rage in their curricula. The enduring ideological question of whether environmental and climate conditions should be a matter of priority concern for the military remains a subject of visceral debate. On top of all this, the Army is removing the names of Confederate generals (like Benning, Bragg, and Hood) from Army installations and associated landmarks. Although mandated by Congress, this renaming process has provided yet another pretext for finger-pointing.

What critics deride as “wokeness” is, for the military, seed corn for institutional vitality. Faced with the many divisive forces at play in American society today, as well as its own internal ethical shortcomings, the military needs wokeness among those in uniform now more than ever.

Image by VintageBlue from Pixabay

Like “cancel culture,” “virtue signaling,” and “critical race theory,” wokeness has regrettably been distorted into a pejorative. Yet, at its core, wokeness conveys critical self-awareness and altruistic allegiance to the rights and just treatment of others. It is this pure form—not its distorted, pejorative antithesis—that a military rhetorically committed to the virtues of good order and discipline (selfless self-discipline) and unit cohesion (unifying unity) needs more of. Effectively, wokeness is where the Golden Rule (“Love they neighbor as thyself”) meets the National Motto (“Out of many, one”).

The cabal of anti-woke critics consists largely of lawmakers who have never actually served in uniform. Non-veteran Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), for example, has said: “Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea.” Non-veteran Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has similarly claimed: “Our military must stay focused on their mission, remain apolitical, and not be subject to ‘woke indoctrination.’” And, in introducing the Restoring Military Focus Act, non-veteran Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) has opined: “The Pentagon’s job is to develop our men and women in the Armed Forces into a united, lethal, and battle-ready force to defeat our enemies and defend our interests. It is not supposed to be a woke social engineering experiment wrapped in a uniform.”

What isn’t clear is whether these critics are concerned that allocating time to the dialogue and training at the heart of a humanistically-grounded approach to wokeness would unjustifiably steal time from warfighting preparation or whether anti-woke polemicizing is merely a rhetorical dog-whistle for the barely concealed racism, sexism, and homophobia they embrace in their heart of hearts.

Let’s consider, as we must, the larger context of civil-military relations, based on a social contract of mutual rights, obligations, and expectations among the three parties to the relationship: the military, its executive and legislative civilian overseers, and society as a whole. To sustain a truly healthy state of civil-military relations, the military must fulfill the expectation and the obligation to be operationally competent, a source of sound strategic advice, politically neutral, and, perhaps above all else, socially responsible.

Social responsibility is indeed the baseline minimum expectation for an institution that cuts such a broad swath across society and reaches even into other societies. A socially responsible military, were one to exist, would be representative of society, affordable, worthy of prestige without asserting special privilege, and morally superior without being morally arrogant. Such a military would, in other words, practice what it preaches and set an example of professionalism worthy of the trust and confidence of society at large.

The U.S. military, however, is a long way from demonstrating sufficient social responsibility. Consider some of the incidents that hit the news on just one day alone: May 18. The commander of an Army chemical weapons depot was suspended, a Marine who embraced far right-wing beliefs pleaded guilty for his involvement in January 6, and an Indiana Army veteran was convicted of killing a Muslim man in a road rage incident.

These aren’t random, isolated incidents committed by a few solitary bad apples in an otherwise healthy barrel. Having tracked such incidents since the initial days of the Clinton administration, I can attest to the fact that hundreds of such instances of misconduct by those in uniform occur annually. Simply ask (and answer) these questions: Is there racism in the military? Yes. Is there sexism, gender discrimination, and various forms of sexual abuse in the military? Yes. Is there homophobia in the military? Yes. Is there even religious discrimination, persecution, and harassment in the military? Yes.

To be sure, each of the armed services and the Defense Department has espoused a set of core values like loyalty, courage, service before self, and devotion to duty. But these core values are little more than window dressing for public consumption. There is little evidence to indicate that they actually reflect or guide the behavior of those in uniform. They were at some point dictated from on high, rather than emerging bottom-up from a consensus-based institutional process.

A strategically effective military must commit to being socially responsible in order to align itself with its own professed values. “Wokeness,” in other words, is a matter of consistency for the military as well as a matter of achieving institutional and societal justice (which is the view of a majority of Americans as well).

Let’s, then, ignore the anti-woke agitators who dominate the airwaves and give more credence to the likes of Pat Ryan (D-NY), newly minted U.S. representative, West Point graduate, and combat veteran. “I have zero time for the political distractions and BS, and I will very aggressively call that out,” he said last January. “The ultimate irony to me, a lot of people calling this out haven’t spent a single day in uniform, and I think that certainly shows in how they’ve conducted themselves.”


Gregory D. Foster is a professor at the National Defense University, a West Point graduate, and a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.

Via Foreign Policy in Focus

To Avert Climate Catastrophe, US and Europe must stop Competing and Start Cooperating Fri, 16 Jun 2023 04:06:06 +0000 Originally published in European Alternatives.

( Foreign Policy in Focus ) – From a foreign policy perspective, transatlantic relations appear to have reached new heights. The United States and European Union both support Ukraine’s efforts to expel Russian troops from its territory. On the military front, NATO is enjoying boom times thanks to the reemergence of a ‘common enemy’ and the addition of new members like Finland. The United States has gone to great lengths to provide European countries with energy to substitute for Russian oil and gas imports.

