Extremists rule large parts of Syria and Iraq. Violence consumes communities from the Central African Republic to Mali, Somalia, and South Sudan. Ukraine teeters on the verge of all-out war with Russia. Israelis and Palestinians are as far apart as ever. Libya descends into chaos. Oh, and Ebola is spreading terror and death across West Africa.
Twenty-one months and 5,000 deaths into a raging sectarian conflict in the Central African Republic, African Union peacekeepers turned in their green berets for blue helmets on Monday, marking the official takeover by the United Nations of the operation.
This post has been updated.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that he will recommend that U.S. troops accompany Iraqi forces on combat missions against Islamic State militants if the situation calls for it.
The United States insists that it's not helping the Syrian government conduct airstrikes against Islamic State militants by providing intelligence on the fighters' locations. Such actions, American officials say, would only strengthen a brutal regime that has used chemical weapons against its own people and undermine U.S. efforts to train and arm Syrian rebels trying to overthrow Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.
The Islamic State's beheading of a British aid worker has drawn condemnation from London and Washington, but that outrage may do little to boost an international coalition to attack the militant group.