US Opinion and Commentary

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How Trump Can Respond to U.S. Hostage Appeal

Posted December 21st, 2016 at 9:52 am (UTC-5)
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Donald Trump prides himself on the art of the deal. With that in mind, he should use the leverage he has to secure the release of the American and other Western hostages held by the Haqqanis in exchange for Anas Haqqani.

Mattis as Defense Secretary: What it Means for Us, the Military, and for Trump

Posted December 2nd, 2016 at 10:15 am (UTC-5)
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Mattis says what he thinks. That is President-elect Trump’s reputation, but I think the fact of the matter is Trump actually says what sounds good. There’s a big difference….  He is a rarity in that he is a genuine strategic thinker, pushing himself and others to stretch their minds. This tendency is not always welcomed.

Iran’s Climate Change Challenge

Posted September 8th, 2016 at 5:08 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin Around the world, glaciers are melting, seas are rising, ground water is being depleted and July was the warmest month recorded since temperatures began being measured in 1880. Yet, the moderator of Wednesday night’s “Commanders-in-Chief” forum, NBC’s Matt Lauer, did not ask the U.S. presidential candidates any questions about the biggest and […]

Afghanistan: It’s Only Getting Worse

Posted August 10th, 2016 at 11:34 am (UTC-5)
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Afghanistan was already one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a civilian, but the findings of the investigation were even worse than observers and U.S. officials expected…After providing nearly $70 billion in security assistance, Washington is still looking at an Afghanistan that cannot sustain itself…

Obama’s Whac-a-Mole Strategy

Posted July 15th, 2016 at 10:47 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. military policy under Obama has been different, narrower in its scope and more modest in its goals….These are ongoing military actions, not unending wars, and ones that the U.S. can easily afford. They also work. A Whac-A-Mole strategy is no fun for the mole. Just ask the Islamic State as it watches its territory shrink…

Obama: 8,400 U.S. Troops to Stay in Afghanistan

Posted July 6th, 2016 at 3:54 pm (UTC-5)
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President Obama announced Wednesday that approximately 8,400 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan through the end of the year. That’s about 3,000 more than originally planned.

A Broken Promise in Afghanistan

Posted June 23rd, 2016 at 10:27 am (UTC-5)
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Abandoning these Afghans would not just be a stain on our national honor, but also would carry profound strategic costs. U.S. forces have always relied on local allies to accomplish military and diplomatic missions….why would anyone agree to help the U.S. if we have a record of breaking our promises and abandoning those who assist us?

Why the Death of Taliban Leader Mullah Mansour Won’t Bring Peace to Afghanistan

Posted June 22nd, 2016 at 3:24 pm (UTC-5)
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But the idea that the Taliban’s fragmentation and internal weakness will drive it to the negotiating table or to military defeat is far from guaranteed. In fact, internal divisions may actually cause the Taliban to become more aggressive on the battlefield and less likely to come to the negotiating table.

The Gravedigger of Kabul

Posted May 27th, 2016 at 12:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Ahmad buried what remained of a suicide bomber who attacked the Indian Embassy….I tell Ahmad that…I interviewed the widow of an…officer who died because of this attack. Ahmad says nothing. I want to know what he would say to her as the man who buried her husband’s killers, but his silence cuts me off.

Another Taliban Leader Killed. What Next?

Posted May 25th, 2016 at 5:41 pm (UTC-5)
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President Barack Obama called the killing of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour “an important milestone” in U.S. efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan. Obama’s statement Monday went on to explain that Mansour rejected peace talks with Afghanistan and was plotting attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces.
How the drone strike that killed Mansour was carried out raises as many questions as the act itself. It took place on Pakistan soil, in Baluchistan rather than along the frontier with Afghanistan. It’s still murky whether Pakistan intelligence or military officials helped the U.S. or had advance warning. There’s even an Iran element to the intrigue.
The Taliban has named a successor, someone said to hold the same views as his predecessor about negotiations with the Afghan government. As the U.S. decides how (and whether) to draw down forces in Afghanistan, will the short term success bring long term peace?

Obama’s Drone War Is a Shameful Part of his Legacy

Posted May 6th, 2016 at 9:23 am (UTC-5)
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There have long been policy, constitutional and moral questions about the drone program — all made more difficult to answer by the Obama administration’s refusal to even acknowledge the program until 2013.

The Wrong Way to Handle the Kunduz Tragedy

Posted May 2nd, 2016 at 8:27 am (UTC-5)
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It is unclear why a court of inquiry was not used in the Kunduz case…Such a court would have been closed to the public when classified evidence was being examined, but much of it could have been open. That alone would have fostered greater confidence in the results.

Containing the Chaos of Migration

Posted April 13th, 2016 at 12:16 pm (UTC-5)
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It takes a lot to uproot oneself (and family), arrange travel via a trafficker, step onto a boat with a few possessions and no guarantees.They are called migrants or refugees—or both. Whichever term comes to mind, they are all people, many looking to improve their lot in life. But most, experts say, are running from instability and violence. According to the United Nations, the recent wave of migrants represents the largest dislocation of people since the Second World War. The estimated number of migrants in Europe runs in the hundreds of thousands, up to over a million registered asylum seekers. Thus, the term “migrant crisis,” which is useful shorthand, but doesn’t allow for the scale and scope of human suffering involved. As Europe struggles to cope with the influx (via the sea from Turkey or Libya into Greece or Italy, for the most part), America is bracing for the expected spillover.

The End of the American Empire

Posted April 12th, 2016 at 4:53 pm (UTC-5)
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Congress may be on strike against the rest of the government, but our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines remain hard at work….The major achievement of multiple interventions in the Muslim world has been to demonstrate that the use of force is not the answer to many problems, but there are few problems it cannot aggravate

Judging Obama’s Record

Posted April 10th, 2016 at 8:25 am (UTC-5)
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Readers appraise his successes and failures, and muse about what could have been.