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Joel Rubin
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Joel Rubin is a Democratic candidate for Maryland's 8th Congressional District. the President of Washington Strategy Group, a foreign policy advisory firm. An Adjunct Faculty Member at Carnegie Mellon's Heinz School for Public Policy and Management, Rubin is also a former senior government official appointed by the Obama Administration, having recently served at the State Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, handling the U.S. House of Representatives. In this role, Rubin managed the Department's engagements with the Republican-led House on all foreign policy issues, ranging from Iran to trade to the fight against the Islamic State to Cuba. He also testified to the Benghazi Select Committee on behalf of the Administration.

Rubin previously worked as a progressive foreign policy expert and advocate in the non-governmental field on national security issues. He worked at Ploughshares Fund, the country’s leading funder dedicated to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons; the National Security Network, a progressive foreign policy media organization; and J Street, the political home of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement. Earlier, he served as a national security aide to two senior Democratic Senators on foreign policy, defense, and appropriations issues, winning numerous awards, including the Congressional staffer of the year award from the Military Officers Association of America. He also served in government as a career officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Energy Department, and was an environmental education Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica.

Rubin has been a frequent commentator on foreign policy and national security issues on television and in print for MSNBC, CBS, BBC, the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Huffington Post, Politico, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle and other outlets. Rubin earned a Masters degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelors degree from Brandeis University. He lives in Chevy Chase, MD with his wife and three daughters.

Entries by Joel Rubin

Women's Health - It's Personal To Me

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2016 | 3:35 PM

Big news! My campaign just released our first ad of the campaign today on Women's Healthcare. The ad tells my mother-in-law's story of how she was sterilized against her will in a hospital in Pullman, Washington in 1972, shortly after delivering my wife, Nilmini - a dark time in our...

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Governor Hogan Fails Maryland on Syria's Refugees

(12) Comments | Posted December 3, 2015 | 11:13 AM

The Great Jewish Sage Hillel said "If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"

We should be asking ourselves these same questions as we witness the surge of refugees fleeing Syria's devastating conditions....

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Fighting for Progressive Change: My Opening Remarks at the Dem Debate in Maryland's 8th Congressional District

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2015 | 12:21 PM

Here are my opening remarks to the voters of Maryland's 8th Congressional District at my first public debate since entering the race on October 5, 2015. The Democratic primary will be held on April 26, 2016 and will elect a successor to Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

"Thank...

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A Pope That Congress Should Listen To

(22) Comments | Posted September 19, 2015 | 6:18 PM

When the Pope takes center stage in the heart of the nation's capital next Thursday, Americans will be enthralled.  This Pope has done more to take on the establishment he leads than any other Vatican leader in our lifetime.  And he has done so with grace, energy, and determination.  Our...

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Danger: If Congress 'Blows Up' the Iran Deal

(28) Comments | Posted August 31, 2015 | 7:24 PM

As Congress wrestles with the question of whether or not to support President Obama's diplomatic agreement with Iran, there is a broad consensus over the need to confront Iran's dangerous behavior. Iran has been a destabilizing player in the Persian Gulf for decades, supports the Assad regime's murderous behavior and...

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Iran Deal Critics Undermine American Leadership

(46) Comments | Posted August 14, 2015 | 1:28 PM

America's allies must be shaking their heads as they watch some members of Congress trying to kill the Vienna Agreement that prevents Iran from building a nuclear weapon. For nearly a decade, we've been working with our British, French and German allies to verifiably prevent Iran from achieving that objective...

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Congressional Republicans Need to Take the Iran Deal Seriously

(18) Comments | Posted July 31, 2015 | 3:06 PM

Secretary of State John Kerry and a team of skilled negotiators achieved a national security miracle: a diplomatic deal that blocks Iran's path to a nuclear bomb.

This should be a cause for celebration in both Washington and Jerusalem. Yet for Republicans in Congress, it is not. Soon they will likely...

