TIME Bowe Bergdahl

Israel Is Experienced With Prisoner Exchanges and Their Consequences

Over the decades Israel has freed 7,000 prisoners to secure a handful of its soldiers, pleasing the public but encouraging kidnap plots

Israel knows a few things about prisoner exchanges. Over the decades, its governments have released more than 7,000 captives in order to secure the freedom of 16 Israelis and, in some cases, the bodies of Israelis. It’s a lopsided exchange rate — about 450 to 1 — that reflects the extraordinary value Israeli society places on its individual members. It also offers a perspective on the price the Obama Administration paid for the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier was released by the Taliban over the weekend in exchange for five senior Taliban figures freed from Guantánamo.

“To be honest, I felt as an Israeli, as a security man, I felt proud for the United States,” says Avi Dichter, a former head of Shin Bet, as Israel’s internal security agency is known. “I’m glad they decided to bring him back, even if it’s five, 50 or 500. I think bringing him back is more important than any other issue. In my life, 43 years in the security business, either in the army or Shin Bet or government, I’ve never seen a terrorist, including an archterrorist, that he’s worth more than the nails of an Israeli soldier. That’s why I don’t believe the five are worth more than the nails of Bowe Bergdahl.”

But prisoner deals are just that — transactions, which in the law of supply and demand create a market for captives, one that Republican critics of the Bergdahl exchange say will put more U.S. service members at risk. Indeed, Israel has seen a surge in plots to kidnap soldiers or civilians since its last prisoner exchange, the October 2011 release of a record 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the captive Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip for five years.

The windfall from Shalit stirred militants to shift their energies toward abductions. In Gaza, the chant was “The people want a new Gilad,” as Hamas officials vowed to repeat their success. Militants burrowed toward Israeli military outposts and communities in what a leader dubbed “the strategy of the tunnels” aimed at reaching Israeli outposts and communities. In the past 20 months, Israeli forces have stumbled on four concrete-reinforced underground channels, each apparently intended to carry back a captive; that’s how Shalit was taken.

Kidnap efforts are also being made in the West Bank, and inside Israel, where 20% of the population is Palestinian. Israeli officials say the effort involves every Palestinian faction, and shows no sign of waning. In December 2012, Israeli security arrested four men trying to pick up hitchhiking Israeli soldiers in an SUV where investigators found rope, masking tape, ski masks and a toy gun. In the next nine months, officials detected another 37 plots, but in September a Palestinian man lured an off-duty Israeli soldier he knew from work to the West Bank, killed him and threw his body in a well. He told investigators his plan was to trade the body for the release of his imprisoned brother.

In the nine months since, the number of plots rose to 50, including 11 traced to Israeli prisons, where high-value inmates were orchestrating the plots, according to a Shin Bet statement.

Still, the exchanges are not only accepted by Israelis, but applauded. At the time, 80% of Israelis supported the Shalit deal, according to polls. And while senior officials appointed a committee to explore ways to avoid releasing such large numbers of prisoners in the future, nothing is known to have changed. The Mossad, Israel’s external intelligence agency, has an agent assigned full time to prisoner exchanges.

“It’s crazy to outsiders, but that’s how it is,” Rami Igra, who formerly held the job, told TIME when the Shalit exchange was taking shape. “We are a small nation, a fighting nation. We have to show the people that fight with us and for us that we as a community will do the utmost to bring them back home. It’s a battlefield value. It’s a very important value, and it has a lot of weight in our national security. Unfortunately the other side knows it, and they use it against us.”

Dichter, the former Shin Bet chief, points out that Israel has the means to have the last word. Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin was released twice from an Israeli prison, he notes, first in 1985 along with 1,149 others in an exchange for three Israeli soldiers, then, after being arrested again, for two Mossad agents caught trying to poison a Hamas official in Jordan in 1997. Finally, an Israeli Apache gunship fired a Hellfire missile at the partially blind cleric as he was wheeled out of morning prayers. “When we had no option to detain him, we targeted him in 2004,” Dichter says. “So those who think there’s only one round — no, no, no. There’s many rounds.”

TIME Terrorism

Syria Conflict Spawning ‘New Generation of Terrorists,’ Report Warns

A rebel fighter walks on a street in the Syrian city of Aleppo following a reported bombardment with explosive-packed "barrel bombs" by the government forces on April 27, 2014
A rebel fighter walks on a street in the Syrian city of Aleppo following a reported bombardment with explosive-packed "barrel bombs" by the government forces on April 27, 2014 Baraa Al-Halabi—AFP/Getty Images

In just three years, 12,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Syria to fight, according to a new report by the Soufan Group — and most arrive already steeped in extremism

The civil war in Syria already appears to have drawn more foreign fighters than the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, and may prove an even more dangerous incubator for terrorism in the long run, according to a new report by a private security company.

