Tag: Forward Observers

If I Was Emperor…


585px-Map_of_ScandinaviaApparently, some Swedes are worried that Putin has his eye on Scandinavia for a future playground. I will let Annika fill y’all in later.
Though I am fairly sure that Putin is not done helping poor lost Russians in neighboring states to secure their due right to rejoin the empire, I find it difficult to imagine an invasion of Sweden before an invasion of Estonia or Latvia. I suspect that the order of conquest will follow the path of least resistance. But perhaps not.

In any case, can we agree that would-be conquerors everywhere probably perceive Obama’s remaining years in office as an ideal time for action?

If so, might they take bigger bites than they otherwise would because of the limited window of opportunity?

Is Biden the Punchline — or Is America?


Joe Biden is a punch line.

Our Vice President is more famous for his foolish pronouncements than he is for being second in command of the world’s greatest superpower. It has gotten so bad that a mere mention of his name provokes laughter, as late-night comics (and Clint Eastwood) can attest.

Foreign Policy President Needed: Any Republicans Qualified?


5203873918_7fc7c3833d_zBarack Obama seems too rigid, narrow-minded, and ideologically obsessed with transforming America to learn from his foreign policy failures. As such, I think we can assume that our enemies — China, Russia, Iran, ISIS, and North Korea — have all taken his measure and will aggressively pursue their interests via political/military aggression in the near future.

If that happens, the next president will be handed a mess in foreign policy, as well as a looming debt crisis. (Hillary, recognizing this, is furiously trying to simultaneously distance herself from Obama’s disastrous policies, while emphasizing her experience as Secretary of State; it might work).

Republicans will need a nominee who is credible and well-versed in foreign policy. But is this true of any of them? Rick Perry recently visited China to gain some credibility and experience. Chris Christie, who in the past shrugged off foreign policy questions as inappropriate for a mere governor to comment on, has criticized Obama for ignoring ISIS’ rise. However, I don’t find any of the other possibilities — Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio — are particularly strong in this area (though I’m happy to be corrected).

Technology and Super-National Affiliation


In a recent essay, Henry Kissinger noted the potential of economic globalization to upset traditional paradigms of nationality and statehood.

The clash between the international economy and the political institutions that ostensibly govern it also weakens the sense of common purpose necessary for world order. The economic system has become global, while the political structure of the world remains based on the nation-state. Economic globalization, in its essence, ignores national frontiers. Foreign policy affirms them, even as it seeks to reconcile conflicting national aims or ideals of world order.

A Modest Appreciation of Vox.com


Do be sure to check out this brilliant, marvelous, incandescently stupendous piece by our very own Messiah of the Moment, Max “I used to be Otto von Bismarck in a previous life” Fisher, in which Fisher explains the Obama Administration’s attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from gobbling up any of the Baltic states. Especially wonderful and heartwarming is Fisher’s tendency to breathlessly explain the principles of deterrence to his audience as though (a) he just learned about those principles and (b) his audience consists exclusively of two-year olds. Consider the following excerpt:

President Obama gave a speech on Wednesday, in a city most Americans have never heard of, committing the United States to possible war against Russia. He said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a Western military alliance better known as NATO, would fight to defend eastern European members like Estonia against any foreign aggression. In other words, if Russian President Vladimir Putin invades Estonia or Latvia as he invaded Ukraine, then Putin would trigger war with the US and most of Europe.

Member Post


In Gil Reich’s thread “Cheer Up! The Bright Side of the Middle East” (a welcome dose of optimism), he repeats a popular claim about Russia’s diminished role in world affairs since the end of the Cold War.  Russia and China support the Iran – Assad axis. But today’s Russia and China have neither the power nor […]

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Escalation Summer


obama“Blessed are the peacemakers.” That’s what the Man said. Notice He didn’t say “peace lovers” or “peaceniks”; he said “peacemakers.”

Everywhere you look, crises rage. Ukraine, Iraq, Ferguson, the border—it’s Escalation Summer. Is there a peacemaker in the house?

Earlier this year, President Obama met Vladimir Putin’s land grab in the Crimea with all the firmness of al dente linguine. The result? The Russian bear felt free to press his dream of empire and 298 innocent souls perished when Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot from the sky over Donetsk Oblast.

