As an old Arab saying goes, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." But even though the U.S. and its allies, Russia, Iran, Iraq, the Kurds and Syria all have an urgent need to defeat ISIS, their competing interests make a solution difficult to achieve.
The last several weeks has seen some extraordinary developments in Russia's role in the Syrian Civil War. Russia has deployed 28 Suhkoi jet fighters, roughly two squadrons, in Syria. Originally believed to be SU-27s, NATO designation, "Flanker," satellite reconnaissance now indicates they are a mix of different variants.
Pope Francis and President Xi Jinping were both in Washington and New York this week for engagements at the White House and the United Nations. They didn't meet. But their paths certainly crossed. The pope made the moral case for tackling poverty and climate change. President Xi affirmed he will intensify the "reform and opening up" policies that have lifted 500 million people in China out of poverty over the last 30 years -- a feat accomplished more rapidly than any other society in history. And, as the leader of the world's second-largest economy, he pledged to join forces with the U.S. and others to spearhead the global battle against climate change. Francis' detractors may call him a "communist in a cassock" while Xi's party is Communist in name only, but this alliance of purpose that pairs the prayers of the pope with the formidable state capacity of China could actually move the big needle. (continued)
What started as a civil war in Syria nearly five years ago has now evolved into an international crisis unmatched by any other since World War II. The global community now has a solemn obligation to end this humanitarian disaster, but it cannot do so unless all the powers affected by the conflict set aside their differences.
hanks to a technicality in counting refugees, hundreds of outlets from Amnesty International to the Brookings Institution have claimed that Saudi Arabia has taken zero refugees -- a ludicrous, but rarely fact-checked statement given the comical lack of a "Great Arabian Wall."
Tonight on PBS, I'm joined by three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Thomas Friedman. In July, the influential New York Times columnist and bestselling author sat down for an exclusive interview with President Obama.
Saying that ISIS is a priority threat is ludicrous. It is a threat that needs to be eradicated immediately. But developments in Syria are not separate incidents divorced from each other. Every major movement in the country is closely linked.
The Syrian conflict has become a game of unfathomable numbers. And collective action from the international community has been slow.
Around the world, almost 900 million people go hungry every day. The precious crops and water that would sustain them are used to raise livestock. Moving to a meatless diet assures there will food for all of us.
Last week I stood inside the crumbling walls of the last synagogue in northern Iraq. Abandoned over sixty years ago, the 2700 year old tomb of Nahum, rests in the Christian town of Al Qosh.
To show how Byzantine the already complex Middle East political debate has become, my take on recent developments there will seem counter-intuitive to my long-standing fans (all three of you). For example, I support - gasp! - the recent U.S.-Iran nuclear deal.
"Forty years of crisscrossing the planet has led me to suspect that the world isn't growing smaller," the inveterate traveler and literary journalist Pico Iyer laments. "If anything, the differences, the distances between us, are growing greater than they've ever been. In the Age of Information, many of us know less about other perspectives and other cultures than ever before." This week, the Berggruen Institute announced the launch of a philosophy and culture center that responds to this rift by connecting minds across borders through an exchange of scholars from East and West that will be hosted at prestigious universities from Cambridge and Harvard to Stanford and Tsinghua in Beijing. In order to promote foundational concepts for the future, the center will co-sponsor an ideas contest with the Aspen Institute as well as establish an annual $1 million Nobel-like prize for philosophy. (continued)
The genie cannot be put back in the bottle and wars cannot "unhappen". Yet besides the humanitarian help which decency dictates should be offered to refugees, the resort to diplomacy instead of war would also help millions of people now fleeing their countries and trying to make a new life elsewhere.
They walk from the freeway in to the woods. Just under the whole in the fence there is a ditch, they cannot cross it so they head up again. We walk two hundred meters in and they finally find a place where they can cross. They ask me to pray for them, they wave and walk off in to the woods.
Howard Patrick didn't expect to be drafted. He was married, expecting a baby and had a job in the hot new world of high technology, working for IBM, the top of the mountain in those days. When his induction notice arrived, he was stunned -- and frightened.
One need not be prophetic to sense a bad outcome for the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Almost nothing has gone by plan since the Bush administration joined forces with the Northern Alliance in 2001 to kick the Taliban out of Kabul and into the tribal territories of Pakistan.