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James Kitfield

James Kitfield James Kitfield a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress and a Defense One contributor. He is a former senior correspondent for National Journal and has written on defense, national security and foreign policy issues from Washington, D.C. for more than two decades.
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5 Takeaways from the U.S. Special Ops Raids in Somalia and Libya

October 8, 2013 The news that U.S. Special Forces commandos carried out nearly simultaneous counterterrorism raids on Saturday has briefly illuminated a shadow war the United States continues to wage against Islamist terrorists around the world. A snatch-and-grab “rendition” operation in Tripoli netted long-time al Qaeda operative Nazhi Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai (better known as ...

Syrian Rebels Are Rejecting U.S. Strategy

September 30, 2013 President Obama capped an unusually dramatic week of diplomacy at the United Nations with the first conversation between American and Iranian presidents since the 1979 Iranian revolution, and, following a meeting between the U.S. and Russian top diplomats, with a unanimous vote on the U.N. Security Council for the surrender ...

Obama’s ‘Nixon to China’ Moment

September 13, 2013 The president wants to end a war and bring U.S. troops home, even while wrestling with Congress over the reins of foreign policy. His domestic agenda is stymied by partisanship and political opponents who smell scandal. As commander-in-chief he desperately needs a bold stroke on the world stage to reverse ...

War with Syria: The Intersection of Interests and Ideology

August 29, 2013 When the dogs of war start howling, it’s worth noting what pack they run in. For the better part of two years, hawkish interventionists like Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have been agitating for the United States to throw its military weight behind the Syrian rebels as ...

Sexual Assault Reform or 'Slippery Slope' for Military Justice?

August 15, 2013 Recently, one of the Joint Chiefs said privately that he was open to the idea of taking sexual assault cases out of the military chain-of-command, a proposed reform to the military justice system that has gained significant bipartisan support in Congress. The issue of sexual assault in the military, the ...

DC's Political Paralysis 'Means More Casualties' for Untrained Soldiers

August 2, 2013 As a veteran combat commander who led the counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq, General Ray Odierno is not given to excessive worry. In a war zone there’s little benefit to tossing and turning over the infinite “unknown unknowns” that accompany each sunrise. Yet this week the Army chief of staff confided ...

Here’s Why Taliban Talks Will Fail

July 19, 2013 If there is anyone who has a right to be skeptical of the Taliban’s “good faith” in reaching a negotiated peace in Afghanistan, it is top Afghan peace negotiator Salahuddin Rabbani. He’s the chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council, established by the Afghan government in 2010 to reach out ...

African Terrorist Threat Not Far From Obama’s Mind

June 27, 2013 When President Obama lands in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, next week, he will see a city that reflects the rapid changes that are reshaping Africa. The traffic-snarled streets are a riot of bright color, with buildings painted in splashes of pink and orange sherbet, and pedestrians dressed in blaring red ...

Analysis: What Is a ‘Red Line’ Worth?

May 3, 2013 The United States can’t bluff. That is the consensus inside the White House on the issuing of “red lines,” including President Obama’s publicly declared prohibition against Syria using or transferring its chemical weapons, or Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb. “We’ll be in the [White House] security room, and [the president] ...

How the Government Searches for the Boston Marathon Bomber

April 18, 2013 When FBI special agent Richard DesLauriers promised that “We will go to the ends of the Earth” to find the terrorists responsible for the bombing of the Boston Marathon and bring them to justice, he was not making an idle threat. The post-9/11 record strongly suggests that the U.S. authorities ...