The Pakistan Army’s ‘Perpetual’ War Against India: A Review of C. Christine Fair’s Book, “Fighting to the End”

by Ehsan Ahrari on June 8, 2015, No Comments

The division of the Indian subcontinent into two countries—a larger India and a considerably smaller Pakistan with its East and West Pakistan wings that were about 1,000 miles apart—was anything but a happy story.  Millions of people were either killed or forced to migrate to and from those countries.  Even now, when the events of that blood-drenched tragedy have become a distant memory, both India and Pakistan appear incapable of freeing themselves from the ghosts of those dark days and continue to depict each other as archenemies.  This statement is more correct for Pakistan, because at least India is focused on the enormously intricate task of emerging as a rising power.  Pakistan, on the contrary, is still wallowing in the injustices of the past.  I agree with Ms. Fair that It “Pakistan did get the short end of the stick in terms of the division of fixed assets, because the bulk of the infrastructure was located in India.” (p. 56)  Pakistan “believes that it was dep

A Passage to India and Dubai

by Ehsan Ahrari on May 5, 2015, No Comments

The best part of international travel is returning home safely and then telling your friends and acquaintances what you have learned from your travels.  In that sense, our travel to India and Dubai was quite joyful as well as instructive. Every time I go to India, I am full of high hopes about finding progress that I read so much about in the Western press.  But every time, I come back not exactly overwhelmed by the evidence of said progress.  Since I look at India from the grassroots level, I see more evidence of continuity than change.  But that is not to say that progress is totally absent.  Surely not. (more…)

The American Century Is Far From Over: A Review Essay

by Ehsan Ahrari on March 21, 2015, No Comments

One of the ostensibly interminable debates about foreign policy is whether the United States is a declining power, or whether it has already retrogressed into a “has-been” superpower.  From the vantage point of this perspective, the issue of America’s decline is not yet complete. The advocates of this perspective appear open to the proposition that America’s waning can be reversed.[1]   However, the pessimist regard America’s decline as virtually complete and may even be irreversible.[2]   Needless to say, this perspective remains very much open to challenge.  In any event, the issue of America as a declining power is not only multidimensional, but it opens up spirited and engaging discussions among its exponents and opponents. (more…)

Do US-Iran Strategic Interactions Have a Promising Future?

by Ehsan Ahrari on March 17, 2015, No Comments

The realignment of forces in the different regions of the globe at times start with some significant events whose import remains a matter of speculation among strategic thinkers until it eventually becomes a major development.  On other occasions, that force realignment springs from minor events that suddenly transform into a major force for change.  Applying this observation to the Middle East, current strategic interactions between the United States and Iran belong in the former category.  Even though it is only in its initial stages, it may have a great future, especially if Washington and Tehran can agree on a mutually acceptable nuclear deal.  The Arab Awakening, which started in December 2010 and later swept three long-standing dictators out of power, belongs in the latter category.  Even though that potentially revolutionary change seems to have fizzled out since the 2013 restoration of the military dictatorship in Egypt, the sudden outburst of another wave of Arab Awakenin

US-Iran’s Nuclear Conflict and the Exercise of Arab/Iranian Realpolitik

by Ehsan Ahrari on March 6, 2015, No Comments

The partisan circus in the US Congress involving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's March 3, 2015 speech condemning US-Iran nuclear negotiations is over, while the assessment phase of that speech over the prospects of a nuclear deal continues.  If Netanyahu wanted to minimize, if not kill, the chances of a deal that is acceptable to the United States and Iran, he may have succeeded, at least in making its emergence difficult.  What is left to be seen is how resolute American and Iranian negotiators will be about concluding a nuclear deal. (more…)

Obama’s Paradoxical Choices: Negotiating with Iran and Handling Bibi

by Ehsan Ahrari on March 2, 2015, No Comments

Relations between the United States and Israel have been hitting a new low, especially after the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, issued an invitation to Prime Minister Benyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu to address a joint session of the US Congress.  Such invitations to foreign leaders, as a matter of long-standing protocol, are cleared by the White House before they are issued.  But Boehner's decision to snub the White House was just another indication of the deteriorating relations between the Congressional Republican leadership and the Democratic administration.  And since President Barack Obama's foreign policy has been increasingly coming under Republican attack, Boehner decided to take on the President by using the hot-button issue of the US-Iran ongoing nuclear negotiations.[1]  That is also an issue on which Netanyahu is betting that he will improve his chances for reelection on May 17, 2015.  Realizing the potential payoffs, Netanyahu promptly accepted the i

The 2016 Republican Presidential Debates: Forums for a Failed US Strategy toward ISIS

by Ehsan Ahrari on February 24, 2015, No Comments

As we watch the very early stages of the Republican potential candidates expressing their interest in becoming President of the United States, the most troubling feature is the mediocrity and venomous nature of their blabber that is aimed at criticizing and even questioning President Barack Obama's love of the United States.[1]  Conservative Republicans are upset about Obama's refusal to connect violent extremism with Islam. President Obama's position is that "he refuses to describe the Islamic State and al Qaeda as groups fueled by 'radical Islam' because the term grants them a religious legitimacy they don't deserve."[2] (more…)

“Pakistan Should Not Use Extremism as a Tool of Its Foreign Policy”

by Ehsan Ahrari on January 21, 2015, No Comments

The topic was former Afghan President Hamid Karzai's this morning's interview on the BBC in which he accused Pakistan of not bringing about any substantive policy changes toward Afghanistan. Even though Pakistan's former officials disagreed with Karzai, my own take is that he is spot on in his criticism of Pakistan. Please start listening from 6:41 on the counter. My interview is toward the end of this major story of this morning. Today's broadcast opens with my statement.

Clash of Fundamentalisms Redux

by Ehsan Ahrari on January 17, 2015, No Comments

The murder of the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo was a terrorist act, which should be condemned in the strongest possible words.  However, I am equally worried about the rising tide of two types of fundamentalisms–one religious and the other secular–that are threatening to turn the entire world into a theater of war.  It is easy to condemn religious fundamentalists belonging to all religions, for they not only grossly misrepresent their respective religions by spilling human blood, but also cause enormous anguish and embarrassment to their fellow believers, who have to explain to others why so much blood is being shed in the name of their respective faiths.  Islam remains the focus of such troublesome attention. (more…)

If the United States Eradicates ISIS, the Real Winner Will Be Iran

by Ehsan Ahrari on October 12, 2014, No Comments

As much as the Islamic Republic of Iran has been demonized in the American media, it has managed to emerge as the chief benefactor of America's 2001 war against the Taliban regime of Afghanistan as well as its 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein's rule.  In each instance, Iran's own activities were aimed at ensuring that the United States' presence in Afghanistan and Iraq would not irreparably damage its strategic interests.  In both instances, Iran took ample measures to sabotage American military objectives, while ensuring that its actions did not trigger a retaliatory response from the US military.  As the Obama administration starts its campaign, first to degrade and then to destroy ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Iran should not be surprised if it were to once again emerge as a victor if America succeeds in obtaining that objective. (more…)