William Pfaff is a globally respected political commentator and author on international relations, contemporary history and U.S. policy. He ...

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William Pfaff

William Pfaff

A hollow laugh

September 16, 2014

A hollow laugh might be permitted at the alliance now announced as the result of Secretary of State John Kerry's latest journey through the Middle East, this time to construct an alliance to counterattack the latest Arab menace to America, ISIS.

  • A hollow laugh

    September 16, 2014

    A hollow laugh might be permitted at the alliance now announced as the result of Secretary of State John Kerry's latest journey through the Middle East, this time to construct an alliance to counterattack the latest Arab menace to America, ISIS.

  • President Poroshenko and Ukraine

    September 9, 2014

    It seems evident that Barack Obama today still does not understand how much he owes to President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine. If he did, and if the cease-fire and negotiation terms Mr. Poroshenko has signed with the country's pro-Russian insurgents in the Southeast of his country and their friends in Moscow continue to hold, he would thank the Ukrainian president for an invaluable gift of peace to Americans and NATO, as well as to his own countrymen.

  • *WILLIAM PFAFF-ADVISORY, For immediate release

    September 2, 2014


  • Shades of France

    August 26, 2014

    Shades of France's notorious Third Republic! The latest French government has been summarily dismissed after only six painful months. It was certainly time for a change. President François Hollande's poll ratings have plumbed new depths at 17 percent, while Prime Minister Manuel Valls had lost 9 percentage points in one month, down to 36 percent. With his usual indecision, the President has instructed Mr. Valls to go back and form a new government to carry on the same policies -- the third in the space of one year -- but excluding the trouble-makers who provoked this crisis.

  • This affair is about to be over

    August 19, 2014

    Nearly every intelligent witness to the nearly seven decades of Israel's alliance with the United States and Western Europe now understands that the affair is about to be over.

  • President Obama, choose your words carefully

    August 12, 2014

    President Barack Obama, in the interview given last weekend to The New York Times' Thomas Friedman, provided illumination on his foreign policy thinking, at this moment of fraught drama in both Iraq and Ukraine, but the counsels concerning the two didn't match.

  • A war is not inconceivable

    August 5, 2014

    I find it very disquieting that so few among the West European and American commentators on the Ukraine crisis, private or public, seem concerned that the United States has started this affair, and that it is not inconceivable that it may end in a war.

  • Israel, Gaza and the American perception

    July 29, 2014

    Israeli attacks on a hospital and refugee camp playground in Gaza on Monday, July 28th brought the total of Palestinian dead to 1,200, with more no doubt to come. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just promised his people "a prolonged campaign" in Gaza. If it is, Israel may find itself considered, even by Americans, a pariah state.

  • Ukraine and the American expansionism

    July 22, 2014

    Events in Ukraine are a continuing and increasingly dangerous prolongation of a Cold War supposedly called off at the meeting between President Ronald Reagan and Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev in January 1992.

  • This is why war goes on

    July 15, 2014

    The refusal of Hamas in Gaza to accept the peace talks proposed Monday by the Egyptian government, briefly accepted by the Netanyahu government in Israel, is -- in the minds of the Hamas leadership -- a victory over their enemy. The Israeli bombardment of the Palestinians has proven a policy failure, demonstrated by the Israeli government's resumption of bombing. The Israelis tried to give up, but failed.

  • How do you "make" democracy?

    July 8, 2014

    Barring the increasingly influential Isolationist/Tea Party wing of the American electorate, opinion is and always has been that the United States is the messenger of democracy to a world that usually hasn't earned it and probably doesn't deserve it.

  • History moves, but not always ahead

    July 1, 2014

    The weekend past saw the centenary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, with as consequence the First World War. The sequence of the events by which this happened has often been analyzed in the search for an answer to a much deeper question: what was behind it all? What was the ultimate mover of that war which cut a profound fissure into the history of western civilization, generally taken as responsible for the Second World War as well, and starting point for the world in which we now live?

  • It's too late, Mr. Kerry

    June 24, 2014

    Secretary of State John Kerry thinks Iraq can be saved with a new prime minister to take the place of Nouri al-Maliki. The new one would make friends with the alienated and hostile Sunni citizens that make up some 40 percent of the country's population, who in the past dictatorially ruled it, and were forced out of power and precedence by the ascendant Shia majority. They can be convinced to forget all that, Mr. Kerry presumes -- those who are not already members of the ISIS army.

  • Disillusioned Washington and the Middle East

    June 17, 2014

    The Marines -- 250 of them, together with carrier air support and Marine Corps Osprey support craft -- have been dispatched to save the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the "biggest in the world," "the size of the Vatican City," with its swimming pools and skating rinks, from the menace of the offensive directed at Baghdad by the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria -- the new Islamic Caliphate sought by the religiously rigorous Sunni counter-crusade.

  • Mr. Kagan and the ruin of ideas

    June 10, 2014

    The neo-conservative commentator, Robert Kagan, co-founder in 1997 of the Project for a New American Century, and after that institution crashed amidst the ruins of Iraq, founder of its 2009 successor, the Foreign Policy Initiative, is continuing his crusade for a new Reaganism - which he construes as American world domination. Now it is with a new book, The World America Made, summarized in a long article in the May 26 issue of The New Republic, and received in that city with apparent enthusiasm..

  • Obama could spare Israel terrible outcome

    June 3, 2014

    The merciful death that has, at last, been administered to Secretary of State John Kerry's foredoomed Israel-Palestinian settlement talks has been greeted by little beyond silence in the international community.

  • The outcome of the European Parliament elections

    May 27, 2014

    The outcome of the recently concluded European Parliament elections is described in press and political circles in Europe and North America as a shock or crisis, but the actual reaction is better named hysteria, as if "Europe" is all over, and the rise of the right in these elections resembles the rise of fascism in the 1930s -- all of which is sheer nonsense.

  • The election of a new European parliament

    May 20, 2014

    The coming weekend will see the election of a new European parliament. These elections traditionally are unsatisfactory because of the lack of a true and informed European electorate. This year they may provide an unprecedented shock. In France -- the country mainly responsible for the European Union's creation -- a poll published May 20 says fewer than 40 percent of France's citizens think the EU "a good thing," 54 percent think the Euro's more trouble than it's worth, and less than half even plan to vote. Of those voting, 24 percent say they will vote for the right-wing Front National, more than for any other party.

  • What Ukraine really needs

    May 13, 2014

    The United States has a recent history of going to war for dubious reasons promoted by interested groups, for which afterwards Americans are sorry. I have in mind the controversial Tonkin Gulf incident that was used to justify large-scale U.S. intervention in Vietnam. The search for non-existent mass destruction weapons that prompted the invasion of Iraq. Now we have a threat of war with Russia to save an American-sponsored coup d'état in Ukraine.

  • A real risk of war

    May 6, 2014

    Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea and threat to Ukraine are causing damage he perhaps did not anticipate: disorientation of the United States and profound division in Europe, especially in Germany, and in NATO. A real risk of war.

  • A third Obama disappointment seems imminent

    April 29, 2014

    The first Obama administration was distinguished by eloquent promises and high expectations, especially in Norway where the jury of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded their annual distinction to Barack Obama even before he had settled down into the chair behind the presidential desk.

  • Ukraine and Russia have created an international disorder

    April 8, 2014

    An international disorder unmatched since the interwar 1930s has been created by the drama of Ukraine and the Russians, combined with the inherent self-destructive forces of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the developing civil war over theological as well as political issues inside the Islamic states, and the serious risk of collapse in the European Union.

  • Outcome of the French municipal elections

    April 2, 2014

    The outcome of the French municipal elections last weekend contributed to the general European unease about the future of the European Union. In May European Parliament elections will take place in the troubled circumstances of economic crisis everywhere but Germany, with tension between the EU, the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine contributing to the uncertainties that exist about the future of the Union, with a notable rise in support for separatist parties in several important countries, one of them -- of course -- France.

  • What do Washington and the West now want?

    March 26, 2014

    Here again in the Ukrainian affair we see the Manichean habits of mind of the Cold War, still the most powerful precedent in the last 50 years of American and Western political history and policy studies.

  • Ukraine only promises trouble for Russia

    March 18, 2014

    After Vladimir Putin's speech in the Kremlin justifying and welcoming Russian annexation of Crimea, the western press now asks what next will Putin do? How far will he go?

  • To achieve peace, past must not be forgotten

    March 11, 2014

    The Ukraine crisis has slowed to a temporary halt as none of the significant actors will speak directly to anyone else in a position to break the stalemate.

  • What happens now in Ukraine?

    March 4, 2014

    What did Washington expect to gain from a successful coup d'état in Ukraine? It gained little enough from the "Orange Revolution" in 2005, that first put Viktor Yuschenko and Yulia Tymoshenko into power in independent Ukraine. Their power produced rivalry, as well as a return of corruption to national government (the Orange Revolution, so-called, was itself inspired by popular protests against corruption in the preceding government of Viktor Yanukovych, causing his ouster). Yanukovych, of course, returned to power in 2010 (with 48 percent of the vote), after which Yulia Tymoshenko was conveniently charged and imprisoned on corruption charges.

  • Obama's disposition: combine threats with accommodation

    February 25, 2014

    The Obama government has taken a Cold War stand on the crisis in Ukraine. The White House has warned Russia not to intervene, which they have not threatened, and has ordered U.S. military precautions. This seems unnecessary, since the Europeans seem to have matters in hand. Moreover, events last week were the second effort in a decade to bring the Ukraine into the Western camp, wrenching it away from its historical ties to Russia, a provocative and risky project.

  • American departure will leave behind carnage and ruin

    February 18, 2014

    This is probably, but not certainly, the year that sees the end to the United States' three-decades-long effort to establish permanent American strategic bases in the Muslim Middle East and in Muslim Asia. This effort began before the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. The attacks were revenge for Washington's refusal to remove the airbase and troops it had installed in Saudi Arabia, the Holy Land of Islam, following the Gulf War to liberate Kuwait, following Iraq's invasion and occupation of that country.

  • Switzerland and the growing resistance in Western Europe

    February 12, 2014

    The narrow majority vote in Switzerland against the "massive immigration" foreseen as a consequence of accepting the European Union's commitment to free passage within the borders of "Schengen Europe" has left the Brussels authorities in "stupor," according to the European press.

  • Switzerland and the growing resistance in Western Europe

    February 11, 2014

    The narrow majority vote in Switzerland against the "massive immigration" foreseen as a consequence of accepting the European Union's commitment to free passage within the borders of "Schengen Europe" has left the Brussels authorities in "stupor," according to the European press.

  • Dispute of Ukraine's relationship with Russia rages on

    February 4, 2014

    Last weekend when British Prime Minister David Cameron was insisting, once again, this time to François Hollande, that the European Union will have to consent to remake itself before 2017 if it expects to keep Britain from quitting the Union, Ukrainians were in uproar about how to force their distressed government (and its Russian neighbor, another story) to accept the majority will in Ukraine to join Western Europe, via association with the European Union. Their effort has produced rebellion and spilled into violence.

  • Hollande-Trierweiler split and the question of marriage

    January 28, 2014

    The Hollande-Trierweiler passage in the rich history of French scandals has ended badly for both, contributing to morbid forces of disunion at work in contemporary French society.

  • Postwar era has ended, but not appetite for war

    January 21, 2014

    The supposed decline of the United States. The impending crisis of the European Union this year when it becomes 30 states, while Britain contemplates leaving and making it 29. It confronts promised referenda on continuing EU membership and Scottish independence. The collapse of the postwar Mediterranean order -- in 1945, a colonial order. All bears witness today to the end of the post-second-world-war Western system, built in 1947-1949.

  • Why are governments not looking after themselves?

    January 14, 2014

    What more than a decade ago was believed by Americans to be the omnipotence of the United States in the Middle East and Central Asia (the "Greater Middle East" as the Bush administration called it) is today being replaced by a fear that the United States not only has decisively lost its power in the region, but is also responsible for why everything seems to be going wrong.

  • Isolationist instincts of Americans are sound ones

    January 7, 2014

    The Washington Post and the International New York Times had the same front-page headlines today. Both had to do (as the Times put it) with the "Power Void" in the Mideast, deploring that America's decade of attempting to create a new order in the region now is blowing up in its face.

  • We need your prayers this season, Pope Francis

    December 24, 2013

    Christmas this year seems more the occasion of religious war than of the peace to which the greeting cards routinely allude. Peace talks, such as the "5 plus 1" talks seeking reconciliation with Iran to eliminate the threat of war from or against that country, are the subject of sectarian and political attack inside the U.S. Congress and in Israel. Who wants peace if you can have the rewarding destruction of a rival?

  • Invitation for America to go home is inevitable

    December 18, 2013

    PARIS -- The Ukraine crisis and the German-American dispute over American intelligence and National Security Agency practices are without much doubt the beginning of the end of the American-dominated Europe we have known since the collapse of Communism. The breakup may be dramatic, or polite and prolonged, but it certainly will come.

  • Obama's remembered qualities loom of disappointment and dissidence

    December 10, 2013

    PARIS -- Action begets reaction in foreign policy as in physics, and action unconsidered for its possible consequences has been responsible for many results for which statesmen (or their unqualified counterparts) are eventually sorry, as are multitudes (as it may be) who pay the price. That, sententious as it may be, is my holiday message to Barack Obama. I continue:

  • U.S. determined to mend fences with Iran, critics notwithstanding

    December 3, 2013

    PARIS -- It's not only most Israelis, led by their Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the policy-community hawks in Washington and acolytes of AIPAC in the Congress who hate the interim nuclear agreement signed by Iran in November with the United Nations Security Council "5 plus one."

  • Ukraine halts eastward expansion of NATO

    November 27, 2013

    PARIS -- Russia's relations with the Western countries are troubled and dangerous in the Ukraine dispute, and an important opportunity may be lost. Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently made a spectacular return to great power politics in the Middle East, at considerable expense to the United States, and now he has humiliated the European Union. Friday's meeting between Ukraine and the EU may be critical.

  • U.S. pushing new treaties at expense of national sovereignty

    November 20, 2013

    PARIS -- The foreign reaction to the National Security Agency revelations that I have heard most has been not only how arrogant Washington has been in spying on its allies but, worse than that, how arrogant everyone in Washington and most of the American press and television has been about foreigners.

  • U.S. pushing new treaties at expense of national sovereignty

    November 19, 2013

    PARIS -- The foreign reaction to the National Security Agency revelations that I have heard most has been not only how arrogant Washington has been in spying on its allies but, worse than that, how arrogant everyone in Washington and most of the American press and television has been about foreigners.

  • NSA megalomania accomplishes little beyond alienating allies

    November 13, 2013

    PARIS -- It is the nature of bureaucracies to expand and accumulate prerogatives. The National Security Agency, a dusty post-Second World War institution of routine habits and outdated technology, focused on the remnants of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites, did not waste an opportunity when the 9/11 attacks occurred in New York and Washington.

  • Discredited economic theory holds Europe in deflationary thrall

    November 5, 2013

    PARIS -- This week the notorious "troika" representing the three major lenders to severely indebted European Union nations -- officials from the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank -- once again descended upon Athens to consider new Greek proposals for dealing with its debt. (The IMF has recently expressed some doubts about all this but is still in the game.) The three were asked to approve a new Greek government plan to complete its 2014 budget in a way that would justify the next scheduled payment of troika loans needed for Greece's national "bailout."

  • Spying scandal makes clear that Europe must declare independence

    October 29, 2013

    PARIS -- The crisis caused in Europe by American intelligence interceptions of its allies' electronic communications derives from a problem Europeans have known and put up with since the Second World War. The time has come to call a halt.

  • House GOP, news media fail to inform American public on budget deficit

    October 15, 2013

    PARIS -- Readers scarcely need to be told that this article will be distributed on the eve of the global economic crisis generally foreseen as the consequence of the United States' apparently imminent failure to meet the legal limit of its national debt.

  • House GOP shutdown an exceptionally reckless waste of time

    October 9, 2013

    PARIS -- Abroad, what is happening in Washington remains to most a mystery of very little interest. It is back pages stuff. If the American government ceases to function because the Republican majority in the House of Representatives refuses to pass a budget bill that does not include a rider disabling President Barack Obama's health reform program, already law of the nation, well that is America for you. Americans are always telling the world they are an exceptional people.

  • Govt. shutdown, tectonic shifts in Middle East could strain Israeli-US relationship

    October 2, 2013

    PARIS -- The shutdown of the American government has been devastating to the United States' international credibility. It undermines the American ability to make a promise, give a guarantee or claim the position of international leadership that conservatives in particular have until now believed to be the nation's modern manifest destiny. The facts of what has happened are not responsible for this so much as the pettiness and irresponsibility that now seem endemic qualities of legislative government in the United States.

  • Corporate citizenship a dying concept

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- One of the interesting questions that resulted from the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case in 2010, which assigned political personhood to corporations, is whether this corporate personhood carries responsibilities. It used to, in another age, but does it now?

  • Major European aerospace merger sends shockwaves around the globe

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The first of the presidential debates is supposed to be confined to domestic American issues, which is nearly all that the candidates have talked about during the campaign until now.

