Boomerang

April 1, 2012 by

Toulouse, Europe’s aerospace hub in the southwest of France, has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. A twenty-three-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin, Mohamed Merah, went on a shooting spree last month, killing seven people and terrorizing a million residents for ten days before a police sniper’s bullet ended his life. Among his victims were three unarmed soldiers, a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school.

Video: U.S. Commanders brief Congress on Afghanistan

March 21, 2012 by

Gen. John Allen and Defense Department Policy Undersecretary James Miller testified on Tuesday in front of the House Armed Services Committee on updates on the Afghan War following the alleged tragic shooting of 16 civilians by an American soldier. Congress is seeking updates from commanders on the ground in Afghanistan on a war that is increasingly unpopular after a decade of fighting.

Polling Shows Little Support for Syrian Intervention

March 20, 2012 by

Despite strenuous efforts by prominent neo-conservatives and other hawks, a war-weary U.S. public is clearly very leery of any armed intervention in what many experts believe is rapidly becoming a civil war in Syria, according to recent polls. In a survey released last week, the Pew Research Center found that only 25 percent of respondents said they believed the U.S. has a “responsibility to do something” about the year-old violence in Syria.

On Power and Delusions of Grandeur

March 18, 2012 by

First the video of United States Marines urinating on bodies of Afghans who had been killed. Then the revelation that copies of the Quran had been burned at Bagram Air Base, which also serves as an American prison camp in Afghanistan. Nearly thirty Afghans and several NATO troops died in the violent reaction. And as I mentioned in my column of March 4, the BBC Kabul correspondent described these events, and the violent public reaction to them, as the tipping point for NATO in the Afghan War.

More Bad News on the Afghan Front

March 13, 2012 by

While U.S. officials insisted their counterinsurgency strategy is still working, Sunday’s pre-dawn massacre by a U.S. staff sergeant of 16 people, including nine children, in their homes in Kandahar province has dealt yet another body blow to Washington’s hopes to sustain a significant military presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

Following Shooting in Afghanistan, Overall Question is Whether the Mission is Doable

March 12, 2012 by

The shooting of 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday by a U.S. soldier and the Koran burning on the Bagram air base several weeks ago have American officials questioning whether these two events will make it next to impossible for coalition forces to carry through with the mission as planned until 2014, when the U.S. is expected to leave Afghanistan.

Grasping the Syrian Quagmire

March 7, 2012 by

One of the most significant and enduring consequences of the Arab Spring has been the bloody uprising in Syria. For almost a year cities across the Levant have been defying the iron grip of the Assad regime and challenging the police state of the Ba’ath party. Of all the countries engulfed by the revolutionary fever encompassing the Arab World, Syria, a country of 23 million, epitomizes the toughest case.

Syria: A Way Out

March 3, 2012 by

There are two tales about the crisis in Syria. In one, the vast majority of Syrians have risen up against the brutality of a criminal dictatorship. The government of Bashar al Assad is on the ropes, isolated regionally and internationally, and only holding on because Russia and China vetoed United Nations intervention. U.S. Secretary to State Hillary Clinton describes Assad as “a war criminal,” and President Barak Obama called him a “dead man walking.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar Ratchet Up Pressure on Assad

March 3, 2012 by

Running counter to the wishes of the United States and other western nations, Saudi Arabia and Qatar recently announced that they are taking steps to arm the Free Syria Army (FSA). Despite the significance of this step, it is unlikely to shift the civil war in favor of the rebels. The FSA, armed with light weapons, suffered a number of strategic setbacks. Their tactical retreat from the Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs paints a picture of a rebel group that lacks the operational capacity to challenge the Assad regime directly.

Is Russia’s game in Syria worth playing?

February 9, 2012 by

On February 7, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Foreign Intelligence Service Director Mikhail Fradkov traveled to Damascus to help stabilize the situation in Syria by encouraging democratic reforms. The substance of President Dmitry Medvedev’s letter, which they delivered to Bashar al-Assad, was not disclosed, but experts point to the highly delicate nature of the Russian officials’ mission.

Healing Wounds: Seeking Closure for the 1915 Armenian Massacres

January 12, 2012 by

Recently the National Assembly, France’s lower legislative chamber, voted to criminalize the denial of the Armenian genocide in 1915, imposing a potential prison sentence of up to one year as well as a maximum fine of 45,000 Euros. The timing of this controversial initiative seemed to represent a rather blatant Sarkhozy bid for the votes of the 500,000 French citizens of Armenian descent in the upcoming presidential election.

Europe needs diet therapy to survive

January 10, 2012 by

The European Union, hobbled by its euro crisis and the debt of its southern members, requires some radical changes if it hopes to survive. The EU needs to undergo either a general or a local fiscal and constitutional surgery. Both options would be very painful, but this is all Brussels can do.

An EU oil embargo is unlikely to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions

January 8, 2012 by

Last week the European Union indicated that it is likely to enact an oil embargo on Iran. The move is aimed at damaging Iran’s crucial oil export business enough so the country’s regime curtails its nuclear ambitions but not enough to cause oil prices to spike. The recent EU policy shift moves the bloc in line with the US long-standing hardline approach to Iran.

U.S., Iran Both Squandered Opportunities for Détente

December 28, 2011 by

Veteran observers of U.S.-Iran relations know better than to be optimistic about the chances for reconciliation between the two countries. It has long been the pattern - indeed the curse - that when one side was ready to engage, the other was not. But even the most jaundiced of Iran experts succumbed to a smidgeon of hope in 2008 that the election of Barack Hussein Obama would shatter a three-decade-old stalemate.

Draghi’s Stealth Plan

December 20, 2011 by

Mario Draghi has settled on a plan to pull the EU banking system back from the brink and hammer down sovereign bond yields at the same time. The European Central Bank chief has announced that he will launch an emergency liquidity assistance program on December 21, that will provide “limitless” loans to struggling banks at rock-bottom rates (1 percent) for up to 3 years.

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