Aaron David Miller

Same Old Barack Obama

Don't be fooled by the Iraq airstrikes. He's the risk-averse president he's always been -- and that should be just fine by us.

Think U.S. President Barack Obama's recent decision -- welcome as it is -- to strike the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq represents a fundamental shift in his risk-averse foreign policy? Convinced that the leader whose critics blast him for leading behind is now -- with the 800-plus days that remain in his presidency -- on the verge of becoming the risk-ready leader you always wanted him to be? 

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Who Won the Gaza War?

Turns out the biggest winner wasn’t even fighting.

When elephants fight, the old African proverb intones, it is the grass that suffers.

I think we can pretty well determine now who the big loser was in the third Gaza war: the 1.8 million Palestinians of Gaza (53 percent of whom are under the age of 18). It will take years to rebuild the ruined landscape of the Gaza Strip. Factor in the 1,800 innocents and combatants killed, the thousands wounded, the tens of thousands displaced, and the damage to homes and infrastructure, and I think it's a safe bet to conclude that Gazans lost.

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The Hamas Rope-a-Dope

It's going to be a long fight -- but Hamas has weathered the Israeli barrage thus far. And that counts as a win.

As July 27's Israeli air and artillery strikes demonstrate, the deadly confrontation in Gaza is far from over. Cease-fire proposals seem to come and go. But neither side is in the mood for sustainable de-escalation; each believes there is still much to gain from continuing the fight. Or perhaps to be more accurate, both worry about losing an advantage if they call an end to the bloody proceedings.

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The Endgame in Gaza

Can Netanyahu really demilitarize the Strip without making Hamas a partner?

Until I heard CNN's weekend interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and watched Bloody Sunday unfold with scores of Palestinian civilian deaths and 13 Israeli soldiers killed, I thought I had the Gaza thing pretty much figured out. It would end -- more or less -- the way the two previous movies had concluded.

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Israel and Hamas Need Each Other

The two warring actors may hate each other, but they can't seem to live without each other either.

In her fascinating book A History of God, Karen Armstrong posits that the reason people believe in God is because God "works for them." That is to say, God is compelling because the idea of a divine being serves a useful purpose in people's lives. That utilitarian argument may be masked beneath a deep layer of spiritual devotion -- but it's a pragmatic decision all the same.

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