Latest in Transition 2016


My Greatest Mistakes (A Partial List)

The end of an administration and the beginning of a new one, like the turn of a year, is a good time to review one’s own analytic record. Doing so is a way of keeping oneself honest and humble, and thus better positioned to give candid (and, if my career is a guide, ignored) advice to the incoming leaders in the new administration. So below is an inventory of my some of my analytic mistakes during the Obama administration, focusing on those that seem most relevant to counterterrorism as we go forward. As the Obama administration entered office, I saw the terrorism threat to the U.S.

Foreign Policy Essay

Will Trump Make Iran His Partner or His Adversary?

Editor’s Note: Of all the many uncertainties about Trump's foreign policy, the question of Iran looms among the largest. The Obama administration moved U.S.-Iran relations from abysmal to bad, and both Republicans and Democrats heavily criticized the Iran nuclear deal, the most important element of this limited rapprochement. Yet Iran is an important player in the region, and the Trump administration must carefully consider their first step if they seek to confront Tehran or continue limited cooperation.

United Nations

Defunding the United Nations over Resolution 2334 Would Be a Huge Mistake

The list of political institutions and norms that I have taken for granted and which are now under threat seems to grow by the day. High on the list are the multilateral organizations that have formed the core of the postwar liberal international order. President-elect Trump has been vociferous in his criticism of NATO, which has now gone well beyond campaign rhetoric about other countries not paying their share and is now alarming critical U.S. allies as he enters office.

The Russia Connection

Why It Matters that We Believe the Intelligence Community

Currently, headlines are still abuzz over unverified reports suggesting President-elect Donald Trump may have closer ties to the Kremlin than previously thought. The credibility of the new information is unclear, but it is certain to keep Russian interference in the U.S. election as front page news for the foreseeable future. Questions over the privately-prepared dossier are becoming somewhat confused with those related to the recently released intelligence community assessment of Russian hacking in the elections.

Transition 2016

President Trump Can Legally End the One China Policy and Station U.S. Troops in Taiwan

In a manner that is both exciting and disquieting, the new U.S. administration seems serious about rethinking almost everything in U.S.-China relationship: trade, investment, the South China Sea, and, especially, the One China policy. President-elect Trump has repeatedly told the media that “everything” is on the table, including the “One China” policy. Trump is not (at least on this issue) making a misstatement.


It’s Not a Post-Fact World After All: Why Kompromat Can’t Touch Trump Yet

It’s still too early to say that any of the material in the Trump dossier is true, or to dismiss it all as false. But even at this early stage, it should be apparent the Trump machine is resilient to the kind of stuff, fact or rumor, that would be ruinous to just about anybody else.

Transition 2016

Why Rex Tillerson Was Right Not to Label Putin a War Criminal Before Reviewing the Facts and the Law

Former Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Pierre Prosper and I have co-authored this op-ed in the Washington Post explaining why Rex Tillerson was right not to have accepted Senator Rubio's invitation to label Vladimir Putin a war criminal for Russian offenses in Syria before Tillerson has taken office, examined the facts, and considered the applicable laws of war.

Transition 2016

Creating Insecurity

In the middle of the inauguration, with 5,000 members of the DC National Guard deployed on duty, someone (who?) has decided that the right move is to fire the Commanding General of the Guard. That's correct. According to the Washington Post, as of 12:01 PM on January 20, Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, the Guard's commander, is out of a job.

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