The Great Debate

The scariest thing about Islamic State? Its kinder, gentler side.

November 27, 2015
A member of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant watches men in a "tug of war" contest during an Islamic quiz and games contest in a public square in Raqqa, September 25, 2013. Picture taken September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer  (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT RELIGION SOCIETY) - RTX14110

A member of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant watches men in a “tug of war” contest during an Islamic quiz and games contest in a public square in Raqqa, September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Why the U.S. sticks with an ineffective strategy against Islamic militants

November 24, 2015
Participants: Jason Fields, Matthew Gault, Joseph Trevithick

Predator and Reaper drones hang in the sky above Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria. Mostly they observe, search for targets – and occasionally they unleash Hellfire missiles. Targets may be large gatherings of suspicious figures, convoys or training camps. They can also be private houses, and sometimes they turn out to be weddings.

How the Kremlin turns extremist attacks to its own advantage

November 24, 2015
People place photos of victims of a Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt, during a commemoration meeting at Dvortsovaya Square in St. Petersburg, Russia  November 1, 2015. An Airbus A321, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia under the brand name Metrojet, carrying 224 passengers crashed into a mountainous area of Egypt's Sinai peninsula on Saturday shortly after losing radar contact near cruising altitude, killing all aboard. Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a day of national mourning for Sunday. REUTERS/Peter Kovalev - RTX1UA59

People place photos of victims of a Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt, during a commemoration meeting at Dvortsovaya Square in St. Petersburg, Russia November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Kovalev

How an ugly, brutally effective warplane won the battle for its future

November 24, 2015
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft from Bagram Air Base flies a combat mission over Afghanistan, in this handout photograph taken on June 14, 2009 and obtained on May 20, 2014. A U.S. Congressional panel has rejected the military's proposal to retire the entire fleet of A-10 close-air support planes, as the annual defense policy bill continues to make its way through the House of Representatives. The White House said retiring the planes would save $4.2 billion through 2019. Picture taken June 14, 2009. REUTERS/Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson/U.S. Air Force/Handout via Reuters (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: TRANSPORT MILITARY) ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RTR3Q210

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft from Bagram Air Base flies a combat mission over Afghanistan, in this handout photograph taken on June 14, 2009 and obtained on May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson/U.S. Air Force/Handout via Reuters

In Syria, the joke’s on Washington

November 24, 2015
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (C) attend a meeting on Russian air force's activity in Syria at the national defence control centre in Moscow, Russia, November 17, 2015. Russia said on Tuesday it had stepped up air strikes against Islamist militants in Syria with long-range bombers and cruise missiles after the Kremlin said it wanted retribution for those responsible for blowing up a Russian airliner over Egypt. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/SPUTNIK/Kremlin ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. - RTS7KOT

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (C) attend a meeting on Russian air force’s activity in Syria at the national defence control centre in Moscow, Russia, November 17, 2015. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/SPUTNIK/Kremlin

What the Paris attacks and the fall of Rome have in common: Nothing

November 20, 2015
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The ruins of the Roman city of Ephesus in Turkey in 2007. COURTESY of Jason Fields

No, the Paris attacks don’t signal the end of Western Civilization

November 20, 2015
The Colosseum in Rome in May 2009. COURTESY of Jason Fields

The Colosseum in Rome in May 2009. COURTESY of Jason Fields

PARIS — In the days since the Paris attacks, the Place de la République — the majestic square near the Bataclan Theater, and five minutes on foot from my apartment — has become a kind of free university. At its center stands a 30-foot statue of Marianne, defiant symbol of the republic, trimmed now with candles, placards, and anti-terrorist graffiti. It is a place where France teaches itself about itself.

What 100,000 U.S. boots on the ground get you in Syria

November 19, 2015
U.S. Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles drive through Camp Adder before departing what is now known as Imam Ali Base near Nasiriyah, Iraq  December 16, 2011. The last convoy of U.S. soldiers pulled out of Iraq on Sunday, ending their withdrawal after nearly nine years of war and military intervention that cost almost 4,500 American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives.   Picture taken December 16, 2011.  REUTERS/Mario Tama/Pool   (IRAQ - Tags: CONFLICT MILITARY POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR2VDWY

U.S. Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles drive through Camp Adder before departing what is now known as Imam Ali Base near Nasiriyah, Iraq December 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Tama/Pool

How Western politicians are playing into Islamic State’s hands

November 19, 2015
A migrant from Syria carries his bicycle on railway near the Greek border in Macedonia  June 17, 2015.  Hungary announced plans on Wednesday to build a four-metre-high fence along its border with Serbia to stem the flow of illegal migrants. Several thousand migrants are daily crossing the Balkans towards Hungary on their way to other European Union countries. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski  - RTX1GZ3Y

A migrant from Syria carries his bicycle on railway near the Greek border in Macedonia June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski –

Islamic State has become an existential threat to the West

November 18, 2015
Militant Islamist fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. The fighters held the parade to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" after the group captured territory in neighbouring Iraq, a monitoring service said. The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), posted pictures online on Sunday of people waving black flags from cars and holding guns in the air, the SITE monitoring service said. Picture taken June 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR3WKNM

Militant Islamist fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria’s northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer