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Ilan Goldenberg
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Blog Entries by Ilan Goldenberg

100 Days, 100 Foreign Policy Achievements

Posted April 27, 2009 | 14:54:37 (EST)


President Obama's first 100 days have seen an enormous amount of activity on national security - travel by the President, his Cabinet and envoys, gestures intended to signal a change in the US's approach to the world, and substantive reforms to policy overseas and the conduct of policy at...

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What Real Diplomacy Looks Like

Posted April 2, 2009 | 15:01:14 (EST)

Barack Obama showed up in Europe this week and the world did not simply swoon at his feet.  Some may choose to portray that as failure, but they would be dead wrong.  Diplomacy is about interests and hard bargaining to find areas of common understanding.  No matter how popular he...

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The Case for a Middle Path in Afghanistan

Posted March 24, 2009 | 21:40:27 (EST)

As the president moves this week to make a decision on Afghanistan, three schools of thought have emerged on what he should do.  The president could choose to go all in.  He could choose a minimalist strategy.  Or he could opt for something in the middle.  The president has no...

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What Obama's Iraq Speech Means for American Foreign Policy

Posted March 2, 2009 | 12:27:56 (EST)

President Obama's speech on Iraq was the culmination of something that many of us had been working towards for years.  But it was more than just the beginning of the end of the war.  It was also the clearest signal yet of what an Obama administration's foreign policy will look...

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More Lies from Vice President Cheney

Posted December 17, 2008 | 15:43:35 (EST)

The scope of absurd statements and flat out debunked assertions in Vice President Cheney's ABC interview was pretty shocking.  Spencer Ackerman debunks Cheney's statement's about the intelligence that was derived from waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  And Think Progress takes care of the false assertion that somehow Saddam...

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What Zawahiri's Message Says About Obama and Al Qaeda

Posted November 19, 2008 | 12:09:54 (EST)

Today, Al Qaeda's number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released his first message since the election.  As the AP reported he

used a racial epithet to insult Barack Obama in a message posted Wednesday, describing the president-elect in demeaning terms that imply he does the bidding of whites.

Zawahiri also challenged Obama's...

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Is Al Qaeda Messing With Our Elections?

Posted October 30, 2008 | 18:30:34 (EST)

The front page of Drudge is hyping the much anticipated "Al Qaeda endorsement" saying that "al Qaeda Wants Republicans, Bush 'Humiliated."  Of course Drudge's whole point here is to try and get folks believing that Al Qaeda supports Obama.  The reality is much more complicated. 

As Reuters

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McCain Again Failing Commander-in-Chief Test: This Time Syria

Posted October 27, 2008 | 17:53:10 (EST)

So how does the McCain campaign respond to sporadic news reports that U.S. special forces carried out an attack in Syrian territory?  Well a responsible campaign (i.e. the Obama campaign) would follow the White House's lead and offer no comment until they got more information.  But instead the McCain...

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Does Palin Know What a Precondition Is?

Posted October 22, 2008 | 20:53:47 (EST)

Doesn't sound like it according to this exchange with Brian Williams.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Gov. Palin, yesterday, you tied this notion of an early test to the president with this notion of preconditions, that you both have been hammering the Obama campaign on. First of all what in your mind is...

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The Powell Endorsement and the End of the Republican Foreign Policy Establishment

Posted October 20, 2008 | 18:47:26 (EST)

Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama is an important moment in the Presidential campaign.  Powell, a former National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State is one of the most trusted public figures in the United States.  And he is a Republican.  His endorsement acts as...

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5 National Security Hurdles Governor Palin Must Clear

Posted October 1, 2008 | 14:46:35 (EST)


1. KNOWLEDGE: Governor Palin must demonstrate the knowledge necessary to be Commander-in-Chief.

Governor Palin has repeatedly cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as a qualification for being Commander-in-Chief.  This despite the fact that Russia isn't even in the top twenty countries that trade with Alaska and that Moscow is actually...

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The McCain-Palin Gibberish Iran Policy

Posted September 30, 2008 | 15:52:13 (EST)

One of the things that hasn't been covered much coming out of the debate, is that McCain's Iran policy has turned to absolute gibberish.  After the past few days, it appears that McCain's policy is that Iran developing nuclear technology is an urgent problem that must be stopped to avoid...

