David Ignatius

  • TWhy did it take Washington more than seven months to apologize for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers? But you know the answer: It’s because the United States and Pakistan have the most neurotic, mutually destructive “friendly” relationship in the world.Secretary of State Hillary ...

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  • TKhairat el-Shater, the leading strategist of the Muslim Brotherhood, offered a stark warning last Tuesday as he prepared for this weekend’s final round of the presidential election: Egypt can make its transition to a new order the easy way, or the hard way.What’s ahead definitely is not ...

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  • TIn the year since Osama bin Laden’s death, it has been a comforting thought for Westerners to say that he failed. And that’s certainly true in terms ofQaeda, whose scorched-earth jihad tactics alienated Muslims along with everyone else. But in terms of bin Laden’s broader goal of ...

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  • TAmong the last known images of Osama bin Laden is a video seized at his compound the night he was killed, which shows the al-Qaeda leader hunched before a television screen studying a video of himself. It’s testimony to bin Laden’s obsession with the media side of his war against the ...

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  • T In the turbulent annals of the Arab Spring, last weekend’s ceremony in Yemen was so quiet it was barely noticed. But it marked the transfer of power from an aging autocrat who had ruled his country for nearly 34 years to a new leader who’s saying the right things about reform.This was ...

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  • T“We are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on CNN on Sunday. That sounds right to me, but his comment raises a tricky question: How much pressure will it take to get this “rational” ...

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  • T President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood began three years ago in his famous June 2009 speech in Cairo. Ten members of the Brotherhood were invited to listen to the address, and they heard a passage crafted especially for them: “America respects the right of all ...

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  • TWhat kind of democratic revolution brings charges against 19 American workers who have been advocating democracy? The answer is that Egypt’s is a confused revolution, looking for people to blame for its troubles. The United States should stifle its anger for now — and avoid a hasty ...

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  • T The organisers of the World Economic Forum were self-critical enough to organise panels this year on such dark topics as “Is Capitalism Failing?” and “Global Risks 2012: The Seeds of Dystopia.” And these were just the latest in a series of annual ruminations here on the ...

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  • T The foreign policy theme that should dominate this year’s presidential campaign is “American renewal.” Each candidate claims to have a strategy for halting the nation’s decline, but their versions often amount to “more of the same” — which ain’t ...

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  • T As the United States and Iran move closer toward open confrontation, it’s important that both take quiet steps to avoid the miscalculations and misunderstandings that can lead to an inadvertent military conflict.It’s been done before: During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, President ...

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  • T For some intrigue at the start of this new year, take a look at the secret diplomacy under way between the United States and the Taliban. Most observers are sceptical the process will produce any breakthroughs, but it’s interesting that the talks are taking place at all.The path toward ...

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  • T When you ask Obama administration officials to explain their foreign policy agenda for 2012, they point first to the Defence budget. That’s where they want to make a “pivot” in US strategy — away from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and toward the 21st-century priority ...

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  • T It’s a sign of these unsettled times that the analyst who famously announced “the end of history” in 1989, when the Soviet empire was crumbling and liberal, free-market democracy seemed inevitable, has published a new essay with the provocative title “The Future of ...

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  • T Gen. John Allen insists there is “no daylight” between him and President Obama about policy for continued troop withdrawals from Afghanistan next year. That may be technically true, but a political battle is brewing over the future pace of the US military drawdown here.Allen, ...

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  • TIs Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki suspicious eyes, wary demeanour, brows furrowed by years living in the underground really the face of todays Iraq? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, and America helped make it that way. Malikis visit to Washington this week has been a time for taking stock of ...

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  • TIs American power in decline, relative to the rest of the world? That question is at the canter of a provocative study by the US intelligence community exploring what the world might look like in 2030. The answer, judging by comments from a panel convened to discuss the topic, is that America faces ...

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  • TIn the early days of the Arab revolutions, it seemed as if a smartphone might be enough to break the power of repressive governments. These little devices could gather crowds, yes, but even more important, their cameras could document the violence that regimes used to suppress their people. The ...

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  • TCoptic Christians are worried about their future in the new Egypt, as I could see Thursday night at a political rally in a poor Coptic neighbourhood known here as Garbage City. Gathered in an alleyway framed by heaps of trash, and Christian symbols decorating every nearby wall, the residents heard ...

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  • THow has life changed in Egypt since the revolution, and whats going to happen in the parliamentary elections that begin this month? I asked those questions last week in a poor neighbourhood of Cairo called Ain el-Sira, and the responses amounted to a warning: The new Egypt must give these people a ...

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  • TDiplomatic versions of the three-cushion shot in billiards are perilous, but lets suppose you could accomplish the following: Lift the stature of Egypts fragile transitional government, support Israels desire for Arab recognition, reanimate the Palestinian peace process and deal a blow to Iran. Its ...

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  • TWhats intriguing about the eruption of Occupy Wall Street is that its so similar to other populist movements that are demanding change in nearly every major region of the world. You cant help but wonder if we arent seeing, as a delayed reaction to the financial crisis of 2008, a kind of global ...

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  • THeres the trickiest counterterrorism puzzle for US policymakers: How do you stop al-Qaeda from attacking the American homeland without getting bogged down in protracted wars against insurgents? One answer would be to establish deterrence in the long war against Islamic extremism, like the standoff ...

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  • TGen. John Abizaid used the phrase the long war to describe Americas battle with extremism after Sept 11, 2001. When I first heard him say it in the dark days of 2004, as Iraq was spiralling downward, I had the feeling that it would last for most of our lifetimes. Behind this decades-long battle, ...

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  • TPeace is at hand, Henry Kissinger famously announced in October 1972 after a seeming breakthrough in Vietnam negotiations. But it wasnt at hand. It took three more months to complete the Paris Peace Accords, which collapsed in 1975 when North Vietnam overran Saigon. This Vietnam history is a ...

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  • TIts always painful to watch a love affair go sour, as the unrealistic expectations and secret betrayals come crashing down in a chorus of recrimination. Thats whats happening now between the United States and Pakistan, and it has a soap-operatic quality, in Washington and Islamabad alike. How could ...

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  • TWhen Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States in the 1990s, he argued that if terrorists hit hard enough, the United States would retreat. The relentless pursuit that led to bin Ladens death Sunday proved that narrative of American weakness was wrong. Americas difficulties in the Islamic ...

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  • TEconomists theorize about an optimal position on the welfare curve a balance that, if changed, will make things worse. President Obama may feel the same way as he contemplates the coming round of changes to his national security team. By accident or design, Obama has assembled a roster of ...

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  • TUS Defence Secretary Robert Gates is running through the standard list of factors that have caused political upheaval across the Middle East: the youth bulge, unemployment, corruption. I start to ask another question but Gates cuts me off, as if he wants to underline the dangers and uncertainties ...

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  • TIn a rapidly changing Islamic world, the Obama administration is weighing how best to talk with adversaries such as the Taliban and, perhaps, Hezbollah. One model for the administration, as it thinks about engagement of enemies, is the British process of dialogue during the 1990s with Sinn Fein, ...

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