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Before and after aerial pictures released by the U.S. Department of Defense Thursday show damage to an oil refinery in Syria following airstrikes by U.S. and coalition forces.

Before we plunge wholeheartedly into a new round of conflict, there are a few things we have to get straight. These five questions should do, for starters. Read more»

The United States is grappling with the risk level of the extremist militants retaliating as Obama inserts military might into Iraq. Read more»

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction published its quarterly report for Congress Wednesday, and this line just about sums it up: “poor planning, shoddy construction, mechanical failures, and inadequate oversight.” Read more»

If the experts are right, then what is happening in Iraq now seems to be the worst of both worlds: a Sunni-Shiite civil war and a de facto partition of the country. Read more»

Bowe Bergdahl

Truthers, birthers, and Kennedy assassination geeks, move over: The sad case of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is providing rich fodder for conspiracy theorists everywhere. Read more»

Analysis: Everybody was expecting a major foreign policy revamp. But the president broke no new ground and struck a defensive pose in his West Point address. Read more»

A U.S. Army Soldier conducts a patrol with a platoon of Afghan national army soldiers to check on conditions in the village of Yawez, Wardak province, Afghanistan, Feb. 17, 2010.

As the clock ticks down to the promised withdrawal from Afghanistan, the U.S. military is trying to figure out how to market the idea that the international intervention has actually accomplished its core mission — bringing peace and stability to a nation that has known little of either for the past 35 years. The solution: a little Newspeak. Read more»

The united colors of outer space, at the International Space Station.

Think Russia has no way to put pressure on the United States? Think again. If you use a cellphone, have a GPS system in your car, or get cash from ATMs, you should be worried. Read more»

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January, 2009.

From Jon Stewart, to Sarah Palin to Brookings, inquiring minds want to know what's in the head of Russia's president. Read more»

A shrine to Ukraine's fallen protesters, as seen on 2nd avenue near 9th Street in the East Village, New York City

The images have been burned into the world’s consciousness: a huge square filled with protesters; black smoke billowing over a beautiful and historical city. Bodies are rushed by on stretchers, angry voices are raised. A man with his feet on fire dances madly around before someone shoves him to the ground to smother the flames. Whatever else the recent events in Ukraine may ultimately bring in their wake, they certainly were telegenic. Read more»

It’s been quite a year for U.S. foreign policy, with plenty of undertakings both naughty and nice. Read more»

A sculpture of Nelson Mandela.

As the world mourns Nelson Mandela, international leaders, including US President Barack Obama, gathered in Johannesburg to honor the legacy of the South African freedom fighter and reconciliation icon. Obama eulogized Mandela as “the last great liberator of the 20th century.” But Washington has not always praised South Africa’s first black president in this way. Read more»

The Ground Zero memorial.

On yet another dark anniversary of the day that changed the world, the United States finds itself once again in crisis. It’s increasingly apparent that some elements of Syrian civil war have their roots in America’s response to those September attacks. Read more»

It's all but official: The United States and its allies have accepted that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people and they are prepared to respond. The big question now is how? And, even more important, to what end? Read more»

Activists in New York's Union Square braved pouring rain and wind to demonstrate their support for Edward Snowden, who is reportedly the source for explosive revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) routinely monitors virtually all personal electronic communications in the United States. The Obama administration is expected to seek criminal charges against Snowden but the issue has the potential to turn into a major crisis for the scandal-plagued White House.

Edward Snowden’s decision to come forward as the über-leaker behind the latest government abuse scandal has made him into a modern antihero. He and Bradley Manning are shattering traditional concepts of patriotism, loyalty, even legality. A TV series can’t be far behind. Read more»

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