Politics, Moderate



Our Stake In the Future and the Past

WASHINGTON -- Why should people care about the past or the future? That may sound like a perverse question, but it's at the center of two recent stories -- one involving the Islamic State's destruction of antiquities at Palmyra in Syria, and the other a presidential warning about damage to the planet decades hence.

The unpleasant, amoral ...Read more

The Clinton 'Scandal' That Isn't

WASHINGTON -- Does Hillary Clinton have a serious legal problem because she may have transmitted classified information on her private email server? After talking with a half-dozen knowledgeable lawyers, I think this "scandal" is overstated. Using the server was a self-inflicted wound by Clinton, but it's not something a prosecutor would take to...Read more

The 'Division 30' Debacle

WASHINGTON -- America's botched effort last month to support a Syrian moderate rebel group known as "Division 30" was a chain of errors that recalls, in a small way, the 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco.

The Division 30 debacle has some clear and disturbing lessons: The rebels weren't well prepared for their mission, and they had poor intelligence about...Read more

Trump, an American Putin?

WASHINGTON -- He promises to restore his country's greatness, without offering a specific plan. He uses crude, vulgar expressions that make him sound like an ordinary guy, even though he's a billionaire. He's a narcissist who craves media attention. And for all his obvious shortcomings, he's very popular.

Who am I referring to? Russian ...Read more

Turkey's Kurdish Leader Blasts Erdogan

WASHINGTON -- Turkey's political tensions were sharply evident Thursday, as the country's leading Kurdish politician accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of "supporting ISIS" in the past. He claimed Erdogan wants early elections as part of a strategy of "attacking the Kurdish movement" and reversing its recent political gains.

Selahattin ...Read more

Our Endless Quest For The Perfect Wave

WASHINGTON -- Escapism has a special lure this summer, if you're saturated with Islamic State atrocities, the Iran nuclear deal and Donald Trump's presidential campaign. As relief from such weighty matters, I can recommend a magnificently escapist book about surfing called "Barbarian Days."

Subtitled "A Surfing Life," the book is a memoir by ...Read more

The American President On Edge

WASHINGTON -- Can an American president make big, historic changes in the country's direction with a relatively narrow base of political support? That was the challenge President Obama faced when he pushed health care reform through Congress, and it's the same problem he faces now in trying to win support for a breakthrough nuclear deal with ...Read more

A Strategy Forms to Combat the Islamic State

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. and its allies, after several years of missteps, finally seem to be framing a strategy for combating the Islamic State militarily in Syria, even as they continue to pursue a political settlement with Damascus.

The Syrian nightmare is far from over, and supporters of President Bashar al-Assad continue to insist that the ...Read more

The New Era of the Lone Wolf

WASHINGTON -- "He acknowledged the truth, he gives [allegiance], the order has been given, his heart beats, he accepts, butterflies kick in. ... The target is given, the anticipation is over, a sense of relief."

With this stream-of-consciousness narrative, an Islamic State fighter using the name of Abu Abdullah Britani posted this call May 10 ...Read more

Our Next Iranian Challenge

WASHINGTON -- The shrill Republican attacks on the Iran nuclear deal are an embarrassment. Most global leaders share President Obama's view that the agreement is preferable to any realistic alternative. It's a diplomatic achievement that reinforces U.S. leadership, rather than undermining it. The damage to America would come from knee-jerk ...Read more

Obama's Well-Crafted Deal With Iran

WASHINGTON -- As the Iran nuclear talks neared the endgame, some observers worried that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, in their eagerness for a deal, would give away the store with last-minute concessions.

Those fears turned out to be misplaced, notwithstanding Tuesday's howls of protest from Israeli and GOP critics. The ...Read more

What the Greek Deal Shows About Power in Europe

WASHINGTON -- When the financial details are stripped away, the Greek bailout deal reached early Monday is really a reassertion of the core idea of post-war Europe -- which is that France and Germany will stick together.

The bailout terms are complicated, and they reflect compromises that will anger hard-liners both in Greece, who will see the ...Read more

Prince Saud al-Faisal Took the Long View

WASHINGTON -- It was a measure of Prince Saud al-Faisal's skill as a diplomat that he helped sustain the long friendship between the United States and Saudi Arabia through events that could have (and maybe should have) shattered it -- an oil embargo, several Arab-Israeli wars, the rise of al-Qaeda, the failed U.S. occupation of Iraq, and the ...Read more

The Islamic State's Orgy of Brutality

WASHINGTON -- Reporting about the Islamic State inevitably means watching their videos, but that's not something I would wish on anyone. The group has created a public theater of death on the Internet -- beheading people, drowning them, burning them, breaking their bones.

This extreme brutality is part of the Islamic State's brand. It is meant ...Read more

The Islamic State's Rampant Brutality

WASHINGTON -- Reporting about the Islamic State inevitably means watching their videos, but that's not something I would wish on anyone. The group has created a public theater of death on the Internet -- beheading people, drowning them, burning them, breaking their bones.

This extreme brutality is part of the Islamic State's brand. It is meant ...Read more

A Modern Version of 'Massive Resistance'?

WASHINGTON -- After the Supreme Court's historic 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Southern politicians adopted a strategy that became known as "massive resistance." It doomed the South to a losing battle not just against the court, but a majority of Americans.

Some GOP conservatives may be on the verge of making a similar mistake in ...Read more

Iran's Janus gambit

WASHINGTON -- Iran enters the endgame of the nuclear talks with what amount to two negotiating positions -- the parameters reportedly endorsed in April at Lausanne by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and another set of "red lines" drawn this week by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The two positions are significantly different. The first version offers...Read more

Why Baker-Hamilton Merits a Fresh Read

WASHINGTON -- "The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. ... Sectarian conflict is the principal challenge to stability."

That's from the opening page of the 2006 Iraq Study Group report. Nine years later, it's haunting to revisit the bipartisan commission review chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee ...Read more

Bush and Clinton Should Embrace Their Brands

WASHINGTON -- The two dynastic candidates told compelling stories recently about why they should be president, but there has been one big difference: Jeb Bush has taken the political risk of disagreeing with his party's base, and Hillary Clinton hasn't.

Their formal announcement speeches were overdue but offered coherent accounts of why they ...Read more

The Point Man Against Cyberattacks

WASHINGTON -- In November 2012, Jeh Johnson, who was then the Pentagon's general counsel, let himself speculate in a speech about al-Qaeda, "How will this conflict end?" He foresaw a "tipping point" at which U.S. officials might be able to say that the group had been "effectively destroyed."

That was then. Nearly three years later, al-Qaeda and...Read more

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Steve Benson Darrin Bell Mike Lester Nick Anderson Clay Bennett Steve Breen