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

Turkey, Russia Use Syria Refugees to Blackmail E.U.

Posted March 9th, 2016 at 10:33 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

By Barbara Slavin As the European Union struggles to find a way to reduce the inflow of Syrian refugees to manageable proportions, it is under pressure to downplay human rights violations by Turkey and Russia. Turkey, which has lost much of its democratic luster in recent years because of a crackdown on political opposition by […]

Russian Adventurism and the U.S. Long Game

Posted March 3rd, 2016 at 4:28 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

If the United States and its allies are not to be continually surprised, we will have to put more resources behind understanding what is happening inside Russia, as well as analyzing the complex of Russia’s interactions internationally.

The Unaccountable Death of Boris Nemtsov

Posted March 1st, 2016 at 4:26 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Nemtsov, who was fifty-five years old, was once a precocious political talent, rising from provincial governor to become to become President Boris Yeltsin’s deputy prime minister….His murder was a terrible blow to the opposition and an unwelcome jolt to the political élite.

How It Looks From Afar

Posted February 29th, 2016 at 3:33 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

A crucial part of the job of President of the United States is steering relations with allies and enemies alike. American foreign policy, diplomacy, military action and much more all depend on perceptions. President Barack Obama was hailed as decisive and bold in 2011 when he signed off on a risky, and ultimately successful, covert operation to take out America’s most wanted man, Al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, who was living in plain view in Pakistan. Five years later, Obama is taken to task by some, including current 2016 presidential hopefuls, for refusing to deploy a full-scale military effort to stop Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Which raises a question: how is the rise of the most unorthodox presidential hopeful ever, billionaire and reality television star Donald J. Trump, playing across the pond?

Brexit? Look at Who Supports Each Side

Posted February 29th, 2016 at 12:42 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

by James Kirchick Sometimes, when judging the merits of opposing arguments in a contentious debate, one can decipher the more just position merely by surveying the contestants on either side. The issue of whether or not the United Kingdom should remain within the European Union – which British voters will decide in a June referendum […]

Obama’s Implicit Foreign Policy

Posted February 26th, 2016 at 9:58 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

I have based my foreign policy on some tough realities that are hard to talk about because no American likes to hear about the limits of our power. But those limits have grown. American power in the 21st century cannot be what it was in 1945 — or even in 1990.

Navigating the Road Ahead

Posted February 24th, 2016 at 3:33 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

It has become a campaign staple to trash President Barack Obama’s foreign policy initiatives from Iraq, Cuba to Russia. American presidential hopefuls have the luxury of hindsight without the responsibility of Syria, Afghanistan, China and many other global concerns resting on their shoulders. But by this time next year, someone else will be making the tough calls from the Oval Office. It’s ironic that Obama won his first term with a pledge to end the seemingly endless, and deeply unpopular, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And he did fulfill those promises. However, by the time these policies were in place, the world seemed to have moved on to new crises, including the emergence of Islamic State out of the ashes of Iraq and the violent turmoil in Syria. All of this—and—more awaits the next President of the United States.

The Exotic New Weapons the Pentagon Wants to Deter Russia and China

Posted February 24th, 2016 at 10:49 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Pentagon officials have started talking openly about using the latest tools of artificial intelligence and machine learning to create robot weapons, “human-machine teams” and enhanced, super-powered soldiers….Pentagon officials say they have concluded that such high-tech systems are the best way to combat rapid improvements by the Russian and Chinese militaries.

Testing ‘Russian Seriousness’ in Syria

Posted February 17th, 2016 at 2:46 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

On Friday, a cessation of hostilities brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week in Munich is set to go into effect. Part of the agreement includes the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian aid to besieged areas. That part of the deal has begun. The other part? Not so much.Kerry explained the Obama administration’s position on Syria earlier this month in an interview with The Washington Post: “What we’re doing is testing [Russian and Iranian] seriousness,” he said. “And if they’re not serious, then there has to be consideration of a Plan B…. You can’t just sit there.” Russia’s intentions are of particular concern to the United States. Backed by the Russian military, the government has nearly surrounded Aleppo, the rebels’ most important base. The campaign has been bloody, forcing a new wave of Syrians to flee. With no appetite to send in U.S.ground troops, calls for a safe zone in Syria are getting louder. So far, the U.S. has said no. But with so few options left – and fears of Putin’s growing influence – Kerry’s hint may be a revised U.S. policy

How to Save the World: Old-School Foreign-Policy Realism

Posted February 12th, 2016 at 3:51 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

America’s deliberate impotence has depleted our credibility and facilitated looming disasters. To stop the rot, we need to return to old-school realism: resolute action pursuing practical objectives.

The Situation in Syria Cannot Be Solved

Posted February 12th, 2016 at 3:25 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Things have gotten to the point now that we’re likely to soon see prominent Western officials making the argument that it would be strategically wise and even more humane to let the Syrian government win rather than prolong the agonizing war with piecemeal support to the rebels. There’s some brutal realist logic to this…

Why Assad’s Army has not Defected

Posted February 12th, 2016 at 2:22 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

The moderate Syrian opposition only exists in fancy suits in Western hotel lobbies. It has little military backing on the ground. If you want to ask why Assad is still the president of Syria, the answer is not simply Russia or Iran, but the fact that his army remains resilient and pluralistic…

Kerry Urges Full Implementation of Deal to End Misery in Syria

Posted February 12th, 2016 at 1:21 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

“This progress has the potential to…to be able to change the daily lives of the Syrian people.” Secretary of State John Kerry

A Chance to End the Brutality in Syria

Posted February 12th, 2016 at 9:24 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Until now, Mr. Putin has been fully engaged in the destruction of Syria and its people….Whatever his reasons, he now appears to be showing some sympathy for the terrible plight of ordinary Syrians, many without food, shelter and medical supplies.

A Glimmer of Hope in Syria

Posted February 11th, 2016 at 4:28 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Cautious optimism may be the best way to term the agreement reached Thursday in Munich for a cessation of hostilities in Syria. The Turkish Foreign Minister called it “an important step,” while the U.N. chairman of the Munich meeting said it “could be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who came to Munich to make an “all or nothing” effort, was soberly realistic, saying implementing a nationwide cessation of hostilities within a week “is ambitious.” The agreement, which would allow delivery of much needed food, water and medical supplies to Syrian civilians, is not being called a cease-fire, which Kerry described as a more permanent step. However, it is somewhat encouraging that the U.S., Russia and others at the table can agree to take this first step.