The Fall of Palmyra Is a Strategic, Historical, and Human Loss
Palmyra is a place seemingly designed for an Islamic State purge.
After all, Palmyra is one of the great treasures of the world, a living museum for multiple civilizations, a city embodying everything that the Islamic State is not. It ...
Obama’s Ludicrous Middle East Policy
The Middle East is in meltdown.
The Syrian civil war is unrestrained. Tens of thousands have died. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are considering direct intervention. Syria’s mayhem threatens to spill into Lebanon, and in Beirut, Iran and Hezbollah wage ...
American Speech Law Is Exceptional
‘We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.” (From Justice Brennan’s Opinion for the Majority, Texas v. Johnson, 1989.)
It is America’s vigorous exchange ...
Why Congress Must Give Obama Fast-Track Authority on the TPP
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is visiting America. And the prospective Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade agreement is at the top of his agenda. But Abe has a problem.
#ad#Before taking on powerful domestic interests — such as the Japanese agricultural ...
Lessons from the Latest Paris Terror Plot
Last Sunday, a 24-year-old Algerian national, Sid Ahmed Ghlam, was arrested in Paris. He is a suspect in the murder of a Parisian woman.
Now, however, we’re learning that Ghlam was apparently planning a major terrorist attack in the ...
The Fall of Ramadi Would Mean a Devastating Win for ISIS
Home to hundreds of thousands, the Iraqi city of Ramadi may soon fall to the Islamic State.
Not wanting to become minions of the death state that is ISIS, families are trying to escape their homes and flee the capital ...
Islamists Massacre Scores in Kenya — Again
At least 147 people have lost their lives in Al Shabaab’s latest attack on Kenya.
Earlier this morning, as they stormed central Kenya’s Garissa University College, the four terrorists singled out Christian students. They took some hostage and executed ...
Yemen and the Collapse of Obama's Middle East Policy
That was how ABC News’s Jon Karl reacted yesterday to Josh Earnest’s assertion that Yemen remains a model for counterterrorism.
#ad#In fact, Karl was so astounded that he asked Earnest to clarify.
The White House press ...
On Wednesday, two gunmen stormed into the Bardo National Museum in Tunis. At least 21 people — mainly foreign tourists — were murdered.
On Thursday, the Islamic State released an audio recording claiming responsibility for the massacre. Ranting about the “debauchery” of tourism ...
Why Pelosi’s Syria Visit Remains Indefensible
‘The road to Damascus is a road to peace.”
Those were damning words. When Nancy Pelosi embraced Bashar al-Assad in April 2007, she wasn’t simply challenging the commander-in-chief during a war; she was propagandizing for a dictator who was killing ...
The Islamic State’s New Outpost
If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.President Obama
That line sums up President Obama’s tendency to downplay foreign-policy crises with derisory humor. And today his arrogance bears its toll. This ...
Netanyahu Courts Congress
Addressing a packed joint session of Congress, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unequivocal.
“This is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.”
He warned that if Israel believed a nuclear deal ...
Put Another Carrier in the Gulf
Looking for a physical metaphor for President Obama’s foreign policy? Click here.
The United States Navy has ten active aircraft carriers. But only one, the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), 5th Fleet, is currently underway.
While the Carl Vinson — as ...
‘Jobs for ISIS’ Isn't Quite as Stupid as You Think
‘We cannot win this war by killing them,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on February 17. “We need in the medium and longer term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it is ...
Let’s Be Honest about Ukraine
In 2015, Europe faces two major problems. First, across the continent, rebranded Communists are selling the snake-oil of painless utopia, where government provides everything and balance sheets don’t exist. Second, Russia is invading.
Where the first problem threatens the future ...
As a senior archivist for the KGB’s foreign-intelligence directorate, Vasili Mitrokhin had access to a treasure trove of information. He unveiled those secrets after defecting to Britain in 1992.
#ad#One such secret concerned the “active measures” — the lies – the ...
