Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review
 

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The Economics Of Deterring Russia

May 22, 2015  •  The National Interest

When it comes to the prospects of war in Europe, perhaps we simply aren't asking the right questions. For months now, Russia watchers within the Beltway and in European capitals have been preoccupied with anticipating the next moves of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the year-old conflict taking place in Ukraine. But achieving a satisfactory answer to the question of what Russia might do has proven maddeningly elusive. This is because much of Moscow's policies to date have been opportunistic in nature - driven by perceived Western weakness and divisions within the NATO alliance, rather than by a clearly defined end state on the part of the Russian government. Given this state of affairs, Western capitals should focus less on possible Russian actions, and more on how to constrain its potential for aggression.

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What We Don't Know About Iran Could Hurt Us

April 30, 2015  •  Forbes.com

To hear the Obama administration tell it, the framework nuclear accord agreed to between the P5+1 powers and Iran earlier this month in Lausanne, Switzerland is a good deal. The White House has pledged that the final agreement to be concluded in coming weeks, backed up by a robust monitoring and verification regime, will block Iran's pathways to a bomb for at least a decade—and perhaps considerably longer. But is this feasible? The Iranians, at least, appear to have other ideas. Iran's Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has declared that he will not sign off on a final nuclear agreement unless the country's military facilities are declared off limits to Western oversight. Similarly, the deputy commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, publicly equated the idea of opening up the Islamic Republic's military facilities to outside inspectors to a "national humiliation."

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Iran: Isolated No Longer

April 27, 2015  •  National Review Online

Less than a month after it was signed in Lausanne, Switzerland, the framework nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers is already beginning to pay dividends — for Iran, that is. Even before the April 2 accord, the enforced isolation that brought Iran's ayatollahs to the nuclear negotiating table back in 2013 had begun to erode, progressively undermined by hungry investors eager to return to "business as usual" with the Islamic Republic. But since the framework deal was signed, the floodgates have opened in earnest.

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5 Reasons Iran Nuke Deal Fails

April 9, 2015  •  USA Today

No sooner had the P5+1 powers and Iran announced on April 2 that they had agreed upon the frameworkof a nuclear deal than its supporters began to spin the results. To hear the boosters tell it, the preliminary agreement represents a victory for proponents of peace and a defeat for warmongers everywhere. That sort of simplistic rhetoric may play well on a political level, but there are real strategic reasons to be skeptical of the impending deal.

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Kremlin Fight Club

April 3, 2015  •  Foreign Affairs

At first glance, Grozny seems like an odd place for a gathering of the world's best fighters. The capital of Russia's restive Chechen Republic, Grozny is in a better place today than it was in the 1990s and early 2000s, when it was ground zero for two brutal wars between Islamist insurgents and the Russian state. But the city, like the region it inhabits, still ranks high on the misery index. Despite a major rebuilding effort on the part of the government, Chechnya's unemployment and poverty rates are among the highest in the Russian Federation, and the region has emerged as a significant source of angry young men who have traveled to the Middle East to join the ranks of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. In mid-March, however, Grozny saw a different sort of fighting, as it played host to some of the most recognizable faces in mixed martial arts, a sport that combines multiple disciplines, including boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, jujitsu, and submission grappling. Among them were Chris Weidman, the reigning middleweight champion of the sport's premier franchise, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and heavyweight contenders Frank Mir and Fabricio Werdum. They had arrived for the inaugural fight show put on by the "Akhmat MMA" promotion, named for Akhmad Kadyrov, the former president of the Chechen Republic, who was assassinated in 2004. Not much is known about the company outside of Russia. But given its name - and the prominence of the sports personalities it managed to attract - it's safe to assume that it operates with the knowledge and approval of the current president, Ramzan Kadyrov, Akhmad's son - and, by extension, of the Kremlin itself.

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Books by Ilan Berman

Cover of Implosion Cover of Winning the Long War Cover of Tehran Rising

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