The report, by the Soufan Group, estimates that 12,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Syria. The estimate is up sharply from 7,000 that U.S. and Israeli intelligence estimated at the start of 2014, and more than the 10,000 thought to have fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, the decadelong conflict that spawned al-Qaeda.

The greatest concern about terrorism resides in the perhaps 3,000 fighters the report says traveled to Syria from Western countries to fight with rebel groups dominated by Islamic extremists. Though arrayed against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Iranian allies, the fundamentalists might in time choose to direct violence against Western targets, “the far enemy” in the parlance of al-Qaeda — and recruit those battle-hardened foreign fighters to return to their home countries and carry out attacks.

“Leaving aside what may happen in Syria, if al-Qaeda can maintain a network of even a small number of motivated returnees, or recruit fighters to its terrorist agenda while they are still in Syria, it may once more pose a significant global threat,” the report says.

Most of the foreign fighters in Syria arrived from Arab countries, with 3,000 alone from Tunisia and another 2,500 from Saudi Arabia. But 700 fighters are thought to have traveled to Syria from France; 400 from the U.K.; and around 250 each from Belgium, Australia and Germany, the report says, quoting estimates by the nations ’ own governments.

The study says about 70 fighters from the U.S. have traveled to Syria, quoting an FBI statement from May. Last Friday, the conflict recorded its first known American suicide bomber, when Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a recent resident of Florida, detonated the truck he was driving in an attack for al-Nusra Front, an extremist Sunni force.

Study author Richard Barrett, a former British intelligence official and U.N. specialist on al-Qaeda, writes that that leaders of groups that attract most foreign fighters — al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) — were previously members of al-Qaeda. He adds that the process of indoctrination in extremist thought may well be accelerated by social media, as young would-be fighters reinforce their views in self-limiting Twitter, Facebook and other feeds. In any event, most already are familiar with the extremist ideology that recruits learned from Osama bin Laden and his acolytes.

“The progression from foreign fighter to terrorist is not a linear one, nor is it inevitable, and the majority of people who return from the fighting in Syria may pose no terrorist threat,” Barrett writes. “But the difficulty remains how to distinguish those who will from those who won’t.”

The only known attack outside Syria by a foreign fighter occurred in Belgium in May, where a French citizen who had fought for a year in Syria with ISIS killed three people at a Jewish museum on May 24. But if the experience after the Soviet war in Afghanistan is any example, the report says, “the Syrian war is likely to be an incubator for a new generation of terrorists.”

TIME Military

If Bowe Bergdahl Is a Deserter, What Should Be Done With Him?

Idaho Hometown Of Released Army Solider Bowe Bergdahl Celebrates His Release
A sign hailing Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's release in a Main Street window in his hometown of Hailey, Idaho. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Those who have served want the freed soldier held accountable

As Army veterans who served with Bowe Bergdahl continued to denounce what they described as desertion — an act that reportedly led to the death of some of the GIs who tried to find him after his disappearance in Afghanistan — senior military hands took a more measured approach to his ultimate fate at the hands of military justice.

“The circumstances surrounding his departure from the base are well-known by his chain of command, but what is not known is his motivation, which can easily be determined,” says John Keane, who retired as a four-star general, and the Army’s second-ranking officer, in 2003.

The soldiers who served with Bergdahl say he simply deserted his observation post after becoming disenchanted with the war.

“I think he abandoned his post while the other four soldiers were asleep,” Greg Leatherman, Bergdahl’s former squad leader, tells TIME. “He was a loner, he didn’t like to share much with anyone. Read the Koran quite a bit, which I respected. I saw it as him trying to be a better soldier, learning more about the people we were going to work with. Turns out he was preparing.”

Soldiers say at least six U.S. troops died in clashes with the Taliban while hunting for Bergdahl after he went missing and was seized by the Taliban in Paktika province on June 30, 2009. “We know of … guys who died looking for him,” Leatherman said on his Facebook page. “But think of all the Scuba Steves and Cool Guys that got hurt or killed looking for him as well. People we may never know about.”

Keane wants Bergdahl held accountable if what his fellow soldiers say is true. “If he indeed left his post without authority, and there are no extenuating circumstances, then he must be held accountable for his actions,” he says. That “means he should be charged, tried and separated [from the Army] without prison time.” In fact, Keane says, the case could be dealt with “in a lower form of court martial before a single officer and absent a courtroom if he is willing to plead guilty.”

