Commentary

The views expressed by the authors in the Commentary section are not those of Reuters News.

Commentaryin 5 hours

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses supporters after the announcement of partial results in parliamentary elections in Budapest. April 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Closing a major university is a big deal. Created, staffed and maintained at large, usually public, expense, universities serve both a utilitarian and an idealistic purpose: to provide the highly-educated workforce modern economies require, and to uphold and further civilized values through the understanding of the world the various academic disciplines claim to provide.

Commentaryin 7 hours

A needle used for shooting heroin lays in the street in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller

I live in the heartland of the opioid epidemic on the Vermont-New Hampshire border, where I practice and teach medical students and residents in a hospital nursery. Ten percent of newborns here are physically dependent on opioids due to maternal use during pregnancy. That’s two kids in each kindergarten class. Or, to look further into the future, about 50 kids in our local high school. What will school be like for them? Home? How will they fare?

Commentaryin 4 days

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Donald Trump announced after Tuesday’s Singapore summit with Kim Jong Un that the North Korean leader had signed an “unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” However, the U.S. president warned that “scientifically, [denuclearization] takes a long time.”

Commentaryin 5 days

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un looks at U.S. President Donald Trump before their meeting in Singapore, June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The joint statement issued by the American and North Korean leaders after Tuesday’s Singapore summit is a shorter and weaker version of promises made by Kim Jong Un’s father and grandfather – and those made by the younger Kim to South Korean President Moon Jae-in less than two months ago.

Commentaryin 6 days

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

In the end, diplomacy can work – as a process, not an event. There is no Big Bang theory of nuclear diplomacy. If no further progress is made toward peace on the Korean peninsula, all this – the back-and-forth, the Moon-Kim meetings, the Singapore summit itself – is at worst another good start that faded. It is more likely, however, a turning point.

Commentaryin 7 days

A poster of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, Iraq May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

The battle to determine the composition of the next Iraqi government has not yet been won, but Iran could secure a strategic victory in the face of lackluster engagement by the United States. Senior U.S. foreign policy officials are distracted by the upcoming summit with North Korea, while those assigned to push back against Iranian influence are solely focused on re-imposing sanctions – failing to appreciate the significance of this potential turning point for Tehran’s regional influence.

Commentaryin 11 days

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrives at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse to attend a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing, Jun 3, 2018. Andy Wong/Pool via REUTERS

Amid tough talk and unveiled political positioning, China and the United States went through another round of trade talks earlier this month. Sadly, yet perhaps unsurprisingly, negotiators struggled to find common ground.

Commentaryin 12 days

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks outside the Manoir Richelieu, site of the upcoming G7 leaders' summit in Quebec's Charlevoix region, May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie -

Meetings of the G8 group comprising the world’s richest nations used to be an exercise in well-choreographed consensus. The largely technocratic, centrist leadership of major countries would discuss how to tweak the global economy, help those they believed were being left behind and generally congratulate each other on their overlapping progressive and largely democratic values.

Commentaryin 13 days

Hans Keirstead (L) and Harley Rouda, primary candidates in California's 48th congressional district. REUTERS/via Handouts

Polls indicate that the 2018 midterms are shaping up very well for the Democratic Party. But Tuesday’s primary in California is a potent reminder of how misguided reforms to the electoral system can frustrate the will of the voters.

Commentaryin 14 days

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with military officers at the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 15, 2017.   KCNA/via REUTERS

It’s been a roller coaster ride for anyone following plans for a June 12 summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. The actors were contradictory, the stage sets numerous and the messages chaotic. Within days of Trump’s May 24 cancellation of the Singapore meeting – and then the withdrawal of his withdrawal – President Moon Jae-in of South Korea met with the U.S. president in Washington and with the North Korean leader on the northern side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to help keep the summit alive. Meanwhile, U.S. officials flew to the DMZ and Singapore and a top North Korean official came to New York to plan (again) for the encounter.

Commentaryin 17 days

Giuseppe Conte leaves the Quirinal Palace in Rome after a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, May 27, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

The Italian crisis is over, and has just begun. Its dimensions go far beyond Italy; they are now European, even global. The near three-month long improvisations on a theme of governance ended Thursday with the announcement of an administration headed by Giuseppe Conte, a law professor with no government experience tasked with running a cabinet controlled by the leaders of the two parties which form that administration – a signal of weak, divided and warring politics at the summit of power for the foreseeable future.

