The livestreamed slaughter of 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, has shined a spotlight on how terrorists employ social media. As The Post noted on Friday: “The New Zealand massacre video, which appeared to have been recorded with a GoPro helmet camera, was announced on the fringe chat room 8chan, live-streamed on Facebook, reposted on Twitter and YouTube and discussed on Reddit.”
This is horrifying but not surprising. Terrorism is inconceivable without mass media. Terrorists, after all, typically operate by themselves or in small groups. (The Islamic State is one of the few exceptions: It had grown into a quasi-state before being reduced to its terrorist roots.) They cannot hope to defeat their enemy — a powerful nation state — by brute force.… Seguir leyendo »
Weekend after weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron is dealing with sometimes violent protests from a populist movement known as the gilets jaunes (yellow vests). The protesters were galvanized by a plan to raise gasoline taxes, but they are still out in the streets even though the gas tax increase has been suspended. Now they’re demanding, among other things, default on the public debt, exit from the European Union and NATO, and less immigration. I’m dealing with a piece of the online fallout — and in the process learning a dispiriting lesson about how hard it is for a political leader to pursue a moderate path in an age of extremes.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s all too easy to become obsessed with our domestic political turmoil. President Trump, after all, has fired the attorney general and FBI director to protect himself from investigation, tried to prosecute that same FBI director along with his defeated political opponent, described the media as the “enemy of the people,” trafficked in blatant racism and xenophobia, misused troops for political ends, spread fraudulent theories about voter fraud to undermine his political foes, and lied with impunity and abandon.
Democracy is under siege in the United States — but not just in the United States. It’s a worldwide crisis. Democracy has already been destroyed in Turkey, Egypt, Venezuela, Thailand and Russia, and it is now being undermined in Poland, Hungary and the Philippines.… Seguir leyendo »
Imagine 125 million refugees flooding into the United States (population: 328 million). That is what Lebanon has experienced on a per capita basis. Since 2011, this nation of 4 million people has seen an influx of some 1.5 million refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war next door. “I find it a miracle this country hasn’t exploded,” a Western diplomat told me last week. “Most countries would never have allowed this to happen.”
This is the dog that didn’t bark — perhaps the most surprising good-news story in the Middle East. Lebanon has always been on the verge of collapse because of divisions among Sunnis, Shiites, Druze and Christians.… Seguir leyendo »
I am no fan of President Trump and I am ready to blame him for a lot of things — but not for the terrible bloodshed in the Gaza Strip on Monday. Yes, the confrontation between Palestinians and Israeli security forces occurred at the same time as the unveiling of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. And, yes, the embassy’s relocation could have been handled more smoothly and diplomatically. But it doesn’t mean that, if the embassy had stayed in Tel Aviv, peace and tranquility would have prevailed in Gaza.
Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza, would not accept any U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
“The era of liberal democracy is over.” So said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban last week as he began his fourth overall term in office. It’s a persuasive message coming from a self-proclaimed champion of “illiberal democracy” who has consolidated near-dictatorial power by fomenting anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic prejudice, rewriting electoral laws, and installing his cronies to run the media, law enforcement, the judiciary, cultural institutions, churches, schools and universities.
What Orban is doing in Hungary is reflective of a global trend. According to Freedom House, 2017 represented the “12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.” This is the era of strongmen, such as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin, Nicolás Maduro and Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, who have brutally snuffed out the remnants of democracy in their countries.… Seguir leyendo »
As a lifelong Republican; I don’t much care who runs the Democratic National Committee. But I am deeply disturbed by the way that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign as the DNC head over the weekend. WikiLeaks released 20,000 stolen emails revealing a clear, if unsurprising, preference for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders among Democratic officials. This appears to be a foreign intervention in American politics — and it may only be the beginning.
Last month, CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC, traced the source of the leaks to two groups of hackers (“Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear”) associated with two Russian intelligence agencies. … Seguir leyendo »
The entire world was surprised when, at the end of September 2015, Vladimir Putin suddenly started moving Russian aircraft, tanks and troops into Syria.
At the time, President Obama predicted the Russian intervention would fail.
«An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up [Syrian President Bashar] Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work,» Obama said.
This week, the world is equally dumbfounded by the Russian president’s announcement that he is withdrawing the «main part» of his forces in Syria. No one knows how big a part of the Russian military presence — consisting of some 4,000 troops and 50 combat aircraft — will return to the motherland or what exactly prompted this latest move.… Seguir leyendo »
The death of Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi has brought forth many critical obituaries, and a few glowing eulogies that focused on his pro-democracy rhetoric while ignoring his actual record as an ally of Muqtada Sadr and an enabler of Shiite Muslim death squads. Chalabi was truly the master of the long con: He continues to deceive his admirers from beyond the grave.
One point made in Chalabi’s favor is that he was right to warn Americans of the folly of nation-building in Iraq. This fits in nicely with the critique of the Iraq war adopted by some of its proponents: Overthrowing Saddam Hussein was a fine idea, but we shouldn’t have stuck around afterward.… Seguir leyendo »
Imagine President Franklin Roosevelt announcing at the end of 1944, after the liberation of France but before the final defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, that World War II was over and that U.S. forces were ending combat operations. Instead we would support our allies, from Britain to China, in their fight against the Axis powers.