But even as they shake hands and smile at each other across the table, Washington and Brussels are trading kicks underneath. The disputes range from noisy trade disagreements to a quiet competition to be the global leader in new Green technologies. Even though climate change is also a common enemy, the United States and the EU haven’t yet found a common purpose in reducing carbon emissions and addressing other environmental threats to the planet. Instead they are competing for markets and economic advantage.

A Climate of Threat?

The trade relationship seemed to head toward calmer seas in November 2021 when the Biden administration agreed to lift the tariffs that Donald Trump had placed on European steel and aluminum. In return, the EU stopped penalizing iconic US products like Harley Davison motorcycles and Levi’s jeans.

But then the Biden team created new problems by including targeted tax breaks for electric vehicles (EV) in its big climate and economic stimulus bill, the Inflation Reduction Act. Americans only get the EV tax credit, for instance, if vehicles are assembled in the United States. The EU argues that the United States is effectively building up its own EV industry with subsidies and protectionist trade barriers.

In response, the EU has launched its own effort to win the race to be the leader of new clean-energy technologies. At the core of the program is a Green Deal Industrial Plan to mobilize EU funds to transform the region’s manufacturing and energy base. The architects of the plan note similar efforts by the United States, Japan, and India, but they also sound a warning about China, whose “pipeline of announced investments in clean technologies exceeds $280 billion…Europe and its partners must do more to combat the effect of such unfair subsidies and prolonged market distortion.”

As part of the Net-Zero Industry Act and other measures, the EU is, in effect, implementing its own version of “unfair subsidies and prolonged market distortion” by using tax breaks and subsidies to scale up the production of solar panels, batteries, and wind turbines. It also aims to increase the domestic sourcing of critical minerals and processing of these key ingredients in clean technologies. Through the Horizon Europe Program, meanwhile, the EU is allocating nearly $100 billion euros to support, among other things, “innovations with potential breakthrough and disruptive nature with scale-up potential that may be too risky for private investors.”

Image by Q K from Pixabay

With its Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, the EU will also penalize carbon-heavy production, whether by domestic or foreign producers. The United States has taken a different route by slapping tariffs only on “dirty” overseas production. These two approaches can be reconciled, but the two sides are more likely to clash both bilaterally and in their trade policies with other parts of the world.

These disagreements have huge consequences. Together, the United States and the EU represent about one-third of the global economy. In terms of carbon footprint, the combined emissions are now less than China’s but represent the lion’s share of historic emissions since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. By virtue of size, economic power, and shared responsibility for the climate crisis, the United States and European Union have an obligation to sit down and figure out a joint approach to saving the planet—and they should do so with China, not against it.

For Collaboration Not Competition

The press releases issued by Washington and Brussels paint a positive—and very Green—picture of transatlantic cooperation.

For instance, when President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met in Washington in early March, they identified ways to “deepen our cooperation on diversifying critical mineral and battery supply chains” and strive for greater transparency in the way the two sides subsidize new technologies. The two have also pledged close cooperation on preserving biodiversity, promoting sustainable fisheries, reforestation, and so on. A proliferation of institutions—the Clean Energy Incentives Dialogue in the EU-US Trade and Technology Council, the US-EU Task Force on Energy Security, the Partnership for Transatlantic Energy and Climate Cooperation—attempt to harmonize the policies of the two partners.

But for all these pledges, declarations, and confabs, the United States and European Union have not really linked arms to fight climate change. At one point during the Obama years, the United States and China formed a joint partnership, the US-China Clean Energy Research Center, that brought together state actors, businesses, universities, and banks to explore new clean-energy technologies. So intent on competing with one another to become the world’s leader in clean technologies, the United States and EU haven’t come up with anything comparable. Indeed, there was more active cooperation across the Atlantic during the Trump era, albeit at a sub-national level and in response to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. California and the EU, for instance, collaborated on carbon markets and zero-carbon transportation alternatives. That level of concrete cooperation is still lacking at the federal level.

Money, Politics & Ideology

The reason why competition, rather than cooperation, shapes US-EU relations boils down to three factors: money, politics, and ideology.

At the political level, the United States can’t agree with the EU on major climate initiatives because it can’t even agree with itself. California and Brussels see eye to eye because liberal Democrats are firmly in control in Sacramento. At the federal level, Republicans have joined a few conservative Democrats to block the Biden administration from breaking firmly with fossil fuels. The European Union has its own internal divisions to navigate as well, particularly between members in the east that are more dependent on dirty energy and manufacturing than members in the west.

The money side of the equation exerts an even more powerful influence. The clean technology market is large — over $300 billion globally in 2020 — and growing at a rapid clip of over 5 percent annually. Only by expanding the domestic production of solar panels, wind turbines, electric cars, and the like can advanced economies manage this transition without dooming workers in sunset industries like coal mining to a future of joblessness. No wonder the United States and EU are jockeying to grab a larger slice of the pie.

But perhaps the most important obstacle to greater transatlantic cooperation on climate change is an ideological faith in markets. True, the EU is beefing up its industrial policy, and the Inflation Reduction Act similarly marshals federal money to pick winners and losers in the clean energy field. But Brussels has largely relied on its cap-and-trade system—the EU Emissions Trading System—to reduce carbon emissions, which means that reductions within Europe can be offset by “carbon leakage” as dirty manufacturing relocates overseas or outsources key components. The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism is one effort to plug these leaks.

