May 4, 2015 |
ZAATARI CAMP, Jordan - When 13-year-old Majid fled with his family from southern Syria in 2013 to escape shelling by government forces, he left everything behind, including his dreams. Looking older than his 15 years, his face perspiring under dark stubble, a dirty green sweatshirt hanging loosely on his rangy frame, Majid spoke to me in his new home, a small, bare trailer in the Zaatari refugee camp near Mafraq, Jordan - now the second-largest refugee camp anywhere. Sitting on one of several floor mats, the only furniture in the trailer, he had just returned from a workday spent chopping stones to make gravel that could be used in concrete.
January 19, 2015 |
While Europeans worry about those who have gone to Syria to train with ISIS, millions of Syrian children are at risk of becoming terrorist recruits. According to a 2014 report by UNICEF (the U.N. agency for children), at least three million children are displaced in Syria, and more than 1.2 million have fled to neighboring countries. They have been bombed and shelled, seen family members slaughtered, and are forced to live in camps or abandoned buildings. Half of them no longer have any schooling.
June 9, 2014 |
Late last month, an American from Florida blew himself up in a suicide attack in Syria. Here's the good news: Moner Mohammad Abusalha's truck bomb was aimed at Syrian government forces, not at some building in New York City. The bad news: As many as 70 Americans and 3,000 Europeans are among more than 7,000 foreigners from 50 countries fighting with Syrian rebel groups linked to al-Qaeda. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says these groups are already training people "to go back to their [home]
May 16, 2014 |
On Tuesday, the utter failure of White House efforts on Syria became embarrassingly public. Lakdhar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy who had brokered Syrian peace talks in Geneva, quit in frustration. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon singled out Syrian government stonewalling as a key cause of failure. So much for administration hopes of finding a political solution. Also on Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius made an undiplomatic public critique of President Obama's failure to use force as he had pledged if Assad used chemical weapons.
May 5, 2014 |
As he was traveling in Asia last week, President Obama let loose with a broadside against critics who say his foreign policy is too weak. "Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we've just gone through a decade of war. . .?" he demanded at a news conference in Manila. "Many who were proponents of . . . a disastrous decision to go into Iraq haven't really learned the lesson of the last decade, and they keep on just playing the same note over and over. " His job as commander-in-chief, he added, is "to deploy military force [only]
April 28, 2014 |
There's growing evidence that the Syrian regime has been gassing civilians again, sending helicopters to unload barrel bombs filled with canisters of chlorine on women and children. Chlorine gas, used to brutal effect in World War I, turns to hydrochloric acid in the lungs, which can lead to internal burning and drowning. But the gas was not on the list of chemical weapons banned by a U.S.-Russian accord in 2013. Clearly, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad feels free to thumb his nose at the White House, despite the epic humanitarian crisis he's caused for Syria and its neighbors.
March 31, 2014 |
Dear President Obama: Last week, you were super-busy in Europe, warning Vladimir Putin not to invade eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, Moscow's takeover of Crimea is a done deal, and there's even more worrying stuff going on elsewhere. Your CIA chief, John Brennan, just told a House panel that al-Qaeda central is now using Syrian territory to train Western jihadis to attack Europe and America. In Afghanistan (remember Afghanistan?), Taliban bombers are threatening this week's elections.
March 17, 2014 |
The Russian invasion of Ukraine should finally end the administration's fantasy that Moscow will help stop the war in Syria. And it ought to force the White House to forge a new strategy to deal with the most shocking humanitarian crisis of the century, which is spilling over from Syria to all of its neighbors. Otherwise, the level of human suffering will get much, much worse. U.S. officials have insisted for three years that there was no military solution in Syria; they clung to delusions that Russia would convince Bashar al-Assad to make way for a transitional government and free elections.
February 21, 2014 |
To understand why President Obama's Syria policy has failed so badly, look no further than the brutal regime crackdown on political protesters in Ukraine. The link is Vladimir Putin. U.S. officials foolishly banked on the Russian leader to squeeze Syria's dictator into a political compromise at Geneva peace talks. But Putin - who prides himself on displays of bare-chested machismo - disdains political compromise. He prefers strongmen, whether in Syria, Ukraine, or elsewhere, and will back Bashar al-Assad, no matter his war crimes.
January 31, 2014 |
D iplomacy , diplomacy , diplomacy . Partners , partners . These were the buzzwords President Obama hammered home in the foreign policy portion of his State of the Union address, as the core of his global strategy for the next three years. "America must move off a permanent war footing," he said. "I strongly believe our leadership and our security cannot depend on the military alone. " Instead, we have to build "the capacity of our foreign partners" and engage in "strong and principled diplomacy.