As the Biden administration scrambles to find ways to bring down soaring gas prices, several old ideas are gaining new life in public debate and inside the White House. The latest is a proposal to ban or restrict U.S. oil exports, which wouldn’t fix the problem and would very likely hurt our European allies while handing a financial windfall to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On June 16, Bloomberg News reported that the White House is considering capping U.S. exports of gasoline and diesel fuel, a step short of a full ban on all petroleum product exports. The White House’s National Economic Council has already been exploring legal justifications for restricting exports, the report stated, because the president doesn’t have explicit authority to make this unprecedented move.… Seguir leyendo »
While appealing to Asian nations for support to fend off Russia’s invasion on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the international community should help Taiwan resist China’s aggression now, before Beijing attacks the island democracy it claims as its own province.
The comments risk upsetting Ukraine’s delicate balancing act with China; nevertheless, Zelensky insisted that aggressors must be confronted wherever they emerge. Asian countries must not wait for the crisis to act on Taiwan’s behalf, which would be repeating the mistake Europe made before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.
Zelensky’s remarks followed a video address he made to the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual conference of Asian and Pacific defense and diplomatic officials organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.… Seguir leyendo »
Before U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet made her long-awaited tip to China last week, the Biden administration and the human rights community urged her not to let Beijing turn the visit into a propaganda win for the Chinese Communist Party. But Bachelet ignored those warnings. Her trip ended up helping China deny its genocide against Uyghur Muslims and other repressive policies, harming the cause of human rights accountability in the process.
On Saturday, Bachelet completed her six-day trip to China, the first in 17 years by someone with her title, with a statement to the media that summed up a visit many observers view as a tragic failure.… Seguir leyendo »
The U.S.-led effort to thwart Russian President Vladimir Putin is being actively undermined by America’s supposed Persian Gulf allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The dictators who run these petrostates are raking in profits from oil sales while sky-high prices are filling Putin’s coffers and hurting the U.S. and European economies. With friends like these, who needs enemies? And why is the Biden administration playing along?
As Putin uses Russia’s energy to both blackmail and punish the West for helping Ukraine, Saudi Arabia’s de factor ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS) and UAE Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (known as MBZ) have been rejecting calls to do the one thing in their power that would help: pump more oil.… Seguir leyendo »
Chinese President Xi Jinping is watching his friend Russian President Vladimir Putin fumble Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and learning from Putin’s errors, senior U.S. military officials believe. And if China should ever decide to attack Taiwan, Xi will surely apply the lessons he has learned — which means we in the West must also quickly adjust our plans for Taiwan’s defense.
The Chinese government insists that the Ukraine and Taiwan situations are different and that China has no plans to attack the island it claims as its own. But the Taiwanese government correctly recognizes the overwhelming similarity between its situation and that of Ukraine: Both are small democracies menaced by aggressive, nuclear-armed dictatorships threatening to wipe them off the map.… Seguir leyendo »
As the United States and Europe continue to scramble to help Ukraine defend its territory, preserve its democracy and save its economy, they should keep in mind that Ukraine is not the only country in the region suffering due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression. Next door, the small country of Moldova is appealing to the West for urgent help and long-term partnership. If we turn away from Moldova, again, we will push it into Putin’s arms.
“The Russian military aggression in Ukraine is making every single person in Europe feel less secure and is having a negative impact on every single person in Europe”, Moldova’s foreign minister, Nicu Popescu, told me in an interview this week in Washington.… Seguir leyendo »
Over the past few weeks, the world has been understandably transfixed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s horrific invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, though, his close ally Chinese President Xi Jinping has been quietly taking advantage of the West’s distraction by expanding China’s sphere of influence in the South Pacific. If Washington doesn’t wake up to this threat, China’s efforts to dominate the region will gain dangerous and perhaps irreversible momentum.
