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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

How art imitates life in Ukraine

How art imitates life in Ukraine

Just over a year ago, Volodymyr Zelensky was a comic actor. One day, his rant against Ukrainian politics and politicians, surreptitiously recorded, goes viral on social media. The result: He's elected president of Ukraine with 67 percent of the vote. Published July 30, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, July 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Getting human rights right

At the State Department, human rights have generally been a not-so-high priority. The big kahunas tend to focus on war and peace, allies and adversaries, national security and global economics. Published July 16, 2019

Illusatration on nationalism by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Who’s afraid of nationalism?

Is a new "age of nationalism already upon us?" That premise will be debated in Washington, July 14-16, at the "kick-off event" of the Edmund Burke Foundation, a fledgling public affairs institute dedicated to "strengthening the principles of national conservatism in Western and other democratic countries." Published July 9, 2019

Illustration on the Middle East peace process by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Palestinians’ ‘opportunity of the century’

Abba Eban, who was serving as his country's foreign minister after Israel defended itself from Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the Six-Day War, is said to have lamented that Palestinians "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." Published July 2, 2019

Illustration on Hong Kong by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Hong Kong freedom fighters deserve more support than they’re getting

"God has planted in every heart," President George W. Bush famously said, "the desire to live in freedom," I've never been convinced that's true. But the desire to live in freedom has been planted in some hearts. In Hong Kong in recent days, we've been witnessing a bracing demonstration. Published June 25, 2019

Illustration on nationalism by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Why the Trump brand of nationalism works

Donald Trump strutted on the European stage last week and, it seems to me, put in a boffo performance. He wore white tie and tails. He charmed Queen Elizabeth. He gave the heroes of Normandy what may be, sadly, their final curtain call. Published June 11, 2019

Illustration on the new rise of socialism by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Socialism rises from the grave

In 2002, Joshua Muravchik, a distinguished scholar, wrote a history of socialism which, he thought, might also be considered an epitaph for socialism. Published June 4, 2019

American Strength Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

The imperative of deterrence

Are we at war yet? Over recent days, warnings of a gathering storm have been ubiquitous and incessant. Published May 21, 2019

In the Dragon's Grip Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

China isn’t what it used to be

Last week, presidential contender Joseph Biden asked rhetorically: "China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man!" He added: "I mean, you know, they're not bad folks. But guess what, they're not competition for us!" Published May 7, 2019

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