September 16, 2016 |
A vacation on Ireland's west coast should have provided relief from the depressing realities of the U.S. election season. But it's hard to escape when every Irishman or woman you meet asks the same question, differing only in the choice of adjective: "You Americans aren't really going to elect that awful (or dangerous or bigoted) Donald Trump, are you?" My reply: "I still believe most Americans have the common sense to grasp that Trump presents the greatest threat to U.S. security and democracy since the end of the Cold War. " Anyone who doubts the threat need only observe Trump's repeated praise for Russia's Vladimir Putin, which he continued last week.
September 12, 2016
I often wonder if Putin is human at all, or a frozen or iron statue. I wonder and can't find confirmation that he is a human being. - Anna Politkovskaya Five men were convicted in the shooting death of Anna Politkovskaya outside her Moscow apartment in 2006, but many believe the mastermind got away with murder. The outspoken critic of Russian leader Vladimir Putin was killed on Putin's birthday, spawning speculation that the journalist's assassination was a gift. Politkovskaya's death should be remembered in light of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's continued expressions of adoration for Putin.
August 23, 2016 |
Last week, Russian bombers flew out of Iranian air bases to attack rebel positions in Syria. The State Department pretended not to be surprised. It should be. It should be alarmed. Iran's intensely nationalistic revolutionary regime had never permitted foreign forces to operate from its soil. Until now. The reordering of the Middle East is proceeding apace. Where for 40 years the U.S.-Egypt alliance anchored the region, a Russia-Iran condominium is now dictating events. That's what you get after eight years of U.S. retrenchment and withdrawal.
August 6, 2016 |
In the 1870s, when Boss Tweed's Tammany Hall controlled New York City, and in the 1950s and 1960s, when Chicago's Democratic machine was especially rampant, there was a phenomenon that can be called immunity through profusion: Fresh scandals arrived with metronomic regularity, so there was no time to concentrate on any of them. The public, bewildered by blitzkriegs of bad behavior, was enervated. What Winston Churchill said about an adversary - "He spoke without a note and almost without a point" - can be said of Donald Trump, but this might be unfair to him. His speeches are, of course, syntactical train wrecks, but there might be method to his madness.
July 25, 2016
Last week Donald Trump laid out a deeply disturbing view of America's role in the world.The Trump Doctrine - if we can call this mass of contradictions a doctrine - embraces isolationism while simultaneously insisting Trump can swiftly destroy ISIS. It suggests we should abandon our closest allies, the democracies in NATO and Asia, even as Trump embraces autocrats like Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But what is scariest about the Trump Doctrine is that its author shows no grasp of what he is talking about and no desire to learn, even as he makes clear his belief that he, and he alone, knows everything.
July 19, 2016 |
'The most significant reinforcement of our collective defense any time since the Cold War," President Obama called it. A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but it was still an achievement: Last week's NATO summit in Warsaw ordered the deployment of troops to Eastern Europe, the alliance's most serious response yet to Russia's aggression and provocations on its western frontier. The post-Ukraine economic sanctions have been weak; the declamatory denunciations, a mere embarrassment. They've only encouraged further reckless Russian behavior - the buzzing of U.S. ships, intrusions into European waters, threats to the Baltic States.
June 6, 2016 |
It doesn't require a foreign-policy speech by Hillary Clinton to prove that Donald Trump is unfit to be commander in chief. But Clinton did the country a service last week by laying out the dangers of having Trump's hand on the nuclear trigger. She had only to quote some of Trump's bizarre foreign-policy statements and his rants against perceived enemies. These include U.S. judges; journalists; the Republican governor of New Mexico; U.S. allies such as Germany's Angela Merkel and Britain's David Cameron; Pope Francis; and just about anyone who displeases him. The Donald's temperament problem is all too apparent.
May 5, 2016 |
Last month, unarmed Russian fighter jets buzzed within 30 feet of a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea and also barrel-rolled a U.S. reconnaissance plane flying over that sea. In part, these provocative stunts were a message from Moscow of its continuing displeasure at the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, former Soiet republics that had the temerity to join the European Union and NATO. Equally outrageous - from a Kremlin perspective - Baltic leaders are demonstrating how Europe could break away from its dangerous energy dependence on Russia, which Moscow cleverly wields to manipulate European politicians.
February 29, 2016 |
We've entered an era in which strongmen are in vogue and democracy is taking a hit worldwide. So it's really depressing in this dismal election season to watch how oblivious the leading GOP candidate is to the threats posed by authoritarian rulers. It's equally depressing to watch the GOP - in the battle over replacing Justice Antonin Scalia - undermine the institutional protections that shield us from this global trend. In the last, most raucous Republican debate, Donald Trump said the Middle East would be better off "if we had Saddam Hussein and we had [Moammar]
February 12, 2016 |
Vladimir Putin seems to be the only leader who knows what he's doing in Syria. While the Obama team was desperately pursuing a diplomatic solution to the conflict, Putin was busy with more practical matters: cementing his proxy Bashar al-Assad in power by military force. Backed by indiscriminate Russian airpower, Syrian troops and foreign fighters trained by Iran have nearly encircled Syria's second-largest city, Aleppo, a key rebel base. At Thursday's talks in Munich, the United States, Russia and other powers agreed on a vague "cessation of hostilities" - not a formal ceasefire - that supposedly will take place in a week.