National Security Experts


Paul Sullivan

Biography provided by participant

All of Dr. Sullivan's comments and opinions are his alone, and do not represent the National Defense University or any other organization he may be associated with.

Dr. Paul Sullivan has been a professor of economics at the National Defense University (NDU) since July 1999. He is an Adjunct Professor of Security Studies and Science, Technology and International Affairs at Georgetown University, where he teaches classes on global energy and security, energy security in the Middle East, and natural resources and conflict in Africa and the Middle East. Dr. Sullivan was the Vice President, Programs, for the United Nations Association, National Capitol Area, where he was a strategic leader and adviser for the many programs and committees run by UNA-NCA during June 2010 to June 2011. He was an adviser to the Sudan project at the United States Institute of Peace for March 2009-July 2010.

He was Senior Fellow at the East West Institute (EWI) during 2007. Dr. Sullivan has also been involved in the energy work at the UNCTAD with a focus on Africa. He has advised senior US officials on many issues at a high level. He is regularly invited to very high level conferences, such as the Global Creative Leadership Summit and energy and environment conferences in the EU, China and more. For six years before his time at NDU, Dr. Sullivan was at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, where he taught classes and did research on the economics, economic history, and political economy of the Middle East. He was also a columnist for the Middle East Times and on the editorial board of the Cairo Papers in Social Science while in Cairo.

Before he moved to Egypt, Dr. Sullivan was a consultant to major law firms and others on energy, environment and due diligence issues, and an international energy economist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He was a visiting scholar at Cambridge twice.

He has published extensively on the economics of war and peace, the political economy of oil and gas, energy security, water security, resources and development, piracy, US-Islamic and US-Arab relations, US-Iran relations, Iraq, extremism, the economy of Egypt, the Egyptian military, labor markets in Egypt, Sudan, energy in Libya, security implications of Middle East economies, water stress and conflict in South Asia and China, the US economy, the future of energy, oil and gas markets, Pakistan, Afghanistan, African energy issues, US national security, energy and environment connections, energy in future cities, potential water conflicts in the MENA region, and more. He has published in venues as widely diverse asThe Arab Studies Quarterly, The New Republic, World Policy Journal, The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs,The Jordan Journal of International Affairs, ABC-CLIO, The United States Institute of Peace,The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Affairs, Middle East Online, UPI, The Middle East Times, The Daily Star (Beirut), Daily News (Egypt), The Independent Institute, Ashgate (book chapter), Routledge (Encyclopedia Chapter Forthcoming), Cairo Papers in Social Science, Comment Visions (EuroNews), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, The U.S. Congress (testimony on Canadian Oil), Oil and Gas Journal, Circle of Blue, History News Network, The Review of International Affairs, Review of Middle East Economics, Business Monthly (Egypt), El Wekelah (Egypt) , Al Jadid, The National Review, The National Journal, Middle Easy Insight, The Middle East Times,The Turkish Studies Association Bulletin, Al Arabiya, Middle East Policy, The Energy Journal, The Independent Institute, MEES, MEED, Oil and Gas North Africa, The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, the East West Institute, The U.S. Congress, MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies, and many more. He has also been part of numerous working groups on Iran, Iraq, Libya, the Tigris-Euphrates issues, Sudan, etc at the Atlantic Council of the United States, PILPG, and others. He is a regular contributor on the expert blogs for energy and national security for The National Journal. He writes a column on issues related to the Middle East, global economic issues, international trade, and many other subjects for the major Turkish newspaper, Turkiye Gazetesi.

Publications can be sent out on request. See a partial list at:

In the summer of 2008, he was in Egypt and Jordan meeting with high-level officials, members of the Jordanian Royal Family, academics, military officials, diplomats from the EU and the Arab world, business persons, and more. He also gave talks to high-level audiences in Jordan. In the summer of 2010 he was 8 weeks in Egypt meeting with senior military, diplomatic, political and business leaders. He also met with some senior UN people and leadership at the GCSP in Geneva. Dr. Sullivan has also led delegations of senior officials on international field studies to various parts of the world as part of his NDU duties.

