Ellen Laipson

Distinguished Fellow and President Emeritus

Ellen Laipson is a Distinguished Fellow and President Emeritus of Stimson. Laipson joined Stimson in 2002, after 25 years of government service. Her last post was Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council (1997-2002). She also served on the State Department’s policy planning staff and was a specialist in Middle East affairs for the Congressional Research Service.  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the International Advisory Council of the International Institute of Strategic Studies.  She served on the board of the Asia Foundation (2003-2015).  She was a member of President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board from 2009-2013, and on the Secretary of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board 2011-2014. Laipson has an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University and an AB from Cornell University.

Selected Publications

Revisiting Marshall: Hope for Private Sector Growth in the Middle East (Brink, March 3, 2015)

Revisiting Marshall: Private Sector Development in the Middle East (Stimson Center, March 3, 2015)

Abdullah’s Real Legacy: Saudi Arabia’s Days of Quiet Change (Foreign Affairs, January 26, 2015)

The Marshall Plan still resonates in the Arab world (The Hill, November 20, 2014)

Tunisia’s Path to a New Order (Fikra Forum, November 4, 2014)

Tunisia’s Democratic Growing Pains (Fikra Forum, October 23, 2014)

The UAE and Egypt’s New Frontier in Libya (The National Interest, September 3, 2014)

Iraq and Afghanistan – any silver linings in our playbook? (The Hill, July 18, 2014)

Geography Matters – Stimson’s Regional Security Programs (Stimson Center, July 13 2014)

Mr. Jomaa Goes To Washington: A Breath Of Fresh Air From Tunisia’s ‘Arab Spring’ Revolution (co-author, International Business Times, April 4, 2014)

The President and King Abdullah talk regional security (Stimson Center, April 1, 2014)

Measuring US Impact and Influence in Iraq (Stimson Center, February 28, 2014)

Saudi-US friendship under pressure (CNN, November, 7, 2013)

More questions than answers about Afghan future (CNN, October 14, 2013)

Syria And Iran: The U.N. Proves Its Worth To The U.S. (International Business Times, October 10, 2013)

Picture Perfect: The Economic Integration of North Africa (Outpost, June 24, 2013)

Seismic Shift: Understanding Change in the Middle East (project director, May 2011)

The Future of US-Iraq Relations (Stimson Center, April 2010)

On the Move: Migration Challenges in the Indian Ocean Littoral (coeditor, Stimson, 2010)

America and the Emerging Iraqi Reality: New Goals, No Illusions (The Century Foundation, 2008)

Prospects for Middle East Security-Sector Reform (Survival, 2007)

Iraq and America: Choices and Consequences (coeditor, Stimson, July 2006)

Iraqi Kurds and Iraq’s Future (coauthor, Middle East Policy, 2006)

Improving the Interagency Process to Face 21st Century Security Challenges (2005)

Projects
No items found
Research & Writing
Filter by Product Type or Project

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Democracy in Arab World

  Read more here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Yemen’s Houthi Leaders

  Read full article here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Iran Deal Impact in North Korea

  Read the full article here

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Bombing Syria

Read article here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Joint Strikes in Syria

  Read the full article here

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Interviewed on Situation in Syria

  Listen to the full interview here

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Trump at War

Read the article here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Trump’s Military Engagement Strategy

  Read the full article here

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Saudi Crown Prince’s U.S. Tour

Read article here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Climate-Security Nexus

Read article here.

Op-Ed
Laipson Op-Ed on Reforming U.S. Security Aid

  Read the article here. 

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Libya as a Foreign Policy Failure

Read article here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Quoted on Iran Meddling in Syria

Read article here.

Op-Ed
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Think Tanks

  Read the op-ed here. 

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Davos

Read article here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on the Aftermath of the Iran Protests

  Read article here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Trump’s National Security Strategy

Read article here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on the Gulf Cooperation Council

Read article here.

Op-Ed
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Efforts to Reduce WMD

  Read the full text here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia

  Read the full article here. 

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Trump and North Korea

Read the article here. 

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Balfour Declaration’s Centennial

Read the article here. 

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Gender-Based Violence in Asia

Read the article here. 

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Jalal Talabani

Read the article here. 

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Diplomacy and North Korea

Read the article here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Risk of CIA Expanding Drone Strike Authority

In the war against terrorism, U.S. diplomacy, defense and intelligence all work together, in what can be an impressive integration of capabilities across the national security enterprise. But balance is key, and recent reports that the CIA wants t…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-Ed on Challenges Facing U.S.Diplomacy

These are difficult days for U.S. diplomacy. In the two biggest global challenges, North Korea and Syria, the United States hasn’t had any easy successes lately. When President Donald Trump has decided to lead, as on the smaller, intra-Arab showdown in…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson Op-ed on US Strategy in the Middle East

The current tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs have become a U.S.-North Korea bilateral story, as the two countries’ leaders spar in public. In addition, coordinating with the South Korean government is tricky when the political phi…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Congress’s Foreign Policy Role

Tunisia is a paradox. It is the Arab Spring’s one fragile success story, still committed to a democratic path. It is also the largest recruiting ground for Islamist terrorist groups, revealing deep fault lines in the country’s efforts to provide its ci…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on the Challenges Iraq Faces After the Liberation of Mosul

The defeat in Mosul of the so-called Islamic State was supposed to be good news for Iraq. But challenges that remain—ranging from Shiite militias’ new role and Sunni Iraqis’ enduring mistrust of each other and Baghdad, to the lack of state capacity to…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Tillerson’s Leadership of the State Department

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been doing real diplomacy lately, from the G-20 summit to his personal mediation mission to the Persian Gulf. At the same time, there’s progress to report on his ambitious project to transform the State Departm…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s op-ed in World Politics Review on Obama’s response to Russian election interference

A Washington Post exposé published Friday revealed new insights into the Obama administration’s real-time reaction to mounting evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The administration’s agonizing efforts to find a com…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s op-ed in World Politics Review on the future of the Iran Nuclear Deal

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill imposing new sanctions on Iran and Russia. Even if the bill makes it through the legislative process to become law, it should not derail the 2015 agreement that curtails Iran’s nuclear activities. But more intan…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on the Saudi-Qatar Crisis

The dramatic crisis pitting tiny, oil-wealthy Qatar against regional powers Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt raises the question of the survivability of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the regional organization of six Gulf states. Most li…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Trump’s Foreign Policy and Global Risks

This past week brought some further clarity to the underlying assumptions that drive U.S. President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. There’s now enough information to determine that the Trump team’s worldview is based on deeply held premises about the na…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Trump’s Visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia

U.S. President Donald Trump’s first overseas trip will begin in Saudi Arabia and Israel, two countries whose leaders have vocally welcomed Trump’s shift in approach to the region compared to his predecessor, Barack Obama. But the new president’s unpred…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Rex Tillerson and State Department

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson finally met with the State Department’s workforce to outline how President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda applies to foreign policy. In his remarks, Tillerson focused on the core mission of nation…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed in World Politics Review on Trump’s Approach to Foreign Leaders

U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest comments on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un suggest a new tactic: Rather than asserting primacy and disparaging other countries’ policies, Trump has tried to convey empathy for Kim’s predicament. Perhaps Trump is fo…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed in World Politics Review on U.S.-Iran Relations

The sudden return to tough talk about Iran by the Trump administration makes one wonder if it has a deeper strategy to realize Trump’s campaign promises about the nuclear deal, as well as to address Iran’s destabilizing regional activities. The signals…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed in World Politics Review on the U.S. Syrian Attack

