Kristin Lord

Through Syria, Darkly

Will Assad agree to a political solution? Can ISIS be defeated? A sobering report from the latest PeaceGame.

Peace will come to Syria slowly and only after much greater violence, participants predicted grimly at the second-ever PeaceGame, co-sponsored by Foreign Policy and the United States Institute of Peace in Abu Dhabi on June 18-19. In the meantime, given the protracted conflict's disastrous spread into Iraq, the most realistic positive developments may be limited to international cooperation to provide humanitarian relief and counter extremists from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Despite an estimated 160,000 casualties since 2011 and at least 6.5 million people displaced from their homes, external intervention at a level sufficient to force the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to the negotiating table appear unlikely in the foreseeable future.  

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The Strategy Killer

Rising global violence threatens more than humanity's collective conscience. In 2014, America should seize two critical opportunities to address it.

The White House and State Department are hard at work on two major new documents that will lay the foundation for America's national security policy for the remainder of the Obama administration and possibly beyond: the National Security Strategy, rumored for release this summer, and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), slated for release later this year. The usual bureaucratic tussles will ensue about what should and should not be included in these documents, and the administration will inevitably struggle to determine priorities amid the unenviable palette of challenges and paucity of big opportunities.

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America the Gentle Giant

How the United States can shape the world without boots on the ground and bombs in the air.  

Vladimir Putin's cynical efforts to annex Crimea and intimidate the fledgling government of Ukraine make it all too clear that naked aggression in world affairs is not a thing of the past. The United States and its allies must respond firmly when such aggression occurs. But there are other perhaps less dramatic instances of resorting to force of arms. These include unresolved disputes between states -- or ethnic, tribal, and religious disputes within states -- that degenerate into armed conflict.

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The Debrief

Jihadists as possible forces of peace, Russia as a potential dealmaker, and other conclusions from the inaugural PeaceGame.

Syria is the world's newest problem from hell. The conflict is stalemated, with no end in sight.

More than 100,000 are dead and millions are displaced from their homes. Forty-six percent of the population needs humanitarian aid. There are more than 5,000 foreign Sunni fighters, including more than 1,000 from the West. Prospects for a negotiated settlement at the next round of Geneva talks are dim.

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The Alternative to War

Introducing FP's Peace Channel and PeaceGame, in collaboration with the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Peace is back.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's proposal to rid Syria of its chemical weapons -- whatever intentions lie behind it -- not only headed off the imminent use of military force by the United States, but also put the idea of a negotiated settlement back on the political agenda. The renewed focus on peace caught the U.S. administration by surprise. It also seemed to relieve most Americans. According to a September poll by the Washington Post and ABC News, 79 percent of Americans support the Russian plan. Only 30 percent support U.S. military strikes against the Syrian government.

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