Lessons Hidden in Afghanistan

April 10, 2012 by

What should be striking about the reported news out of Afghanistan lately is the extent to which the headlines have been about tragic, non-military events. Korans were defaced and a U.S. servicemember is suspected of murdering seventeen Afghan civilians. These acts have both had a profound, negative impact on U.S.-Afghan relations and, by extension, have put our troops and our mission in Afghanistan in greater jeopardy.

GOP and Putin Find Common Ground: The Cold War

April 3, 2012 by

Republican Presidential primary front-runner Mitt Romney declared Russia “without question, [is] our No. 1 geopolitical foe.” This statement accompanied a larger criticism lobbied against President Obama and his hot mic slip last week with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev at the Seoul Nuclear Summit.

The Foreign Policy President?

April 3, 2012 by

Elections are decided by economics. Voters respond to pocketbook issues and are swayed by the huge sums that candidates lavish on advertising. Foreign policy issues, by contrast, are what the British call “noises off,” those sounds from off-stage that you hear occasionally to punctuate the main actions, sounds like exploding bombs and the distant cries of suffering people. According to recent polling, global issues barely register at all with Americans right now.

Romney’s Foreign Policy and Russia

March 30, 2012 by

Obama’s recently concluded trip to South Korea to liaise with world leaders to address nuclear security and the Iranian nuclear saga went according to schedule, until an “open mic” caught Obama making rather casual comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stating he believed he would have more flexibility to address lingering issues related to nuclear arms reduction after the November election.

The Health Care Argument That Should Have Been Made

March 28, 2012 by

Every year in the United States of America, 14,000 children die within the first year of their life - each death is preventable. If the deaths of these children were due to an enemy state, the US would declare war in a heartbeat. If terrorists had crept into hospitals in the dead night and stuck a AK-47 into every one of those 14,000 cribs, there would be almost no limit to the degree the government would pursue those organizations.

Coming Up: A Tehran Communiqué?

March 23, 2012 by

Arguably, growing tensions over Iran’s nuclear impasse represent today’s greatest international security challenge. Current Western sanctions against Iran are biting hard, but they are also hurting both the Iranian population and global consumers. With rising concerns over a possible “supply shock” — as Iran struggles to sell its oil and alternative producers such as Saudi Arabia and Libya scramble over dwindling spare capacity — energy prices are inching closer to their staggering 2008 levels.

International Criminal Court: Successes and Failures of the Past and Goals for the Future

March 23, 2012 by

In 1998, a groundbreaking idea turned into reality, and 50 years of debate ended as the first International Criminal Court (ICC) was established as a result of the Rome Statute. This judicial body took shape and created the foundation of a permanent court to prosecute persons that committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

On Power and Delusions of Grandeur

March 18, 2012 by

First the video of United States Marines urinating on bodies of Afghans who had been killed. Then the revelation that copies of the Quran had been burned at Bagram Air Base, which also serves as an American prison camp in Afghanistan. Nearly thirty Afghans and several NATO troops died in the violent reaction. And as I mentioned in my column of March 4, the BBC Kabul correspondent described these events, and the violent public reaction to them, as the tipping point for NATO in the Afghan War.

Netanyahu’s and Obama’s Unsavory Choices on Iran

March 8, 2012 by

Whether Iran’s goal is ultimately to produce a nuclear weapon is unknown, but as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said last weekend during his meetings in Washington, if is looks, walks and talks like a duck, it is usually a duck. He also asked a simple question – Would Iran be producing its missile program simply to place medical isotopes on top of their missiles? At least one world leader is asking the right questions and looking this issue squarely in the face.

Romney’s Problems on “Main Street”

March 6, 2012 by

In Republican voting so far this year, it has been evident that Mitt Romney can draw votes in metropolitan areas with their large numbers of well-off, well educated voters. But the Republican front-runner has struggled mightily in many states to win votes in rural areas and small towns, Main Street America if you will. The dynamic was first apparent with Romney’s virtual tie with Rick Santorum in Iowa. Santorum swept nearly two-thirds of the 99 counties, but Romney carried the five leading counties (in terms of the size of the Republican caucus vote).

Can Romney make a credible pivot to the center?

February 22, 2012 by

To secure the GOP nomination, former Gov. Mitt Romney has had to make a hard shift to the right to convince social, economic and foreign policy conservatives that he’s their guy and can be trusted to uphold their values in the general election against President Obama. The shift has been transparent and increasingly awkward for a politician who many consider to be personally awkward.

Will Israel Attack Iran? Not Before the U.S. Presidential Election

February 16, 2012 by

Last week the New York Times reported on an interesting telephone conversation in January between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the report, Obama tried to convince Netanyahu, with some success, that the time was not right for military action against Iran. The Times report noted that “Senior Israeli officials, including the foreign minister and leader of the Mossad, have traveled to Washington in recent weeks to make the case” that Iran would very soon reach the point where bombing could no longer disrupt its nuclear program.

The Continuation of Unnecessary American Nation-Building Missions

February 9, 2012 by

A common occurrence within the discipline of international relations is various schools of thought being subjected to criticism. A school of thought that has faced a considerable amount of scrutiny in recent years is realism. One of the reasons why realists have been inundated with criticism is because they place so much emphasis on the state. This preoccupation with the state is thought to be unnecessary in the eyes of realism’s detractors since this actor is not as influential as it used to be.

South Carolina primary: can a divided Republican house unite around Romney?

January 19, 2012 by

By rights, Mitt Romney should be on the ropes. In the years leading up to the Republican presidential primaries, he supported small-l liberal positions on anything from abortion and gun control to climate mitigation and big spending stimulus packages. When he was governor of Massachusetts, he signed into law a healthcare plan not dissimilar to what Tea Partiers call “Obamacare.” He once even distanced himself from Ronald Reagan, something that amounts to heresy in conservative circles.

An EU oil embargo is unlikely to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions

January 8, 2012 by

Last week the European Union indicated that it is likely to enact an oil embargo on Iran. The move is aimed at damaging Iran’s crucial oil export business enough so the country’s regime curtails its nuclear ambitions but not enough to cause oil prices to spike. The recent EU policy shift moves the bloc in line with the US long-standing hardline approach to Iran.

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