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Politics

The Iran nuclear deal may not be perfect. But it shouldn't be scrapped.

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration, already struggling with a big nuclear problem in North Korea, is about to raise another one by questioning the implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran.

A senior administration official said that President Trump will share his concerns about Iranian compliance with global leaders gathering next ...Read more

Bring back the ombudsman

WASHINGTON -- How can news organizations avoid the trap that President Trump has laid for them in his attacks on the media as a one-sided "opposition party" that caters to anti-Trump elites and purveys "fake news" to readers and viewers?

Part of the answer is simply for journalists to keep doing their jobs, aggressively and fairly. We're not in...Read more

While Trump takes the shots, Tillerson runs the offense

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has often been the silent man in the Trump foreign policy team. But out of the spotlight, he appears to be crafting a broad strategy aimed at working with China to resolve the North Korea crisis and with Russia to stabilize Syria and Ukraine.

The Tillerson approach focuses on personal diplomacy, in...Read more

How fog of uncertainty can lead to war

WASHINGTON -- When today's historians look at the confrontation between the United States and North Korea, they're likely to hear echoes of ultimatums, bluffs and botched messages that accompanied conflicts of the past, often with catastrophic consequences.

"The one thing that's certain when you choose war as a policy is that you don't know how...Read more

After the Islamic State is defeated, should Trump leave some U.S. troops in Syria?

WASHINGTON -- As the U.S.-led coalition accelerates its campaign to destroy the Islamic State's remaining strongholds in Syria, the Trump administration faces a big decision about the future: Does it want to keep some U.S. troops inside the country to help stabilize Syria after the jihadists are defeated, or does it want to pack up and come home...Read more

This charming, diminutive woman was also an intrepid WWII spy

WASHINGTON -- Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens, one of the remarkable spies of World War II, died last week in France at the age of 98. Like so many intelligence officers, she had a gift for getting people to talk. But she had something else: dauntless, unblinking courage in facing the enemy.

De Clarens stole one of the vital secrets of the war -- ...Read more

Opportunity for cooperation between Israel and Arabs has never been greater

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration is exploring new approaches for easing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that build on talks with a budding Sunni Arab coalition of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.

Jared Kushner, the White House senior adviser and presidential son-in-law, visited the leaders of all four countries ...Read more

Trump doesn't want the stain of defeat in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON -- Will President Trump's new Afghanistan strategy alter the dynamics of America's longest and most frustrating war? Do commanders really have any better chance of succeeding now than when this conflict began 16 years ago?

I put those questions by phone Tuesday to Gen. John "Mick" Nicholson Jr., who for more than 18 months has ...Read more

Russia reaps blowback from covert campaign

WASHINGTON -- Intelligence officers sometimes talk about "blowback," when covert actions go bad and end up damaging the country that initiated them. A year later, that is surely the case with Russia's secret attempt to meddle in the U.S. presidential election, which has brought a string of adverse unintended consequences for Moscow.

The Kremlin...Read more

U.S. ponders path to permanent treaty with North Korea

WASHINGTON -- After weeks of belligerent rhetoric, North Korea took a pause Tuesday. But where is the mercurial Kim Jong Un headed next? U.S. officials are debating whether he may want direct talks with Washington about a formal treaty to replace the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War.

The U.S. has been pursuing a dual path, ...Read more

The U.S. can't go it alone against North Korea, in either war or peace

WASHINGTON -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has defiance in his blood. It's said his grandfather once asked what would happen if America defeated North Korea in war, to which his father answered: "If we lose, I will be sure to destroy the Earth. What good is the Earth without North Korea?"

President Trump has decided to confront what's ...Read more

North Korea, on the brink

WASHINGTON -- The North Korean nuclear threat is a "hinge" moment for the U.S. and China, and for the new international order both nations say they want.

If Washington and Beijing manage to stay together in dealing with Pyongyang, the door opens on a new era in which China will play a larger and more responsible role in global affairs, ...Read more

For once, on Russia, Trump may be right

WASHINGTON -- When all right-thinking people in the nation's capital seem to agree on something -- as has been the case recently with legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia -- that may be a warning that the debate has veered into an unthinking herd mentality.

Sanctions were already an overused tool of foreign policy before President Trump...Read more

Might the threat of an American strike on North Korea prompt China into action?

WASHINGTON -- Here's a contrarian thought: President Trump had the right instinct to insist that China help resolve the nightmare problem of North Korea. A peaceful solution is impossible without help from the other great power in East Asia.

As Trump nears the threshold of a military crisis with North Korea, he needs to sustain this early ...Read more

What if the president gives an order to do something improper or illegal?

WASHINGTON -- If President Trump ordered a senior government official to support the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller, how should that person respond?

Adm. Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, answered my question about that onstage last week at the Aspen Security Forum. He began with the usual caveat that he wouldn't ...Read more

Can Pompeo keep the CIA out of the ditch?

WASHINGTON -- If the ghosts who inhabit the walls of the CIA could talk, they would tell Director Mike Pompeo to be careful. The agency is entering a danger zone where a White House in turmoil wants the CIA to take aggressive action overseas, but hasn't developed the clear strategy or political support needed to sustain it.

Pompeo is an ...Read more

The star-crossed history of CIA paramilitary action

ASPEN, Colo. -- What did the CIA's covert assistance program for Syrian rebels accomplish? Bizarrely, the biggest consequence may be that it helped trigger the Russian military intervention in 2015 that rescued President Bashar Assad -- achieving the opposite of what the program intended.

Syria adds another chapter to the star-crossed history ...Read more

Is quiet persuasion more effective than shouting?

WASHINGTON -- The Chinese government, subtle masters of propaganda, seem to have discovered a Sun Tzu formula for taming dissent on the internet: The best strategy may not be to confront critics directly, but to lull or distract them with a tide of good news.

This intriguing argument is suggested by a recent article in the American Political ...Read more

Is there a role for political Islam in modern times?

WASHINGTON -- The diplomatic machinations that have enveloped Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar may seem like a membership feud in a Persian Gulf club for the wealthy. But their quarrel highlights battles that have been roiling the Middle East since the Arab Spring began nearly seven years ago.

The boycott against Qatar announced...Read more

Key to US success against ISIS has been a warriors' kinship with local fighters

WASHINGTON -- What lessons can we take from the Islamic State's defeat in Mosul and its coming eviction from Raqqa? The collapse of the caliphate tells us that the U.S. can succeed militarily in the Middle East if -- and probably only if -- it works with local forces who are prepared to do the fighting and dying.

Where the massive U.S. ground ...Read more

 

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