The Great Debate

The politics of Syria

By Bill Schneider
September 4, 2013

Congressional Democrats are in a bind. If they vote to authorize a military strike on Syria, they could be putting the country on a slippery slope to war. But if they vote no, they will deliver a crushing defeat to their president.

Obama’s flawed case for a Syria strike

By Ari Melber
September 3, 2013

We should not bomb Syria without a vital national security interest and a precise foreign policy objective.

Syria: What happened to diplomacy?

By Trita Parsi
September 3, 2013

There is a bizarre quality to the U.S. public debate about bombing Syria. Much time and effort has been spent analyzing President Barack Obama’s decision to finally call for a vote in Congress: whether this was a wise choice; what the repercussions of an attack may be; the (il)legality of acting without a United Nations Security Council mandate; the moral case for bombing, and the strategic case for restraint.

Common ground for Obama and Putin is offshore

By William E. Pomeranz
September 3, 2013

Low expectations surround the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg on September 5-6.

President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel the pre-G20 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin means the big photo op will likely be the two leaders awkwardly trying to avoid each other. The other headline-making issues in U.S.-Russian relations — Syria, nuclear weapons reduction, missile defense — also appear off the table now. There is one timely matter, however, that resonates with Washington, Moscow, and the entire G20 — the continuing fight against offshore tax havens.

from David Rohde:

Has Iraq shackled American power?

By David Rohde
August 29, 2013

In an extraordinary series of disclosures this week, Obama administration officials said that the United States will launch only cruise missile strikes in Syria. The attacks will last roughly two or three days. And the administration’s goal will be to punish President Bashar al-Assad, not remove him from power.

Obama on King, but in a passive voice

By Jeff Shesol
August 29, 2013

It was a sermon — of sorts.

President Barack Obama’s address at the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday only rarely echoed the cadence — the preacher’s rhythm — of the speech he was there to commemorate, and could not match its moral force. But this was a sermon all the same.

Fighting discrimination, as inequality grows

By Bill Schneider
August 28, 2013

I grew up in the segregated South. I tell students the story of how, as a young boy, I went with my mother to Bloomberg’s Department Store on High Street in Portsmouth, Virginia. There was a stack of doilies on the ladies’ hat counter and I asked my mother what they were for. She explained that a black woman had to put a doily on her head before trying on a hat, because a white woman would not purchase a hat that had been on a black woman’s head.

King’s legacy in the Age of Obama

By Michael Eric Dyson
August 28, 2013

When President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday, on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, he will inevitably be compared to Martin Luther King Jr., whose oration that day framed the moral purpose of the civil rights movement.

NSA: Listening to everyone — except oversight

By James Bamford
August 27, 2013

ILLUSTRATION: Matt Mahurin

For 35 years the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has been the judicial equivalent of a stellar black hole — everything goes in but nothing is allowed to escape.

The Case Against Natural Gas Exports

By Charles R. Morris
August 19, 2013

President Barack Obama has made middle-class jobs and natural gas two of his top second-term policy objectives. Both could be undermined if his Department of Energy (DOE) continues to approve gas industry applications for exporting American gas.