The U.S. missile attack on the Syrian airbase from which the devastating chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun had been launched was a clear win for the Trump administration on several fronts. It doesn’t, however, guarantee a successful new Syria s…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed in World Politics Review on Trump and Middle East Conflicts

Donald Trump is being drawn into the hot conflicts of the Middle East in ways that will define his presidency. Like the idealistic Barack Obama before he became president in 2009, Trump campaigned on promises that he would not allow the United States t…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed in World Politics Review on Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Washington last week, and the Trump administration greeted him by approving more troops for the fight to retake Mosul and defeat the so-called Islamic State. The Iraqi government, for all its flaws, is takin…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed in World Politics Review on Iran’s Role in the Middle East

Only a few months ago it was the conventional view that regional dynamics in the Middle East were working in Iran’s favor. By this account, Tehran was accumulating growing influence through its direct or indirect involvement in the region’s crises and…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in Bangkok Post on U.S.-China Relations

Southeast Asia is looking for a precarious balance between the United States and China in order to feel more secure in the region, worried as it is by the behaviour of these two giants in its orbit. -snip- “What Asians hope for is something that is nei…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed in World Politics Review on State Department Issues

It’s abundantly clear that the State Department is underperforming. The quiet demeanor of the new secretary of state, Rex Tillerson; the vacancies in nearly all the second- and third-tier positions; and the intention of the White House to curtail State…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed in World Politics Review on Trump’s Foreign Policy Towards Asia

Foreign policy thinkers from several Asian countries are trying to focus on the positive elements of U.S. President Donald Trump’s worldview. They see a chance to expand Asian ownership of the regional agenda, and anticipate a break from American preac…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed in World Politics Review on Trump’s Foreign Policy Approach

U.S. President Donald Trump, in words and action, favors bilateral relations as the cornerstone of his foreign policy. Special ties to some key countries and leaders will always be important, but his approach is downplaying the value of regional system…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed in World Politics Review on Saudi Arabia and Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit last week to Kuwait and Oman was the latest sign of an improvement in the tone of Tehran’s relations with the Persian Gulf states, and in particular Saudi Arabia, this year. Perhaps the uncertainties a…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in The Christian Science Monitor on President Trump and the Intelligence Community

WASHINGTON—Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster in some ways symbolizes the very changes that President Trump needs to make to right his tempestuous relationship with the United States intelligence community. -snip- “If it’s [Defense Secretary Gen. James] Mattis or…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Migration and Security

Some of the most compelling dramas about the effects of globalization are playing out in the Mediterranean basin today. This is understandable given the region’s position, where the worlds of the North and South intersect, quite tragically in recent ye…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Clash of Civilizations

President Donald Trump’s rushed move to block entry to the U.S. for refugees and travelers from selected Muslim-majority states is sure to exacerbate the perception of a “clash of civilizations” between the West and the Islamic world. It will likely le…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on New Administration

Presidential transitions are always a time of apprehension and uncertainty for the career civil servants who keep the big machine of government running. President Donald Trump’s plans make this particular transition scarier than most. His performance a…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Iran and Trump

The one-year anniversary of the Iran nuclear agreement’s implementation on Monday—combined with Senate confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees last week and the death of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjan…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on National Intelligence Council

This week, the National Intelligence Council released its quadrennial report about global trends, and it’s a sober read. Governance is getting harder, and the nature of power is changing. While the report doesn’t predict major power conflict, it sees R…

Commentary
Thinking Beyond Worst-Case Scenarios for 2017

By Ellen Laipson The drama and disruptions of the year just ended fill some with dread for the new year. Will the challenges of domestic polarization and a tilt in international influence toward the nondemocratic powers of the East only worsen? Without…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Foreign Affairs in 2017

The drama and disruptions of the year just ended fill some with dread for the new year. Will the challenges of domestic polarization and a tilt in international influence toward the nondemocratic powers of the East only worsen? Without sounding too naï…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Trump Cabinet Appointments

Decoding the national security consequences of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed Cabinet is tricky. There’s a tendency to look for substantive connective tissue among the names, beyond loyalty to Trump. On climate change, skepticism dominate…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Regional Security in the Gulf States

When the Gulf Cooperation Council states and their Western defense partners meet, the demand for changes in regional security cooperation and threat management has long come from the outsiders. The Western partners, the U.S. in particular, continue to…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Trump and diplomacy

The buzz in foreign policy circles this week has been over President-elect Donald Trump’s phone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, which overturned decades of protocol governing official U.S. contact with the government of Taiwan. It s…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Trump and the Iran Nuclear Deal

Despite Donald Trump’s tough talk about the Iran nuclear deal during the presidential campaign, there have been some signals since the election that his administration may walk back his threat to cancel the accord. But hostility to Iran seems ramp…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson cited in The American Conservative on Trump’s picks for Secretary of State

Giuliani reportedly remains the favorite for Secretary of State, but he might not get it: CBS News’ Major Garrett reported Tuesday morning that Giuliani is still the likeliest pick — but that as Mr. Trump meets with Romney over dinner in Midt…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on the Asian viewpoint on the US election

European and Asian political analysts are reacting quite differently to Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election. Many European public policy intellectuals are deeply worried about the new team in power in Washington and they see the el…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Trump and international security threats

When U.S. voters chose Donald Trump to be their president, they entrusted him among other things to handle what two months ago I characterized as the top three threats that currently require international cooperation: climate change, nuclear…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in Christian Science Monitor on Trump’s foreign policy

WASHINGTON — Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump hammered home his rejection of the traditional American-led international order in favor of a nationalist, America-first conception of US foreign policy. Protectionism and pledges to…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on the US as a model of state-religion relations

As the U.S. presidential campaign finally wraps up, the Middle East is taking away some very negative messages about American culture that will diminish America’s ability to be a model for good governance and to influence outcomes in the region. Iran’s…

Commentary
Taking the Long View on the Changing Status of Women in the Middle East

By Ellen Laipson: The status of women in traditional Muslim societies, particularly Saudi Arabia, has long been an awkward source of cultural and political tension between the West and the oil-rich monarchies of the Arab world. Women’s roles are gradua…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on women in the Middle East

The status of women in traditional Muslim societies, particularly Saudi Arabia, has long been an awkward source of cultural and political tension between the West and the oil-rich monarchies of the Arab world. Women’s roles are gradually changing as th…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson cited in Kurdistan24 on her ten-year vision for tackling the challenges in A New Strategy for US-Iran Relations

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – The Atlantic Council Strategy Paper Series recently held a conference in Washington, DC to discuss a newly released paper on US-Iran relations. Ellen Laipson, Atlantic Council distinguished fellow and presid…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Mosul effect on Iraq’s neighbors

As the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State proceeds, the stakes for Iraq’s neighbors vary. Although victory is still a ways off, the outcome in Mosul will more likely entrench existing regional dynamics than change them.  Last week,…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson cited in Voice of America on advising the next president on Iran

The Washington foreign policy establishment is salivating at the thought of a Hillary Clinton presidency, which promises to be more interventionist than Barack Obama’s administration and more open to elite views than a Donald Trump White Hous…

Commentary
What Would Victory in Mosul Mean for Iraq’s Neighbors?

By Ellen Laipson:  As the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State proceeds, the stakes for Iraq’s neighbors vary. Although victory is still a ways off, the outcome in Mosul will more likely entrench existing regional dynamics than change the…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in CommonDreams on Iran nuclear deal

Last week, I featured a new Atlantic Council report by former Stimson Center president Ellen Laipson in which she argued that the nuclear deal with Iran—and the opportunities for future cooperation with Tehran that it opened up—required “national secur…

Commentary
A New Strategy for US-Iran Relations

A conversation with:   Ellen Laipson Distinguished Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security Atlantic Council   Michael Connell Director, Iranian Studies Program Center for Naval Analyses   Amir Handjani Board Director Atl…

Report
A New Strategy for US-Iran Relations in Transition

Read the full report, published by the Atlantic Council, here.