The United States doesn’t have a federal cap-and-trade system (though some states like California do). Moreover, the U.S. government has generally relied on market mechanisms to reduce carbon, such as Green bank financing or a proposed carbon tax. Meanwhile, markets continue to favor fossil fuel companies, which have reaped record profits and still take advantage of state subsidies that keep prices low for consumers.

But whatever policies the transatlantic partners prioritize at home, they clearly are competing with each other at the global level. By the time markets have “decided” that dirty energy is no longer profitable, it will be too late for the planet.

There is one important asterisk to this competition between Washington and Brussels. Both agree that China is a threat, whether because of its enormous carbon emissions—which have yet to peak—or because of its dominant position in the global market for clean energy technologies. China reportedly controls 80 percent of the manufacturing of solar panels, generates 46 percent more wind power than second-place Europe, and is leading the patent race by a large margin to develop a replacement for lithium-ion batteries.

Despite their faith in markets, the United States and EU are losing out to a putatively communist country in the battle to become the world’s leading clean tech giant. A shared fear of China may in the end push the United States and EU toward closer cooperation despite their free-market instincts.

Grassroots Resistance

Civil society organizations—Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, #FridaysforFuture, Extinction Rebellion—have coordinated activities and campaigns across the Atlantic. They have joined arms to derail the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, protest the Energy Charter Treaty, and block new fossil fuel projects. The Climate Emergency Fund and the Equation Campaign have funded a new wave of transatlantic activism.

Looking ahead, the most promising collaborations are in the realm of climate justice that connect transatlantic actors with the Global South. To begin with, the world faces a resurgent debt crisis, with twice the number of low-income countries at high risk of default today compared to 2015. Many middle-income countries in the Global South, too, are dangerously burdened with debt. Much of this debt is held in Europe and North America, either by governments or private banks. A strong transatlantic push from below for debt restructuring along climate-friendly lines is a promising front for civil society campaigning.

At the last COP in Egypt, richer countries agreed to a loss-and-damage fund that would go toward compensating poorer countries for the costs already associated with climate change. A Transitional Committee has been established to work out the details, meeting for the first time in March. As with other financing mechanisms—like the Green Climate Fund—richer countries are angling to shirk their loss-and-damage obligations by providing money through new loans, rather than outright grants, and thereby contributing to the debt crisis. Here again is an opportunity for civil society organizations in Europe and the United States to hold their leaders to account and demand sustainable solutions.

Finally, the issue of trade looms over all of these discussions. Even as the United States and the EU squabble over bilateral trade, they are both negotiating agreements with countries of the Global South to access raw materials and gain preferential terms for their own exports. Activists in the Global North have successfully challenged investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in these agreements that allow corporations to sue governments for regulations that affect their profitability. This kind of activism can be expanded to address a wide variety of trade stipulations that are both climate-unfriendly and disadvantageous for Global South countries.

The United States and EU have managed to reduce their carbon footprints over the last 20 years. By 2020, EU-27 emissions were 31 percent lower and U.S. emissions 7 percent lower than 1990 levels. But these reductions are largely meaningless in the face of the 53 percent increase in global emissions over the same period. If Brussels and Washington don’t see that they must up their game through mutual coordination and climate justice policies toward the Global South, civic movements will just have to work harder to correct their vision.

Via Foreign Policy in Focus

The U.S. Still Spends More on Its Military Than Over 144 Nations Combined Wed, 17 May 2023 04:08:22 +0000

World military spending reached a new record high of $2.4 trillion in 2022, with the United States spending the most by far.

Originally published in National Priorities Project.

( Foreign Policy in Focus) – World military spending has reached a new record high of $2.24 trillion in 2022, according to new data published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). That’s up 3.7% since the previous year, including the steepest increase among European nations since the end of the Cold War over 30 years ago.

The United States remains the world’s largest military spender by far, with its $877 billion representing 39% of global military spending. That’s three times as much as the second largest spender, China, which spent $292 billion in 2022. And it’s about ten times as much as the next largest spender, Russia, which spent about $86 billion in the same year.

U.S. spending is more than the next ten countries combined, more than last year when it was larger than the next nine. Many of these next ten countries are geopolitically aligned with the U.S. — including Ukraine, which had the highest single-year increase in military spending SIPRI has ever recorded, rising 640% to $44 billion since Russia invaded.

Chart: National Priorities Project, Institute for Policy Studies

U.S. military aid to Ukraine amounted to $19.9 billion in 2022, but this was only 2.3% of total U.S. military spending. Military spending by NATO members, including the U.S., totaled $1.232 trillion in 2022, up 0.9% since 2021. Many analysts have predicted a long-term war of attrition, with no victory in sight for either side – it remains unclear how continuously increasing militarization can end this war.

Meanwhile, basic needs continue to go unmet for hundreds of millions of people around the world. The climate crisis continues to wreak havoc, and the U.S. has barely begun to address its historical responsibility in contributing to global fossil fuel emissions. The nations of the world are dangerously unprepared to secure our collective planetary future.

The full U.S. military budget is much more than the $514 billion spent by the rest of the world’s 144 nations combined. That’s a difference of $363 billion, which would be enough to fund solar power for nearly every household in the U.S. for 10 years.

