Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

When America Attacked Syria

by Micah Zenko Monday, February 13, 2012
Smoke rises from the bombed Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport on October 23, 1983. Smoke rises from the bombed Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport on October 23, 1983.

In response to the worsening civil war in Syria and the Bashar al-Assad regime’s continuous use of rockets, artillery, and sniper fire against civilian population centers, some policymakers, analysts, and members of the Syrian opposition are calling for some sort of military intervention—no-fly zones, safe zones, humanitarian corridors, close air support, and more. The various objectives of the proposed operations are to protect civilians, assure the delivery of humanitarian assistance, aid the armed opposition, encourage military defections, or oust Assad. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Military Intervention, Drones, and al-Qaeda.

by Micah Zenko Friday, February 10, 2012
An explosion after airstrikes by NATO-led forces during fighting against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan (Courtesy Reuters/Parwiz Parwiz). An explosion after airstrikes by NATO-led forces during fighting against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan (Courtesy Reuters/Parwiz Parwiz).

The FAA Reauthorization Act, which President Obama is expected to sign, also orders the Federal Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015. Read more »

An Iranian Nuclear Weapon: How Would We Know?

by Micah Zenko Tuesday, February 7, 2012
The late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il waves to crowds in April 1992 (Courtesy Reuters/KCNA). The late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il waves to crowds in April 1992 (Courtesy Reuters/KCNA).

As President Obama articulated in his State of the Union address, the goal of U.S. policy toward Iran is clear: “To prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.” There are a number of problems inherent to this objective, however. How do you operationalize it? How would you know that Iran has produced a nuclear weapon, or is nearing the completion of one? Read more »

America’s Drones, Transparency, and Accountability

by Micah Zenko Saturday, February 4, 2012
An unarmed U.S. "Shadow" drone is pictured in flight (Courtesy Reuters). An unarmed U.S. "Shadow" drone is pictured in flight (Courtesy Reuters).

On Monday evening, President Obama made the unprecedented decision to publicly acknowledge U.S. drone strikes against suspected terrorists and militants in Pakistan. During a Google+ “Hang Out” webchat, the president overturned seven and half-years of policy when he stated that: “Obviously a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan] going after al-Qaeda suspects.” Read more »

You Might Have Missed: 2012 National Security Threat Assessment, Drone Strikes, and More

by Micah Zenko Friday, February 3, 2012
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, flanked by FBI Director Robert Mueller and CIA Director David Petraeus as they testify before a Senate Select Intelligence hearing in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Kevin Lamarque). Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, flanked by FBI Director Robert Mueller and CIA Director David Petraeus as they testify before a Senate Select Intelligence hearing in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Kevin Lamarque).

2012 THREAT ASSESSMENT

  • Selections from the Hearing of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, “World Wide Threats,” January 31, 2012.

Senator Fienstein: Closer to home, since our hearing last year there were at least 20 individuals arrested in the United States on terrorism-related charges in 17 different investigations, which stopped them from carrying out or assisting in attacks on the homeland. Read more »