2011 wrapped up with threats by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz and with the Islamic Republic as a key topic of debate on the campaign trail. In December, AEI's Danielle Pletka, Tom Donnelly and Maseh Zarif studied, in the face of the administration's failed Iran engagement efforts, the options to contain and deter Iran as it barrels toward nuclear capability:
For containment and deterrence to succeed, the United States will need to demonstrate that it can deter both Iran’s use of nuclear weapons and aggression by Tehran’s network of partners and terrorist proxies. The United States also has a concomitant requirement to assure its allies in the region and around the world of its commitment to stability in the region. Underlying all of this is the classic requirement that the United States be capable of demonstrating its ability to execute a declaratory policy to respond to a possible Iranian nuclear attack. The United States has neither the forces available nor the capability under current projections to do so.
To mark the release of the report, a group of prominent foreign policy and Iran experts, joined by keynote speaker Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), gathered at the Capitol Visitors Center. Full event video is here.
SPECIAL TOPIC: Comprehensive coverage of Iran
THE CREEP OF AQAP
AEI's Critical Threats project stayed on top of the year's Yemen unrest and the opportunities it provided al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula through daily situation reports. Katherine Zimmerman also noted that the September killing of Yemeni-American militant Anwar al-Awlaki would not likely diminish al Qaeda's capabilities in the long term:
Awlaki helped the leadership extend the organization’s reach beyond Yemen, but was not essential to its ability to hold and expand its territory in Yemen or, ultimately, to wage war against the West. The AQAP leadership in Yemen remains intact: the group’s leader Nasser al-Wahayshi, deputy leader Said al-Shihri, military commander Qasim al-Raymi, operative Fahd al-Quso, and bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri are alive and well. The leadership will continue to operate, even with the loss of Awlaki. After all, much of the top leadership of al Qaeda in Yemen was killed in the years following the September 11 attacks and new leaders stepped in to fill the vacancies.
THE DEATH OF OSAMA
Michael Rubin, "After bin Laden": "Those who believe bin Laden's death has brought the war on terror to an end fundamentally misunderstand the ideology that motivates both jihadist terrorism and Islamist antipathy toward the West in general and the United States in particular."
EVENT VIDEO: "CIA Interrogations and the bin Laden Video"
Sadanand Dhume, "Post-bin Laden: Pakistan's hour of choice": "Apart from bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, prominent non-Pakistanis who used the country as a base include Mohamed Atta; shoe-bomber Richard Reid; and John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban. Over the past decade, Pakistani fingerprints have shown up on terrorist plots all over Europe, not to mention India, which has borne the brunt of its neighbor's use of terrorism as an instrument of policy."
EVENT VIDEO: "The Death of bin Laden and the Future of Pakistan"
CHENEY AND THE 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11
Former Vice President Dick Cheney sat down for a discussion of the world after 9/11 to mark September's 10th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks. Cheney said that victory in the war on terror will be a gradual process without a defining end moment. “It’s not similar to what we think of as a conventional war,” Cheney said, adding it’s “not likely to be an ‘a-ha moment,’ say ‘it’s done.’” He also talked about the most pressing threats to come:
Bridget Johnson is the managing editor of AEI.org