US Opinion and Commentary

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Showing Archived Posts

Will Israel Reach Age 100

Posted April 12th, 2016 at 4:18 pm (UTC-5)
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The region in which Israel lives is melting down at a rate no one would have anticipated….if there are any state disappearing acts, these may be on the Arab side….even with all of their problems, the region’s three non-Arab states –Israel, Turkey, and Iran — are probably the most highly functioning polities in the region.

To the Future President of the United States

Posted April 8th, 2016 at 4:24 pm (UTC-5)
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We understand that perspective is hard to come by at this stage of the race, and you are obsessively watching the polls and attempting to shape your image to a media ready to pounce on every slip. But the world is watching at a time of great uncertainty

Obama and NATO’s Stoltenberg Meet

Posted April 4th, 2016 at 4:23 pm (UTC-5)
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President Obama met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday to discuss issues ranging from Ukraine to the Syrian refugee crisis

Europe’s Migrants Face Struggles Anew With Deportations

Posted April 4th, 2016 at 2:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Just days before Greece began deporting migrants to Turkey under a deal to ease Europe’s migrant crisis, Amnesty International released a report alleging the forced return of Syrians in Turkey back to the very war zone they fled. Not all of the migrants stuck in temporary centers on the coast of Greece are Syrian, but they are migrants nonetheless — vulnerable, stateless and subject to abuse. Fears that terrorists (Syrian migrants are the most likely to be targeted as such) are among them have been stoked from Europe to the United States, while others are protesting what they say is an inhumane policy. Every single person who is now deemed a “migrant” has a story, a compelling reason for leaving their homes, often under dangerous circumstances that are hard to imagine. Migration is a fact of life, historically documented. More than 100 years ago, America was the destination point for those hoping for a better life. Now it’s Europe’s turn. After deadly terrorist attacks in the heart of Europe — Paris and Brussels — the basic human desire to create a better life is colliding head on with rising fears that terrorist groups like ISIS can attack at any time and in any place.

Obama’s Record on Foreign Policy Is Incomplete

Posted March 29th, 2016 at 12:55 am (UTC-5)
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Although Obama wants people to remember the new relationships he’s opened, like those with Cuba and Iran, his legacy will inescapably include Iraq and Syria too.

Tackling the Refugee Crisis

Posted March 21st, 2016 at 10:36 am (UTC-5)
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The State Department has been working on its new Innovation Forum, which encourages dialogue between senior policymakers and global innovators to spark fresh ideas

A Hollow Superpower

Posted March 18th, 2016 at 1:04 pm (UTC-5)
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Judging by the pictures on television, Vladimir Putin won a famous victory in Syria this week. After his unexpected declaration that the campaign is over, Mr Putin is claiming credit for a ceasefire and the start of peace talks…. Look closer, however, and Russia’s victory rings hollow.

Genocide

Posted March 17th, 2016 at 5:06 pm (UTC-5)
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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.”

Putin’s Surprise Syria Move Leaves World Wondering What He’ll Do Next

Posted March 16th, 2016 at 10:24 am (UTC-5)
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Critics sometimes rail at President Barack Obama for devising foreign policy largely on his own, but Obama is a model of consultative comity compared to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last September, the Russian leader stunned Obama and everyone else by dramatically intervening in Syria’s civil war ostensibly to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) but actually to save embattled Syrian […]

Russian-Iranian Relations: Troubled Ties

Posted March 15th, 2016 at 2:54 pm (UTC-5)
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Despite their numerous anti-Western interests, Russia and Iran are not allies. Neither is willing to give up much of anything for the sake of good relations with the other. Washington, then, cannot expect that Tehran will consider binding any agreement reached with Moscow regarding the settlement of the conflict in Syria.

The Politics of Polio Eradication

Posted March 15th, 2016 at 1:44 pm (UTC-5)
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During the past five years, polio cases have occurred almost exclusively in five conflict-affected countries: Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria. Because immunization programs are led by national governments and the WHO…it can be difficult to carry out vaccinations in areas where militants wage war against the state.

Putin’s Syria Surprise

Posted March 15th, 2016 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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“I consider the objectives that have been set for the Defense Ministry to be generally accomplished.” The words of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who on Monday declared victory in Syria and announced his troops would withdraw. The unexpected decision coincided with the start of Syria peace talks in Geneva. Cagey as ever, it’s hard to read Putin’s motives. Was it getting too messy? Did he want to paint President Barack Obama as “weak?” Is he looking for support on the homefront? Or, was it all just to show the international community that Russia is, and will remain, a player? The only part of this that is known is that Putin has once again stunned his friends and foes.

The E.U.’s Deal on Migrants Is Immoral and Illegal

Posted March 15th, 2016 at 8:59 am (UTC-5)
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As it stands, the returns would contravene a number of European and international laws, including the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that a country must investigate each individual asylum case, and the 1951 UN Refugee Convention stating that no person be returned to a country where their life or freedom could be threatened.

Rationalizing Putin’s Syrian Victory

Posted March 15th, 2016 at 8:14 am (UTC-5)
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In review, it’s fair to say that the Syrian adventure has been a victory for Vladimir Putin. Today, Assad’s position is all but secure.

The World Through Obama’s Eyes

Posted March 11th, 2016 at 4:23 pm (UTC-5)
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Fresh chum was tossed into Washington’s foreign policy fishbowl Thursday with publication of “The Obama Doctrine” by The Atlantic. Using President Barack Obama’s decision to back away from the red line he drew over Syria’s use of chemical weapons as a central theme, author Jeffrey Goldberg gave readers tremendous insight into Obama’s decision-making process and how he thinks U.S. muscle should be flexed. Goldberg reveals details of Obama’s sometimes curt interactions with his national security staff, his disdain for Washington’s think-tank establishment and his admission of failure with regards to Libya. It’s not a light read; more than 19,000 words (some of which are, shall we say, salty.) And thousands more words have already been written in reaction.