Thursday, December 24, 2015


Senior Fellow, the Center for Transatlantic Relations; Professor of International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh.

Getting Real: An ISIL Strategy

Posted: 12/14/2015 12:46 pm EST Updated: 12/14/2015 12:59 pm EST.  (Published in The World Post, December 17, 2015.)

Islamic State Flag

Any serious attempt to formulate a strategy for addressing the multifaceted crisis we confront in the Middle East should begin with acknowledging some unpleasant facts of life. The first is that neither willpower nor faith alone will alter the incontrovertible realities of this daunting situation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


 By Ronald T. Fox

In various Phronesis posts I have been highly critical of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and particularly of our disastrous war on terrorism, which has not only failed to stem terrorism, but, as I argued, has contributed to its growth, reach and boldness.  I have been especially critical of the Washington foreign policy elite who have proven themselves time and time again to be plagued by ignorance, fanciful thinking and tunnel vision when it comes to the Middle East.  The deference of the American public to the pronouncements and confident assurances of the foreign policy establishment, despite their long history of being wrong, boggles the mind.  Chalk up the American people as being complicit in our failed policies.    

As a number of readers have pointed out, I've been mute on what I think should be done to resolve the complex Islamic extremist mess we now face.  I have not offered a comprehensive strategy because I don’t feel I have sufficient knowledge of the dynamic forces at play in the region to provide an informed recommendation.  The conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and throughout the wider Middle East are extremely complex, featuring numerous participants with conflicting political and military agendas and strategies.  Even so-called friends aren’t on the same page.  The complexities defy the simplistic solutions offered by pandering politicians who rely on uninformed and gullible Americans to buy into add-water-and-stir solutions. These complexities, along with the fact that ISIS and other extremists already have an extensive presence in several countries outside of the Middle East, means that Islamist terrorism is an ongoing problem that can, at best, be managed, not “defeated.”

Further reading about the various challenges posed by jihadi extremists has helped me get a better fix on the complexities of the various conflicts.  I realize now that my previous posts left a lot out, particularly in regard to President Obama and his senior foreign policy team's responsibility  for ISIS’ (or ISIL's) growth and success and the mushrooming jihadist danger.  While it’s undeniable that President George Bush’s ill-conceived invasion of Iraq and his administration’s blundering policies in its aftermath paved the way for the emergence of ISIS, the terrorist group would not have reached its present heights without Obama's delusional policies.  As failed as his policies have been toward Syria and Iraq, he appears inescapably wedded to them.    

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Donald Trump has evolved from a joke, to a curiosity candidate, a fire-starting contender, to a front-runner for the Republican nomination for president.  Love him or hate him, dismiss him as a flash in the pan, there is no denying Trump has had an enormous impact on not just the tone of the campaign, but also policy positions being embraced by the GOP contenders. Washington Post opinion writer Michael Gerson aptly captured the Trump phenomenon in the following November 23 op/ed. I'm posting it as a guest commentary.

Ronald Fox

Tuesday, December 1, 2015



1. Rush Limbaugh. Leave it to Mr. Bombastic to link the discovery of water on Mars to his anti-climate science agenda. In true Limbaughian bombast, he said on this radio show:
“What's the big deal about flowing water on Mars?” . . . “You know what, when they start selling iPhones on Mars, that's when it'll matter to me.”
Limbaugh said he knew what they would do with the news:
“. . . look at the temperature data, that has been reported by NASA, has been made up, it's fraudulent for however many years, there isn't any warming, there hasn't been for 18.5 years. And yet, they're lying about it. They're just making up the amount of ice in the North and South Poles, they're making up the temperatures, they're lying and making up false charts and so forth. So what's to stop them from making up something that happened on Mars that will help advance their left-wing agenda on this planet?”
This vile, hate-filled blowhard has probably caused more harm to a warm and friendly America than any other individual. It’s sad that so many people still listen to him.