$363 billion would be enough to fund 43 million public housing units – more than the 38 million people displaced as refugees in the post-9/11 wars waged by the U.S. over the past two decades.

Just 10% of the U.S. military budget would go a long way toward meeting any number of societal needs.

It’s worth noting that it’s not inevitable for countries to keep perpetually increasing their military budgets – a number of large nations, like Nigeria and Turkey, have significantly decreased military spending in the past year.

Over-investment in the military is a major cause of the crises we face today. But it’s possible to reinvest in real solutions and begin to repair the harm caused by many decades of war.


Ashik Siddique is a research analyst for the National Priorities Project, working on analysis of the federal budget and military spending.

Foreign Policy in Focus

The Toxic Legacy of U.S. Foreign Policy in Vieques, Puerto Rico Thu, 27 Apr 2023 04:04:27 +0000

The women of Vieques, an island off the east coast of Puerto Rico, have been on the front lines of the generations-long struggle for peace and justice to end the havoc wrought by U.S. foreign policy on their island, in their homes, and on their bodies.


( Foreign Policy in Focus) – Puerto Ricans had no say in the U.S. war of conquest with Spain over its colonial possessions or in the Treaty of Paris that dictated they were to become the property of a new empire. The United States acted according to a well-crafted strategic narrative of white saviorism and American exceptionalism without concern for the people whose land it stole. It wanted to further its control to the south and east via its expansionist foreign policy – and it needed to extend military power beyond its violently acquired borders to do so; the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, known as the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, provided the impetus.

In 1941 began the first surge of forced removals in Vieques, an island off the east coast of Puerto Rico. Once again, there was no democratic process, no vote, and no consent was sought or given. This land theft process began shortly before Pearl Harbor. Sugar plantation workers lost their jobs as families were forced from their homes and the subsistence farming plots that fed them. With as little as a 24-hour notice, their belongings were tossed into uncleared resettlement plots that “lacked any previous conditioning, water, or basic sanitary provisions,” and their family homes were bulldozed. Some, including pregnant women and children, were given only tarps to live under for three months until the Navy brought materials for them to build a new home.  Under these conditions, several people became severely ill, and a pregnant woman died.

The second wave of forced removals began in the fall of 1947 with the implementation of the Truman Doctrine. This doctrine marked the shift in U.S. foreign policy toward interventionism in the affairs of other nations to further the interests of the United States and expand its global presence, leading the Department of Defense to become one of the largest real-estate holders, with almost 4,800 sites worldwide     , covering over 27.2 million acres of property. In Vieques, the Pentagon upended the agricultural economy with its seizures of 17,500 acres of agricultural land to create an extensive practice range for war exercises and weapons testing. This land seizure effectively displaced 40 percent of the available workforce  and restricted the local food supply. By 1948, the U.S. Navy had forcibly taken a total of 77 percent of the island of Vieques away from its people and set the stage for an extreme assault on non-human life.

The displaced Viequenses were either sent out of Puerto Rico or squashed into the overcrowded remaining 23 percent of their island. Meanwhile, the Navy allocated the westernmost portion of the island to the Naval Munitions Support Detachment (NASD), 100 acres of which the Navy still occupies with its Relocatable-Over-the-Horizon Radar system (ROHR). The eastern segment was divided into the Eastern Maneuver Area (EMA), the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility (AFWTF), the Surface Impact Area (SIA), and the Live Impact Area (LIA).  The Navy held its first large-scale joint training exercise, Operation Portrex, on Vieques in March of 1950. It was the biggest war game at the time, involving “more than 32,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne division and the United States Marine Corps, supported by the Navy and Airforce” all with the purpose of preparing the United States for its part in the Korean War.

Via Pixabay.

Brigadier General Edwin L. Sibert, the assistant director of operations for the Central Intelligence Group (now known as the Central Intelligence Agency) at the time of his participation in Portrex, described how this relatively new “practice of conducting large-scale and realistic maneuvers in the time of peace, incorporating new developments not only in weapons and tactics, but also in intelligence, psychological, and paramilitary devices, provides assurance that the first battles of the next war will at least be fought with the methods of the last maneuvers.” Conducting large-scale and realistic maneuvers has exposed Viequenses to the same conditions as the civilian populations of numerous target countries in U.S. wars of choice and conquest over the course of nearly six decades. These conditions have included being subjected to the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of exploding bombs, gunfire, deployment of chemical weapons, aerial attacks, and ship-to-shore bombardment.

Conventional warfare tactics were accompanied by psychological warfare and conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV). International Humanitarian Law defines the use of sexual violence in conflict as a war crime and can also be considered a crime against humanity in certain contexts. Yet somehow these considerations do not apply to all impacted communities, nor do they ensure that the United States is held accountable for its brutal actions in this regard.

Social scientists have collected testimonies from Viequense women concerning sexually violent conduct of military personnel, who sometimes numbered as many as 100,000 in place with a population of roughly 10,000 inhabitants. One woman related the “legacy of the military occupation of the island [to] how women in the 50s and 60s were confined to their homes by the presence of drunken sailors in the street.” Another woman told how her mother would keep “a machete under her pillow to defend her family in case carousing sailors broke into the house.” There are countless other stories that have been silenced and ignored.

