US Opinion and Commentary

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Shifting Alliances

Posted January 19th, 2016 at 4:04 pm (UTC-4)
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One of the many ripple effects of the U.S.-Iran prisoner swap and Tehran’s verified compliance with the historic nuclear accord is a new world order in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia – a long-time rival of Tehan – is nervous and talking tough, as the lifting of costly Western sanctions is set to propel Iran’s economic might. Not long before the latest developments, Saudi Arabia had already stoked tensions by beheading the prominent Shia cleric Sheik Nimr al-Nimr. That provoked a violent attack on the Saudi mission in Iran, which in turn, gave the House of Saud a reason to sever diplomatic ties. Meanwhile, both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the use of diplomacy to win the release of five Americans in a prisoner swap with Iran, simultaneously praising Tehtan for pausing its nuclear program. Where does all this leave the traditional, and sometimes co-dependent, U.S.-Saudi relationship? Making friends with Iran was a big gamble. It appears the Obama administration believes the benefits outweigh the costs.

A Safer World, Thanks to the Iran Deal

Posted January 17th, 2016 at 9:44 pm (UTC-4)
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Leaders don’t give up their nuclear weapons for nothing. A bargain with Iran was necessary. It might even serve as an example for dealing with North Korea, which may have enough fuel for 16 weapons and is producing many more.

How a Digital Surge Can Help Beat Islamic State

Posted December 15th, 2015 at 4:25 pm (UTC-4)
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To wage a digital counterinsurgency, we need to understand the structure of this enemy’s digital army. Unlike Al Qaeda’s cluster of isolated cells, Islamic State is centralized. Its hierarchy, in fact, resembles a corporate pyramid…

Why the West Should Worry About Turkey

Posted November 2nd, 2015 at 3:50 pm (UTC-4)
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Erdogan’s unwillingness to accept a legitimate, democratic election result, and his desire to politicize an office that is nominally non-partisan — the presidency — are just two of many signs that he is tightening his grip on power.

The Case for Optimism

Posted October 28th, 2015 at 10:20 am (UTC-4)
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Fears that troubles in China will somehow pull the United States into another recession are overdone. It’s time for Americans to embrace optimism.

US Confronts Islamic State Militants Online

Posted September 29th, 2015 at 4:47 pm (UTC-4)
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Efforts to defeat the Islamic State involve more than military might, President Barack Obama said at Tuesday’s summit on countering violent extremism: “…This means defeating their ideology. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they’re defeated by better ideas.” The stunning success of IS online recruitment via social media has resulted in a growing US operation to dilute the messaging that has inspired tens of thousands to drop everything and join IS in Syria. Anti-terrorism messaging is not a new tool, but it is a difficult one to get right. US officials are betting on telling the stories of IS defectors and reaching young minds on the Internet and elsewhere.

Why I Can’t Get Worked Up about Russia in the Middle East

Posted September 29th, 2015 at 10:24 am (UTC-4)
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Given Putin’s track record in eastern Ukraine, I’m supremely skeptical of Russia’s ability to impose order in Syria, no matter how much help Iran provides.

Syria Choas Draws Putin into Obama’s Orbit

Posted September 28th, 2015 at 4:06 pm (UTC-4)
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Just a day before President Barack Obama stepped up to the ornate lectern to deliver his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, his Russian counterpart stole the spotlight — and left the Obama administration scrambling. Over the weekend, Vladimir Putin struck a deal with Iran, Iraq and Syria to share military intelligence and security information about the Islamic State. It is yet another bold move on the part of Putin to make himself relevant to the unending misery of Syria, which has recently spilled onto the front porch of Europe in the form of tens of thousands of refugees. The two leaders, whose relations remain frosty, are set to meet on the sidelines of UNGA to discuss cooperation in Syria. The big sticking point: what to do with Bashir al-Assad.

Tensions – Some Old, Some New – Won’t Be Ignored When China’s Xi Visits US

Posted September 21st, 2015 at 3:04 pm (UTC-4)
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Xi Jinping has visited the U.S. six times before. But this week’s tour, which begins Tuesday in Washington the state, then to Washington the capital before ending in New York City, will be his first state visit as China’s leader. Activists will clamor for President Barack Obama to denounce the rise in dissident crackdowns. But Beijing’s market roller coaster ride and Xi’s military aggressiveness in the region may force Obama’s hand.

A Done Deal, Debate on Iran Turns to Implementation

Posted September 9th, 2015 at 4:29 pm (UTC-4)
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The Iran nuclear deal and Congress’s impending vote has become the most contentious foreign policy issue since the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. President Obama has the votes he needs, but the debate continues. Republican presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Ted Cruz held a rally against the deal at the Capitol, just a few hours after Democratic contender Hillary Clinton shared how she would ensure Tehran’s compliance: “Distrust and verify.”

Making the Case For (and Against) Historic Nuclear Pact with Iran

Posted August 5th, 2015 at 4:44 pm (UTC-4)
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With a September deadline hanging over the US Congress to vote on the accord, stakeholders are out in force, either selling or debunking the deal. President Obama said the choice is between diplomacy or “some form of war” during remarks in Washington. Opponents in turn burned up the web, arguing Tehran can never be trusted.

Israel’s Netanyahu Keeps Up Attacks on Iran Nuke Deal

Posted August 5th, 2015 at 10:42 am (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin The speech started late and the live feed from Jerusalem was full of glitches, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s message came through loud and clear. “Oppose this bad deal,” Netanyahu exhorted the more than 16,000 people who signed up to hear a webcast Tuesday sponsored by prominent U.S. Jewish organizations about the […]

Damage from Cyber Attack on US Agency Called a ‘Disaster’

Posted June 16th, 2015 at 1:04 pm (UTC-4)
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Hackers, believed to be Chinese, have stolen the personal information of millions of federal employees at the Office of Personnel Management – including the private data of those with security clearances. With the scope of the attack apparently growing by the day, US officials are wondering: how bad is it?