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In Depth

In Depth: Obama’s Targeted-Killing Problem

in In Depth

US Air Force/Lance Cheung // An MQ-9 sits on the flightline at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.Rachel Stohl (American Interest) — When the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its “torture report” in December 2014, it reignited the battle over the George W. Bush administration’s conduct of the “war on terror.” Unfortunately, the interrogation program was not an anomaly in its lack of transparency.

A similar problem exists with the U.S. drone program—which, after more than ten years of use and nearly two years after President Barack Obama’s speech promising greater transparency and accountability, remains shrouded in secrecy and uncertainty.

If an internal critique of the U.S. drone program exists, it has been kept from open discussion and debate. Yet the most basic questions about the program have not been answered: What are the goals of the program? Are drones effective in accomplishing those goals? What metric is used to evaluate their effectiveness?

Russia and America: Stumbling to War

in In Depth

Rob Schleiffert/Wikimedia Commons // Tupolev Tu-160Graham Allison and Dimitri K. Simes (American Interest) — After the Soviet Union collapsed, Richard Nixon observed that the United States had won the Cold War, but had not yet won the peace.Since then, three American presidents—representing both political parties—have not yet accomplished that task.

On the contrary, peace seems increasingly out of reach as threats to U.S. security and prosperity multiply both at the systemic level, where dissatisfied major powers are increasingly challenging the international order, and at the state and substate level, where dissatisfied ethnic, tribal, religious and other groups are destabilizing key countries and even entire regions.

Most dangerous are disagreements over the international system and the prerogatives of major powers in their immediate neighborhoods—disputes of the sort that have historically produced the greatest conflicts.

Making Waves: Aiding India’s Next-Generation Aircraft Carrier

in In Depth

Sevmash // A MiG-29K fighter takes off from the Indian Navy's new Vikramaditya aircraft carrier during recent trials in Russia's White Sea ahead of planned delivery later this year.Ashley J. Tellis (Carnegie South Asia Program) — The United States and India have agreed to form a working group to explore the joint development of India’s next-generation aircraft carrier.

While the Indian Navy has already begun design work, wide-ranging cooperation with the United States has enormous potential and offers India the opportunity to acquire the most capable warship possible. Such collaboration would increase the Indian Navy’s combat power and would resonate throughout the Asian continent to India’s strategic advantage.

The most valuable U.S. contributions are likely to materialize in the fight, possibly in the move, and hopefully in the integrate functions.

Lebanon: Situation Report

in In Depth

AFP/Getty Images/File // A Lebanese man holding the national flag watches the funeral procession.Lina Khatib, Maxwell Gardiner (Tony Blair Faith Foundation) — Lebanon’s religious landscape is unique in a region largely dominated by Sunni Islam, with the country’s population being composed in almost equal numbers of Sunnis, Shia, and Christians, in addition to a smaller number of Druze and other minorities.

This mosaic has produced a political system based on power sharing among Lebanon’s largest communities, which many credit for preventing Lebanon from descending into a failed state despite the many conflicts it has witnessed in its modern history.

But Lebanon’s ‘confessional’ political system, based on rigid sectarian representation, has served to contribute to the weakness of the Lebanese state. National identity in Lebanon is dominated by sectarian identity, leaving trust in national institutions weak while sustaining clientelistic relations between sect leaders and their followers.

Islamic State and al-Qaeda Competing for Hearts & Minds

in In Depth // Al Qaeda recruits end their training in the mountains of Qalmoon, Syria.Ely Karmon (Terrorism Research Initiative) — In his attempt to successfully compete with the Islamic State (IS) under the leadership of Abu Bakr al–Baghdadi—who has claimed the title of Caliph Ibrahim—al-Qaeda (AQ) leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced, on September 4, 2014, the establishment of the new affiliate group “Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent” (AQIS).

He also challenged the legitimacy of al-Baghdadi’s claim to the title of caliph by clarifying that the new jihadi organization will work under the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, whose Emir is the “commander of the faithful” Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader.

AQIS has the same objectives as those articulated by Osama bin Laden and the other founders of al-Qaeda: prepare Muslims for jihad against their enemies; liberate Muslim lands now ruled by non-Muslims; and revive the Islamic caliphate.

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