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The secret to Henry Kissinger’s success

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 29:  Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee January 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the topic of global challenges and U.S. national security strategy.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Many think the retired diplomat’s closeness to one man — Richard Nixon — was the source of his power. That gets Kissinger dangerously wrong. By NIALL FERGUSON Politico About halfway through writing my biography of Henry Kissinger, an interesting hypothesis occurred to me: Did the former secretary of state owe his success, fame and notoriety not just to his powerful intellect and formidable will but also to his exceptional ability to build an eclectic network of relationships, not only to ... Read More »

They Were Bad. He May Be Worse.

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Historians have long looked to a few key criteria in evaluating the beginning of a president’s administration Sean Wilentz The New York Times First and foremost, any new president should execute public duties with a commanding civility and poise befitting the nation’s chief executive, but without appearing aloof or haughty. As George Washington observed at the outset of his presidency in 1789, the president cannot in any way “demean himself in his public character” and must act “in such a ... Read More »

“Don’t let Afrin become another Kobane”

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Academics and international human rights activists launched a petition calling upon world powers to act against Turkish aggression against Afrin ANF The petition, signed by academics and activists like Noam Chomsky, Michael Hardt and Debbi Bookchin, called for prevention of further Turkish attacks on Afrin. The full text of the petition reads as follows: “We, the undersigned academics and human rights activists, insist that the leaders of Russia, Iran, and the U.S. ensure that the sovereignty of Syrian borders is ... Read More »

Is America’s Alliance with Turkey Worth It?

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The most basic feature that the United States should expect from an ally is consistent, reliable behavior that benefits U.S. policy objectives. Ted Galen Carpenter The National Interest  Ideally, since America regards itself as a champion of democracy and freedom, an ally should embody those values as well, but Washington has never been a stickler for that standard. Indeed, the United States has a sordid history of collaboration with undemocratic, even odious, regimes when U.S. leaders believed that the relationship ... Read More »

Turkish troops shell Afrin to oust US-backed Kurdish militia

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Photo shows a portrait of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan from Afrin, along Syria’s northern border with Turkey (AFP) Al Arabiya AFP Turkey on Friday started shelling the Syrian town of Afrin held by a US-backed Kurdish militia that Ankara considers “terrorists” in a move to oust them, the defense minister said. The Turkish government has repeatedly warned that a full-scale operation against Syrian towns controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, including Afrin, is imminent after the ... Read More »

Russia, Iran open their arms as Turkey loses patience with U.S.

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LONDON — Relations between the U.S. and Turkey have hit a new low over Washington’s support of militias battling the Islamic State, according to analysts. F. Brinley Bruton NBC News The government in Ankara views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists. Experts warn that the crisis is resulting in Turkey — a longtime American ally with NATO’s second-largest standing army — turning away from the West and toward Russia and Iran. U.S. military support for Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are ... Read More »

Rex Tillerson signals an open-ended US military presence in Syria

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled for an open-ended US military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy. Tillerson also called for “patience” on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal. David Brunnstrom, Reuters  Business Insider The United States on Wednesday signaled an open-ended military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy to prevent Islamic State’s resurgence, pave the way diplomatically for the eventual departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and curtail Iran’s influence. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a speech at Stanford ... Read More »

Democracy has a future, if we rethink and remake it

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Consider Brexit, the election of US President Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s referendum, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy of state-sanctioned murder and Hungary’s drift towards a new authoritarianism. Authors The Conversation “Democracy is dead,” say the disheartened. “It’s time to bury democracy,” pounds one Tunisian pro-Sharia party. “Democracy has fallen, we need a new game in town,” argue Vladimir Putin’s populist and Xi Jinping’s neo-authoritarian allies. These mantras, circulated widely through social media, have ricocheted around the world ... Read More »