Hard to imagine, but that’s roughly what happened Sunday when the International Security Assistance Command held a ceremony in Kabul to mark the “end” of the war in Afghanistan. “The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” President Obama trumpeted in a statement from Hawaii, where he is vacationing.… Seguir leyendo »
President Obama’s strategy in Syria and Iraq is not working. The president is hoping that limited airstrikes, combined with U.S. support for local proxies, will “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State. But while U.S. actions may have blunted the Islamic State’s expansion, they have not shaken the terrorist group’s control of an area the size of Britain. If the president is serious about dealing with the Islamic State, he will need to increase America’s commitment well beyond his recent decision to deploy 1,500 more advisers.
What will it take to achieve the president’s objective?
● Intensify airstrikes. When the Taliban lost control of Afghanistan between Oct.… Seguir leyendo »
There are no good options in Iraq right now. But some are worse than others. Three of the worst, unfortunately, are also the most popularly debated in Washington today: launch U.S. airstrikes without U.S. boots on the ground; work with Iran to fight ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; and/or break up Iraq into separate Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish states. All three options are alluring, but their appeal is fool’s gold.
Start with the idea of hitting ISIS with U.S. drones, sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and, possibly, manned bombers. This is the easiest policy, but it is also the least likely to succeed.… Seguir leyendo »
The growing disaster in Iraq has triggered anguished debate over two fundamental questions: What went wrong? And what do we do about it?
Surprisingly, many people who disagree vehemently about the former question (in particular, whether President George W. Bush or President Obama is more to blame) agree on the latter. Thus Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has consistently attacked the Obama administration for its foreign policy, suggests that the United States should work with Iran to counter the rapid advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). That idea was also advanced by Secretary of State John F.… Seguir leyendo »
Afghanistan had an election a few weeks ago. Iraq had one Wednesday. But that is about all that these two countries, both invaded by the United States in the last decade, have in common right now. Afghanistan is moving forward just as rapidly as Iraq is moving backward. It is a telling contrast, and one that should inform the looming decision about a U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014.
Iraq is being plunged deeper into the abyss of all-out civil war that it barely avoided in 2007 thanks to President George W. Bush’s troop «surge.» Today, violence is back up to 2008 levels as Al Qaeda in Iraq, now known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has returned from its near-death experience.… Seguir leyendo »
A great deal of diplomatic attention over the next few months will be focused on whether the temporary nuclear deal with Iran can be transformed into a full-blown accord. President Obama has staked the success of his foreign policy on this bold gamble. But discussion about the nuclear deal has diverted attention from an even riskier bet that Obama has placed: the idea that Iran can become a cooperative partner in regional security.
Although they won’t say so publicly, Mr. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry surely dream of a “Nixon to China” masterstroke. They are quietly pursuing a strategic realignment that, they believe, will end decades of semi-open warfare between Iran and the United States and their respective allies.… Seguir leyendo »
Prominent commentators, including Leslie Gelb, John Bolton and Bret Stephens, are counseling the Obama administration to swallow its qualms about the military coup in Cairo and embrace the generals as the best alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood. This is what might be called the «son of a bitch» theory of international relations, after the apocryphal comment supposedly made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza: «He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.»
This argument has some plausibility. There is no doubt that the United States derives strategic benefits from our alliance with Egypt’s generals — namely the upholding of the Camp David accords, transit rights in the Suez Canal and other forms of military and intelligence cooperation in the war on terrorism.… Seguir leyendo »
Hamid Karzai has been president of Afghanistan for a long time — since the end of 2001, when he was installed by a U.S.-led alliance. At the time, he seemed a charming, English-speaking leader with a colorful wardrobe who could craft a democratic, post-Taliban state.
Today Karzai is perceived, at least in the West, as erratic and unpredictable, an opportunist who has troubling ties to corrupt officials and abusive warlords. Far from consolidating democracy, Karzai has presided over the development of a deeply corrupt and abusive state that has allowed the resurgence of the Taliban. He is no George Washington. He is not even a Ramon Magsaysay or an Alvaro Uribe.… Seguir leyendo »
It is entirely fitting that the invasion of Iraq began, 10 years ago Tuesday, based on faulty intelligence: Our actions throughout the war were marred by miscalculation and wishful thinking time and again.
Ten years ago, we were wrong not just about whether Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (we now know that he had stopped his weapons of mass destruction program but didn’t want anyone, not even his generals, to know for fear that it would dispel his aura of power). Another crucial bit of misinformation marked the start of the U.S.-led attack: Intelligence agencies reported that Hussein and his sons were hiding in a bunker beneath the Dora Farms palace complex south of Baghdad.… Seguir leyendo »
The attack in Benghazi, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, was practically the only foreign policy issue to come up in the second presidential debate, and it’s sure to come up again in Monday’s final debate, which will be entirely devoted to foreign policy.
Last time around, much of the focus was on whether President Obama called it a «terrorist» act. The evidence on this score is ambiguous: In a Rose Garden statement on Sept. 13, the president did decry «acts of terror,» but it was not clear whether he was referring to Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States or Sept.… Seguir leyendo »
Whether you agree or disagree with President Obama, there is no doubt that he has formulated a coherent approach to the use of American power. The Obama Doctrine involves getting into a conflict zone and getting out fast without ground wars or extended military occupations. This approach proved its effectiveness in Libya last year.
But the president is not applying his own doctrine where it would benefit the United States the most — in Syria. One can certainly sympathize with his predicament. Syria is a mess, and it is tempting to stay out, especially in an election year. Yet inaction carries its own risks.… Seguir leyendo »