US Opinion and Commentary

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Back to the ‘Axis of Evil’ on Iran

Posted February 7th, 2017 at 1:39 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes to the White House next week, he is likely to find common ground with its new occupant on at least one topic: Iran. Tough rhetoric by the Trump administration, coupled with new sanctions over missile tests and Iran’s inclusion in a controversial travel ban, signals […]

The End of the Iran Deal?

Posted December 8th, 2016 at 1:24 pm (UTC-4)
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[W]ithin a year of its implementation, the hope that the nuclear pact could usher in a new era of relations with Iran appears to be defunct. The only remaining question is whether the agreement will survive at all…

U.S. Foreign Policy Under Donald Trump

Posted November 16th, 2016 at 4:10 pm (UTC-4)
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Before handing the keys to the White House to Donald Trump, Barack Obama is taking a final, presidential lap around the world.

Obama started his three country trip in the birthplace of democracy, Greece. Then it’s on to Berlin to thank Chancellor Angela Merkel for her support during his term. The pair will also meet with the leaders of Great Britain, France, Italy and Spain. Afterward, Obama flies to Peru for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

In each stop, American allies, and perhaps some foes, will seek reassurance from Obama about the future under a Trump presidency.

With names like former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, Senate Foreign Relations chairman Bob Corker and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley floated as possible choices for Trump’s Secretary of State, there is no shortage of foreign policy speculation and suggestions.

A Leap into the Void with Trump

Posted November 9th, 2016 at 3:23 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin President Donald Trump. The words, I must admit, stick in my throat and prospect of him as commander in chief for the next four years is frightening. The people of the United States have narrowly voted for a man who campaigned on a platform of xenophobia and isolationism, who says he will […]

America’s Mr. Diplomacy

Posted September 15th, 2016 at 10:49 am (UTC-4)
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Such criticism is not uncommon among outside experts (and) administration officials who believe that Mr. Kerry too often pursues unwinnable goals and settles for imperfect outcomes. But there has been something honorable, even heroic, about the persistence, hard work and faith in diplomacy that this decorated Vietnam veteran…has brought to his search for peaceful solutions.

What’s It’s Like to Be a Political Moderate Working in a Ridiculously Polarized Senate

Posted June 28th, 2016 at 5:49 pm (UTC-4)
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I believe firmly in democratic participation and transparency. And so it pains me to recognize that Americans who choose to participate in politics are angrier and more ideological than those who do not, and that this ideological participation in politics leads to greater polarization and gridlock.

Ben Rhodes’ Turn in Washington’s Spin Cycle

Posted May 17th, 2016 at 4:42 pm (UTC-4)
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Ben Rhodes was a no-show at a congressional hearing that was ostensibly about him.
Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Adviser for strategic communications, is described in a controversial New York Times Magazine profile of him as “the single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy” aside from President Obama.
The passages drawing the most attention center on the nuclear deal with Iran. The profile reveals that the White House spun a narrative that the deal came about in 2013, when “moderates” came to power in Iran when in fact, “the most meaningful part of the negotiations” took place in 2012, months before the election of President Hassan Rouhani.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee criticized Rhodes for how he managed the White House campaign to sell the deal to Congress and the media. Committee Democrats pointed out the Bush White House engineered a similar campaign about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. In a letter to President Barack Obama, three U.S. senators called for him to fire Rhodes.
When voters select a presidential candidate on election day, they’re not necessarily thinking about the hundreds of people who will fill key advisory positions behind that candidate. And when the spotlight catches one of those generally anonymous presidential loyalists, it begins one of Washington’s favorite parlor games: Is the President being well served?
Ben Rhodes skipped the invitation to appear before the Congressional committee, but he cannot avoid the political spotlight.

