October 27, 2012 |
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - If top diplomats are right, the world's next inevitable war is in Mali, a West African country where Al Qaeda-linked militants have seized control of vast swaths of the Sahara desert. Western capitals are desperately trying to prevent Mali from becoming the next Somalia: an African country with a notoriously unstable government challenged by Islamic militants who may also pose a risk to the United States and its interests. Lending urgency to those calling for action, U.S. officials cited in news reports have implicated Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, one of the groups controlling northern Mali, in last month's attack on the U.S. mission in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
October 23, 2012
Monday's presidential debate, the third and last between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, featured a forceful and articulate defense of Obama's foreign policy. That was no surprise. What was surprising was that it came from Romney. That seemed to annoy the president - who was prepared to rebut his opponent's previous, more bellicose pronouncements. But the ever-shifting Republican nominee tacked even closer to the moderate middle than he did in the debate devoted to economic policy.
September 16, 2012 |
This is the first in a series of articles on the record of the Obama administration. WASHINGTON - On the afternoon of March 15 last year, President Obama and top advisors sat in the White House Situation Room poring over grainy satellite photos of an armored column thundering down on a largely unprotected Libyan city. Their choices appeared to be stark: Plunge the United States into a new war in the Arab world, or risk the slaughter of thousands. Obama decided to split the difference - committing the American military for part of the job. That decision has come to exemplify the Obama doctrine: Because Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi's assault on insurgents and civilians didn't directly endanger U.S. security, there was no justification for a major U.S.-led ground assault, the president decided.
September 5, 2012
Dismay over the continued violence in Syria is understandable and should impel the United States, other "friends of Syria" and the United Nations to support relief measures including, if necessary, the creation of safe havens for refugees. But the Obama administration is right to stop short of either arming Syrian rebels - who, according to U.S. intelligence officials, have been infiltrated by Islamic extremists from outside the country - or engaging in direct military intervention. Advocates of military involvement exaggerate the ease with which the U.S. could shape events in Syria and underestimate the dangers.
August 20, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Conceding that a peaceful resolution in Syria now appears remote, President Obama warned Monday for the first time that use or movement of chemical or biological weapons by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad would constitute a "red line" for U.S. military intervention. Obama acknowledged his frustration that diplomacy has done little to protect civilians or stem the growing bloodshed in the 17-month conflict. International efforts to persuade Assad to step down, to negotiate an effective cease-fire or to facilitate a political transition have been unsuccessful.
August 10, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama's vow to limit U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war is being criticized from a usually sympathetic quarter: the Democratic foreign policy establishment. Senior Democratic foreign policy figures, along with diplomats who have worked for Democratic administrations, are saying the administration needs to do more to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and preserve U.S. influence in a key Mideast state. The views of these figures, including former Clinton administration Defense Secretary William Perry and former Obama administration officials Ann-Marie Slaughter and Dennis Ross, add to pressure on the White House from regional allies and Republican rivals as the Syrian conflict has intensified.
May 30, 2012 |
BEIRUT - U.S. and world leaders dramatically increased pressure on Syria in the wake of a civilian massacre, with special envoy Kofi Annan declaring the country to be at a tipping point and urging its president to implement a peace plan that could fatally weaken his grip on power. Annan spoke Tuesday in the Syrian capital as a group of nations - including the United States, Britain, France and Australia - expelled Syrian diplomats in an orchestrated response to last week's massacre of more than 100 people, the majority of them women and children, in the central Syrian township of Houla.
April 25, 2012 |
BEIRUT - As violence continues to rage across Syria, the United Nations monitoring mission faced mounting criticism and pressure Wednesday. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe raised the prospect of outside military force if President Bashar Assad doesn't fully implement a U.N.-backed peace plan. Juppe said France might push for a Security Council resolution that can be militarily enforced. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also has mentioned the possibility of such action.
April 8, 2012 |
The interventionist liberals of the Obama administration were a doleful bunch last week. It was the 20th anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo, when a Bosnian Serb army battered a city full of civilians with artillery while the United States issued ineffective cries of alarm. The comparison with this year's massacres in Syria was painfully apt. Now, as then, the United Nations Security Council has asked both sides to stop shooting, to no great effect. Now, as then, the United States and its allies are rejecting the idea of military intervention as too difficult, too risky, too likely to add to the violence instead of ending it. In Bosnia, it took the United States more than three years and many massacres to decide that diplomatic measures and sanctions weren't enough.
April 3, 2012
A day after representatives of 83 nations promised "additional appropriate measures" to shore up the Syrian opposition, a special United Nations envoy said Monday that the Bashar Assad regime will withdraw troops from populated areas by April 10, with a mutual cease-fire to begin within 48 hours. To put it mildly, skepticism is in order. Assad has reneged on similar commitments in the past, and Russia, one of his two supporters on the U.N. Security Council, shows no signs of abandoning its ally.