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in Lobe Log on finding common ground with Iran

Whoever moves into the White House next January should be willing to “take more risk to find some common ground with Iran,” according to a new report released by the non-partisan Atlantic Council on October 19. -snip- “What path Iran’s leader…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Iraq after liberation of Mosul

Early Monday morning, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the beginning of military operations to retake Mosul, two years after the so-called Islamic State seized the city. The anticipated recapture of the Sunni-majority city by a diverse co…

Op-Ed
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on the norm of atrocity prevention against civilians

Will the next American president be able to save Syria? No. What about the international norm of preventing atrocities against civilians? Again, no. That’s ultimately the takeaway from the short exchange about Syria in Sunday’s mostly awful Town Hall-s…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on the recent use of “less is more” strategies

A “less is more” school of thought seems to be emerging in Western capitals where policymakers, public intellectuals and on-the-ground practitioners are trying to find ways to improve the outcomes of international interventions and post-conflict stabil…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on U.S. intelligence restoring the trust of the public

Last week, the CIA held its third annual conference in conjunction with George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. The agency’s director, John Brennan, who moderated parts of the proceedings, expressed his deep per…

Press Release
Expert Analysis: Confronting Transnational Challenges at UN and Beyond

As President Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly today for his eighth and final time, experts from the nonpartisan Stimson Center analyze the remarks as well as U.S. and U.N. efforts to confront 21st century transnational threats: Aditi Gorur, Di…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on US-Israel Security Relations

In the waning months of the Obama administration, the drama of U.S.-Israeli relations driven by personal and policy frictions between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dimmed. The two leaders’ lack of rapport has become i…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on three biggest global threats

This week, America commemorated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the world worried once again about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. All that is missing to illustrate all three of the biggest threats that will be priorities for the foreseeable futur…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Iran’s nuclear deal

Iran has had the chance to change how it engages with the outside world as a result of the nuclear agreement it signed with world powers a year ago, and also as a key player in the crises that haunt the Middle East. But there’s little sign that Tehran…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Syria

Syria’s horrific crisis is now generating new insights into the fault lines and even falsehoods of international cooperation. Diplomatic efforts to find some minimal common ground to tamp down the war have repeatedly fallen short, as the external actor…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on the Olympics

So far, the Olympic Games in Rio are off to a good start. No major disasters have occurred, despite serious worries about security and environmental conditions. But the games—and particularly the downsides like excessive costs, corruption and imbalance…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson interviewed for On Point on the failed military coup

The failed military coup in Turkey has led to a government crackdown that’s purged more than 60,000 people from their jobs – judges, police, academics, reporters, military members. The Turkish president says he’s simply protecting his country, but US o…

Op-Ed
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Climate-Driven Migration

Climate-driven migration will likely affect millions of people in the coming decades, adding to the displacement of millions from war and instability. States and international organizations will need to dedicate additional resources to climate migrants…

Commentary
It’s Time to Start Preparing for the Challenges of Climate-Driven Migration

By Ellen Laipson: Climate-driven migration will likely affect millions of people in the coming decades, adding to the displacement of millions from war and instability. States and international organizations will need to dedicate additional resources t…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on the Next President’s Goals for Afghanistan

The most recent suicide bombing in Kabul over the weekend, claimed by the so-called Islamic State, contrasts with the near absence of debate over Afghanistan in the U.S. presidential campaign to date. President Barack Obama’s decision to slow down the…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Turkey Coup Attempt

Turkey’s elected government survived last weekend’s failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but there’s no reason to think that Turkey’s democracy will be strengthened by the outcome. Erdogan is responding to the threat by rounding…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Middle East Authoritarianism

The Middle East has a long history of authoritarianism, and the legacy of that history is illustrated in contrasting ways by two key states in the region. Turkey, a flawed but functioning democracy for most of a century, is returning to a more authorit…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Drone Casualty Data

The Obama administration recently released government informationabout civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes targeting terrorists and violent extremists. The data was long-promised and long-awaited, but its release nevertheless received a te…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in Courthouse News Service on Future U.S. Leaders and their Middle East Policies

     WASHINGTON (CN) — With the United States set to elect its next U.S. president in 130 days, Middle East scholars gathered at the National Press Club to weigh Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump.   -snip-  Ellen Laipson, di…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Brexit’s Impact on the Middle East

The Brexit bombshell is bad news for the Middle East region on a number of scores, in particular what it says about Western attitudes toward migrants and Muslims, and about loss of support for economic integration, a big idea that would improve prospec…

Commentary
When It Comes to Defining Moderate and Radical Islam, Who Decides?

By Ellen Laipson:  One of the secondary effects of the terrible shooting in Orlando, Florida, has been to relaunch the debate on whether public officials have misidentified the terrorist threat at home by failing to call it “radical Islam” or “Isl…

Op-Ed
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Defining Moderate and Radical Islam

One of the secondary effects of the terrible shooting in Orlando, Florida, has been to relaunch the debate on whether public officials have misidentified the terrorist threat at home by failing to call it “radical Islam” or “Islamic extremism.” At anot…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on US-India relations

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington last week was striking in its normalcy. In contrast to the drama of the early years of the transformation in this bilateral relationship, it’s become commonplace to see Indian and American leade…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson op-ed in World Politics Review on Europe and the Mediterranean

The countries around the Mediterranean basin are a diverse lot, ranging from the European Union and NATO’s southernmost members to the states of the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa. One thing almost all of them share is a constant tension fro…

Commentary
A Century After Sykes-Picot, Is There a Better Map for the Middle East?

This month marks the centenary of the Sykes-Picot treaty, a French-English agreement to establish areas of control and influence in the Arab lands of the Middle East after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The milestone has stirred up resentments and…

Commentary
Erdogan-Davutoglu Feud Puts EU-Turkey Refugee Deal in Jeopardy

The ouster of Ahmet Davutoglu as prime minister of Turkey is an internal matter. But it will almost certainly have negative repercussions for the hard-fought and controversial deal between Turkey and the European Union, by which Brussels agreed to comp…

Commentary
Playing the Long Game: Getting Past Near-Term Thinking on Terrorism

By Ellen Laipson: Five years after the killing of Osama bin Laden, the U.S. public seems to understand that the fight against terrorism is a struggle that’s here to stay. The challenge for government officials is to manage the threat without exacerbati…

Commentary
Despite Optics of Obama’s Gulf Trip, U.S.-GCC Cooperation Remains Robust

The readout from President Barack Obama’s trip last week to the Gulf reflects the ongoing strains in U.S. relations with the Gulf monarchs. Both sides share responsibility for the current state of affairs. And it will take time to shift perceptions in…

Commentary
To Stabilize Iraq, Loosen Internal Bonds Without Breaking Them

In the past five days, both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter have visited Iraq. The visits demonstrate the urgency with which Washington views the political crisis in Baghdad, against the backdrop of the Iraqi m…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in Reuters on US-Gulf relations

-snip- “The bureaucracy is beginning to internalise this idea, that the Middle East is slightly less important to us than it used to be,” said Ellen Laipson of the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank, adding that the shift was “a matter of degrees”…

Commentary
First Steps on the Long Slog to Peace in the Middle East

This week, three of the United Nations’ thankless peace missions—in Libya, Yemen and Syria—will mark steps forward. To be sure, the definition of success is modest. For now, just reducing violence and beginning a political process is the best that one…

Commentary
Can the Laws of War Adapt to a World of Drone Warfare?

