Prague and a Pardon
The principal motivation for Donald Trump’s pardon of I.
The missile strike against Syria in response to an alleged chemical attack has given many people a cathartic moment without having to produce any new and effective ideas about how to deal with the ugly conflict in Syria. For President Trump, it was an opportunity to follow his guiding principle of doing something different from what Barack Obama did. On policy toward Syria, he has struggled to find such opportunities. For many customary critics of Trump, supporting the strike has been an opportunity to look tough on Syria and to avoid looking like reflexive oppositionists. One might add
This week John Bolton assumes the job of national security adviser. Given that a key function of that position is to ensure that the bureaucracy provides the relevant options and most accurate information to the president before major national security decisions, it is hard to think of anyone more ill-suited to that duty. Bolton's method of policy formation has been to try to bully any part of the bureaucracy that does not subscribe to his personal agenda, and to try
Impending decisions about U.S. troops in Syria will be the next significant outcome of the continuing tussle, between a president’s urges and his appointees, that constitutes Donald Trump’s foreign policy. Given Trump’s limited attention span and the erratic way in which he allows others to influence his decisions, however, policy on Syria will not necessarily reflect a larger pattern extending to other issues.
Two recent pieces of news highlight, one indirectly and the other directly, the plight of inhabitants of the miserable patch known as the Gaza Strip. The indirect report involves demographic data, based on official Israeli numbers that surfaced in a parliamentary inquiry, showing that in all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, there are now about as many Arabs as Jews. It has long been obvious that this point
The sudden attention to the exploitation, including for political purposes, of information on millions of Facebook users in ways that ought to make those users uncomfortable—and to how Facebook does not seem to have cared about such abuses—has been tardy and myopic even though the attention is fully justified. It took the story about Cambridge Analytica’s mining of Facebook data to get that attention, even though the probability of such unwelcome exploitation of personal information has existed since the dawn of social media.
Donald Trump appears poised to make one of the most damaging moves yet of his presidency: to pull out of the multilateral agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that severely restricts Iran’s nuclear program and closes all pathways to a possible Iranian nuclear weapon. Iran is adhering—as inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency have repeatedly certified—to its obligations under the agreement. Despite this record, Trump’s administration already has been violating U.S.
John Bolton has a glaring record of extreme and bombastic views and behavior. First-hand recollections of that record include, for example, former State Department officer Greg Thielmann's description of Bolton’s performance as one of the most enthusiastic promoters of the Iraq War. The following passage from my 2011 book Intelligence and U.S.
One of the more intriguing news reports about the rapid rise to power of the 32-year-old Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), concerns how he isolated his mother, placing her under house arrest for a time. He kept her away from his father, the mentally declining King Salman, and devised phony explanations to the king as to why she was out of sight for so long. MbS reportedly was worried that his mother might have opposed his power grab and in the interest of family uni
The prospective replacement of Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo clears one of the last apparent hurdles between Donald Trump and his destruction of a significant diplomatic achievement that has been squarely in the interests of the United States, of nuclear nonproliferation, and of the containment of conflict in the Middle East. This is, of course, the multilateral agreement that restricts Iran’s nuclear program, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). There is ample reason to worry that such destruction is a step toward an even worse consequence: