When it comes to bearing brunt of war’s brutality, it’s women and children first

Sex and gender decide our fate more than some like to admit. Men and money make the world go ‘round, after all, and grown men are mostly responsible for society’s most critical decisions surrounding war and peace. Children don’t vote, and women often don’t have a voice.

syria women.jpg

The latest military rout taking place in northern Syria is only the most recent installment of war’s practice of disappearing the dead. Not because the killed are invisible, but because they are unseen. There are many victims in these conflicts, but the ones who suffer most and longest always seem to be the women and children.

ISIS remains a particularly vile scourge to both moms and kids. READ MORE

Putin, Assad, Erdoğan and Khamenei — the four horsemen of the apocalypse 2.0

Texas tornadoes are potentially caused by the “flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil” according to the Butterfly Effect theory. Determining the ultimate cause and effects in weather is a tough call, however, given how many random physical factors ultimately come into play. But it’s fascinating to think that a distant and peacefully fluttering butterfly has so much potential power.

Easier to determine is how one man’s wanton tongue wagging and temper tweeting can not only cause a political storm but has now unleashed the four horsemen of a modern regional apocalypse: Turkish President Recep Erdoğan, Syrian President Bashir al Assad, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the ever-present Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Horseman Putin.jpg

Donald J. Trump, in his “great and unmatched wisdom,” has shown that not only can he distract a domestic electorate but that the power of his presidency can create limitless distant chaos, death and destruction with the tap of a thumb and the flip of a finger. Now that’s power.

Trump’s causal tweet-to-terror relationship reanimated the biblical fearsome four horsemen who, in their initial iteration, represented Conquest, War, Famine and Death. This is no small feat. In one feckless action, the president of the United States has whipped up the apocalyptic forces that one hoped the world’s most powerful man would instead be able to tamp down. READ MORE

Kabul Wedding Bells and Bombs

Weddings on a summer eve remind us of the excitement of young romantic love. The bride’s smile, the groom’s unbounded enthusiasm. It’s all so lovely. Unless, of course, a wedding turns into a bloodbath, murdering nearly everyone in the party and reminding the world that ISIS kills not only people, but beauty and hope, too.

Last weekend’s ISIS bombing of an Afghan wedding destroyed the dreams of not only two people. It took the lives of 80, altogether. Wedding party attendants were the latest victims in America’s Afghanistan end-game. Kissing the bride turned into the kiss of death.

Afghan wedding.jpg

In geopolitical terms, ISIS’s cynical attack was the most recent action to spoil the already tense American-led negotiations with the Taliban and to remind the world that once the United States has gone home, Kabul and the rest of the country will become its terrorist playground. READ MORE


Trump and Abe talk North Korea, Iran during Japan visit

President Trump says he isn't bothered by North Korea's latest missile tests. He made the comments during his official state visit to Japan, where he's attending high-stakes meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Markos Kounalakis, a McClatchy News foreign affairs columnist and visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, joins CBSN to discuss the president's trip.

Screenshot 2019-05-27 13.32.05.png

Trump has traded American values, interests and dignity for the false promise of Putin’s friendship

Donald Trump is likely to go down as the president who lost Russia. Not for lack of trying to make good with Moscow. In fact, it is because he has tried so hard to make it right and to pursue a personal and respectful relationship with Vladimir Putin that his ability to make any meaningful deals with Russia is doomed.

Trump wink.jpg

The result is an American foreign policy that is stuck with a confrontational posture and caught in a tit-for-tat policy trap preventing the pursuit of real U.S. interests with Russia. The reason is an underlying popular belief that President Trump has been incapable, at best, and, at worst, actively curried personal and political favor from Moscow over the years — regardless of what the Mueller report says or how it is interpreted.

