Clifford May
Clifford May
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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America needs its rough men

December 17, 2014  •  The Washington Times

In spring 2009, I was invited to debate "torture" with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." He gave me an opportunity to make a case with which he vehemently disagreed. He didn't spout prepackaged sound bites — he presented thoughtful counterarguments. Not many television talk show hosts are willing — or able — to do that.

At one point, I suggested that if CIA interrogators should be regarded as war criminals for having waterboarded three al Qaeda commanders to make them reveal information that could save American lives, then surely President Truman should be regarded as a war criminal for dropping atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mr. Stewart said he agreed.

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Why fighting extremists can't be politically correct

December 10, 2014  •  The Washington Times

Rarely do so many distinguished members of the foreign policy community gather in a single room. But this was the Great Hall of the United States Institute of Peace: a Washington "institution established and funded by Congress to increase the nation's capacity to manage international conflict without violence."

The occasion was PeaceGame 2104: a "scenario-based, multi-media" approach to developing "new ideas for coping and defusing extremism worldwide" organized last Friday by Foreign Policy magazine in partnership with the USIP and funded by the United Arab Emirates.

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the neo-Ottoman

December 3, 2014  •  The Washington Times

Turkey should have been part of the solution. Instead, it's become part of the problem. The problem, of course, is the spread of jihadism throughout the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.

Turkish policies have been aiding and abetting Jabhat al-Nusra, an al Qaeda affiliate; the Islamic State, which has turned large swaths of Syria and Iraq into killing fields; the Islamic Republic of Iran, still ranked by the U.S. government as the world's leading sponsor of terrorism and well on its way to becoming nuclear-armed; and the Muslim Brotherhood, including Hamas, the group's Palestinian branch.

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Betting on Iran

November 19, 2014  •  The Washington Times

Negotiations with Iran are set to conclude on Monday. What are the odds they will end with Iran's rulers agreeing to verifiably dismantle their illicit nuclear weapons program? I'd wager 100 to one against that outcome — but I doubt I'd find a bookie willing to take my bet.

If a good deal is out of the question, what are the other options? The first is a "final agreement" that gives Tehran a lot in exchange for a little, but which President Obama would present as a triumph of diplomacy.

More likely is a "framework agreement," a statement of principles that will be the subject of yet another round of talks. Such a deal could include another sweetener — e.g., billions of dollars of additional sanctions relief for Iran.

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The Economist misjudges Iran

November 11, 2014  •  The Washington Times

"The revolution is over." When journalists at The Economist, one of the world's most influential publications, run that headline on a cover story, "a special report" on the "new Iran," you assume they have solid evidence to support their thesis.

You assume wrong. What The Economist presents instead are unsubstantiated assertions: "The revolutionary fervor and drab conformism have gone."

And lame aphorisms: "Globalization trumps Puritanism even here."

And platitudes: "In a highly educated and well-informed society, only so much can be imposed from above."

And weird theories: "Pornography, although strictly banned, blazes a trail for freedom."

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