He has been quoted, interviewed, etc. on issues related to energy security, the Middle East, extremism, water security, international economic development and more in the media of 5 continents via many TV and radio media including VOA, VOA-Turkish, Al-Hurra, Nile TV, NHK-TV (Japan), NPR, PRI, CNN, CBC, BBC (various of its radio stations), CBS, Stern (Germany), Veja (Brazil), Epoca (Brazil), Correio Brasilense (Brazil), Radio Australia, Deusche Welle, Die Zeit, Die Welt, Le Point, The Middle East Times, The Egyptian Gazette, Daily News Egypt, The Jordan Times, The Daily Star, The Straits Times, The Daily Mail, Bloomberg, Colombian National Radio, Semana (Colombia), Politico, Zee News (India), USA Today, Al Jazeera, Time Magazine, The New York Times, the LA Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Toronto Star and numerous other Canadian Newspapers, C-Span, Oregon Public Radio, Fox News, ABC(Australia), The Media Line, The Wall Street Journal, UPI, The Telegraph (UK), Euronews, Scotland on Sunday, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, Asia Times, The Scotsman, The Independent (UK), Reuters, AP, UPI, The Globe and Mail, Oil and Gas Journal, Energy Intelligence, The New Republic, Al Arabiya, Le Point (France), MENA News Service, Circle of Blue, Gulf News, The National (UAE), Al Ittihad (UAE), Huffington Post, Houston Chronicle, The Statesman (UK), Arabian Business, Marketwire, Financial Post, CQ, The National Journal, Petroleum Economist, The Jerusalem Post, Slate, Scripps Howard, Sanlian Life (China), Berliner Morganpost, Europa, Welt Am Samtag, El Diario Yucatan, Life Week (China), and many more.

He has given well over 200 public lectures. He is a sought after an adviser to senior officials and others. He has been a major contributor to the Global Creative Leadership Summit. Dr. Sullivan recently briefed U.S. Senate staffers on issues related to the situation in the Middle East and energy issues. He was also recently part of a documentary on the state of the energy industry. Dr. Sullivan was part of a 45 minute discussion on C-span, a 1 hour discussion, and in various radio and other interviews on Libya and US-Libya relations. He also recently testified before Congress on a vital energy security issue. He regularly briefs staffers on The Hill and others on various issues related to the Middle East. A couple of months ago he was part of a briefing team to a senior Congressman on Middle East issues. He also was part of a very high-level discussion on US-China issues at the Aspen Washington Ideas Forum. Dr. Sullivan is also leading an effort to advise and aid a GCC country on an important educational mission. He recently gave a talk to about 500 policy makers at a conference on US-Arab relations. He has also recenlty been part of the debate on US-Egyptian relations by being part of panels at the Center for National Policy in Washington an on China National Radio (English). He also recently gave a talk on US energy policies to a group of senior energy officials from around the world for a State Department visitors' program run by Meridian House.

Dr. Sullivan is part of the Global Expert list at the Alliance of Civilizations and is a regular contributor to the National Journal Experts Blogs for "Energy and Environment" and "National Security". He has been a part of the group International Network for Economics and Conflict run by USIP. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, The American Geological Association, the Yale Club of Washington, the US Squash Association and Chatham House.

He obtained his BA, Summa Cum Laude, from Brandeis University and has Ph.D. (with highest honors), M.Phil and MA from Yale University. He also is a graduate of the Seminar XXI program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr Sullivan lived for 6 years in Egypt, has been involved with the region for close to 20 years, and has traveled extensively within it. He also has work experience (either leading delegations or doing research) in South Asia, the EU, Turkey, the GCC, North Africa and the Levant, Tanzania, Kenya, Norway, and Australia.

He is an internationally recognized expert on energy security, energy markets, international security issues related to resources (energy, water, land, and non-energy minerals), international economic development (or lack of it), and Middle East and North African economic, political and military issues and more. He is also an expert on US-Canadian energy relations, the US economy, and US energy security. He is also a sought after expert on strategic thinking on a wide variety of economic, political, and technical issues. He is known for his discretion and effectiveness as a member of Track II meetings and other high-level efforts.

Dr. Sullivan is part of the Global Expert list at the Alliance of Civilizations and is a regular contributor to the National Journal Experts Blogs for "Energy and Environment" and "National Security". He has been a part of the group International Network for Economics and Conflict run by USIP. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, The American Geological Association, the Yale Club of Washington, the US Squash Association and Chatham House.

He obtained his BA, Summa Cum Laude, from Brandeis University and has Ph.D. (with highest honors), M.Phil and MA from Yale University. He also is a graduate of the Seminar XXI program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Sullivan lived for 6 years in Egypt, has been involved with the region for close to 20 years, and has traveled extensively within it. He also has work experience (either leading delegations or doing research) in South Asia, the EU, Turkey, the GCC, North Africa and the Levant, Tanzania, Kenya, Norway, and Australia.

