Jessica T. Matthews reviews Henry Kissinger's "World Order" and Bret Stephen's "America In Retreat":
Almost from the beginning of its history, America has struggled to find a balance in its foreign policy between narrowly promoting its own security and idealistically serving the interests of others; between, as we’ve tended to see it in shorthand, Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick and the ideals of Woodrow Wilson. Just as consistently, the US has gone through periods of embracing a leading international role for itself and times when Americans have done all they could to turn their backs on the rest of the world. Two new books now join this never-ending debate.[more inside]
Twenty-five years ago this month, early on the morning of December 20, 1989, President George H.W. Bush launched Operation Just Cause, sending tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of aircraft into Panama to execute a warrant of arrest against its leader, Manuel Noriega, on charges of drug trafficking. Those troops quickly secured all important strategic installations, including the main airport in Panama City, various military bases, and ports. Noriega went into hiding before surrendering on January 3rd and was then officially extradited to the United States to stand trial. Soon after, most of the U.S. invaders withdrew from the country. [more inside]
You don’t protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy [more inside]
Former Virginia Tech professor Steven Salaita's blocked appointment to teach at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has ignited a debate over academic freedom. [more inside]
Presdient Obama gave a speech (video, transcript) at the United States Military Academy last month that outlined American foreign policy. Reaction has been mixed. [more inside]
The dragons in Game of Thrones as a metaphor for nuclear weapons is discussed in a recent edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. (Spoiler alert)
The Littlest Boy - Twenty years after Hiroshima, elite American troops trained to stop a Soviet invasion -- with nuclear weapons strapped to their backs. [more inside]
Pollsters Pew Research chart 13 big shifts in American's opinions which happened in 2013. Tipping points and new thresholds have been established on topics ranging from marihuana legalization to isolationism to gay marriage.
This article covers the US drone program. It looks at the pilots of drones, the decisions to use a drone, their highly effective short terms goals vs long term potential blowback and whether drone strikes are legal.
“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney said. “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.” Zinni, sitting right next to Cheney’s lectern, says he “literally bolted” when he heard the vice president’s comments. “In doing work with the CIA on Iraq WMD [weapons of mass destruction], through all the briefings I heard at Langley, I never saw one piece of credible evidence that there was an ongoing program.” Rachel Maddow hosts Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War, a documentary special, based on the eponymous book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, that will air Monday, February 18 on MSNBC at 9 p.m.
Erin Gloria Ryan asks: Is America ready for a white, male Secretary of State? She's not the only one satirically contemplating this question - John Norris over at Foreign Policy magazine has also wondered: Is America ready for a male Secretary of State? [more inside]
Perhaps the most fruitful way to look at the debate between Morgenthau and Marshall that was carried on--largely below the surface, largely without explicit confrontation--at the end of WWII is that it was an attempt to figure out how to resolve call it two historical problems: the problem of European military culture, and the problem of modern industrial war. Economist Brad DeLong explains.
Murder of an Idealist. "For six hours on September 11, the American compounds in Benghazi, Libya, stood siege. When the attack was over, J. Christopher Stevens's body was pulled from the wreckage—the first U.S. ambassador killed by militants in over thirty years. Since then, his death has been politicized and the details of the attack distorted. Sean Flynn straightens out the story of Stevens's last days in Libya—and reveals the true believer we lost that day."
The Permanent War (video). "This project, based on interviews with dozens of current and former national security officials, intelligence analysts and others, examines evolving U.S. counterterrorism policies and the practice of targeted killing." Part 1: Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists. Part 2: A CIA veteran transforms U.S. counterterrorism policy. Part 3: Remote U.S. base at core of secret operations. [more inside]
Aircraft Carriers in Space: Naval analyst Chris Weuve talks to Foreign Policy about what Battlestar Galactica gets right about space warfare.
In May of 2010, Michael D. Higgins (now President of Ireland) had an exchange on an Irish radio station with Tea Party supporter Michael Graham, about the state of politics in the United States. [more inside]
Foreign Policy magazine asks, "Can poor people open a Swiss bank account?" (Bad news: You need more than a passport, some pocket change, and a healthy disdain for the IRS.)
The 2012 Foreign Policy/Fund for Peace list of Failed States has been published. Included in the report is the visually arresting Postcards from Hell. The complete issue on failed states is here. (Warning, slide shows and articles broken into far too many pages). (2010 Failed States Index on Mefi. 2009) [more inside]
"A Giant Among Giants[FP]: Glencore -- founded by famous fugitive Marc Rich [Salon] -- has cornered the market on just about everything. Now that it's going public, will its ties to dictators and spies stand up to scrutiny?" [more inside]
"From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex." (Teju Cole, The Atlantic)
Once Upon a Time in Bombay "It is said that Bombay is the Alexandria of India. Its geographical position and commercial relations bear evidently some resemblance to the great eastern entrepot of the Mediterranean. As the swampy Rhakotis, a mere fishing village which Alexander the Great transformed into the splendid city of Alexandria, the desolate islet of the Bombay Koli fishermen was changed into the present capital of Western India." -- J. Gershon da Cunha in Origin of Bombay (google book) [more inside]
It's not news that Noam Chomsky's views on foreign policy are controversial. Paul Bogdanor's The Chomsky Hoax collects links to articles critiquing those views, including the Top 200 Chomsky Lies (pdf) and economist J. Bradford Delong's My Very, Very Allergic Reaction to Noam Chomsky. Other prominent critiques include Noam Chomsky: A Critical Review (by MeFi's own Russil Wvong), George Shadriou's Dissecting Chomsky and Anti-Americanism, and David Horowitz's series of articles on Chomsky in Frontpage Magazine (Part I, Part II, response to rebuttals).
