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Unresolved: U.S. National Security

Unresolved: U.S. National Security
The BriefGet Up To Speed

For the United States, tensions are rising with both allies and adversaries. Rogue states are racing to master new technologies and create weapons of mass destruction. And faith in international institutions is seemingly deteriorating. What does this all mean for U.S. national security?


Staged in our "unresolved" format, five esteemed foreign policy thought leaders will argue for or against a number of motions revolving around some of America’s most pressing national security issues, including: Is it time to take a hard line on Iran? Is NATO no longer fit for purpose? And is the Russia threat overblown?

Motion #1: It’s Time to Take a Hard Line on Iran

A discussion on U.S. policy toward Iran.

Thursday, August 23, 2018
Kenneth Katzman

A timeline of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and testing

Thursday, August 30, 2018

“A combination of factors ranging from economic grievances and a lack of social and political freedoms to international pressure and sanctions has put the country under unprecedented pressure.”

Friday, July 20, 2018
Saeed Kamali Dehghan

“The Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups, U.S. officials familiar with the matter said.”

Saturday, July 21, 2018
Jonathan Landay, Arshad Mohammed, Warren Strobel & John Walcott

“Mr. Trump, in an all-caps message on Twitter addressed to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, wrote that the country would face ‘CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED’ if he continued to threaten the United States.”

Sunday, July 22, 2018
Austin Ramzy

“By taking a tough, unilateral stand, President Trump has forced every other party to reevaluate its own position. And for the most part the early results have been highly encouraging.”

Monday, May 14, 2018
Richard A. Epstein

“The U.S. moved to reimpose punishing sanctions on Iran and threatened even-tougher measures for later this year as the Trump administration sought to increase pressure on the Tehran regime to negotiate or step aside.”

Monday, August 6, 2018
Michael R. Gordon

“The sanctions will hurt. Whether they will accomplish anything else is up for debate.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

“U.S. sanctions are having a strong effect on Iran’s economy and popular opinion, though regime change there is not part of Washington’s policy, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said on Wednesday.”


Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Dan Williams

“Pushing for regime change in Tehran could put Qassem Suleimani in power.”

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Mahsa Rouhi

“President Trump judged rightly that it’s better to err on the side of pressuring our adversaries than gambling on their good will.”

Thursday, May 10, 2018
Jim Talent

“Trump’s decision has shaken the world’s faith in the United States’ commitment to multilateral diplomacy. No matter how much Trump derides the deal, the JCPOA stands as a model for combining the threat of sanctions and continued isolation with the hard work of negotiating, even between countries whose relationships are shaped by conflict and distrust.”

Sunday, September 30, 2018
Wendy Sherman

“Mr. Trump and Mr. Rouhani should listen to reason and take the opportunity this month to sit down for a face-to-face conversation. It would be the truly bold thing to do.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Kaveh Afrasiabi & Nade Entessar
Motion #2: NATO Is No Longer Fit For Purpose

A discussion on the formation of NATO.

Saturday, July 14, 2018
Renee Montagne & Anne Applebaum

“NATO is girding up for what some believe is a new Cold War with Russia, but President Trump’s criticism of longtime allies has unsettled the twenty-nine-member bloc.”

Thursday, July 5, 2018
Jonathan Masters

“The allies are looking with dread to this week’s summit as President Trump continues his campaign to undermine a decades-old partnership.”


Sunday, July 8, 2018
The Editorial Board

"Europe is prosperous and treats America like a patsy. Let it stand on its own."


Friday, July 6, 2018
Christian Whiton

“An attack on one isn't really an attack on all and four other misunderstood facts about the Western defense alliance.”

Thursday, July 26, 2018
Stephen M. Walt

“As President Donald Trump accuses the Europeans of bad faith and of failing to pull their weight, they accuse him of crass vandalism.”


