Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Zawahiri Killing Exposes Biden's Foreign-Policy Contradictions

August 5, 2022  •  National Review

President Joe Biden's announcement that the U.S. military had successfully eliminated al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri this week is unquestionably a major milestone in the conflict once known as the "Global War on Terror." The Egyptian-born Zawahiri had been al-Qaeda's intellectual heavyweight ever since he folded his own militant outfit, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, into Osama bin Laden's network in 1998. In the wake of bin Laden's death at the hands of U.S. special-forces operators in 2011, Zawahiri assumed the terror group's top post, serving as its operational and strategic head. In that capacity, he guided al-Qaeda through a pitched power struggle with its offspring and jihadi competitor, the Islamic State, and expanded the group's beachhead in Africa, among other accomplishments. Zawahiri's killing is timely proof that the U.S., though preoccupied with other foreign-policy priorities and plagued by domestic political divisions, is still committed to the counterterrorism mission. But it also serves to highlight the bankruptcy of the Biden administration's foreign-policy agenda on at least two other fronts.

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How the U.S.-Israel Partnership Is Tackling China

July 26, 2022  •  Newsweek

When President Joe Biden traveled to the Middle East earlier this month, among his top priorities was shoring up the "special relationship" between the U.S. and Israel, which has frayed on his watch as a result of disagreements over America's policy toward Iran and its seeming disengagement from the unfolding normalization taking place between Israel and the Muslim world. One issue that Biden didn't appear to discuss with Israeli officials, however, was China. Yet that topic is enormously consequential to the health of the long-standing strategic partnership between the two countries. That's because recent years have seen Jerusalem's ties to Beijing blossom—and in ways that have become a bone of contention in its relationship with Washington.

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Russia's African Inroads Bear Watching

July 18, 2022  •  Al Hurra Digital

Since this Spring, global attention has focused overwhelmingly on Eastern Europe, and Russia's war of aggression against neighboring Ukraine. Both the United States and European capitals have been escalating their pressure on the Kremlin in a bid to get Russian President Vladimir Putin to blink. But for many of Washington's foreign partners, the crisis remains a distant one. This is certainly true in Africa, as I learned on a recent research trip to the continent. Regional officials there are now preoccupied with the inevitable side effects of the Russia's new war, like looming food scarcity and cascading energy disruptions, that could destabilize their own vulnerable populations. Beyond that, however, they don't have much to say about Moscow's renewed aggression against its western neighbor. That doesn't mean that Africans are not concerned about the Kremlin, however. To the contrary, multiple officials and experts I spoke with were quick to stress something often overlooked in the West: that Russia is now pursuing a concerted strategy to build influence on the continent.

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NATO Gets A New Lease On Life – For Now
An Alliance, If We Can Keep It.

Summer 2022  •  inFocus Quarterly

Since its start in late February, Russia's "special military operation" against Ukraine has reshaped the prevailing security order in Europe. The conflict, and Moscow's glaring military missteps in its early stages, helped puncture the perception of Russian military invincibility that had prevailed in both Europe and the United States since the end of the Cold War. It galvanized international support for Ukraine, which for years had clamored for sustained global attention to – and backing for – its Euro-Atlantic trajectory. And it helped to unite a previously fragmented West behind an unprecedented raft of penalties and punitive measures that cumulatively have set Russia on a course of protracted decline, irrespective of the ultimate outcome of the current conflict. Perhaps the most profound impact of Russia's new war, however, has been to revitalize the West's oldest and most enduring alliance. Until recently thought by many to be on its deathbed, NATO has found renewed purpose in deterring a revanchist and neo-imperial Russia, and convinced skeptics of the indispensable role it should play in maintaining global security.

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The Logic of Israel's Laser Wall

June 23, 2022  •  National Institute for Public Policy Information Series No. 526

In early February, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced a major new defense initiative when, in an address to Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Strategic Studies, he laid out his administration's plans for a "laser wall" to protect the country from rockets, missiles and UAVs. "In about a year, the IDF will launch a laser interception system," Bennett explained. "At first experimentally and later it will become operational. First in the south and then elsewhere. This will allow us, in the medium to long term, to surround Israel with a laser wall that protects us from missiles, rockets, UAVs and other threats."[1] The announcement marked the public unveiling of a capability that has been an area of intense focus for the Israeli government and industry for some time, with hundreds of millions of shekels allocated to its development to date. It represents an attempt to address what has become a long-standing problem: the war of economic attrition being waged against Israel by Hamas and other militants.

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Books by Ilan Berman

Cover of Iran's Deadly Ambition Cover of Implosion Cover of Winning the Long War Cover of Tehran Rising

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