Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Biden's Ukraine Policy Is Less Than Meets the Eye

November 7, 2023  •  Newsweek

Senior administration officials recently made the case on Capitol Hill for still more funding for Ukraine. In testimonies before the Senate Appropriations Committee, both Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken argued in favor of a massive $61.4 billion to backstop Kyiv's fight against Russian aggression. The package, they made clear, is crucial in both practical and symbolic terms. As Blinken put it, the United States "must not give our friends, our rivals, or our foes any reason to doubt America's resolve." But behind the lofty rhetoric lies a sobering question: Does the White House truly want Ukraine to win? The answer is less clear cut than it appears.

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Israel's New War Is Part Of Iran's Strategic Plan

October 20, 2023  •  The National Interest

Ever since the Hamas terrorist group carried out its savage campaign against Israel nearly two weeks ago, countless observers have nervously watched the start of what, as of this writing, stands a real risk of spiraling into a regional war. Considerably less-well understood by most, however, is that the current conflict is very much a proxy war – one by which Iran's radical regime is attempting to reshape the Middle Eastern order in its favor.

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America's Iran Policy Needs A Reset

October 11, 2023  •  Newsweek

A massive foreign policy scandal recently shook official Washington when two news outlets, Semafor and Iran International, revealed the sordid details of a long-running—and extensive—Iranian influence operation. The simultaneous exposés, relying on a trove of leaked emails, outline how the Iranian regime worked through a network of sympathetic scholars, analysts, and influencers for nearly a decade to skew U.S. policy.   Members of Congress are now raising the alarm over the potential impact of this penetration on U.S. national security. They're right to be concerned. As the investigations make clear, among numerous other things, experts cultivated by Tehran played a big hand in the so-called echo chamber, which worked to convince the American people that the 2015 nuclear deal was actually a good bargain.   But perhaps the biggest takeaway from the revelations is that U.S. Iran policy is deeply broken, and has been for some time now. On virtually every topic, from Iran's nuclear drive to the state of its society, American policy appears to have been actively manipulated by the regime and its ideological fellow travelers.

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How Israel Thinks About Iran's Future

October 2023  •  AFPC Iran Strategy Brief no. 14

For Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran represents both a cardinal security challenge and an existential danger. The country's current clerical regime is estimated to be connected to some "80 percent" of the contemporary security problems confronting the Jewish state.[1] These include not only Iran's increasingly mature nuclear program, but also its extensive sponsorship of extremist proxies throughout the Mideast, as well as the radical expansionist ideology that continues to animate the regime in Tehran. In recent years, the gravity of this danger, together with Iran's rising regional profile and growing political power, has helped shape Israeli policy on everything from Mideast security to nuclear nonproliferation. It has contributed to Israel's development of advanced defense systems, among them the Arrow and Iron Dome. It has informed the country's counterterrorism policy toward the Palestinian Territories, where rejectionist groups such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad now wield Iranian-origin weaponry. And it has animated Jerusalem's growing ties with the Arab world, a process which culminated in the signing of the Abraham Accords some three years ago. By contrast, Israeli views on Iran's future are far less well known. While policymakers in Jerusalem have focused extensively on the nature and activities of the current regime in Tehran, what shape a future Iran might take is rarely discussed and deliberated publicly. Yet Israel's views on what might come after the Islamic Republic offer important strategic context, and potential insights, for the United States in its own approach to the region.

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America And The "War of Ideas" Against Islamic Extremism

August 2023  •  AFPC Defense Dossier iss. 36

Does anyone still remember the "Global War on Terror"? For roughly two decades following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the struggle against al-Qaeda and other Islamic militants was a fixture of U.S. foreign and security policy. Of late, though, this focus has receded, replaced by an emphasis on "great power competition" with China, as well as Russia. This attention has only been reinforced by Russia's current war of aggression against neighboring Ukraine—a conflict that has succeeded in galvanizing a unified Western response to Russian neo-imperialism. This shift has had concrete effects. It has altered military budgets, as the U.S. defense bureaucracy has de-emphasized special operations and low intensity conflict in favor of planning for conventional force-on-force competition with near-peer adversaries.[1] Just as profoundly, it has marked the end of counterterrorism as a significant orienting principle in U.S. policy planning. The Biden administration's October 2022 National Security Strategy, for instance, relegates the fight against militant Islam and extremist actors to what is, at best, a second-tier priority.[2] But if the fight against militant Islam has become less urgent for the United States, America's allies in the Muslim World are still very much embroiled in it—as well as the struggle for hearts and minds that serves as its central front.

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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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