From Russia With Love: New Revelations Once Again Put White House on the Defensive

Russia has historically been the downfall of many promising political careers.  Napoleon was on a roll until he decided to invade the country in 1812, when a brutal Russian winter froze his formidable army in its tracks. In America after World War II, the Red Scare ensnared many prominent figures who had once had Soviet sympathies, most notably Alger Hiss, a well-respected diplomat who was tried as a Russian spy (and eventually convicted of perjury).

Donald Trump may be next. No matter how hard the president tries, he can’t seem to shake allegations that members of his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.  

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The Odd Couple: Trump and Putin Finally Meet

The long-awaited first meeting between President Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is finally happening Friday at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

It couldn’t come at a stranger time in U.S.-Russian relations. Trump, who came into office seeking a reset with America’s implacable geopolitical adversary, is under pressure at home thanks to an investigation into alleged ties between the Kremlin and his 2016 presidential campaign. Continue reading “The Odd Couple: Trump and Putin Finally Meet”

Nightmare on the Korean Peninsula: Pyongyang Gets an ICBM

Tuesday was the Fourth of July. And while many Americans celebrated the holiday in usual pyrotechnic fashion, it was North Korea that produced the day’s biggest fireworks.

Indeed, Pyongyang chose America’s Independence Day to launch its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile, a major development that came sooner than expected and put the world’s most infamous rogue state one step closer to targeting the U.S. with a nuclear weapon.  Continue reading “Nightmare on the Korean Peninsula: Pyongyang Gets an ICBM”

Supreme Court Gives Trump’s Travel Ban a Boost

President Trump’s travel ban is once again the law of the land—at least for now. The Supreme Court decided Monday to reinstate certain parts of the president’s controversial executive order, pending a full review by the justices this fall.

In a unanimous opinion, the high court struck down two lower court orders that put a hold on the travel restrictions, freeing the Trump administration to impose a freeze on new visas from six Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) for 90 days.            

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The Specter of War in Syria

The U.S. further embroiled itself in yet another Middle Eastern conflict last week by shooting down a Syrian fighter jet that was reportedly threatening American-backed Kurdish forces in the country.

This was the second time since the beginning of Syria’s civil war that the U.S. directly attacked Syrian government forces (the first was a missile strike in April to retaliate for Syria’s continued use of chemical weapons). Continue reading “The Specter of War in Syria”

America and the Latest Middle East Crisis

Donald Trump’s plan to unite much of the Middle East in a shared fight against terrorism and Iran is already on the rocks, thanks to a rapidly escalating feud among numerous U.S. allies in the region.

Five Arab governments (Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen) recently suspended relations with Qatar over its support for radical Islamists and cordial relationship with Iran.

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Trump Budget Poses Big Challenge to Republicans

“Dead on arrival”: The three words from Capitol Hill that greet almost every presidential budget. Even when dealing with a president of their own party, lawmakers are loath to relinquish the purse strings. They have the final say on all federal spending and financial priorities.

President Trump’s first full budget, unveiled this week, was received the same. Democrats tore into the document, as expected. But even key Republicans in both chambers welcomed the president’s input like a hiring manager accepts unsolicited resumes.

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U.S.-Iranian Tensions Cloud Victory for Moderates in Tehran

Mixed reactions greeted President Hassan Rouhani’s landslide reelection victory in Iran over the weekend. Rouhani, a political moderate (at least by Iranian standards) who negotiated a landmark nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers during his first term, was the favorite candidate of both young Iranians hoping for change and international investors looking for stability.

He is expected keep Tehran on the path to more transparency and engagement with the world. Even though the president is largely subordinate to the supreme leader in Iran’s unique political system – meaning the government’s aggressive foreign policy and repressive domestic one are unlikely to change anytime soon – he still wields some influence over the direction the country takes. Continue reading “U.S.-Iranian Tensions Cloud Victory for Moderates in Tehran”

What Does Special Counsel Mean for Trump’s Political Fortunes?

Washington today feels like London during the blitz: Every day brings a new bombshell about President Donald Trump’s apparent efforts to derail an FBI investigation into his campaign’s alleged Russian ties.

The latest: A special counsel. The Justice Department Wednesday appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the bureau’s probe following Trump’s decision to fire Director James Comey earlier this month. Continue reading “What Does Special Counsel Mean for Trump’s Political Fortunes?”

Trump Hits a Wall on North Korea

When he took office, Donald Trump, like most presidents, inherited a slew of geopolitical headaches from his predecessor. Now one of those headaches, North Korea, is turning into a migraine.

Trump has done his best to keep Pyongyang—and everyone else—guessing on how he plans to address the growing crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program. Continue reading “Trump Hits a Wall on North Korea”