William Pfaff is the author of The Irony of Manifest Destiny, published in June 2010 by Walker and Company (New York) -- his tenth and culminating work on international politics and the American destiny. He describes the neglected sources and unforeseen consequences of the tragedy towards which the nation's current effort to remake the world to fit America's measure is leading. His previous books and his articles in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and his syndicated newspaper column, featured for a quarter century in the globally read International Herald Tribune, have made him one of America's most respected and internationally influential interpreters of world affairs.   [Read more...]
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More on ISIS

Paris, September 24, 2014 -- The Mideast horrors grow. Latest are the Syrian Kurds, in unthought-of numbers, in flight to Turkey, where there already are more than a million refugees from Syria. As if the region were not already thick with refugees from the terrorism practiced by one side or another. But in the next 24 hours there was a reversal, with Kurdish peshmergas heading back across the border to fight the ISIS forces.

Harboring the refugees, getting aid and shelter to them, is a worthier and more urgent cause than airstrikes on ISIS, deserved as these strikes are. Cutting off the heads of aid workers and journalists is nothing in comparison with the degradation and dehumanization being inflicted on the pathetic people of the Middle East by all sides.

The Congress tells President Barack Obama to do something — while reluctant itself to do anything but excoriate the president and party rivals. Let them declare war if they want war. The president says that the United States will halt and “destroy” the Islamic State, which makes the Congress feel more righteous because it sounds like the declaration of war they have yet to supply.

But the number of nations signing up with John Kerry to “support” war on the ground while the United States “leads” from Washington is modest, and Congress is largely uninterested in declaring another war with elections awaiting them in a few weeks.

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