Politics, Moderate



Defeating the Islamic State Means Getting the Politics Right

ANKARA -- A tour of the war zones in Iraq and Syria with the top American commander ends, appropriately enough, here in Turkey, the strongest power in the region and the place where the modern troubles began a hundred years ago with the collapse of the Ottoman empire.

The abiding strategic fact about the current war against the Islamic State is...Read more

Fighting For a Nation Called Syria

NORTHERN SYRIA -- The raw Sunni recruits in crisp camouflage uniforms, popping off rounds at the firing range at a U.S. training camp here, illustrate the dilemma for the U.S. as it seeks to form a strong military force to drive the Islamic State from its capital, Raqqah.

The U.S. could try to build the Sunni army it would want, ideally, to ...Read more

Taking the Fight to the Islamic State

BAGHDAD -- Amid hedgerows of computer screens in the joint operations center that runs the war against the Islamic State, Marine Brig. Gen. Bill Mullen explains the complex assault that drove the extremist fighters last week from the strategic town of Rutbah at the western edge of Anbar province.

The battle showed how the campaign against the ...Read more

Diplomats Get Punished for Doing Their Job

WASHINGTON -- On Oct. 21, 2014, Robin Raphel, a former assistant secretary of state, got an urgent call from her daughter, who said that something had triggered the burglar alarm at home. When Raphel arrived, she found FBI agents searching through her files and other personal materials.

Raphel frantically telephoned her office at the State ...Read more

Can Assad Keep Crossing the 'Red Line'?

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has another chance to enforce its botched "red line" against the use of chemical weapons in Syria, given new reports that President Bashar Assad's regime has used nerve gas against extremist fighters and may be planning more such attacks.

Obama's decision not to retaliate against Assad's use of chemical ...Read more

A Spy Chief's Hardened Perspective

WASHINGTON -- Early in his tenure as director of national intelligence, James Clapper could sometimes be heard complaining "I'm too old for this [expletive]!" He has now served almost six years as America's top intelligence official, and when I asked him this week how much longer he would be in harness, he consulted his calendar and answered ...Read more

Clinton's Case to Make On Global Engagement

WASHINGTON -- By questioning the fundamentals of America's global role, Donald Trump has given Hillary Clinton a chance to lift her game -- by explaining why continued international engagement is in America's interest and the world's.

If Clinton can't counter Trump's "America first" rhetoric, and make the case that U.S. leadership is still ...Read more

The Middle East Needs a New Order

SARI RASH, Iraq -- This month marks the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement that formed Iraq, Syria and the other fragile nations of the modern Middle East. The past few weeks have provided dramatic new evidence, if more were needed, that the old colonial framework created by Britain and France isn't working.

Iraq and Syria are ...Read more

A Slow and Shaky Takeoff for the Mosul Offensive

WADI MASHAR, Iraq -- From a sandbagged hilltop outpost here, you can see the front line of the Islamic State in the muddy brown houses of Al-Nasr, a village on the next ridgeline, about a mile and a half west. The Iraqi army was supposed to have captured this target a month ago. But the offensive was repelled.

The battle for Mosul, about 35 ...Read more

Conflict in the Caucasus

STEPANAKERT, Nagorno-Karabakh -- The military commander of this breakaway Armenian republic predicted in an interview here Monday that a fragile cease-fire could collapse within days. By that night, Azerbaijani shelling had killed two Armenian soldiers in a northern border town, amid accusations by each side that the other had violated the truce...Read more

A Manifesto to Mend Our Politics

WASHINGTON -- It has become a truism to say that the American political system is suffering from dysfunction. But weirdly, even the insurgent candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, don't talk much about how they would fix it. This is a populist insurgency without a clear manifesto.

So it's refreshing to hear Rep. John Sarbanes present a ...Read more

Don't Give Up On the Arabs

WASHINGTON -- As President Obama travels this week to Saudi Arabia, here's a surprising snapshot of what young Arabs think: They're scared about the Islamic State and terrorism; they yearn for more freedom and gender equality; they fear that the Arab Spring has made life worse; and they're increasingly skeptical about the role of traditional ...Read more

Sage Advice From a Foreign Policy Veteran

WASHINGTON -- Bob Gates has unusual standing in the debate about the Obama administration's foreign policy: He was defense secretary both for a hawkish President George W. Bush and then a wary President Obama. He understood Bush's desire to project power and Obama's skepticism.

Gates characteristically finds a middle ground in the argument that...Read more

Five Military Leaders Republicans Could Draft for President

WASHINGTON -- As Republicans head toward what could be a stalemated convention, they might recall how the party healed itself in 1952 in what was known as the "winter of discontent." The GOP drafted a military leader, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, as their presidential candidate.

The looming showdown between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is a ...Read more

Five Military Leaders Republicans Could Craft for President

WASHINGTON -- As Republicans head toward what could be a stalemated convention, they might recall how the party healed itself in 1952 in what was known as the "winter of discontent." The Republicans drafted a military leader, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, as their presidential candidate.

The looming showdown between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is a ...Read more

A Testing Year for American Tolerance

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump tests the limits of campaign speech. He makes false statements and refuses to correct them. He attacks other religions and ethnic groups, inflaming domestic tension and foreign terrorist rage. He pledges to overhaul long-standing U.S. commitments in ways that frighten allies. He cavalierly predicts a "massive recession...Read more

Moniz Leads a Quiet Revolution in Clean Energy

WASHINGTON -- So much of America's future is at stake in the 2016 presidential election. But let's focus for a moment on just one area -- energy and the environment -- where the Obama administration has made startling progress that could be reversed if either of the GOP front-runners becomes president.

Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz, arguably ...Read more

China's Intelligence Shakeup Mirrors its Political Tumult

WASHINGTON -- China's intelligence service, the Ministry of State Security, offers a snapshot of the political intrigue taking place within the regime of President Xi Jinping.

The MSS has replaced two vice ministers within the last four years, after reports of political infighting and scandal. The current minister is said to be a figurehead, ...Read more

A Warning Against the Overuse of Sanctions

WASHINGTON -- Economic sanctions have become the "silver bullet" of American foreign policy over the last decade, because they're cheaper and more effective in compelling adversaries than traditional military power. But Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warns of a "risk of overuse" that could neuter the sanctions weapon and harm America.

Lew made ...Read more

Fix Europe or Lose It

WASHINGTON -- "We have the Europe we deserve," admitted French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Wednesday. The question is how Europeans can build the security structures they need.

The first requirement is solidarity, within each country and among the 28 nations of the European Union. This begins with better links with the Muslim communities, ...Read more


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Gary Varvel Nick Anderson Chip Bok Clay Bennett Steve Breen Lisa Benson