  • Final presidential debate offers unclear choice of troubling policies

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The third American presidential debate was of negligible interest as a test of the qualities of the candidates, whatever it did or did not do to the presidential horserace odds -- probably not much.

  • Renewed US focus on Pacific region intended to distract from unrest at home?

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- One might think that a bitter Central Asian war in Afghanistan, spilling into Pakistan, with no sign of ending, and an as yet ambiguous military commitment to a defeated and incompletely reconstituted Iraq, now overshadowed by Iran and the Arab Awakening across the Middle East, would be enough for President Barack Obama to cope with.

  • Fiction and fantasy in finance: What's to become of the euro?

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The American rating agency Standard and Poor's warned 15 European nations on Monday, including Germany and France, that unless they solve their currency problems this week, to the satisfaction of S&P, a business corporation, this company will "downgrade" them, with the effect of increasing the interest they must pay on their sovereign debt and on foreign funds placed on loan to their economies.

  • Arab Awakening could begin to resemble European Enlightenment

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- There are only three valid reasons why the Middle East, the focus of international attention as 2012 begins, is important to the United States and the European nations. These are energy, immigration and Israel. Beyond that, there is no evident cause for paying more attention to this region than to other areas in the world, such as Africa, Latin America or Western Asia.

  • Election will decide which new wars will be waged

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Now that America's primary elections have eliminated the more implausible contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, it is possible to take a clearer look at what the electorate will be up against when the conventions are over next fall, and when the newly elected president assumes (or resumes) command of American foreign policy.

  • Toulouse killings send tremors through French presidential election

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- What had seemed a long, tranquil current of political success that was conveying Francois Hollande to the French presidency (first-round consultation April 22) has run into turbulence during the past few days, and while his canoe is still buoyant, Mr. Hollande has suffered a touch of mal de mer. He seems too reasonable and nice a fellow to be a great success as a politician -- not accusations anyone makes about President Nicolas Sarkozy.

  • Possible stalemate in Syria lesser of two evils

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The major threat in the Middle East to international peace is Syria's civil war, not the rhetorical battles between Iran and an Israel that claims to be straining against its American leash.

  • US must accept Russian-delivered Syria

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The Washington debates about the Syrian chemical weapons, and whether there is an Obama "Plan B" by which the United States may yet bomb Syria, seem deaf to what really happened last week.

  • Secret intelligence court a precursor to tyranny

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The current of awkward revelations concerning the clandestine or publicly misrepresented practices of the present and recent American administrations goes on. A long exposition in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune from July 8 concerns a widely unknown American secret court dealing with intelligence actions. The court decides whether certain actions are or are not legal, issues its rulings in secret and creates a new body of American law (or lawlessness, when it contravenes established public and constitutional law, which it is accused of doing). This is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

  • The fog in our future

    September 30, 2013

    MONTPELLIER, FRANCE -- The most dramatic contemporary event from which one can attempt to extrapolate future world change is the political and social uprising of the Arab peoples of the Mediterranean basin. The consequences are unpredictable, highly political in the short run, and wholly unfathomable in the longer term since the immense energy resources of the Middle East, put to work to industrialize (or "post-industrialize") the region, could prove of enormous consequence to the international role of Islamic societies -- and that of their neighbors.

  • Calls for a Democratic Obama challenger, while based in history, seem ill-advised

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- A week ago, in the Providence Journal newspaper (in Rhode Island), the publisher of Harper's Magazine, John R. MacArthur, wrote that President Barack Obama, through expedient political compromises, has lost the moral authority that an American president must command, and therefore has lost his right to a second presidential term. Mr. MacArthur quotes in support of his argument the veteran journalist Bill Moyers, who was a member of President Lyndon Johnson's staff from 1965 to 1967, and since has become a prominent commentator on public television and in liberal and Democratic Party circles.

  • Is a nuclear Iran really to be feared?

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The obsession of the American foreign policy community, as well as most American (and a good many international) politicians, by the myth of Iran's "existential" threat to Israel, brings the world steadily closer to another war in the Middle East.

  • American decline could worsen with focus on Iran and China

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The framework in which most Americans, including the foreign policy specialists, see the world has totally changed in a decade. In February 2002, the United States and Afghanistan's Northern Alliance had just won their Blitzkrieg unseating the Taliban government of Afghanistan, and a new client government was being set in place. The Economist was to say of it a year later that optimists believed Afghanistan to be "more stable than at any time in the past 24 years." Another war, against Iraq, was confidently being prepared to avenge the Trade Towers and Pentagon attacks (to which, it was to turn out, Iraq had no connection), and to create a "New Middle East."

  • Trans-Atlantic military cooperation gets complicated in Afghanistan

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The annual Munich Security Conference is regularly the scene for the complaints of American official and semi-official participants deploring Europe's failure "to pull its weight" in defense, "free-riding" on American efforts, and failing to spend more money on trans-Atlantic arms purchases. Instead they spend money on their own-make arms and military aircraft, such as the French Rafale and EADS' Eurofighter, which they sell to such overseas markets as India that might otherwise buy American.

  • Greek unrest the result of suppressed democracy

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- When the first international effort to impose an economic austerity regime upon Greece was completed, George Papandreou, the prime minister, surprised and infuriated the negotiators from the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank by proposing that the draft agreement be submitted to a popular referendum in Greece. The negotiators and their governments knew very well that the Greek people would reject it.

  • Wars and potential wars abound

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The two most recent American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed or are disastrously failing.

  • Catholicism and the GOP: An awkward tango

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- A novel aspect of the Republican campaign for the party's presidential nomination has been the importance placed by some candidates, their admirers and some voters on the Catholic religion and certain claims to formal academic certification or endorsement.

  • Brussels agreements increase Germany's role in EU

    September 30, 2013

    VIENNA -- The great economic crisis has given birth to a smaller and tighter monetary union in Europe, under the influence of a Germany that is undergoing a certain estrangement from its European partners. This amounts to a possibly dangerous wager on what the European Union will ultimately become, which all may not like.

  • *William Pfaff is on vacation this week and will not be filing a column. His next column will move next Tuesday, February 28, 2012.

    September 30, 2013

  • Drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan recognition of futility, or retreat from the coming storm?

    September 30, 2013

    DOHA, QATAR -- Located between the sea of sand that is Saudi Arabia and Iran, where Central Asia begins, Qatar is a coastal appendage of the former and faces the latter across the Persian Gulf. Bahrain -- home port of the U.S. 5th Fleet -- is its close neighbor on the Gulf, and Qatar itself hosts advanced elements of U.S. Central Command, responsible for American operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The miniscule state of Qatar is at the nexus of America's collision with titanic national military and political failure.

  • Talks on post-2014 presence in Afghanistan built on shaky premise

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The United States has since the 1990s become increasingly the victim of an "exceptionalist" ideology that claims world leadership for the nation and an obdurate militarism, corrupting to American historical institutions and values.

  • An America in decline

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Is the United States in decline? You would certainly think so from the publishers' lists, although some of the new books, written by determined neo-conservatives resisting indictment for complicity in causing the decline, such as Robert Kagan, are arguing that it's only a very little decline, and temporary, and will end in November when the teapot boils. Certainly President Barack Obama forswears declinism. Anyone who says that America is in decline, "or that our influence has waned, doesn't know what they are talking about," he said in his State of the Union address.

  • Arab Awakening and a failed European aeronautics merger

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- It has been a bad week for American policymakers concerned with the Middle East (as for the Middle Easterners themselves), and it will be important to see what Mitt Romney and Barack Obama make of it in their second debate (which occurs after this writing).

  • Drone warfare an illegal tactic sure to perpetuate US-Muslim war indefinitely

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- It is a profound but nearly universal mistake among Americans (and others) to think that the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan in 2013 or 2014 will end the American war with the Muslim world that began on September 11 in 2001. It seems that the current administration in Washington and much of the American foreign policy community are determined to validate a version of Samuel Huntington's unfortunate forecast in 1993 that the "next" world war would be a war between civilizations.

  • U.S. policy as global security provider built on Plymouth Rock

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Earlier this month, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Philip Gordon visited London to give Prime Minister David Cameron his instructions: Washington wants Britain inside the EU, so it can blunt Europe's anti-American impulses and the idea of an independent European quasi-state.

  • US national debate is a disgrace

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- As the American presidential election approaches, the dominant conviction expressed by members of both parties is that the country is gravely in decline. If the wrong man is elected, the nation's spin out of control will accelerate and disasters will follow.

  • Ron Paul's popularity in Iowa a sign of a war-weary America

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The opinion polls' forecast that Rep. Ron Paul would do well in the Iowa Republican caucus has surely not been evidence of a surge in Iowa of hostility to the Federal Reserve and to free trade. If Paul comes out at or close to the top in the vote, it will demonstrate that Robert Naiman was right in writing on Monday (in the web magazine Truthout) that non-Republican crossover voters would determine the Iowa outcome.

  • Karzai's Bagram demands add stress to US policy

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The Afghan government's order a week ago to the United States to close its prison at Bagram Air Base near Kabul, where it holds unidentified prisoners, came as a shock to Washington, although President Hamid Karzai has before invited the U.S. to cease its operations in his country because of what he considered infringements upon Afghan sovereignty.

  • Presidential election in France reveals plenty of jaded voters

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- In France's presidential election, which takes place on April 22 and May 6, the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy is running far behind his challenger, Francois Hollande, in a contest that has more to do with personal character than issues. Sarkozy has always been a man of action rather than theory or ideology, and the French Socialist Party, which Hollande headed for more than a decade, has been intellectually moribund for years.

  • Regardless of Obama's gaffe, nuclear missile defense remains a useless endeavor

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- One might hope that when President Barack Obama misspoke in front of an open microphone at the Seoul nuclear security conference on Tuesday, he knew he would draw attention to the need to end what has always seemed to be one of the biggest policy frauds of the present day: the scheme purporting to defend Europe and the United States from Iranian nuclear missiles.

  • Scandals in China intensify possible Communist Party crisis

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Events suggest that the long-overdue crisis of China's Communist Party has arrived. Evidence is provided by the affair of the Chinese police chief who tried to defect to the United States and was turned away, the sensational murder of the mysterious Englishman, about whom Britain's foreign secretary seems to have known more than he told us at the time of the murder, and more than he should have known, had the mysterious Englishman been merely the innocuous expatriate he purported to be, and the British government had claimed that he was.

  • French election's first round narrows the field

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The French elections have settled one question, that of the two finalists for the presidency. There were some who believed that the nationalist right candidate, Marine Le Pen, might outdo President Nicolas Sarkozy, who, in the campaign polls, trailed his Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande.

  • Elections could shift EU away from austerity, but should they?

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The weekend elections in France and Greece seem widely to have been taken, at least on the European and American left, as a solution to the great European economic crisis.

  • Campaigns touch briefly on the wars

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Politics tends to wring all seriousness out of speech. Sometimes this is a demonstration of unforgivable ignorance. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan thinks that "Now is the time to lock in the success that is within reach" in Afghanistan. Ryan's comment seems like it's grasping to be completed by a call to get out of Afghanistan now. That would shake up the presidential campaign.

  • Arab outrage should come as no surprise

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- "How could this happen?" Hillary Clinton demanded to be told, after the demonstrations and the attack upon the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi that killed the American ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. "How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?"

  • New century is off to a wobbly start

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- This certainly is not the best of times, nor can it be called the worst of recent times, considering the years of totalitarianism, war and cold war the world lived through in the 20th century, recently closed. But the years since 2000 have provided no auspicious start to the 21st century.