Drones have captured the imagination of popular culture and the attention of international law experts. Amazing access to real-time intelligence enables precision weaponry, but the same information can inhibit decision-makers from acting by raising the…

Commentary
The Last Nuclear Security Summit, in the Shadow of Brussels

This week, President Barack Obama and 50 world leaders will convene for the fourth and final time to discuss how to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. This last gathering of the biannual Nuclear Security Summits comes…

Commentary
Despite Flaws, EU-Turkey Refugee Deal Pulls Europe Back From Brink

The cynical deal struck between the European Union and Turkey aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into Europe is a sign of desperation. It is flawed on several levels, and is likely to do harm to Europe’s image as a champion of international norms a…

Commentary
President Obama’s Foreign Policy Legacy as He Sees It

The American foreign policy community is abuzz over the remarkable essay by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg on President Barack Obama’s legacy. The article provides ample evidence that Obama is a fine conceptual thinker with great insight int…

Commentary
Is Obama’s Transparency on Drone Policy Too Little, Too Late?

By Ellen Laipson:  The use of unmanned aerial vehicles for lethal purposes has generated passionate debates about how this not-so-new technology has changed the rules of war, creating a demand for new global norms. On the domestic front, drone tec…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Worldwide Threat Assessment

Every year in February, the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies present Congress with an unclassified threat assessment. The quality of the document this year is uneven, and it’s clear that intelligence leaders remain conflicted about how much of their…

Commentary
Making the Most of the Worldwide Threat Assessment

Every year in February, the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies present Congress with an unclassified threat assessment. The quality of the document this year is uneven, and it’s clear that intelligence leaders remain conflicted about how much of their…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson interviewed in World Politics Review on international systems

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, Ellen Laipson, president emeritus of the Stimson Center and a WPR weekly columnist, joins host Peter Dörrie for a discussion on current trends in the international system, including the changing roles of the United N…

Stimson in the News
Is the International System Equipped to Deal With 21st-Century Crises?

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, Ellen Laipson, president emeritus of the Stimson Center and a WPR weekly columnist, joins host Peter Dörrie for a discussion on current trends in the international system, including the changing roles of the United N…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Technology and Security

The standoff this past week between the U.S. government and the global tech behemoth Apple underscores an enduring condition of our age: Technological innovation is at once a powerful tool to enhance our security, but maximizing its consumer benefits r…

Commentary
FBI vs. Apple: Finding the Right Balance Between Technology and Security

The standoff this past week between the U.S. government and the global tech behemoth Apple underscores an enduring condition of our age: Technological innovation is at once a powerful tool to enhance our security, but maximizing its consumer benefits r…

Commentary
Maghreb, Sahel Struggle With Religion as Anti-Terror Policy Tool

ARRAKECH, Morocco—There is a strong consensus among counterterrorism experts in the Maghreb and the Sahel that comprehensive and integrated approaches are needed to confront the threat from al-Qaida, the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) and their regiona…

Commentary
Dubai’s World Government Summit: Positive Agenda, Surreal Context

This week, world leaders are gathering in Dubai for the fourth World Government Summit. It’s a bit surreal to talk about world government these days, given the recent setback to the United Nations’ efforts to get Syria peace talks off the ground, and t…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on U.S. Reaction to ISIS

Since November, the U.S. government, with a big assist from Congress, has been narrowing the eligibility for citizens of 38 countries to enter the U.S. without visas. The constant adjustments to the rules say a lot about the U.S. government’s preoccupa…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Robert Gates

Robert Gates’ new book on leadership has powerful lessons for how American institutions, both public and private, are inspired and managed. At a time when U.S. citizens despair of ever fixing the country’s political system, he conveys some hope that po…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Iran and Sanctions

It was a rare week of good news in the Middle East. Iran met its obligations to formally launch all the provisions of the nuclear agreement agreed to with world powers last July, an early demonstration of its commitment to radically restructure its nuc…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Saudi-Iran Conflict

As the Saudi-Iran crisis lumbers along, featuring new mutual recriminations and a Saudi campaign to line up Muslim support over the past week, two regional states have offered to mediate. Turkey and Iraq are well-positioned, in different but complement…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Saudi Arabia’s Unforced Error

The shocking news that Saudi Arabia executed 47 people over the weekend, including Shiite cleric and opposition figure Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, got the new year off to a tense start in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. The executions have already cause…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed In World Politics Review On The Islamic State

President Barack Obama’s oval office speech Sunday was intended to show toughness and resolve in the war against the self-declared Islamic State, and to reassure a jittery public in the aftermath of the domestic attack by followers of the group in San…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed In World Politics Review On Long-Term Strategies Against Islamic State

A somber weariness has settled in across Western democracies in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. Defeating and destroying the so-called Islamic State with military force has won broader support. But most realize that the challenge will require a com…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed in World Politics Review on Halifax Forum

The seventh annual Halifax International Security Forum, a mostly right-of-center gathering of mostly democratic states, covered the full suite of security problems confronting the world today. And whether talking about the self-proclaimed Islamic Stat…

Commentary
The International and U.S. Responsibility to Implement Human Syrian Refugee Policies

To commemorate the new partnership between the Stimson Center and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, we convened a panel comprised of scholars and scholar/practitioners from both institutions. The discussion examined…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on G-20 Summit and Paris Attacks

World leaders from the 20 top economies as well as observer states met Sunday and Monday in southern Turkey for the annual G-20 summit. The gathering had been set to focus on an ambitious agenda to promote inclusive economic growth and global trade and…

Commentary
At G-20 Summit, Economics Overshadowed by Paris Attacks

World leaders from the 20 top economies as well as observer states met Sunday and Monday in southern Turkey for the annual G-20 summit. The gathering had been set to focus on an ambitious agenda to promote inclusive economic growth and global trade and…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Gulf States Forging National Identity

Since launching the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman have pursued dual and sometimes dueling objectives. Collectively the six countries profess to share the strategic goal of inte…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Iraq and Syria

Developments over the past year in Syria and Iraq suggest many parallels between the two countries. From the separatism of the Kurds and the fight against the self-declared Islamic State to the expansion of Russia’s presence and influence, the two stat…

Commentary
Pragmatism Versus ‘Big Think’ in Democrats’ Foreign Policy Priorities

When you’re a global superpower with worldwide interests and responsibilities, it’s hard to come up with a very short list of priorities that will set the agenda and organize the bureaucracy. But that’s just what presidential candidates-and sometimes p…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Democrats and Foreign Policy

When you’re a global superpower with worldwide interests and responsibilities, it’s hard to come up with a very short list of priorities that will set the agenda and organize the bureaucracy. But that’s just what presidential candidates—and sometimes p…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Tunisia’s Quartet

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Tunisia’s so-called National Dialogue Quartet was deeply moving to those us who are familiar with the country where the Arab uprisings began in late 2010. The Nobel Committee’s selection of the four civil societ…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Iran and UNGA

At last week’s United Nations General Assembly opening, many observers were keeping a close eye on how the key players spoke of the Iran nuclear agreement and its implications for regional security and even world peace. Strikingly, both the U.S. and Ir…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-Ed In World Politics Review On UNGA

As world leaders begin the annual marathon that is the United Nations General Assembly opening session for the 70th time, expect the rhetoric to be both sober and soaring. The institution is caught between honest assessments of its shortcomings and gra…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on Pope Francis