Eugene Fidell, a lecturer on military law at the Yale Law School and co-founder of the National Institute of Military Justice, doubts the case will get that far, even if warranted. “It’s utterly discretionary as a matter of clemency, a matter of judgment, and indeed even as a matter of politics. The authorities can decide this is not a case that they want to do anything about,” he says.

“Let’s assume that the facts demonstrate that he left with an intent to remain away permanently — that is desertion,” Fidell says. “Will the cognizant general officer decide, ‘Look, this guy spent five years [as a prisoner] and we’re just not going to put him through the wringer again?’ No prosecution is mandated by the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” he adds. “We don’t tend to throw the book at these people who are under quite unusual circumstances.”

Charles Jenkins, for example, deserted his Army unit in South Korea in 1965 and lived in North Korea until 2004. He ultimately plead guilty to charges of desertion and aiding the enemy. He received a dishonorable discharge, was stripped to the Army’s lowest rank, forfeited all pay and benefits, and was sentenced to 30 days in prison (he got out six days early for good behavior). He now lives in Japan.

But he was 64 when sentenced (Bergdahl is 28), and no one died trying to find Jenkins after he headed north through the Demilitarized Zone one freezing January night nearly 50 years ago. Bergdahl, Fidell says, could also face the charge of desertion. But given that it allegedly occurred in a non-declared war, the maximum penalty, ironically, would be another five years’ imprisonment, and not the possible death sentence the crime carries during a declared war.

“This is just so grotesque,” argues retired Army officer and author Ralph Peters. “Americans can’t name a single Medal of Honor recipient, but everybody knows the name of an alleged deserter.” He says part of the anger over Bergdahl’s release rests at the doorstep of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. “Check out the fury — fury — of his fellow soldiers and veterans,” Peters says. “The big mistake was for the President and his gang to imply that Bergdahl is a hero.”

Peters says Bergdahl needs to face some kind of military justice to determine what happened, and to accept punishment if he is found guilty. “What military people fear is a whitewash that will let him walk with an honorable discharge and full benefits,” he says. “That would be an insult to every person who’s ever served honorably in uniform — giving [an alleged] deserter full lifetime benefits.”

Peters believes a public proceeding is warranted. “He needs a fair trial with public testimony from his comrades and chain of command,” he says. “And from the comrades of those who died while trying to find and free him.”

TIME Nigeria

‘Bring Back Our Girls’ Protests Banned in Nigerian Capital

NIGERIA-UNREST-POLITICS-KIDNAPPING-ANNIVERSARY
A woman with a sticker on her head bearing the slogan "Bring back our girls" marches for the release of the more than 200 abducted Chibok school girls in Lagos, Nigeria on May 29, 2014. Pius Utomi Ekpei—AFP/Getty Images

Nigerian officials have banned demonstrations around the more than 250 kidnapped schoolgirls, which gained momentum internationally through the use of the #BringBackOurGirls, saying the protests pose a security threat to citizens

Nigerian officials have banned demonstrations about the more than 250 kidnapped schoolgirls, outcry which gained momentum internationally through the use of the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

Abuja Police Commissioner Joseph Mbu said the ongoing protests pose a security threat to citizens in the capital city, CNN reports.

Terror group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility in the abduction of around 276 girls from a Chibok boarding school in April. Though some were able to escape, the search for the remaining girls—and the Nigerian government’s lagging response—has sparked both global outcry.

“Information reaching us is that too soon dangerous elements will join the groups under the guise of protest and detonate explosive(s) aimed at embarrassing the government. Accordingly protests on the Chibok Girls is hereby banned with immediate effect,” the commissioner said, CNN reports.

“As the FCT police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness,” Mbu reportedly said at a Monday news conference.

[CNN]

TIME Religion

Pope Francis Urges Couples to Raise Kids, Not Cats and Dogs

Pope Francis Holds Weekly Audience
Pope Francis Franco Origlia—Getty Images

Pope Francis said that staying childless will ultimately bring married couples nothing but "the bitterness of loneliness"

Pope Francis had a message for married couples on Monday: four-legged friends don’t offer the same opportunities for love and godliness as raising a child.

The Pope addressed a group of 15 couples that have been married between 25 and 60 years during daily Mass on Monday, held in the chapel of the Santa Maria residence in the Vatican. The Pope stressed the importance of three qualities in a successful Christian marriage — faithfulness, perseverance and fruitfulness — during his remarks, according to Vatican Radio.

But the Pope also counseled childless couples to be fruitful and multiply, and not spend time raising pets when they could be raising children. Mentioning the “culture of well-being,” similar to one mentioned in the 2013 TIME cover story “The Childfree Life,” Pope Francis said that while a childless life offers better vacation opportunities, it will end in solitude:

This culture of well-being from 10 years ago convinced us: It’s better not to have children! It’s better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free … it might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or is this not? Have you seen it? Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness. It is not fruitful, it does not do what Jesus does with his Church: He makes His church fruitful.

