Politics, Moderate



America must break out of its 'terrorism fatigue'

WASHINGTON -- One disturbing aspect of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka was that the slaughter of 321 victims came at a time when America is suffering what might be described as "terrorism fatigue."

The wars against al-Qaida and the Islamic State are part of a painful past that policymakers and the public want to escape. Those Middle ...Read more

Mueller report shows that the American system hasn't buckled

WASHINGTON -- President Trump's conduct in office has been diminishing the moral capital of the United States for more than two years. The report by special counsel Robert Mueller released Thursday puts a little of that capital back in the bank.

Mueller's 448-page account is an affirmation that the rule of law still exists in America, despite ...Read more

How Xi overplayed his hand with America

WASHINGTON -- In the rebalancing of Sino-American relations that's underway, the usual roles are reversed: China's normally deft President Xi Jinping appears to have badly overreached in seeking advantage. And President Trump, who often seems tone-deaf on foreign policy, is riding a bipartisan consensus that it's time to push back against ...Read more

Does Assange merit First Amendment protection?

WASHINGTON -- Is Julian Assange a journalist? The Justice Department sidestepped that question in its indictment of Assange. But his case is still certain to stir a debate about whether the WikiLeaks founder deserves protection under the First Amendment.

Assange was arrested in London Thursday, as U.S. prosecutors unsealed an indictment ...Read more

Trump administration's Iran sanctions could backfire

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration's "maximum pressure campaign" against Iran assumes that economic sanctions are weakening the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps -- and that more sanctions will make the IRGC weaker still. The problem is that U.S. and European intelligence analysts don't think this forecast is accurate.

"Re-imposition of ...Read more

Private-equity fund sparks entrepreneurial energy in Egypt

CAIRO -- You can't find many success stories in America's sour, sullen relationship with Egypt over the past decade. Mostly it's been a tale of mutual suspicion, thanks to erratic American policy and growing Egyptian political repression.

But talking with Amal Enan, a 33-year-old Egyptian economist, you realize what a healthy relationship could...Read more

Aspiring journalists in Egypt know the perils of seeking the truth

CAIRO -- What do you say to a class of Egyptian journalism students who know that the price of speaking too freely -- telling truths that the government doesn't like -- could be imprisonment and worse?

"Be careful," was my first admonition to the aspiring journalists gathered last weekend at the American University of Cairo. But I told them ...Read more

For the U.S.-Saudi relationship to thaw, MBS needs to answer on Khashoggi

WASHINGTON -- It has been nearly six months since Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered inside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, but the aftershocks continue. The U.S.-Saudi defense and intelligence partnership has been rocked. The future of the relationship is on hold, pending answers from Riyadh.

This case is personal for us at The ...Read more

Moscow shouldn't misjudge the Mueller moment

WASHINGTON -- Russian claims this week that they've been exonerated by Robert Mueller's final report make my skin crawl. But they highlight the critical question of how the U.S. and Russia can begin to move back toward a saner relationship.

Frankly speaking (as Russians like to say), the first step is for Russia to stop pretending that it didn'...Read more

Are we entering the age of 'hack back'?

WASHINGTON -- When the debris settles after special counsel Robert Mueller completes his investigation into Russian hacking of the 2016 presidential election, America will still be left with the underlying problem that triggered the probe in the first place -- the threat of malicious cyberattacks against political parties, corporations, and ...Read more

Trump's unrealistic promises to the Rust Belt may haunt him

WASHINGTON -- When General Motors idled its auto plant in Lordstown, Ohio, this month, President Trump adopted a familiar strategy: He issued a nasty string of tweets blaming other people and promised, in effect, that he would restore the past.

Trump's angry, backward-looking approach may still appeal to some Rust Belt voters. But in the Ohio ...Read more

The Pentagon can't get everything it wants

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mark Warner is all for defense modernization. But just don't touch those aircraft carriers, six of which are based in Norfolk.

The Virginia Democrat had said a year ago year that rather than investing in 20th-century military technology, he wanted to discuss "a reallocation of some of those resources" to deal with the 21st-...Read more

Populists and traditionalists are battling in both parties

WASHINGTON -- Dick Cheney, the former vice president, made just about the nastiest crack a Republican could offer about President Trump's foreign policy when he said it "looks a lot more like Barack Obama than Ronald Reagan."

Obviously, the comparison is flawed. But say this much for Cheney: He's the rare Republican who isn't intimidated by ...Read more

As Erdogan turns away from the West, he sabotages Turkey's progress

WASHINGTON -- For a scary snapshot of what a "post-American" world looks like, consider the rupture that has been developing through three administrations in the U.S.-Turkey relationship. Turkey has come to think it can call the shots, regardless of U.S. interests.

The prime mover has been President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Over the past decade, ...Read more

Can the Mueller report provide any resolution?

WASHINGTON -- Robert Mueller's final report should present Congress with a clean choice: Either the facts warrant impeachment of President Trump, or they don't. That was the promise of Mueller's appointment as special counsel: He would gather the evidence, and then Congress and the public could make a judgment.

In a country with a healthy ...Read more

Cohen's testimony reminds us that Trump investigations are far from over

WASHINGTON -- We were reminded of an explosive political fact this week: The investigations of President Donald Trump's activities won't end when special counsel Robert Mueller presents his report to the Justice Department. They'll move into a new and potentially more divisive phase.

"The congressional investigative effort will be ongoing. It ...Read more

Shanahan could transform the Pentagon -- if he doesn't become Trump's yes man

WASHINGTON -- In the days after he resigned as secretary of defense in December, Jim Mattis told people he hoped to be succeeded by Patrick Shanahan, his deputy. Shanahan has remained in limbo since then as acting secretary, perhaps trying to convince President Trump's critics that he will be independent, the way Mattis was, while simultaneously...Read more

Young veterans in Congress bring new hope for Democrats

WASHINGTON -- The left wing of the Democratic Party has been getting much of the media attention since the new Congress convened, overshadowing the rise of a group of young Democratic military and intelligence veterans who may prove more important for 2020 and beyond.

These pragmatic Democrats accounted for some of the flipped Republican seats ...Read more

Trump's red line is turning blue

WASHINGTON -- President Trump has been insisting for so long that any investigation of his personal finances would cross a "red line" that people may have overlooked the outrageousness of his claim. But this self-declared immunity is about to change.

We're entering a new phase of the Trump-Russia investigation, where the president's efforts to ...Read more

Trump's summit with Kim could open pathway to safer world

WASHINGTON -- The showy first summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last June was draped in flags and bunting, but the decoration covered what turned out to be a mostly empty box that lacked a shared agreement on denuclearization.

Given this disappointing record, what's realistically possible when the two leaders ...Read more


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