Last week was quite something in the annals of international politics. Just when the West thought it had enough problems with Moscow, mostly over Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin sent Russian military forces into Syria.
In the wake of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s resounding re-election victory, some Americans are worrying about the future of the “special relationship” — the more than century-long partnership between Britain and United States that helped get both nations through two world wars, the Cold War, and a host of lesser conflicts, crises and challenges.
In 2015, I predict that President Barack Obama will rethink his plan to have all operational U.S. combat forces out of Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
That goal was announced in spring 2014. It fit in the context of Obama’s longstanding goals, laid out in his 2012 reelection campaign, to end both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on his watch.
On Sept. 10, President Barack Obama outlined an overall strategy for countering the al Qaeda’ist movement that grandiosely calls itself the Islamic State. The president vowed to defeat and ultimately destroy it.
How is that campaign going? What are its prospects for success over the next few months to several years? Is it promising in both Iraq and Syria? My answer is a guarded yes, especially for Iraq (the Syria strategy is incomplete and will take longer to develop).
May 23 (Reuters) – In all the brouhaha about the Veterans
Administration – the alleged misconduct and malpractice in
Arizona, and the ensuing calls for the head of Secretary Eric
Shinseki – it is crucial that the issue not be treated solely as
a referendum on Shinseki, and on the Obama administration
The VA system is far too reluctant to ask for help from the
private sector in caring for the hundreds of thousands suffering
from the signature injuries of 21st century war: post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Many are asking: How can we stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from moving into Ukraine and seizing a large chunk of its territory in the east? The actions of forces that resemble the Russian special operations troops who created the conditions for annexation of Crimea suggest that other parts of Ukraine may also be in the Russian strongman’s sights.
The fact is, however, we cannot stop Putin. Or, to be more precise, we should not try to stop him physically. Doing so would require military threats or troop deployments to Ukraine. The stakes do not warrant such a step. It is not worth risking World War Three over this.
In a crisis moving extremely fast, it is dangerous to say this, but I’m at least somewhat less concerned about this upheaval in Ukraine than other people seem to be, for a couple of reasons.
One, to be blunt, is that Ukraine is not in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The United States is not militarily obliged to come to the defense of a country that is, in some degree, in peril. For Americans, that is some solace — for we have had more than enough of war in recent years. (I am, for similar reasons, against inviting Ukraine into NATO in the future — unless the basic character of the alliance changes and even Russia could be a part — which would clearly require some change in Russia as well.)
Dec 16 (Reuters) – China’s announcement of an air defense
identification zone (AIDZ) that covers substantial portions of
the East China Sea has unleashed a storm of concern among
China’s neighbors – as well as in the United States.
For China’s action reflects the deeper challenge now posed
by its growing military capability and international activism.
Vice President Joe Biden was on solid ground when he objected
strenuously to this new air defense zone during his recent trip
to the region.
President Barack Obama, in a January New Republic interview, was asked bluntly if the United States should actively intervene in Syria’s civil war. He thoughtfully explained his reservations. Several concerned Syria, but the last one pointed to larger ethical issues. “And how do I weigh,” Obama asked, “tens of thousands who’ve been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo?”
With this comment, Obama cut to the heart of an age-old dilemma about humanitarian military intervention — whether it is worth addressing some conflicts when you know that others continue to simmer, or boil over, at the same time?
As Hillary Rodham Clinton finished her last few weeks on the job, after a month of convalescence, how can we assess the secretary of state’s contributions?
The question is worth asking simply because of the job’s importance and its significance for U.S. national security. It is also relevant given Clinton’s unprecedented role in our national life over the last two decades.