A U.S. military vehicle in Syria.

While an exit by U.S. forces from Syria and Iraq is unlikely in the near term, it also seems inevitable. That raises the questions of why U.S. forces are still in both countries. Despite the fraught politics around withdrawal in Washington, it’s time policymakers start thinking about how best to bring those troops home.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

In the days immediately following Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel on Oct. 7, Southeast Asian states mainly reacted either by expressing solidarity with Israel or expressing sympathy and trying to avoid taking sides in the conflict. Now, more than five months later, much of Southeast Asia has turned more sharply against Israel.

A special session of the Oakland City Council.

In recent months, city councils across the U.S.—from Chicago to Boston to San Francisco—have passed resolutions calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. And this is just the most recent occasion in which municipalities have waded into global politics by taking a stand on an issue of war and peace. Why do cities do this? And is it effective?

Torn electoral posters in Tehran.

On March 1, Iran held parliamentary elections that, as expected, were neither free nor fair. And yet, despite the ballot being an exercise that was entirely devoid of democratic legitimacy, the event and the results were far from meaningless. Iranians managed to make their voices heard, loudly rejecting the status quo.

Hezbollah supporters.

Hezbollah and Israel have been locked in limited but deadly conflict for five months, with the violence in danger of escalating into a fuller, more devastating war. Western officials are attempting now to mediate some de-escalation on the Lebanon-Israel front. There is only so much they can do, though, without a cease-fire in Gaza.

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Since the start of the brutal campaign in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that Israel’s military operations will eradicate the militant group Hamas. The Biden administration has backed that assertion, in both rhetoric and policy. Five months into that campaign, it is less believable today than it has ever been.

U.S. President Joe Biden.

Recent contradictory statements from U.S. and Israeli officials highlight how the two sides are working at cross purposes over the war in Gaza, but also illustrate Washington’s seeming inability to restrain a key ally. And yet, the Biden administration has appeared to go out of its way to give Israel diplomatic cover for the war.