Biography

David Ignatius is a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post, writing on global politics, economics and international affairs.

David Ignatius

David Ignatius

Obama's Foreign Policy Needs Firmer Hand

July 11, 2014

In President Barack Obama's sometimes maddeningly cautious foreign policy, you can see him struggling to answer what may be the hardest question of his presidency: How should the United States project power in a disorderly world without making the same mistakes it did in Iraq and Afghanistan?

  • Iran Overplays Its Hand, Creates Instability

    July 3, 2014

    With the sudden rise of the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a little-noted aspect is that Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the supposed strategic genius of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, has blundered disastrously. By overreaching in Iraq and Syria and triggering a violent counterreaction, Iran now faces dangerous instability on its border for years to come.

  • Israel's Peres 'A Dreamer And A Doer'

    June 27, 2014

    At a farewell dinner for Israeli President Shimon Peres here Wednesday night, several of the American guests appeared to approach him with tears in their eyes. This emotional display was a sign of Peres' personal impact on the U.S.-Israel relationship, and the way his departure marks the passing of an era.

  • Road To Stabilizing Iraq Runs Through Iran

    June 20, 2014

    President Obama came nearly full circle on Iraq on Thursday, sending military advisers back to cope with that country's disintegration, as U.S. officials lobbied for replacement of the prime minister that America helped install. These were the right choices, but they were a measure of how badly U.S. policy has gone awry.

  • The U.S. Bet On Maliki Led To Iraq Disaster

    June 13, 2014

    The stunning gains this week by Iraq's Sunni insurgents carry a crucial political message: Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister of Iraq, is a polarizing sectarian politician who has lost the confidence of his army and nation. He cannot put a splintered Iraq together again, no matter how many weapons the Obama administration sends him.

  • Fears Of U.S. Global Weakness: Hyperventilating

    June 6, 2014

    When CBS News brought Dwight Eisenhower back to Normandy for the 20th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1964, you might have expected the former commander of Allied forces to conclude with a triumphal comment. Instead, CBS captured an anguished Eisenhower against the backdrop of crosses at the American cemetery at St. Laurent, ruminating: "We must find some way ... to gain an eternal peace for this world."

  • Obama's Time-Limited Foreign Policy Flaw

    May 30, 2014

    President Barack Obama's measured defense of his foreign policy at West Point on Wednesday made many cogent points to rebut critics. Unfortunately, the speech also showed that he hasn't digested some of the crucial lessons of his presidency.

  • A Good Spy Who Went Beyond The Rules

    May 23, 2014

    What makes a good spy? It's not the flashy qualities you see in the movies, or the "Murder Inc." tactics the CIA has sometimes been ordered to use against terrorists during the past decade. It's something more delicate and human, as explained in a remarkable new biography of one of the CIA's bravest and best officers ever in the Middle East.

  • Long-Term Strategy Key In Syrian Fight

    May 2, 2014

    Syrian rebel commanders had invited me to travel with them inside their country, entering through a crossing point near Rabah al-Sarhan, Jordan, but the Jordanian government emphatically said no. So this account is based on interviews with Syrians I met in Jordan or talked with inside Syria by phone.

  • Chinese Financial Markets Jittery

    April 11, 2014

    China's financial markets seem to be signaling trouble, as a government crackdown on corruption and loose credit begins to bite and jittery local investors scramble for safety.

  • U.S. Increases Covert Aid In Syria

    March 28, 2014

    The Obama administration, stung by reversals in Ukraine and Syria, appears to have decided to expand its covert program of training and assistance for the Syrian opposition, deepening U.S. involvement in that brutal and stalemated civil war.

  • Putin Raises Specter Of Cold War

    March 21, 2014

    Vladimir Putin baptized his conquest of Crimea with a powerful, unsettling speech that should be a warning that an embattled Russia is fighting for what it sees as its national dignity — in ways that require a firm and patient U.S. response.

  • New Leader Struggles With China's Economy

    February 28, 2014

    What Xi Jinping has accomplished over the past year doesn't look like an old-fashioned Communist Party putsch. There aren't red banners in the streets or blaring loudspeakers. But Chinese and Western analysts agree that Xi has achieved a remarkable consolidation of power.

  • U.S. Must Reset Its Foreign Policy Mission

    February 21, 2014

    Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, was trying to explain recently why her state has remained "internationalist" in its soul, even as it shares the national anger about Iraq and Afghanistan. In Minnesota, she says, "internationalism is not just tolerated, it's embraced."

  • Russian Dissidents Display Olympic Resolve

    February 14, 2014

    Amid the television extravaganza of the Sochi Olympics, I had a chance to visit last week with a Russian whistleblower named Sergey Kolesnikov. Back in 2010, he had revealed what he claimed was a network of corruption that included a billion-dollar palace on the Black Sea allegedly built by wealthy businessmen for Vladimir Putin.