From his 2016 campaign fumbles to his presidential summit stumbles, Trump has made an unending string of unforced errors that have caused Americans to question his motivations. That perception and reality actively limit his latitude for dealing with Russia. READ MORE

If we go to war with Iran, blame President Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter may be the one to blame if President Trump goes to war with Iran, thanks to his handed-down Carter Doctrine

The 94-year old ex-president is recovering from a turkey shoot hip injury, but while he was in the White House refusing to pardon Thanksgiving turkeys, he changed the course of America’s Iran policy.

carter.jpg

Carter asserted that any nation trying to control the Persian Gulf or restrict the free-flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz was acting against America’s “vital interests.” Carter articulated this message near the end of his presidency and at a time when revolutionary Iran held the United States hostage and the Soviets militarily occupied Afghanistan.

The message to Iran and the USSR was clear: Make a move on the neighborhood, mess with shipping, slow the flow of oil and risk going to war with the United States. READ MORE

President Donald Trump, global peacemaker. Really.

War is the ultimate test for nations and their leaders. History is full of great leaders who fought and won military victories, from Revolutionary War hero George Washington to Abraham Lincoln’s civil war and World War II’s FDR.

Victory is the key to greatness.

President Trump is different. If George W. Bush went into his successful 2004 re-election campaign embracing his role as a “war president,” Trump may angle to win a 2020 re-election as the nation’s “peace president.” Remarkably, if things go well, he could be Donald Trump, peacemaker.

trump.jpg

Disquieting as it may be for those who see him as morally bankrupt, as well as a threat to democratic norms and human decency, there has to be a reckoning that he just might actually succeed in pursuing peace on multiple fronts. Trump’s campaign promises, unorthodox methods and his limitless ego are leading him to seek an end to American military engagements and — with a couple of notable exceptions — even lower the temperature elsewhere. READ MORE

Our troops are dying for a lost cause. We’ve got to get out of Afghanistan.

Twenty-seven years ago, I was in Afghanistan to watch the Russians cut and run from a military quagmire and failed occupation that helped bring down the Soviet Union. In 2018, America is ready to walk away from a similarly failed military adventure. As Lt. Col. John W. Nicholson Jr., the exiting American and NATO forces’ commander in Afghanistan put it: “It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end.”
 

He’s right.

AFGHANISTAN.jpg

Our longest war drags on, and President Trump’s instincts and inclinations tell him to learn from the Soviet Union’s mistake a generation earlier: Get out of Afghanistan. ASAP. With Chief of Staff John Kelly’s policy role diminished and a refreshed national security team, the White House has quieted support for a continued large U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.  READ MORE

2018 could lock-in Trump privilege, power in foreign policy

The last line of defense in checking President Donald Trump’s foreign-policy power is the old guard of the Republican Party, and those watchmen are about to go quietly into the night.

A 2018 Republican sweep would cripple two key Senate committees, moving them from painfully ineffective to plainly inconsequential. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee are supposed to oversee the foreign-policy and the national-security apparatus. Trump has brought them to heel.

Trump Photo.jpeg

He has belittled the outspoken Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who became a lame duck by giving up a 2018 reelection bid (Disclosure: Corker held my presidential appointment from Senate confirmation in 2016). Sitting out alongside him is another committee member, Trump-critic Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, leaving a handful of cowed Republicans and the minority Democrats to try to counter Trump policy tweets and fight for a systematically well-formulated foreign agenda.  READ MORE

Nuke deals are for suckers

Nuke deals are all the rage these days. The United Nations sees nuclear accords as a path to world peace. President Barack Obama worked toward a “global zero” nuclear-free future.

President Trump, on the other hand, is highly skeptical of deals with Iran and North Korea because he understands what Tehran and Pyongyang leaders already know: Nuclear disarmament deals are for suckers.

nkorea nuclear.jpeg

Countries generally balk at giving up their hard-won and expensive nuclear capabilities because nuclear weapons are a time-tested and reliable deterrent. Giving up these weapons requires faith that any agreement inked is rock solid and that the countries agreeing to unilateral nuclear disarmament are assured they will not wind up like Ukraine or Libya – invaded or overthrown.

Trump does not inspire this faith. Neither does he have faith that the other side will do as it’s told. READ MORE