The Ally From Hell. "Pakistan lies. It hosted Osama bin Laden (knowingly or not). Its government is barely functional. It hates the democracy next door. It is home to both radical jihadists and a large and growing nuclear arsenal (which it fears the U.S. will seize). Its intelligence service sponsors terrorists who attack American troops. With a friend like this, who needs enemies?" [Via]
The Shadow Superpower: a survey of globalized black market trade, and the size of the informal economy. [more inside]
"Certainly, Uncle Sam, disowned by Pakistanis, has found innumerable devoted nephews in India. Indian and Pakistani perceptions of America now wildly diverge: A 2005 Pew poll conducted in 16 countries found the United States in the highest regard among Indians (71 percent having a favorable opinion) and nearly the lowest among Pakistanis (23 percent)." Why do India and Pakistan see America in such opposite ways?
World peace could be closer than you think. Joshua S. Goldstein, author of Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide writes in Foreign Policy Magazine on why things are getting better. "The last decade has seen fewer war deaths than any decade in the past 100 years."
How Harry Potter and the magical world of J.K. Rowling might begin the long process of reconciliation and reform.
Post-Conflict Potter, living and rebuilding the world after Voldemort, by Foreign Policy Magazine.
While not being an outright example of a clash of civilizations in the Huntingtonian sense, elements of cultural misunderstanding and fears about the system-challenging tendencies of Iran do aﬀect Western perceptions and inﬂuence Western behavior toward Iran. Furthermore, these kinds of reciprocal identity-based fears and projections of the other side’s presumed malevolent intentions tend to be mutually reinforcing. The risk is that they eventually become self-fulﬁlling prophecies.Iran and the West - Regional Interests and Global Controversies [PDF]. [more inside]
It is a strange, dubious and totally unaccepted moral purpose which holds the whole of the world to ransom.On 1 March 1985, New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon David Lange (Previously) addressed the Oxford Union in support of the proposition that "Nuclear Weapons are Morally Indefensible". That speech is online at publicaddress.net (audio, transcript, highlights) and still resonates today. [more inside]
Together, Slim, Gates, Buffett, and Ambani control more wealth than the world's poorest 57 countries. [more inside]
Ron Paul asks "What if?" (SLYT)
Michael T Klare (previously here and here) has been writing for some time about the coming age of America's oil wars. Recently with the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of
Storms Mexico, he's been writing about the coming about of what he calls "The Era of Xtreme Energy" and the extreme length we're going to have to go to secure it. [more inside]
Hillary Clinton has asked the Organization of America States to re-admit post coup Honduras, but many people with long memories are against it and wondering why this president, in particular, is doing it.
The Psychology of the Taboo Trade-Off. A set of studies about issues that are considered "sacred" that can have an effect on the trade-offs involved in foreign policy. (via) [more inside]
From the bloody civil wars in Africa to the rag-tag insurgencies in Southeast Asia, 33 conflicts are raging around the world today, and it’s often innocent civilians who suffer the most. [more inside]
Economic crisis, mounting national debt, excessive foreign commitments -- this is no way to run an empire. America needs serious strategic counseling. And fast. It has never been Rome, and to adopt its strategies no -- its ruthless expansion of empire, domination of foreign peoples, and bone-crushing brand of total war -- would only hasten America's decline. Better instead to look to the empire's eastern incarnation: Byzantium, which outlasted its Roman predecessor by eight centuries. It is the lessons of Byzantine grand strategy that America must rediscover today.
Back when he was younger, Jay-Z was a merciless, ruthless killer in the "beefs" which define hip hop politics. [...] As Jay-Z got older and more powerful, the marginal benefits of such battles declined and the costs increased even as the number of would-be rivals escalated. Just as the U.S. attracts resentment and rhetorical anti-Americanism simply by virtue of being on top, so did Jay-Z attract a disproportionate number of attackers.Marc Lynch compares international relations to rap feuds, with Jay-Z as the hegemon and up-and-comer The Game as the "insurgent." [more inside]
The Axis of Upheaval: A special report on the coming age of instability.
Pakistan in Peril. "The relative calm in Iraq in recent months, combined with the drama of the US elections, has managed to distract attention from the catastrophe that is rapidly overwhelming Western interests in the part of the world that always should have been the focus of America's response to September 11: the al-Qaeda and Taliban heartlands on either side of the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan." [Via]
The Mau Mau rebellion against British rule in Kenya lasted from 1952 to 1960. Although there were atrocities on both sides, there has been a movement in Kenya to claim compensation from the British government for their actions. Obama's grandfather took part in the uprising (some have labelled him an "insurgent") and was captured and brutally tortured by the British. [more inside]
From Great Game to Grand Bargain. "The crisis in Afghanistan and Pakistan is beyond the point where more troops will help. U.S. strategy must be to seek compromise with insurgents while addressing regional rivalries and insecurities." A new piece in Foreign Affairs by Barnett R. Rubin and Ahmed Rashid. [Via]
Leadership for the 21st Century Harvard Business School hosts moderator Charlie Rose in a roundtable discussion concerning the credit crisis, housing, American leadership and foreign affairs. Participants are the 2008 HBS Alumni Achievement Award recipients, including eBay (and McCain advisor) CEO Meg Whitman, GE CEO Jeff Immelt, Venture Capitalist extrordinaire John Doerr, Indian business juggernaut Anand G. Mahindra, and former World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn. This aired on PBS last night and it was some of the most honest, intelligent, and inspiring discussion I have heard in some time. While the only transcript I could find is a paid one here, this 100 minute video should be required viewing for anyone working in a fortune 500 company, or those interested in politics, environmentalism, technology, foreign policy or the election. [more inside]