World Newsin 17 days

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un discusses nuclear weapons development with Ri Hong Sop (3rd L) and Hong Sung Mu (L) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang Sept. 3, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korea is not like Libya. And those who think that Washington should look to the North African nation as a precedent for either denuclearization or regime change in Pyongyang are heading either for confusion or disappointment.

Commentaryin 18 days

A TV report in the South Korean capital of Seoul broadcasts news about the dismantling of North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, May 23, 2018.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

The head-spinning ups and downs of the “on-off-and-now-maybe” summit between Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is diverting attention from the real choice facing the U.S. president: if he remains inflexibly committed to eliminating Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile program by the end of his first term, he will fail.

Commentaryin 19 days

Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency presents the new brochure "If Crisis or War Comes" during a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden May 21, 2018. TT News Agency/Pontus Lundahl/via REUTERS

Over the last two weeks, every household in Sweden received a booklet of instructions on how to prepare for war. Issued by the government and including instructions for every Swedish resident to resist an invader by all means necessary, it was a dramatic sign of just how quickly the recently unthinkable has become something Europe’s Nordic governments in particular feel they must address.

Commentaryin 20 days

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks about the nuclear deal in Tehran, May 8, 2018, in this still image taken from video. IRINN/Reuters TV via REUTERS

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week delivered a powerful speech that essentially defined U.S. policy objectives toward Iran by three noes: no nuclear program, no regional terrorism and aggression, and no domestic oppression. He offered a three-part strategy to achieve those goals, the central element of which is “unprecedented financial pressure” on Tehran. But even with Iran’s currency crisis and popular discontent, sanctions can only be one tool in a broader U.S. plan. Instead, Washington should build upon Pompeo’s approach to pursue a comprehensive strategy of pressure against Tehran.

Commentaryin 21 days

5-Star Movement supporters protest in front of Montecitorio government palace in Rome, October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

In 1972, a time of great stress in the White House and in the Italian economy, President Richard Nixon asked to reflect on the fate of Italy’s currency, famously snapped: “I don’t give a shit about the lira!” His line, recorded amid his Watergate travails, points to Italy being of peripheral concern to the world’s great ones.

Commentaryin 25 days

President Trump has called off a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Before his announcement, we spoke with Ambassador Chas Freeman, a retired American diplomat, about the broader strategic issues on the Korean Peninsula. Lodged between China, Japan and Russia, Korea has long been the object of great power rivalry. Occupied at times by both China and Japan, Korea was carved in half at the end of World War Two, with the North becoming a communist state allied with the Soviet Union and the South a capitalist nation allied with the United States. Eight decades later, it is still divided.

Commentaryin a month

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a military parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, February 9 2018. KCNA/via REUTERS

Kim Jong Un has decided to show Donald Trump that the White House hasn’t cornered the market on drama, much less the Nobel Prize for bringing the two Koreas peace in their time. As the leader of a regime known for its bombast and abrupt about-faces, Kim’s threat to cancel their meeting in Singapore next month is par for the course in dealing with Pyongyang. But Kim also is sending a message: their agenda needs to go beyond his nuclear weapons and missiles.

Commentaryin a month

A combination photo shows U.S.  President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) in Washington, DC, U.S. May 17, 2018 and in Panmunjom, South Korea, April 27, 2018, respectively.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque and Korea Summit Press Pool/File Photos

When President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in first agreed to meet in Washington Tuesday, they seemed to genuinely believe they might be on the brink of a major rapprochement with the North. Now, there are concerns over whether the much-touted summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un scheduled for Singapore on June 12 will happen at all.

Commentaryin a month

Men read newspapers and magazines in Tehran, Iran October 14, 2017. Nazanin Tabatabaee Yazdi/TIMA via REUTERS

Iran is a dangerous place these days, at least in a car. Traffic in the cities here moves like Tetris, with drivers pushing their cars into any open space that will fit. Trips begin in chaos and play out in confusion. How it ends is always up to God’s will, everyone says.