Thursday, July 5, 2018
The Economist

“It is hard to pin down just which aspect of President Trump’s visit to Europe in July 2018 contributed most to the transatlantic panic that followed.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Peter Feaver & Hal Brands

“When Trump says NATO is ‘obsolete,’ he is correct — literally.”

Thursday, July 12, 2018
Marc A. Thiessen

“The president’s emphasis on spending obscures a much deeper skepticism of alliances.”

Thursday, July 12, 2018
Uri Friedman

“NATO has gone from playing an important role in winning the Cold War to helping cause a new one. Maybe Europe needs a new approach to security.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Michael C. Desch

“Trump doesn’t think the country is worth defending. Putin has already tried to destabilize it once—the West can’t let it happen again.”

Friday, July 27, 2018
Jeffrey A. Stacey

“Macedonia's tenuous relationships with its neighbor states make it a liability for the alliance.”

Saturday, August 25, 2018
Ted Galen Carpenter

“For almost 70 years, NATO has been the bedrock of transatlantic security, whether on land, at sea, or in the air. The same is now true in cyberspace.”

Saturday, June 9, 2018
Jens Stoltenberg
Motion #3: The Russia Threat Is Overblown

A guide to U.S.-Russia relations and U.S. policy toward Russia. 

Monday, August 21, 2017
Cory Welt

“Russia's economy is projected to grow by less than 2 percent this year, but has rebounded from a deep 2015-2016 contraction.”

Sunday, May 6, 2018
Dawn Kissi

An overview of the historical relationship between New START and the U.S. strategic nuclear modernization program.


Thursday, August 30, 2018
Frank A. Rose

“After face-to-face talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Trump contradicted US intelligence agencies and said there had been no reason for Russia to meddle in the vote.”

Monday, July 16, 2018

“The president holds chummy meetings with Vladimir Putin, while his administration imposes new sanctions.”


Friday, August 10, 2018
The Editorial Board

“The West’s sanctions on Russia have morphed from pinpoint economic strikes into a years-long war of attrition."

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Anton Troianovski

“With Chechnya as his model, the Russian president is willing to level whole cities to enforce ‘peace.’ For Putin, civilian suffering is a tool to be exploited to win the war.”

Monday, September 10, 2018
Samuel Oakford

“Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned NATO against cultivating closer ties with Ukraine and Georgia, saying such a policy was irresponsible and would have unspecified consequences for the alliance.”

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Andrew Osborn

“Exercises matter both militarily and politically. They help keep armed forces on their toes, and hone new weapons and tactics under realistic conditions.”

Thursday, September 6, 2018
The Economist

“The week-long exercises, which kicked off yesterday, are intended as a show of might. But the country is in no position to wage a real conflict.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Mark Galeotti

“A rising power challenging the international order can make even sworn enemies into bedfellows."

Monday, July 16, 2018
Harry J. Kazianis

“The problem is not that American democracy was hacked, but that it is hackable.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Jeet Heer

“The New Yorker's Masha Gessen and Adrian Chen have covered Russia extensively. They tell NPR's David Greene why they think the impact of Russian election interference efforts is largely overblown.”

Thursday, March 1, 2018
Masha Gessen & Adrian Chen

DNI Dan Coats argue, “The warning signs are there. The system is blinking.”

Monday, July 16, 2018
Eileen M. Decker

“Russia is weak — and the West should treat it as such.”

Friday, April 27, 2018
Marc C. Johnson

“The company said that a hacking group tied to the Russian government created fake internet domains that appeared to spoof two American conservative organizations: the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute. Three other fake domains were designed to look as if they belonged to the U.S. Senate.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Associated Press

“Election experts say voting security has vastly improved since 2016, even if much remains to be done.”

Thursday, August 2, 2018
Michael D. Shea & Michael Wines

“Can Russia really storm Berlin again? Is it even willing to try? Does Mr. Putin really believe he can win a short and glorious war? Or is he just bluffing?”

Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Yulia Latynina