Member Post


Israel isn’t just losing allies. They are losing vital trading partners.  Secretary of State for Business, Innovation, and Skills and Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable announced this week that the United Kingdom would suspend the export licenses of 12 British firms which send Israel arms like radar systems, aircraft, and tanks if any new hostilities […]

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A Return to Coercion


With Iraq collapsing, Russia attacking, and China rising, the Obama administration is only now taking the first steps toward forceful action. It will have at its disposal a broad spectrum of options, thanks to new military technologies such as cyber-weapons, unmanned drones, precision munitions, and robotics. But it has yet to free itself from outmoded ways of thinking of war.

In an article just posted, co-written with Jeremy Rabkin of George Mason University, I argue that the United States should use these new weapons in the way it has used economic sanctions and blockades (as means to coerce other nations to pressure their leaders to change policies, rather than consider them kinetic weapons like artillery or armor.

Not a Good Week for Hillary Clinton


HillFirst, there was this. Then, there was the fact that Diane Sawyer of all people laid into Clinton over Benghazi (which, lest you forget, is not a scandal, so don’t worry your pretty little heads about it, darlings). And then, there is the fact that her book . . . well . . . isn’t so good:

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s new memoir “Hard Choices” officially launches Tuesday morning, but it’s already being savaged by critics for being overly cautious and, as a result, uninteresting.

“TRUTH BOMB 1: ‘Hard Choices’ is a newsless snore,” Politico’s Mike Allen wrote in his Monday-morning newsletter. He went on to describe the book “written so carefully not to offend that it will fuel the notion that politics infuses every part of her life.”

Why Did Anyone Believe That Power Politics Went Away?


Be sure to read this piece by Raphael Cohen and Gabriel Scheinmann, which serves to remind us that, even though it is not the 19th century, nation-states still play the Great Game. There is nothing particularly earth-shattering in this revelation, but it has to be emphasized nonetheless because the Obama administration—through the comments of Secretary Kerry—seems to have thought that international power politics were a thing of the past. The Administration ought to have known better than that, but, for a time, it seemed to pretend not to know. If that kind of naïveté doesn’t bother you, you are more laid back than I am.

The following excerpt is especially worth pondering:

The Nation’s False and Dishonest Crimea Narrative


For those who believe that the recent annexation of Crimea by Russia might actually unite Americans of all ideological stripes in opposition to the thuggishness of the Putin regime, I give you this piece by editors of the Nation. It shows that even now, in the immediate aftermath of the annexation, while historical memories are still fresh, there are those who are willing to rewrite current events in order to advance a narrative filled with desperate attempts to explain away unjustified Russian bellicosity. And of course, it ought to surprise no one that the editors are willing to put forth false attempts at establishing moral equivalence in order to leave readers with the idea that the United States is really at fault in this story.

The urgent issue today is to stop the drift toward hot war. Yes, Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea trespasses on international law, though it is difficult to bear US officials’ invocation of a principle that Washington itself has often violated (see, most recently, Kosovo and Iraq, the latter now marking the eleventh anniversary of an illegal US invasion and occupation). Financial and visa sanctions, while inflicting a cost on Russia, will not deter Moscow. As Putin argued in his March 18 speech before the Russian Federal Assembly, Russia feels “cornered” and has been repeatedly “deceived” by the West—particularly Washington—since the Soviet Union broke apart more than two decades ago, especially in light of the expansion of NATO to its borders.

John Mearsheimer is Sober, Level-Headed, and Clear-Thinking . . . Except When He Isn’t


I recommend to everyone this piece on the present and expected future interplay between China, Taiwan and the United States written by my former professor, John Mearsheimer. It is exceedingly well-written, very hard-headed, and reveals that Mearsheimer has done his homework when it comes to the history of China and Taiwan. It doesn’t make for comfortable reading if one is Taiwanese, American, or a member of any Asian country that seeks to offset or balance against Chinese hegemony in Asia, but, if anything, the unsettling nature of the piece makes it all the more important.

Speaking of well-written Mearsheimerian articles, check out this recent one on the crisis concerning Russia and Ukraine, and the state of American policymaking. Again, Mearsheimer lays out the facts persuasively, accurately gauges each side’s interests and bargaining power, and then offers policy prescriptions that demonstrate a realistic understanding of the situation at play.