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.

Print Print Email Email Share Share Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close

loading...

You Might Have Missed: Drones, Mali, and Iran

by Micah Zenko
February 2, 2013

General Stanley McChrystal speaks at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan on December 2, 2009 (Mustafa Quraishi/Courtesy Reuters). General Stanley McChrystal speaks at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan on December 2, 2009 (Mustafa Quraishi/Courtesy Reuters).

Thomas Hegghammer, “Should I Stay or Should I Go? Explaining Variation in Western Jihadists’ Choice Between Domestic and Foreign Fighting,” American Political Science Review, February 2013.


Trudy Rubin, “The Next Steps in Afghanistan,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 31, 2013.

“It’s dangerous to view drone strikes as a strategy in itself,” the general said firmly in a phone interview. “I fear it is a tempting approach that may be overweighted.”

“I became convinced [in Afghanistan] that counterterrorism is only effective if meshed with a wider strategy,” McChrystal said. As for the use of drones, “It is a very limited approach that gives the illusion you are making progress because you are doing something.”


Glennon J. Harrison, Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Manufacturing Trends, Congressional Research Service, January 30, 2013.

Although the commercial market for UAS is protected to grow, it is forecast to remain below 2% of total global production through 2022.


Presidential Memorandum – Coordination of Policies and Programs to Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women and Girls Globally, January 30, 2013.


Dan Lamothe, “Amos: Marines Eye New Crisis-Response Unit,” Marine Corps Times, January 29, 2013.

Gen. Jim Amos told Marine Corps Times on Monday that the service is looking at theaters “where there is the greatest need.” He declined to identify the theaters, but said one combatant commander is very interested.

“We can do this,” Amos said after delivering a speech at the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium in Washington. “This is what we do for a living. … We would go forward into a combatant commander’s theater with this capability and give it to him, and then we would refresh the capability every six months.”


Jeanette Steele, “Admiral: Cuts May Mean No Response to Next Crisis,” UT San Diego, January 29, 2013.

Facing hard choices, Winnefeld said the Joint Chiefs are using six goals to guide their decisions on what to buy and where to send machinery and troops. The six, in order: The survival of the nation, the security of the global economic system, prevention of catastrophic attacks on the nation, securing U.S. allies, protecting Americans abroad and protection of “universal” values.

“No matter how decisions on using force recently have actually been made, I can explain every one of those decisions in that prioritized framework,” he said.

(3PA: Where in the U.S. National Security Strategy, Quadrennial Defense Review, or Defense Strategic Guidance are the six prioritized objectives found? How did the Joint Chiefs come up with them?)


Drew Hinshaw, “Nations Pledge Aid to Mission in Mali,” Wall Street Journal, January 29, 2013.

The U.S. has signed an agreement with Mali’s neighbor, Niger, that could lead to a base for surveillance drones to track al Qaeda militants and for an expanded American military presence on the edges of the conflict. Pentagon officials say putting a drone base in Niger was still in the preliminary discussion phase. A drone base, if approved, could require the deployment of between 200 and 400 American military personnel and contractors, depending on the number and type of aircraft stationed there.

Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou has signaled to American delegations his willingness to accommodate a drone base or another temporary facility to counter al Qaeda in Mali and the region, U.S. officials said, but the details of any future U.S. operations in Niger have yet to be worked out.


Sheera Frenkel, “Israel: Iran Slowing Nuclear Program, Won’t Have Bomb Before 2015,” Miami Herald, January 28, 2013.

Intelligence briefings given to McClatchy over the last two months have confirmed that various officials across Israel’s military and political echelons now think it’s unrealistic that Iran could develop a nuclear weapons arsenal before 2015. Others pushed the date back even further, to the winter of 2016.

“Previous assessments were built on a set of data that has since shifted,” said one Israeli intelligence officer, who spoke to McClatchy only on the condition that he not be identified. He said that in addition to a series of “mishaps” that interrupted work at Iran’s nuclear facilities, Iranian officials appeared to have slowed the program on their own.

“We can’t attribute the delays in Iran’s nuclear program to accidents and sabotage alone,” he said. “There has not been the run towards a nuclear bomb that some people feared. There is a deliberate slowing on their end.”

“There is a question we have to ask ourselves, of ‘Did we cry wolf too early?’ ” the intelligence officer said.

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required