Many of these women have been central to resisting the militarization of Vieques, including through the campaign Justice for Vieques Now. Their demands are straightforward. They have called for demilitarization, including the removal of Relocatable Over-The-Horizon Radar system and Mount Pirata Telecommunications Center. They’ve campaigned for decontamination, involving enclosed detonation of unexploded ordnance to mitigate the ongoing harm to community health from open detonation, They’ve demanded the restoration and return of all lands controlled by the federal government. And they’ve supported a community-directed Master Plan for Sustainable Development of Vieques approved in 2004, in addition to a modern hospital and compensation for health problems related to military activity.

Although the United States paints a so-called feminist face on its twenty-first-century implementation of the Monroe Doctrine, women in Vieques are still fighting for justice and trying to heal their community from the toxic legacy of U.S. foreign policy, while the very government that claims to “defend” their “freedom” ignores their demands. The plight of Vieques is a prime example of why U.S. foreign policy must be critically analyzed, called into question, and restrained by the people of the United States in whose name unspeakable harm is being done–abroad and within their own communities. U.S. citizens should be asking who profits from U.S. interventionism, who develops U.S. foreign policy, whose interests are served and who pays the price, who wins when the very earth that sustains us is contaminated by unnecessary military activity and can’t produce food. After 200 years, the time has come to do away with the colonial law of the past that has plagued our communities in Latin America and the Caribbean for far too long. It’s time for the abolition of the Monroe Doctrine, the Jones Act, and the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act.

Monisha Ríos, PhD, MSW (ella/she/elle/they) is a Puerto Rican psychologist, social worker, and anti-imperialist veteran of the U.S. Army.  Since 2013, she has been investigating the American Psychological Association’s 104-year role in the weaponization and militarization of psychology in service to imperialism. Monisha works to expose the psychological warfare component of U.S.-led hybrid warfare, with a special focus on the narratives used to destabilize peoples’ movements toward liberation from capitalist-imperialist oppression in Latin America, the Caribbean, and beyond. She is the founding director of Centro Solidario de Puerto Rico.

Via Foreign Policy in Focus

U.S. Sanctions Are Hurting Syrians Thu, 23 Feb 2023 05:08:01 +0000 By Farrah Hassen | –

( Foreign Policy in Focus ) – March 2023 will mark 12 years of war in Syria. No country should reach such a tragic milestone.

What began in March 2011 as an uprising for Syrian dignity against President Bashar al-Assad’s corruption and authoritarian rule has since morphed into several, ongoing proxy wars involving Russia, Iran, Israel, the U.S., Turkey, and several rebel groups, including jihadists. Over 300,000 Syrians have been killed. The country is still suffering the world’s largest displacement crisis.

After 12 years of war, it’s clear that blanket sanctions have hurt only innocent Syrians — not Assad or his enablers. We need a new approach.

Following the devastating February earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, problems immediately surfaced with delivering humanitarian aid to a fractured Syria, compounded by existing sanctions on Syria imposed by the U.S., Canada, and the EU. In the U.S., this has sparked debate over whether U.S. unilateral sanctions should be lifted to help facilitate recovery, or whether they should be maintained in an effort to hold the Assad regime accountable for widespread human rights abuses.

The discussion over the efficacy of these economic sanctions has been muddied, with legislators, policymakers, and others quick to conflate their removal — even temporarily for earthquake relief — with “rewarding” Assad. This narrative misses the larger point, and is moreover degrading. In the midst of grieving for their dead, searching for loved ones trapped under the rubble, seeking shelter, and struggling to feed their families, it suggests to Syrians that because of the regime in charge, support for them even during multiple crises must still be qualified.

If history is any guide, then the path forward is clear. As the research has consistently demonstrated, sanctions have rarely achieved their stated goals, and Syria is only the latest example of this failure.

The Logic of Sanctions

Economic sanctions are coercive economic measures that seek to alter state and non-state actors’ conduct found to offend another state’s national security interests or international norms.  

Sanctions can take several forms: freezing or blocking state or individual assets, restricting certain imports or exports, or enforcing trade embargoes. They may be implemented unilaterally, as “primary” sanctions against direct transactions between two countries, and also as “secondary” sanctions that target third-party transactions by other states or entities. In addition, sanctions may be imposed multilaterally, notably by the UN Security Council.

One common theory behind comprehensively sanctioning a target state’s economy is that the damage inflicted will provoke the citizenry to rise up and overthrow the ruling class. However, this result has not been achieved in cases such as Syria, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, Iraq, and Cuba.

In recent years, the U.S. and international community have used economic sanctions intended to hold leaders accountable for serious human rights violations, such as in Iran, Venezuela, and Syria, to name a few. But by targeting a state’s economy, scholars have found that sanctions often deprive civilians of their own rights due to mounting poverty, hunger, unemployment, and altogether deteriorating living conditions.

U.S. Unilateral Sanctions on Syria

The U.S. first enacted unilateral sanctions against Syria in 1979, then imposed successive rounds in the mid-2000s and in 2011. The last round curtailed most remaining trade between the two countries and further sanctioned individuals in the Syrian government (including Assad) as well as prominent businessmen.

In 2019, Congress expanded sanctions under the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act” to include secondary sanctions that prohibit third-country individuals and companies from engaging in specific types of business with the Syrian government and also individually sanctioned persons and companies in Syria. For example, the Act broadly sanctions any “foreign person” who provides “goods, services, technology, information, or other support” that facilitates Syria’s domestic production of natural gas and oil.

