Clifford May
Clifford May
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The kingdom, the power and the petroleum

February 22, 2017  •  The Washington Times

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia is changing. When government officials here tell you that, you take it with an oversized grain of salt. But when Saudi human rights activists say the same, you pay attention.

"Baby steps," is how one bright young woman phrases it. She has studied abroad and recently become an attorney, one of only about 120 women admitted to the bar in this gender-segregated country.

Female attorneys in Saudi Arabia can practice only family law. But, she believes, over time other doors will open. "There is at least an acknowledgement that we need to evolve," she adds. More than that, this country's rulers have adopted a plan to reform if not transform their kingdom -- the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds.

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Border disputes

February 8, 2017  •  The Washington Times

Al Qaeda does not value diversity and it's not an equal opportunity employer. The same can be said of the Islamic State. And when the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran want to commit an act of terrorism — the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, to take just one example — they are likely to give the assignment to members of Hezbollah, a radical Islamic group of the Shia persuasion. They are highly unlikely to recruit Unitarians, Mormons or Baha'i.

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Putting a price tag on the United Nations

February 2, 2017  •  The Washington Times

This may come as a shock: It's possible, not likely but possible, that a committee of officials from the Defense, State and Justice Departments, as well as the National Security Council, will conduct a review of the disproportionate funding the United States provides to the United Nations and, hold onto your hats, come to the conclusion that American taxpayers should spend less on an organization that is inefficient, corrupt and inimical to American interests.

Nikki Haley, the newly confirmed American ambassador to the U.N. hinted at this radical departure from tradition when she said on Jan. 18 that that while she would oppose "slash and burn cuts" to the U.N. she did want to ensure that the U.S. "gets what it pays for."

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Defending the civilized world

January 25, 2017  •  The Washington Times

In an inaugural address that was more purposeful than poetic, President Trump last Friday vowed to "unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth." I hope we can agree, across party and ideological lines, that those are worthwhile objectives. But let's acknowledge, too, that achieving them will require a much more strenuous and strategic effort than previous administrations have undertaken.

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Defining violent extremism down

January 19, 2017  •  The Washington Times

Death, where is thy sting? For Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, it certainly didn't come from the mainstream media.

The 82-year-old former Iranian president died of a heart attack earlier this month. The New York Times called him an "influential voice against hard-liners" and "a main voice in Iran calling for outreach to the West." The Los Angeles Times said he had been "one of the most powerful allies of moderates in Tehran." National Public Radio praised him as "a leading voice for reform." The news section of The Wall Street Journal agreed that he was a "leading voice among moderate politicians."

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