In other words, all the effort you spend caring for your furry friends would be of better use if Fido or Fifi were children.

[Vatican Radio]

TIME World War II

D-Day Anniversary Marks Farewell For ‘Greatest Generation’

FRANCE-WWII-DDAY-ANNIVERSARY-US
US WWII veteran Edward W.Oleksak, who landed on June 6, 1944 in Omaha Beach, poses in front of the statue ''Les Braves'' by French sculptor Anilore Banon, on June 2, 2014 in Omaha Beach, near Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer. Joel Saget—AFP/Getty Images

The 70th anniversary will be far more poignant than past ones, for one reason: It is the last time veterans will be there in any significant number

Correction appended: June 4.

It has been a long goodbye. And this week, the world might be saying its last big farewell to what’s been dubbed “the greatest generation,” those who fought in World War II, and especially in its most pivotal battle of D-Day on June 6, 1944. This raises profound questions for veterans and historians about how future generations will remember the event, when there are no survivors left—and more crucially, how to make sure they will care.

For the 70th anniversary of that momentous fight, hundreds of those still living who took part in the mammoth D-Day sea invasion of Nazi-occupied France are converging on the beaches of Normandy all week, to mark the largest amphibious landing of the war—indeed, of any modern war. The D-Day invasion broke the German occupation of Europe, finally liberating the horrifying Nazi concentration camps and ending the conflict that left much of Western Europe (including Normandy) in physical and economic ruin. The invasion force that week in 1944 consisted of a giant armada of about 5,000 warships, 54,000 vehicles and 300,000 soldiers, from the U.S., Britain, New Zealand and several other countries, who staggered ashore, and then fought their way through Normandy, village by village, crushing or driving back the German platoons in their path under heavy aerial bombardment, in a vicious three-month battle.

As they have every five years on June 6, world leaders will gather on Friday at Normandy’s war cemeteries to honor tens of thousands of fallen soldiers, including thousands of Germans, who lie buried along the French coastline of the English Channel. In all, about 100,000 soldiers on both sides, and about 20,000 Normandy citizens, died in the battle. Dozens of villages are marking this week with photo exhibitions, veterans’ gatherings, fireworks, and military fly-pasts, including from hundreds of U.S., British and Russian forces, who will jump from World War II-era planes on to the beaches.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to wrap up his three-day European trip to Warsaw, Brussels and France with a wreath-laying ceremony on Friday morning, together with French President François Hollande, at the U.S. war cemetery in the tiny village of Colleville-sur-Mer—the burial site for 9,387 young Americans, most of whom were just teenagers in June 1944, and whose names are now marked with rows of simple white crosses or Stars of David. On Friday, Obama and Hollande will join leaders from those countries who fought the Nazis in an international ceremony on Normandy’s Sword Beach, in the village of Ouistreham. In a day likely to be overshadowed by tensions over Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin will take part, commemorating Russia’s heavy loss of life against German forces. And in a sign of Europe’s postwar unity, the ceremonies also honor about 23,000 young German soldiers killed in Normandy in 1944, with Chancellor Angela Merkel and many German veterans attending.

Though the cemetery scenes will closely resemble previous big D-Day anniversaries, this one will be far more poignant, for one reason: It is the last time veterans will be there in any significant number.

Dwindling fast, the comrades-in-arms of those killed are now in their late-eighties and early-nineties. For days, they have been arriving in Normandy, hobbling on canes or pushed in wheelchairs in cemeteries, their hands shakily placing flowers on the graves. Dressed in their World War II uniforms, they are acutely aware that it is likely their final visit—and in many cases, it is their only visit. While Hollywood has memorialized their courage many times, including in Tom Hanks’ hit movie Saving Private Ryan and the TV series Band of Brothers, the survivors will no longer be around to tell their stories.

D-Day veterans say they fear that as their generation fades, so too might the interest in their experience. “I know very well that for the 80th anniversary, I might not be there, and I am afraid people might forget the war, and the misery it brought,” Bernard Dargols, 94, a D-Day veteran in the U.S. Army, said while sitting in his apartment outside Paris on Saturday. “The one reason I am asked to tell my story is that there are so few of us veterans left. I didn’t read these things in books. I was there.”

