Brent Scowcroft

When Barack Obama nominated former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, I assume that he knew what he was getting into. The debate over Hagel’s nomination won’t be about whether he is qualified to run the Pentagon and to negotiate budgets with Congress, but about Hagel’s views on Israel and Iran. Initially, some of Hagel’s critics charged that he was an anti-Semite. But these charges rightfully met with derision.

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All Over the Map

On June 21, 2007, Mitt Romney delivered a speech at the annual summer retreat of the American Enterprise Institute in Beaver Creek, Colorado. To coincide with the address, his campaign released a statement explaining the candidate’s vision for fighting the war on terrorism.

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The U.S. war in Iraq has just been given an unexpected seal of approval. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in what he billed as his “last major policy speech in Washington,” has owned up to the gains in Iraq, to the surprise that Iraq has emerged as “the most advanced Arab democracy in the region.” It was messy, this Iraqi democratic experience, but Iraqis “weren’t in the streets shooting each other, the government wasn’t in the streets shooting its people,” Gates observed.

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Over the last few months, China has had several fairly nasty public rows with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Robert M.

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A vivid report by Ashraf Khalil in Friday’s Wall Street Journal and an AP dispatch on the same day evoke a moribund Egyptian politics coming to life because of the death of a 28-year old in Alexandria. The murder—and it was a murder!—was committed by the police. Out in the open or, to be precise, down the alley from an internet cafe out of which Khaled Saieed was dragged. Saieed’s face was shown on web sites, and the image was not pretty: a battered face and broken teeth. The police attributed his death to resisting arrest. Of course.   Not surprisingly: ‘We are all afraid for our children.

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Sometimes Michael Kazin’s reasonableness disguises an apologetic lack of argument. His little reflection on my piece is a small anthology of the president’s foreign policy shibboleths. Let us begin with Iran. “They hail the democratic insurgents in Iran but do not propose an intervention that would destroy their movement and many of their lives.” Who, precisely, is proposing such an intervention? Certainly not I.

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Steve Clemons, with whom I worked at the New America Foundation in 1999, has some advice for President Obama: Set up a Team B with diverse political and national security observers like Tom Daschle, John Podesta, Brent Scowcroft, Arianna Huffington, Fareed Zakaria, Katrina vanden Heuvel, John Harris, James Fallows, Chuck Hagel, Strobe Talbott, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and others to give you a no-nonsense picture of what is going on. That seems, ah, problematic. The only two people who could actually be useful here, Daschle and Podesta, already sit in the outer-advice circle.

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As I argue in my recent print story on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the prevailing view in Washington foreign policy circles is that Gates, as an anti-Soviet hardliner at the CIA in the late 1980s, misread the import of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika and failed to see the USSR's collapse coming. But here's a dissenting view, via email, from Andrew Hamilton, a former national security council staffer, among other government posts, as well as a longtime writer on foreign policy issues (who now writes editorials for the Chaleston, S.C., Post and Courier): Michael Crowley’s engaging portray

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Is it really possible that in a Democratic administration the championship of human rights and the promotion of democracy will no longer figure conspicuously in the foreign policy of the United States? It is really possible. Oh, the stirring words will be spoken; the stirring words are always spoken. But in the absence of policies one may be forgiven for not being stirred by words. And so far even the language has been wanting in ardor. Idealism in foreign policy is so 2003. After all, the opposite of everything that George W. Bush believed must be true.

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Earlier this week, I described John McCain's "League of Democracies" as an attempt to create a world order based on moral clarity--to sideline the UN and divide the world into "good" and "bad" states, much as President Bush's coalition of the willing did. It seemed McCain was simply dressing those fundamentals up in banal Cold War rhetoric about alliances and internationalism. Now, here's Charles Krauthammer on the proposal: "What I like about it, it's got a hidden agenda," Krauthammer said March 27 on Fox News.

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