He is an internationally recognized expert on energy security, energy markets, international security issues related to resources (energy, water, land, and non-energy minerals), international economic development (or lack of it), and Middle East and North African economic, political and military issues and more. He is also an expert on US-Canadian energy relations, the US economy, and US energy security. He is also a sought after expert on strategic thinking on a wide variety of economic, political, and technical issues. He is known for his discretion and effectiveness as a member of Track II meetings and other high-level efforts.

Recent Responses

June 25, 2012 02:34 PM

I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but cautiously thoughtful on how US-Egyptian relations may change under the President Mohammed Mohammed Morsi Isa Al-Ayyat, which is his full name.

There are many unknowns here. President Morsi’s cabinet and other advisors need to become clearer. His views on Iran were a bit clearer today when he said Egypt should re-establish relations with the Iran. I am not sure what this means just yet. The Muslim Brotherhood, from which he resigned yesterday in accordance with Egyptian law, has always taken a rather militant stance with regard to Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum.

Hamas seems quite happy about the election results. We shall see whether that happiness proves to be to their advantage as the very difficult real-life tradeoffs facing President Morsi become clearer.

The Israelis of the very right seem to want to use these election results to their advantage to sow greater fear in Israel. The Israelis of the very left have been silent on this. The moderates will take a moderated position and will

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June 11, 2012 09:47 AM

Disclosing classified information to parties who do not hold the proper classification levels is illegal. The laws are clear.

Everyone who has access to such information signed a form or series of forms. All sorts of penalties are described quite clearly in the forms.

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March 16, 2012 08:54 AM

I do not know all of the facts of this case and will refrain from any comments on any potential condemnations until those facts become clear. Then, it is likely, that some would need condemnation and reprimand. A question is how many of those who were jointly or separately culpable along the chain will actually be condemned and reprimanded.

But that is not for me to judge. I am neither judge, jury or hangman -- altough many think they can be all three with limited knowledge of the events.

When something like this happens, it should be seen as a sign that there are likely even bigger problems lurking. Accountability is the key to solving or at least mitigating those problems.

One thing I have learned from my many years working with the military is that they are often put under great stress on a daily occasion. They spend more time away from their families than any other group I know of. Many of the people I know in the military have been on four and more tours. Some have seen their family lives fall apart. Others have been maimed and injured in physical an

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March 6, 2012 06:23 PM

President Obama told the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC on Sunday that while containment of a nuclear Iran was not an option, there was "already too much loose talk of war."

The President is right. There is too much loose talk and often by those who know little about the consequences of war. Washington is often an echo chamber. Once an idea has been sent out there is sometimes little afterthought or even thinking about what the idea means. Sometimes ideas are sent out by certain people in power and “thought leaders” in such a way that any criticism of them is taboo per se, or at least it is perceived as such.

The United States looks to be on a perilous path to some sort of conflict in the region. Can we really define prior to the start of the conflict how it might end up and how it might morph into unexpected pathways? Can anyone judge right now what the reactions and counter-reactions would be to an attack on nuclear facilities? How many of the talking heads have considered the political fallout of an attack on Iran even if it goes “wel

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March 1, 2012 04:22 PM

I read and hear a lot about Syria’s impending descent into civil war. It is already there.

Ethnic fault lines are widening as the bloodshed continues.

However, one of the main complexities is that the opposition is not just one group. It is many groups. Some of these groups the outside has some idea what their interests and objectives are. For other groups we don’t have much of a clue even though we might imagine we do. I answered a New York Times reporter during the Libyan uprising when he asked a similar question about supporting their opposition. I pretty much said that it was pretty much impossible to figure out who all the opposition people and groups were at that time. Libya is still a fractured country. Libya still has many militias vying for power, wealth and more. The new Libyan power centers clearly have their extremist groups. It is still unclear who will run the country and what laws; rules and ideologies may dominate or battle it out in the public sphere of Libya.

Libya could easily become a very conservative to fairly extremist sta

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January 24, 2012 02:19 PM

I always find it somewhat bemusing when people compare one leader’s time to another based on what the security situation might be at a given time.The world has changed, but have we changed in our methods of trying to manage or solve issues -- or are we locked in our own combat with the intellectual ghosts of the Cold War and before.

President Obama arrived at The White House to face the following: the inheritance of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the continuing threats from Al Qaeda, threats from the drugs and thugs sides of things (which are connected to terrorism in many ways), a sharply declining world and national economy with all of the security issues attached to that, and many other national security threats both large and small.

