Pakistan’s historic elections

Last weekend, Pakistan went to the ballot box to elect its parliament. Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted in a military coup led by Pervez Musharraf in 1999, won. It is a significant milestone in Pakistan’s history: the transition from one elected government to another. So is Pakistan on the path to normalcy? It’s still a [...]

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A red line for American intervention in Syria?

Last week, the U.S. government released some sobering news about the war in Syria; chemical weapons have possibly been used in the conflict. In a statement to reporters while traveling in the Middle East, Secretary of State John Kerry accusedthe Assad regime of launching “two chemical attacks” on the rebellion. Does this mean the U.S. [...]

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Caution for North Korean brinksmanship

Last Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a stern warning to North Korea; Pyongyang must stop “bucking the trend of history and common sense” with its constant nuclear brinkmanship. Mr. Kerry is right, of course, but he also understands that the ritual Korean sabre-rattling isn’t going to end anytime soon. In many ways, the Korean regime builds [...]

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The trials of Boston

When the worst crime of 1770 occurred on a cold night in Boston — the “bloody butchery” of five patriots by nine British redcoats, no one would defend the soldiers accused of the crime.

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Keep calm and carry on

The tragedy this week in Boston, where homemade bombs ripped through a crowd watching the Marathon, is appalling: 3 confirmed dead so far, over a hundred wounded and dozens in critical condition. What can we learn about this attack? Is it preventable? Are we any less safe? Despite Monday’s tragedy, it’s difficult to avoid the [...]

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On Boston: The benefit of a reporter’s perspective

A journalist can never become a part of the story. But journalists do have the power to alter the course of events, if they lose their objectivity.

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The jihadization of Syria’s resistance

On Tuesday, the Islamic State of Iraq – an al Qaeda affiliate – officially announced that it had merged with Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian resistance group with several thousand fighters. The new group is called the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria(ISIGS). It is a worrying development for a number of reasons. The U.S. [...]

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Do Russia and America have a future together?

Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has been something of a mystery to the West. Two competing instincts, incorporating Russia into international institutions and “finishing the job” of  marginalizing Moscow, have never coexisted peacefully. As a result, Western relations with Moscow have steadily declined over the last fifteen years. Leaders in the West [...]

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Loving and marriage

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. So decreed the United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia, the aptly titled 1967 landmark case that reaffirmed marriage as a fundamental right and overturned the nation’s anti-miscegenation laws, i.e., laws that told people who they could [...]

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We are not starfish

Last month the Puerto Rican Supreme Court ruled against the right of a lesbian couple to adopt a child. The couple in question has been together for over 25 years and has a teenage daughter (biologically related to one of the mothers) who they have co-parented since birth. Judge Kolhoff, a practicing pastor and Supreme [...]

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The Islamabad drone dance

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, conducted a three-day visit to Islamabad, Pakistan last week. Despite his stated purpose to investigate drone strikes, he did not speak with any of the agencies responsible for those strikes, or even visit any strike sites. Instead, Mr. Emmerson met with some government officials, dutifully reported [...]

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Why did the U.S. capture Sulaiman Abu Ghaith?

Last Friday, the U.S. government announced it had captured Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and al Qaeda’s one-time chief propagandist, in Jordan. His capture appeared like a major coup. When the U.S. invaded  Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in 2001, Abu Ghaith told Aljazeera, “the planes will not stop,” referring to more 9/11-style attacks. In reality, however, [...]

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The strange politics of human rights conferences

Over the weekend, I attended the International Forum and Film Festival for Human Rights (FIFDH) in Geneva, Switzerland. They invited me to discuss the implications of a recent documentary by Dutch filmmaker Vincent Verweij called “Attack of the Drones,” which premiered last year. The documentary raises many important questions about the use of this weapons platform [...]

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Putting the War on Terror under the law

In early February, a Department of Justice Office of Legal Council White Paper that summarized the White House’s legal reasoning for the war on terrorism leaked to the public. While the White Paper limited its discussion to why the White House can order lethal strikes against American citizens, it also contains some worrying hints about how [...]

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Can STEM Really Succeed?

In 2006, the U.S. National Academies expressed  concern about the declining state of education in the United States in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It recommended improving K–12 science and mathematics education, providing additional training for teachers in these areas, and increasing the number of students entering college for STEM-related degrees. [...]

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Inequities in life and death

Racial disparities and inequities in American healthcare are evident in daily life, but regrettably they are also prominent in death. In these final days of Black History Month, it is imperative to reflect on the final days of all African-Americans and the choices they have within our health care system. These are the choices they aren’t taking, [...]