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This Is What a Winning Negotiation With Iran Looks Like

(56) Comments | Posted November 11, 2013 | 12:16 PM

Now is the right time for a nuclear deal that prevents an Iranian bomb. We will not get all we want at the table with Iran -- no negotiation ever sees one side get it all while the other gets nothing. And such a lopsided deal would only invite the...

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Iran's Diplomatic Thaw With the West

(18) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 2:21 PM

Congratulations, Congress. Your Iran strategy is working. Now what?

The diplomatic thaw between Iran and the West is advancing, and faster than most of us had imagined. This is the result of years of painstaking efforts by the Obama administration and lawmakers to pressure the Islamic Republic into deciding whether...

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Iran Diplomacy Through the Prism of the Syria Debate

(9) Comments | Posted September 12, 2013 | 9:17 AM

There are three strategic themes present in the current Washington debate about Syria that are relevant to Iran policy. First, it's always darkest before the dawn when it comes to diplomacy. Second, presidents must push for results and see what their team can deliver. And third, Congress can't be counted...

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Washington Reassesses Iran Policy

(24) Comments | Posted July 25, 2013 | 11:37 AM

Just when you think you understand how American and Iranian politics work, a lightning bolt comes from the sky to shake up conventional wisdom.

That lightning bolt appeared last month, when the Iranian people elected a new President, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, on the first ballot. No one -...

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Our Generation's Security Challenge: Eliminating Nuclear Weapons

(1) Comments | Posted June 24, 2013 | 5:35 PM

There are approximately 17,300 nuclear weapons in the world across nine countries. Of these, nearly 7,700 are in the United States.

This is why we should pay attention to President Obama's call to action in Berlin. It was a call for all of us...

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Foreign Policy Wishes for Father's Day

(1) Comments | Posted June 13, 2013 | 3:23 PM

As a father, I feel responsible not only for my three little girls' health and well being, but also for their emotional security, their education, and their safety. Because of this, I believe that it's my responsibility to do my utmost to make the world a better place.

It's...

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Syria, Iran and the Red Lines Trap

(32) Comments | Posted May 17, 2013 | 5:27 PM

In foreign policy, "red lines," or public statements of policy boundaries, are often set by one nation to make it clear to another that, if the red line is breached, there will be consequences. Setting a red line can be a very powerful tool for advancing a particular policy.

It...

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How to Support Kerry's Middle East Shuttle Diplomacy

(9) Comments | Posted April 19, 2013 | 10:20 AM

I've just returned from a weeklong work trip to Israel and the West Bank. It had been more than three years since my last visit. While Israel never disappoints in its ability to delight the senses, inspire, and thrill, it is clear that the pressure of the changes in the...

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For Israel's sake, Obama needs his security team

(9) Comments | Posted February 25, 2013 | 3:58 PM

President Obama will visit Israel in March. This will be his first visit as president, and third visit overall. His agenda also includes visits to the West Bank and Jordan. His trip will take place just days after Israel's new government is formed.

There could not be a...

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Chuck Hagel Is the Right Choice for Secretary of Defense

(7) Comments | Posted January 29, 2013 | 2:28 PM

When I served in the U.S. Senate as a foreign policy aide, the Iraq war dominated the political debate and the nation's attention. Just like the budget fights of today, there was practically no other policy issue that wasn't viewed through the prism of where one stood on Iraq.

During...

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John Kerry Brings Passion to the State Department

(58) Comments | Posted December 21, 2012 | 2:54 PM

America's policy toward Israel and the Middle East was front and center in the political debate this election year, from Iran's nuclear program to Israeli-Arab peacemaking to America's response to the Arab Spring. And American Jews decided resoundingly -- by a 70 percent - 30 percent margin -- that Barack...

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How to Avoid a Failed Post-Assad Syria

(8) Comments | Posted December 17, 2012 | 6:29 PM

Syria is in free fall.

