Image credit: Domicile Media/Getty Images

May 15, 2019

The Knowns and Unknowns of What’s Happening With Iran

Featuring Ilan Goldenberg

Source: The Atlantic

Journalists Mike Giglio, Kathy Gilsinan

“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

That was Donald Rumsfeld speaking from the Pentagon podium in 2002 about assessing the threat from Iraq. The past week of provocations and counter-provocations between the United States and Iran—involving U.S. aircraft-carrier and bomber deployments, mysterious explosions on oil tankers, drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities from the Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen, and a sudden withdrawal of some U.S. personnel from the embassy in Baghdad—has evoked fearful comparisons to that era and the military conflict it presaged. While the comparison might not be completely apt, there’s a key similarity; now as then, the American public finds itself in a fog of something short of war, with few ways to assess what could be coming.

Read the full article and more in The Atlantic.


  • Ilan Goldenberg

    Former Senior Fellow and Director, Middle East Security Program

    Ilan Goldenberg is the former Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. He is a foreign policy and defense expe...