Given all of the things that have happened since he took office it is hard to say whether the US is safer and more secure than before he took office. What metric do we use? How do we measure safety and security of a country? It is all very subjective and quite complex and fluid. However, one could remark on a few thin

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January 18, 2012 03:49 PM

First let us look at the closing of the straits of Hormuz. Many in leadership here and there think it is possible, if for a limited time. It would also be considered an act of war by many of the Sunni states in the Gulf region which rely on the straits for exporting their oil, gas, and refined products, but also for imports of food, equipment and many of the necessities of life. Many of the states that rely a lot on their ports on the inside of the straits are already in a delicate food security balance, for example. This could complicate things quite a bit. Also, if a conflict does erupt many of the states on the inside of the Gulf use the Gulf as a source of saline water to desalinate. They have particularly fragile water security issues to deal with if the Gulf is polluted. Qatar and the UAE may have 2 or so days of water reserves if their desalinization plants are shut.

The odd thing about this threat from Iran is that if they do shut down the Straits they will be harming themselves severely for similar reasons to how they would harm the Sunni states. They would also b

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January 15, 2012 01:09 PM

The new strategy is not exactly clear. Often the cases with such attempts at policy changes trial balloons are sent up and the leadership then waits for reactions to them from stakeholders. Many of the stakeholder have likely have seen this coming and have already been part of the discussions all along. Then these other stakeholders will go more public with their discussions and talking points. This is all part of the high-stakes theatre that is Washington.

How this will all work out with the coming budget battles that will include much more than just DOD is up to question. It is hard to tell now.

One thing is clear, however, this time it is different. I have heard many of the “old timers” tell me “we have been through this before…nothing new here”. They are wrong.

The resource constraints facing the government are hard and clear to all who want to see them.

The entitlements problem gets more severe by the year. The debt continues to grow. Our total national debt is now greater than our GDP although, thankfully, our n

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August 30, 2011 02:21 PM

The situation in Libya is far from over. Ghaddafi is still not found. Some of his family is still not found. Others are in Algeria. There are many people who still support him, especially those from his tribe, the Ghaddafa, and allied tribes. He likely still has a lot of mercenaries working for him. There are many supporters in the south near Sabha and on to the borders of Algeria and Chad. There are many supporters in Sirte.

His supporters and hangers on are quiet unlikely to drop their weapons and join the rebels, even if some of them may simply drop their weapons as a tactical move.

The rebels have had many tactical victories. However, the most important victories will be the strategic ones. They need to get the economy going, jobs produced, the water and electricity running and so forth. The TNC needs to get the country to act together as one nation without squabbles that could easily turn into inter-tribal warfare.

There are chances that Libya could fall into warlordism.

All of this talk in Washington, Paris, London and Tripoli about the &l

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August 11, 2011 09:45 AM

The most significant problem in our future deficits and debts will not be defense, but the most inaptly termed “entitlements”. Defense is but 5 percent of our GDP. Entitlements are 10 percent and growing quickly. The most difficult of these entitlements to deal with will be Medicare. It is not only politically difficult, but is also tied in with the complexities of the costs and benefits of our obviously declining healthcare system (based on outcomes for each dollar spent). Social Security can be dealt with by either cutting back on benefits to some age or income groups or by increasing the age at which one can draw down benefits. Of course, these are difficult issues and most people still think that it is their right to draw on these benefits because they had a pile of money taken out of their paychecks over their working lives. That is so, but the number of workers per Social Security recipient and Medicare recipient is far less than it was just a few decades ago and this is expected to drop even more so. So the numbers just will not add up. We either get to the tou

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July 29, 2011 09:45 AM

The recent unclear situation with regard to the murder of the military head of the Libyan opposition, General Abdel Fattah Younes, should give pause. General Younes was Ghadaffi’s Minister of Interior before he “defected” or defected in February. He was very close to Ghaddafi for decades and was pretty much a main part of Ghaddafi’s to help keep the country in line. Some in the opposition seem to think he continued to be in touch with Ghaddafi’s people, hence a traitor to their cause. Others believe he was a true believer and a great help to the rebel cause. Some think a rebel group killed him. Others think one of Ghaddafi’s notorious hit squads got him. This may also have been a revenge killing from an event years ago.

Whatever the case may be this is yet another example of how shadowy and complex Libya is and how complex and pretty much unknown much of the opposition are. Do we really know who the opposition is and what their real plans are? Do we know whether the group that we recognize is actually the power in the opposition? How

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June 16, 2011 10:33 AM

The economy and the population of the EU are greater than those of the US. Taking away non-NATO members does not reduce that by much. Adding in Non-EU members of NATO evens it even further. So the relative military weakness of NATO is not a question of economics or population figures. It has a lot to with political will and differing senses of threats and how to deal with those threats. The EU members of NATO also have other problems to deal with.

