Politics, Moderate



The midterms might become the 'impeachment election'

WASHINGTON -- President Nixon was heading for a big re-election victory in November that would confound his critics. He had just returned from a pathbreaking visit to China and had big transformative ideas for foreign policy. Yet he felt hounded by his enemies and a media elite that opposed him at every turn.

And there was that pesky FBI ...Read more

Trump's domestic scandals cast a cloud over his first overseas trip

WASHINGTON -- As President Trump embarks on his first overseas trip, he's embracing the same defiant strategy adopted over a generation ago by an embattled predecessor, Richard Nixon. As scandal talks grow at home, Trump is licking his wounds, spurning his critics, and looking for approval from foreign leaders who admire him for being a tough ...Read more

The bull in the intelligence china shop

WASHINGTON -- Think of the intelligence community and its fragile array of secret relationships as a china shop. Think of President Trump as a bull, restless and undisciplined. For months, we've been watching the disastrous collision of the two.

Trump's latest self-inflicted spy scandal was the disclosure this week that he had boastfully ...Read more

A survival guide to abuse of power

WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday night, a few hours after President Trump's sudden announcement that he was firing FBI Director James Comey, a prominent Republican politician gave me this simple, blunt assessment of the Trump White House: "These guys scare me."

Trump's impulsive, vengeful decision to dump Comey has scared a lot of people. It suggests a...Read more

Israeli hard-liner proposes railway link to Arab destinations: 'It can be a game-changer'

WASHINGTON -- As Arab nations move grudgingly toward accepting the reality of Israel, an Israeli Cabinet minister is proposing that they all share a railway link that could cut overland travel distances between the Mediterranean and key Arab destinations by a half or two-thirds.

The Regional Landbridge & Hub Initiative has been developed by ...Read more

Why does Trump keep digging himself into a hole on Russia?

WASHINGTON -- The mystery at the center of the Michael Flynn case is why Donald Trump didn't react sooner to warnings about Flynn's involvement with Russia. Why didn't Trump listen to President Obama's caution against hiring him? Why did Trump wait 18 days before removing his national security adviser after urgent advice that Flynn could be "...Read more

How Democrats lost their way -- and how they can find it again

WASHINGTON -- In his heroically doomed 48-year campaign to promote The Washington Monthly, Charles Peters hit upon one especially apt (if un-catchy) slogan: "If you're not afraid of being right too soon."

Peters founded his little magazine in 1969. From the start, he needled mainstream liberals about issues that weren't getting enough attention...Read more

Putin requested his call with Trump to outline a plan for Syrian safe zones. Why now?

WASHINGTON -- Into the deadly morass of the Syrian war, Russian President Vladimir Putin has dropped a new peace proposal that calls for establishing safe zones in several parts of the country, grounding the Syria air force and possibly creating buffer zones between combatants to be monitored by international peacekeeping troops.

Putin outlined...Read more

In the concert of nations, can Trump orchestrate a deal?

WASHINGTON -- Here’s a shocking statement: President Trump is basically right that the world is too dangerous and that the U.S. should hold peace talks with, let’s see, Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Russian President Vladimir Putin and any other autocrats who are making trouble.

American values tell us to ...Read more

Secret warriors can be blinded by sunlight

WASHINGTON -- “I was one very lucky kid,” wrote retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in a 2016 memoir about his bumpy childhood in a working-class Rhode Island family. “I was one of those nasty tough kids, hell-bent on breaking rules for the adrenaline rush and hardwired just enough to not care about the consequences.”

Flynn described how he ...Read more

National defense in the face of a media-obsessed White House

TEL AVIV -- As President Trump nears the 100-day benchmark, it’s a good moment to examine the relationship that has evolved between the mercurial and inexperienced commander in chief and his unflappable Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

It’s an unlikely partnership, but so far it mostly seems to work. Trump may have relatively few domestic-...Read more

Can this young prince refashion Saudi Arabia?

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Two years into his campaign as change agent in this conservative oil kingdom, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to be gaining confidence and political clout to push his agenda of economic and social reform.

The young prince outlined his plans in a nearly 90-minute conversation Tuesday night at his office ...Read more

Trump Could Learn from Harry Truman

WASHINGTON -- The only modern president who rivaled Donald Trump in his lack of preparation for global leadership was Harry Truman. Both men took office with little knowledge of the international problems they were about to face, and with worries at home and abroad that they weren’t up to the job.

“I pray god I can measure up to the task,��...Read more

Trump Gets a Taste of Success

WASHINGTON -- For a reminder of how new administrations can quickly get into trouble in foreign policy, consider that Monday, April 17, marks the anniversary of the catastrophic Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. Bad things can happen to good presidents, and vice versa.

President Donald Trump, after a mostly disastrous ...Read more

Trump Moves Slightly Toward Pillars of Traditional Foreign Policy

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration’s foreign policy has been a dizzying spectacle of mixed messages and policy reversals during its first three months. But in last week’s crucial tests, Donald Trump made good decisions about Syria, Russia and China -- moving his erratic administration a big closer toward the pillars of traditional U.S. ...Read more

On Syria, Trump Confronts a Moral Test

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Even for a president who advertised his coldblooded pragmatism, the moral dimensions of leadership find a way of penetrating the Oval Office. In the case of Donald Trump, the emotional distance seems to have been shattered by simple, indelible images of suffering children in Idlib, Syria.

“When you kill innocent children, ...Read more

Trump’s Shell Game on Russia

WASHINGTON -- When Gen. Michael Hayden visited a secret intelligence facility in the U.S. a decade ago while he was CIA director, the staff gave him a T-shirt emblazoned with the words: “Admit Nothing. Deny Everything. Make Counter Accusations.”

That motto is much beloved by covert operators. It also seems to be President Donald Trump’s ...Read more

Rep. Adam Schiff: House Panel’s Russia Probe Can’t Continue Under ‘Cloud’

EDITORS -- David Ignatius’ regular column for Friday release will move later today.

WASHINGTON -- President Trump has been trying since early this month to deflect the FBI and congressional investigations of Russian covert action by asserting that he had been a victim of improper U.S. surveillance. His argument got little traction until...Read more

Trump is Now the CEO of a Very Public Company

WASHINGTON -- As the White House reboots for “Trump 2.0” after a largely unsuccessful first two months, one lesson should be obvious: The radical, polarizing politics of the campaign trail don’t work well in governing the country.

America isn’t Russia or the Philippines. Our system has speed bumps, carefully constructed by our Founders....Read more

For the Trump Administration, An Operatic Start

AMSTERDAM -- Many people do crazy things in middle age. I decided to write the libretto for an opera about Niccolo Machiavelli. It’s called “The New Prince,” premiering here this weekend at the Dutch National Opera.

When I began work on this project in 2014 with composer Mohammed Fairouz, the possibility that Donald Trump would be ...Read more


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