Terror Payout Latest Challenge to U.S.-Iran Reconciliation

Posted April 26th, 2016 at 3:23 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin Chances for a more constructive U.S.-Iran relationship in the aftermath of a landmark nuclear deal are eroding with new disputes over missiles, Iran’s access to its assets in foreign banks and now a Supreme Court judgment allowing distribution of $2 billion in Iranian government money to relatives of U.S. victims of alleged Iran-backed terrorism. […]

Washington Made it Easy for Iran to Fire its Ballistic Missiles

Posted March 17th, 2016 at 1:55 pm (UTC-4)
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[I]n exchange for Iran’s signature on the landmark nuclear accord, the United States granted Tehran greater wiggle room to advance its ballistic missile program…. There’s just one problem: The updated measures are neither legally binding nor as restrictive than the measures in place at the time of the nuclear pact.

Will Iran Vote Validate Obama’s Legacy Deal?

Posted February 25th, 2016 at 2:49 pm (UTC-4)
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When President Barack Obama announced the lifting of some of the most punishing sanctions against Iran last month, a tectonic shift took place. It felt like a Nixon to China moment. Iran, which the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had declared was in compliance with the landmark nuclear deal, was now no longer America’s mortal enemy. The Iran of the 1980’s hostage crisis seemed born again by signaling it was ready to cast off its pariah status and join the rest of the civilized world. Or is it? The West hopes Friday’s parliamentary elections in Iran will confirm that hope, but insiders have already thrown cold water on that idea. Not much is likely to change, they say, as long as religious clerics remain in charge of the entire electoral process. Harsh critics of Obama’s legacy moment with Iran will be also be watching to see if reform has really taken hold in Iran.

A Plague of Black Swans in the Middle East

Posted February 25th, 2016 at 10:04 am (UTC-4)
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[T]he Obama Doctrine…is a cruelly pragmatic strategy…(assuming) the U.S. cannot solve all the problems of the region…and is unwilling to act as a surrogate for our friends in the region…none of the (presidential) candidates would likely go back to a policy that was politically and financially costly, often related only distantly to actual U.S. interests,

What Would Be Most Likely to Unravel the Iran Nuclear Agreement

Posted February 10th, 2016 at 11:27 am (UTC-4)
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The scenario that presents the greatest danger of the nuclear agreement unraveling is thus one in which new sanctions legislation and other Iran-punishing moves by the U.S. Congress cross a line that leads most Iranians to get fed up and to say to heck with it.

Republican Senator Bob Corker: A Rare Voice of Bipartisanship

Posted February 3rd, 2016 at 2:46 pm (UTC-4)
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While the President of the United States sets the country’s foreign policy and priorities, Congress gets to determine how much money to spend on those policies and priorities. A key person making those determinations is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker holds that gavel right now. He has openly criticized President Obama for having “no strategy in Syria from day one.” During an appearance on MSNBC, Corker said, “I do not understand this president” on his opposition to establishing a no-fly zone along the Turkey-Syria border. Despite Corker’s harsh assessments of administration policy, he has a reputation of being a deal-maker, known for rising above partisan bickering with his genteel southern charm. Corker sat down with VOA this week for a wide-ranging interview on some of the thorniest foreign policy questions of the day: the nuclear deal with Iran, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and Putin’s Russia.

Iran After the Nuclear Deal: Change We Can’t Believe In

Posted January 20th, 2016 at 4:17 pm (UTC-4)
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Iran’s hardliners voted to disqualify nearly all of President Hassan Rouhani’s political allies from running in next month’s parliamentary elections. The disqualifications are a blow to President Barack Obama and European leaders …

Quick, Direct US-Iran Diplomacy Pays Off for Sailors

Posted January 13th, 2016 at 1:57 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin When Iran detained 10 American sailors who had intruded into Iranian territorial waters, opponents of President Barack Obama’s diplomacy with Tehran thought they had struck political gold. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush immediately tweeted. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio asserted Iran was “testing the boundaries of this administration’s resolve.” Cable news channels, seeking to fill […]

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