US Opinion and Commentary

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Meeting An Unprecedented Migrant Challenge

Posted January 14th, 2016 at 2:14 pm (UTC-5)
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“My colleagues and I in the State Department’s Population, Refugees and Migration bureau cannot recall another time as challenging.” Anne C. Richard

America May be Doomed to Cooperate with Putin

Posted January 13th, 2016 at 8:27 am (UTC-5)
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For President Obama, the willingness to work with (Vladimir) Putin is an act of foreign policy realism or desperation, depending on your point of view. Some would argue that in Syria, the two converge.

How to Help the Syrians Who Want to Return Home

Posted January 12th, 2016 at 9:57 am (UTC-5)
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A vast majority of the more than four million refugees want to return to Syria once the war there ends. For that reason, most have stayed in the region, often languishing for years in camps in Lebanon and Jordan, rather than migrating to Europe or attempting to enter the United States.

How to Defeat ISIS

Posted January 8th, 2016 at 4:20 pm (UTC-5)
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[S]tressing repeatedly what the United States is not going to do … signals to friends and opponents that the president is not serious about defeating ISIS. Limiting the means in any specific military engagement gives the impression that avoiding costs or commitments, rather than the mission one set out to accomplish, is the highest priority.

Look for America’s Enemies to Take Advantage of Obama’s Last Year

Posted January 7th, 2016 at 1:09 pm (UTC-5)
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China, with impunity, has fortified seven newly created artificial islands located in the hotly disputed Spratlys archipelago. … Will Beijing seek to push the envelope even more in 2016, fearful that the next president in 2017 — whether Hillary Clinton or a Republican — could be more like Truman or Reagan than Carter or Barack […]

Saudi Executions Strain Decades of US Ties

Posted January 5th, 2016 at 3:44 pm (UTC-5)
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The turmoil set off by Saudi Arabia’s decision to execute 47 prisoners – among them, a prominent Iranian Shia cleric – has put the Obama administration in a tight spot. Allies since the 1930s, one American administration after another has maintained strong ties with the Saudi kingdom. President Barack Obama appears to have been pinning his hopes on bringing long-time enemies, Saudi Arabia and Iran, together to help solve Syria – and by extension – extinguish the threat posed by ISIS. The United States is not deaf to human rights activists who prove over and over again that Saudi Arabia has silenced political dissent, in this most recent case, by beheading. But the U.S. has banked on the Saudis for cheap oil and influence in the Middle East. In turn, the Saudis had a regular customer and political cover when needed. The Saudis knew this execution would further stoke Shia-Sunni sectarian tensions in the region. What will it do to the cozy relationship between Riyadh and Washington?

Did Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton Create ISIS?

Posted January 5th, 2016 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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None of these factors can be easily ascribed to Obama or to Clinton, although certainly they did preside over the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011, a plan bequeathed to them by Bush.

War on ISIL Far From Over

Posted January 4th, 2016 at 1:28 pm (UTC-5)
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As critical as the military dimension is, though, what’s even more important in Iraq is the politics: If the Iraqis can’t temper the internal struggle between Sunnis and Shiites, military victories could be undermined by sectarian strife.

2015 in Review

Posted December 30th, 2015 at 2:12 pm (UTC-5)
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As 2015’s final minutes tick away, it’s gives us a chance to look into the mirror to see what we are leaving behind. Many philosophers have noted that history tends to repeat itself. Terrorism. Gun violence. Racial tensions. Religious differences. Politics. The environment. So we reflect on the events and trends of 2015 in hopes of identifying patterns, learning from the mistakes of the past and building on its successes to take on many of the same challenges in 2016.

2015 Was a Dangerous Year for Journalists

Posted December 30th, 2015 at 9:47 am (UTC-5)
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According to the [Committee to Protect Journalists], 199 [journalists] were in prison because of their work in 28 countries on Dec. 1. [Jason] Rezaian was one of 19 jailed in Iran alone. At least 70 other media workers were killed in 2015, including 47 who were singled out for murder in order to silence them.

Kerry Praises Rout of ISIS in Ramadi

Posted December 29th, 2015 at 12:40 pm (UTC-5)
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“Working with our Iraqi and Syrian partners, the United States and our Coalition will continue to apply relentless pressure and squeeze this barbaric terrorist group across all lines of effort.”

ISIS Loses Ground With Recapture of Ramadi

Posted December 29th, 2015 at 11:44 am (UTC-5)
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It was hard not to feel good about news that Iraqi forces backed by U.S. military retook Ramadi, a key Iraqi city, from Islamic State militants despite the cautious words from top Obama administration officials. “While Ramadi is not yet fully secure and additional parts of the city still must be retaken, Iraq’s national flag now flies above the provincial government center and enemy forces have suffered a major defeat,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement. The mission to defeat ISIS remains long and unpredictable. But after a year of seemingly endless bad news about the war on terror – not the least of which was the brutal and deadly mass shooting of civilians at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California by a radicalized Muslim couple – it feels good to hold onto this moment of hope.

US-led Coalition Chips Away at Islamic State ‘Caliphate’

Posted December 29th, 2015 at 11:28 am (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin As 2015 fades into history, so too do are forecasts that the group that calls itself the Islamic State (ISIS) is still on the rise in the Middle East. Iraqi forces supported by the United States are shrinking the ISIS “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria to such an extent that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi felt obliged […]

Christian Arabs Under Siege

Posted December 24th, 2015 at 7:55 am (UTC-5)
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The ethnic cleansing of Mideast Christians – especially by ISIS in Iraq, but also by other Islamist jihadis elsewhere – is so intense that it demands special attention. When it comes to admitting refugees, that level of persecution cannot be ignored.

Why Europe, Not America, Should Fight ISIL

Posted December 23rd, 2015 at 3:12 pm (UTC-5)
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[E]ven when there are legitimate moral issues, there cannot be a duty for the United States to go to war simply because other powerful states fail to perform their moral duties. As in the case of national security, there should be no moral “free riders.”.