Dargols, a Paris-born Jew, immigrated to the U.S. in 1938 to work for a sewing-machine distributor in Manhattan, became a U.S. citizen, and landed on Normandy’s Omaha Beach six years later as a U.S. Army staff sergeant, as part of the D-Day armada. As a native French speaker, he became a crucial U.S. intelligence agent, able to sneak into Norman villages to pinpoint German positions and determine on which roads the enemy forces had laid landmines. In 2008, Normandy officials named a road after him.

Dargols says he had badly wanted to fight the Germans, after seeing newsreel footage in a Manhattan movie theater of Adolph Hitler shaking hands with the French leader Philippe Pétain, whose government collaborated in deporting about 73,000 Jews from France to the Nazi concentration camps. Many of Dargols’ relatives and friends died in the camps, although his father and two brothers escaped to New York during the war. His mother survived the Nazi occupation of Paris by hiding in her apartment building—a fact Dargols learned only in 1944, when, as an American G.I., he drove his Jeep into the courtyard underneath the family apartment, after Paris’ liberation, and found his mother alive. He later moved back to Paris. Seventy years later, Dargols says he still recalls the intense terror he felt during the D-Day invasion, as he came ashore under a heavy barrage of bombs, with only minimal military training, and not a day’s combat experience. “I was very scared,” he says.

Perhaps because of Hollywood’s depiction, many Americans now regard D-Day and the battle for Normandy as one they were sure to win. But at the time it was an immense gamble, as U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower warned young American soldiers in a radio address before they boarded the D-Day ships on the English coast. “Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened,” Eisenhower told them. “He will fight savagely.” Bad weather had forced Eisenhower to postpone the D-Day invasion one day, and further delays could have forced a long postponement, possibly prolonging World War II for another year. “Eisenhower’s decision to go on June 6 was one of the bravest decisions of the war,” says British war historian Antony Beevor, author of “D-Day: The Battle for Normandy.” Beevor says the German forces were disciplined and strong, more tham many U.S. and British soldiers.

The D-Day story has been simplified in other ways too, including glossing over many of the tensions between then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Britain’s wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Churchill worried that central Europe might be left in Communist hands, if the Red Army was allowed to advance during the Germans’ collapse, and argued—in vain—for the U.S. to invade Europe also through Italy, in order to stop the Soviet advance. “The U.S. didn’t understand the implications of the post-war period,” Beevor says. “As far as the Americans were concerned, they wanted to get the war over and done with.” In the end, Churchill was proved right.

But 70 years after D-Day, one fact remains, says Beevor: The war was for many Americans the last great moral combat. “The reason why World War II has such a powerful influence on our imagination is because the moral choices were so great and important,” Beevor says. “That’s the most important lesson for younger generations.”

And at least for now, veterans like Dargols are here to teach it.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the number of warships involved in the invasion armada. It was an estimated 5,000 ships.

TIME Environment

New Obama Climate Regulations Could Help U.S. Pressure China

New regulations will only have lasting benefit if they help encourage countries like China to take similar steps

As my colleague Michael Grunwald points out, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed new rules on carbon emissions from the power sector are a big deal. (Vice President Joe Biden might use slightly different language.) The rules—which still have to go through a year of public comment and which will almost certainly face legal and Congressional challenges—would cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. These regulations—which will apply to existing power plants, not just new ones—are by far the biggest single step taken by the U.S. to fight climate change. With the stroke of a pen (though it was technically be EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s pen), President Barack Obama has done more about global warming than all of his predecessors combined.

But climate action is measured in carbon, not in political legacies. By that measurement, the U.S. carbon regulations are only a beginning, and will only have lasting benefit for the world if they help encourage the major future emitters—the big developing nations like China and India—to take similar steps to reduce their own rapidly growing carbon emissions.

The truth is that the EPA regulations are so historic largely because so little has been done to restrict carbon emissions before. As Eric Holthaus points out over at Slate, choosing 2005 as the baseline year for carbon cuts makes it that much easier for the U.S. to meet a 30% cut. (In a call with reporters, senior EPA officials made the case that 2005 is less a baseline than a point of comparison for the changes that will be made in emissions by 2030. The actual policy, which will be left to individual states, flows from the energy mix in the U.S. as of 2012. But 30% less than 2005 levels sounds a lot more impressive than a smaller percentage from 2012 levels, even though they ultimately mean the same thing.) That’s because U.S. carbon emissions have already fallen significantly since 2005, thanks to a mix of increasing natural gas (which emits around half as much carbon as coal), a growing contribution from renewables and the recession, which reduced consumption of everything, including energy. As of 2011 carbon emissions from the power plant sector alone—which accounts for a little less than 40% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions—had fallen 16% since 2005, which means we’re already more than halfway there. Using 1990 as a benchmark year for emissions—which is what’s done in the UN climate process—the EPA regulations only amount to a 3.5% cut by 2020.