Mass Delusion among Greece’s Far Left
In Greece, the far-left Syriza party has won a stunning victory. Under the leadership of charismatic populist Alexis Tsipras, it has claimed around 150 parliamentary seats and defeated the governing centrist New Democracy party. Across Europe, leftists are elated. They see ...
The New Islamic State: Boko Haram
Twitter hashtags cannot defeat terrorists.
Last April, hundreds of Nigerian school girls were kidnapped. The concerted international response? #BringBackOurGirls and an array of sad-faced celebrity photos, most famously that of a pouty Michelle Obama. But then the world forgot. And ...
Why the White House’s Security Excuse in Paris Doesn’t Add Up
There’s no doubt, that had the president or vice president on this very short time frame gone to participate in this event that took place outdoors with more than a million people in attendance, that it would have significantly ...
ISIS Caught a Coalition Pilot: What Does It Mean?
Earlier this Christmas Eve, the Islamic State captured an F-16 pilot from the Royal Jordanian Air Force. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Islamic State, the F-16 was shot down by anti-aircraft guns, but the Pentagon ...
Shortly after 2 a.m. Sydney time, a number of hostages escaped the Lindt Chocolat café. Shots were then fired and Australian SWAT members — probably including Tactical Assault Group/East — stormed in and confronted Man Haron Monis. It appears the raid ...
Foreign Friends and Feinstein
In the 21st century, effective intelligence collection requires a synergy of risks that are willingly undertaken.
It requires leaders willing to support operations that carry inherent political risks. It requires intelligence managers willing to direct subordinates towards great danger. It ...
If you’re rich and willing to kneel at Vladimir Putin’s feet, Russia is a good place to live. For the right price, you can do just about anything.
For the less well-off, however, Russia isn’t so great. ...
Obama’s Signs of Courage on Afghanistan
Defeating Islamist fanaticism requires three policy ingredients: moral clarity, intellectual agility, and strategic persistence. And today, in that regard, there’s new cause for hope. According to the New York Times, President Obama has authorized continued combat operations in Afghanistan ...
What’s Kassig’s Beheading Tells Us
In life, Peter Kassig sacrificed to alleviate the suffering of strangers. In death, he rendered proof to a sacred creed of courage: “Surrender is not a Ranger word.”
Concluding their latest video, released yesterday, a man who appears to be “...
Why Russia Has Reinvaded Ukraine
President Putin is a multitasker. This week, while President Putin was comforting the Chinese first lady in Beijing, thousands of miles away his military forces were reinvading Ukraine. According to NATO and sources in eastern Ukraine, the invasion forces are ...
‘The [Muqtada al-Sadr Shiite] militiamen left the mosque area to confront the rolling and dismounted troops, not knowing that General Dempsey had put a pair of AC-130 gunships aloft to attack the exposed militiamen with devastating Gatling guns, cannons, and ...
The Traitors Who Join ISIS
Nathan Cirillo and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.
As I noted yesterday, the moral contrast between these two men — the Ottawa terrorist and the guard he shot — couldn’t be more stark. Cirillo gave his life in the service of country and honor. ...
Saudi Arabia and Iran Clash
They sometimes pretend otherwise, but the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Iran hate each other. Both are heavily influenced by theocratic impulses, and their particular ideologies are at war.
In short, the Saudi government uses its oil wealth to export ...
Last year, before its territorial conquests shot it onto the front pages, the Islamic State of Iraq (as it was then called) was laying its groundwork by blowing up Iraqi civilians with car bombs. It was in this rubble of ...
We Must Find ‘Jihadi John’
Alan Henning, a taxi driver from northern England, traveled to Syria on four separate occasions. Each time, he had a simple mission: save the lives of strangers and alleviate terrible human suffering. Unlike so many of us, Alan Henning gave ...
