August 29, 2013 |
American journalists of an Anglophilic bent often complain that debates in Britain's House of Commons put those in the U.S. Congress to shame. Actually, the Commons often showcases its own form of superficiality, as in the Kabuki theater of Prime Minister's Question Time. But Thursday's Commons debate over a possible attack on Syria was admirably substantive. Prime Minister David Cameron offered a crisp and nuanced defense of military action, acknowledging that, although there was strong evidence that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons, he couldn't point to a “one smoking piece of intelligence.” Labor Party leader Ed Miliband, who forced Cameron to delay a final vote on military action, was less impressive but drove home the point that a decision should await a report by U.N. weapons inspectors.
April 30, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- President Obama softened his threat to Syria over its possible use of chemical weapons, telling reporters that if conclusive proof of such activity emerges, he “would rethink a range” of retaliatory options that might not include military action. Obama, who has called Syria's use of chemical weapons in its civil war a “red line,” also made clear at a White House news conference Tuesday that the burden of a response is not the United States' alone, but one that is shared by all nations.
August 31, 2013
After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, many Americans developed an aversion to military conflict known as the Vietnam Syndrome. That apparently was cured after a U.S.-led coalition's decisive victory in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, giving way to several smaller overseas interventions throughout the 1990s. Judging by the roughly 100 letters we received this week on a possible U.S. military strike against Syria, it's fair to say another strain of the Vietnam Syndrome is spreading; perhaps it'd be more accurate to call it the Iraq Syndrome.
September 21, 2013
Re "Bait-and-switch on Syria," Opinion, Sept. 17 Jonah Goldberg argues that the Obama administration changed its policy goal on Syria from ousting President Bashar Assad to eliminating chemical weapons in the hands of the government. He writes that the former policy goal is "now dead. " This is wrong. Secretary of State John F. Kerry faced these very questions in a joint news conference with U.S. allies in Paris the day before Goldberg's Op-Ed appeared. He pointedly said, "Nothing in what we have done is meant to offer any notion to Assad that there's any legitimacy" to his role as leader.
July 25, 2013 |
Some 6,000 refugees pour out of Syria every day, straining humanitarian aid resources and destabilizing the country's neighbors. Cumulatively, they already make up 10% of the population of Jordan. And there is no end in sight. Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, says the displacement of people has not risen "at such a frightening rate" since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The absolute size of the humanitarian catastrophe may not yet match the largest of recent times, such as the 2010 floods in Pakistan, but Syria is working hard to catch up. Moreover, its political effects are potentially far greater than those of any tsunami or earthquake.
March 5, 2014 |
In an expletive-laced online video, two men say they are Los Angeles gang members who are “gangbanging” in Syria and fighting the “enemigos” in the bloody three-year conflict. The men identify themselves as “Wino” from the Westside Armenian Power gang and “Creeper” from the Sun Valley GW-13 gang, which has links to the Mexican mafia. Dressed in camouflage and ammunition vests and holding Kalashnikov rifles in an unknown location, the pair appear more interested in theatrics than ideology.
September 8, 2013
Re "No credibility, no trust," and "Credibility shouldn't be a factor," Opinion, Sept. 5 Benny Morris misconstrues President Obama's deliberative approach in seeking the appropriate response to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons as a sign of indecision and political weakness. He attempts to extend this mistaken conclusion regarding the president's cautious approach to the Iranian nuclear problem. Morris' flawed argument serves as a classic illustration of what Rajan Menon, in his opposing Op-Ed article, calls the "credibility gambit.
December 15, 2013 |
Here's how feeble U.S. influence on the outcome of Syria's dreadful civil war has become: For the Obama administration's diplomacy to succeed, it now needs help from an armed group with the unpromising name of the Islamic Front. That wasn't where the administration hoped to be. When President Obama first got interested in Syria back in 2011, his hope was that a popular uprising just needed a little moral support from the outside world to topple the brutal regime of Bashar Assad. When that didn't work, Obama offered modest, mostly non-military aid to moderate groups in the Syrian opposition, enough to raise their hopes but not enough to ensure success on the battlefield.
April 25, 2013 |
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - U.S. intelligence agencies now believe that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime has used chemical weapons in its struggle to hold onto power, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday. Hagel said that the White House sent a letter to members of Congress on Thursday morning disclosing that intelligence agencies had made that assessment, which followed a series of similar conclusions reached by Britain, France and most recently Israel. “The U.S. intelligence community assesses with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin,” Hagel told reporters in Abu Dhabi, where he was wrapping up a weeklong Mideast trip that has been dominated by questions over Syria's alleged chemical weapons use. A day earlier, Hagel said that U.S. intelligence agencies were studying the issue and would not rush to make a determination.
January 24, 2014 |
We don't know their names but we know their numbers, and we can see the evidence of their torture, thanks to a former crime-scene photographer who says he became a reluctant documenter of murder "on an industrial scale" committed by Bashar Assad's regime in Syria. The photographer, code-named Caesar to protect his identity after his defection from Syria, says he worked in the military police for 13 years documenting crime scenes and accidents. But after the civil war began, Caesar says, Assad's government put his skill-set to a different use: photographing the bodies of detainees who had been killed by the regime.