Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles

Putting The Islamic State In Proper Context

September 17, 2014  •

Quite suddenly, all eyes are riveted on the Islamic State (IS). Ever since its self-proclaimed "emir," Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the creation of a new "caliphate" during a speech in Mosul, Iraq this June, his group has become global public enemy number one. All of this attention has served to inflate the image of the Islamic State, positioning it as the next great adversary of the West. Often overlooked in this discourse, however, is the fact that IS suffers from some real limitations and strategic constraints—vulnerabilities that need to be understood and exploited as part of any serious Western strategy.

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Confronting The Evolving Peril In Islamic Extremism

September 11, 2014  •  Washington Times

What a difference a couple of months can make. This summer, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a new report from Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the original co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission. That study, titled "Today's Rising Terrorist Threat and the Danger to the United States," warned that America was running the risk of becoming a victim of its own counterterrorism success. "With growing fatigue after 13 years of counterterrorism struggle, with 9/11 receding into memory, and with a younger generation with only the vaguest recollection of the attacks, complacency is setting in," the authors warned. As a result, "There is a danger that this waning sense of urgency will divert attention and needed resources from counterterrorism efforts." That's decidedly not true today. Over the past several weeks, the growing territorial gains and unfettered brutality of the group now known as the Islamic State has galvanized American attention and public opinion more than at any time in the past decade.

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A Post-America South America

Summer 2014  •  inFocus Quarterly

Last fall, in a speech before the Organization of American States, Secretary of State John Kerry announced with great fanfare that the "era of the Monroe Doctrine is over." Kerry's pronouncement was a distinctly political one, intended to reassure regional powers that the heavy-handed interventionism that at times had characterized America's approach to Latin America was a thing of the past. But it was also very much a sign of the times, because the United States is in strategic retreat in its own hemisphere.

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Last Shot For Reality To Pierce Russian Fantasy

August 25, 2014  •  USA Today

On Tuesday, Russian president Vladimir Putin will meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, in Minsk, Belarus in an effort to bring an end to the crisis in Ukraine. The summit is shaping up to be a critical turning point in the six-month-old conflict over the soul of Ukraine.

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Cutting The Caliphate Down To Size

August 14, 2014  •  National Review Online

Is America headed back to Iraq? On August 7, President Obama took the first step in that direction when he authorized the use of air strikes to prevent the further advance of the militant Islamic group once known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) and now known as the Islamic State. Since then, the U.S. military has commenced a limited bombing campaign against Islamic State detachments in northern Iraq and added 130 military advisers to the 300 already stationed in the country. The decision reflects a stark reality. In recent weeks, the Islamic State has cut a bloody swath across Iraq, capturing and holding territory at an unprecedented rate. As a result, the Washington Post reports, the group "now controls resources and territory unmatched in the history of extremist organizations." The current effort, however, appears to be as far as the White House is willing to go — at least for the moment. Having staked its political legitimacy on an exit from Iraq, the Obama administration is leery of doing much more. As a result, a true strategy for rolling back the Islamic State's advance is still sorely lacking.

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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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