Articles

The actions taken by President Obama today are the effective end of a policy that for nearly 55 years has failed to produce real, democratic change in Cuba. The embargo now exists in name only.

The freeing of Alan Gross and an unnamed US intelligence asset has opened the door for relaxing restrictions on banking, remittances, and travel. This, along with the restoration of diplomatic relations, will move Cuba further down the path of reform. After the review process, Cuba should be expected to be removed from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, which will open the island to the reform pressures that come with the access this brings to international financial institutions. Engagement is what brings about change and will eventually allow Cubans to one day live in a free society.

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When it comes to the Middle East, things can always get worse and often do.

But as 2014 limps to an end, there are reasons to question this mantra.

On several fronts, there are glimmers of optimism about easing decades-long confrontations in ways that would strengthen the coalition against the group that calls itself the Islamic State.

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What does the future hold for North Korea? In 2013 North Korean Kim Jong-un proclaimed a national strategy he called byungjin ("parallel strategy") – simultaneously developing nuclear weapons and the economy. He has raised expectations among North Korea's 24 million citizens that he will lead the nation to prosperity.

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On the same day that the Senate Intelligence Committee released its blockbuster report on CIA interrogation practices after 9-11, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation declaring December 10 "Human Rights Day."

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OF ALL the international crises facing President Obama in his final two years in office, how to cope with a burning Iraq and disintegrating Syria may be the most daunting. Syria, especially, is facing the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world today.

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Iraq's chances of remaining a unitary state increased significantly with the signing of a new oil and budget agreement between the Baghdad government and the Kurds.

Building on a partial deal reached last month that permitted the Kurds to legally sell 150,000 barrels of oil a day through a pipeline to Turkey, the new agreement will allow the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to sell 550,000 barrels of oil a day, including 300,000 from the disputed Kirkuk region. The KRG and the central Iraqi government will split the revenue.

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After failing to reach their own deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement, the world's major powers and Iran settled for an extended truce that avoids the hard political choices that neither Washington nor Tehran could make.

The decision to prolong last year's interim agreement for another seven months – the best negotiators could achieve after yet another round of high-level diplomacy in Vienna – will keep Iran from amassing the fissile material for a nuclear weapon without a significant easing of sanctions or breakthrough in U.S.-Iran ties.

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With only one week to go before a self-imposed deadline, the nail-biting is accelerating over whether Iran will reach an agreement with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) that curbs its nuclear program for years to come in return for sanctions relief.

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Jon Stewart’s new movie, “Rosewater,” was conceived out of guilt and is being born at a potentially pivotal time for U.S.-Iran relations.

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FOR 91-year-old Henry Kissinger, establishing a stable, balanced world order has been the overarching goal of his extraordinary life and career. "World Order" is also the title, not coincidentally, of his important new book, further affirmation of his place as one of the most distinguished foreign policy thinkers and diplomats in American history.

Kissinger returns to Harvard University this week, where he first made his mark as a brilliant young student and professor, following his service in World War II. He will talk with students about his most challenging negotiations with China's Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, the Soviet Union's Leonid Brezhnev and the leaders of Israel, Syria, and Egypt after the October War of 1973.

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