November 14th, 2011
06:16 PM ET

Israeli president dials back talk on Iran...a bit

A week after saying that the "possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option," Israel's president said other options need to be considered first.

In an interview airing Monday night on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight (9PET), Israeli President Shimon Peres said economic and political pressure would be preferable.

"I wouldn’t suggest to start immediately with a military operation," Peres told Piers Morgan.

Israel, Peres said, would prefer not to act alone.

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Filed under: Iran • Israel
Panetta details impact of potentially "devastating" defense cuts
November 14th, 2011
05:47 PM ET

Panetta details impact of potentially "devastating" defense cuts

The military has been warning Congress that if no spending deal be  about the hollowing of the force should no deal be reached in Congress over cutting federal spending.  Now, a day before Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appears at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing which is theoretically about the withdrawal from Iraq, the defense secretary has sent the most detailed look yet at what would be impacted further defense cuts.

The details, in response to a request for information from  Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), outline the potential for significant reduction including "equal percentage cuts in every weapons program, research project, and military construction project."  Panetta warns that the U.S. "would have to formulate a new security strategy that accepted substantial risk of not meeting our defense needs."

Panetta's letter and detailed list of the potential impact are below:

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Filed under: Budget • Defense Spending • Military • Panetta • Secretary of Defense • weapons
DEBATE PREP: Pakistan, Iran's model for success
Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran
November 14th, 2011
02:15 PM ET

DEBATE PREP: Pakistan, Iran's model for success

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By AEI's Ali Alfoneh, Special to CNN

Does an economically poor military dictatorship armed with the nuclear bomb sound familiar? If you were thinking Pakistan, you would be right. But increasingly also Iran, which is emulating its neighbor to the east.

To most Western observers this may seem odd.  After all why would Iran follow the example of a failed state rather than a more successful neighbor like Turkey?  The answer may lie in the perspective:  Seen from Tehran, Pakistan is not a failed state, but a tremendous success.

(See also: DEBATE PREP: Iraq's Iran problem, Iran's Iraq problem)

Pakistan may be a poor country, but the Pakistani military establishment manages to protect the privileges of the officer class, which constitutes the ruling elites of Pakistan.  Pakistan did experience international sanctions in the wake of its nuclear tests, but the nuclear capability has since provided Pakistan with a protective shield which makes Pakistan a beneficiary of United States military aid.  This is despite a record of contribution to proliferation of the nuclear bomb, despite of being caught harboring Osama Bin Laden and despite United States Army accusations of Pakistan supporting terrorist networks killing American troops in Afghanistan. FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Ahmadinejad • Analysis • Bachman • Cain • Debate Preps • Gingrich • Huntsman • Iran • Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps • Israel • Khamenei • Middle East • Nuclear • Pakistan • Paul • Perry • Romney • Sanctions • Santorum
Former secretaries sound alarm to Congress on foreign aid cuts
Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have advocated for cutting U.S. foreign assistance.
November 14th, 2011
02:13 PM ET

Former secretaries sound alarm to Congress on foreign aid cuts

By National Security Producer Jamie Crawford

With Congress aiming for trillions of dollars in budget cuts, former secretaries of state from Republican and Democratic administrations are asking lawmakers to leave international aid, a prime target for slicing, intact.

"We recognize the gravity of America's fiscal situation and that all programs must contribute their fair share to reducing our nation's debt," five former secretaries wrote in a letter to Congress. "Yet, the International Affairs Budget - only 1.4% of the federal budget - already received deep and disproportionate cuts this year."

Former Secretaries Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, George Schultz and Henry Kissinger signed the letter.

The additional cuts could add up to the biggest since the end of the Cold War, they wrote.

U.S. foreign assistance was a hot topic at Saturday's GOP debate, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry saying he would initially cut U.S. assistance to "zero," and then assess how much aid the United States would extend on a country-by-country basis, with friendlier countries more in line with U.S. interests likely to receive a greater proportion.
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Filed under: 2012 Election • China • Congress • Perry • Romney • State Department
Senators want brought home sailors killed more than 200 years ago
November 14th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Senators want brought home sailors killed more than 200 years ago

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

Amidst the uproar over recent problems with handling the bodies of U.S. military killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. lawmakers are calling attention to U.S. war dead from more than two centuries ago.

Three U.S. senators are calling on the Defense Department to find and bring home the bodies of some 13 sailors lost in 1804 when a U.S. Navy ship, the Ketch Intrepid, blew up in Tripoli Harbor during the long campaign against pirates along the North African coast, known as the First Barbary War.

"For more than two hundred years, these sailors have laid to rest in a cemetery on foreign soil. It's past time that we give these men a proper military burial in the country they died defending," Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, said in a release. He introduced the bill with Sens. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, and Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts.

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Filed under: Libya • Military
DEBATE PREP: Iraq's Iran problem, Iran's Iraq problem
November 14th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Iraq's Iran problem, Iran's Iraq problem

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By AEI's Michael Rubin, Special to CNN

Ayatollah Khomeini may have founded Iran’s Islamic Republic in 1979, but for the regime in Tehran, his revolution has never really ended.  Iranian politics remain a vortex of factional struggle as hardliners and reformists compete to shape the regime’s character.  American diplomats have long cheered the reformists believing that should reformists triumph, Iran might moderate and return into the family of nations.

In reality, however, the struggle between reformists and hardliners is more style than substance.   Both embrace Iran’s nuclear program, support terrorist groups, and violently oppose Middle East peace.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s hardline president, shocked the West with his virulent Holocaust denial, but his reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami embraced Holocaust denial, just more quietly.

The Islamic Republic’s true Achilles’ heel is not factionalism, but rather the Shi‘ism upon which it is based.  Shi‘ite Muslims embrace a religious hierarchy somewhat analogous to that in Roman Catholicism but instead of having cardinals select a single pope, every Shi‘ite picks his own personal pope from amongst the leading ayatollahs.  Shi‘ites then show their allegiance by paying religious taxes to the ayatollah they embrace. FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Ahmadinejad • Analysis • Arab Spring • Bachman • Cain • Debate Preps • Gingrich • Huntsman • Iran • Iraq • Khamenei • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum