Politics, Moderate



Is the Iran-U.S. tinderbox about to ignite?

WASHINGTON -- As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of "unprovoked attacks" near the Strait of Hormuz, video screens behind him showed thick black smoke billowing from the two tankers that were struck Thursday. It was the dramatic imagery that sometimes precedes armed conflict.

Pompeo didn't offer hard evidence, and Iran denied the ...Read more

Trump's words celebrate D-Day, but his actions disdain postwar architecture

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France -- President Trump spoke the right words in commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day, but did he mean them? So far, his presidency has been about defying the postwar order that was based on shared values and global partnership, rather than cementing its legacy.

Trump spoke here Thursday at what he rightly described...Read more

Britain is the club that Trump resents but desperately wants to join

WASHINGTON -- President Trump's love-hate relationship with Britain has been on display in London this week. This ambivalence takes an especially bizarre turn in comments by the president and his supporters about British intelligence, historically America's most important secret partner.

After bashing prominent British figures on his way to ...Read more

America is at war, in cyberspace

WASHINGTON -- One of the least-discussed but perhaps most consequential comments by special counsel Robert Mueller in his appearance before reporters this week was his blunt counterintelligence assessment: "Russian intelligence officers, who are part of the Russian military, launched a concerted attack on our political system."

Here's why this ...Read more

Europeans must accept responsibility for their jihadist 'foreign fighters'

WASHINGTON -- For sheer hypocrisy, it's hard to match the European nations that are refusing responsibility for dozens of their nationals who became jihadist "foreign fighters" over the past five years and are now warehoused in makeshift prisons in northeast Syria.

U.S. officials say that about 2,000 foreign fighters from more than 50 nations ...Read more

With Huawei, Trump confronts China's tech threat head on

WASHINGTON -- Huawei's name is often translated in English as "Chinese excellence." The Trump administration last week embarked on a campaign to rebrand the tech giant, in effect, as a "Chinese threat" and check its expansion in the West.

The Huawei assault may be the Trump administration's most important long-term strategic decision, because ...Read more

What's Trump's plan for Iran? Nobody knows.

WASHINGTON -- In any tense military confrontation, diplomats start looking for an "off ramp" that could de-escalate tensions. But in the current standoff between the United States and Iran, it's hard to find any such exit route.

The U.S.-Iran faceoff is one of those odd situations where both players appear eager to set off sparks, although ...Read more

On the world stage, Trump's disruptive style has diminishing returns

WASHINGTON -- President Trump has styled himself in foreign policy as the Great Disrupter. And for a time, this unpredictable approach served him reasonably well. Leaders from China, North Korea and Iran found themselves off balance, and they sometimes made what looked like concessions.

Trump's problem is that, after two years, foreign nations ...Read more

The saga of the Chinese mole reads like a thriller

WASHINGTON -- Behind last week's admission by a former CIA officer that he plotted to spy for China lies an astonishing tale of Beijing's espionage against America -- and the vindication of other CIA officers who were falsely suspected of being the Chinese mole.

This saga has a classic thriller plot, in which a suspect must find the real ...Read more

There's too much at stake for Trump to leave the Pentagon in limbo

WASHINGTON -- At a time when America is facing a potential military confrontation with Iran, an escalating trade war with China and a showdown with North Korea, you'd think President Trump would want a permanent secretary of defense to oversee Pentagon plans.

But Patrick Shanahan is still cooling his heels as acting secretary, awaiting a formal...Read more

Biden is the best candidate to beat Trump

WASHINGTON -- Joe Biden's limitations as a presidential candidate are so obvious that they're almost a litany: He's too old, too white, too male, too touchy-feely, too loquacious. But he has one huge plus: He may be the person who could move Donald Trump out of the White House.

Biden rightly put the obligation of replacing Trump at the center ...Read more

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


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