Obama Is Still Buying What Rouhani’s Selling
My government’s principled policy is to work towards constructive interactions with our neighbors on the basis of mutual respect and with emphasis on common interests. The notion that Iran seeks to control other Muslim countries in the region is ...
Why the U.K. Will Join the Anti-ISIS Coalition
With the U.S.-led coalition now taking military action against Islamic State forces inside Syria, the British government is facing increasing pressure to participate. For four reasons, it is very likely to do so.
1. Prime Minister Cameron wants to ...
When Scots go to the polls this Thursday, many of the yes voters — those choosing independence — will do so for economic reasons. Their primary assumption is that independence will earn Scots a durable economic boom: a grand future born of ...
When it comes to foreign policy, a presidential speech is measured by two things: strategic tone and strategic substance.
On the first count, President Obama’s ISIS address was largely successful. Centering in passionate emotion, the president outlined the moral ...
The Complexity of Coalitions
‘Sure, the American military can handle air strikes,” the Obama administration official said, speaking on grounds of anonymity. . . . “But it’s always nice to have help from your friends.” — The Boston Globe, September 6, 2014
Unfortunately, coalitions are complicated. To ...
Obama, Check Your Answering Machine
I’m glad that you recognize that al-Qaeda’s a threat because a few months ago when you were asked, what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia — not al-Qaeda, you said Russia. And the 1980s are ...
The White House Leaked Too Much Information
On Wednesday, reflecting near-universal outrage, President Obama gave an uncharacteristically forceful statement on the murder of James Foley. It was a moment of leadership. Unfortunately, a transient one.
His statement concluded, the president immediately returned to his vacation, and an ...
There are three types of people shaping the situation in Ferguson. Let’s start with “the good.”
For all the chaos flooding our TV screens, the community activists working to cool tensions have offered hope. They’re on the front ...
Nouri al-Maliki’s departure is good news. Still, as Dexter Filkins has explained (see chapter 5), had the Obama administration repudiated Maliki’s 2011 power grab, today’s crisis might have been averted.
Nevertheless, just because Maliki is gone, no one should ...
Yezidi and the Islamic State
About 15 miles east of the Syrian border, Yezidi, members of a religious sect numbering probably fewer than 1 million worldwide, sit atop the small Iraqi mountain range of Sinjar. They have little food and water, and, without support, many are already ...
Following Israel’s attack on a UN school in Gaza, the world is in an uproar. To some degree, this broadly felt anger is understandable. After all, schools are supposed to be peaceful refuges. And even if Hamas was storing ...
As Clausewitz famously noted, “War is the continuation of policy by other means.”
Correspondingly, Israel’s military campaign in Gaza has had two objectives. First, to degrade and deter Hamas rocket teams. Second, to weaken Hamas as a political actor.
There is always more than one story in the Middle East. On Saturday, amidst news about flight MH17 and Israel’s operation against Gaza, the Obama administration agreed to a four-month extension of nuclear negotiations with Iran.
The administration’s ...
Hamas’s Suicidal Tendencies
Hamas is an acronym for the Arabic translation of “Islamic resistance movement.” Its logo blends Palestinian nationalism (flags) with the total destruction of Israel (painted green) and the physical-theological liberation of Jerusalem (the Dome of the Rock).
The intended narrative ...
It’s Not Just about Hamas
Middle Eastern politics is a toxic blend of reality and paranoia, an ecosystem in which one situation has many ripples.
At present, Israeli forces are trying to degrade Hamas infrastructure and deter continued rocket strikes. But Operation Protective ...
Expect Retaliation for Israeli Teens’ Murders
No one should be surprised at the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teenagers (two of whom were just 16 years old): Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach. All were dumped in a field.
Welcome to the “resistance,” Hamas style. Though ...
Some commentators (Simon Jenkins, for example) say that the ISIS threat is exaggerated.
As I outlined prior to the ISIS march on Mosul, that assessment is wrong. Supplied by a deep well of European recruits, supported by a war chest ...
