Foreign Policy

Syria still burns while U.S. influence dwindles

Months after the world watched President Obama announce airstrikes against Syria for its use of chemical weapons against its own people, the country still burns, as civil war continues to ravage the Middle Eastern nation. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s agreement (brokered by the Russian government) to give up his chemical weapons stockpile has staved off any U.S. attacks, but has done little to end the two-year civil war, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced more than a million Syrians.

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Obama must oppose hostage taking, at home and abroad

During the recent stand-off with Congressional Republicans over America’s fiscal crisis, President Obama repeated many times that he would not give in to, nor negotiate with, “hostage-takers.” Whether or not one agrees with the substance of the debate, there should be no disagreement with the basic premise: Dealing with hostage-takers only results in more hostage-taking.

That’s why it’s curious—indeed, quite disappointing—that Obama will play host at the White House today with an honest-to-goodness hostage-taker whose victims are real people whose lives are in serious jeopardy.

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Use US soft power to free the Ashraf Seven

In Iraq, the buck stops with the Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, more so than any other country. He is the Commander in Chief, the acting Minister of Defense, the acting Minister of Interior, the acting Minister of National Security and the Head of Intelligence.

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What Obama should tell Maliki

Earlier this year, interviewing prisoners in Shaaba Khamsa, Baghdad’s death row facility, I met a 52-year-old woman, one of the thousands of prisoners the U.S. turned over to Iraqi custody when American troops left nearly two years ago. She showed me the scars where security forces had burned her with cigarettes, used electric shocks and beat her so badly that she was still using crutches three years later.

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Christians caught in Egypt’s tightening political vise

Tomorrow morning, as the House Foreign Affairs Committee holds its “Next Steps on Egypt Policy” hearing, committee members should examine the ongoing violence against religious minorities in Egypt and the urgent need for a new human rights based approach to U.S. policy there.

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Why I stood with Obama on immigration reform

Last week, I joined small employers, business leaders, elected officials and advocates from across the country to stand with President Obama and call for immigration reform. Like the president, small business owners understand fixing our country’s immigration system will foster a stronger, better-trained workforce, which will bolster their bottom lines and the economy as a whole. The time for smart, comprehensive immigration reform is now.

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Sen. Graham fans the flames of religious nationalism

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.CX.) presence and remarks at the Christians United for Israel Washington Summit this year, whether motivated by political strategy, personal religious belief, or both, undermine U.S. efforts to stabilize the Middle East by demonstrating leadership through political moderation.

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Franks legislation authorizes military force against Iran

Recent talks between the West and Iran have created an important opportunity to resolve the Iran nuclear standoff.  U.S. officials have expressed cautious optimism that a deal may be reached that protects U.S. interests.  However, some in Washington seem determined to undermine the diplomatic process.

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Mexican reform legislation, a model for the U.S.

If U.S. officials wanted to learn how government can operate well in modern times, all they need to do is look south. Mexico's executive and legislative leaders are demonstrating how bipartisan cooperation can make great progress for the benefit of their people.

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Once a bear, always a bear?

Many may see Russia’s president as something of a brute, but Vladimir Putin is a politician highly conscious of his image. He has meticulously crafted his public persona in the media as a tough guy and outdoorsman, taking part in unusual (shooting a 35-tonne sea-mammal with a cross-bow) or dangerous (snuggling with snow leopards) acts and extreme sports, often without a shirt. Putin is also painfully aware of Russia’s image abroad and convinced he can put a dent in Western mindsets. The Russian president’s former top media advisor Mikhail Lesin famously said, “Russia has to polish its international image or we’ll always look like bears.”

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