Clifford May
Clifford May
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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National security reforms for the next president

May 26, 2016  •  The Washington Times

"National security" is a highfalutin phrase for a problem that can be stated quite simply: We have enemies. What do we do about them? Since this is a matter of life and death, it's worth asking: What national security policies can we expect the next commander in chief to implement?

Let's acknowledge that we can only make educated guesses. Presidential candidates have been known to say what they think voters want to hear and then, after winning election, go off in an entirely different direction.

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A death in Damascus, grief in Beirut

May 19, 2016  •  The Washington Times

Five years ago, during the optimistically named Arab Spring, Syrians staged peaceful protests against the ruling dynasty that had long oppressed them. President Bashar Assad responded brutally: In May 2011, he sent tanks into the suburbs of Damascus, Deraa, Homs and other cities to crush his critics. Civil war followed.

Experts, not least those in the U.S. government, convinced themselves that the rebels would prevail. There were simply too many angry Syrian Sunnis and Mr. Assad, a member of the Alawite minority, had too few loyal troops. Before long, Sunni jihadis from abroad began streaming into Syria to support the rebels. Among them were branches of al Qaeda, one of which splintered into the Islamic State.

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Obama's 'boy wonder'

May 11, 2016  •  The Washington Times

Among the most serious charges that President Obama and his supporters have leveled against President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney: They "cherry-picked intelligence." The phrase suggests that, while in office, they sorted through the information provided by America's spy agencies, selecting the tidbits that supported their policies while discarding anything that might cast doubts on their conclusions.

So what has been Mr. Obama's record in this area? Thanks to an incisive essay by David Samuels in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, we now know.

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Observations along the road to ruin

May 4, 2016  •  The Washington Times

People think early European immigrants to America were seeking religious freedom. In fact, they sought escape from religious persecution. Not quite the same thing.

The policy not to molest or hinder those practicing even what were seen as false religions took time to crystallize. Gradually, however, tolerance came to seem sensible — or at least preferable to other options. Eventually, the children of the Enlightenment who designed the American system of government proclaimed freedom of religion a right — a right endowed not by those wielding political power but by the Creator. This was a revolutionary idea. In most of the world, it's still a revolutionary idea.

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The Mr. Rogers Doctrine

April 27, 2016  •  The Washington Times

Barack Obama last week visited Saudi Arabia, an unusual nation with which the United States has had a relationship that can be accurately characterized as both strategic and strange — and one that is now severely strained. To understand how we got to this juncture requires at least a smattering of modern history.

It's polite to say that Ibn Saud, in the first third of the 20th century, united most of the tribes living on the Arabian Peninsula. It's more accurate to say he defeated those tribes, conquering their lands, along with a source of enormous future wealth that lay under some of them.

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