Greeks Accept Their Newfound Austerity
July 30, 2010
The long, hot Greek summer just got hotter. A strike by fuel tanker drivers has paralyzed the country, stranding tourists, causing food shortages, and leaving 70 percent of gas stations without any gas to pump. In the simplest terms, this is about new austerity measures, in this case, higher fees for truck licenses. But more broadly, it is about the government’s assault on a lifestyle Greeks, rich and poor, have come to take for granted. As one Greek businessman put it to me, "the party’s over." Greece is broke. The signs are big and small.
Look Who Thinks America Is Cool Again
July 30, 2010
It’s been a long time since foreign leaders arrived on our shores saying that America is the future—so long, in fact, that when it does happen, we don’t know what to make of it. For me this was the most interesting subtext of Russian president Dmitri Medvedev’s visit to the States last month. He and Barack Obama had a familiar discussion of shared national interests, from arms control to ethnic peace in Kyrgyzstan. Their lunch outing to an Arlington burger joint reflected the search for good visuals that we often see when a summit itself isn’t generating much real news.
Thoughts From Tehran
July 29, 2010
We were all dreamers then. When we overthrew the Shah, we thought a bright new age had dawned. Tyranny had been defeated and soon we would vanquish all the secularists, Westernizers, imperialists, and Zionists. Our glorious revolution would be the model for millions, not only in the Middle East but among Muslims everywhere. Islam would be restored to its rightful place at the center of people’s lives, and piety would replace politics. Some of us even imagined that all the prophecies of the Koran were about to come true. Such dreams.
New Leaks, Old News
July 28, 2010
Since the mega–leak of 90,000 classified intelligence documents to three news organizations, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has held a follow up press conference and several subsequent interviews, prompting a flurry of counter briefings and reaction from the White House, the Pakistani government, and others. Yet the public, seeking a better understanding of the Afghan situation, is feeling scarcely more enlightened or empowered than they did a week ago.
What the Wikileaks Tell Us About Pakistani Loyalties
July 27, 2010
Leslie Gelb, the former head of the Council on Foreign Relations and a current columnist for the Daily Beast, looked at the 90,000 USG document dump on WikiLeaks, and focused on the issue that matters most: Pakistan. “To put the issue somewhat melodramatically,” he wrote, “the United States is giving ‘moderate’ Pakistanis and the Pakistani military billions of dollars yearly in military and economic aid, which allows Pakistani military intelligence to ‘secretly’ help the Taliban kill Americans in Afghanistan, which will drive America out of Afghanistan and undermine U.S.
China's Push to Master the Seas
July 27, 2010
This past week saw a marked escalation in the ongoing struggle for geopolitical preponderance in East Asia between the United States and China. Twenty years ago, at the close of the Cold War, U.S. forces in the region had enormous advantages over their Chinese counterparts. Using ships, aircraft and troops forward-deployed at facilities in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore, supported by others dispatched from Hawaii and the West Coast, the United States could defend its friends, deter its enemies and move its forces freely throughout the western Pacific.
Why Wikileaks Still Needs 'The New York Times'
July 26, 2010
The final scene of the 1975 movie Three Days of the Condor is enough to make any journalist nostalgic. After two hours of dodging assassins and exposing corruption at the heart of the American government, Robert Redford finds sanctuary by making his way to 229 West 43rd Street—the iconic old address of The New York Times. There he confronts his CIA tormentor (played by Cliff Robertson), announcing that he has told a Times reporter everything he knows.
Leakistan: The New Insurgency
July 25, 2010
Based on initial press reports, the leaking of “90,000 classified documents” related to the Afghanistan war doesn’t really tell us much that we don’t already know. Our Afghan partners are less than reliable. Nation-building is a painstakingly slow enterprise. At least some Pakistanis are playing a double game. NATO forces continue to kill non-combatants, despite universal acknowledgment that doing so alienates the people whose affections we are desperate to win. The insurgents are on the march. Who, if anyone, is likely to find any of this news?
A Moral Foreign Policy? Get Serious.
July 21, 2010
My last post, suggesting it might be morally problematic for a commander-in-chief to persist in waging a war to which he is less than fully committed, drew this response from Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security: Bacevich wants us to consider foreign policy decisions black-and-white moral affairs. Bush, he argues, reliably chose the wrong option out of two available but was at least guided by a flawed moral compass. Obama, Bacevich argues, is amoral. This is absurd. In matters of war, leaders at all levels make hard moral choices involving sin and virtue.
Justice Begins at Home
July 20, 2010
This is the most recent item in a debate about humanitarian intervention.