Officials and experts throughout Asia expressed shock last month when a leaked document emerged showing a draft of a “security cooperation” agreement between China and the Solomon Islands, a small former British colony in the South Pacific that has been independent since 1978.… Seguir leyendo »
The horrific images emerging from Ukrainian cities and towns such as Bucha, where retreating Russian forces left behind the corpses of slaughtered civilians, have shocked the world. Even more troubling is the realization that these atrocities are widespread and likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Therefore, Israel’s balancing act of maintaining its ties to Russia while offering only tepid support for Ukraine is becoming morally and strategically untenable.
Israel has not joined Western sanctions on Russia. Israel has given humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, but won’t provide military equipment such as air defense systems or even spy software. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett won’t even use the phrase “war crimes” when referring to Russian war crimes in Ukraine, although his foreign minister finally uttered that phrase this week.… Seguir leyendo »
More than two weeks have passed since Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to NATO ally Slovakia, where he discussed transferring that country’s most advanced air defense system to Ukraine. But as Russian missiles continue to rain down on Ukrainian hospitals, schools and apartment buildings, there’s no visible progress. As a result, Congress is losing patience and Ukrainians are losing their lives.
Standing next to Austin in Bratislava on March 17, Slovakian Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad’ said his country was ready to transfer the Russian-made S-300 missile defense system, which the Ukrainians know how to operate, “immediately”. Compared to what Ukrainian forces have now, the S-300 could cover more ground and intercept more advanced incoming aircraft and missiles, potentially saving a lot of civilians.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week, President Biden described Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a war criminal” for ordering attacks on innocent civilians in Ukraine. For Syrians, Biden’s comments are welcome but about seven years too late, considering that the Russian military has been committing war crimes there (in collaboration with Bashar al-Assad’s regime) since 2015. Perhaps if the world had held Putin accountable then, he wouldn’t be committing war crimes in Ukraine now.
Biden’s response to a reporter’s shouted question last Thursday came after administration officials spent weeks dancing around the term “war criminal”, pending a formal legal review. But Biden was just acknowledging what everyone could see: Russian forces are committing blatant and deliberate attacks on civilians all over Ukraine.… Seguir leyendo »
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine is coming soon to the country’s third-largest city, Odessa, often called Ukraine’s “southern capital”. The people of the city are in desperate need of weapons and humanitarian aid to survive the coming onslaught. So far, though, the international community isn’t focused enough on this crucial battle — and the window of opportunity is closing.
Odessa’s mayor, Gennadiy Trukhanov, told me during an interview that he doesn’t know exactly when Russian forces will attack, but ominous signs are everywhere. Russian warships are probing the Black Sea beaches and shelling parts of the coastline, indications an amphibious invasion force might soon be on the way.… Seguir leyendo »
In parts of Ukraine that were relatively safe for the first three weeks of the war, the situation on the ground is deteriorating fast. In the Khmelnytskyi region, which sits astride the vital humanitarian and military supply route from Poland to Kyiv, relative quiet has given way in recent days to the sounds of exploding Russian missiles. As the war comes to his region, the governor there told me he has one urgent request for the West: Close the skies.
“We need to have a no-fly zone, that’s the most important thing, so the civilians will not be bombed”, Sergiy Gamaliy, the governor of Khmelnytskyi region, told me during an interview.… Seguir leyendo »
Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the Chinese government has attempted to portray itself as a neutral player or even a potential key to solving the crisis. In reality, Chinese President Xi Jinping is acting as Putin’s co-conspirator. Make no mistake. China has made its choice — and it’s not siding with Ukraine or the West.
It’s not surprising that Western observers are confused by China’s foreign policy, especially on Ukraine. In its public diplomacy, Beijing claims that its foreign policy is rooted in concepts like noninterference and respect for state sovereignty. Just days before the invasion, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a European audience that this applied directly to Ukraine.… Seguir leyendo »
From an undisclosed location inside Ukraine’s second-largest city on Thursday, the mayor of Kharkiv tells me he can hear bombs exploding as our interview begins. He is trying to run a city that’s under siege, where the citizens are dodging missiles and fighting for their lives, running out of food, shelter and time as an invading foreign army closes in. But Kharkiv will neither succumb nor surrender, he said.