  • Need for straight talk from US Defense Department

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Christmas has provided a day of distraction from war, the usual condition for most of the world, and the steady-state of the modern American nation, so to speak.

  • Petraeus yet another high-ranking military official mired in scandal

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- "Duty, Honor, Country" is the West Point motto, but it seems to have lost what once was its compelling power over the men of the Long Gray Line, as they pursue the military careers that follow graduation. I am not speaking primarily about the marital and extra-marital entanglements of the generals and naval flag-officers who enjoy the luxuries, and there are many, that accompany the duties of assuring the American nation's security.

  • Romney and Ryan project vague foreign policy

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate for the American presidency confirms that this campaign is going to be mainly about domestic issues -- barring a not-impossible Israeli attack on Iran between here and there. It is likely to count for zero that is intelligent concerning American foreign policy during the next administration. Yet foreign affairs will be the most important issue of all to address as the United States staggers forward into the void.

  • Petraeus yet another high-ranking military official mired in scandal

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- "Duty, Honor, Country" is the West Point motto, but it seems to have lost what once was its compelling power over the men of the Long Gray Line, as they pursue the military careers that follow graduation. I am not speaking primarily about the marital and extra-marital entanglements of the generals and naval flag-officers who enjoy the luxuries, and there are many, that accompany the duties of assuring the American nation's security.

  • Time for the West to cease intervention

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- We have today entered a new political -- or politico-religious -- period in which the Muslim peoples of the Middle East are seizing control of their own fortunes, a control lost as a result of the First World War and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, which, with its Arab Caliphate predecessors in Crusader times, traces back to the very origin of Islam in what now is Syria, Iraq and Arabia proper.

  • When are goals ever truly realized in international affairs?

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- It is, I suppose, too discouraging to face the fact that in international affairs (and indeed in national affairs; but that is another subject) paradox and contradiction rule the world. Policymakers and politicians consistently get what they don't want.

  • Tensions between Germany and Greece run deep

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The most important European casualty of the international financial crisis has been the solidarity that until recently existed within the European Union, whose foundation and continuing raison d'etre has been to consolidate nations and peoples formerly driven by nationalism and destructive national ego.

  • Greece's Balkan inheritance is heavy

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The Balkans are historically apart from Europe for two reasons, one religious and the other political.

  • Shifting US foreign policy reflective of new world view

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Counterinsurgency is out. Drones, assassination teams, targeted killings and special forces are in. A New York Times report on May 27 described the "existential debate" going on inside the faculty at West Point, the national military academy. Counterinsurgency doctrine from Vietnam -- and the Philippines "insurgency" of 1899-1902 -- was refurbished by Gen. David Petraeus in the closing period of the Iraq War, and, combined with a sharp increase in troop strength (the "surge"), it was credited with ending the war there by confirming the Nouri al-Maliki Shiite government unsteadily in place.

  • Swiss curb executive greed, will anyone follow?

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Switzerland just had a referendum in which it voted to give company and bank shareholders veto rights over the salaries, bonuses and overall compensation packages of senior executives and board directors.

  • Military interventions rarely fulfill their goals

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Military interventions by powerful nations into lesser ones, such as now continues in Mali (and Afghanistan), and is being urged by many into the Syrian civil war, are inherently reckless since even the most powerful states can have the whole project blow up on them.

  • Egypt's president reasserts his country's sovereignty in world affairs

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The interview given The New York Times by the new president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, on the eve of his trip to New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting, was notable for its moderation, but more than that, for its calm and well-founded -- and if you will, friendly -- advice to the United States about its relations with Egypt and the Middle East.

  • Any international Syrian solution is tangled up in Russia

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- International sentiment favoring foreign intervention in Syria's crisis can only have been strengthened by recent evidence of how divorced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seems now to be from the reality of what is taking place in his country.

  • America's pivot to Asia a misguided one

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- When the Barack Obama administration announced that American foreign policy would "pivot" from Europe and the Middle East to Asia, some European commentators interpreted the announcement as a return to that isolationism which characterized the United States from its foundation to the two world wars. This interpretation made little sense. If anything, the decision was the result of the notion that China was America's new rival, and even might become an enemy in the future.

  • U.S. and Israel push the boundaries of international law

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- In 2009, the former head of the international law department of Israel's military establishment, Daniel Reisner, said that "International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal molds. Eight years later, it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy."

  • US weighs Syrian intervention, despite the consequences

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The present debate in the United States over making policy for a Middle East that has been profoundly changed by the events of the past three years unhappily echoes past policies that failed. They were intended to promote democracy and usually took the form of military intervention.

  • Obama reelection the result of increasingly diverse electorate

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Abroad, the widely noted aspect of Barack Obama's reelection victory was its social and class character. The president was reelected by a majority of American minorities. He won 93 percent of the African-American vote, which is hardly surprising, but also 71 percent of the Hispanic electorate, while his part of the white active electorate diminished about 10 percent from the share he carried four years ago.

  • What exacly would Israel like to do with its Palestinian population?

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- What exactly is it that Israel intends to do with the Palestinians now in the territories that it has just opened for home construction for Jewish settlers, thereby extending its policy of occupying and annexing what are legally Palestinian lands?

  • The path of hubris and war

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Great power rivalries created the conditions in which the First World War became possible, but the war itself was set off by an isolated and intrinsically unimportant act of terrorism by a Serbian nationalist. All that followed was driven by nationalism in the warring countries, except in Russia and the United States from 1917 on -- both of which became victims of the illusions of internationalism.

  • Drone warfare foretells an ever-expanding and illegal war

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The disclosure that current American drone warfare operations are directed from the presidential office in the White House, with the president himself selecting persons to be assassinated by unmanned American drone aircraft in the Muslim countries where the United States now is militarily engaged, has ignited protests on moral, legal, political and strategic grounds.