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Obama Passes Commander in Chief Test

Posted September 27, 2008 | 00:12:32 (EST)

So what came out of this debate that John McCain tried to evade?  The pressure was on McCain to win and win big.  But he didn't do that.  Not at all.  Obama won on key issues demonstrating that our foreign policy is more than just about the surge.  McCain frequently...

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Palin Calls Kissinger Naive

Posted September 25, 2008 | 20:19:01 (EST)

In her interview with Katie Couric Sarah Palin essentially called Henry Kissinger naive and also proved that she just hasn't done her homework

Couric: You met yesterday with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who is for direct diplomacy with both Iran and Syria. Do you believe the U.S....

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Palin's Dangerous Saber Rattling on Russia

Posted September 11, 2008 | 19:45:19 (EST)

Sarah Palin said something very very dangerous today during her interview with Charlie Gibson.

PALIN: Well, you know, the Rose Revolution, the Orange Revolution, those actions have showed us that those democratic nations, I believe, deserve to be in NATO. Putin thinks otherwise. Obviously, he thinks otherwise, but...

GIBSON: And...

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Picking a Fight With Russia: Very Presidential

Posted August 8, 2008 | 16:27:19 (EST)

Things seem to have gone very wrong in Georgia and South Ossetia.  It doesn't really look like anybody has a very clear idea of what is going on.  As a presidential candidate you have two choices:

A.  Take a cautious approach and call for the cession of violence on...

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The Surge or the Surge?

Posted July 24, 2008 | 01:03:34 (EST)

John McCain's latest argument is to somehow try to retroactively argue that by "surge" he meant "counterinsurgency strategy" and that the counterinsurgency strategy and thus the surge actually went back to 2006. Here is the video:   




One problem.  Just two months ago McCain came under attack for saying this:

"I can tell you that it is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it's succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels." 

Of course, U.S. forces hadn't drawn down to "pre-surge" levels.  They are only now just getting back to 140,000, which is still above pre-surge levels.  But that's besides the point.  What was McCain referring in that moment?  Was he saying "We are drawing back down to where we were before Colonel McFarland started using counterinsurgency tactics in Anbar as part of the Anbar Awakening."  No, that is completely and patently absurd.  He meant that we are coming back down to pre-January 2007 numbers when the "surge" actually began.

In fact, he added later:

"The surge, we have drawn down from the surge and we will complete that drawdown to the end -- at the end of July. That's just a factual statement."

According to this statement John McCain is basically asserting that the surge is over.  But based on his own definition today the "surge" actually equals the counterinsurgency strategy.  So, is the counterinsurgency strategy over?  I think that might be news to General Petraeus.

Basically this is one of the most pathetic attempts of political spin that I have seen in quite a while.  Let's face it.  When John McCain went on CBS he completely bungled the facts and demonstrated that he had no idea of how the surge and Anbar Awakening played out.  His attempted explanation today by somehow claiming that by "surge" he actually meant the counterinsurgency strategy that was going on months before the troop increase, might make sense if he hadn't spent the past few months defining and referring to the surge as the troop increase that began in early...

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Not a Gaffe: A Fundamental Misunderstanding of Iraq

Posted July 22, 2008 | 20:13:59 (EST)

John McCain made a mistake this evening, which as far as I'm concerned, disqualifies him from being president.  It is so appalling and so factually wrong that I'm actually sitting here wondering who McCain's advisers are.  This isn't some gaffe where he talks about the Iraq-Pakistan border.  It's a real...

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A Surreal Moment in Iraq

Posted July 21, 2008 | 17:00:57 (EST)

It's become pretty apparent both from Prime Minister Maliki's statements over the past few days as well as through a slew of other assertions from senior Iraqi officials that they are comfortable with the idea of a timeline for the withdrawal of American combat forces by sometime in 2010 and...

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Memo to the Progressive Community on Iran

Posted June 27, 2008 | 10:54:27 (EST)

To: The Progressive Community

From: The National Security Network


The past few weeks have again shown that the issue of Iran will be front and center in the country's foreign policy dialogue and will play a major role in the upcoming election. Conservatives have likened diplomatic engagement...

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