Politics, Moderate



The Center Needs a Voice

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton's move to the left on trade and other issues is a reminder of the growing power of activists on the wings in presidential nominating politics -- and a corresponding diminution of the power of the center.

"Social and demographic shifts mean that no left-leaning position Clinton takes now would be likely to hurt her"...Read more

A Big Setback in Ramadi

WASHINGTON -- The capture of Ramadi last weekend by Islamic State fighters is a significant setback for U.S. strategy in Iraq and shows that, nearly a year after the extremists overran Mosul, the U.S. still doesn't have a viable plan for protecting the country's Sunni areas.

The collapse of the Iraqi army in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar ...Read more

Is Clinton Ready to Lead?

WASHINGTON -- President Obama, so often cool and cautious in his language, gave a full-throated roar on trade last week, saying that Sen. Elizabeth Warren was "absolutely wrong" in her criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and that "her arguments don't stand the test of fact and scrutiny."

I think Obama is right about the TPP, but there's ...Read more

The Antidote to Mideast Violence

WASHINGTON -- As Arab leaders gather for discussions at Camp David this week, the Obama administration is quietly debating a revision of its strategy against the Islamic State to reflect a U.S. assessment that the terrorist group poses a global threat.

Given the swirling vortex of challenges and threats in the Middle East, U.S. officials hope ...Read more

Netanyahu's Shaky Base

TEL AVIV -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a dominating political figure in the U.S. this year, seemingly invincible as he hurled thunderbolts at President Obama and other adversaries. But here in Israel, not so much.

After winning a narrow election victory in March, Netanyahu formed a fragile government late Wednesday with a bare ...Read more

Bin Laden's Last Plans

WASHINGTON -- In the months before his death in May 2011, Osama bin Laden was discussing new gambits -- from a truce with Pakistan to opportunistic alliances with jihadist groups spawned by the Arab Spring -- so that he could focus on tipping what he called "the balance of fear" with his main enemy, the United States.

This picture of a cagey, ...Read more

Iran Shows Interest in Mideast Peace

NEW YORK -- U.S. and Iranian officials have been insisting the last several years that they wanted to resolve the nuclear issue before discussing the sectarian wars that are raging across the Middle East. Not anymore. As the battles have escalated in recent months, so has talk about regional diplomacy.

The interest in peace talks was voiced by ...Read more

Abe's Quest to Revive Japan

WASHINGTON -- It may not be obvious during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's choreographed visit to Washington this week, but he's a study in contradictions. The dissonance actually helps explain how Abe is trying to revive a moribund Japan.

Abe is a deeply conservative man who has become an "accidental progressive" in his drive to shake up the ...Read more

Turkey's Long-Ago Slaughter of Armenians

WASHINGTON -- Where do I look for hope on this day that marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide? To the brave Turkish and Armenian human rights activists who have gathered in Istanbul this week to commemorate together the tragic events of 1915 and find a pathway to the future.

The Turkish activists embrace a demand that has been ...Read more

A Tricky Two-Step in the Middle East

WASHINGTON -- President Obama has been trying since his September 2013 address to the United Nations to convince Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies that the United States is truly committed to their security. So far, he hasn't been very successful, but he'll try again next month at a Camp David summit meeting.

Obama's approach is part of a big ...Read more

The Middle East's Sick State

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Will the Middle East be as unstable 10 years from now as it is today? I asked that question this week to a class of students at Harvard's Kennedy School. About half answered yes -- that things will be as bad or worse, no matter what America does.

These Harvard graduate students sense what many Middle East experts are ...Read more

Off to a Fuzzy Start

WASHINGTON -- Hey, "everyday Americans," what are you getting ready for? One couple is having a baby boy. Another couple wants to train the dog to stop eating the trash. Some people are starting new jobs, others retiring. And what about you, Hillary Clinton? "I'm running for president," because "everyday Americans need a champion."

Clinton's ...Read more

Brennan's CIA Makeover

WASHINGTON -- CIA Director John Brennan has just done what many of his predecessors at the agency surely dreamed of doing over the past few decades, which is to put the existing organization chart in the shredder and redo it.

Brennan's makeover order came in a March 6 memo to the workforce titled "Our Agency's Blueprint for the Future." It was ...Read more

Obama's Tricky Path on Iran

WASHINGTON -- There's a buoyant sense at the White House this week -- a feeling that a much-embattled President Obama has achieved the goal he set in January 2009 of engaging Iran on the basis of "mutual interest and mutual respect." But like the dog who catches the car he's been chasing, Obama must now worry about what to do next.

The first ...Read more

A Better-Than-Expected Nuclear Deal

WASHINGTON -- The most compelling argument President Obama made for the nuclear framework deal with Iran was also the simplest one: The pact, once concluded, would be preferable to any realistic alternative.

It's not a perfect agreement, and certainly not a permanent solution to the threat an aggressive Iran poses for Israel and other nations ...Read more

The Transformational Nature of the Iran Talks

WASHINGTON -- The British diplomat Harold Nicolson observed in 1960 that "a good negotiation takes about as long as it takes an elephant to have a baby." That has been true in the protracted Iran nuclear talks, although in this case, the baby may turn out to be stillborn.

Negotiators were still haggling over the framework as they pushed through...Read more

Japan's Prime Minister Has Goal of Stronger Japan

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he wants to restore "animal spirits" in the long-moribund Japanese economy. That kind of muscular talk makes some critics anxious, but Abe gave a compelling explanation Thursday of how he's trying to push Japan out of its 15-year "doldrums."

In an hour-long interview at his office here, Abe offered a ...Read more

NATO's New Perils

BRUSSELS -- The NATO alliance seems stuck at a crossroads on Ukraine, unsure whether to move toward greater confrontation with Russia or accept the deadlocked "frozen conflict" that has emerged there.

It's a unified morass, at least, with President Obama sharing the reluctance of European leaders to escalate the crisis by providing defensive ...Read more

Lee Kuan Yew, The Fearful Visionary

BRUSSELS -- Lee Kuan Yew, the man who created the modern miracle of Singapore, was one of the visionary leaders of the 20th century. But as I discovered in several conversations with him, he was also a paradoxical figure who never lost his sense of vulnerability and combativeness toward those he feared might undermine his authority.

Lee, who ...Read more

Turbulence Ahead for U.S.-Israel Relationship

WASHINGTON -- It's March Madness in the Middle East: The U.S. and Israel are trading private barbs and public reassurances after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's defiant re-election victory, just as the U.S. is nearing a nuclear deal with Israel's chief adversary, Iran.

It's a volatile situation, with the Obama administration signaling its ...Read more


Social Connections


Signe Wilkinson Lisa Benson Clay Bennett Mike Luckovich Mike Lester Chip Bok