  • Super PAC era links back to early James Burnham

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- At a time when corporate America is exploring and exploiting its new Supreme-Court-bestowed role in the management of American election results, an earlier transformation in the composition and political role of American business leadership should be recalled. This was the replacement of the Gilded Age capitalists and industrialists -- audacious, rapacious and innovative, who created the post-Civil War American industrial economy -- by the early 20th-century professional managers who took their place.

  • Anonymous murder from a safe distance

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- War is war and murder is murder. The law draws the distinction. The American armed drone is a weapons system of war, not of policemen. And even if it were a police weapon (as it may, one fears, become in the future), the United States Department of Defense and the CIA are not police forces, nor has the United States a commission to police the world of its radicals, jihadists and religious fanatics, although for too many years it has acted as if it did.

  • Would a stronger European federation even help?

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The belief widely held is that enlarged federalism is the appropriate response to the economic crisis provoked by the Wall Street credit crash. Why? Fundamental to the crisis is the degree of federation it already has. Seventeen economically disparate nations bound their fortunes together in creating the euro zone, and it is exactly this that has thrown the European project into crisis.

  • Romney's foreign policy a puzzle that doesn't fit together

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The principal problem with Mitt Romney's foreign policy statements is not that his position swings widely, or that he often reverses himself, according to the audience and the daily news. This is no surprise in American presidential campaigning. But is there an underlying scheme lurking in what he says? Does Mr. Romney actually possess a serious understanding of American foreign relations, their past, present and the problems they will present to a new administration? Is he capable of assembling what he says into a coherent national policy?

  • Continued American presence in Afghanistan a recipe for more disaster

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The United States has adopted the mission of "global security provider," according to the most recent Defense Department quadrennial strategy statement. This is a self-nominated role as custodian of a (prospective) global order based on American democracy and capitalism, meant to replace the Westphalian system of absolute national sovereignties and the tradition and institutions of international law as these used to be observed (before the arrival of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and, regrettably, Barack Obama).

  • To the brink again for Israel and Gaza

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Syrian President Bashar Al Assad have an important thing in common: When a part of the populations under their control rise up against them, they do not negotiate or compromise; they bomb the rebel civilians, even when this violates international law, which they then shrug off.

  • Bin Laden's influence lives on after him

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- A day will undoubtedly come when Osama bin Laden will occupy the same place in 21st century history books as Gavrilo Princip holds in the histories of the 20th Century. Both committed acts that provoked great wars, brought down empires and profoundly altered their times.

  • Americans fear Iran, but there is much to learn from Cuba

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- A Gallup poll issued this month says that 99 percent of the American public now has become convinced that Iran's civilian nuclear program will threaten "the vital interests of the United States in the next ten years." Eighty-three percent say this will be "a critical threat." Why?

  • New century is off to a wobbly start

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- This certainly is not the best of times, nor can it be called the worst of recent times, considering the years of totalitarianism, war and cold war the world lived through in the 20th century, recently closed. But the years since 2000 have provided no auspicious start to the 21st century.

  • Syria's turmoil is internal, but meddling could inflame Middle East

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The unclarified mystery about the struggle in Syria is what it is all about. Did it begin in repercussion to the Arab uprisings elsewhere? Or is there a sinister external explanation?

  • Euro must have reform, not Americanization

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- More than two decades ago, the Delors plan for European currency union was initially proposed. Some of us asked whether eight, 12 or 15 different European economies, with their distinct budgets (and budget priorities), fiscal situations and national debts, could really operate with a single currency.

  • Half-baked theories continue to direct global history

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The blood runs cold when one fully appreciates how vulnerable official policymakers and the Western policy community is to slogans and to magical thinking. The Reinhart-Rogoff case is the latest, and certainly will not be the last, in which the credulity and carelessness of experts wreak havoc among ordinary people -- in this case, ordinary people by the millions.

  • Obama's lame attempt to justify his old, new war

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The remarkable May 23 address by President Barack Obama was primarily an effort to establish the legality of actions taken by himself and his administration, notably the targeted drone killings, to settle his conscience in his continuing prosecution of what George W. Bush named the global war against terror.

  • The honorable absurdity of a soldier's role

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Ten years ago, invading American troops were moving through stifling dust storms towards Baghdad from Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, which British forces were fighting to secure.

  • Syrian chemical weapons threat eerily familiar?

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Since the beginning of December, military gas (sarin, a nerve agent) has claimed a major place in discussion of the civil war in Syria. The Syrian government has admitted to holding major stocks of (unidentified military) gas in or near the areas of fighting the insurrectionary movement.

  • Europe bails itself out, for now

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The latest, and 20th, European "summit" meeting, held last week in Brussels, was symbolically a defeat for Germany's Angela Merkel, who agreed that Europe's permanent bailout fund could directly recapitalize certain troubled euro-zone banks after weeks of obstinate resistance to such concessions to what in Germany are regarded as the irresponsible and profligate "southerners" -- Greeks, Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese -- held responsible for the European debt crisis (with a little help from Goldman Sachs). She also, in the Greek case, agreed to a growth fund.

  • Hague Tribunal controversy hints at US-Israeli aims

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The irresistible impulse to aggrandize power, which has been evident in American foreign policy since (at least) the fall of the East-West bipolar system in 1991, was demonstrated last week by the NSA revelations of Edward Snowden. Now there is a new manifestation of apparent illicit power assertion revealed by a devastating front-page report in the International Herald Tribune on June 15.

  • EU better off as concentric powers, not US imitation

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is not the only European convinced that the European crisis, now a political as well as economic crisis, can only be solved by pressing forward -- ever forward! -- to an ever more closely unified European Union, with ever-strengthened institutions of federalism and centralized authority.

  • Can the EU be saved?

