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

A Leap into the Void with Trump

Posted November 9th, 2016 at 3:23 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

By Barbara Slavin President Donald Trump. The words, I must admit, stick in my throat and prospect of him as commander in chief for the next four years is frightening. The people of the United States have narrowly voted for a man who campaigned on a platform of xenophobia and isolationism, who says he will […]

Donald Trump: Pro & Con

Posted November 4th, 2016 at 3:38 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

Donald Trump and his supporters say he is the only candidate able to change a broken political system in Washington and make it work for the American people.

He promises to cut taxes across the board; renegotiate trade deals to make them more favorable for the United States; create 25-million new jobs over the next 10 years; and grow the U.S. economy by an average of 3.5 percent per year.

Trump vows to abolish Obamacare and replace it with health savings accounts; increase the size of the U.S. military; end the strategy of nation-building and regime change and militarily crush the Islamic State.

And then there’s the “impenetrable” wall along the U.S. southern border Trump says he will build, and make Mexico pay for it to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

Critics say Trump is a narcissistic, misogynist demagogue whose admiration of Vladimir Putin is disquieting, if not disqualifying.

With fewer than 100 hours to go before polls open on Tuesday, can Donald Trump pull off one of the most improbable victories in American political history?

Rise of the Bullies: Trump, Erdogan and Putin

Posted November 1st, 2016 at 4:35 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

By Barbara Slavin In these nail-biting days until U.S. presidential elections next week, it is easy to fall into despair about the state of American democracy. Following disclosure that the FBI is taking a renewed look at emails possibly connected to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s private server, polls have narrowed, suggesting a still-plausible path to victory […]

Will Clinton Resist Her Inner Hawk?

Posted October 25th, 2016 at 3:14 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

By Barbara Slavin The Washington foreign policy establishment is salivating at the thought of a Hillary Clinton presidency, which promises to be more interventionist than Barack Obama’s administration and more open to elite views than a Donald Trump White House would be. Think tanks are churning out papers on a variety of topics and pushing them […]

Syria’s Darkest Hour

Posted October 24th, 2016 at 4:06 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

After more than five years of conflict in Syria, retreating without having found a solution is not an option. Although the new map of players complicates things, there is no doubt that they must all participate in a peace deal; otherwise, any agreement will prove ephemeral.

Clinton v. Trump: Foreign Policy & National Security

Posted October 11th, 2016 at 4:29 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

Beyond questions about Donald Trump’s sexually salacious dialogue on an 11-year old videotape; beyond accusations about the role Hillary Clinton may have played regarding her husband’s salacious dalliances, was there any substance to chew on during Sunday’s presidential debate?

Foreign policy and national security issues were touched on ever so slightly, mostly regarding Syria, Islamic State, Russia and Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims coming into the country.

So much of the 2016 presidential campaign has been about what the two candidates have done in their past. Americans have 28 days left to find out more about what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton propose to do in the future.

Trump Doubles Down on His Bromance with Putin

Posted October 10th, 2016 at 3:40 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

By Barbara Slavin Throughout a long and dispiriting campaign, Donald Trump has been consistent on at least one topic: his admiration for Vladimir Putin and unwillingness to blame Russia for provocative and aggressive actions against the United States and others. During Sunday’s second debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump continued to try to minimize or deny […]

The Russian Relationship

Posted October 6th, 2016 at 2:14 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

Relations between the United States and Russia have reached another low point as Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday Moscow was pulling out of a nuclear security treaty, and then issued a list of conditions in which he would reconsider.

The deal, which dates back to the year 2000, involves the disposal of plutonium stockpiles, which can be used for nuclear weapons. It could signal Russia’s intent to withdraw from other nuclear weapons treaties with the U.S.

On the surface, the conditions on which Russia would reconsider appear unpalatable: lifting economic sanctions related to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine; compensation for those sanctions; reducing NATO’s footprint in Eastern Europe.

The U.S. announced Monday it is shutting off talks with Russia over Syria because of violations of the ceasefire, including suspected Russian bombing of an aid convoy last week. Some fear the U.S. pullback from talks will give Russia a free hand to execute its military plans in Syria. Others say it may leave Russia with no exit strategy.

No matter how this plays out, finding a solution will most likely be left to the next president of the United States.