Indeed the Western European members have cut their defense expenditures since the end of the Cold War. They also continue to cut them, on average, as the US increased its expenditures vastly from the events of 9/11 to the end of 2010 by 81 percent. However, that average cut by the Europeans needs to be looked at with greater fidelity. The UK increased its expenditures since 2001 to 2010 by 22 percent. France increased its expenditures by just 3 percent. Germany reduced its expenditures by 3 percent. Italy dropped theirs by close to 6 percent. See: http:/

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June 10, 2011 09:54 AM

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh had a close call on Friday when opposition tribesmen shelled his presidential compound. Yemen's opposition is cheering his departure for Saudi Arabia for treatment, but confusion abounds over who's in charge in Yemen.

There is very little to cheer in Yemen these days. The departure of Ali Saleh has gone down badly. It only occurred after he sustain serious injuries, and after his country was also badly injured to the point of, possibly, complete failure. The vacuum that Ali Saleh kept on preaching about would happen if he left precipitously has happened. He helped make it happen with his inability and unwillingness to yield on some vital issues. He is of the old school Arab leaders who cannot see the forest from the trees when it comes to the waves upon waves of change sweeping over the region and over his country.

Saleh had refused three times to sign an agreement that would lead to his resignation, a fruitless and frustrating result of weeks of mediation by the six-state Gulf Cooperation Council. Is this the end for Sale

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June 1, 2011 09:51 AM

Let’s take some of these issues piece by piece:

Could the fall of the Assad regime could break the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas axis, and thus prove a potential game changer in the Middle East?

This should not be considered a given. It depends on how the regime falls and what happens after that. Also, this depends on who takes over after Al-Assad and his group. This is also not clear. If it turns out to be a group of Sunni progressives who want to move toward democracy and away from Iran then that could break the nexus. But that is not a given either.

I do not see Hezbollah going quietly into that good night. They could cause significant difficulties in Lebanon and Syria if this situation starts to really go against them. They could also try to the rally the public in both countries with attacks on Israel to deflect public interest for a while.

Iran is clearly involved with and supporting Al-Assad. They, too, do not want this nexus broken and will try their hardest to keep it intact. However, my sense is that neither Hezbollah nor I

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May 24, 2011 01:10 PM

Although one surely can admire The President's oratorical skills he really needs to get better advice and advisers on the economic situation in Egypt and what can be done about it. (That is the outdated data and trends he used on regional trade and GDP per capita figures aside, and also the unproductive focus on GDP per capita aside.) The loan and other packages he mentioned will take time to implement—time Egypt really does not have given its political situation. His comments about trade helping Egypt develop seem on target for a country that is not on the brink of the precipice due to massive unemployment and a huge influx of refugees (looking for work) from Libya, Egypt's neighbor.

One of my pet peeves as an economist is when advisers mix up long and medium term solutions for short term and immediate problems.

This speech, although well-meaning and quite well delivered simply misses the mark for what is needed in Egypt in the coming few weeks and very short time to the all-important elections soon to be upon the country. The Saudis have pledged $4 billion,

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May 12, 2011 11:24 AM

Here is a thought provoking article by Allen Beattie of the Financial Times Washington Bureau:

We cannot forget how much this has all cost not only the US, but the world in so many ways. The costs go way beyond the economic. Consider how the events of 9/11 have damaged our relations with many of our Muslim allies and many others and you can get that point loud and clear. Bin Laden and gang have been gigantically costly in the redirection of resources and talent in this country and many others.The horrors of 9/11 have cost this country and this world much more than $2 trillion and in so many ways.

If we are going to be completely honest with ourselves, however, is terrorism the greatest threat we face? No. The greatest threats we face globally are from crime, especially organized crime, illegal drugs, corruption, dirty water, and poverty. Indeed, one could say that many times more people have been killed, maimed, and had their lives ruined by these curses than by terrorism. Yet

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May 11, 2011 03:42 PM

What does it mean for al-Qaeda?

It likely means that one of their long retired leaders and advisers is gone. But it also means that they have a new recruiting poster to set out to troll for new lost souls in the Muslim world who know little of their religion and even less about strategies to make their lives and the lives of their fellow citizens and co-religionists any better. Al Qaeda is a gang. I call it Al Cosa Qaeda (ACQ). It has little to do with any religion and its philosophy is bankrupt and false to the principals of the great religion they claim to represent. They represent themselves. ACQ claiming they represent Islam is like the mafia claiming they represent Christianity.

