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

Syria Truce Holds, So Far

Posted March 10th, 2016 at 3:46 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Saturday marks two weeks since a ceasefire began in Syria. While the Assad regime, the Russians and opposition groups have all reported violations, combat has been greatly reduced and humanitarian aid has been moving to more areas. Anti-government protests have even taken place amid the truce. A new round of U.N.-mediated peace talks are set […]

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 […]

The Islamic State Is Degraded but Far from Being Destroyed

Posted March 9th, 2016 at 8:20 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

The Pentagon’s top priority in the campaign against the Islamic State remains disrupting external operations against potential targets in the United States and elsewhere….To gain better intelligence, the United States is seeking to capture Islamic State leaders.

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.

ISIS Is Losing its Capital

Posted February 25th, 2016 at 12:32 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

ISIS appears to have calculated that it would rather take on Syrian Army ground forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, than Kurdish forces backed by U.S.-led forces, defense officials and watchers of the conflict have concluded.

A Plague of Black Swans in the Middle East

Posted February 25th, 2016 at 10:04 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

[T]he Obama Doctrine…is a cruelly pragmatic strategy…(assuming) the U.S. cannot solve all the problems of the region…and is unwilling to act as a surrogate for our friends in the region…none of the (presidential) candidates would likely go back to a policy that was politically and financially costly, often related only distantly to actual U.S. interests,

Why Brexit is Unpatriotic

Posted February 22nd, 2016 at 2:55 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Though their leaders certainly have work to do – for example, building more efficient and credible institutions – the EU remains a source of inspiration for others, from the refugees fleeing war and misery to the Chinese, who have constructed European-style cities.

Fight or Flight

Posted February 22nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

If the next U.S. president is unwilling to commit to stepping up to stabilize the Middle East, the only real alternative is to step back from it…civil wars do not lend themselves to anything but the right strategy with the right resources, trying the wrong one means throwing U.S. resources away on a lost cause.

How the Kurds Became Syria’s New Power Broker

Posted February 19th, 2016 at 11:59 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

The Kurds are skillfully playing the Russians and Americans off each other to extract as much influence as possible. Kurdish threats to defect squarely to the Russian camp propelled Brett McGurk, (U.S.) special envoy for the anti-(ISIS) coalition, to speed up a long-mulled visit to Kobani.

Bystanders to Genocide

Posted February 18th, 2016 at 11:55 am (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Just five years ago next month, President Obama proclaimed a “responsibility to act” when American “interests and values are at stake”…Within days, a no-fly zone was established over Libya…Why didn’t Mr. Obama apply the “responsibility to act” to end the Assad regime’s threat to “our common humanity and our common security”?

More War Than Peace

Posted February 17th, 2016 at 3:29 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz two centuries ago gave the pithiest answer to the question of why we resort to violence: War is an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will.” But can force alone compel the submission of the Islamic State and the demise of jihadist extremism in the Muslim world?  

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

Saudi Arabia’s Master Plan Against ISIS, Assad and Iran in Syria

Posted February 16th, 2016 at 4:42 pm (UTC-5)
Comments are closed

While the world might be fixated on ISIS, the Saudis…know that much of the violence plaguing the Middle East is rooted in Assad and the Iranian-created Shia militias. If they decide to go after these terror nurseries, it will be time for the White House to finally decide exactly whose side it is on.

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…