PARIS - After Brussels, President Obama's strategy of gradually degrading ISIS looks terribly risky. And much too slow. Yes, ISIS has lost around 40 percent of the territory it seized in Syria and Iraq, much of it retaken by Kurdish forces with U.S. air support. But it still holds the cities at the heart of its so-called Islamic State: Raqqa in eastern Syria and the major urban area of Mosul in northern Iraq. Right now, it appears unlikely that either will be liberated anytime soon.
Suddenly the Kurds are at the center of the universe. Well, not exactly. But the Kurds are now at the center of the struggle against ISIS. This is why I am heading to Erbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, to look at how and whether ISIS can be rolled back.
We've entered an era in which strongmen are in vogue and democracy is taking a hit worldwide. So it's really depressing in this dismal election season to watch how oblivious the leading GOP candidate is to the threats posed by authoritarian rulers. It's equally depressing to watch the GOP - in the battle over replacing Justice Antonin Scalia - undermine the institutional protections that shield us from this global trend.
Why would anyone in the Middle East want to ally with the United States? There are many reasons to ask this question, but here's one I find especially disturbing: how the United States lets down thousands of Afghans and Iraqis whose lives are at risk because they have worked with Americans. For this "sin," they and their relatives are now being threatened with death.
Vladimir Putin seems to be the only leader who knows what he's doing in Syria. While the Obama team was desperately pursuing a diplomatic solution to the conflict, Putin was busy with more practical matters: cementing his proxy Bashar al-Assad in power by military force. Backed by indiscriminate Russian airpower, Syrian troops and f
Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. Over the past decade she has made multiple trips to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank and also written from Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea and China. She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.