The Pope’s visit to the United States this week will include an unprecedented address to the U.S. Congress, opening our eyes to how much has changed in the way religion has become part of American politics and international relations. The head of the C…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Op-ed in World Politics Review on the Pitfalls of U.S. Foreign Policy

The lingering misgivings among some in the U.S. Congress about the nuclear agreement with Iran have already generated calls for new sanctions against Iran, just as Tehran and many of its trading partners are gearing up for a post-sanctions environment,…

Stimson in the News
Op-ed by Ellen Laipson in World Politics Review on Iran deal

President Barack Obama has now won enough support among Democrats in Congress to ensure that the nuclear agreement reached between world powers and Iran will move forward. But while indisputably a major political achievement, the victory is not any gua…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson interviewed on Global Dispatches regarding Syrian refugee crisis

Syrian refugee crisis has finally made it to Europe’s doorstep. Over the past several weeks, masses of refugees have made their way to southeastern Europe, mostly en route to Germany and other countries in northern Europe. After four years of conflict,…

Stimson in the News
Op-ed by Ellen Laipson in World Politics Review on Europe’s migrant crisis

The late-August headlines have been heartrending, from the continued violence of the Islamic State against both people and cultural patrimony, to stirrings of public discontent and rage over government incompetence in several Arab states. The latest of…

Commentary
Iraq’s Future Is About Much More Than the Islamic State

For months, the critical issue for Iraq has been its capacity to win back territory in its western provinces controlled by the so-called Islamic State (IS). The focus abroad has been on building an international coalition to support Iraqi forces; enabl…

Stimson in the News
Op-ed by Ellen Laipson in World Politics Review on Iraq

For months, the critical issue for Iraq has been its capacity to win back territory in its western provinces controlled by the so-called Islamic State (IS). The focus abroad has been on building an international coalition to support Iraqi forces; enabl…

Stimson in the News
Op-ed by Ellen Laipson in World Politics Review on Intelligence and Policymaking

The summer’s headlines—from how to verify the Iran deal to combatting the self-declared Islamic State to, most recently, new revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) and the telecom giant AT&T—all have something in common: the role of i…

Commentary
What the ‘Japan Option’ Tells Us About Iran’s Nuclear Prospects

Almost 70 years to the day after the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and four and a half years after suspending its entire nuclear energy program, Japan restarted a nuclear reactor today, the first to operate under new safety requirements adopt…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson cited in Irib News Iran on Iran & the Bomb (Farsi)

اندیشکده آمریکایی نشستی با عنوان «ایران و بمب اتمی» برگزار کرد.  به گزارش مونیتورینگ خبرگزاری صدا و سیما، برگزاری نشستهای کارشناسی در آمریکا برای بررسی پیامدهای توافق هسته ای وین همچنان ادامه دارد. در ادامه این نشست ها، مؤسسه تحقیقاتی اسپن نشست ها…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in Bloomberg View on Iranian behavior after the deal

The intelligence assessment provided to Congress to support the Iran nuclear deal has a hole: It fails to examine the intentions of Iran’s regime to actually comply with the agreement over time. -snip- Ellen Laipson, a former vice chair of the National…

Stimson in the News
Op-ed by Ellen Laipson in World Politics Review on think tank’s role in shaping U.S. policy

Washington is in full gear for an intense 60-day debate over the Iran nuclear deal, and one important feature of the discussion is the contributions made by diverse civil society organizations. It’s one of those moments where information and analysis a…

Commentary
Ellen Laipson on Iran & the Bomb at Aspen

Stimson President and CEO Ellen Laipson spoke at the 2015 Aspen Security Forum in a panel discussion on “Iran & the Bomb” with Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studie…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson interviewed at the Aspen Security Forum on “Iran & the Bomb”

Is there still time to prevent Tehran from going nuclear? This panel addresses the threat of a nuclear Iran along with other security threats of a similar game changing nature and how best to counter them. Watch the full “Iran & the Bomb” discussio…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in The Washington Post on the Iranian Nuclear Deal

The Obama administration expects the Iranian nuclear deal announced Tuesday to usher in an era of enhanced security in the Middle East. But is has been greeted with deep skepticism by some Arab nations worried it may do the opposite: allow Iran to fund…

Commentary
Aligning Justice and Security Interventions to Revamp the UN

This fall the United Nations will celebrate its 70th birthday. As for most 70-somethings, the commemoration evokes nostalgia for a more idealistic time, reflections on creaky joints and renewed hopes for the future. To be sure, this grand edifice of mi…

Stimson in the News
Op-ed by Ellen Laipson in World Politics Review on improving the UN

This fall the United Nations will celebrate its 70th birthday. As for most 70-somethings, the commemoration evokes nostalgia for a more idealistic time, reflections on creaky joints and renewed hopes for the future. To be sure, this grand edifice of mi…

Commentary
Iran Talks Lurch On, but All Eyes Already on ‘Day After the Deal’

In the weeks since the Lausanne talks that set a late June goal for a formal agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear activities, the media coverage and political discourse in the United States have resembled a roller-coaster ride, with some shrieks, thrills…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in World Politics Review on EU migrant crisis

The plight of migrants and refugees has made headlines around the world in recent months. Despite the globalized economy, governments remain stubborn about the movement of human beings across national borders. This report covers ongoing migration crise…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in the Cipe Development Blog on economic integration in the Middle East

With this introduction, CIPE Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Abdulwahab Alkebsi opened a panel discussion on May 21 co-hosted by CIPE and the Stimson Center entitled “A Way Forward for a Viable Syria: An Insider Perspective from…

Commentary
The Rashomon Effect: U.S.-Gulf Relations After Camp David Summit

In Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s iconic 1950 film, “Rashomon,” four people witness a crime outside the gates of Kyoto. When called on to testify in court, each has a distinctly different version of the events, and even different ideas of who the g…

Commentary
Opportunities for Gulf Arab Countries with Iran Deal

Stimson President and CEO Ellen Laipson discusses the potential for a positive outcome for the Iran nuclear deal and opportunities for cooperation with Iran in the region. “This is a moment of opportunity,” said Laipson. “Together, they can reshape the…

Stimson in the News
Op-ed by Oussama Romdhani and Ellen Laipson in The Hill on ‘a Message of Hope from North Africa’

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi arrives in Washington this week, bringing an uplifting story of his small country’s achievements along the road to democracy. In its 2015 report, Freedom House gave Tunisia the ranking of “free,” only the second Ara…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in AFP on IS Group’s Seizure of Ramadi

WASHINGTON : The Islamic State group’s seizure of Ramadi represents a painful blow to the US-led war against the jihadists, raising fresh doubts about Washington’s war strategy and the military strength of its partners in Iraq. -snip- Ellen Laipson, pr…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in Reuters on Yemen as an “Existential Issue” for Saudi Authorities

So far, neither Saudi Arab nor Iran has been able to dictate the Yemen’s future. For Riyadh and Tehran, the painfully complex conflict may become a teachable moment about the limits of power. -snip- Yemen is Saudi Arabia’s “wild frontier,” explain…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in USNI News on Middle East Alliances with the US

Looking ahead to Monday’s United States-Gulf Cooperation Council summit meeting at Camp David, the ambassador from the United Arab Emirates to the U.S. said the talks would focus on more than the ongoing multi-lateral nuclear talks with Iran, United Ar…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson quoted in the New York Times on the Iran nuclear deal

President Obama’s meeting with Arab leaders this week is an opportunity to reassure the deeply skeptical Gulf states that America’s engagement andprobable nuclear deal with Iran is not a threat but an opportunity for regional stability. -snip- The…