According to the Caesar Act’s statement of policy, these sanctions are intended to be “coercive economic means” to “support a transition” in government in Syria “that respects the rule of law.” But with Assad still in power, it’s clear such a maximum pressure strategy has failed to achieve its intended results in Damascus.

The more comprehensive UN multilateral sanctions on Iraq from 1991-2003 had a similar intent, but instead further cemented Saddam Hussein’s regime and caused innocent Iraqis to suffer from widespread malnutrition, poverty, and infant mortality.

Impact of U.S. Sanctions on Syria

Since taking effect in June 2020, the Caesar Act’s secondary sanctions have further exacerbated harm to an already damaged and sanctioned Syrian economy due to their extraterritorial reach: they apply to any transactions that engage the Syrian government or sectors of its economy, even to those without a connection to the U.S.

The legality of extraterritorial unilateral sanctions under international law, including the 1996 Helms-Burton Act that tightened and codified the ongoing U.S. embargo on Cuba, has long raised red flags. A December 2019 UN General Assembly resolution urged all states to cease imposing such sanctions and condemned their infliction of undue suffering on civilians.

After visiting Syria last year to assess the impact of unilateral economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other countries, Alena Douhan, the UN’s independent expert on sanctions, called for their immediate lifting in November, concluding that they “have quashed national income, and undermine efforts towards economic recovery and reconstruction.”

“No reference to good objectives of unilateral sanctions justifies the violation of fundamental human rights,” Douhan added.

While intended to punish Assad, U.S. sanctions have instead resulted in the collective punishment of innocent Syrians. With Syria’s already war-battered economy, they have compounded ordinary Syrians’ misery.

Ninety percent of the population currently lives in poverty and 12 million are food insecure. With more than half of Syria’s infrastructure destroyed or severely damaged by war, the sanctions have made reconstruction and economic recovery impossible by targeting key sectors like the Central Bank, oil, energy, and construction. They have also impacted the country’s already beleaguered health care sector by blocking medicine, medical equipment, and other necessities.

This was before the earthquakes.

The U.S. has implicitly admitted to the civilian suffering caused by its sanctions when it recently agreed to temporarily lift them for 180 days to allow transactions “related to earthquake relief efforts” in Syria. This is a welcome development, but only a short-term reprieve for the Syrian people from the sanctions’ far-reaching catastrophic impacts.

Sanctions: A Poor Substitute for Diplomacy

Policymakers and the media too often casually invoke sanctions as a solution to international conflicts and troublesome leaders, even though they are a blunt instrument. They are not designed to remedy a complex situation like in Syria that involves multiple international proxy conflicts with various state and non-state actors.

Narrowly-crafted sanctions that freeze the assets of Syrian officials and others responsible for heinous conduct, including potential war crimes, should be pursued and are largely uncontroversial in this debate. The real problem arises when sanctions indiscriminately target a nation’s economy. When imposed, the political leaders and elites are far better positioned to shield themselves from their most debilitating effects.

Thus far, U.S. and EU sanctions have not extracted major political concessions or led to Assad’s ouster, particularly with Russia’s continued backing. They have also not served as a successful mechanism for advancing Syrians’ human rights. Furthermore, with several states and rebel and jihadist groups entrenched in Syria with their competing geopolitical interests, sanctions remain an inappropriate tool for resolving 12 years of brutal war.

Among his options, President Biden can continue temporarily waiving provisions of the Caesar Act for humanitarian reasons until the legislation expires on December 20, 2024. But a new policy towards Syria would be more effective — one that includes permanently lifting these sanctions so that Syrians can breathe and rebuild from multiple crises with dignity.

Maintaining detrimental and counterproductive sanctions after over a decade of war and the latest earthquakes would contradict the Biden administration’s pledge to be “a partner to the people of Syria.”

In the end, sanctions are not a substitute for the much-needed, robust diplomacy that would broker a settlement to the war, an option which has yet to be fully pursued by all parties involved.

How much more do Syrians need to suffer before the international community unequivocally prioritizes peaces?



Farrah Hassen, J.D., is a writer, policy analyst, and adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science at Cal Poly Pomona.

Via Foreign Policy in Focus

Should a repressive petrostate get to host UN climate talks? The UAE Plans for a Fossil Fuel Friendly COP28 Thu, 16 Feb 2023 05:08:23 +0000 By Joey Shea | –

( Foreign Policy in Focus) – In recent weeks, grave concerns have emerged about the conflicts of interest posed by the United Arab Emirates as host of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP28, as well as fears about the safety and security of participants in the deeply repressive petrostate. 

It increasingly appears that the United Arab Emirates (UAE_, one of the world’s largest oil producers, is seeking to use the conference as a means of burnishing its image while continuing to push the expansion of fossil fuels, undermining efforts to confront the climate crisis and protect human rights.

On January 12, the UAE appointed Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber president of COP28. He is the CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and founded the state-owned renewable energy company Masdar in 2006. The U.S. and EU envoys, John Kerry and Frans Timmermans, quickly endorsed his selection. 

Article continues after bonus IC video
AP: “UAE announces head of UN COP28 climate talks”

The UAE is one of the world’s largest oil producers, and funds from its vast fossil fuel industry provide the majority of the UAE’s government revenue. ADNOC is the government’s foremost fossil fuel company, and recently announced it was expanding all aspects of its operations — despite a growing consensus that there cannot be new oil, gas, or coal development if governments are to meet global climate targets and protect human rights.

