In the Meantime, in Iraq and Syria…
Mar04

In the Meantime, in Iraq and Syria…

Remember the announcement by a Central Command (Centcom) official two weeks ago of plans to retake Mosul from ISIL in “an operation that could begin as early as April and will require an Iraqi-led military force of at least 20,000 troops”? The controversial announcement drew swift and harsh criticism from many because it included information on not only timing and number and kinds of troops to be involved, but also on what some would...

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Putin and M.A.D.
Mar03

Putin and M.A.D.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States each had thousands of nuclear-armed missiles and different ways of delivering them to their targets. In addition to manned bombers carrying nuclear bombs or missiles there were intercontinental ballistic missiles in hardened silos in rural areas in the United States and the Soviet Union that could reach each other’s territory. And there were submarines carrying nuclear cruise...

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Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You
Mar02

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

I think it is fair to say that Bibi’s decision to come speak before Congress is the single most disastrous event for the state of pro-Israel sentiment in my lifetime. There’s blame to go around, and one can make the case for (or rather, against) all sorts. Personally, I’m extremely skeptical of Ambassador Ron Dermer’s influence given his background as a GOP political operative, but this ultimately falls on...

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Iran, Kerry and Israel’s existential challenges
Mar02

Iran, Kerry and Israel’s existential challenges

Israel will have to start thinking differently about its long-term security and existence, extrapolating from current indications about Secretary John Kerry’s nuclear negotiations with Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif this week in Montreux, Switzerland. Mindful of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s address to the joint meeting of Congress tomorrow, Kerry told a press conference in Geneva: “Any deal must close every potential pathway that...

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Yes Indeed: Venezuela Coup Attempts are Aided by Washington (La Jornada, Mexico)
Mar01

Yes Indeed: Venezuela Coup Attempts are Aided by Washington (La Jornada, Mexico)

Since Hugo Chavez was first elected president of Venezuela in 1999, the country’s leaders have charged the United States with overtly and covertly working to undermine its government, which Washington regards as hostile to its interests. Never mind that according to former President Jimmy Carter, Venezuela has ‘the best electoral system in the world.’ For Mexico’s La Jornada, columnist Angel Guerra Cabrera...

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Justifiable Fear of a Creeping Police State (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany)
Mar01

Justifiable Fear of a Creeping Police State (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany)

The recently reported theft by American and British intelligence of SIM card codes for potentially billions of smart phones around the world may be a tipping point in thinking about how much crime a democracy is willing to allow its spies to commit. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung columnist Jasper von Altenbockum writes that ‘If even American or British intelligence agencies are so unscrupulous, others will be even more...

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Is Russia Doomed to lose in Ukraine?
Feb27

Is Russia Doomed to lose in Ukraine?

Is Russia doomed to lose in Ukraine? Alexander J. Motyl in a piece in World Affairs (h/T to RealClearWorld) says it is, and it’s worth reading in full: So who’s winning the war in eastern Ukraine—Russia or Ukraine? The answer is not as simple as it might seem, because victory means different things for each side. A Russian victory could take one of two forms: territorial expansion into large parts of southeastern Ukraine or the...

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Make the deal with Iran
Feb27

Make the deal with Iran

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is clearly right — and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is wrong — about the Iran nuclear negotiations. But the broader and more consequential question of Iran’s place in the world is much more complicated. As I’ve written, I don’t fault Netanyahu for aggressively defending Israel’s interests as he sees them. Next week’s planned speech to...

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West Must Absorb: For Islamic State, the ‘End of Days’ has Begun (de Volkskrant, The Netherlands)
Feb26

West Must Absorb: For Islamic State, the ‘End of Days’ has Begun (de Volkskrant, The Netherlands)

When it comes to combating the Islamic State, what is the West missing? For de Volkskrant, author Adjiedj Bakas writes of what the word ‘Caliphate’ means to followers of so-called ‘Caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: ‘It is the duty of a caliph to conduct war and continue to conquer territory until a select group of chosen believers establish utopia on earth. An important part of this jihad is the terror...

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Do Americans want to send ground troops to fight ISIS? CBS Poll: Y-e-s
Feb19

Do Americans want to send ground troops to fight ISIS? CBS Poll: Y-e-s

Do Americans want to send ground troops to fight ISIS? A CBS poll finds the answer is yes, with the numbers growing: Amid more executions by the militant group ISIS, Americans increasingly see the group as a threat to the U.S. Now, 65 percent of Americans view ISIS as a major threat – up from 58 percent in October – while another 18 percent view it as a minor threat. Majorities of Republicans (86 percent), Democrats (61...

