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Clifford D. May

Clifford D. May

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a columnist for The Washington Times. He can be reached at

Columns by Clifford D. May

Illustration on Putin's ambitions by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Vladimir Putin plays a weak hand well

Vladimir Putin wants to make Russia great again. He defines great as powerful, nothing more, nothing less. If you keep that in mind, everything he does makes perfect sense. Published April 30, 2019

Illustration on strategies for the future of Afghanistan by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

The Battle of Afghanistan and the contest of wills

Afghanistan is often said to be America's longest war, but that's imprecise. Afghanistan is the longest battle in what some of us insist on calling The Long War. When did the conflict begin? Published April 23, 2019

Illustration on the continued attraction of Socialism and Communism by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Socialist eras and errors

Socialism is cool again, thanks not least to septuagenarian Sen. Bernie Sanders and millennial Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC). Socialism has been cool before, of course, notably during the Great Depression and what became known as the Sixties, the era of Vietnam, the civil rights movement, hippies and the (old) New Left. Published April 16, 2019

Illustration on the importance of the Golan Heights by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Trump’s clear view of the Golan Heights

The Middle East is vast and, within it, Israel is no more than a speck, a shard, a sliver clinging to the easternmost shore of the Mediterranean Sea. At present, it is the only nation in the region that is free and democratic, with rights guaranteed to all its citizens, including its significant Arab and Muslim minorities. Saying that will make some people angry, but it's a fact. Published April 9, 2019

Illustration on negotiating with Kim Jong-un by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Why Kim Jong-un must feel ‘maximum pressure’

It was worth a try. For decades, one administration after another, Republican and Democratic alike, failed to successfully address the metastasizing threat posed by the dictatorship that rules North Korea. So President Trump took a different tack: He played Mr. Nice Guy. He twice trekked to Asia to meet with Kim Jong-un, the country's mass-murdering young despot. He flattered, sweet-talked and — apparently, at least — befriended him. Published March 19, 2019

Illustration on the history of anti-Semitism by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Hating Jewish people is as old as Judean Hills, remarkably diverse

A freshman member of Congress openly espouses bigotry toward Jews and Israel. Her fellow Democrats, with only a few exceptions, fail to forcefully condemn her words and views. Troubling to be sure, but let's remember: This gnarly tree grows in an old, luxuriant and global forest. Published March 12, 2019

Illustration on deceptive "facts" by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Things we know that aren’t so

It's been observed — and variously attributed to Mark Twain, Will Rogers and Ronald Reagan, among others — that what gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, but what we know that isn't so. Published March 5, 2019

Illustration on the continuing Israeli/Arab peace talks by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

An Arab-Israeli talk-fest for peace

In Warsaw last week, the Trump administration convened a conference on peace and security in the Middle East. The two-day ministerial did not change the world. But it did highlight significant ways in which the world has changed. Published February 19, 2019

Illustration on freedom worldwide by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Democracies die in daylight

"Democracy is difficult — perhaps the most difficult to operate and preserve of all known forms of government." Bernard Lewis, the late, great scholar and historian, offered that observation more than a quarter century ago. Published February 5, 2019

Illustration on "neo-imperialism" by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

The age of neo-imperialism

China, Russia and Iran are very different nations in very different parts of the world, but they have three significant commonalities: All once were great empires. All are now ruled by men who aspire to build great empires anew. All regard the United States as their rival and adversary. Published January 22, 2019

Illustration on the difficulties faced by Argentina by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

A plaintive cry for Argentina

Why isn't Argentina as wealthy as Canada? For that matter, why are all the countries of Latin America, without exception, so much less prosperous than their neighbors to the North? Published January 8, 2019

Illustration on President Trump's strategic defense choices by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

The first two years of Trump

The president of the United States has no responsibility more imperative that this: To defend Americans from those intent on doing them harm. Published January 1, 2019

Illustration on potential new alliances in the Middle-East by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

A modest Middle East detente

Perhaps Barack Obama deserves that Nobel Peace Prize after all. His achievement: Bringing Israelis and Arabs closer together. He produced that result by throwing both under the bus. While there, they had coffee and a little baklava, and recognized how much they actually have in common. Published December 18, 2018

Illustration on the Iranian threat in the Middle East by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Punishing the Saudi prince

Consult a map of the Middle East. Locate the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow sea passage separating the Arabian Peninsula from Iran, and connecting the Gulf -- whether you call it the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Gulf is a thorny question -- to the open oceans beyond. Published December 11, 2018

Illustration on future policy in Afghanistsn by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Substitutes for victory in Afghanistan

Ten years ago this month, I joined a small delegation of think tank types invited by the U.S. military to see how the war in Afghanistan was going. My takeaway was that the American-led forces were not defeating the Taliban, but that their mission could be accomplished — if the incoming Barack Obama administration provided the additional resources the generals were saying they needed. Published November 20, 2018