They will find new recruits. Ignorance and anger are hardly in a deficit in the world. There may be some infighting for some leadership positions as those who were part of the Bin Laden patronage system are found to be out in the cold. New relationships will be built. The organization will morph. What it will become is anyone's guess. And it will be just guess.

Al Qaeda

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April 5, 2011 02:11 PM

Japan was before the massive earthquake and the monstrously destructive tsunami the third largest economy in the world. It was having some difficult times and was essentially in a form of economic stasis for many years since they had their financial meltdown in the early 1990s.

Japan has had earthquakes and tsunamis before and they have also been devastating. Yet, Japan always bounced back more or less, even during the earlier years when their education systems, government response mechanisms, and overall cultural resiliency seemed to have been less, for example during the time of the warlords and feuding feudalistic tribalism.

The economic losses form this earthquake-tsunami combination have been put at the $300-600 billion range. Many lives have been lost. Roads, railroads, factories, offices, schools, energy facilities and infrastructure have been either badly damaged or destroyed depending on where these were during the earthquake and the ensuing brutal tsunami.

One of the most discussed and worried about effects of the earthquake-tsunami has been what ha

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March 29, 2011 09:09 PM

First off, there is no Qatari crisis. Qatar is fine. I am sure you meant to say Bahrain. The only two countries who may be mostly immune to the Arab Spring are the UAE and Qatar.

The Arab Spring is far from over. If anything it is just beginning. There has been some violence all along. Some countries have been able to contain it better than others. Some leaders have been able to be more flexible and reactive to the people's requests. Others have not. Some countries were lucky to have strong, professional armies, such as Egypt. The Army in Libya was kept weak and divided by Kaddafi. The Army in Yemen is mostly tribal and structure and will likely lead to a splitting of the country. The Army in Syria so far seems to be the guard dog for the Al Assad regime and their cronies, but one wonders how long that will last. The main glue to this is the Alawite generals who see these demonstrations by mostly Sunnis and the Sunni generals who see the demonstrations as a threat to their gravy train from the Al Assads. Bahrain's dissent is fueled, like many of the others by economic a

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February 9, 2011 02:48 PM

I am not sure how all of this will work out. The situation is still very fluid. There seem to be changes, but mostly on the edge and only in names from the perspective of the protestors, which is the perspective that will either continue or end the protests in the longer run. There have been some significant changes in leadership positions at high levels. Some of the former ministers and some top business people have had their accounts frozen and their foreign travel stopped. Others are likely in line for that chopping block. This could turn into a night of the long knives in order to throw sacrificial sheep to the masses.

September is not far away and any transition needs to be in the benefit of the Egyptian people and in their human development or this will not be a stable situation. Vacuums and chaos they can do without.

If this turns out to be a veil of change, rather than real change, then we could go right back to step one. If something violent happens that leads to a temporary stabilization then I can assure you it will be temporary. In 2, 5, or 10 years we

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January 31, 2011 10:55 AM

Let me preface my comments by stating that I have close to 20 years experience with Egypt, lived there for 6 years, and travel to there on average about 2-3 weeks per year. Last year I was there for 8 weeks. I have met with people from many levels and types of Egyptian society over the years from the great fellaheen, or farmers and rural people, to the military, diplomatic, political, academic, business and other leaders of the country to the every day folks who really make Egypt work, and do much of the work of Egypt.

I have great faith in the Egyptian people that they will resolve their difficulties. However, my faith in some of the opposition politicians is not so strong. Many are a lot less than they seem to be. And the people of Egypt, the people on the streets, hardly know them. One of the loudest and most powerful voices in Egypt these days has been the street. But who represent them is the biggest question of the time. It is not clear. This is a rebellion without the usual figurehead or appointed leaders. Some may claim to be that, but are they really?


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January 7, 2011 08:23 AM

This is far more complex than an agreement to set principles for the future of US-China relations. Such a piece of paper, like many that have gone before it between many other countries in the past who had the potential to be rivals and partners, will prove to be as weak or as strong as the conditions in which it exists.

The future of US-China relations are wrought with potential tensions. They extend from resource and energy competition to potential outright trade and currency conflicts that could prove to be either the seeds of cooperation or the seeds of larger conflict. There are also many questions about the future formations and fluctuations of zones of influence globally, and how these zones of influence may determine relations between the two countries, and the relations amongst many others.

Africa is an instance where the US is far behind the power curve and China shows great skill in developing relations, investments, trade, commerce, investments, and even potential ports for various applications. Pakistan and China are getting closer by the day. As th

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December 14, 2010 01:57 PM

Is that enough time to degrade the capabilities of the Taliban sufficiently for Afghan security forces to take control?

