The closer the mid-term elections get, the less responsible the debate over Iraq is likely to become. Inversely, post-election political dynamics will favor arguments and options more grounded in reality than rhetoric. The national debate over the way forward in Iraq will become much more consequential the evening the votes are counted. Regardless of which party finds itself in control of Congress on Nov. 8, the new political constellation will favor a reduction in partisanship and some unusual political bedfellows. If the Republicans retain control of Congress, they will give increasingly less fealty to a lame-duck White House. Regardless of […]

As I write, CNN is reporting the breaking news that a threat about the planned simultaneous detonation of seven “dirty bombs” at this weekend’s National Football League games, posted Oct.12 on an Internet chat site, is not considered credible by U.S. authorities. Although the Department of Homeland Security initiated prudent security measures by informing and advising the NFL, it has determined the threat is unreliable. How and why did DHS determine the threat is empty? Is it technically and organizationally feasible to launch such an attack with radiological dispersion devices (RDDs) — so called “dirty bombs” — on the U.S. […]

French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie was in Yorktown, Va., Thursday to preside over 225th anniversary celebrations of the decisive siege that effectively ended the American Revolution, and she used the occasion to underscore the importance of French-U.S. relations. A parade of American and French troops in the city on the Chesapeake represented the military partnership that forced British General Charles Cornwallis to ask for surrender terms on Oct. 17, 1781, and to capitulate two days later. There was no senior member of the Bush administration at the Yorktown ceremonies, and a Defense Department source called the commemoration “a French affair.” […]

ATLANTA — Somewhere in the world, the sun is setting and its time to break fast. The world’s Muslims are in the middle of Ramadan, a month of daytime fasting, followed by evening communal meals and prayer. It will end with the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr, a morning of prayer capped by days of celebration, eating and visiting. Three hundred nightly regulars at Masjid al-Farooq follow the same schedule as every other Muslim in the world. But al-Farooq’s location is a little different. It is in Atlanta, Ga.,the chief city of the American Southeast, located in the middle of the Bible […]

Last February wasn’t a good month for Terry Semel. Not only was the Yahoo! Chairman and CEO in the middle of an ambitious overseas expansion project, but his web search company had been called before Congress to testify about its involvement in a high-profile international incident. Bad news for any businessman, but for U.S. foreign policy it was a sudden and unsettling introduction to the reach of the information age. The trouble for Yahoo started with the jailing of Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist who had been convicted of “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities” after an email he […]

JERUSALEM — When Israelis heard that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was coming to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, their reaction required no words, a shrug of the shoulders was enough. Most believed that Condi’s diplomatic prowess would achieve little in the Holy Land. This may be the land of miracles, but it is also the land of grudges, even among cousins. Make that especially among cousins. The prevailing view here even before Condi arrived on Wednesday was that as long as Palestinians continued battling one another, unable to decide on a unified strategy for the future, anything […]

With respect to the U.S. Air Force’s program to replace its aging aerial refueling tankers, it may be time to expect the unexpected: that this big acquisition program may proceed hereafter without a major hitch. Sheer necessity may make it so, according to a defense analyst who has spoken with senior Air Force officials about the program. That driving necessity: “They do not have the money to keep this competition going” indefinitely, said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Va.-based think tank. The Air Force had been very close to wrapping up a tanker replacement deal with The […]

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — When asked about his over-the-top Bush name calling, Hugo Chavez late last month told Time magazine: “Bush has called me worse things: tyrant, populist dictator, drug trafficker, to name a few.” Sticks and stones break bones. And in Washington names and labels can too. Washington watchers say advocates for toothy Chavez containment are searching for new things to call the fiery leader who, if the heavy, hard-to-refine crude in Venezuela ‘s Orinoco region is counted, controls the world’s largest oil estate. In other words, Washington is hunting for a smoking gun to link to Chavez. But […]

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UNITED NATIONS — South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon seemed assured of becoming U.N. secretary general Monday after emerging unscathed from an informal Security Council straw poll in which each of the other five remaining candidates were vetoed. Ban led the field with 14 out of a possible 15 “encouragements” and no “discouragements,” but one “no opinion” from a non-permanent council member. The five permanent members with veto power — the United States, Britain, Russia, China, and France — made no attempt to block his progress. Ban has led the field in all four straw polls the Security Council has […]

UNITED NATIONS – A straw poll by the U.N. Security Council Monday could be decisive in selecting a successor to Secretary General Kofi Annan, who steps down Dec 31. The outcome hangs on whether the front runner, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, is blocked by a negative vote from one or more of the five veto-wielding permanent Security Council members — the United States, Britain, Russian, China, and France. The soft-spoken, mild-mannered minister has led the field almost from the start of the council’s secret straw polls, in which the 15 members were asked which of the seven candidates […]