With almost a year before Valentine's Day hits again, the Obama administration has time to take an unsparing look at the ever-growing crowd of American allies and ally-wannabes. It's time for Washington to send the equivalent of a "Dear John" letter to a half dozen foreign capitals.
Why does the Saudi government deny freedoms of speech, religion and political association to it citizens? As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, why does Saudi Arabia imprison a young man who committed no crime, who only created a blog calling for freedom?
It probably applies to both genders. I should start by saying this is not a scientific sampling; it's just women I met from different religions and backgrounds. This is what I found from my own interviews:
If nothing else, the tapes show the most senior advisers to Sisi discussing the minutiae of how to fix evidence and make a barracks look like a prison. The tapes establish a prima facie case for the involvement of officials at the highest levels of the state in the abuses that are going on. They even boast about them.
One would think that those fabulously blessed royals and sheikhs would be lining up to donate a tiny fraction of their vast treasure to the UNHCR's attempts to mitigate the catastrophe that has overtaken millions of their Sunni Arab brethren. But, one would be wrong.
This week, the White House held a Summit on Combating Violent Extremism. Walking through the Albuquerque airport on the day of the Summit, I was surprised to see a TV headline ask the question, "Is ISIS a religious group?" It is an absurd question. Of course it is a religious group.
In this rapidly changing environment, U.S. foreign policy needs to be both fresh and nimble. Sadly, it has been neither, preferring instead a seat of the pants approach that only serves to emphasize its policy inconsistency and its strategic incoherence
Although not many experts, politicians and scholars held the belief that the Islamic revolution, its political system and the cleric rule would last long, the new system of governance which created upheaval in the socio-political system of Iran has survived for 36 years.
Military force alone has never eliminated ideological terror groups. With respect to Daesh and its ilk, it is more reasonable to consider force as a tactic to degrade them, contain them; while to ultimately destroy them it will take a strategy to invalidate them ideologically and culturally.
Even before American hegemony emerged after World War II, birthday boy George Washington's Farewell Address admonition to avoid "permanent alliances" and focus on neutrality had long since been ignored. Now we have a worldwide web of alliances, mostly of our own instigation, and involvement in a whole host of wars.
The story of the court intrigues in Abdullah's last days, and the leaked recordings which have come out since then, show something that was not immediately apparent in June 2013, when Egypt's first elected president Mohammed Morsi was overthrown by his army, after mass demonstrations against his rule.
If Mr. Obama can become the force for mobilizing coalition responses by leading both from the front and, where necessary, from behind with real rather than vague strategies and promises, IS is doomed. If not, this will be as a former secretary of defense famously mused "a long, hard slog."
At the level of global affairs, there hasn't been anything like ISIS since Genghis Khan left immense piles of skulls outside conquered cities and dared the world to gang up against his Mongol horde. Genghis Khan didn't negotiate. The only word in his diplomatic vocabulary was capitulation. So too with ISIS and its dream of a caliphate of the oppressed.
Coming just weeks before an international donors conference in which Gulf States are expected to cough up billions of dollars more, the alleged Sisi leaks are timely. They show him diverting money meant for the reconstruction of the state into the Egyptian Army's coffers. And they beg the question: Where has all this money gone?
Projecting an image of being politically and culturally on the cutting edge, the UAE carefully picks its battles. Participation in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, the jihadist group that controls a swath of Syria and Iraq, has projected the Emirates as a military force to be reckoned with. Soccer is the Emirates' next target.
ISIS has no monopoly on cruelty or immolation. On the contrary, it has exploited for its own ends the shock value of something used for centuries to punish and terrify heretics and African-Americans, and lately used by desperate dissidents around the world upon themselves.