The Iran Nuclear Deal at Two: A Status Report

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The 2015 Iran nuclear accord is working, but is at risk from longstanding U.S.-Iran rivalry, Trump administration policies and Tehran’s upsurge of activism in the Middle East. ICG The deal’s other signatories should encourage the U.S. not to withdraw and consider ways to sustain the deal, regardless of U.S. actions and as long as Iran remains committed to it. What’s the issue? The 2015 Iran nuclear accord is as successful as it remains fragile. President Trump has warned he will ... Read More »

Trump Administration’s Fuzzy Math on Terrorist Origins is More than Misleading – It’s Dishonest

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Just as the Senate Judiciary Committee was getting ready to conduct an oversight hearing today with newly appointed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, her department, along with the Justice Department (DOJ) released a misleading report aimed at stoking anti-immigrant sentiment. Faiza Patel Just Security The headline of a press release trumpeting the report stated: “Three Out of Four Individuals Convicted of International Terrorism and Terrorism-Related Offenses were Foreign Born.” The obvious goal of the report, which was issued pursuant ... Read More »

‘Just like show business’: why celebrities are taking over politics

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Whatever one thinks about Donald Trump, it’s hard to deny that his presidency – or what purports to be a presidency – is entertaining in the extreme. Norman Abjorensen Brisbane Times In fact, so pervasively entertaining is the 24-hour non-stop Trump show – a heady mix of feeble script, hilarious ad lib and the utterly gobsmacking tweet – that you have to wonder when he gets the time to govern (if he does it at all). Suddenly, reality TV, where ... Read More »

Margaret Atwood faces feminist backlash on social media over #MeToo

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The Canadian author’s defence of due process for those accused of sexual misconduct sparked online ire Ashifa Kassam in Toronto The Guardian Canadian author Margaret Atwood is facing a social media backlash after voicing concerns about the #MeToo movement and calling for due process in the case of a former university professor accused of sexual misconduct. Writing in the Globe and Mail, Atwood described the #MeToo movement, which emerged in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, as a “massive ... Read More »

Turkey, Russia blast U.S.-backed Syria force as “terrorist army”

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BEIRUT – Russia, Turkey and the Syrian government on Monday denounced the U.S.-led coalition plans to form a Kurdish-led border force to secure the areas along Syria’s international border to the north with Turkey and to the east, with Iraq. CBS News AP The coalition told The Associated Press Monday that 230 new cadets have already been recruited to the force, which is anticipated to reach 30,000 troops in the next several years. According to the coalition, the core of ... Read More »

America is spiritually bankrupt

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We must fight back together The undeniable collapse of integrity, honesty and decency in our public and private life has fueled racial hatred and contempt Cornel West The Guardian We live in one of the darkest moments in American history – a bleak time of spiritual blackout and imperial meltdown. Exactly 25 years ago, in my book Race Matters, I tried to lay bare the realities and challenges to American democracy in light of the doings and sufferings of black ... Read More »

Chelsea Manning: Ex-army leaker to run for US senate

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Chelsea Manning, the former US intelligence analyst who was jailed for leaking classified documents, is seeking the Democratic Party nomination to run for the US senate in Maryland. BBC In 2013 Manning was sentenced to 35 years after being found guilty of 20 charges, including espionage. But former US President Barack Obama commuted her sentence. The 30-year-old, who was born Bradley Manning, will challenge Democratic Senator Ben Cardin for the nomination. The former US soldier moved to Maryland after being ... Read More »

From Siberia to Crimea: The Revenge of History in U.S.-Russian Relations

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One is tempted to conclude that the Washington foreign-policy establishment has learned little over the past century Lyle J. Goldstein The National Interest Strolling the cavernous and well-appointed halls of Russia’s carefully renovated Central Naval Museum [Центральный Военно-морской Музей] near the Neva River in St. Petersburg, one can find an assortment of interesting artifacts, not least the small skiff in which Peter the Great learned to sail more than three centuries ago now. Among the many captured battle standards from Sweden, Turkey ... Read More »