FROM Richard Gowan
Syrian Peace Talks Begin on Shaky Ground Syrian Peace talks first scheduled for Monday finally got under way today in Geneva…for the first time in two years. Expectations have not been high. Somini Sengupta is in Geneva for the New York Times .
A War of Words about Peace in Syria In Montreaux Switzerland today, Syrian peace talks got under way, preliminary to the so-called Geneva II process scheduled for Friday. Nobody thinks the conference will lead to peace. Even optimists call it a "possible first step" to ending three years of appalling civil war. President al Assad has gained strength by giving up chemical weapons and fighting extremists, despite charges that he's a war criminal. Will the US have no choice but to deal with him, rather than ending his rule-if only to gain a temporary ceasefire for humanitarian reasons? We look at today's angry start of a process that might — or might not — lead to changing unacceptable conditions on the ground.
President Obama Wants to Give Peace a Chance In last night's speech to the American people, President Obama laid out his case for punishing Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons to kill its own civilians. He asked every member of Congress, and those watching at home, to view shocking pictures of children writhing and dying, alleged evidence of Syria's use of chemical weapons. In addition to the moral argument, the President said there's a real risk to national security. But he asked Congress to postpone approval for limited military action -- a vote he was almost certain to lose. Instead, he said there's a chance of accomplishing his objectives without force, by negotiating a deal proposed by Russia. Did the President make the alternatives clear? If diplomacy fails, will the President renew the threat? What about Congress?
At the G8 Summit: World Leaders Meet Low Expectations The leaders of the US, Japan, Russia, Canada, Germany, France and Britain have assembled in L'Aquila, Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is hosting the so-called G8 Summit . L'Aquila was devastated by an earthquake just three months ago. Some 3500 reporters are on hand today.
At the G8 Summit: World Leaders Meet Low Expectations The leaders of the US, Japan, Russia, Canada, Germany, France and Britain and some 3500 reporters have crowded into L'Aquila, Italy, a town still feeling aftershocks from a devastating earthquake in April. Iran and food security are on the agenda , and President Obama faces pressure to demonstrate US leadership on economic recovery and global warming. Prime Minister Berlusconi's personal scandals have led to a lack of planning. China's President Hu Jintau has gone home to deal with the Uighurs. We get an update and a preview of what's to come.
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.
Trump's ethical conflicts pile up as transparency diminishes President Trump's refusal to reveal his income tax returns is just one example of a lack of transparency that could be hiding conflicts of interest. Other conflicts are already obvious from his appointments. And he's being sued for using his job to increase his profits.
White House flip flops: NATO, Syria and China In less than 100 days, President Trump has contradicted himself on a host of foreign policy issues — Syria, NATO, China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Is it a strength — or a weakness — for the United States when the world of power politics never knows what to expect?