Foreign Policy

Is the Internet Making Americans More Willing to Intervene in Faraway Countries?
June 27, 2010

My colleague on ‘Entanglements,’ Adam Kirsch, posted a perceptive column a few days ago that asked both why we are—as we seem to have been since at least the advent of the middle-class newspaper-reading public in eighteenth-century London, Edinburgh, and Amsterdam—so passionately interested in the affairs of “leaders and nations we don’t know, never will see, and certainly have no power over,” and whether this avidity for consuming news actually brings us closer to reality or instead makes it harder to “see things as they actually are?” It’s an excellent question, whether or not one agrees (I

What a Relief, Except...
June 25, 2010

The plainly intolerable violations of professional behavior exhibited by General Stanley McChrystal in the Rolling Stone article surely justified his firing. Any officer in a position of responsibility who permits a culture of arrogance and contempt for civilian leadership to develop, instead of crushing both at their first appearance, surrenders his or her legitimacy as a commander of American armed forces. This was hardly a trivial gaffe or some error in judgment.

The World Cup and American Exceptionalism
June 24, 2010

This year’s World Cup demonstrates, as it has in the past, a particular feature of American exceptionalism: the rest of the world cares passionately about soccer and its quadrennial championship. Americans don’t. True, the United States has a team in the tournament that has played well, earning a place in the second round with a dramatic last-minute goal; but unlike in other countries, the names of its leading players are little known outside their own households.

Why Do We Care About Countries We'll Never Go To?
June 24, 2010

This week, as I looked forward to the launch of Entanglements, I happened to be reading selections from the Spectator of Addison and Steele.

Why General Petraeus Is Better Suited for Our Afghanistan Mission Than General McChrystal Ever Was
June 24, 2010

“Command climate” is what shapes a military organization. The preferences, priorities, and peccadilloes of the commander echo across its staff and subordinate units. Command climate functions as an organization's persona and it plays just as powerful a role in its behavior—and effectiveness—as an individual's personality.

Imagine (With Apologies to John Lennon)
June 23, 2010

For the sake of argument, imagine, if you can, an American foreign policy based on interest alone. To begin with, to use the current Wall Street phrase, it would need to overweight Latin America and underweight the Middle East. For whether the Obama administration believes it or not (in fairness, they are no worse than their predecessors, though they are no better either), crises are brewing in Latin America that pose potentially greater threats to the United States than those posed by Al Qaeda.

Rolling Stone's Insight
June 23, 2010

We do not know whether the president will accept General McChrystal’s proffered resignation as Commanding General. But that uncertainty does not at all detract from the real insights to be gained from this most recent contretemps between the Republic’s Commander-in-Chief and his subordinates in the field. There is a pattern here: Consider, first, the president’s leadership for the past two months, during an environmental crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.

Well-Meaning Infidels
June 22, 2010

“When you go to protect people, the people have to want you to protect them,” General Stanley McChrystal recently told reporters. “It’s a deliberate process. It takes time to convince people.” The remark, notable for its defensive tone, provides a small but telling indication that things are not going well in Afghanistan. If there were any doubts on that score, Rolling Stone’s profile of the “Runaway General” and his eminently quotable staff have quashed them. The wheels are starting to come off the Afghan Victory Express.

Is China Headed for a Crash?
June 22, 2010

Anyone who doubts the role of “Black Swans” in shaping the course of human events should pause to reflect on the decade just past.

Welcome to Entanglements
June 22, 2010

First, Entanglements. As we sat around searching for the right word, a friend remarked that Entanglements abraded even his own frankly coarsened sensibilities. Why? Entanglements, after all, neatly summarizes the foreign policy challenges to which one administration after another has provided no adequate response. But the word also has a toxic resonance. Casting a glance backward to George Washington’s farewell address, my colleague knew the admonition against foreign entanglements, and its historical abuses, all too well.