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The Politics of Water in the Middle East: U.S. “Good Offices” Mediation Between Jordan and Israel

For countries in the Jordan River Basin, water is a life-or-death matter. Disagreements and even armed skirmishes over water issues between Israel and Arab states played an important role in the lead-up to the 1967 Six Day War.  A decade later, USAID Foreign Service Officer Selig Taubenblatt found himself mediating long-standing water disagreements between Israel […]

The Collapse of Order in the Middle East

Will Rogers once observed that “when you get into trouble 5,000 miles from home, you’ve got to have been looking for it.”  It’s a good deal more than 5.000 miles to Baghdad or Damascus from here.  And, boy, have we gotten into trouble!  We are trying to cope with the cumulative consequences of multiple failures.  Just about every […]

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The Middle East Cauldron

Edward “Skip” Gnehm served as Ambassador to Kuwait shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, from 1991 to 1994, and was Director of the State Department’s Kuwait Task Force. Before that, he had worked extensively in the Middle East. He ran the two-man U.S. Interests Section in Damascus during then-Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s […]

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Ambassador Skip Gnehm on the Middle East

The Middle East has been a complicated, if not violent, region for millennia, which has only been exacerbated by recent events in Iraq, Syria, and Gaza. As the United States and its allies embark on a campaign to bring down ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as the Islamic State or […]

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Rivalry in the Southeast: Preah Vihear Temple Dispute Between Cambodia and Thailand

Foreign Service Officer Thomas Donohue served in both continental and archipelagic Southeast Asia during a tumultuous period in which countries in the region and other parts of the globe were breaking away from European colonial powers. He witnessed first-hand the complex relations among regional countries. During his assignment in Cambodia from 1962 to 1964, both […]

Construction Equipment in the Middle of the Jordan River—Blacklisting Threats, an Ultimatum, and Diplomatic Activity after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War

As a first-tour USAID loan officer in Amman, Jordan, Anthony Schwarzwalder observed first-hand the economic aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Following Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem, a U.S. contractor’s construction equipment, valued at $1 million, sat stranded and in limbo at the Jerusalem airport. Recovering the equipment would require a creative effort, as the […]

Counterinsurgency in Eastern Afghanistan 2004-2008: Development

Chronic instability, beginning before the Soviet invasion, helped destroy Afghanistan’s already underdeveloped economy. After 9/11, the United States dedicated billions of dollars and significant human effort in the eastern part of the country and elsewhere in the form of aid, infrastructure projects, agriculture development, and investment in education. A number of agencies — including the Department […]

Counterinsurgency in Eastern Afghanistan 2004-2008 — An Overview

It is impossible to understand the War in Afghanistan, now the longest war in American history, much less the motives for the United States to lead this international engagement, without first understanding Afghanistan itself and considering the historical context preceding and surrounding the war. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States’ foreign […]

Counterinsurgency in Eastern Afghanistan — Governance

After 9/11, the United States recognized the instability within made Afghanistan a sanctuary and breeding ground for terrorism — evident in the growing presence of al-Qaeda in the eastern half of the country. U.S. policy pivoted from containment to counterterrorism (CT) and counter-insurgency (COIN) and focused on the three pillars of security, governance, and economic development. […]