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With ‘Nuclear Taboo’ Broken, Putin Threatens the Whole of Humanity (Rzeczpospolita, Poland)
Feb18

With ‘Nuclear Taboo’ Broken, Putin Threatens the Whole of Humanity (Rzeczpospolita, Poland)

This much is clear, the ceasefire agreed to in Minsk has done little to dampen the alarm felt by most east Europeans about what they perceive as Russian expansionism. In this column from Poland’s Rzeczpospolita, senior commentator Janusz Rolicki writes that Russia’s new military doctrine fails to renounce the first use of nuclear weapons, which until recently was the centerpiece of the contemporary world. Rolicki believes...

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History Lessons Forgotten
Feb17

History Lessons Forgotten

A quote from the philosopher George Santayana’s writing- “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”- is frequently used when someone is trying to make a point for or against war, or halting a nation’s aggressive behavior. One of the reasons for this is the ambiguity of the quote, as it can be interpreted to support different positions. Yet, there is truth in what Santayana wrote. National leaders tend to ignore...

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What is the GOP’s Foreign Policy?
Feb16

What is the GOP’s Foreign Policy?

Doyle McManus recently observed in The Los Angeles Times that “Republicans haven’t quite worked out what their foreign policy ought to be, beyond “not Obama.” That’s partly because it’s still early in the campaign and the GOP boasts a bumper crop of potential candidates, some of them governors who never needed a foreign policy until now.   It’s also because one probable GOP candidate,...

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Updates: Ukraine Ceasefire ‘Largely Holding…’ (Perhaps Not So)
Feb16

Updates: Ukraine Ceasefire ‘Largely Holding…’ (Perhaps Not So)

Update II: And here is the State Department’s take on the crumbling ceasefire: The United States is gravely concerned by the deteriorating situation in and around Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission confirms that attacks continue in this area as well as other locations, including Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk, and Donetsk city. The Government of Ukraine reports that its forces have been fired on 129 times in...

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Boehner’s Stunning Fox News Interview: I Didn’t Want ‘Interference’ From Obama In Netanyahu Speech
Feb15

Boehner’s Stunning Fox News Interview: I Didn’t Want ‘Interference’ From Obama In Netanyahu Speech

Conservatives, conservative talkers and many conservative new media types like to suggest Speaker of the House John Boehner is not a real conservative. No, in fact, John Boehner is now appearing to be a virtual radical, if you read the interview he gave to Fox News. He is conducting institutional business in a way we have not seen it conducted before and (sigh) all the attempts to counter it with diversionary talk about Obama’s...

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Not too late to postpone Netanyahu speech (Guest Voice)
Feb12

Not too late to postpone Netanyahu speech (Guest Voice)

Not too late to postpone Netanyahu speech By now, it has become clear that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to address Congress on March 4 has become a disaster – not just for him but more importantly for the US-Israel relationship. From the beginning, one of the chief objections to the visit — and the reason so many supporters of Israel...

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The Death of  Kayla Jean Mueller – An Update
Feb10

The Death of Kayla Jean Mueller – An Update

More details of the tragic death of American hostage Kayla Jean Mueller are emerging. I will not include them in the initial post announcing her death and containing tributes to her life. Here is a separate update. While the parents of Kayla Mueller did not specify what proof they had received of their daughter’s death, the New York Times reports, “two people who had been briefed on the proof said it consisted of at least three...

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Germany’s Anti-Muslim Movement Spawns Anti-American Offshoot (Barbadillo, Italy)
Feb10

Germany’s Anti-Muslim Movement Spawns Anti-American Offshoot (Barbadillo, Italy)

Members of Germany’s anti-Islamization movement Pigeda have just launched a new one: European Patriots Against the Americanization of the West, aka/Pegada. The group, which is growing fast and held it’s first demonstration last month, calls the United States a ‘terrorist power,’ demands an end to U.S. spying and opposes the ‘colonialist’ Trans-Pacific Trade and Investment Partnership being...

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Munich Security Conference: U.S. and Germany Clash Over Salmon Canapés (Die Welt, Germany)
Feb10

Munich Security Conference: U.S. and Germany Clash Over Salmon Canapés (Die Welt, Germany)

U.S. and German leaders may pretend that disagreements over arming Ukraine have done nothing to shake relations between them, but reporting on the behind the scenes maneuvering at the ‘gastronomic highlight’ of the Munich Security Conference, Die Welt special correspondent Anna von Bayern informs that an icy atmosphere between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Defense Minister Defense Minister Ursula von der...

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Equal Rights in Greece
Feb10

Equal Rights in Greece

With the new Greek government and leftist Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, it appears that Greece is poised to start the process of allowing for new policies regarding LGBT individuals and same-sex couples. Some questions had risen last month following statements made by Tsipras when asked about adoption by same-sex couples, seeming to have moderated his tone by encouraging caution and dialogue on the issue. Although same-sex marriage...

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