US Opinion and Commentary

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Why Assad’s Army has not Defected

Posted February 12th, 2016 at 2:22 pm (UTC-5)
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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)
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“This progress has the potential to…to be able to change the daily lives of the Syrian people.” Secretary of State John Kerry

How Feeding Syrians Feeds the War

Posted February 12th, 2016 at 12:58 pm (UTC-5)
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Herein lies the crux of the problem for USAID and other humanitarian organizations. Their attempts to fulfill short-term needs can create patterns of dependence and conflict that worsen the ongoing war and its aftermath. If public services are indeed crucial for popular support, the key question becomes: To whom exactly is USAID channeling support?

A Chance to End the Brutality in Syria

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

Have Russia and Iran ‘Won’ in Syria?

Posted February 10th, 2016 at 12:59 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin As Russia continues to pound Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, sending thousands more desperate people surging toward the Turkish border, it is hard to deny that U.S. diplomatic strategy on Syria is in disarray. Secretary of State John Kerry, facing reporters Tuesday, conceded the obvious: “Russia’s activities in Aleppo and in the region […]

America’s Syrian Shame

Posted February 9th, 2016 at 11:42 am (UTC-5)
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Aleppo may prove to be the Sarajevo of Syria. It is already the Munich. By which I mean that the city’s plight today — its exposure to Putin’s whims and a revived Assad’s pitiless designs — is a result of the fecklessness and purposelessness over almost five years of the Obama administration.

A Whiff of Panic in the Kremlin as Russia’s Economy Sinks Further

Posted February 5th, 2016 at 2:52 pm (UTC-5)
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President Vladimir Putin has gone so far as to blame Soviet Union founder Vladimir Lenin for Russia’s current difficulties….Signs of panic and dysfunction are everywhere. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has demanded yet another round of 10 percent budget cuts….The Russian government really has no good economic options other than hope.

Attacking ISIS Won’t Make Americans Safer

Posted February 5th, 2016 at 11:14 am (UTC-5)
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In a political environment where candidates won’t admit that isis attacks are partly a response, albeit a monstrous one, to the United States’ own use of force, further attacks will leave Americans even more bewildered and terrified than they are now.

Republican Senator Bob Corker: A Rare Voice of Bipartisanship

Posted February 3rd, 2016 at 2:46 pm (UTC-5)
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While the President of the United States sets the country’s foreign policy and priorities, Congress gets to determine how much money to spend on those policies and priorities. A key person making those determinations is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker holds that gavel right now. He has openly criticized President Obama for having “no strategy in Syria from day one.” During an appearance on MSNBC, Corker said, “I do not understand this president” on his opposition to establishing a no-fly zone along the Turkey-Syria border. Despite Corker’s harsh assessments of administration policy, he has a reputation of being a deal-maker, known for rising above partisan bickering with his genteel southern charm. Corker sat down with VOA this week for a wide-ranging interview on some of the thorniest foreign policy questions of the day: the nuclear deal with Iran, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and Putin’s Russia.

There Is No Plan B if the Syria Peace Talks Fail

Posted February 2nd, 2016 at 9:12 am (UTC-5)
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[T]he “Geneva process” is no more likely to succeed today than it was the last time it was tried, in 2014….those on the other side of the table — the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, Russia, and Iran — will not feel compelled to accept any offer to which Syria’s rebels or their backers in […]

Strengthening The Global Response to Refugee Crises Worldwide

Posted February 1st, 2016 at 5:19 pm (UTC-5)
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Amid waves of migrants, many fleeing war in Syria, President Obama is set to host a summit on the crisis during the UN General Assembly in September

Peace in Syria Still Looks Like Mission Impossible

Posted January 29th, 2016 at 11:09 am (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin Expectations had never been high for Syrian peace talks scheduled to open Friday in Geneva — and the refusal of the opposition to come only underscores the fragile state of the negotiations. “They will start as planned, but I don’t have a time, I don’t have a location and I can’t tell […]

Russia’s Ruling Regime Must Modernize or Face Collapse

Posted January 22nd, 2016 at 12:35 pm (UTC-5)
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In 2016 the Russian authorities will have to shift their focus away from shaping the world order and toward putting their own house in order. Otherwise, they will not survive.

Confronting ISIS After Obama

Posted January 21st, 2016 at 3:58 pm (UTC-5)
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The idea of sending a large American military force to push Islamic State (ISIS) militants out of its de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria and parts of Iraq has been firmly rejected President Barack Obama, whose ISIS strategy was dissected immediately after the mass shooting by ISIS sympathizers in San Bernardino, California.

But it’s a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail, with prescriptions like Texas Senator and Republican hopeful Ted Cruz’s idea of “carpet bombing” the group in both countries. Critics, among them former Secretary of State Robert Gates, have publicly shunned such policy statements as simplistic and even irresponsible. GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has said he “would bomb the hell out of those oil fields,” referring to ISIS controlled parts of Iraq.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has sounded more hawkish than Obama, her former boss. Her closest rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has been dismissed as thin on foreign policy for saying Muslim nations in the region must do the dirty work.

Experts widely agree that whomever wins the White House in November will not be able to avoid the ISIS problem. Right now, there is no way to accurately predict who that person will be. What we do know is that selling an answer to ISIS while campaigning and actually having to act on it as Commander in Chief are two very different things.