Politics, Moderate



The Islamic State is Still On the Rise

WASHINGTON -- Republican and Democratic presidential candidates should be able to agree on one stark foreign policy reality: The tide hasn't turned in the war against the Islamic State. In the 18 months that the U.S. has been working to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the group, it has grown to become a global force that can strike targets in ...Read more

The Lessons of Iowa

WASHINGTON -- Who will win the Republican and Democratic nominations is still anyone's guess, but the Iowa caucus voters defined three themes that are likely to roll through the rest of this year's campaign: alienation, disruption and resilience.

Let me unpack those words. Our political system has been shaken by the anger of middle-class voters...Read more

Obama's Egyptian Blunder

WASHINGTON -- Five years ago, President Obama made a decision that helped topple Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. His policy represented a bet that the democratic surge of the Arab Spring could lead to a stable political transition in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Obama's embrace of the Tahrir Square protesters' demand for Mubarak's ...Read more

In Middle East, A Serious Game of War

TEL AVIV, Israel -- Let's say Islamic State fighters attack an Israeli military patrol along the Syrian border. They try unsuccessfully to kidnap an Israeli soldier, and they kill four others. A Jordanian border post is hit, too, and the Islamic State proclaims it has control of Daraa province in southern Syria.

How do Israel and other key ...Read more

The China Chill

DAVOS, Switzerland -- For the past 15 years, the mere mention of the word "China" has brought smiles to the faces of the global business executives who gather here annually for the World Economic Forum. This year, with Chinese stock and currency markets in turmoil, it brings a chill.

China, so long described as an economic miracle, has become a...Read more

Defeating the Islamic State Will Be a Long War

TAMPA, Fla. -- There's a scary disconnect between the somber warnings you hear privately from military leaders about the war against the Islamic State and the glib debating points coming from Republican and Democratic politicians.

The politicians fulminate about defeating the terrorists, but they don't talk much about the costs or sacrifices ...Read more

A Rough New Year for Xi Jinping

WASHINGTON -- A year ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared to be living what he called the "Chinese Dream." China's economy seemed strong, its military power was growing, and Xi was aggressively consolidating domestic political power.

But Xi is off to a bad new year. The Chinese economy is slowing sharply, with actual GDP growth last year ...Read more

Our Awkward Alliance With Russia

WASHINGTON -- Russia is emerging as an essential diplomatic and security partner for the U.S. in Syria, despite the Obama administration's opposition to Moscow's support for President Bashar al-Assad.

Russian-American cooperation on Syria now includes regular diplomatic, military and intelligence contacts. Moscow and Washington have evolved a ...Read more

A Political Prize Fight in Tehran

WASHINGTON -- The power struggle in Tehran between moderates and hard-liners is heading toward a showdown in next month's elections, which could shape the political balance in Iran for years to come.

The Feb. 26 elections will select 285 members of the Iranian parliament, or "Majlis," and 88 members of the so-called "Assembly of Experts," which...Read more

Saudi Arabia's Fragile State

WASHINGTON -- "Fragile" is the word that journalist Karen Elliott House used to describe Saudi Arabia in her 2012 book about the country. "Observing Saudi Arabia is like watching a gymnast dismount the balance beam in slow motion," she wrote. The world holds its breath wondering if the Saudis "will nail the landing or crash to the mat."

This ...Read more

Talk is Cheap, Real Strategy is Hard

WASHINGTON -- Making New Year's predictions is tricky in this turbulent world, but here's one fairly safe bet: The next president will propose a more assertive U.S. foreign policy. Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, has often sounded nearly as hawkish about use of military force as the Republican contenders.

But what would a new ...Read more

Iran is Not Yet Open for Business

WASHINGTON -- One of the arguments for the Iran nuclear deal was that it would encourage greater openness and investment from the West. But Iranian hard-liners have been working in recent months to sabotage the proponents of economic globalization and change.

The clearest example is the case of an Iranian-American businessman named Siamak ...Read more

A Strengthened IMF Benefits the U.S. and The World

WASHINGTON -- Overlooked in the circus of national politics this past week was a small victory for U.S. global leadership and common sense -- in the bipartisan agreement to restore full U.S. support for the International Monetary Fund.

This move, part of what's known as "quota reform" of the IMF, should have been a no-brainer when it was ...Read more

A Rationalist President in the Age of Anxiety

WASHINGTON -- President Obama gave a speech Tuesday at the National Archives that stood in almost perfect counterpoint to the Republican presidential debate that took place that evening in Las Vegas: Against the rising GOP tide of anger toward immigrants, Obama anchored himself among the historical documents that define American tolerance.

...Read more

Obama's Calculus On the 'Caliphate'

WASHINGTON -- To Republican presidential candidates who were denouncing President Obama Tuesday night for not fighting harder against the Islamic State, there's an obvious if unspoken answer: Obama doesn't think this is an existential battle that's worth the cost to America of an all-out war.

You can disagree with Obama's cost-benefit calculus,...Read more

Trump's Rhetoric Will Live in Infamy

ATLANTA -- Nobody knows where Donald Trump will stand six months from now in this bizarre Republican presidential campaign. But you can predict with some confidence how his recent anti-Muslim diatribes will look in a decade or two, unless Trump manages to rewrite the Constitution itself.

American politics, like most things, is a story of what ...Read more

The Big Hole in Obama's Islamic State Strategy

WASHINGTON -- At the center of President Obama's strategy for dealing with the Islamic State is an empty space. It's supposed to be filled by a hypothetical "Sunni ground force," but after more than a year of effort, it's still not there. Unless this gap is filled, Obama's plan won't work.

Otherwise, Obama made a reasonable case in his speech ...Read more

Block Access to the Deadliest Weaponry

WASHINGTON -- Was the San Bernardino shooting an act of terrorism or workplace rage? It doesn't really matter, in terms of the need for better regulation of assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons.

The growing evidence that this latest attack was terrorism should galvanize a citizen movement to demand better protection against such mass...Read more

One Step Out of The Inferno

WASHINGTON -- A modest diplomatic breakthrough seems near in Lebanon, as the allies of Saudi Arabia and Iran appear to have tentatively agreed on a new president after an 18-month deadlock.

Under a political deal blessed by the U.S., the vacant Lebanese presidency would be filled by Suleiman Franjieh, a Maronite Christian politician who has ...Read more

Three Unsung Heroes in the Middle East

WASHINGTON -- If you're cringing this Thanksgiving at the homicidal youth gang that calls itself the Islamic State, you might consider the narratives of three young people in the Middle East who are trying to make a positive difference. The killers and fanatics may get the headlines, but these three represent an untold part of the story.

One is...Read more


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