US Opinion and Commentary

“VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussion and opinion on these policies.” — VOA Charter

Showing Archived Posts

  • Page 1 of 2
  • 1
  • 2
  • >

Climate, Russia on U.S.-Nordic Summit Agenda

Posted May 13th, 2016 at 1:08 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

Geography and the shared values of democracy and human rights shapes the agenda for Friday’s U.S.-Nordic summit at the White House.
During his welcoming remarks, President Barack Obama referred to Nordic nations’ welcoming of refugees and humanitarian aid contributions. He praised their dedication to slowing climate change. And he referred to the Nordic countries’ as reliable allies when it comes to security.
It took the president of Finland to mention the biggest security issue for the Nordic countries: Russia. They see what happened in Ukraine and are concerned that the same thing might happen to their neighbors across the Baltic Sea: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Ties between the United States and the Nordic countries go back 1,000 years, when the Vikings were Europe’s first to find the North America. And now there are about 11-million Scandinavian-Americans in the U.S. President Obama said he invited the leaders to the White House because “sometimes we have a tendency to take our best friends for granted.” They have a lot of work ahead of them.

In Merkel, Obama Finds Like-minded Ally

Posted April 25th, 2016 at 12:09 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

They are both calm, cool and collected. Neither are prone to melodrama; rather, they look for practical solutions. And they have both demonstrated maturity by getting past a nasty spat prompted by revelations that the U.S. government was listening in on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s telephone conversations for several years. Shortly after arriving in Germany on Sunday for his final visit, Obama praised Merkel for sticking to a welcoming policy towards migrants even as Europe capitals have been shaken by deadly terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS: “What’s happening with respect to her position on refugees here, in Europe. She is on the right side of history on this,” he said. In return, officials say Obama hopes to get more support to fight ISIS militants, and for a trade deal with the European Union. As the president winds down his two-terms in office, he seems driven to secure America’s best friends and raise the public discourse during a particularly pugilistic American election season that will determine his successor.

Judging Obama’s Record

Posted April 10th, 2016 at 8:25 am (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

Readers appraise his successes and failures, and muse about what could have been.


Posted March 17th, 2016 at 5:06 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

Critics of the Obama administration’s Mideast policy say the United States has waited far too long to use the word genocide to describe the brutality exacted by Islamic State militants against its perceived foes. Today, Secretary of State John Kerry satisfied the president’s opponents. “In my judgement Daesh (the Arabic acronym for ISIS) is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims,” said Kerry. Genocide is a legal—and loaded—term. In 1948, the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the U.N. Security Council. After Kerry’s statement, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner briefed the media:

REPORTER: “So if the Secretary was to decide what is going on is a genocide, that would have legal implications for policy, would it not? You’re obliged to do more about it?… ”

MR. TONER: “So, it’s a fair question. So acknowledging that genocide or crimes against humanity have taken place in another country would not necessarily result in any particular legal obligation for the United States. However, we have joined with the international community in recognizing the importance of protecting populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, war crimes.”

Therein lies the thorns of defining Islamic State’s brutality as genocide. As signatories, is the United States compelled to do more in Iraq and Syria to stop the genocide? Just think back to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the words of former President Bill Clinton: “If we’d gone in sooner, I believe we could have saved at least a third of the lives that were lost…it had an enduring impact on me.”

President Awards the Medal of Honor to Navy Seal

Posted March 1st, 2016 at 11:43 am (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

The 36 year-old Navy Seal busted into a house in eastern Afghanistan in 2012, fighting off guards and throwing himself on an American doctor. With a free hand, Byers grabbed a nearby captor by the throat and pinned him to the wall until another member of the six-man SEAL team shot him in a daring rescue

Supreme Politics

Posted February 16th, 2016 at 4:07 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

Despite its status as an independent branch of government, the American judiciary is not immune to partisan politics. That has become vividly apparent in the hours and days following Saturday’s death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday. The United States Constitution codifies the politicization of the Supreme Court. Article II Section 2 says the president “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint…Judges of the Supreme Court…” In other words, the president appoints, the Senate anoints. At stake in replacing Scalia is the philosophical bent of the Supreme Court. Scalia was a steadfast conservative. His death leaves the nine member court divided between four conservatives and four liberals. With a presidential election coming in November, conservative Republicans wasted no time in demanding that President Barack Obama refrain from nominating a replacement for Scalia, arguing that responsibility should be left for the next president after the American people have their say. Obama has vowed to exercise his constitutional duty and nominate a candidate for the Supreme Court “in due time.” Fellow Democrats argue that the president has already won two elections and the people have already spoken about the direction of the country. Few believe the senate will act on the president’s nomination, leaving the Supreme Court in the political gridlock gripping the other two branches of government.

Obama Can Make His Asia Pivot Endure

Posted February 16th, 2016 at 4:01 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

Only steady, consistent engagement can overcome doubts about U.S. staying power. After some early stumbles, Obama has set a good precedent by committing the U.S. to several regional meetings, which should forge stronger bonds well into the future.

Honoring Justice Scalia

Posted February 16th, 2016 at 2:58 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

“Justice Scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy: the rule of law. Tonight, we honor his extraordinary service to our nation and remember one of the towering legal figures of our time.” President Barack Obama

Obama’s Address on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Posted January 27th, 2016 at 11:24 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

“We know that we’ll never be able to wipe out hatred from every single mind. We won’t entirely erase the scourge of anti-Semitism. But like the Righteous, we must do everything we can. All of us have a responsibility. President Barack Obama

Dealing With Tehran

Posted January 20th, 2016 at 11:14 am (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

A chorus of Republicans have charged that the U.S. gave away too much just to secure an agreement and that Mr. Obama’s diplomatic approach signaled American weakness rather than strength to our adversaries around the world. But where’s the evidence of that?

Photo Essay: President Barack Obama

Posted January 12th, 2016 at 5:15 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

America’s first African-American president begins winding down the last year of his second term after delivering his final State of the Union speech. Here’s a look back.

Behind the Lens: 2015 Year in Photographs

Posted December 31st, 2015 at 3:42 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

As 2015 comes to a close, look back at some of the most memorable images of the comings and goings at the White House throughout 2015 as selected by Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza.

Netanyahu Offers Soothing Words, But No Clear Plan for Peace

Posted November 11th, 2015 at 11:23 am (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

My late editor at The Economist, Peter David, once inserted into an article this reporter had written about Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu the words “too mellifluous” before his name. At several appearances during Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week, the four-term prime minister lived up to that description as he defended Israeli policies in dulcet […]

Obama Evokes Economy, Climate Change in Rejecting Keystone Pipeline

Posted November 9th, 2015 at 9:53 am (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

“For years, the Keystone Pipeline has occupied what I consider, frankly, an over-inflated role in our political discourse.” – President Barack Obama speaking at the White House on November 6.

Obama’s Push to Close Guantanamo is Stuck on ‘Uruguay Six’

Posted October 20th, 2015 at 4:30 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

One reason President Barack Obama has struggled to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is a dispute with Congressional Republicans over six former prisoners who made a lot of noise in Uruguay — and whom some see as a threat to American security.

  • Page 1 of 2
  • 1
  • 2
  • >