Politics, Moderate



Middle East Knows to Be Wary of America's Promises

WASHINGTON -- When America fights its wars in the Middle East, it has a nasty habit of recruiting local forces as proxies and then jettisoning them when the going gets tough or regional politics intervene.

This pattern of "seduction and abandonment" is one of our least endearing characteristics. It's one reason the U.S. is mistrusted in the ...Read more

Trump Treats Foreign Policy Like a Game of "Survivor"

WASHINGTON -- Reality TV is about winning. It doesn't matter how you manage to be a "survivor," so long as you stay on the island. That's the sensibility that Donald Trump, the ultimate reality-television star, brings to foreign policy.

In Trump's world, winners don't have to worry about alliances, nuclear proliferation or human rights -- if ...Read more

As Our Election Day Approaches, the World Holds its Breath

WASHINGTON -- Making predictions three weeks before the U.S. election is risky, but the likeliest bet right now is that the center will hold in American politics and Hillary Clinton will be elected president. That's important for lots of reasons, the biggest of which is that it could begin to stabilize a very unsettled world.

Nate Silver, a ...Read more

Struggling to Deal With the North Korean Danger

SEOUL, South Korea -- When South Korean officials talk about the growing nuclear challenge from the North, they use red-alert phrases like "existential threat," "imminent danger" and "dagger at the throat." They want Americans to understand that this long-running story of brinksmanship has entered a new phase.

One senior South Korean official ...Read more

Trump is the Symptom of World's Coarsening Climate

SEOUL -- Watching Donald Trump skulking behind Hillary Clinton on the debate stage Sunday night, muttering about locking her up if he wins, was a reminder that we are drifting toward a kind of bullyboy-world, where power is everything.

You see this coarsening climate of relations around the globe, in the debasement of the norms that make ...Read more

Jacob Lew: Washington's Dealmaker

MEXICO CITY -- The "art of the deal," in Donald Trump's version, has a hard edge. It involves public bluster, threats of litigation, and confrontational negotiations. It's about winning, rather than compromise.

But there's another version of dealmaking that's more relevant to how Washington actually works. It's about passing budgets and ...Read more

Aleppo on the Brink

WASHINGTON -- "Catastrophic" is the word several U.S. officials use privately to discuss the latest developments in Syria, in which a savage Russian bombing campaign has brought Aleppo near the point of surrender. Yet even as members of the Obama administration acknowledge the horror, they remain wary of options that might counter the onslaught....Read more

From Colombia, a Reminder of What Good Foreign Policy Looks Like

BOGOTA, Colombia -- The pathway to compromise is never easy to find, at home or abroad, but it was visible in Colombia this week in the peace agreement that ended a 52-year guerrilla war. What opened this route was good political leadership.

President Juan Manuel Santos asked Colombians who had suffered from the FARC insurgency to forgive those...Read more

At Monday Night's Debate, Hillary Clinton Reassured a Fearful World

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Watching Monday night's presidential debate from a country that has been bankrupted by populist economic ideas was instructive: Argentina's experience shows that good countries can make very bad political decisions that have lasting costs.

Visiting here with Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew was also a reminder of how ...Read more

The Leaders of Egypt and Iran Have Qualms in Common

NEW YORK -- What do the presidents of Egypt and Iran, two countries across the Sunni-Shiite chasm in the Middle East, have in common? A lot, it turns out, including preoccupation with their internal stability and hunger for economic growth.

Both talk about moderation, and the deep resources of their ancient cultures, even as the region's ...Read more

As the World Order Unravels, Obama Offers the Right Ideas for RAestoration

WASHINGTON -- What a moment for President Obama to deliver his valedictory address to the U.N. Tuesday -- defending the liberal international order at a time when it's under severe stress around the world.

Obama's speech was preceded by some sickening reminders of how global security is fraying: The day before, a Syrian, or perhaps Russian, ...Read more

Countering Russian Cyberattacks

WASHINGTON -- Faced with Russian nuclear threats during the Cold War, the strategist Herman Kahn calibrated a macabre ladder of escalation, with 44 different rungs ranging from "Ostensible Crisis" to "Spasm or Insensate War."

In the era of cyberwarfare that's now dawning, the rules of the game haven't yet been established with such coldblooded ...Read more

Why Trump's Dealmaking Could be Dangerous

WASHINGTON -- Consider two quotations, the first engraved in modern history and the other less than a week old, and ask yourself what they have in common:

"This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. ... I believe it is peace for our time."

And ...Read more

North Korea's 'Grave Threat' May Be the Next President's First Big Test

North Korea's latest nuclear test triggered diplomatic aftershocks in Asia -- and a growing concern that the volatile regime in Pyongyang may pose the first big test for the next U.S. president.

Friday's test was the fifth and largest nuclear device North Korea has detonated, estimated at 10 kilotons, and it came defiantly on the 68th ...Read more

Trump's Performance at Foreign Policy Forum Terrible

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump is shifting to "responsible candidate" mode now, so his remarks on foreign policy Wednesday night sounded relatively restrained -- until you begin parsing the details.

Let's start with Trump's comment in the NBC forum that after invading Iraq, his policy would have been to "take the oil." That's what many Arabs, in ...Read more

Clinton Should Embrace Her Experience

WASHINGTON -- Despite Hillary Clinton's recent slip in the polls, she has a big political opportunity, even though some of her advisers might regard it as a curse: She can run as the candidate who represents the "mainstream" leadership of both parties and knows how to fix our broken political system.

In a year when anti-elitism has been a ...Read more

Rice Follows Kissinger's Playbook in China

WASHINGTON -- Susan Rice is the latest national security adviser to inherit the framework of Sino-American relations that was created in 1972 by Henry Kissinger: The Chinese ever since have wanted to deal directly and discreetly with the White House as they pursue a relationship that's somewhere between cooperation and confrontation.

Rice will ...Read more

U.S. Fight Against Islamic State Rests On Quicksand

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military campaign to seize the Islamic State's capital of Raqqa may be delayed because of a nasty fight between Turkey and the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the YPG.

Sadly, it's a classic Middle East moment, when regional players' mistrust for each other overwhelms their common interest in fighting the terrorist Islamic...Read more

A Character Test for America

SYDNEY -- To appreciate what's at stake for the world in this year's U.S. presidential election, it's useful to visit a place like Australia that has been one of our most faithful allies -- and that appears to be mortified at what's happening in American politics.

Australians are polite, in their own rowdy way. And they know they have to live ...Read more

China's Rising Influence is Felt in Australia

MELBOURNE -- Australia has a split personality when it comes to China: Government officials stress the importance of their strategic alliance with the U.S., even if it upsets Beijing. But business leaders argue that Australia must accommodate the reality of China's overwhelming economic power in Asia.

It's an awkward straddle for Australia, as ...Read more


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