This is hard to speculate about at this time. However, it does not seem that the security forces will be up to being a part of the real task at hand: unifying and solidifying Afghanistan as a country and giving the people of Afghanistan as sense of Afghan-ness that could serve them for the long term future. It is still very much a tribal and fractured country. The police might, that is might, be getting better equipped and trained, but the country remains a violent set of puzzle pieces still splattered on the ground. Four years will not put this together, most likely. Some in leadership on this issue are looking at the wrong goals and are looking at things as not being systematic and systems within and across systems.

Has the 2014 deadline relieved some of the anxiety and unhelpful hedging provoked by Obama's July 2011 deadline for "beginning" to withdraw U.S. forces?

Maybe, but the big project of unifying Afgh

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December 1, 2010 11:01 AM

Do peace talks with the Taliban have any chance of succeeding?

No, unless of course you define success as getting some people, who may or may not represent who they say they do, to sit down to tea and lie to each other.

How can the U.S. and Afghan governments convince Taliban leaders that they can get a better deal at the negotiating table than they could get on the battlefield?

Even if they do, temporarily, with massive bribes and other political and economic payoffs expect that in the future the war will begin again if the money dries up or the power and connection payoffs weaken. The squeeze for more bribes will also continue with likely extortion-based violence.

Do the Taliban have any reason to talk while they still feel like they're winning militarily?

If they think they are winning militarily then obviously the answer is no.

And should the U.S. trust that the Taliban, chastened by the last nine years of fighting, would actually be willing to cut its ties to al-Qaida if it returned to power in Afghanistan?

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November 16, 2010 03:46 PM

Eventually the tough decisions will need to be made. The most sizable elephants in the room are entitlements spending and how these are expected to soar in the coming years. The population is aging. There are less people working to pay off the benefits to retirees, which also would include Medicaid and social security. The recent report out of the President’s Fiscal Commission points to some answers on these issues. Even with all of the hoopla about this report many of its prescriptions seem like baby steps compared to what needs to be done.

The fiscal commission draft report also has some ideas for defense cuts. These include with the numbers to the right being the 2015 benefits in billions from such cuts.

Apply the overhead savings Secretary Gates has promised to deficit reduction


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November 11, 2010 10:09 AM

As the US has mired itself in wars in small countries that will have minimal implications toward reducing the threats that the country faces, as the country has spent over $3 trillion on these asymmetric wars of attrition to nowhere, as the country pours money into bailouts, impotent monetary policy and indebting fiscal policy, as the Fed tries to push the country forward with QE2, what are China and India doing? They are staying out of quagmire conflicts. They have spent way over $3 trillion building their economies, building cities, building railroads (like the one into Tibet), building schools and universities, and building a new world for their people.

As poverty in the US grew to over 14.7% China and India are bringing hundreds of millions out of poverty. The greatest anti-poverty program in the history of the world has been going on in China. As many of our cities have been hollowed out and the middle class has truly begun a fall into the housing trap, not the American dream, foreclosures, unemployment and a fear for the economic future like many have never have seen

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October 12, 2010 09:38 AM

Updated at 4:26 p.m.

General Jones is a great American, was a superior general, and was a leader of leaders. What happened behind the closed doors of the NSC may not be known for decades and it is not for me to speculate. However, it does seem to me that political savvy has replaced strategic savvy and gravitas. I hope I am wrong on this. The NSA should be focused on strategy for the sake of the national security and national interests of the country, not just for the President and party. I wish Mr. Donilon well. He will need a lot of luck and excellent staffing and leadership to handle the many crises and challenges this country faces. I truly hope he sees the very big pictures out there in this fluid and dangerous world. I also hope he sees the great opportunities this country has for doing good and building up our reputation in the world. We can be tough, but we can also be smart.

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September 15, 2010 01:08 PM

The new START Treaty has some fairly reasonable, but important, goals in the reduction of strategic warheads. They will be 30% less than those agreed to in the 2002 Moscow Treaty, yet will 75% less than the 1991 Start Treaty. Nuclear delivery vehicles will also be capped in a phased-in manner.

The START Treaties have been some of the more important foreign policy victories of President Reagan (he started the idea off), President George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Those who are thinking that the START treaties harmed US national security should consider the facts on the ground from the beginning of the START process. Some of the same people should consider the historical bipartisan nature of the START process. Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, President Carter, George Schultz, and William Perry support this treaty. Now that is bi-partisanship at a very high level.

To read the treaty, its protocol and technical annexes, in detail one could go to: http://www.whitehouse.

