Politics, Moderate



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

Dueling Manifestos for Iraq

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration and the Islamic State both issued new manifestos for the battle in Iraq this week. Guess which one is more forceful?

The U.S. plan is to add 450 additional military advisers who will train Sunni tribal fighters at an airbase in Anbar province. It's a careful, incremental step. The American troops won't go ...Read more

Democracy Reigns in Turkey

WASHINGTON -- The march of authoritarianism around the world has had different names over the past decade: "Neo-Ottomanism," "Putinism," "the Beijing Consensus." The shared premise has been that fragile democratic systems were no match for strong rulers who could impose top-down solutions.

This idea of the efficient despot got a sharp rebuff ...Read more

Assad Nears the Tipping Point

WASHINGTON -- The regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria is facing what U.S. experts say is the most intense pressure since the early days of the four-year civil war. This new squeeze poses some stark choices for America, Russia, Iran and Syria's neighbors.

"Based on current trend lines, it is time to start thinking about a post-Assad ...Read more

A Juggler's Act in Asia

WASHINGTON -- When South Korean President Park Geun-hye visited Washington two years ago, she spoke of "Asia's paradox" -- a disconnect between the region's growing economic cooperation and its deep political and security tensions.

This dissonance is still evident as Park prepares for another visit to Washington on June 16, especially in the ...Read more

The Need for Old-Fashioned Spying

WASHINGTON -- The unexpected fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State this month is the latest sign of a basic intelligence problem: The U.S. doesn't know enough about its jihadist adversaries to combat them effectively.

This intelligence deficit afflicts the military, the CIA and other agencies. The problem has been several decades in the making, ...Read more

Distracted by Trivia While Libya Burned

WASHINGTON -- Secretaries of state have had private contacts since the job was created, so it's a mistake to get too indignant about Hillary Clinton's email exchanges about Libya with her longtime friend, Sidney Blumenthal. Still, these messages offer some useful insights about the court politics of Washington, and the way policymaking can be ...Read more

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

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