Jaber will maintain his role at ADNOC while serving as the UAE’s special envoy for climate change and leading the conference.

The UAE has not been an ally of ambitious and rights-based climate action. The  Gulf state sent the largest number of fossil fuel lobbyists as part of its COP27 delegation in Egypt, Global Witness reported, with 70 individuals from within their delegation classified as lobbyists who are either directly affiliated with oil and gas corporations or attending as members of delegations that act on behalf of the oil and gas industry. 

In October 2021, an investigation by Unearthed apparently revealed that OPEC, where the UAE is a key member, lobbied to remove references to fossil fuel phaseout from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s landmark 2022 report.

The UAE is trying to use COP28 to paint itself as a tolerant oasis of sustainable development and green energy, while continuing to promote  the interests of the oil industry and fossil fuels. After the UAE obtained the COP28 presidency it quickly hired a number of expensive U.S. PR firms, apparently to promote its role as host. 

The UAE’s record of severe repression and complete closure of the space for free expression, association, and assembly also raises grave concerns about how independent members of civil society can meaningfully participate in the COP28 conference. 

The case of a British academic, Matthew Hedges, illustrates the potential perils of hosting COP28 in the UAE. Hedges was detained by UAE security forces in 2018 as he was leaving the UAE following a two-week research trip where he conducted fieldwork for his doctoral thesis. 

He was arbitrarily held for months in solitary confinement before he was released under pressure by the UK. On January 13, the Telegraph reported that the UAE has been seeking to smear Hedges’ reputation by circulating a 19-page dossier of private information including a psychiatric report and photographs taken during his imprisonment. 

Hedges’ experience is unfortunately common in the UAE, and abuses against Emirati civil society are even more repressive. Scores of activists, academics, and lawyers are serving lengthy sentences following unfair trials on vague and broad charges that violate their rights to free expression and association, without any prospect of release. Ahmed Mansoor, a leading Emirati human rights defender, has been imprisoned in an isolation cell for over six years. 

The UAE’s zero tolerance for criticism extends to jailing foreign residents and even people visiting or transiting through the UAE, so it is an open question how UAE authorities will react to civil society criticism of states that are not rapidly phasing out all fossil fuels, an industry vital to the UAE’s economy.

The country will spare no expense during COP28 and will undoubtedly do its best to present a glamorous and green vision of a carbon neutral future, but the Hedges’ case is a frightening example of what may be in store for anyone who dares to openly criticize and expose the obvious hypocrisy of the Emirati government and push for a phaseout of fossil fuels.

Joey Shea is a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Via Foreign Policy in Focus

A Year of Global Displacement Sun, 18 Dec 2022 05:04:46 +0000 By Farrah Hassen | –

( Foreign Policy in Focus ) – This year had the unwelcome distinction of being the first to see over 100 million people displaced worldwide. Such a staggering milestone reminds us that greater efforts are needed to address the underlying causes forcing so many innocent people to flee their homes.

Even more alarming, this milestone was reached by the middle of the year. Over 50 million people were internally displaced within their own countries, over 30 million were refugees forced to flee their countries, and some 4.3 million were stateless.

More than 70 percent of all refugees came from five countries mired in violent conflict: Syria, Venezuela, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and South Sudan. Climate-related emergencies, meanwhile — including severe floods in Pakistan and drought in Somalia — contributed heavily to the growing number of people internally displaced.

Many countries have welcomed refugees this year, despite seismic challenges and limited resources. In the first five months of the Ukraine war, the United States admitted more than 100,000 Ukrainians, while other communities around the world have welcomed millions more.

Such compassion in the face of enduring struggles is encouraging — and should extend to all crises. Refugees have also remained resilient while confronting these obstacles, which speaks to their inspiring grit and bravery that rarely makes the news.

But far too often, states adopt double standards in their treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

This is especially true for Haitians, who have long encountered discriminatory U.S. immigration policies and abuse — exemplified by images of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback whipping desperate Haitian asylum seekers in Del Rio, Texas last year. Between October 2018 and June 2021, the U.S. denied asylum to Haitians more than any other nationality.

After decades of political and economic turmoil, living conditions in Haiti deteriorated this year due to gang violence following the 2021 assassination of then-President Jovenal Moïse. Nearly half the country faces acute hunger. A lack of safe drinking water and basic sanitation have also led to a rapid reemergence of cholera.

As a result, many Haitians have had to flee their country, which prompted the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi to call on all countries “to stand in solidarity with Haiti” and “not to return Haitians to a country that is extremely fragile.”

Unfortunately, the U.S. accelerated the mass expulsion of more than 25,000 Haitians between September 2021 and May 2022. They were returned to Haiti where they face likely harm and humanitarian disaster.

Most of the expulsions have been carried out under Title 42, a rarely used provision of U.S. health law first invoked by President Trump and continued under President Biden to bar people from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border under the pretext of preventing COVID-19.

By denying Haitians and others the right to seek asylum, this use of Title 42 blatantly violates both international and U.S. law. It’s discrimination masquerading as a public health policy, and it’s only created more chaos at the border.