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- It is not simply the euro zone that is threatened by the dramatic economic discrepancies that now exist among its members, as well as the large indebtedness gap that exists between the southern members of the zone and the German-led bloc of northern countries. Now it is the European Union itself that is in danger, mainly but not entirely because of the economic crisis inherited from Wall Street abuses. The EU has contributed to its own misfortunes.

  • US policy is to keep the veil of secrecy in place

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- For some 20 years, in another and more youthful phase of my life, I was one of the (apparently) several hundred thousand Americans who possessed a "top secret" security classification.

  • Siena conference further evidence of stalemated euro zone

    September 30, 2013

    SIENA, ITALY -- The European Union is at risk of being destroyed by the euro. The credit crisis founded upon the swindle by Wall Street that was retailed to Europe's banks has created divisions in Europe which are undermining what was supposed to be mutual confidence and solidarity among the 17 members of the euro zone.

  • Snowden leak reveals the ridiculous reach of federal power

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- There is no reverse gear on the machine of governmental power. If power exists, it will be seized and exploited. To do what? That will be revealed in the course of this power's employment. Its potential uses will automatically be discovered by those who have it or seize it and may provide surprises.

  • A right and proper death of the euro

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- When the proposal was initially made for a common European currency, it seemed to this writer to be a good idea, with the flaw that it wouldn't work. Although inexpert in economics (being a product of the age of arithmetic), it struck me as an effect of a false analogy with the United States that was common in Europe at that time.

  • As Hollande struggles, so does the opposition

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- France has a double crisis. Its ruling political party, Francois Hollande's Socialist, is in a state of catatonia, usually defined as a condition of incoherence with alternate periods of stupor and activity. More below about that.

  • More union in the EU doubtful

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has consistently said that the answer to Europe's problems is more political integration, and this is a view held elsewhere among those trying to find a way out of the conundrum that the economic crisis has presented to the European Union.

  • Global domination and databases

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- Global domination is a relatively recent ambition of nations. Wars of religion and ideology existed in Europe, notably the wars of religion, which ended with the Treaties of Westphalia and established the system of state sovereignty, and the French revolutionary wars, which ended with Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo and the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

  • Conflicts within Islam complicate US foreign policy

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The unforeseen consequences of American Middle Eastern policy since the Second World War are now making themselves apparent. In the beginning, American policy was to control the principal oil-producing Muslim states. Negotiations between Franklin D. Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia aboard the American cruiser USS Quincy, following FDR's participation in the wartime Yalta conference, ended in an agreement by which the U.S. developed Saudi oil production and guaranteed Saudi Arabia's security.

  • Islam's walls of language

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The cultural comparisons by which Mitt Romney distinguished himself when recently in Israel, flattering as they were to his Israeli audience and insulting to Palestinians, resulted mostly in global comment on Mr. Romney's own cultural and intellectual limitations. They nonetheless introduced a subject few other American politicians know anything about, nor do, it seems, the staffs of NSA, CIA and other American political and military planners.

  • Arab spring best left alone

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The cry from the Obama administration's policy desks since last week is how "we" can "get this revolution back on track."

  • What does evacuation of Yemen say about American policy?

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The war against terror now being conducted from the White House, with the increasing use of drones, obviously is a self-perpetuating and self-enlarging undertaking that of its nature guarantees that the United States is the creator and perpetuator of the very war it fights.

  • While Russia offers peace, US grasps at credibility

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- President Obama's speech on Syria Tuesday evening was a curious affair, a call to go to war that ended by saying: yes, but not now. He might as well have said, "But as for the future, if ignored, I shall do such things as to make the world tremble!" A perfect example of how to say yes and no in the same speech.

  • Endless war on terror far from noble cause

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- It was George W. Bush who reacted to the 9/11 attacks as a manifestation of Evil, imposing upon the United States the duty to extirpate the Foul Fiend and his offspring Terror, so as to restore Virtue by means of global war.

  • Syrian intervention can only lead into yet another war

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- When Barack Obama foolishly remarked last fall that if the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria made use of chemical weapons in its fight to suppress the insurrection in that country, it would cross a "red line" so far as the American government was concerned. His statement implied that the United States is in charge of international war and peace.

  • Global governance at heart of failed foreign policies

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The first time I heard there was a "war" against Westphalia was in a talk given to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in 2003 by George W. Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. She said that the Westphalian system of sovereign international relations -- agreed upon at that German city in 1648, as part of the treaty that ended the terrible and wasteful Thirty Years' War -- was now outdated and should be discarded. Since then, it has more and more been dismissed in academic and policy discussions devoted to new proposals for "global governance."

  • Jihadism in N. Africa gets US attention

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- I watched some of the Washington Sunday political talk shows this week on international television. The participants' main foreign preoccupation seemed to be the potential threat to America of al-Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb and the other bands of Islamic jihadists, kidnappers, smugglers and bandits active in the Sahara.

  • Obama's place in history already assured

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- The overall failure of American foreign policy during the first Obama presidency was foreseeable. Mr. Obama had been a law professor and an urban organizer. He took his foreign policy views from reading the newspapers, and he appointed as his advisers and officials figures from past administrations and the academy representing the conventional liberal views of the period. Original thinking was not evident. In military matters, he inevitably was the prisoner of the Pentagon.

  • Assad baits Obama as the world waits

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- It would seem a piece of wisdom picked up on the school playground not to start a fight that you don't know how to finish.

  • Snowden leaks reveal American Trojan Horse in Europe

    September 30, 2013

    PARIS -- I am surprised that in the Edward Snowden affair no one I've yet seen has quoted the American statesman Henry L. Stimson. He was twice (1911-'13 and 1940-'45) U.S. secretary of war (we had such a cabinet officer in an America less abandoned to hypocrisy) and once secretary of state (1929-'33). In the last-named office, he closed down Washington's post-World War I code-breaking service, saying "Gentlemen do not read others' mail." I suppose the difference between a time when the country was governed by gentlemen and the present day is so colossal as to make such a sentiment impossible to credit.

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