Matthew RJ Brodsky
Matthew RJ Brodsky
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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A Requiem for the Assad-Family Dynasty in Syria

April 21, 2017  •  National Review

Despite six years of Bashar al-Assad's televised barbarism, there remains a strong American impulse to keep the Syrian dictator in power. The reason most commonly cited is the U.S. failure to produce stability in Iraq after toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003. The rationale is further bolstered by assumptions left over from the 1990s, relics of a bygone era that hold little practical value today. A more informed strategy can be successful only if mistaken beliefs surrounding the House of Assad are finally laid to rest. The truth is that Bashar Assad is not his father, and he's not a reformer. Nor is he a strongman leader who can be relied upon either today or in the future. In fact, his judgment is so poor that his recent decision to use chemical weapons may ultimately spell the end of his regime -- a classic case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. For too long, engagement enthusiasts have chased the Assad mirage based on beliefs that are unmoored from reality. Much like the antiquated policies that spring from those assumptions, the Assad dynasty has lived long past its shelf life.

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America's Tomahawk Telegram Sends a Clear Message to Assad

April 7, 2017  •  The National Interest

It's likely no coincidence that the latest horrific chemical weapons attack in Syria by the Assad regime came within days of top Trump administration officials providing cover for Bashar al-Assad to remain in power. Unfortunately, the lesson is that this is what happens when the U.S. telegraphs that vicious dictators who use chemical weapons against their own people can remain in power. It's too early to tell if President Trump's ultimate objective is to punish the regime, prevent a repeated chemical weapon attack and degrade his military capabilities, fundamentally alter the balance of power in the Syrian civil war, or bring about the end of Bashar Assad's rule. Each option necessitates a different military strategy that would shape America's tactics going forward. Nevertheless, sending the Syrian dictator a military message that there are certain levels of barbarity that the world will not tolerate is a good start.

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Renewed U.S.-Egyptian Relations and the Possibility of a Hezbollah-Israel War

April 3, 2017  •  Secure Freedom Radio / The Frank Gaffney Show

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Recalibrating the Rules of Engagement Between Hezbollah and Israel

March 27, 2017  •  The Hill

Since the end of their inconclusive 33-day conflict in 2006, conventional wisdom has always been that another war between Hezbollah and Israel was simply a matter of time, and when it happens, the extent of destruction in Israel and Lebanon will dwarf that of the previous war. The questions have been when it will begin and how will it be triggered? Both Israel and Hezbollah have tended to abide by a set of rules--an algorithm that governs their actions, where each side makes tactical calculations regarding what and where they can target without triggering a full-blown war. What is happening now is likely another recalibration of those rules with the main complicating factor being Russia's entry into the Syrian cauldron in September 2015. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is ultimately responsible for the strategic decision to send Hezbollah to war--not Hezbollah itself. He is unlikely to do so now when he knows his military, economic, and political position will be greatly enhanced by waiting a few years for the provisions of the nuclear deal to expire.

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Can Trump Refrain from Repeating His Predecessor's Mistakes in Syria?

March 18, 2017  •  The National Interest

Having reached the six-year anniversary of the Syrian civil war, the death toll is now counted by the hundreds of thousands with a refugee crisis tallied in the millions. When it comes to the Middle East, newly elected American presidents have a tendency to veer toward overcorrection. The Middle East, however, is never shy about presenting its own lessons, regardless of presidential intentions. For a president who eschewed force for finesse with his own form of overcorrection, it turned out that Barack Obama was clearly overmatched and subsequently outplayed by both Russia and Iran. Now, in the early months of his presidency, Donald Trump finds himself at a fork in the road in terms of foreign policy. When it comes to Syria, there are no good choices available today. It's about finding the best bad option. The United States is in need of a Goldilocks policy—solutions in between the way too hot and way too cold spectrum. Can Team Trump learn the proper lessons from history and from America's successes and failures abroad?

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