We remember the specter of sectarian violence — al-Qaeda’s attacks on mosques and pilgrims, militias that carried out campaigns of intimidation and campaigns of assassination. And in the face of ancient divisions, you stood firm to help those Iraqis who ...
A Success against the Islamic State, in Perspective
Friday was a good day for the world and a bad day for the Islamic State (ISIS).
In a typically meticulous operation, Delta Force operators were flown into eastern Syria and then stormed an IS compound. Meeting resistance, they killed ...
The Russian Bear and the Chinese Dragon Are Standing Together against America
‘Today China is our key strategic partner,” President Vladimir Putin said May 8, in Moscow. In 2015, China and Russia share much in common. Both nations are ruled by confident authoritarians. Both rulers embrace territorial expansionism through the barrel of a gun. ...
Like the Iranians, the Saudis Think Obama Is Weak
There’s a great line in the latest James Bond trailer. Warning Bond of his ignorance of danger, Mr. White remarks: “You’re a kite dancing in a hurricane.”
It’s a perfect analogy for President Obama’s policy in ...
Don't Blame Drones for the Tragic Deaths in Pakistan
Warren Weinstein, an American development worker, was kidnapped from his home in Lahore, Pakistan, in 2011. Aged 73, he was, according to reports today, killed in an apparent U.S. drone strike in January 2015. Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian aid worker, was ...
How Syria’s Dictator Slaughters His People
“. . . respiratory failure, pulmonary edema, likely acute pulmonary hypertension, cardiomegaly, pulmonary vascular congestion, acute burns of the upper and especially the proximal lower airways, and death.”
That’s what high-level exposure to chlorine gas does to humans. But the technical language ...
After his recent absence, President Putin is back in business, now selling Russia’s advanced S-300 air-defense system to Iran. It’s a transaction that will shake up the Middle East.
Previously, Russia had yielded to American pressure not to ...
Iran Deal: A Diplomatic Farce
The third deadline has expired. There is no agreed framework. While the negotiators in Lausanne are continuing to talk, their language is telling.
By yesterday there was supposed to be an agreed framework outlining the contours of a nuclear deal. ...
Why ISIS Will Attack America
There is no good in you if they are secure and happy while you have a pulsing vein. Erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere. Light the earth with fire upon all the [apostate rulers], their soldiers and supporters.
— ISIS leader Abu ...
Venezuela Is On the Brink of Collapse
Considering a trip to the socialist asylum of Lieutenant Colonel Lunatic, aka Hugo Chávez? Just make sure you’re topped up on economic Kool-Aid.
Now led by President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela is rotting. The statistics speak volumes. Inflation in ...
Obama’s Sunni-Arab Problem
President Obama likes to spin. When a scandal breaks, his leadership is never to take even part of the blame. Instead, the president has well-worn responses: “I wasn’t briefed,” and/or “I heard about it on the news.”
Sometimes — ...
Waking Up to North Korea’s Growing Threat
In many ways North Korea has the psychology of a spoiled child. But where a child throws tantrums, North Korea threatens to throw nuclear weapons. Incidents from the past few years, whether artillery strikes or torpedo attacks, demonstrate its continuing ...
The Nemtsov Murder and the FSB
Boris Nemtsov was a courageous man. Persistent in his criticisms of President Putin, he was undeterred by those who threatened him with death. And now, murdered as he walked through Moscow, Nemtsov has become a martyr for Russia’s better ...
Things are not getting better in Iraq.
Kata’ib Hezbollah — an Iranian-supported Shia militia in Iraq and ally of the Lebanese Hezbollah — is escalating its allegations that the U.S. military is supplying weapons to ISIS. And Iran’s fingerprints ...
Obama’s Decision on ISIS Is Flawed but a Beginning
Submitting a draft authorization for use of military force (AUMF) and a clarifying letter, President Obama is asking Congress to end the Islamic State. This move signals new American seriousness about the undeniable threat that ISIS poses to the world. ...
Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh saved many lives. Serving against the Islamic State (ISIS), he helped prevent the slaughter of thousands of innocent men. He helped prevent the capture and sexual slavery of thousands of women. And he helped preserve the better ...
This morning, Hezbollah launched an anti-tank missile against an Israeli military patrol along the Lebanese border. Two soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and a Spanish U.N. peacekeeper were killed and seven were wounded. This attack appears to be ...
“This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”
— President Obama announcing his ISIS strategy, September 10, 2014
When President Obama uttered ...
The Belgium Jihadist Raids: Why They’re Important
At around 12:45 p.m. Eastern time (5:45 local), Belgian SWAT teams — likely the Federal Police’s elite CGSU unit (the equivalent of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team) — were involved in a gun battle with suspected jihadists in Belgium’s eastern ...
Jihadist Slaughter in France
This morning, French journalists at Charlie Hebdo — a satirical outlet renowned for its disgust with political correctness — were working at their desks. Then three gunmen entered their office and murdered at least ten of them. Seven others were wounded. Two ...
‘Someone screamed at us to get down and hide below the desks,” he said, adding that the gunmen shouted “Allahu Akbar” before opening fire. “Then one of them shouted, ‘There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get ...
No Cause for Optimism on ISIS
Thanks to Senator Feinstein, and quite extraordinary media bias, the CIA is now apparently an enemy of the state. Yet beyond this stale Washington waltz, America’s enemies are on the prowl. The Islamic State, for example, is taking full ...
Senate Democrats Purge the Record
Senator Dianne Feinstein and the Democrats of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have released their summary report into the Bush-era CIA detention/interrogation program. While senior Democrats have little credibility on this issue — consider Nancy Pelosi, who has consistently ...
Yes to a Syrian Safe Harbor
Reports suggest that President Obama is considering the delineation of a “safe zone” along part of Syria’s border with Turkey. According to the Wall Street Journal, Turkey’s President Erdogan is willing to deploy U.S. and Turkish air-attack ...
Jerusalem’s Latest Terror
Today’s murders of four Israelis — via two hatchet- and gun-wielding Palestinians — at a west Jerusalem synagogue, threatens to re-ignite the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Three of the four victims held dual American citizenship; in addition to the murders, at least ...
Al-Baghdadi’s Global Jihad
‘Deal with the Rafidah [derogatory term for Shia Muslims], al Salul [derogatory term for Saudi royalists] . . . Dismember their limbs. Snatch them as groups and individuals. Embitter their lives and make them occupied with themselves instead of us. Be patient and ...
Behind That Apparent Plot against the Queen
Late last week, U.K. counterterrorism police arrested four British men. Unusually, however, these arrests took place over a number of hours and involved armed police. Normally in the U.K., suspects are arrested simultaneously, and by unarmed officers.
Too Many Carrots for Iran
November 24, the deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran, approaches, and things aren’t looking good. With less than three weeks left, Iran is adopting a hardline negotiating position. And although there’s time left to reach a good deal, ...
Around October 10, 680, following his defeat at the Battle of Karbala, Husayn ibn Ali was beheaded by the Umayyad caliphate, and his followers and family were killed or enslaved. Husayn’s execution is central to Shia Islamist theology. Each year, his ...
The Islamic State’s Stoning Video
A veiled woman listens to a heavily bearded fanatic. Standing alongside him is an elderly man. In the background, another masked man shuffles casually, as if he’s waiting for a bus. Other armed men lurk all around. Watching. Waiting.
Intelligence and the Islamic State
Intelligence is nothing if not an institutionalized black market in perishable commodities.
— John le Carré
When an intelligence commodity perishes, the costs can be severe. Consider what’s happening with the Islamic State.
Ignorant of IS’s plans, the Obama ...
Kobani and Obama’s Failing Strategy
[The Islamic State is] a learning enemy and they know how to maneuver and how to use populations and concealment, they’re becoming more savvy with the use of electronic devices, they don’t fly flags and move around in ...