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August 12, 2010 10:19 AM

Secretary Gates has entered into a much larger debate that goes well beyond the defense budget. We as a country need to take a very hard look at our debt, deficits, and overall budgets with a keen and creative eye toward a sustainable and secure future. Entitlements will be at the debate table. Defense will also be there. Just about all of our mandatory and discretionary expenditures should be open to discussion. The time for the tough decisions is upon us and we need to be wise, fair, and keep an eye on the long run, not just short run political expediency.

We are as a nation living off some giant credit cards that are only partly being paid for. We have a powerful and rich economy and a hard working people. But we cannot expect those people, the taxpayers, to bear the inevitably huge burdens if this overall inertia of budgetary injudiciousness continues unabated. We can also not rely in the long run on the Chinese, the Saudis, the countries of the EU and others to help us pay our bills via purchases of our debt. By the way we also pay these countries and citizen

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August 4, 2010 03:51 PM

The United States is facing down the barrel of a cannon of financial stress and not just because of the recent financial crisis. That barrel of the recent financial crisis has already fired and could fire again, but this is short term, and we should worry more about the long term. The much bigger financial stress will come about due to the expected explosion of entitlements spending, especially on Medicare, but also on social security and Medicaid, in the coming decades.

The defense budget is quite a bit smaller than the entitlement budget. Please see for some interesting charts on the overall budgetary proportions and priorities of the federal government. You will see in chart #3 how mandatory expenditures, such interest on the debt and entitlements, have been becoming a much larger part of the overall expenditures of the federal government. If you look at chart #6 you will see that defense expendi

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June 3, 2010 09:37 AM

The word "fearful" is not what I feel about the combination of debt, deficits, international borrowings, the graying of the nation (although my hair is getting grayer), the entitlements bulge, and so forth in my original post. My feeling is more of a mixture of frustration and guarded hopefulness with intermittent feelings of cynicism and intellectual resignation at the failures of some in our leadership. I am neither a democrat nor a republican (note the small letters). Both parties have failed us. The combination of the parties has truly failed us because their mostly self-serving (or party-serving) actions are not directed a the national security of this nation. They are mostly arging with each other as the problems mount. The House and Senate are mostly dysfunctional. We deserve better. But, let's remember, we voted them in.

As I think of those who have died, been maimed or are psychologically scarred from the wars my feeling turns to a mixture of frustration and deep sadness. Those young men and women are the biggest costs we have in our national security

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June 2, 2010 09:45 AM

The US has very large debt and deficit problems. Both work into each other. As deficits increase so does the debt. As debt increases the interest payments on the debt also increase. Interest payments are part of the budget of the US government. The deficits of the US have been, well, scary, of late: This is especially so given that the other side of the federal budget equation is not going up as needed for some balance to occur. These are tax and other revenues. Actually, given the recession they have been going down compared to what they would have been otherwise. Here are some charts from the Concord Coalition that show the importance of the deficit compared to sources of revenue and spending: Well, that is a big ouch, no?

Here is an interesting link to a debt clock that should act

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May 24, 2010 10:11 PM

It is premature to claim that the DNI system does not work and that it should be scrapped. We live in complex times. Those in political positions that expect these sorts of systems to bat 1000 just don't get it. One of the things I am hearing in the media is that "Admiral Blair failed to connect the dots". Where were the genius political masters when the dots needed connecting? Part of the problem of connecting the dots is that the dots are spread all over the place and the data systems do not seem to be up to the task. Let's not have another round of "reform" to assuage the political. Lives are at risk. The national security of the country is at risk.

It is time to take a hard look at the whole system, not just the top leadership. Some of the weakest links can be found elsewhere. A top to bottom review might be required, but not at the risk of getting too much in the way of important business that needs to be done 24-7-365. Again, the place to look may not be in the big offices, but in the small ones with the underpaid and overworked, and underappr

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March 3, 2010 03:34 PM

The war in Afghanistan-Pakistan could go on for many years more. The more American lives that are lost and the more Americans who come home psychologically and physically maimed, then the less the public will support the war. The more the public hears about the corruption and criminality that is rife in Afghanistan, the less they will support the war. The more the public hears about how the populations of Pakistan and Afghanistan don’t want us there, the less they will support the war. The more the public begins to fear more for their jobs, the growing threat of our debts, deficits and entitlement programs to basic bread and butter issues, the less they will support the war. The more NATO and other troops bail out on us the less the people will support the war.

For most Americans Afghanistan and Pakistan might was well be on mars. For most Americans real war is something that is more out of a Hollywood movie than as part of their lives. If it gets to the point that the people have to start paying for these wars with taxes and with their children being drafted then s

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