  • Senate Panel: No 'Stand Down' In Benghazi, No Military Saviors

    January 20, 2014

    The Senate Intelligence Committee made headlines last week by reporting that the 2012 attack in Benghazi was preventable. But frankly, we knew that. The deeper message of the bipartisan report was that Republicans in Congress wasted a year arguing about what turned out to be mostly phony issues.

  • Good Strides In Middle East, But We're Not There Yet

    October 4, 2013

    President Barack Obama is approaching one of those moments when a big turn in foreign policy is possible. People can debate whether it's the equivalent of the opening to China or the end of the Cold War, but there's no doubt that this is a time of opportunity — and that, as the old English proverb put it, "there's many a slip twixt cup and lip."

  • U.S.-Iran Deal Offers Opportunity, Peril

    September 20, 2013

    For a weakened but still ambitious President Obama, the biggest foreign-policy opportunity and danger of his presidency rolls into New York next week with the arrival of Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani.

  • Secrecy Conceals U.S. Spy Agencies' Flaws

    August 30, 2013

    One interesting conclusion that emerges from The Washington Post's revelation Thursday of the secret "black budget" for intelligence activities is that the United States doesn't have many secrets anymore — not in the age of WikiLeaks and omnipresent whistle-blowers. It's only because of the forbearance of Post editors that all 178 pages of this top-secret "Talent-Keyhole" document were not blasted to the world.

  • Israel Has Opportunity Amid Region's Termoil

    April 26, 2013

    It's a measure of the relatively quiet time for Israel these days that the sharpest argument at a big national security conference here was between an ultra-Orthodox rabbi who wanted "autonomy" for his fellow believers and secular Israelis in the audience who shouted out denunciations of what one called his "apartheid" plan.

  • Susan Rice Pick Has Great Potential, High Risk

    November 30, 2012

    The Republican assault on Susan Rice is a fabricated scandal, attacking her for repeating CIA talking points, almost verbatim, to explain the Benghazi attacks. The U.N. ambassador's version, even with its omissions, may turn out to be closer to the truth than some of the inflammatory GOP rhetoric.

  • Unifying Syrian Opposition Key

    November 23, 2012

    The Syrian opposition took a big step forward this month by forming a broad political coalition that includes local activists who started the revolution. But the opposition's military command is still a mess, and until it's fixed, jihadist extremists will keep getting more powerful.

  • Obama's Foreign Policy Decisions Coming Due

    November 9, 2012

    On foreign policy, President Barack Obama effectively posted a sign on the White House lawn last summer that said: Come back after Election Day. Now, the moment has arrived and the world's problems are lining up for Obama's attention.

  • Massive Political Changes Loom For China

    November 2, 2012

    As Election Day approaches, it's useful to look at the murky political transition taking place this month in China. It's a reminder of the benefits of America's sometimes chaotic democracy.

  • Overextended U.S. Must Make Choices Or Decline

    October 19, 2012

    As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney prepare for Monday night's debate on foreign policy, they could do some useful last-minute cribbing by reading an article titled "The Risks of Ignoring Strategic Insolvency." It's one of the best summaries I've seen of an urgent problem they should discuss honestly.

  • Too Soon To Judge Egypt's Revolution

    October 12, 2012

    You can see what the Egyptian revolution has achieved, 20 months on, by visiting Menoufia, a rural area of the Nile Delta that was the birthplace of the deposed dictator, Hosni Mubarak: Everything is different outwardly, but beneath the surface, almost nothing has changed yet.

  • Obama Dodging Key Foreign Policy Questions

    September 28, 2012

    It's embarrassing when President Barack Obama's risk-averse refusal to engage foreign policy issues becomes so obvious that it's a laugh line for the president of Iran.

  • U.S.-Iran War Game Reveals Real Danger

    September 21, 2012

    Perhaps it was the "fog of simulation." But the scariest aspect of a U.S.-Iran war game staged this week was the way each side miscalculated the other's responses — and moved toward war even as the players thought they were choosing restrained options.

  • Christians, Muslims Gaining Ground Around The World

    September 7, 2012

    God had a good convention: The Almighty's name was mentioned (albeit at the last minute) in the Democratic platform. And he was invoked no less than 12 times in the Republican platform, in case he is keeping score.

  • Apology Patches Up Tattered U.S.-Pakistan Relations

    July 13, 2012

    Why did it take Washington nearly eight months to apologize for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers? But you know the answer: It's because the U.S. and Pakistan have the most neurotic, mutually destructive "friendly" relationship in the world.

  • How To Step Back From Brink With Iran

    May 25, 2012

    It's a classic case of brinkmanship bargaining: Iran and the West, each seeking to squeeze concessions from the other side, have decided to continue their nuclear negotiations on June 17, a few weeks before a punishing new round of sanctions takes effect.

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