Commentary
A New Home For Stimson’s Next 25 Years

More than ever before, global threats transcend national borders and force us to seek concrete solutions to common challenges. Effectively doing so requires a first-rate team and facility. At Stimson, we’ve long been fortunate to have a tremendous team…

Report
Revisiting Marshall: Private Sector Development in the Middle East

When the Arab Spring began in late 2010 in Tunisia, and then quickly spread to Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria, it was hailed as a historic moment of transformation for the Middle East region. The transition from authoritarianism to new more representati…

Commentary
Revisiting Marshall: Hope for Private Sector Growth in the Middle East

Op-ed by Ellen Laipson and Rob Havers; Report by Ellen Laipson with Kevin Wheeler:  The hope for a transformation of the Middle East into more open and dynamic states has foundered on the rocks of extremism and despair. But that sweeping judg…

Commentary
Geneive Abdo and Ellen Laipson Testify in Front of Canadian Parliament

On February, 5, 2015 Geneive Abdo and Ellen Laipson of the Stimson Center were called to provide testimony before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in the House of Commons of Canada to discuss the rise of ISIL…

Commentary
Abdullah’s Real Legacy

When the recently deceased Saudi king, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, was crown prince, Western capitals worried that, when he eventually assumed the throne, Abdullah would be focused on internal Arab identity issues and would be less friendly or flexible wh…

Report
Iraq’s New Realities

This article was first published in Middle East Online on October 25, 2009. Iraq is no longer on the front pages, as the war in Afghanistan becomes the preoccupying concern of governments in Ottawa and Washington. But it is still a story filled with dr…

Commentary
The Marshall Plan Still Resonates in the Arab World

By Ellen Laipson and Rob Havers:  As Tunisia approaches its presidential election later this month, it’s important to take the long view on the changes that began with the Tunisian revolt in late 2010. In an earlier, more optimistic moment, m…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Blog featured in Fikra Forum on Tunisia’s Path to a New Order

International observers have praised Tunisia’s October 26 elections as a remarkable achievement. The turnout – over 60 percent – was higher than anticipated, both citizens and the security forces behaved well, and the Ennahda Party conceded v…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s Blog in Fikra Forum on Tunisia’s Democratic Growing Pains

From a distance, Tunisia’s upcoming elections appear to be a positive culmination of steady progress from the revolt of late 2010 to the establishment of a constitutional democracy. Tunisia is the last “Arab Spring” country standing, and its capacity t…

Commentary
A message from Stimson Center President and CEO Ellen Laipson

A message from Stimson Center President and CEO Ellen Laipson in response to recent news reports about U.S. think tank funding from foreign governments: “In the 21st century, information, capital, and ideas flow more freely than ever before. Through th…

Commentary
The UAE and Egypt’s New Frontier in Libya

The surprising news that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have carried out airstrikes against various Islamist rebels in Libya is yet another example of the scope and extent of change in the Middle East. It reminds us that many of the…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s op-ed on recent political developments in Afghanistan and Iraq published in The Hill

There’s been a brief break in the storm clouds over Baghdad and Kabul this week; both countries’ struggles to form governments after elections achieved minor progress with the election of a parliament speaker in Iraq and an agreement to audit election…

Commentary
Ellen Laipson on Al-Hurra as panelist (Arabic)

Ellen Laipson discussed current events in Libya, Egypt and Iraq on the Al-Hurra weekly show.  The discussion focused on the US role in shaping developments in these countries, and Laipson addressed the importance of the US taking the long view in…

Commentary
Pragmatic Steps Toward Ideal Objectives

This year, Stimson celebrates its 25th anniversary.  We’re proud of our record of innovative analysis and action to fulfill our original motto “pragmatic steps toward ideal objectives.” Today we launch a series of short essays that capture our his…

Commentary
Mr. Jomaa Goes To Washington: A Breath Of Fresh Air From Tunisia’s ‘Arab Spring’ Revolution

By Ellen Laipson and Oussama Romdhani:  When the Prime Minister of Tunisia, Mehdi Jomaa, visits Washington on Wednesday, it will be a welcome respite from the relentless bad news coming from the Arab world. Tunisia, where the Arab “spring” began i…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s op-ed on Tunisia after the Arab Spring is published in International Business Times

When the Prime Minister of Tunisia, Mehdi Jomaa, visits Washington on Wednesday, it will be a welcome respite from the relentless bad news coming from the Arab world. Tunisia, where the Arab “spring” began in late 2010, is farther along the process of…

Commentary
The President and King Abdullah talk regional security

President Obama’s brief visit to Saudi Arabia last week was intended to revalidate the security partnership between Washington and Riyadh, and to reconfirm our shared strategic interests in the region, after some unusually public disagreements about th…

Commentary
Measuring US Impact and Influence in Iraq

The struggle over who controls Anbar province has reopened a debate about America’s influence in Iraq. The outcome of battles between Iraqi national forces, Sunni militia, and Al-Qaeda could be a catastrophic loss of the Sunni majority center of Iraq,…

Commentary
Ellen Laipson is interviewed on Voice of America’s “ON THE LINE” on US-Saudi Relations

An alliance that has endured for 80 years is showing signs of a rift. Saudi Arabia is so unhappy with the United States that it gave up a coveted seat on the UN Security Council. What does this tension mean for the two allies, their longstanding relati…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson is interviewed on Voice of America’s “ON THE LINE” on US-Saudi Relations

An alliance that has endured for 80 years is showing signs of a rift. Saudi Arabia is so unhappy with the United States that it gave up a coveted seat on the UN Security Council. What does this tension mean for the two allies, their longstanding relati…

Commentary
Saudi-US friendship under pressure

Following recent meetings in Saudi Arabia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “Our relationship is strategic, it is enduring and it covers a wide range.” But his Saudi counterpart, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, politely acknowledged difference…

Commentary
More questions than answers about Afghan future

In the beautifully restored third century B.C. citadel of the ancient western Afghan city of Herat, scholars and diplomats from Afghanistan’s neighbors and international partners spent the first weekend in October at a security conference exploring pro…

Commentary
Syria and Iran: the UN proves its worth to the US

At this year’s annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly there was less idealistic posturing and more hard work done on the most intractable of problems — Syria’s violent civil war and Iran’s nuclear activities. The United States worked wi…

Commentary
Stimson Center Experts Analyze Developments in Iran

Stimson Center experts have been sharing their insights and analysis about developments in Iran with policymakers and the public for years.  Here are some recent examples of Stimson commentaries published in newspapers and on websites, along with…

Commentary
Stimson president speaks at Global Strategic Review Conference

Stimson Center President and CEO Ellen Laipson spoke Sept. 21 at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Global Strategic Review in Stockholm on the topic of “Who Manages International Security.” She discussed the US role involving security i…

Commentary
Testing the Waters for Normalizing U.S.-Iran Relations

When Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office at the beginning of August, hopes were cautiously raised that Iran and the United States could improve their dismal relationship of mistrust, denunciations and threats. So far, no concrete steps have be…

Commentary
Syria, Egypt and Arab Transitions Examined

Experts affiliated with the Stimson Center have helped inform policymakers and the public about the civil war in Syria, unrest in Egypt and Arab transitions over the past 12 months in many ways. These include participating in panel discussions at Stims…

Commentary
Between War & Peace: Do We Need New Tools For Messy Transitions?

