Foreign Policy In Focus

Malaysia Regains Its Footing Amid Intensifying Hostilities in Ukraine

The blame game has already begun over the Malaysian airliner that appears to have been downed by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Both the West and Ukraine insist that Russian President Vladimir Putin must be held accountable for the tragedy. Some, like U.S. Senator John McCain, are calling for the United States to respond more forcefully against Russia by increasing sanctions and providing more arms to the Ukrainians.

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Israel’s Operation in Gaza: Terrorism by Any Other Name

Terrorism is defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary as: “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.” One could say Hamas fits this definition out of desperation and a lack of moral leadership.

But Israeli actions toward Palestinians are much worse: Israel is politically and strategically determined to subjugate the Gazans through fear. They do this through commando raids, mass arrests, and air strikes – all with the most sophisticated army Tel Aviv and its U.S. partners can buy. It has not gone unnoticed by all. On July 15, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the current Israeli air offensive in Gaza, “state terrorism” against the Palestinians.

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Refugee Crisis: The Stunning Collapse of Syria’s Safe Spaces

While filming a documentary in Syria in the summer of 2003, I visited the Jaramana refugee camp near Damascus. Run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, Jaramana at the time housed around 5,000 registered Palestinian refugees from the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967 and their descendants.

At Jaramana, rows of decaying homes slightly larger than office cubicles lined newly built roads. The flurry of young children playing tag, teenage boys riding rusty bicycles down the cramped streets, and the commanding shriek of babies injected some color into a landscape otherwise dominated by the grayish hues of stone edifices and smoke emanating from burnt trash. Like a Rembrandt painting, the Damascus sun’s unforgiving rays bounced across concrete walls, casting shadows of uncertainty over the elderly and young Palestinians alike.

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Women and the War In Syria

From the initial uprisings against the government of Bashar al-Assad in spring 2011, women in Syria have organized and participated in peaceful demonstrations and provided vital humanitarian assistance to those in need. Like their male counterparts, Syrian women who take part in protests or provide aid are targets of abuse, harassment, detention, and even torture by government forces and some armed groups opposed to the government.

At the same time, general insecurity and discriminatory restrictions imposed by some armed groups opposed to the government have curtailed women’s dress and freedom of movement. Many women have become de facto household heads, both inside Syria and in refugee settings, when male family members have been killed, detained, forcibly disappeared, injured, disabled, or unable to find steady employment.

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Reset Relations with Iran

Distracted by crises in Iraq, Syria, and Gaza—not to mention Ukraine and the South China Sea—the world forgets the countdown of a time bomb: the interim deal over Iran’s nuclear program expires on July 20. An extension is expected, but that only means rewinding the clock. President Obama has left “all options on the table” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

permanent deal can still be reached, war averted, and a rapprochement between Iran and the United States negotiated. That outcome is alas far from assured. Before the warmongering dynamic becomes unstoppable, Americans should ask themselves: Why is Iran our enemy in the first place?

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Blowback on the Border: America’s Child Refugee Crisis

After three years of relative silence, the U.S. press has finally “discovered” the crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors piling up on the U.S. border. Although the coverage often began with moving stories of the hardships these young migrants faced, it soon turned ugly. For right-wing pundits and politicians, the “humanitarian crisis” has become a crackdown on kids.

The dominant narrative has been that foolish parents, perhaps duped by scheming criminal bands, are sending hapless children north to take advantage of loopholes in U.S. immigration practices.

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Child Migrants Are Refugees the U.S. Helped Create

The arduous journey from Tegucigalpa, Honduras to the border city of McAllen, Texas stretches some 1,500 long miles. To walk it at an average pace—without resting—it would take around three weeks. If you manage to make it without succumbing to the elements—the scorching days and the freezing nights—among the dust and cacti are strangers waiting to kidnap, extort, rape, or even murder you.

Now imagine you are a child.

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NBC Pulls Its Best Journalist from Gaza Just as Israel Invades

News of the long-anticipated ground attack on Gaza has just broken. Israeli troops have invaded northern Gaza, vowing to protect Israelis and destroy Hamas—regardless of the human costs to Palestinian civilians. El Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital, the only rehab center in Gaza, has been destroyed by Israeli bombs. Four more small children were killed by an airstrike in eastern Gaza City. Israeli tanks are on the move into the Strip.

And now, with the war threatening to spin out of control, the U.S. public has lost one of its most trustworthy reporters in the embattled Gaza Strip. Citing transparently disingenuous “security concerns,” NBC has decided to remove Ayman Mohyeldin—who has been reporting from Gaza for years—from his post and ordered him to leave Gaza immediately.

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When and How to End Foreign Intervention

The latest fallout in Iraq and the ongoing unrest in Afghanistan—two states visited by extensive foreign interventions—raise the question of whether the international community can ever really extricate itself once it has intervened in the affairs of a particular country.

In Exit Strategies and State Building, Oxford University professor of international relations Richard Caplan has compiled a series of essays from 16 noted scholars that focus on four types of post-conflict experiences: colonial administrations, complex peace support operations, international territorial administrations, and transformative military occupations. The volume adds a set of thematic issues, such as institutional modifications to help manage post-conflict transition and the political economy of consolidating the peace.

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America’s Border Fascism

Shena Gutierrez was already cuffed and in an inspection room in Nogales, Arizona, when the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent grabbed her purse, opened it, and dumped its contents onto the floor right in front of her. There couldn’t be a sharper image of the Bill of Rights rollback we are experiencing in the U.S. borderlands in the post-9/11 era.

Tumbling out of that purse came Gutierrez’s life: photos of her kids, business cards, credit cards, and other papers, all now open to the official scrutiny of the Department of Homeland Security. There were also photographs of her husband, Jose Gutierrez Guzman, whom CBP agents beat so badly in 2011 that he suffered permanent brain damage. The supervisory agent, whose name badge on his blue uniform read “Gomez,” now began to trample on her life, quite literally, with his black boots.

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