In fact, given that U.S. power plant emissions had been dropping, the reductions mandated in the regulations are likely much smaller than they seem. The EPA itself estimates that emissions from U.S. power plants will be 730 million metric tons less by 2030 than they would have been without the rules. That’s not a negligible amount—it’s equivalent to taking two-thirds of the country’s passenger vehicles off the road for a year—but it still amounts to just about 11% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2011. The EPA predicts that by 2030, coal and natural gas will still be the leading sources of U.S. electricity, each contributing 30% of power, with non-hydro renewables coming in at 9%, up from about 6.7% now. It’s impossible that anything tougher would have been politically feasible—witness Republican House Speak John Boehner’s two-word reaction to the news rules: “It’s nuts.” Still, if everything the EPA predicts comes true—obviously not likely—the U.S. of 2030 will be a cleaner, healthier place, but it will still be pouring a lot of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

And even that may not matter all that much to the global climate. That’s because the U.S. has already been outpaced as the world’s top emitter by China, where carbon emissions have increased an astounding 52% since 2005. Rising India isn’t too far behind—carbon emissions have grown 50% since 2005. These giants, and other rapidly growing countries in the developing world, will be putting the vast majority of the new carbon into the atmosphere in the decades to come. The amount of carbon set to be saved by the EPA rules amounts to a little over 2% of total global carbon emissions in one year: 2012. It’s still China and the other big developing nations that control the future of the climate.

But that doesn’t mean U.S. action can’t make a difference—as much by example as by actual numbers. The EPA regulations should allow the U.S. to reach the 17% reduction below 2005 that Obama promised during the doomed U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009. U.N. climate talks, which resume at the end of the year in Lima, have always been hobbled by the refusal of the U.S. to take the lead on cutting carbon, going back to the fact that Washington failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Representatives from Beijing and New Delhi could—and did—argue that it was unfair to expect still poor countries to cut carbon if the world’s top historical emitter refused to take action. But U.S. diplomats will now be able to point to EPA regulations as proof that the U.S. has pledged itself to long-term carbon cuts—and cuts that come under national law, not more amorphous international promises. “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example,” Obama told graduating West Point cadets in an address last week. “We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.”

That doesn’t mean the dream of a global climate deal has been saved. The reality is that the future of climate action will look like this—national or regional entities taking steps on their own, for their own reasons, that will hopefully add up to something real. China is already taking aggressive steps on carbon, less to deal with climate change than to counter the truly horrific air pollution the country faces. Beijing will continue on that path to save itself, but U.S. leadership can’t hurt. “I fully expect action by the United States to spur others in taking concrete action,” said Christiana Figueres, the U.N.’s top climate official.

We’ll see. But here’s my prediction: The policies put in place in Washington or Beijing or New Delhi will ultimately matter far less than the technological changes that are already sweeping the energy industry. U.S. carbon emissions have fallen over the past decade—in the absence of national action—largely because of new technologies, including the fracking revolution, which made it economical for cleaner natural gas to displace dirty coal. In the years to come, solar panels will keep getting cheaper and cheaper, which could potentially upend the utility model, much in the same way that mobile phones disrupted landline companies. Big data will change how we use and produce electricity, reducing waste. Obama’s climate regulations will help cement those changes and encourage new ones as states mix and match to meet their emissions reductions goals.

But 2030 will look very different from 2014—and will almost certainly be much cleaner in the U.S.—for reasons that go far beyond a 626-page regulatory order coming out of Washington.

TIME India

Photos: Indian Village Shocked By Brutal Rape and Murder Case

These disturbing photos show scenes in India following the rape and killing of two teenage girls. The girls—aged 14 and 15, according to the Associated Press—were raped and killed by attackers who hung their bodies from a tree in the country's Uttar Pradesh state. Villagers found their bodies early Wednesday, hours after they disappeared from fields near their home in Katra village, local police said

The specter of sexual violence continues to haunt India. A year and a half after the gang rape and murder of a student aboard a New Delhi bus sparked nationwide street protests, once again the nation is confronting a similar act of evil.

Last Wednesday, two sisters were found hanging from a mango tree after they had been gang-raped and strangled in a field near their home in rural Uttar Pradesh. The girls, apparently aged 14 and 15, had been looking for somewhere to relieve themselves as there was no toilet at home — a predicament they shared with nearly half of India’s 1.2 billion population.

Hundreds of angry villagers stayed next to the tree throughout the evening, silently protesting the lackluster police response. Officials, who allegedly shrugged off initial reports of the teenagers’ disappearance, have now detained five people in connection with the attack, including two policemen.

