Politics, Moderate



A Reality Check from America's Spy Chief

WASHINGTON -- America's top spymaster offered contrarian assessments of some key issues -- warning against "hyping" the threat posed by the Syrian terror group Jabhat al-Nusra, cautioning against administration plans to share intelligence with Russia on Syrian targets, and questioning Turkish claims that last Friday's coup was organized by a ...Read more

Syria's Other Jihadi Menace

WASHINGTON -- As the U.S.-led coalition has begun to gain ground against the Islamic State in Syria, officials have begun focusing attention on another jihadi group they fear may pose a more dangerous long-run threat there, the al-Qaeda affiliate known as Jabhat al-Nusra.

Jabhat al-Nusra has played a clever waiting game over the last four years...Read more

Coup Attempt is New Blow to U.S.-Turkey Relationship

WASHINGTON -- In the uproar following the attempted military coup in Turkey, relations between Washington and Ankara, already badly strained, appear to be headed for new difficulty.

The immediate test will be Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's demand that the United States extradite Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish Muslim leader blamed ...Read more

Britain's Rebuke Holds Message for America

WASHINGTON -- Since its unfortunate "Brexit" vote to leave the European Union, Britain has experienced a tragi-comic round of backstabbing, foot-dragging and second-guessing. Europe, meanwhile has mostly behaved with admirable good sense.

The Europeans seem to understand that the Brexit vote is a wake-up call about dissatisfaction with the EU...Read more

Navy Builds Strength by Saving Energy

WASHINGTON -- The week of July 4th is a good moment to salute an unlikely champion of saving energy and switching to alternative fuels -- the U.S. Navy. Once a supreme fuel-guzzler whose energy needs sometimes dictated foreign policy, the Navy has become a model for how the country can curb its appetite for fossil fuels.

The Navy's energy diet ...Read more

Saudi Arabia's Agent of Change

This column, based on interviews with dozens of Saudi, American, European and Arab officials and analysts, is the second of two about the ferment in the kingdom.

WASHINGTON -- For a kingdom that has survived by hedging its bets and resisting change, Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman proposes a series of sweeping ...Read more

A Brash Bull in the House of Saud

WASHINGTON -- The tensions festering in the Saudi royal family became clear in September, when Joseph Westphal, the U.S. ambassador to Riyadh, flew to Jeddah to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, nominally the heir to the throne. But when he arrived, he was told that the deputy crown prince, a brash 30-year-old named Mohammed bin Salman, ...Read more

Frustrated Middle Class Has Led to 'Brexit'

WASHINGTON -- Imagine a young Margaret Thatcher, a politician who deeply mistrusts the political establishment and identifies on a gut level with the frustrations of the middle class. That's shorthand for what Britain will need as it picks up the pieces after Thursday's "Brexit" referendum.

Friends of Britain (and Europe, too) need to stop ...Read more

Obama's Year of Resilience

WASHINGTON -- A year ago this month, President Obama was delivering a eulogy in Charleston, South Carolina, after the mass shooting in a church there. As he neared the end, he took a long pause and then began singing "Amazing Grace."

It was an unforgettable, transcendent moment. Michelle Obama had reportedly cautioned him against singing, but ...Read more

Can Venezuela Be Helped Off the Ledge?

WASHINGTON -- With Venezuela spinning into chaos and collapse, the Obama administration has pondered how to nudge the imploding nation toward political change -- without making Uncle Sam a target. The administration appears to have found the right formula this week.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced Tuesday at a meeting of the ...Read more

Trump's Islamophobia Propels the Islamic State

WASHINGTON -- Even by Donald Trump's standards, his comments about the Orlando shooting have been reckless and self-serving. They are also dangerous for the country.

Trump's response to Sunday morning's terrorist attack by Omar Mateen was initially an opportunistic tweet; then a boasting statement on his website: "I said this was going to ...Read more

The Next President's Asian Menace

WASHINGTON -- Sometime over the next several years, the next U.S. president could confront a genuinely dangerous threat from a faraway place -- a North Korean missile that can hit U.S. territory with a nuclear warhead.

Led by an impulsive and brutal young man, North Korea may pose the most direct nuclear risk for the United States. Kim Jong Un ...Read more

The Omani Back Channel to Iran

WASHINGTON -- One of the mysteries of Campaign 2016 is why the Iran nuclear deal has vanished as an issue. But a new book reveals some startling details about how the diplomacy with Tehran began in secret, long before reformers took power there, and the crucial role played by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The ...Read more

The Islamic State Feeds Off Islamophobia

WASHINGTON -- The West is suffering from what one leading strategist calls an "autoimmune disease" in trying to fight the Islamic State. The self-defense mechanisms championed by Donald Trump and his European neo-populist counterparts have gone into toxic overdrive -- weakening the West's body politic and making the jihadist fever far worse.

...Read more

President Trump Would Hand China the World

WASHINGTON -- Hong Kong television commentator Wu Jun observed recently that despite Donald Trump's anti-Beijing rhetoric, he "could in fact be the best president for China." The Chinese analyst is right: A Trump presidency could open the way for China's strategic dominance in Asia and elsewhere.

Wu's comment was focused on Trump's mercantilist...Read more

On Syria, the U.S. and Turkey Need Each Other

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Here's a positive move by Turkey, a country that often seems to be heading in the wrong direction: Despite Ankara's severe misgivings, it is allowing the U.S. military to fly daily bombing missions from here against the Islamic State -- in support of a Syrian Kurdish militia called the YPG that Turkey regards as a ...Read more

Defeating the Islamic State Means Getting the Politics Right

ANKARA -- A tour of the war zones in Iraq and Syria with the top American commander ends, appropriately enough, here in Turkey, the strongest power in the region and the place where the modern troubles began a hundred years ago with the collapse of the Ottoman empire.

The abiding strategic fact about the current war against the Islamic State is...Read more

Fighting For a Nation Called Syria

NORTHERN SYRIA -- The raw Sunni recruits in crisp camouflage uniforms, popping off rounds at the firing range at a U.S. training camp here, illustrate the dilemma for the U.S. as it seeks to form a strong military force to drive the Islamic State from its capital, Raqqah.

The U.S. could try to build the Sunni army it would want, ideally, to ...Read more

Taking the Fight to the Islamic State

BAGHDAD -- Amid hedgerows of computer screens in the joint operations center that runs the war against the Islamic State, Marine Brig. Gen. Bill Mullen explains the complex assault that drove the extremist fighters last week from the strategic town of Rutbah at the western edge of Anbar province.

The battle showed how the campaign against the ...Read more

Diplomats Get Punished for Doing Their Job

WASHINGTON -- On Oct. 21, 2014, Robin Raphel, a former assistant secretary of state, got an urgent call from her daughter, who said that something had triggered the burglar alarm at home. When Raphel arrived, she found FBI agents searching through her files and other personal materials.

Raphel frantically telephoned her office at the State ...Read more


Social Connections


Mike Lester Gary Varvel Lisa Benson Darrin Bell Clay Bennett Michael Ramirez