Commentaryin 5 hours

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses supporters after the announcement of partial results in parliamentary elections in Budapest. April 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Closing a major university is a big deal. Created, staffed and maintained at large, usually public, expense, universities serve both a utilitarian and an idealistic purpose: to provide the highly-educated workforce modern economies require, and to uphold and further civilized values through the understanding of the world the various academic disciplines claim to provide.

Commentaryin 7 hours

A needle used for shooting heroin lays in the street in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller

I live in the heartland of the opioid epidemic on the Vermont-New Hampshire border, where I practice and teach medical students and residents in a hospital nursery. Ten percent of newborns here are physically dependent on opioids due to maternal use during pregnancy. That’s two kids in each kindergarten class. Or, to look further into the future, about 50 kids in our local high school. What will school be like for them? Home? How will they fare?

Commentaryin 4 days

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Donald Trump announced after Tuesday’s Singapore summit with Kim Jong Un that the North Korean leader had signed an “unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” However, the U.S. president warned that “scientifically, [denuclearization] takes a long time.”

Commentaryin 5 days

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un looks at U.S. President Donald Trump before their meeting in Singapore, June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The joint statement issued by the American and North Korean leaders after Tuesday’s Singapore summit is a shorter and weaker version of promises made by Kim Jong Un’s father and grandfather – and those made by the younger Kim to South Korean President Moon Jae-in less than two months ago.

Commentaryin 6 days

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

In the end, diplomacy can work – as a process, not an event. There is no Big Bang theory of nuclear diplomacy. If no further progress is made toward peace on the Korean peninsula, all this – the back-and-forth, the Moon-Kim meetings, the Singapore summit itself – is at worst another good start that faded. It is more likely, however, a turning point.

Commentaryin 7 days

A poster of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, Iraq May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

The battle to determine the composition of the next Iraqi government has not yet been won, but Iran could secure a strategic victory in the face of lackluster engagement by the United States. Senior U.S. foreign policy officials are distracted by the upcoming summit with North Korea, while those assigned to push back against Iranian influence are solely focused on re-imposing sanctions – failing to appreciate the significance of this potential turning point for Tehran’s regional influence.

Commentaryin 11 days

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrives at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse to attend a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing, Jun 3, 2018. Andy Wong/Pool via REUTERS

Amid tough talk and unveiled political positioning, China and the United States went through another round of trade talks earlier this month. Sadly, yet perhaps unsurprisingly, negotiators struggled to find common ground.

Commentaryin 12 days

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks outside the Manoir Richelieu, site of the upcoming G7 leaders' summit in Quebec's Charlevoix region, May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie -

Meetings of the G8 group comprising the world’s richest nations used to be an exercise in well-choreographed consensus. The largely technocratic, centrist leadership of major countries would discuss how to tweak the global economy, help those they believed were being left behind and generally congratulate each other on their overlapping progressive and largely democratic values.

Commentaryin 13 days

Hans Keirstead (L) and Harley Rouda, primary candidates in California's 48th congressional district. REUTERS/via Handouts

Polls indicate that the 2018 midterms are shaping up very well for the Democratic Party. But Tuesday’s primary in California is a potent reminder of how misguided reforms to the electoral system can frustrate the will of the voters.

Commentaryin 14 days

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with military officers at the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 15, 2017.   KCNA/via REUTERS

It’s been a roller coaster ride for anyone following plans for a June 12 summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. The actors were contradictory, the stage sets numerous and the messages chaotic. Within days of Trump’s May 24 cancellation of the Singapore meeting – and then the withdrawal of his withdrawal – President Moon Jae-in of South Korea met with the U.S. president in Washington and with the North Korean leader on the northern side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to help keep the summit alive. Meanwhile, U.S. officials flew to the DMZ and Singapore and a top North Korean official came to New York to plan (again) for the encounter.

Commentaryin 17 days

Giuseppe Conte leaves the Quirinal Palace in Rome after a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, May 27, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

The Italian crisis is over, and has just begun. Its dimensions go far beyond Italy; they are now European, even global. The near three-month long improvisations on a theme of governance ended Thursday with the announcement of an administration headed by Giuseppe Conte, a law professor with no government experience tasked with running a cabinet controlled by the leaders of the two parties which form that administration – a signal of weak, divided and warring politics at the summit of power for the foreseeable future.

World Newsin 17 days

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un discusses nuclear weapons development with Ri Hong Sop (3rd L) and Hong Sung Mu (L) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang Sept. 3, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korea is not like Libya. And those who think that Washington should look to the North African nation as a precedent for either denuclearization or regime change in Pyongyang are heading either for confusion or disappointment.

Commentaryin 18 days

A TV report in the South Korean capital of Seoul broadcasts news about the dismantling of North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, May 23, 2018.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

The head-spinning ups and downs of the “on-off-and-now-maybe” summit between Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is diverting attention from the real choice facing the U.S. president: if he remains inflexibly committed to eliminating Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile program by the end of his first term, he will fail.

Commentaryin 19 days

Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency presents the new brochure "If Crisis or War Comes" during a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden May 21, 2018. TT News Agency/Pontus Lundahl/via REUTERS

Over the last two weeks, every household in Sweden received a booklet of instructions on how to prepare for war. Issued by the government and including instructions for every Swedish resident to resist an invader by all means necessary, it was a dramatic sign of just how quickly the recently unthinkable has become something Europe’s Nordic governments in particular feel they must address.

Commentaryin 20 days

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks about the nuclear deal in Tehran, May 8, 2018, in this still image taken from video. IRINN/Reuters TV via REUTERS

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week delivered a powerful speech that essentially defined U.S. policy objectives toward Iran by three noes: no nuclear program, no regional terrorism and aggression, and no domestic oppression. He offered a three-part strategy to achieve those goals, the central element of which is “unprecedented financial pressure” on Tehran. But even with Iran’s currency crisis and popular discontent, sanctions can only be one tool in a broader U.S. plan. Instead, Washington should build upon Pompeo’s approach to pursue a comprehensive strategy of pressure against Tehran.

Commentaryin 21 days

5-Star Movement supporters protest in front of Montecitorio government palace in Rome, October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

In 1972, a time of great stress in the White House and in the Italian economy, President Richard Nixon asked to reflect on the fate of Italy’s currency, famously snapped: “I don’t give a shit about the lira!” His line, recorded amid his Watergate travails, points to Italy being of peripheral concern to the world’s great ones.

Commentaryin 25 days

President Trump has called off a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Before his announcement, we spoke with Ambassador Chas Freeman, a retired American diplomat, about the broader strategic issues on the Korean Peninsula. Lodged between China, Japan and Russia, Korea has long been the object of great power rivalry. Occupied at times by both China and Japan, Korea was carved in half at the end of World War Two, with the North becoming a communist state allied with the Soviet Union and the South a capitalist nation allied with the United States. Eight decades later, it is still divided.

Commentaryin a month

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a military parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, February 9 2018. KCNA/via REUTERS

Kim Jong Un has decided to show Donald Trump that the White House hasn’t cornered the market on drama, much less the Nobel Prize for bringing the two Koreas peace in their time. As the leader of a regime known for its bombast and abrupt about-faces, Kim’s threat to cancel their meeting in Singapore next month is par for the course in dealing with Pyongyang. But Kim also is sending a message: their agenda needs to go beyond his nuclear weapons and missiles.

Commentaryin a month

A combination photo shows U.S.  President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) in Washington, DC, U.S. May 17, 2018 and in Panmunjom, South Korea, April 27, 2018, respectively.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque and Korea Summit Press Pool/File Photos

When President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in first agreed to meet in Washington Tuesday, they seemed to genuinely believe they might be on the brink of a major rapprochement with the North. Now, there are concerns over whether the much-touted summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un scheduled for Singapore on June 12 will happen at all.

Commentaryin a month

Men read newspapers and magazines in Tehran, Iran October 14, 2017. Nazanin Tabatabaee Yazdi/TIMA via REUTERS

Iran is a dangerous place these days, at least in a car. Traffic in the cities here moves like Tetris, with drivers pushing their cars into any open space that will fit. Trips begin in chaos and play out in confusion. How it ends is always up to God’s will, everyone says.

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