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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

Articles by Clifford D. May

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

Bring Asia Bibi to America

Eight years ago this month, Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian, was prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to be hanged on the charge of blasphemy. She has spent the years since on death row. Now, Pakistan's Supreme Court has overturned her conviction on grounds of insufficient evidence. So this sad story turns out to have a happy ending, right? C'mon, you knew it wasn't going to be that simple. Published November 13, 2018

Illustration on the precarious nature of freedom on earth by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

The advance of illiberal world disorder

You don't know much about history if you don't know this: "Until 1945 the story of humankind going back thousands of years was a long tale of war, tyranny, and poverty. Moments of peace were fleeting, democracy so rare as to seem almost accidental, and prosperity the luxury of the powerful few." Published November 6, 2018

Illustration on the Middle East peace process by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Peace processing 2.0

Tibetans would like a state of their own, as would Uyghurs. China's rulers do not intend to let those peoples go. The Kurds would like a state of their own. The governments of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria remain determined to prevent them from establishing one. The Chechens would like a state of their own. Russian President Vladimir Putin will allow that when pigs fly. Published October 30, 2018

Illustration on U.S. reaction to Saudi culpability in the Khashoggi murder by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Killing Khashoggi

This much we know for certain: Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen, critic of the royal family, and columnist for The Washington Post, was killed by Saudi operatives inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Published October 23, 2018

Illustration on U.S. anti-terrorism strategy by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Trump's new counterterrorism strategy

"We remain a nation at war." President Trump's new National Strategy for Counterterrorism (NSC) begins with that simple statement of fact. The 21st century is an age of conflict. That's unlikely to change any time soon. Published October 9, 2018

Illustration on liberty and self-rule by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Americans' right to self-rule

In a stern and defiant speech earlier this month, National Security Adviser John Bolton made clear that the United States will not join the International Criminal Court, will not cooperate with it, nor provide it assistance. Published September 25, 2018

Illustration on the failure of commercial reform of criminal regimes by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Criminal regimes against the rest of us

Imagine you live in a nice, quiet town and aim to keep it that way. You own a business. Your customers are friendly. Your vendors are honest. People respect one another. They abide by the rules. Then, one day, criminals move into the neighborhood. Do you welcome the thugs, thieves and murderers, conduct business with them and attempt to integrate them into your village? Published September 18, 2018

Illustration on Islamist extremism by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Extremism and fragile states

Last year, Congress asked the U.S. Institute of Peace, a government-funded think tank, to develop "a comprehensive plan to prevent the underlying causes of extremism in fragile states in the Sahel, Horn of Africa, and the Near East." Published September 11, 2018

Illustration on America's lack of awareness about Islamist terror by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

The 'Long War' is not getting shorter

Seventeen years ago next week, out of a clear blue sky, Americans were massacred on a scale unprecedented since Pearl Harbor. Published September 4, 2018

Illustration on BDS by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

The sparkling waters of the West Bank

In this topsy-turvy world, if you'd like to see Palestinians living in peace, gainfully employed, with access to quality medical care and reason to believe tomorrow will be brighter than today, you're denounced as anti-Palestinian. Published August 28, 2018

Illustration on China as a rival to the U.S. by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

The China syndrome

Pollsters at the Pew Research Center recently asked an intriguing question: Who is the "most important partner for American foreign policy?" Published August 21, 2018

Illustration on the EU's euphoric view of Iran's intentions by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Imagining the Islamic Republic

Last week, the European Union issued a statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear weapons deal concluded with Iran's rulers, from which President Trump withdrew three months ago. Published August 14, 2018

Illustration on elections in Turkey and Pakistan by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

In Turkey and Pakistan, discouraging elections

Not so long ago, freedom and democracy seemed to be on the march in the world, with Turkey and Pakistan, two strategically important Muslim-majority nations, near the front of the parade. That turns out to have been an illusion. Elections recently held in these countries have, paradoxically, made that clear. Published July 31, 2018

Illustration on freedom of religion by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Advancing freedom of religion globally

Twenty years ago, President Clinton, with bipartisan support, signed into law the International Religious Freedom Act. The intention: To enshrine religious freedom as a core component of American foreign policy, and spread the blessings of religious liberty around the world. Published July 24, 2018

Preservation of the NATO Treaty Illustration by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Making NATO great again

NATO's first Secretary General, Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, articulated the military alliance's mission succinctly: "Keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down." Published July 17, 2018

Illustration on dealing with Iran by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Iran's greedy demands

Britain, France and Germany are three of America's closest allies, but they don't always act like it. Last week in Vienna, their foreign ministers met with the foreign ministers of China and Russia, strategic adversaries of the U.S., as well as the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a regime whose rallying cry for almost 40 years has been "Death to America!" Published July 10, 2018