The office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued its final lessons learned report earlier this year. Among the recommendations was a call for establishing a new U.S. Office for Contingency Operations, for planning and implemen…

Commentary
Egypt’s Chaos Need Not Derail the Arab Spring

Continuing violence and unrest in Egypt is provoking widespread concerns that the most populous Arab nation may descend into civil war or a new dictatorship, extinguishing the hopes of the Arab Spring. But while Egyptians have been staging mass protest…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson and Mona Yacoubian op-ed on governance in Egypt and Tunisia is published in IBTimes

Continuing violence and unrest in Egypt is provoking widespread concerns that the most populous Arab nation may descend into civil war or a new dictatorship, extinguishing the hopes of the Arab Spring. But while Egyptians have been staging mass protest…

Commentary
New Geopolitics in the Indian Ocean Region

The Indian Ocean, sometimes called the maritime Silk Road, represents the profound linkages between the Middle East and a rising Asia. The trade and economic connectivity has been well understood for years. China, Japan and India rely heavily on oil fr…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson’s op-ed on Indian Ocean geopolitics is published in IBT

The Indian Ocean, sometimes called the maritime Silk Road, represents the profound linkages between the Middle East and a rising Asia. The trade and economic connectivity has been well understood for years. China, Japan and India rely heavily on oil fr…

Commentary
Picture Perfect: The Economic Integration of North Africa

By Ghazi Ben Ahmed and Ellen Laipson – North Africa remains one of the least integrated regions in the world, which has considerable consequences for its development potential. Intra-regional trade hovers at a mere two to three percent of total trade (…

Commentary
Natural Resources and International Conflicts

Speakers: Jeffrey Colgan, Assistant Professor, American University School of International Service; author of “Petro-Aggression: When Oil Causes War” (Cambridge University Press, 2013)   David Michel, Director, Environmental Securit…

Commentary
Iraq’s New Normal

Amidst all the 10-year anniversary analysis of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, the missing piece is a clear and coherent picture of Iraq today and its potential for tomorrow. Regrettably, such a picture is elusive because Iraq…

Report
Presidential Inbox 2013

The presidential inbox is full; President Obama’s second inaugural speech laid out an ambitious agenda for addressing an array of issues, both domestic and international. In this small volume, Stimson scholars propose some pragmatic and achievable acti…

Commentary
Presidential Inbox 2013: Take a Strategic Approach to Iran

Click here to view the complete Presidential Inbox series. The Challenge It is time to develop a broader, more inclusive approach to US policy towards Iran. The past years’ focus on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability…

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson and Chester Crocker’s op-ed on the Sahel featured in International Herald Tribune

Ellen Laipson and Chester Crocker’s op-ed on turmoil in the Sahel was featured in the International Herald Tribune. Click here to read the complete op-ed.

Stimson in the News
Op-ed by Ellen Laipson featured in Bloomberg

Ellen Laipson’s op-ed, “Economic Ties Can Save Africa’s Arab Spring,” was featured in Bloomberg. Click here to see read the piece. 

Stimson in the News
Ellen Laipson publishes op-ed in Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee) on Syria

Ellen Laipson authored an opinion-editorial in the Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI) about the crisis in Syria. Click here to read the op-ed.

Commentary
The Changing Middle East: Updating the Security Agenda

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s travels across the Middle East this week put the spotlight on a daunting and dynamic list of security challenges for the states of the region, whether on the path to democratic change or not.   The Secretar…

Commentary
Ellen Laipson joins National Conversation on water security at the Woodrow Wilson Center

Ellen Laipson participates in a roundtable discussion of the National Intelligence Council’s 2012 “Global Water Security” report as part of the National Conversation series at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, on M…

Report
Engaging Iran on Afghanistan

This report examines the importance of engaging Iran as one of the key neighbors of Afghanistan during the period of withdrawal of international forces through 2014. It looks at the US-Afghanistan-Iran triangle from the perspective of two distinct poli…

Report
Seismic Shift: Understanding Change in the Middle East

The momentous events sweeping the Arab world since late 2010 raise important questions about the art and science of analyzing political and societal events. In an age of information surplus, which creates the illusion that one can easily know what is h…

Commentary
Beyond Cairo: Prospects for change in the Middle East

This article was first published in The Hill on February 16, 2011. After weeks of excitement and surprise, it is time to try to make meaning out of the momentous events in Tunisia and Egypt.  Are we on the brink of a democratic tsunami across the…

Commentary
Beyond Cairo: Prospects for change in the Middle East

This article was first published in The Hill on February 16, 2011. After weeks of excitement and surprise, it is time to try to make meaning out of the momentous events in Tunisia and Egypt.  Are we on the brink of a democratic tsunami across the…

Commentary
Beyond the Iran Deal: Imagining the Regional Security Implications

By Ellen Laipson:    The likely achievement this year of a decade-plus containment of Iran’s nuclear activities has broad and largely positive implications for regional security, but it will take leadership, courage and imagination to realize…

Commentary
How its Arab neighbours can help to build the new Iraq

The Obama administration has made Iraq’s reintegration into the region one of the cornerstones of its Iraq policy. It is naturally linked to US hopes for stability in Iraq – a country that has normal trade and political relations with its neighbours, a…

Commentary
Iraq’s Transition In The Shadow Of Egypt

By Ellen Laipson – As the world is riveted to the upheaval in Egypt, Iraq’s decade-long transition to more representative government seems like old news.  Iraq’s change was caused by US military action, while Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan are w…

Report
The Future of US-Iraq Relations

An important transition is underway in the official relationship between the United States and Iraq. Since late 2008, relations have been governed by two agreements: one related to the planned withdrawal of US forces from Iraq by 2011, and one that set…

Report
Iraq, its Neighbors, and the Obama Administration: Syrian and Saudi Perspectives

A Report by the US Institute of Peace and the Stimson Center  A group of experts sponsored by USIP and the Stimson Center traveled to Syria and Saudi Arabia to interview government officials-including President Assad of Syria and Prince Turki al-…

Report
America and the Emerging Iraqi Reality: New Goals, No Illusions

It is time for a new policy in Iraq, to recalibrate America’s equities and engagement there. The current administration is tied to its policy, knowing that the president’s historic legacy will be based on the outcome in Iraq, and hoping that current po…

Testimony
The Iraqi Refugee Crisis in Regional Context

The Iraqi Refugee Crisis in Regional Context: Testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia The plight of the more than a million Iraqi refugees has significant consequences for the Middle East regio…

Report
Report on the Workshop: Nuclear Dangers, Nuclear Realities

In the future, 2009 and 2010 may emerge as a decisive time in the evolution of international nuclear policies.  The global demand for energy security has led to renewed interest in safe and clean nuclear ene…

Report
On the Move: Migration Challenges in the Indian Ocean Littoral

On the Move: Migration Challenges in the Indian Ocean Littoral is the product of Stimson’s work on migration over the past year, and it points to how the migration agenda is evolving and adapting to 21st century challenges. Traditionally, migration is…

Report
The Indian Ocean: Resource and Governance Challenges

The Indian Ocean: Resource and Governance Challenges explores current realities and emerging maritime concerns in the Indian Ocean. Regional experts and Stimson analysts assess the ocean in its multiple roles: a conveyer belt of vital commerce and ener…

Report
Islam and Politics: Renewal and Resistance in the Muslim World

In Islam and Politics: Renewal and Resistance in the Muslim World, Muslim writers, regional experts, and Stimson analysts discuss contemporary Muslim thinking about issues at the forefront of Western concern: particularly those which go to the hea…

Report
New Information and Intelligence Needs in the 21st Century Threat Environment

The Stimson Center, in collaboration with the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, explored how current information and intelligence systems support homeland security officials in the United States and the European Union with the release of the…

Report
Transnational Trends: Middle Eastern and Asian Views

This volume presents views from disciplines as varied as science, journalism, economics, epidemiology, and on issues as diverse as fisheries, climate change, public health, and terrorism. It seeks to fill the gap in Americans’ understanding of global s…

Policy Paper
Don’t Declare Victory

This article was initially published in The American Interest for its March-April 2008 issue.   The 2008 definition of “winning” in Iraq is more about security narrowly construed than political transformation or democracy. We clearly are able to a…

Chapter
US Policy in the Middle East: Coping in a Year of Instability

This chapter first appeared in the 2007 Mediterranean Yearbook, published by the Institut Europeu de la Mediterrania US policies in the Middle East region faced acute challenges in 2006. The ongoing war and struggle to legitimize the new government in…

Commentary
Iran’s Nuclear Program: Does New Intelligence Mean A New Policy?