Russia’s Alliance With Assad, One Year On

Posted September 30th, 2016 at 4:44 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

A year ago today, Russian entered the Syrian civil war. Allied with forces loyal to Syria’s president Bashir al-Assad, Russian said it was entering to stop terrorism and extremism.
While Russian warplanes have hit some Islamic State targets, much of their fury has been aimed at various rebel groups inside Syria, helping to tilt the battlefield in favor of Assad.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it can document 9,364 deaths by Russian warplanes in the past year. 3,804 — 40 percent — were civilians, including more than 900 who were under 18-years old.
President Obama, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, described the Russian and Syrian assault of the ancient city of Aleppo as “barbarous.” The indefatigable Secretary of State John Kerry says he’s “on the verge” of suspending efforts to negotiate yet another ceasefire. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blames the United States for failing to separate the jihadist and extremist groups from more moderate rebels.
Kerry talks of “pursu(ing) other alternatives” as the airstrikes continue. What might those alternatives be for the United States? And what’s the endgame for Russia, if there is one?

Ukraine, 25 Years From Now

Posted September 15th, 2016 at 11:10 am (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

Russia’s false narrative of the history and destiny of the eastern Slavs as one in which all others must resign themselves to living under Muscovite hegemony must be constantly challenged and rebutted, especially in the West.

Meddling from Moscow?

Posted September 8th, 2016 at 9:57 am (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned Russia against meddling with the “democratic process” in the U.S. and other Western nations.
Carter’s warning comes on the heels of a Washington Post report that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are looking into what Russia might be doing to interfere with the American election.
The F.B.I. is already looking into whether Russians were behind the computer hack of Democratic National Committee computers. Intelligence agencies know Russian hackers tried to get into those computers last year. Russian president Vladimir Putin denied the accusations, but said the WikiLeaks revelations of the DNC documents was a public service.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is making this a campaign issue, trying to link her Republican foe, Donald Trump, to Russia and Putin
How much of an issue is this? How can Russia manipulate the election?

The Ever Tenuous Alliance Between the U.S. and Turkey

Posted August 10th, 2016 at 4:27 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

As Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to mend fences with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, the rift between Ankara and Washington seemed to widen a little more.

Turkey’s Justice Minister fired verbal a warning shot to the United States: hand over cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey claims was behind a July coup attempt, or risk sacrificing America’s relationship with its NATO ally.

Gulen has been living in self-exile in the U.S. since 1999. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau says extraditing Gulen is a “legal, technical process…governed by a 1981 extradition treaty.”

Turkey and Russia have been on opposite ends of the war in Syria, magnified in November when a Russian warplane that strayed into Turkish airspace was shot down. Now, foreign policy experts are trying to read the tea leaves from the Erdogan-Putin get together.

What to do about Syria?

Posted August 4th, 2016 at 4:56 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

It’s hard to imagine conditions in Aleppo getting any worse. But in the past few days, the rebel stronghold has been subjected to attacks from Syrian government forces who surround the city, aided by Russian air strikes. Gas attacks have been reported in Aleppo and the city of Saraqeb, which Syrian and Russian media blamed on rebels.

Humanitarian corridors have been created, but just a handful of Aleppo’s quarter of a million besieged have used it, fearful of a worse fate in the hands of the Syrian government.

In May, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry set an August 1 deadline for a political transition in Syria. On Monday, Kerry put the onus on Syria and Russia to stop the cycle of violence in order to negotiate.

Is there an end in sight?

Thanks to Trump, We Will Remember Humayun Khan

Posted August 1st, 2016 at 12:01 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

by Barbara Slavin In the year since he announced his candidacy for U.S. president, Donald Trump has insulted Mexicans, war heroes, women, disabled people, the children of immigrants and Muslims. So perhaps no one should have been surprised when he denigrated the parents of an immigrant Muslim American war hero, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, killed […]

Trump, Putin and NATO

Posted July 29th, 2016 at 11:42 am (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

by James Kirchick Once again, Donald Trump has unsettled America’s allies and brought joy to its adversaries. In an interview last week with the New York Times, the Republican Party presidential nominee reiterated his shoddy understanding of how international alliances and deterrence strategy work. Asked if the United States would come to the defense of […]