Foreign Policy

Let drone victims' families speak

The first time I met Kareem Khan was in Islamabad in 2010. Only a few months before, a U.S. drone had killed his brother and his teenage son while they were sitting down for dinner at his home. In response to their deaths, Kareem could have taken revenge; instead, he sought out a lawyer who could help him find justice in the courts, rather than the battlefield.


Don't ignore peace overtures from Iran

Overcoming tensions is difficult work that requires tenacity. As members of different faith traditions, we’ve seen such tensions explode on the world stage and worked to build peace locally and globally. Bridging the gap isn’t just an exercise in cross-cultural communication. The stakes can be incredibly high, as we've seen in the recent diplomatic breakthrough on Syria. For long-term stability and avoidance of yet another military conflict, they are equally high in the conflict between the U.S. and Iran.


How to dethrone King Vladimir

In recent weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has cleverly recast himself as a statesman and a peacemaker, while diminishing the clout and prestige of America and President Barack Obama on the world stage.   He even penned an op-ed for the New York Times in which he praised the United Nations and the “rule of law,” claimed that poison gas in Syria was used by the opposition and not Assad’s forces, and took exception to American “exceptionalism,” reminding us that “God created us equal.”  Quite a sermon from a former KGB agent who has enshrined himself as Russia’s likely president-for-life.


Don’t set aside Syria

After avoiding a tough political vote on the authorization of the use of force in Syria, Republicans in Congress are shifting their focus back to last year’s attacks in Benghazi.  This is safer ground; both from a political and policy perspective, the security breakdown and lack of response before, during, and after the crisis at the consulate merits further scrutiny to make sure the right lessons are learned.  Democrats were also grateful to avoid a vote, and now hope to elevate the discussion of a looming government shutdown, for which they assume Republicans will be blamed.


We have to take risks to be heard and to stop deportations.

When I first got involved in the immigrant rights movement it was because I saw families being separated, but even after some time it still felt like those who faced deportation lived lives distant from my own.

Now I can say that these days, it feels a lot closer to me.  For that reason, I decided to participate in an act of civil disobedience to ask the president to stop his policies that separate families.


Don’t call it peace and don’t move on

I recently received an email from MoveOn celebrating President Obama’s decision to halt his request for Congressional authorization to strike Syria. Reading it, I cringed eight times. That’s how many times the word “peace” appears, as in: “Peace is winning.” I doubt that many members of Congress who opposed the President’s request for an authorization to use force thought they would be achieving or keeping the peace by voting no. Regardless of one’s view of U.S. military strikes on Syria—my organization, Human Rights First, has not endorsed them—their absence will not amount to peace for Syrians.


The Baghdad regime—naysayer and evildoer as “ally”

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a naysayer to the United States. Although he came to power through support from Washington, Maliki pays little heed to diplomatic requests from President Barack Obama, reinforcing the idea that the president is weak. Maliki does nothing to inhibit arms from flowing overland into Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad and hides behind lack of an air force to explain why he ignores Tehran’s overflights of Iraq ferrying arms to Syria.


Trade is good when it's fair

It's been almost 20 years since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and families and communities are still reeling from its consequences. Among the many flawed aspects of this trade pact, it gave weak protections for American jobs and for U.S. safeguards on air, water and the environment.


How to influence Iran’s Israel policy

Contrary to popular fears that Iranian leaders are hell-bent on a nuclear conflict with the Jewish state, Iran’s official position on the State of Israel, as articulated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is that its future status should be determined by a referendum by the Arabs, Jews and Christians whose families inhabited Palestine prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948.

While Israel would only acquiesce to this if compelled by force of arms—the Islamic Republic of Iran’s long-term strategy—an analysis of Khamenei’s statements on Israel indicates that U.S. and foreign officials may be able to persuade him to moderate his position on this issue.