Nevertheless, protests continued outside the office of the state’s chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, on Monday, only to be dispersed with water cannons. Demonstrators claim that the girls were targeted as they were dalits — or “untouchables,” India’s lowest caste — and that their status also lay behind the muted police response.

Whether caste was a contributing factor has yet to be determined. What is undeniable, however, is that India is in the throes of a seeming rape epidemic, with almost daily reported occurrences of assaults against women, girls and even babies. In the countryside, village elders have been known to mete out rape as punishment for females they deem to be going against their traditions.

Amid the most recent uproar in Uttar Pradesh, a 22-year-old was found gang-raped and murdered in the Baheri area. She had been forced to drink acid before being strangled, a post-mortem revealed. And on Saturday, a youth allegedly attempted to rape a female priest inside one of the state’s temples.

New Indian Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi was taciturn about sexual violence during his recent triumphant election campaign. That certainly cannot remain the case much longer.—Charlie Campbell

TIME Foreign Policy

Obama Didn’t Negotiate With ‘Terrorists’ for Bergdahl

Republicans continue to lambaste Barack Obama for releasing five senior Taliban figures from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in exchange for the captured U.S. solider Bowe Bergdahl. But the story is more complicated than they say

The GOP has several complaints about the controversial deal the Obama Administration negotiated with the Afghan Taliban for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Topping the list is the idea that President Barack Obama has violated a sacred rule: Never talk to terrorists. “It has long been America’s unwavering, bipartisan policy not to negotiate with terrorists, especially for the exchange of hostages,” argues George W. Bush’s former U.N. Ambassador, John Bolton. “By trading to release hostages, we are invariably putting a price on the heads of other Americans.” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio agrees, warning that the deal “could encourage future terrorist kidnappings of Americans.”

It may be a political maxim that we don’t talk to terrorists. But that’s not always how it works in practice. The Carter administration had long and intricate negotiations with the Iranians who took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran in 1979 (and whom Carter himself described as terrorists), winning the hostages’ release after Carter agreed to unfreeze about $11 billion in Iranian assets.

Ronald Reagan’s White House also horse traded with the Iranians for hostages—secretly trading arms for the release of Americans held in Lebanon, in what came to be known as the Iran-Contra affair. (Bolton, to his credit, acknowledges and condemns this infamous episode.)

In the mid-1990s Bill Clinton met with Gerry Adams, leader of the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, then still on the State Department’s terror list. (It was removed after peace accords in 1998.) The British government considered Adams himself a terrorist and urged Clinton not to see him.

During the Iraq War, the Bush administration cut deals with Sunni insurgents in Iraq’s Anbar province—working with and even paying people who had been killing American soldiers.

Even Israel, which is not known for its kid-glove treatment of terrorists, has a recent history of doing business with its most despised enemies. In 2011, the Israeli government freed more than 1,000 prisoners in return for Hamas’ release of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Despite that history, however, Washington is quite wary of rewarding terrorists who seize hostages. In recent years, al-Qaeda has reaped millions of dollars from kidnapping ransoms paid by the west. “Much of the money comes with the complicity of Western governments,” the Los Angeles Times reported last fall—but apparently from ones “that have rebuffed British and American exhortations not to pay ransoms.” The logic, as noted by Rubio, is clear: Pay up for hostages and you encourage the snatching of more hostages.

The difference with Bergdahl, as Obama argues, is that he wasn’t really a hostage grabbed by terrorists. He pretty neatly fit the classic definition of a prisoner of war. He had just left a military outpost in an obvious war zone while (presumably) wearing his uniform. History is loaded with examples of nations—including America—making deals to free their soldiers.

And however nasty the Taliban may be, it’s not really a “terrorist” enemy as we commonly understand the word. The group is not on the State Department’s official list of terrorist organizations and has has long been a battlefield enemy in the ground war for control of Afghanistan. It is not plotting to, say, hijack American airplanes—even if it does have sympathies with people who are. Ditto the Taliban leaders released over the weekend. They are members of a savage and deplorable organization. But unlike, say, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, they have no history of plotting attacks on the U.S. homeland.

Given all that, the real debate isn’t whether Obama negotiated with terrorists—he didn’t. The mystery lies in the particulars of the deal. Why trade five prisoners for just one—a soldier whom many veterans are bitterly calling a deserter? Why treat such a complicated deal as a resounding triumph, complete with a dramatic White House news conference?

Obama may have cut a lousy deal. But he hardly violated a sacred American principle.

