Politics, Moderate



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

U.S. strikes back at Russia in cyberspace warfare

WASHINGTON -- With little public fanfare, U.S. Cyber Command, the military's new center for combating electronic attacks against the United States, has launched operations to deter and disrupt Russians who have been meddling with the U.S. political system.

Like other U.S. cyberwar activities, this effort against Russia is cloaked in secrecy. ...Read more

Trump is stumbling his way to a vainglorious Middle East retreat

WASHINGTON -- Iraqi President Barham Salih measured his words in a telephone interview from Baghdad Monday. He didn't want to worsen a quarrel with President Trump over U.S. access to an air base in western Iraq. But Iraqi politics is fragile, and ill-considered statements by American presidents can have big consequences.

"I appreciate what the...Read more

Diplomats strive to forge fragile peace in Afghanistan and Yemen

EDITORS: David Ignatius is taking a one-column vacation. His next column will move Tuesday, Feb. 5, for release Wednesday, Feb. 6. Until his return, you are welcome to run ANY of our other syndicated columns in its place, including by writers your publication does not subscribe to. To use a substitute column, first go to syndication....Read more

Can the Pentagon build a bridge to the tech community?

WASHINGTON -- As the age of artificial intelligence transforms warfare, the Pentagon faces a delicate problem: How does it convince employees of high-tech companies based in the U.S. that Americans are still the "good guys," so that they'll lend their talents to U.S. national-security projects?

The challenge is huge, given that Google, ...Read more

What Americans are fighting for in Manbij

WASHINGTON -- If you wonder what the four Americans who were killed Wednesday in Manbij, Syria, were doing there, let me describe a few images from a visit to that city last February that illustrate their mission of helping stabilize this area after the Islamic State was expelled.

Think of a covered market thronged with shoppers: Until the ...Read more

Trump has squandered the opportunity his populist campaign offered

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump is giving an unintentional gift to the burgeoning field of Democratic presidential candidates: He is teaching them how they can win.

Trump's failure as president is that he hasn't forged a governing party that can unite the country, pass legislation and address America's problems. He has succeeded in creating an ...Read more

The Saudi engine of repression rumbles on

WASHINGTON -- One hundred days after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pressing ahead with anti-dissident campaigns and remains in regular contact with Saud al-Qahtani, the media adviser whom the CIA believes helped organize Khashoggi's killing, according to U.S. and Saudi sources.

The Saudi crown prince, ...Read more

Life without Mattis' steadying hand

WASHINGTON -- At home and abroad, people are now asking a question they've dreaded for nearly two years: How will the erratic presidency of Donald Trump function without the steadying hand of Jim Mattis as defense secretary?

Life without Mattis is the scary reality of this new year. The president may have tired of the careful, battle-hardened ...Read more

Trump's perilous withdrawal from Syria

WASHINGTON -- Asked to describe U.S. policy toward Syria after President Trump's sudden decision on Dec. 19 to withdraw U.S. troops from that country, several key officials use the same two words: "total chaos."

There's another phrase that comes to mind in assessing Trump's move: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. American-backed forces...Read more

A look into the crystal ball for Jan. 1, 2020

WASHINGTON -- Bill Safire, the late, great New York Times columnist, made a tradition over 35 years of publishing a year-end "office pool," a multiple-choice quiz in which, as he liked to say, "every reader becomes a pundit" because nobody knows the right answers.

The office pool died with Safire in 2009, but perhaps readers will enjoy ...Read more

Here's hoping the U.S.-North Korea dialogue continues in the new year

WASHINGTON -- Here's one New Year's resolution that should be easy: The United States and North Korea should resume the diplomatic progress they began in 2018 toward peace and denuclearization.

It's a measure of this year's turbulent pace that the Singapore summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un just six months ago now seems a ...Read more

What Trump's Syria decision means on the front lines of the fight against the Islamic State

WASHINGTON -- The voice of Gen. Mazloum Abdi, the Kurdish commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces militia, is tight and controlled as he describes President's Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the country and leave America's allies to their fate.

"This was something we never expected," he said somberly in a telephone interview ...Read more

The loyal soldier reached his limit

During the past year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has sometimes seemed to be running the Pentagon with clenched teeth. He kept quiet when President Trump made decisions that Mattis thought were wrong; he sat steely-eyed in White House meetings, refusing to indulge in the idolatry toward Trump of other Cabinet members. He argued for the policies...Read more

U.S. withdrawal from Syria is a risky mistake, but Trump did it anyway

WASHINGTON -- President Trump's abrupt decision to pull American troops from Syria is riskier than it looks. It ends a low-cost, high-impact mission and creates a vacuum that will be filled by one of a series of bad actors -- Iran, Russia, Turkey, Islamic extremists, the Syrian regime -- take your pick, they're all dangerous for American ...Read more

Studies show Russia used internet to perfect its dark arts

WASHINGTON -- Imagine American politics for a moment as a laboratory experiment. A foreign adversary (let's call it "Russia") begins to play with the subjects, using carrots and sticks to condition their behavior. The adversary develops tools to dial up anger and resentment inside the lab bubble, and even recruits unwitting accomplices to ...Read more

Republicans failed to govern, but Democrats have a chance to succeed

WASHINGTON -- This week was a vivid demonstration of the inability of conservatives to deliver results after the great populist revolts in 2016 in Britain and America. And it showed that there is a golden opportunity for liberals in both countries to tackle the public concerns that motivated the mistaken decisions to vote for Brexit and Donald ...Read more

For Taiwan, the 'status quo' is an increasingly delicate balancing act

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- If you like betting on embattled underdogs, President Tsai Ing-wen is worth a look. She's tempting the wrath of her powerful neighbor in mainland China by arguing that Taiwan must maintain its own open culture, democratic values and, yes, its sovereignty.

Tsai is a petite woman, dressed in a plain black suit, who speaks the ...Read more

Information war led to Khashoggi's murder

WASHINGTON -- When Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, he didn't know he was walking into a killing zone. He had become the prime target in a 21st-century information war -- one that involved hacking, kidnapping and ultimately murder -- waged by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his courtiers against ...Read more


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