Forty thousand civilians and combatants have been killed with the toll still rising; 175,000 Syrians have been wounded; half a million refugees have been sent over Syria's borders; and 1.5 million Syrians have been displaced internally.  


The fate of this country, which is in the heart of the Middle East, directly affects our security interests and those of its neighbors, including Israel.  We have never experienced anything like this before, where a country, which also has a large chemical weapons arsenal, is collapsing before our eyes. We are in new territory now. 

While there are no good options for how to deal with this situation, there still are options that we must explore that will both put an end to this conflict while securing our interests.

The strategic objective of our policy should therefore be to seek a managed transition that moves Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of power without provoking a total state collapse.  Integrated into this delicate policy should be plans to secure the chemical weapons currently in Assad's hands, and to work with the Syrian opposition to create a functioning representative political system that achieves broad support and national stability.

To do this, our diplomacy should focus on working closely with our allies, such as Turkey, Jordan, France, Britain and the Persian Gulf states.  We should also continue to actively engage our competitors, such as Russia and China, who have influence over Assad. And we must criticize those who directly support Assad, such as Iran, with the hope of changing their behavior.

The goal of this diplomacy will be to help the emerging Syrian opposition political leadership and the Free Syrian Army to support a managed transition.  

There are alternatives to a managed transition, such as Assad holding out and continuing to fight, or a pure collapse of the regime with no one to fill the power vacuum that it leaves behind. Yet these alternatives will only guarantee further bloodshed and danger to our security interests.

If there's one lesson we learned from the invasion of Iraq, it's this: When countries implode and their governing structures disintegrate, there is no one left to pick up the pieces and chaos ensues. A managed transition therefore is the only viable path toward ensuring an end to the Syrian conflict that will keep the country intact.

Syria today is volatile and being torn apart, but it is not yet Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. We must do our utmost to avoid that outcome.

A managed transition will also reduce the likelihood of the conflict spreading throughout the region. Currently, the conflict is directly affecting Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. But these impacts are all still manageable. As time goes on, though, this conflict expansion could intensify and spread to Iraq and even Israel. Fortunately, all of the neighboring countries are still intact, and international efforts to manage a Syrian transition will ensure that they stay that way.

A managed transition is also the best way to prevent jihadi terrorist groups and other radical organizations from profiting any further from the fighting. The roots of the Syrian rebellion are from the early days of the Arab Spring, when peaceful protest erupted across the country and then Assad cracked down. His crackdown has radicalized elements of the opposition, but not all of it, and it has also opened the door to other extremists. As we work with the opposition's external political leadership and internal military leadership, we must seek to manage this troubling evolution so that the more moderate forces supporting change in Syria take control, either before or soon after Assad's fall.

Of course, a managed transition may be so elusive that we continue to witness the downward spiral of Syria.   

Some say that, as a result of the deepening conflict, we should move to send troops in to Syria as soon as possible, initially by creating a no-fly zone. This would not be wise if it were done for solely tactical effect. Such an effort would need to be part of a comprehensive, internationally backed policy that would ensure that a no-fly zone would be one part of a fuller plan for securing Syria's chemical weapons, pushing out Assad, and supporting the opposition's takeover. Absent such support -- as is currently the case -- the managed transition approach is the least bad of only bad options.

So now, more than ever, the world is looking to the United States to orchestrate a policy toward Syria that moves us past this dark period. There will be no clear outcomes and no easy solutions. But make no mistake: the Syrian transition is coming. Now is the time for us to decide how to manage it.

This piece originally appeared in the Jewish...

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What Obama's Reelection Means for U.S. Foreign Policy

(2) Comments | Posted November 19, 2012 | 10:10 AM

President Obama will be in the White House until January 2017. His reelection and the political space it creates for him now allow him to advance his foreign policy priorities with confidence. These are, as he stated in the campaign, to vigorously fight terrorism, to end the war in Afghanistan,...

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