“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”— Mao Zedong
China’s Communist rulers have always claimed that they’re social emancipators: public servants constructing an economic powerhouse for “the people.”
And it’s always been a lie. ...
‘When black flags emerge from the east . . .”
— Quote from a hadith (reported saying of Mohammad)
Khorasan is a historic region of central and southern Asia.
But when an al-Qaeda splinter group embraced “Khorasan” as its name, it wasn’t thinking ...
The Islamic State threat just got imminent.
Earlier Thursday, Australian counterterrorism officers arrested 15 individuals in what Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has confirmed was a beheading plot related to the Islamic State. According to news reports, the suspects planned “to ...
Obama Was Right on Ransoms
Absent personal experience, it’s impossible to understand the emotional turmoil that burdens James Foley’s family. Or Steven Sotloff’s family. Or David Haines’s family.
Of course, we can make a poor estimation. Kidnapped, imprisoned, and then beheaded ...
Landrieu’s Hopes Shrink in La.
That wasn’t just a slip of the tongue. Evidently, Pelosi was so enamored by “somebody”’s quote that she had to repeat it to the world. She really shouldn’t have.
After all, whatever individual voters might think about ...
Jihadists in the Swimming Pool
International politics are shaped by two colliding realities: the perceived reality and the physical reality.
Take Libya. This weekend, social media were flooded with videos and photos of a U.S. Embassy residential annex in Tripoli. Islamist militiamen were shown ...
Dempsey’s Clarity and Obama’s Confusion
“This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated . . . can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will ...
A Man of Courage and ISIS’s Face of Evil
The video released yesterday depicting the Islamic State’s beheading of American journalist James Foley proves two things: the character of an immensely courageous man and the purely evil nature of the Islamic State.
Recording this brutal beheading, the jihadist ...
Obama’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ Moment
‘We broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar. We helped vulnerable people reach safety, and we helped save many innocent lives. Because of these efforts, we do not expect there to be an additional operation to evacuate people off the ...
America to the Rescue, Again
A few days ago, tens of thousands of civilians were stranded on a mountain dying of thirst and starvation. Today, supported by their carrier air wing, American naval aviators from the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush are putting ...
On Saturday, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters met outside the White House.
Unsurprisingly, tensions escalated. At one point, Manny Vega, a pro-Israel U.S. Marine (retired), was struck by a number of pro-Palestinians. Being a Marine, he didn’t take this ...
The Islamic State’s Death TV
Ramadan ended this week, and the video-production team for the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, has just released another video.
Here’s what it shows.
The video begins with a message from the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Monday, in National Journal, Ron Fournier considered President Obama’s odd scheduling choices over the last several days. Why, Fournier asks, did the White House see a game of pool as more presidential than crisis management? Fournier then ventured an ...
Consider what we know so far.
First, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by a missile team operating in separatist-controlled territory proximate to Ukraine’s Russian border. Rebels in this area have a recent record of engaging aircraft.
A Portrait of Death: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
A nameless woman “dumped on a street, arms and legs cut off, entrails eviscerated” — this is just one testament from Bing West’s account of Fallujah in 2004.
This was the first mini-caliphate of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). West’s ...
DHS’s Risky Airport Alerts
The Department of Homeland Security is increasing security at airports in the Unites States and at select airports around the world that have direct flights to the U.S. Why is Washington so concerned?
First, al-Qaeda affiliates have a particular ...
Iraq: Beyond Shia vs. Sunni
Watching pundits on TV, you’d think the chaos in Iraq has a simple source: It’s Shia vs. Sunni, stupid. “Iraq’s crisis is the result of ancient hatreds” bubbling for “thousands of years.” Our mistake was removing “bad ...
On Sunday, Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a suspected ringleader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, was captured by a small Delta Force team. He’s now on a ship heading toward America.
He shouldn’t be. Instead, ...