U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande arrive at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, Le Bourget, France, Nov. 30, 2015 (AP photo by Christophe Ena).

In the wake of this month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, French President Francois Hollande has cast himself as a fierce war leader, promising to take revenge on the self-declared Islamic State for the atrocities. Yet while he has ratcheted up airstrikes in Syria, he also needs to strike some major diplomatic bargains to shore up France’s global position. Last week, the French president was in both Washington and Moscow trying to secure a global deal on the Syrian war. Now he is back in Paris to kick off final talks on a potentially even trickier international agreement over climate change. […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace, Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Kayhan Ozer).

Editor’s note: Judah Grunstein is filling in for Michael A. Cohen, who is on vacation this week. The downing of a Russian bomber over the Turkish-Syrian border by Turkish fighter jets yesterday offered yet another illustration of the extraordinary complexities of the Syrian conflict and the actors involved there. Coming on the heels of the Paris attacks, and what subsequently seemed like diplomatic progress toward the framework of a broad coalition to fight against the self-declared Islamic State, the incident also highlights the degree to which the war in Syria, like all war, is characterized by the unplanned, the unexpected […]

Belgian soldiers patrol in the center of Brussels, Nov. 20, 2015 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Only hours after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, several politicians in France and elsewhere in Europe, as well as numerous commentators, placed blame on the European Union and its open-border Schengen zone, with some even calling for a breakup of the union or their own country’s withdrawal from it. However, to contain and mitigate terrorism most effectively, France and other European countries need more bilateral and multilateral cooperation, not less, from intelligence sharing to cracking down on arms smuggling. Shortly after the Paris attacks, the head of France’s right-wing National Front party, Marine Le Pen, expressed her “concern” about […]

A U.S. Marine fighter jet aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, Sept. 10, 2015 (AP photo by Marko Drobnjakovic).

The conflict between the self-declared Islamic State and the civilized world has taken a chilling turn. While the extremists continue to fight both the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and the government of Iraq, they now have also demonstrated a deadly commitment to transnational terrorism. In the past several weeks, the Islamic State has claimed credit for bombings in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Lebanon as well as for downing a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai. It apparently orchestrated Friday’s complex terrorist attack in Paris, attempted ones in Belgium and Germany, and has threatened to unleash terrorism in the United […]

French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech during a meeting with French mayors, Paris, Nov. 18, 2015 (AP photo by Stephane de Sakutin).

In the initial hours and days after the Paris attacks, the world reacted with a moving show of support for France. The messages of solidarity came from all corners of the globe in verbal, visual and symbolic form. As diplomats and officials pledged unity with France, millions bathed their Facebook profiles in the blue, white and red “tricolore” of the French flag. Major international landmarks were also lit in the tricolore, and the stirring notes of the Marseillaise, the French national anthem, rose from teary-eyed faces in gatherings from Trafalgar Square to Madison Square Garden. We are all French, they […]

President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference, Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Like most people, watching the reports coming out of Paris on Friday night filled me with an ever-escalating set of emotions: shock, horror, revulsion and finally anger. It seems, however, that among the pundit class, one emotion above all is dominating: panic. And it’s creating a set of myths about what actually happened in Paris, and what the attacks mean, that could keep us from learning the necessary lessons from Friday’s horrors. Myth No. 1: America Is Next From the pages of Politico to the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” this argument has been made repeatedly since Friday night, and […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Vienna, Austria, Nov. 14, 2015 (State Department Photo).

Desperate times call for desperate conflict-management measures. This weekend, at talks on Syria convened in Vienna at the behest of Russia and the U.S., diplomats called for Damascus and mainstream opposition groups to agree to a national cease-fire, in parallel with continued offensives against the self-declared Islamic State and al-Qaida-affiliated fighters. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council pledged to back a “U.N. endorsed ceasefire monitoring mission in those parts of the country where monitors would not come under threat of attacks from terrorists.” Will this be a case of “the third time’s the charm” for peacekeeping […]

French soldiers patrol the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, Nov. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Peter Dejong).

PARIS—The multiple coordinated attacks that struck Paris on Friday mark a new operational phase of France’s war, as part of the U.S.-led coalition, against the self-declared Islamic State. Nevertheless, the same local and geopolitical obstacles to a broader consensus on the conflict in Syria continue to hamper efforts to craft a new strategic approach for eradicating the group there. As a consequence, France and its European partners must brace their populations against the likelihood of similar attacks in the future, even as they adopt a more pro-active and transnational approach to preventing them. The major differences between Friday’s attacks and […]

A woman carrying flowers in front of the Carillon cafe and Petit Cambodge restaurant, Paris, France, Nov. 14, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Killing sprees at six locations in Paris on Friday left at least 129 people dead and many more injured, with the city reeling after its second terrorist attack of 2015. The self-proclaimed Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the massacre, which it declared was in retaliation for the French air-strike campaign against the group in Syria. President Francois Hollande vowed to be “unforgiving with the barbarians” of the group, and French jets bombed the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa. The United States also upped its military campaign in Syria, attacking hundreds of trucks used to smuggle crude oil, […]

A Russian war plane at Hemeimeem airbase, Syria, Oct. 22, 2015 (AP photo by Vladimir Isachenkov).

As Russian warplanes continue to attack targets in Syria, the apparent decisiveness of Moscow’s actions, at least in the view of some observers, has obscured an important reality: the poor readiness of Russia’s accident-prone military, which could increase the risk of an error with significant political or military consequences. The United States and Russia have been engaged in so-called deconfliction talks to prevent accidental contact or clashes between American and Russian jets in the skies above Syria. But as a reportedly errant cruise missile strike in the early days of Russia’s intervention showed, along with Russian planes consistently breaching Turkish […]

Syrian army rocket launchers fire near the village of Morek in Hama province, Oct. 7, 2015 (AP photo by Alexander Kots).

Syria’s most successful rebel alliance may have just barely avoided breaking apart. Over the spring and summer of this year, the coalition of Islamist rebel groups known as Jaish al-Fateh, or the Army of Conquest, scored a series of dramatic victories over the regime of Bashar al-Assad in northwest Syria. But in the past several weeks, just as Jaish al-Fateh announced a major new offensive, one of its most hard-line factions, Jund al-Aqsa, very publicly quit the coalition. The acrimony that has followed the withdrawal of Jund al-Aqsa—an ultra-extreme splinter of al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra—has exposed the persistent and […]

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies before the House Benghazi Committee in Washington, Oct. 22, 2015 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Several weeks ago, Hillary Clinton spent 11 hours testifying before a congressional committee about the deaths of four Americans, including the then-U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens, in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012. For anyone watching this spectacle, little new was gleaned, except for the fact that Clinton is a remarkably disciplined politician—and that whatever threat the GOP’s Benghazi obsession might have posed to her presidential prospects in 2016 is effectively over. What would have been of far greater interest, to both policy analysts and voters, is a look back on the U.S. decision to intervene in Libya, which Clinton strongly supported. […]