TIME europe

Obama’s New Doctrine of Diplomacy Faces Hard Test in Europe

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point's Class of 2014 on May 28, 2014, in West Point, N.Y.
U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point's Class of 2014 on May 28, 2014, in West Point, N.Y. Susan Walsh—AP

Obama's shift to a style of leadership based on international consensus sounds appealing to a nation emerging from over a decade of war in the Middle East. But it will face a stern challenge when the U.S. President has to manage the divided ranks of his allies in Europe this week

President Obama laid out his vision last week for a style of global leadership based not on military strength but on moral authority, economic muscle and, above all, the ability to build coalitions through diplomacy. His three-day trip to Europe this week will be his first chance to put that plan into practice. It won’t be easy.

For one thing, when Air Force One touches down in Warsaw on Tuesday morning, on the first stop of a tour of Poland, Belgium and France, Obama will find a Europe that did not exist even a few months ago. Its borders have been redrawn by the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea, and the security demands that have emerged in Europe as a result are well beyond what the U.S. is likely to accommodate. Even the task of “reassuring allies,” as the White House has defined the goal of the trip, will run up against the massive and often incompatible assurances that the allies are expecting.

Poland will be a trial unto itself, as its government has been waiting not for moral leadership or diplomacy from the U.S. but a firm military commitment to its security. In April, as the reality of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine gripped Warsaw, its leaders asked the NATO alliance to deploy 10,000 troops on its territory. “Poland has been a member of NATO for 15 years now, and so far the only permanent military institution that we have is a conference center, training facility,” said Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski. “It is very important that all members should enjoy the same level of security.”

What Poland got in response was about two orders of magnitude less than what it asked for – about 150 airmen and some F-16 fighter jets deployed by the U.S. The first item on Obama’s agenda will be to inspect these jets and thank the pilots for their service, and he can only hope that his Polish counterpart, Bronislaw Komorowski, does not spoil the photo opportunity by pointing out the modest size of this force. But even if Komorowski bites his tongue, his famously undiplomatic predecessor, the Nobel laureate for peace Lech Walesa, will most likely pipe up. “The world is disorganized and the superpower is not taking the lead,” Walesa told the Associated Press a week before Obama’s visit. And if he makes good on his pledge to deliver that message to Obama in Warsaw, it may put a damper on their joint appearance at Poland’s Freedom Day celebrations on Wednesday.

That same morning, Obama is also due to meet in the Polish capital with Ukraine’s newly elected President, Petro Poroshenko, who will put similar strain on the limits of Obama’s reassurances. To counter the threat of further Russian aggression, Poroshenko’s government desperately seeks Western military assistance, and here Obama’s hands are tied. Kiev and Washington are not bound by any defense treaties, and the U.S. cannot risk wading into a proxy war with Russia by arming the Ukrainian military. As Bruce Jones, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institute, recently put it: “Ukraine is not an ally. There are limits to the scale and nature of the U.S. commitment there.”

Then there are the limits on Obama’s ability to build consensus. On Tuesday afternoon, he will meet with the leaders of nine Eastern European states – namely Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia – which have starkly different notions of how to respond to Russia’s belligerence. While the Baltic states have called for further sanctions against the Russian economy, Bulgaria’s government has tried to shield its allies in Moscow. In March, one of the senior lawmakers from Bulgaria’s ruling party, Mikhail Mirov, went so far as to send a letter congratulating the Russian parliament on the annexation of Crimea.

Even the U.S. goal of isolating Russia in punishment for its Crimean campaign will come up against an awkward snag while Obama is in Europe. In late March, the White House made some headway in this effort when it demanded Russia’s expulsion from the G8 club of wealthy nations. The other members went along eventually, and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be denied the right to host the G8 summit in his favorite resort town of Sochi this week. The slimmed-down G7 meeting in Brussels that will happen without Putin is a sign of American strength, Obama suggested last week. “Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away,” he said. But when he arrives in Paris on Thursday, Putin won’t be far away.

Right after the G7 forum gathers in Brussels to debate further sanctions against Russia that day, Obama and Putin will both be in Paris to dine with French President Francois Hollande. As the White House was careful to stress, this will not be a three-way dinner. “President Hollande may be dining more than once,” Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told reporters when asked about this on Friday. But if Obama and Putin happen to run into each other in the washroom of the Elysee Palace on Thursday night, it may be hard to maintain that the U.S. has succeeded in isolating the Russian leader from his European allies.

In any case, the cameras will be sure to capture them together in Normandy on Friday, when Obama and Putin will be attending the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion along with several of their European counterparts. Rhodes, in his briefing on the visit, declined to say whether the two of them would be shaking hands. But given the solemnity of the occasion, the European leaders in attendance are unlikely to give Putin the cold shoulder. It will then be up to the photographers to capture which of them looks more isolated.

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