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Politics

A Slow and Shaky Takeoff for the Mosul Offensive

WADI MASHAR, Iraq -- From a sandbagged hilltop outpost here, you can see the front line of the Islamic State in the muddy brown houses of Al-Nasr, a village on the next ridgeline, about a mile and a half west. The Iraqi army was supposed to have captured this target a month ago. But the offensive was repelled.

The battle for Mosul, about 35 ...Read more

Conflict in the Caucasus

STEPANAKERT, Nagorno-Karabakh -- The military commander of this breakaway Armenian republic predicted in an interview here Monday that a fragile cease-fire could collapse within days. By that night, Azerbaijani shelling had killed two Armenian soldiers in a northern border town, amid accusations by each side that the other had violated the truce...Read more

A Manifesto to Mend Our Politics

WASHINGTON -- It has become a truism to say that the American political system is suffering from dysfunction. But weirdly, even the insurgent candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, don't talk much about how they would fix it. This is a populist insurgency without a clear manifesto.

So it's refreshing to hear Rep. John Sarbanes present a ...Read more

Don't Give Up On the Arabs

WASHINGTON -- As President Obama travels this week to Saudi Arabia, here's a surprising snapshot of what young Arabs think: They're scared about the Islamic State and terrorism; they yearn for more freedom and gender equality; they fear that the Arab Spring has made life worse; and they're increasingly skeptical about the role of traditional ...Read more

Sage Advice From a Foreign Policy Veteran

WASHINGTON -- Bob Gates has unusual standing in the debate about the Obama administration's foreign policy: He was defense secretary both for a hawkish President George W. Bush and then a wary President Obama. He understood Bush's desire to project power and Obama's skepticism.

Gates characteristically finds a middle ground in the argument that...Read more

Five Military Leaders Republicans Could Draft for President

WASHINGTON -- As Republicans head toward what could be a stalemated convention, they might recall how the party healed itself in 1952 in what was known as the "winter of discontent." The GOP drafted a military leader, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, as their presidential candidate.

The looming showdown between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is a ...Read more

Five Military Leaders Republicans Could Craft for President

WASHINGTON -- As Republicans head toward what could be a stalemated convention, they might recall how the party healed itself in 1952 in what was known as the "winter of discontent." The Republicans drafted a military leader, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, as their presidential candidate.

The looming showdown between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is a ...Read more

A Testing Year for American Tolerance

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump tests the limits of campaign speech. He makes false statements and refuses to correct them. He attacks other religions and ethnic groups, inflaming domestic tension and foreign terrorist rage. He pledges to overhaul long-standing U.S. commitments in ways that frighten allies. He cavalierly predicts a "massive recession...Read more

Moniz Leads a Quiet Revolution in Clean Energy

WASHINGTON -- So much of America's future is at stake in the 2016 presidential election. But let's focus for a moment on just one area -- energy and the environment -- where the Obama administration has made startling progress that could be reversed if either of the GOP front-runners becomes president.

Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz, arguably ...Read more

China's Intelligence Shakeup Mirrors its Political Tumult

WASHINGTON -- China's intelligence service, the Ministry of State Security, offers a snapshot of the political intrigue taking place within the regime of President Xi Jinping.

The MSS has replaced two vice ministers within the last four years, after reports of political infighting and scandal. The current minister is said to be a figurehead, ...Read more

A Warning Against the Overuse of Sanctions

WASHINGTON -- Economic sanctions have become the "silver bullet" of American foreign policy over the last decade, because they're cheaper and more effective in compelling adversaries than traditional military power. But Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warns of a "risk of overuse" that could neuter the sanctions weapon and harm America.

Lew made ...Read more

Fix Europe or Lose It

WASHINGTON -- "We have the Europe we deserve," admitted French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Wednesday. The question is how Europeans can build the security structures they need.

The first requirement is solidarity, within each country and among the 28 nations of the European Union. This begins with better links with the Muslim communities, ...Read more

The Dark Path to Brussels

WASHINGTON -- The value of catastrophic events is that they can help people face up to problems that are otherwise impossible to address. Maybe this will be the case with Tuesday's horrific attacks in Brussels.

Europe is facing a security threat that's unprecedented in its modern history, at a time when its common currency, border security and ...Read more

Signs of Progress Against Extremists in Syria

BRUSSELS -- Moderate Syrian opposition forces claim they are strengthening their positions against extremists in northern and southern Syria as the Russian military withdraws and a fragile cease-fire takes hold with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Two rebel commanders described the recent battlefield gains against the Islamic State and...Read more

The Mistaken Bipartisan Attack On Free Trade

WASHINGTON -- Of the many dangerous trends in the 2016 election, the revolt against free trade that has captured both parties could do the most long-term damage. That's because protectionism would undermine future growth of the U.S. economy and subvert America's role as global leader.

Globalization has undeniably hurt some American workers and ...Read more

A Dangerous Showdown Looming with China

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is moving toward what could be a dangerous showdown with China over the South China Sea.

The confrontation has been building for the past three years, as China has constructed artificial islands off its southern coast and installed missiles and radar in disputed waters, despite U.S. warnings. It could come...Read more

The Biggest Surprise About Syria Diplomacy

The head of the Syrian opposition says he's going to Geneva for the next round of U.S.-Russian-sponsored peace talks Monday, even though the opposition rejects any future role for President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime will be the other party in the talks.

The Syria diplomacy might be described as "the art of the impossible," borrowing the ...Read more

America's Political Decay and the Rise of Trump

WASHINGTON -- Good countries can sometimes go bad. Donald Trump's supporters implicitly make this argument when they proclaim "Make America Great Again." And so do those who loathe Trump and see in him a dangerous populist response to the anger of frustrated middle-class voters.

The rise of Trump, love him or hate him, conveys an inescapable ...Read more

The Islamic State: Degraded But Far From Destroyed

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Special Operations Forces working with a widening array of partners are slowly tightening their squeeze on Islamic State fighters in eastern Syria -- moving toward an eventual assault on the jihadists' self-declared capital of Raqqa.

The Pentagon's top priority in the campaign against the Islamic State remains disrupting ...Read more

For Trump Brand, the Record Doesn't Match the Luster

WASHINGTON -- Consider Donald Trump for a moment as a purveyor of men's cologne. I quote from the merchandise section of trump.com, the website for his portfolio of "great" companies.

"'Empire by Trump' is the perfect accessory for the confident man determined to make his mark with passion, perseverance and drive. ... Bold notes of peppermint, ...Read more

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