Politics, Moderate



Is the Korea denuclearization process for real?

WASHINGTON -- After the big bang of the Singapore summit in June, with its showy but vague North Korean commitment to denuclearization, many analysts doubted that the deal had any real substance. But we're beginning to see the first signs of what a serious accord would look like.

This week's North-South summit meeting in Pyongyang produced ...Read more

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is dead

WASHINGTON -- This month commemorates two pinnacles for the benign, naive superpower that was America, both involving our now-lost role as Middle East peacemaker. Forty years ago, President Carter brokered the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt; and 25 years ago, President Clinton presided over the signing of the Oslo Accord between ...Read more

Kerry's memoir shows a man strong enough to not worry about looking weak

WASHINGTON -- The public conversation this past week was dominated by a book about a man who is obsessed with winning, President Trump. Too little attention was given to a book about someone who illustrates the benefits of losing, former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kerry's memoir, "Every Day Is Extra," was published in early September. It's ...Read more

A portrait of a president who places image over principle

WASHINGTON -- Only a man who is deeply worried about his own strength would talk as much as Donald Trump does about the danger of appearing weak.

That's my biggest takeaway from reading "Fear," Bob Woodward's new book about the Trump presidency. The scoops were mostly revealed last week. What's fresh is Trump's repeated, obsessive talk about ...Read more

What's the right way to deal with life in 'Crazytown'?

WASHINGTON -- This is indeed "Crazytown," as a quote from Bob Woodward's new book describes it, and we are watching a "nervous breakdown." The problem is that it afflicts the country as a whole, and not just our narcissistic chief executive.

President Trump has drawn America with him into "the devil's workshop," as Woodward quotes former White ...Read more

Working with Moscow on cyber-regulation is like paying a bully for protection

WASHINGTON -- Imagine a bully who's pounding your head against a wall. When you complain that it hurts and threaten to punch back, he offers to sign an international agreement against bullying. Meanwhile, he keeps pounding your head.

That's a shorthand summary of the peculiar situation that has developed in U.N. discussions about regulating ...Read more

To get back in the Syria game, the U.S. must prevent the Idlib bloodbath

WASHINGTON -- As the Syrian tragedy lurches toward a bloody final showdown in Idlib province, the Trump administration is struggling to check Russia and the Syrian regime from an assault there that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns would be a "humanitarian catastrophe."

The administration's efforts are so late in coming, and so ...Read more

The real importance of Trump's Mexico move

WASHINGTON -- The best thing that can be said about President Trump's latest trade initiative is that it moves the U.S. back toward the kind of agreements Trump unwisely blew up when he became president.

So, two cheers for Trump's revamped free-trade agreement with Mexico, announced Monday, and the one he may get soon with Canada. He wants to ...Read more

John McCain understood that the Republican Party was selling its soul. He refused.

WASHINGTON -- John McCain's death offers a moment to think about the insurgency in the GOP that vexed him during his final decade as a politician, and that produced in Donald Trump a man he seemed to loathe, but couldn't figure out how to stop.

With true national heroes such as McCain, it's a mistake to gild the lily: He was a complicated man ...Read more

Republicans have a last chance to show some guts and separate from Trump

WASHINGTON -- "Waiting for the jury to come in" is a good description of what this August has felt like. We've all been wondering how our legal system would cope with President Trump -- even as we awaited the broader verdict of public opinion that will come with the November midterm elections.

Many Americans will probably remember how they ...Read more

Foreign governments fear fallout from U.S. midterms

WASHINGTON -- For foreign countries that have made big bets on Donald Trump's presidency -- such as Russia, China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia -- the U.S. midterm elections pose a significant problem: Trump's maneuvering room may be sharply limited if Democrats win control of the House.

Foreign governments are always attentive to U.S. ...Read more

In revoking Brennan's security clearance, Trump takes another step toward the abyss

WASHINGTON -- What Donald Trump did Wednesday isn't supposed to happen in a democracy. A president who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution just carried out a personal political vendetta against a career intelligence officer.

In revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, Trump took another step toward the abyss. He...Read more

The unintended consequences of U.S. disengagement

WASHINGTON -- An Arab diplomat recently chided an American audience for speculating about what "the new Middle East" may look like. Open your eyes, he said: The new Middle East is already here. And its baseline expectation is that American power and values won't matter in the way they once did.

The diplomat was Yousef al-Otaiba, the ambassador ...Read more

Pompeo tries to be the disruptor's diplomat

WASHINGTON -- When Mike Pompeo became secretary of state on May 1, he advised his new colleagues at Foggy Bottom: "I want the State Department to get its swagger back." State doesn't really do "swagger," but career officials say morale has improved from the rock bottom level it reached with his predecessor, Rex Tillerson.

Pompeo, a boisterous ...Read more

As China's military masters artificial intelligence, why are we still building aircraft carriers?

ASPEN, Colorado -- Will the Pentagon, with its 30-year planning cycle for building ships, still be launching aircraft carriers in 2048 -- even though they're highly vulnerable to attack today?

That's an example of the military-modernization questions that kept nagging participants at last weekend's gathering of the Aspen Strategy Group, which ...Read more

The path from Pyongyang to Washington leads through Seoul

WASHINGTON -- Koreans have a saying that helps explain the recent upbeat exchanges between Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang: "Say pretty things to hear pretty things."

Beyond the Trump White House, there remains much skepticism that North Korea will ever give up its nuclear weapons. Recent leaks about North Korea's continuing efforts to build ...Read more

Veterans in Congress know what it means to put country first

WASHINGTON -- Heading toward the midterm elections, President Trump is playing the politics of division more recklessly than ever. But there's a movement taking root in both parties this year that seeks to unite the country by building on the bedrock values of military service.

This coalescence of young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may be ...Read more

This is not your grandfather's KGB

WASHINGTON -- Looking at Russia's competing spy services, their overlapping operations against the U.S. and their sometimes careless tradecraft, some CIA veterans are wondering if the Russian spooks actually want to get caught.

The truth is, President Vladimir Putin probably doesn't mind that his intelligence activities are so blatant that they...Read more

Trump thinks he's his own best foreign-policy adviser

WASHINGTON -- For the last 18 months, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other top national-security officials have mostly kept their heads down in public as they tried to quietly counsel President Trump. But this low-key consultation process seems to be weakening, as a headstrong president becomes increasingly insistent about his judgment.

The ...Read more

Trump's stunning answer to 'who do you believe'?

WASHINGTON -- President Trump was doing pretty well in Helsinki, really, laying out a modest but achievable agenda for improving U.S.-Russia relations. And then came the final question about whether Trump believed his own intelligence chiefs or Russian President Vladimir Putin -- and in his weird, waffling answer, you could almost hear the ...Read more


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