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"Small but meaningful step," is how a senior official of South Korea’s Unification Ministry described the Oct. 4 surprise visit of top North Korean officials. Hwang Pyong So, close adviser to North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, headed the delegation, which crossed the demilitarized zone that div…
"Identity politics" is how former U.S. President Bill Clinton sums up the continuing powerful drive for independence in Scotland. He describes the growing worldwide phenomenon of identification with an ethnic or other group as a major challenge to international cooperation.
The challenge to governments and people of the Middle East and North Africa by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has to be met effectively. To succeed, U.S. leaders above all must be realistic as well as determined.
The overt invasion of Ukraine by Russia’s army, after months of covert aid to rebel forces, has generated the most serious crisis in Europe since the Balkan wars of the 1990s – and perhaps since World War II. NATO has an obligation to respond skillfully, while trying to avoid direct combat w…
The Beijing Independent Film Festival was abruptly shut down over the weekend of Aug. 23-24. With timing likely to be considered too contrived in a movie script, this crackdown occurred just before Hollywood’s Aug. 25 Emmy awards for television programs.
"The right sort of sports fan," is how McGeorge Bundy greeted the news in 1973 that Gerald Ford had been selected as vice president by Richard Nixon. Ford succeeded Spiro Agnew, who had been forced to resign because of corruption.
The criminal destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine has been compounded by de facto desecration of the remains of those killed. The crash site has also been severely contaminated.
Joy B. Etcheson complains my column on Bowe Bergdahl erred in omitting releasing Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo. The op-ed argues personal denigration of Bergdahl is wrong; this holds whatever the prisoner exchange conditions. Media attacks on him have not been limited to the political right.
The Fourth of July weekend celebrates community, local as well as national. Parades featuring people in uniform — scouts, firefighters and police as well as the military — traditionally are a fixture. Military uniforms remind us of the role of war in our history — and present. The current Ve…
The Middle East, always in turmoil, may have been upended in fundamental strategic terms by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, referred to generally by the shorthand label ISIS. The movement seemingly has emerged from nowhere, at least in terms of general public awareness and media attention.
The furor over the American POW Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl continues to escalate. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on June 11 faced hostile questioning before the House Armed Services Committee. Members of Congress complained the White House broke the law by not consulting in advance
The telecom hills are alive with the sounds of mergers, with two at crescendo. In February, Comcast agreed to purchase Time Warner for $45 billion. AT&T last month announced purchase of DirecTV, which if confirmed is valued at about $48.5 billion. Other possible deals provide background …
From ancient times, amphibious military invasions are rightly regarded as particularly difficult. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the greatest such operation, the Allies’ invasion of France in World War II, on June 6, 1944 — D-Day.
The scandal regarding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs continues to escalate rapidly, providing a major ethical as well as political challenge to the Obama administration. Allegations of willful neglect and falsification of records are indeed shocking.
A prominent and powerful man is embarrassed when private comments made behind closed doors are leaked to the media, causing a storm of criticism. There are calls for his removal by people who find his remarks utterly unacceptable and contemptible.
"To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war," said Winston Churchill in 1954, supporting the principle of nations negotiating. Those wise words from a principal war leader, with distinctive credentials, are worth keeping in mind as the crisis in Ukraine escalates.
The U.S. government is working to restrain intelligence agencies, and Americans should applaud. On March 25, major proposals were announced. The Obama administration seeks to end government bulk collection of phone records by the super-secret National Security Agency and require court approv…
South Korea is dealing with growing controversy concerning efforts by intelligence operatives to influence domestic politics. Agents of the National Intelligence Service have admitted to secret work to elect President Park Geun-hye. The Cyberwarfare Command of the South Korea Army has been a…
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has a positive relationship with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, and the Ukraine crisis makes that more important. Putin is not Adolf Hitler, but the history of German-Russian relations is central to addressing the current challenge. Merkel, who speaks…
On Feb. 11, history was made as representatives of China and Taiwan agreed to exchange representative offices. Face-to-face negotiations are led by Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun of China, who heads that government’s Taiwan Affairs Office, and Taiwan Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi…
Defense Secretary Robert Gates was professional and effective in office, but has abruptly reversed course with his new volume of memoirs which bluntly criticize former colleagues, including President Barack Obama.
Ambitious U.S. senators have suddenly emerged to try to derail the fragile interim nuclear agreement with Iran.
"Nattering nabobs of negativism" is probably the most enduring of the many alliterative pronouncements of Spiro Agnew, vice president in the Nixon administration until forced to resign because of corruption.
North Korea’s official source of information and incendiary insults, the Korean Central News Agency, announced Friday the regime has executed the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un.
The international agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program has generated anxiety in Israel, and elsewhere. Middle East uncertainty underscores the growing importance of Turkey, a democracy with strong ties to both Iran and the West.
Shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, CBS commentator Eric Sevareid noted the principal legacy of the murdered leader might well be an "attitude," a contagious spirit that all things are possible if only we have the vision and will.
James Clapper, director of national intelligence, took a hard line on Oct. 29 in testimony before the Intelligence Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. He argued that alarm over electronic monitoring of foreign leaders and vast numbers of citizens is misplaced.
The United States may have averted a debt default, and ended the federal government shutdown, but costly political reverberations continue. The experience of Democratic and Republican leaders frozen in unmoving partisan positions has been unnerving, abroad and at home.
The maneuvering by Chancellor Angela Merkel and other senior politicians in Germany to form a viable new government is important for Europe, and beyond. Unfortunately, the alarming partisan budget standoff in Washington, D.C., preoccupied most related media attention.
Considerable news has been generated by U. S. military strikes in two African countries, while less commentary is resulting from the passing of a major military leader in Asia, but the two stories are related. Regarding war and revolution, fundamental lessons are enduring.
A new comprehensive report on the environment dramatically declares global warming is bringing profound changes, and must be addressed urgently regarding causes and consequences.
On Wednesday, Kenya began three days of official mourning following four days of heavy fighting to control a Nairobi shopping mall. The well planned and executed terrorist attack left more than 60 people dead in the rubble. Details are still unclear, but according to reports nearly a dozen a…
"The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression," has become standard shorthand for the global financial crash and resulting severe recession. September marks the beginning of fall, and also the anniversary of the 2008 benchmark bankruptcy of investment house Lehman Brothers.
The phones are busy, and so are the companies that design, make and market information devices. As with earlier communications technologies, smartphones are helping to disseminate political power and foster the growth of equality. Overall, however, the interplay between technology and societ…
The fresh air of freedom is pervasive in South Korea. A visit to Seoul provides direct dramatic impressions of the strength and confidence of this remarkable people. The capital city of the nation is only fifty miles from the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), within range of North Korean artillery a…
‘I have a dream’ is how the Rev. Martin Luther King highlighted his momentous speech in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963, and that phrase resonates strongly. His address was the centerpiece of the historic March on Washington, which involved over 200,000 people.
"Fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline," declared the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam on Aug. 6, in response to an announcement from Hanoi that Internet communications must focus on sharing personal information and not expression of views on politics or policies. The new policy f…
"I speak … in a spirit of hope," said President John F. Kennedy, beginning a policy address to the nation on July 26, 1963. He went on to describe a major breakthrough in the Cold War. The new Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union would prohibit nuclear explosions in the atmosphere.
This year, American Independence Day on the Fourth of July immediately followed the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. That enormous death struggle at a small Pennsylvania town occurred July 1 through July 3, 1863. Afterward, the Confederacy was never again to mount major offensi…
On June 25, Afghanistan insurgents detonated a car bomb and fought security forces in front of the presidential palace. The area is the most heavily guarded in the country. Penetrating the enormous security apparatus is a major success, but spectacular attacks of various types are nothing ne…
Current maritime conflicts echo earlier wars, launched over history to control global commerce and territory, while underscoring the durable importance of traditional trade routes.
The brutal continuing civil war in Syria now includes allegations that there has been use of poison gas by the Assad regime. Gas employed in war presents an especially horrifying specter, which in turn risks raising the stakes for both sides.
Pakistan’s National Assembly elections on May 11 provided a significant victory to Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League-N. Despite violence, turnout was approximately 60 percent. A peaceful power transition to this opposition party means progress from the nation’s history of military coups.
"The first challenge is corruption," Ambassador Bernard Bajolet, representative of France to Afghanistan, stated as he completes this assignment and prepares to return to Paris for another post. Diplomats are generally paid to be discreet, polished and smooth – in short, diplomatic.
In pursuing current events as in playing cards, evaluating the wider atmosphere is as important as studying the specific hand one has been dealt.
North Korea’s propaganda reference to the "venomous swish" of the skirt of South Korea President Park Geun-hye is loaded with symbolism, mostly unintended.
"A real and clear danger," is how U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel described North Korea on Wednesday. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and South Korea Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se have held a joint press conference in Washington to emphasize military and security partnership.
On March 22, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel reached out the hand of peace by telephoning Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to apologize. Often belligerent "Bibi" Netanyahu was making amends for the notorious incident in 2010, when Israeli armed forces boarded a Turkish shi…
"What about the rest of the North?" asked McGeorge Bundy, president of the Ford Foundation, back in the 1970s while considering yet one more grant to help the troubled Native Americans of Alaska.
Cuba’s President Raul Castro has made notable news by announcing on Feb. 24 that he will retire from that office in 2018. His older brother Fidel stepped down from the same post in 2008, after turning 85 years of age.
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