By Ellen Laipson – The new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran generated gasps of surprise and for some, delight.  US government analysts now judge with high confidence that Iran made a decision to halt a nuclear weapons program in 2003,…

Commentary
Iraq’s Hot Summer … And Ours

It’s over 100 degrees every day in Iraq this month, and few people have reliable access to electricity. Imagine sitting at home when even a small electric fan lies still for many hours of the day. Iraqis are right to be discouraged by the state of affa…

Policy Paper
The Security Sector and Prospects for Change in the Middle East

Pre-production draft of the article in the Summer 2007 publication of Survival Magazine For the published text, please click here. The Middle East state system is characterized by states that have too little, or too much, security. Current internationa…

Book
Iraq and America: Choices and Consequences

America’s engagement in Iraq will have profound consequences  for US interests and American national security for the foreseeable future. The US-led invasion that deposed the regime of Saddam Hussein, the shifting priorities of the US occupat…

Commentary
Peu d’espoir pour l’Irak

This commentary was first published on December 5, 2006 in Les Echos. Il est temps de renoncer à nos espoirs de voir la commission Baker-Hamilton sortir une baguette magique qui résoudrait la crise irakienne. Elle a tout d’abord dû régler le différend…

Commentary
Iraq: Hard Choices, Real Consequences

This commentary was also published in the Daily Star on December 29, 2006 The daily toll of events in Iraq and the intensity of media coverage from Baghdad, combined with the current political campaign, make it hard to allow ideas on the Iraq crisis to…

Commentary
The Khatami Visit and US-Iran Relations

The unusual visit of former Iranian President Khatami to the United States at a time of such uncertainty in US-Iran relations generated strong reactions and unrealistic expectations in many quarters.  There are two distinctly different discourses…

Commentary
The Need to Rethink US Policy towards Iran

This commentary appeared in the Daily Star on April 18, 2006. The second Bush administration has been particularly busy with Iran policy, putting in motion a number of initiatives that contrast in style with its earlier policies. The bottom line? Succe…

Commentary
Iraq After the Elections: Choices and Challenges Ahead

The apparent success of Iraq’s December 14 parliamentary elections is good news for Iraq, for the United States, and for the democratization process in the region.  One senses a huge sigh of relief from the Bush Administration, from some American…

Report
Improving the Interagency Process to Face 21st Century Security Challenges

Dear Colleague, On behalf of the U.S. Army’s Dwight D. Eisenhower National Security Series and the Henry L. Stimson Center, we are pleased to provide this short report on an enduring challenge for U.S. national security: how security professionals in o…

Commentary
Saudi Security: King Abdallah’s Greatest Challenge

This commentary appeared in the Daily Star on September 22, 2005. The peaceful transition to the reign of King Abdallah, amidst great security uncertainties inside the kingdom and in the region, is a useful moment to reflect on Saudi security policy an…

Commentary
NATO’s New Missions In The Middle East

An Arabic version of this commentary appeared in Al-Hayat on August 20, 2005. NATO is picking up the pace of its engagement in the Middle East, putting aside any lingering doubts about “out of area” missions. This new activism can contribute to regiona…

Commentary
The US-Iran-Iraq Triangle: Uncertainty and Anxiety

A summer of pain and uncertainty grinds on in Iraq.  Next door, Iran has elected a new president, which does not augur well for any positive change in US-Iran relations.  The interaction of the three states most critical to Gulf security – Ir…

Policy Paper
The Robb-Silberman Report, Intelligence, and Nonproliferation

This article originally appeared in the June 2005 issue of Arms Control Today On March 31, a bipartisan commission led by former Senator Charles Robb (D-Va.) and federal appellate court Judge Laurence Silberman, a Republican, reported to President Geor…

Policy Paper
Security Sector Reform: The Final Frontier?

This piece originally appeared in the March 2005 edition of the Arab Reform Bulletin. As the reform agenda for the Arab world continues to expand, it is time to integrate the issue of security sector reform into the discussion. Only in Iraq and Palesti…

Policy Paper
The Role of US Intelligence in Israeli-Palestinian Relations

This piece appeared in the May 12, 2005 issue of Bitterlemons International. With all the laments about intelligence failures in Iraq and elsewhere, a belief persists that intelligence professionals from key outside countries can play an important, and…

Commentary
Iraq’s Future: Making the Most of the Elections’ Success

The mood in Iraq has changed, and important parts of society appear to be energized and engaged in building a new political culture for the country.  For the United States, there is much satisfaction, although Americans must be careful to not over…

Commentary
America’s Missed Opportunity in the Middle East

This commentary appeared in the September 1, 2004 edition of the London Financial Times.   Both sides in the US political contest are focusing anew on Iran. This is long overdue, as Iran could well be the biggest national security headache for who…

Commentary
US Stakes between Iraq, Iran

Commentary published in the Christian Science Monitor on August 30, 2004. WASHINGTON – During the Athens Olympics, world-class Iranian judo champion Arash Miresmaeili forfeited his place when he refused to compete against Israeli athlete Ehud Vaks. Thi…

Commentary
The New Iraq and its Neighbors

The transition to a sovereign Iraq is a mixed blessing for the immediate neighbors.  While each bordering state may have worried about the potential spillover of violence in Iraq, the end of most aspects of occupation also contains dangers for the…

Commentary
The Absence of a US Policy towards Iran and its Consequences

This analysis is based on a presentation given to the American Academy of Diplomacy on May 27, 2004 Iran remains in the very-hard-to-do box when it comes to developing a coherent and sustainable American foreign policy.  US-Iranian relations over…

Testimony
Testimony On Intelligence and Language Capabilities

Testimony of Ellen Laipson before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Subcommittee on Intelligence Policy and National Security       Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you to today on an issue…

Commentary
Iraq: Issues on the horizon

This analysis appeared in the October 23, 2003 edition of Bitterlemons International. With the unexpected unanimous passage of a new United Nations Security Council resolution on Iraq, the international community is closer to consensus about how to pro…

Commentary
The Iraq War: Views from North Africa

During a short visit to Tunisia on the eve of the Baghdad “tipping point” in the war, I was exposed to the emotions and intellectual churning in a modern Arab society that have been stimulated by the American campaign to achieve regime change and more…

Commentary
While America Slept: Understanding Terrorism and Counterterrorism

In this essay which originally appeared in the January/February 2003 edition of Foreign Affairs, Ellen Laipson reviews The Age of Sacred Terror, a book by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon.  Laipson states that The Age of Sacred Terror vividly reco…

Commentary
Assessing the Long-Term Challenges

From, “How to Build a New Iraq after Saddam.” Republished with the permission of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy As Washington debates policies for regime change in Iraq, the question of when change occurs may ultimately prove more i…

Report
Intelligence and the Middle East: What Do We Need to Know

To provide a framework for reviewing the intelligence community’s work on the Middle East, The Washington Institute convened a special Policy Forum panel discussion on February 16, 1995.  Ellen Laipson was part of panel of regional experts and int…