Let’s mix some metaphors in the Middle East, all of them involving elephants. In the crisis zone that encompasses Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, the Kurds are the elephant in the room. They are the “problem” that no one really wants to talk about. Because it would be stitched together from bits and pieces of… Continue reading The Kurdish Elephant
Alexis Tsipras had a choice. As the leader of the fledgling Syriza government in Greece, he could have told the European Union to stuff its austerity plan. He could have taken the risk that the EU would offer a better deal to keep Greece in the Eurozone. Or, failing that, he could have navigated his… Continue reading Greece, Iran, and the Rules of the Game
One of the greatest moments of U.S. diplomacy in the 20th century was Nixon’s opening to China. It was a surprise, a breathtaking opportunity, and a true game-changer. It was also one of the strangest political matches of all time. A president who had established his political bona fides as an anti-Communist crusader shocked everyone… Continue reading Iran Deal: Is Obama Channeling Nixon?
It would have been difficult, after the 2014 elections, to imagine that President Barack Obama could achieve much of anything in his last two years in office. After all, the opposition Republican Party had taken control of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections in 2014. The Supreme Court, led by the right-leaning Chief… Continue reading Obama’s Recent Victories
The Islamic State celebrated its one-year anniversary in customary fashion. Other organizations might sponsor parades and make speeches. ISIS spilled blood. A beheading in France, the murder of 38 tourists at a resort in Tunisia, and a bomb blast at a mosque in Kuwait all reminded the world, if it had somehow forgotten, that ISIS… Continue reading The Islamic State and the Terrible Twos
When George W. Bush put Iraq, Iran, and North Korea into his infamous “axis of evil” speech in 2002, the three countries seemed to have little to do with one another— except that Washington didn’t like them (and they didn’t like Washington). Iran and Iraq were enemies, not allies, and the inclusion of North Korea… Continue reading Reviving the Iran-North Korea Axis
The classic image of the dictator clinging to power, resisting the world’s entreaties to resign, and fending off internal attempts at ouster is that of an old man, stubborn and long past caring what others think. He’s been on the throne for so long that his name has become synonymous with the state — l’état… Continue reading The Young Dictator Problem
It was only a couple years ago that I was bemoaning Obama’s failure to fulfill his promise to resolve major confrontations in the world diplomatically. “Smart power,” in the Obama lexicon, had largely been window dressing on the same old exercise of hard power — the widespread drone strikes, the surge in Afghanistan, the intervention… Continue reading Obama’s Triple Crown
The full-page ad in this week’s Washington Post portraying President Obama as history’s favorite whipping boy, Neville Chamberlain, was wrong in nearly every one of its many strident particulars. It was wrong in suggesting that a nuclear agreement with Iran is appeasement. It was wrong in comparing Iran with Nazi Germany. It was wrong to argue… Continue reading Iran: Deal or No Deal?
Negotiators are rushing to meet an end-of-March deadline to reach a nuclear framework deal with Iran. The Obama administration and its P5+1 partners (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are willing to lift economic sanctions as long as Iran agrees to substantially curb its nuclear program for at least 10… Continue reading North Korea, Iran, and a Congress that Says No