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Haviland Smith

Haviland Smith is a retired CIA Station Chief who served in Eastern and Western Europe and the Middle East, as Chief of the Counterterrorism Staff, and as Executive Assistant in the Director’s office.



Whatever happened to talking about a war before launching it?
COMMENTARY | March 27, 2012
A former CIA station chief calls for a national discussion about the efficacy of foreign intervention -- and its parameters -- before we blunder into another war without pausing to think things through.

In the Middle East, history teaches us what not to do, over and over again
COMMENTARY | March 01, 2012
The only way to achieve our goals in the region is to relentlessly promote self-determination, support moderate Islamists -- and not expect miracles, writes a former CIA station chief. Trying to impose our ways, as we should know by now, will only be counterproductive.

What's wrong with attacking Iran? Better to ask: What's right?
ASK THIS | January 17, 2012
A former CIA station chief sees no threat to the U.S. from Iran, but a huge threat from attacking Iran.

When it comes to the Iranian assassination plot, where's the motivation?
ASK THIS | October 21, 2011
A former CIA station chief points out that Iran had little reason to hatch such a crazy plan; while advocates of a more hostile approach to Iran are the big winners from its exposure.

Step by step, what America has done wrong since 9/11
COMMENTARY | September 22, 2011
In some key ways, Osama bin Laden got his wish. America’s response to 9/11 has ravaged the economy, undermined civil and individual liberties – and has left us just as vulnerable as ever. Someone says “terrorist threat” and we jump. Through it all, the people and their elected representatives have hardly murmured.

The historical argument against intervention in Syria
COMMENTARY | June 03, 2011
The country's complicated and messy history offers plenty of cause for the U.S. to stay out of a civil war that has nothing to do with its national interests.

Muslim integration falling victim to media drive for conflict
COMMENTARY | September 15, 2010
Seven years ago, it was neonconservatism that led to a major clash between the U.S. and Islam. Will the 24-hour news cycle cause the next one?

Possibly seeking the impossible
ASK THIS | July 20, 2010
The American effort in Afghanistan is doomed if the Afghans don’t share our goals, and if the Taliban have a sanctuary in Pakistan. Are we prepared to stay there as long as it takes?

The flaws in Obama’s Afghan plan are right there in the open
ASK THIS | December 10, 2009
Journalists don't need to dig far to find the self-deception at the heart of Obama's Afghan surge: A little Googling is all it takes to see that his hopes for the Afghan forces are absurdly high.

'Defeating' the Taliban only makes them stronger
COMMENTARY | July 29, 2009
What makes Obama think more troops are the answer in Afghanistan? A former CIA station chief questions the wisdom of banking on a centralized solution for a fragmented country.

Not every 'failed state' is a threat
COMMENTARY | June 03, 2009
Using our military to try to deprive al Qaeda of sanctuaries will not bring us immunity from the next terrorist attack, writes a former CIA station chief. That attack can be organized, planned, funded and carried out from any safehouse in any country that allows freedom of movement. By contrast, as long as we use our military to try to mold the world to our liking, we are going to create more and more people and nations who will wish us ill, increasing the likelihood that we will be attacked again.

What's the plan in Afghanistan?
ASK THIS | February 18, 2009
Even as President Obama sends more troops to Afghanistan, a former CIA station chief raises questions about the administration's goals there, and whether they are remotely achievable.

Criticizing Israel is not an anti-Semitic act
COMMENTARY | January 05, 2009
Why is finding fault with Israel seemingly off-limits in so much of the mainstream American media?

Finding better ways to fight terror
ASK THIS | December 09, 2008
The Bush approach to counterterrorism has been counterproductive. But Obama may need to rethink a few things himself, writes a former CIA station chief.

Why is the U.S. being so provocative toward Russia?
ASK THIS | September 26, 2008
Does anyone really think that expanding NATO into Eastern Europe is going to bring out the best in Russia? A former CIA station chief says there's a lot more to the Georgian conflict than meets the eye.

Afghanistan makes Iraq look easy
COMMENTARY | August 08, 2008
A former CIA station chief writes that Obama and McCain should think again if they believe nation-building in Afghanistan can be achieved without an enormous cost in blood and treasure. History suggests otherwise.

Abuse has no place in interrogation policy
COMMENTARY | July 29, 2008
Two veteran intelligence officials write that this country has a long history of successful interrogations – based on seduction, not coercion. Torture not only violates our core values, but leads to misinformation.

Everyone's talking in the Middle East -- but us
COMMENTARY | May 28, 2008
A former CIA station chief writes that in Lebanon and elsewhere, consequential conversations are taking place that are critical to our national interests. But because we refuse to talk to such major players as Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria, we're not involved.

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