In November, a federal judge’s ruling confirmed as much by striking down Title 42, although what happens next remains to be seen. In another step forward, Biden recently extended temporary protected status for Haitians already in the U.S.

The U.S. has long served as a safe haven for the persecuted, but it must do more to treat all asylum seekers with respect and allow them to fully access the asylum process. The disparate treatment of refugees and asylum seekers also emphasizes the larger need for a more efficient, just, and inclusive U.S. immigration system.

This year’s record-breaking global displacement crisis calls for greater protections and investment by the international community instead of more indifference and cruelty. It demands humane policies anchored in respect and dignity for all people.

Farrah Hassen, J.D., is a writer, policy analyst, and adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science at Cal Poly Pomona.

Via Foreign Policy in Focus

Facing Houthi Victory in Yemen, US Changes Tactics Sat, 17 Dec 2022 05:04:25 +0000 By Edward Hunt | –

( Foreign Policy in Focus) – After years of backing a disastrous, Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, the United States is shifting its approach to the war, supporting a UN-brokered truce that has resulted in the most significant reduction of violence since the war began.

U.S. officials are trying to preserve a truce that has reduced violence and created the possibility for a negotiated settlement to the war.

Bowing to the reality that the opposition Houthi movement now controls 80 percent of the population of Yemen and has acquired the means to launch missiles deep into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, U.S. officials have been focusing on the truce as a means of achieving a ceasefire and ending the war.

The truce “has brought a period of unprecedented calm in Yemen, saving thousands of lives and bringing tangible relief for countless Yemenis,” President Joe Biden said in a statement in August.

For years, the United States has played a major role in the war in Yemen. Operating largely from behind the scenes, the U.S. military has quietly empowered a Saudi-led military coalition to conduct a devastating war against Houthi rebels, who seized control of the capital city of Sanaa in 2014.

As part of its military campaign, the Saudi-led military coalition repeatedly launched airstrikes against civilian targets, including schools, buses, markets, prisons, weddings, funerals, and hospitals. Their attacks on civilians shocked much of the world, leading to charges of war crimes.

The Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention sparked a massive humanitarian crisis that continues to this day. The situation in Yemen remains “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world,” according to the United Nations. An estimated 80 percent of the population requires humanitarian assistance just to survive.

For the United States, the war has been a moral and strategic failure. Not only has the United States enabled the Saudi-led military coalition to commit war crimes, but it has steadily lost influence throughout Yemen and the broader Middle East.

At a congressional hearing last week, U.S. officials lamented the current state of affairs in Yemen, as they reviewed the grim consequences of the war.

Sarah Charles, an official at the U.S. Agency for International Development, told Congress that nearly 400,000 people have died in the war, mostly as a result of hunger, sickness, and inadequate health care.

“Children are the primary victims of this war,” she said.

U.S. Special Envoy Timothy Lenderking reviewed the extent of Houthi advances, noting that their military forces number in the hundreds of thousands. A significant development, he continued, is that the Houthis have formed closer relations with Iran, which initially had little to do with the conflict. “At the start of the conflict eight years ago,” he said, “Iran was not as close to the Houthis as it has become.”

According to Lenderking, about 40 Iranian advisers are now on the ground in Yemen helping the Houthis develop skills to assemble and launch missiles against both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “With Iranian help, the Houthis have developed an increasingly precise capability so that they can launch complex attacks,” he said.

A major turning point in the war came earlier this year when the Houthis were on the verge of a military victory in Marib, the Saudi-backed government’s last stronghold in the north. Although the Saudi-led coalition managed to push the Houthis back with airstrikes and a ground campaign, it faced extensive retaliation, with Houthi forces firing missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Amid the battle for Marib, Saudi officials began running out of stockpiles of defensive missiles, creating fears that they would be defenseless against future attacks.

“The Houthis have won the war in Yemen,” Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst, reported at the time for the Brookings Institution, where he has been writing about the war as a senior fellow.

Within this context, U.S. officials threw their support behind the UN-brokered truce, which required an end to cross-border attacks. With both sides taking steps to reduce hostilities, U.S. officials began framing the truce as a basis for ending the war.

“The truce reflects the balance of power on the ground,” Riedel wrote in April, shortly after the truce went into effect. The Houthis “control Sanaa and most of northern Yemen; they are on balance the victors.”

The truce has brought several benefits to the people of Yemen. Since its implementation in April, civilian casualties have sharply declined. More people have received humanitarian assistance. Despite the fact that the truce lapsed in October, several of its main elements remain in place, including a major reduction in hostilities.

It remains unclear whether the Biden administration has been using the truce to buy time for the Saudi-led coalition or establish a foundation for ending the war. Reportedly, the administration has been reconsidering its ban on sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia. Its sense of betrayal by the Saudi regime over an alleged deal on oil production may stall future cooperation, however.

Congressional opposition to more U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia may tie the administration’s hands. Congress could invoke the War Powers Resolution to end U.S. involvement in the war, leaving the Saudi regime with no option but maintaining the truce and working toward a negotiated settlement.

“As we look forward, we want to get back into the truce,” Lenderking insisted at last week’s hearing. “There are important back-channel conversations that are happening between the parties that are helpful to this process. But… we are not there yet.”

>Edward Hunt writes about war and empire. He has a PhD in American Studies from the College of William & Mary.

Via Foreign Policy in Focus