THE OBAMA DOCTRINE: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg spent many hours with Obama discussing his foreign policy outlook and his preference for non-intervention. The massive piece starts with what many see as Obama’s most shaky and pivotal moment – the bright red line on Syria – and looks through how Obama approached decisions, has butted heads with members of his administration, and how he really viewed other countries and forces around the world. It’s not a short read, but it is illuminating.
ISLAMIC STATE WEAPONS MAKER HANDED OVER TO IRAQ: The United States handed over Islamic State chemical weapons maker Sulayman Dawud al-Bakkar to Iraqi authorities on Thursday, after holding him for about a month. Pentagon officials said they had already collected enough intelligence from al-Bakkar to stage several airstrikes, and would continue to use information he’d provided in the future – and reminded that they are trying to transfer captives over to local authorities quickly. But his capture and transfer raises questions about the level to which ISIS may be engaged, or planning to engage in chemical warfare. The U.S. hasn’t confirmed ISIS uses chemical weapons, but recent chemical agent attacks in northern Iraq suggest there could be a connection.
IRAN: THE BALLISTIC MISSILES WILL GO ON Congress may be threatening more sanctions, but Iranian officials are proceeding undeterred, promising more ballistic missile tests, a program they call “completely defensive and legitimate,” as reported in Iranian state-run news. Under the terms of the recent nuclear deal, Iran is not supposed to be pursuing weapons capable of carrying nuclear warheads. But that leaves room for Iran to argue that they have no intention of outfitting the ballistic missiles with nukes – an argument few in the United States are buying. Washington has not yet taken any concerns to the Security Council.