The Brief, December 2015

The Brief (email header image)

December 2015

A World on Fire

Ongoing brutal attacks in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa show that no region is without challenge by some form of militant extremism. As the challenges grow, experts discussed the causes and implications of the violence and strategies for combating extremism.

Camille Pecastaing, senior associate professor of Middle East Studies, said in Foreign Affairs that there was a “systemic failure of counterterrorism institutions to protect Paris” following the November 13 ISIS attacks in the city. Read more

In a Johns Hopkins University HUB interview on defeating ISIS, Dean Vali Nasr argued that the group’s motivation “isn't so much religious as more an appeal to their sense of being underdogs in their own societies.” Read more

Federiga Bindi, senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, contends that France should not seek to respond to the November 13th attacks unilaterally, but multilaterally in cooperation with the rest of the European Union. In a World Post article she states “it is evident that so far ‘hands free’ has only led to disasters; if we want to succeed, it is time to have more Europe, not less.” Read more

Eliot Cohen, Robert E. Osgood professor of Strategic Studies, told The Washington Postthat the White House has failed to “take the jihadist threat seriously,” asking, “do they have a comprehensive plan that really leads to the destruction of the Islamic State in a couple of years? I don’t think they can plausibly say yes.” Read more

In response to the Nigerian military’s weakening ability to fight Boko Haram, Paul Lubeck, acting director of African Studies, stated in The New York Times that “the problem isn’t armed troops fighting and chasing Boko Haram out of the district. The problem is whether they can set up an administration with security to hold them off.” Read more 

Is the United States Ignoring Israel?

With multiple conflicts in countries critical to U.S. national security, the Obama administration faces immense scrutiny for its Middle East policies and its relationship with Israel. Experts debated next steps in President Barack Obama’s Israel strategy during his last year in office.

At the national meeting of the Jewish Federations of North America, Laura Blumenfeld, senior fellow at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, discussed U.S.-Israeli relations, arguing that the United States is “entering a stage of cryo-diplomacy, freezing things in place so they don’t get worse” until the next administration takes power. Read more

Daniel Serwer, professor of conflict management, told Voice of America that while Obama may make one more push for peace before his term ends, the Israelis “continue to build settlements; they continue to expand the Israeli presence on the West Bank. And that is certainly unacceptable from the American and Palestinian perspective." Read more



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