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

Why the New ISIL Strategy is a Bad Idea

Posted October 28th, 2015 at 2:51 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

An American-led effort to impose a post-conflict settlement on the ground in Syria requires Washington to either return “liberated” territory to the Assad government or serve as an auxiliary peacekeeping force for the outgunned opposition.

Obama Just Fell for a Classic Russian Ruse

Posted October 27th, 2015 at 11:02 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Putin’s offers of “cooperation” are aimed at weakening Western resistance to Russia’s rising influence in the region and more broadly. Russia’s increasing confidence is also reflected in its worldwide interest in critical undersea communications cables, implicitly threatening their destruction in time of war.

Reading Tea Leaves in Moscow, Damascus and Washington

Posted October 26th, 2015 at 4:28 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

“The Russians are burning and flattening everything.” That’s how a commander in a U.S.-backed rebel militia describes Russia’s military involvement in Syria. And the commander dismisses Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s offer of Russia’s help for Syria’s “patriotic opposition” if only Russia knew their whereabouts. Moscow’s intentions — and Washington’s response — has many experts wondering how this will play out on and off the battlefield.

Jimmy Carter: A Five Nation Plan to End the Syrian Crisis

Posted October 26th, 2015 at 10:14 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

[Putin] replied that little progress had been made, and he thought that the only real chance of ending the conflict was for the United States and Russia to be joined by Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in preparing a comprehensive peace proposal.

Russia, Kurdish Aspirations and Brutal Enemy Call for Deft US Moves in Syria

Posted October 23rd, 2015 at 12:09 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Syria, a messy situation that has helped fuel the growth of the Isamic State – and appears to be creating a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia. The Obama administration is implementing its new “Syria First” policy, which relies on arming certain Kurdish factions to take the fight to the Islamic State coupled with U.S. air support. Add Russian President Vladimir Putin’s entry into the fray and his open support of Syria President Bashir al-Assad – who U.S. officials hold responsible for most of the misery – and the cocktail has become a lot more combustible. To make even modest progress, Syria requires the United States to avoid any number of policy and military landmines.

Frozen Russia

Posted October 23rd, 2015 at 9:43 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Russian consumers are increasingly unhappy, but their discontent is being frozen in depression rather than manifested in social protest.

Obama’s Dangerous “No War, No Peace” Strategy in Syria

Posted October 19th, 2015 at 3:44 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

It is unfortunate, if predictable, that much of Washington’s foreign policy elite would line up behind a confrontation with Russia over Syria. Americans perceive Russian President Vladimir Putin as an autocrat and a bully and are frustrated that he appears to have outmaneuvered the Obama administration.

US Shifts Strategy Again. This Time in Syria

Posted October 16th, 2015 at 1:35 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

The Obama administration is pursuing a new tactic to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The shift to a “Syria First” strategy came after the United States ended its plan to train so-called “moderate Syrians,” an expensive strategy that produced few results. The idea goes something like this: by shifting America’s focus from Iraq to Syria first, Washington can battle IS independently of Iran, and hopefully set the stage for a post-Assad Syria. But there’s a hitch: Russia. President Vladimir Putin, a vocal supporter of the Syrian president, has made his presence known, complicating an already very complicated scenario for the United States.

The False Promise of Aerial Policing

Posted October 7th, 2015 at 1:32 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

In baseball, three strikes and you’re out. Yet the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia continue to swing and miss. The idea of aerial policing is dangerous and deeply flawed, yet mysteriously it has become a panacea for states seeking to apply force in the modern era.

Syria: Russian Quagmire? American Quandary

Posted October 6th, 2015 at 4:33 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Three-dimensional military and diplomatic chess is being played out in the Middle East. Russian warplanes have forayed into Turkish, and by alliance, NATO airspace while flying sorties to support the beleaguered Syrian government. Turkey’s prime minister warns Russian jets could be shot down if they trespass again. Battle-tested Russian “volunteers” may soon put boots on the ground alongside Syrian forces, according to a top Russian official. Is Washington ceding influence in the Middle East to Moscow? Or, is Russia repeating its Afghan mistake? It will likely take years to get to checkmate.

The Hard Lessons of Kunduz and Syria

Posted October 5th, 2015 at 11:14 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

If I had to pinpoint the single most important reason recent U.S. train-and-equip efforts have failed, I’d say it’s this: We consistently fail to understand that other people want to pursue what they see as their interests and objectives, not ours.

What Checkhov Tells Us About Putin’s Syria Airstrikes

Posted October 1st, 2015 at 4:25 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

“I find it interesting that the language Moscow is using to justify and describe its military intervention in Syria borrows so much from the lexicon that the US used to talk about its invasion of Iraq,” says Alexander Kliment, a director specializing in Russia at the Eurasia Group.

How Obama Can One-Up Putin in the Syria Crisis: Support an Independent Kurdistan

Posted October 1st, 2015 at 12:12 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

If Obama wants to get ahead of ominous developments in Syria for once, he should consider throwing U.S. support behind an independent Kurdistan, one that is carved out from the decaying husks of Syria and Iraq.

Russia Risks Being Prosecuted for Syria’s War Crimes

Posted October 1st, 2015 at 10:51 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

“If you aid the Syrian air force in committing war crimes such as dropping barrel bombs on civilians, you can find yourself held responsible right up to the top, including President Putin.”

Russia Unleashes Military Strikes in Syria, Putting Pressure on US

Posted September 30th, 2015 at 2:40 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

No matter what, the bold move by Russian President Vladimir Putin to conduct airstrikes in Syria is a dramatic game-changer. The White House says it’s unclear what the Russians were aiming at and unclear what they hit. Murkier still, the question of whether the United States is in this with Russia. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says a communication channel needs to be established. Secretary of State John Kerry warns Russia to keep the strikes aimed at the Islamic State or other extremist groups like al-Nusra, and not any target that shores up the regime of Bashir al-Assad. Four years after the uprising against Assad began, a new chapter has begun.