US Opinion and Commentary

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Putin and Obama Have Profound Differences on Syria

Posted September 29th, 2015 at 9:01 am (UTC-4)
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Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin agree that the Islamic State, which is trying to establish a caliphate in Syria and Iraq and has by some accounts grown to tens of thousands of fighters, is a major threat. Beyond that, their two visions are radically at odds, and each used his speech to blame the […]

Syrian Refugees as Trojan Horse for Islamic State?

Posted September 17th, 2015 at 1:17 pm (UTC-4)
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Germany may understand best the need to welcome these fleeing Muslims. It realizes that it made a mistake decades ago in not integrating Turkish immigrant workers into German society. In a similar way, terrorist experts know that the best way to deradicalize a jihadi is to first establish a relationship, embracing them rather fearing them.

Triangulation: Russia, Syria and the United States

Posted September 14th, 2015 at 1:16 pm (UTC-4)
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President Obama said Friday there will be a “long discussion” involving Russia’s move to provide military assistance to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. While the assistance may seem modest — 200 naval infantrymen, modular housing for 1,500 troops, howitzers, a short-range guided-missile controller and a dozen armored vehicles according to the Pentagon — it’s seen as another audacious gesture by Russian president Vladimir Putin. There is concern that Putin is creating facts on the ground similar to the situation in Ukraine with Washington unable, or unwilling, to confront Moscow. And there are those who suggest Russia should take note of history and its unsuccessful invovlement in Afghanistan? There are plenty of suggestions for all sides on how to stop the war in Syria.

The Fearsome Foreign Fighters of Islamic State? Many Are Just Children

Posted September 8th, 2015 at 4:33 pm (UTC-4)
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A recent Danish intelligence report noted that the typical age range of foreigners joining the fight in Syria was 16 to 25. That makes them younger than the foreign fighters who streamed into previous jihadist struggles in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia, who were 25 to 30.

The Death of Aylan Kurdi and the Need For a Moral Policy on Refugees

Posted September 4th, 2015 at 10:04 am (UTC-4)
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These refugees and migrants are mostly innocent victims of political failures, from the war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State to incessant insurgencies and political oppression in Africa. The world should not compound those failures with a moral one.

Ignoring Wrongs in Syria to Battle Islamic State

Posted September 3rd, 2015 at 9:43 am (UTC-4)
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While President Obama has deployed American bombs and US-trained Syrian fighters to target IS fighters, he has taken little action to bring down the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad…. In fact, the Assad regime is now tacitly regarded as a bulwark against the advance of Islamic rebels – even though the atrocities of the […]

Petraeus’ Plan to Defeat Islamic State Won’t Work

Posted September 2nd, 2015 at 4:29 pm (UTC-4)
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The key problem with Petraeus’s idea is that the U.S. may no longer have any chance of being “credible” in Syria. Four years after the crisis began, U.S. support for groups fighting the Assad regime has slowed. Those moderate groups that haven’t been crushed or coopted by Islamic groups feel abandoned by Washington.

Defeat Islamic State with Culture War

Posted September 2nd, 2015 at 8:29 am (UTC-4)
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The United States should instead focus on identifying reliable, local counter-narrators and amplify their voices across different platforms. Members of local communities, viewed as more trustworthy and culturally aware, have a vital role to play in developing counter-narratives to ISIS that resonate within the communities that are being targeted by the extremist group.

Are We Doing Enough to Stop ISIS?

Posted September 1st, 2015 at 5:40 pm (UTC-4)
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With reports of female sex-slaves, including a young American hostage, the destruction of ancient ruins and the latest execution posted online, there are worries that the world has come to accept — and expect — the extreme brutality of Islamic State fighters. The current US strategy is quietly being debated once again, with some observers calling for more American engagement.

It’s Not Too Late to Save Iraq and Syria

Posted August 26th, 2015 at 12:25 pm (UTC-4)
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To enable military success against the Islamic State, we must first have in place a political strategy to mobilize significant Sunni Arab opposition to this terrorist group, both within Syria and Iraq and in the broader region. The biggest impediment to such a strategy is the administration’s ill-considered and unreciprocated outreach to Iran.

Time is Running Out to Defeat ISIS

Posted August 21st, 2015 at 1:07 pm (UTC-4)
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While the United States can’t fight the ideological battle directly, by using military and diplomatic means it can buy the time necessary for regional leaders to marshal a response and launch a more effective ideological counterattack. If this doesn’t occur, it is possible that the ideological damage inflicted by ISIS could become permanent

Making A State By Iron and Blood

Posted August 20th, 2015 at 10:34 am (UTC-4)
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As everyone from Mao to Kissinger is said to have said, insurgents don’t need to “win” in order to succeed; they just need to not lose. Stick around long enough … eventually your opponents will tire of fighting, and they’ll either give up and leave, or give up and negotiate.

Outgoing Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno says the United States cannot fight Islamic States militants alone. “I absolutely believe that the region has to solve this problem…. They’ve got to get involved,

Posted August 13th, 2015 at 4:11 pm (UTC-4)
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In Unstable World, Is the US Pursing “Soft Power” Options?

Posted August 7th, 2015 at 5:36 pm (UTC-4)
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President Obama’s race to the White House in 2008 included a promise the get the United States out of Iraq. Just over six years later, US combat troops are back home from Iraq. But thanks to a failed experiment with US-backed democracy there, the Islamic State has taken over parts of both Iraq and Syria, pulling the US back into the turmoil.

The Taliban After Omar

Posted August 3rd, 2015 at 9:07 am (UTC-4)
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The world learned last week that Taliban leader Mohammad Omar is dead and may have been dead since April 2013. The announcement was bad news for peace talks and good news for the Islamic State.