“There is no question over whether the city will give up,” Mayor Igor Terekhov said. “We will not give up.”
Terekhov is responsible for the well-being of Kharkiv’s 1.5 million residents during the city’s greatest crisis, a scenario he could not have predicted when he won the election last November, after serving as acting mayor for about a year following the covid-related death of his predecessor.… Seguir leyendo »
Ukrainians have joined a gruesome but not-so-exclusive club — victims of unprovoked Russian military attacks and reported war crimes. The Syrian opposition, which has been attacked by Russian forces for almost seven years, has some advice for Ukrainians on surviving Russian military assaults and fighting invading Russian soldiers. They say that each day Ukrainians resist Russian aggression and fight for their homeland is a victory against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Syrian opposition is standing in solidarity with Ukrainians, as it did in 2014, when Russia first invaded Ukraine. After Putin took his first chunk of Ukraine by force when he invaded eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea, he deployed the Russian military to help the Bashar al-Assad regime, Iran and Hezbollah kill civilians rallying for freedom and democracy in Syria.… Seguir leyendo »
In August 2008, as Russian tanks advanced through Georgia’s sovereign territory and headed toward the capital, Tbilisi, President George W. Bush announced that he was mounting a U.S. military airlift to Georgia under the banner of “humanitarian assistance.” Those U.S. Air Force planes, once on the ground in Tbilisi, never took off again. If Vladimir Putin wanted to take Tbilisi, he was going to have to go through the United States. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to Tbilisi to help secure a truce. This mix of military pressure and diplomacy worked. Putin halted his advance.
The capital city and Georgia’s young democracy were saved.… Seguir leyendo »
The United States and its European allies just spent three days celebrating their unity in opposing Russia’s presumptive invasion of Ukraine — and promising to punish Moscow after an attack. But that unity comes as little comfort to the Ukrainians, who are bracing for war. In their view, the West is failing them — and they are right.
This weekend at the Munich Security Conference, which I attended, U.S. and European officials sang the song of “unity” again and again. Verses came from Vice President Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as well as from the leaders of NATO, the European Union, Germany, Britain and others, both on the main stage and in the private meetings at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof.… Seguir leyendo »
During his four years in office, President Donald Trump tried to execute a sharp pivot in U.S. policy toward China, abandoning a 45-year-old foreign policy consensus aimed at persuading China to become more like the West. His administration’s strategy checking Chinese military and economic expansion through sanctions and tariffs was a sensible response to the regime of Xi Jinping. But the erratic and sometimes clumsy implementation by Trump’s dysfunctional mix of GOP hawks and MAGA aides prevented it from gaining broad acceptance in Washington or around the world.
To the surprise of many in Washington and Beijing, the Biden administration has largely followed Trump’s lead, keeping U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
While we are distracted by the looming war in Europe, the “genocide Olympics” in China and the never-ending pandemic, the last hope for a successful Arab democracy in the Middle East is fading. Tunisia, the only real success story from the Arab Spring, is slipping into the autocratic abyss — and the United States is nowhere to be seen.
Last July, When President Kais Saied sacked the prime minister, dissolved the parliament and turned the military on his political opponents, the international community generally expressed cautious optimism that Saied would quickly hand back the power he had just grabbed. Despite warnings that he was perpetrating a “self-coup”, the Biden administration decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.… Seguir leyendo »
When the Winter Olympics officially begin Friday in Beijing, U.S. diplomats and international fans won’t be the only ones missing from the festivities. Olympic athletes from multiple countries who want to show solidarity with the victims of the Chinese government’s human rights abuses have been quietly preparing to boycott the Opening Ceremonies, according to human rights activists who have been helping to educate and organize them.
For several months, U.S.-based activists have been meeting with Olympic athletes from several Western countries to urge them to speak out on the Chinese government’s mass atrocities and severe repression of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers and other groups inside China.… Seguir leyendo »