Keeping Secrets, Even From Wikileaks
November 29, 2010
The Wikileaks cables are certainly important: They make public the sort of first-hand, original-source information that, until now, it has taken historians and journalists years or decades to obtain. But does this mean that the days of secret diplomacy are over? Not even close. The reason is that the foreign policy bureaucracy will adjust, as it has before. True, Wikileaks has taken us well beyond the types of disclosures that the Freedom of Information Act, for the past several decades, has provided to journalists and historians.
Does China Have Any Friends Left in the Obama Administration?
August 26, 2010
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.
July 08, 2010
Nuclear policy analysts are apoplectic about his "shabby, misleading and … thoroughly ignorant" reasoning, and his arguments have already been rebutted on the merits in a number of places (including here, here, here, and here). But the question at hand isn't necessarily whether Romney's ghostwriter "has even the vaguest acquaintance with the subject matter." As with the "death panels," Romney's op-ed is an ideological statement, which does not require fealty to facts.
What Are Nukes Good For?
April 07, 2010
The nuclear order seems to be falling apart. Gone is the uneasy balance between the cold war superpowers. We now face a slew of new nuclear actors. North Korea has reprocessed enough plutonium for perhaps ten bombs, in addition to the two it has already tested. Iran’s centrifuge program seems poised to produce weapons-grade uranium. And Syria was apparently constructing a clandestine nuclear facility, before it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes in 2007. It’s not just enemies that pose a problem.
Hillary: Face Time Rules
December 22, 2009
Apparently I found Newsweek's interview with Henry Kissinger and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton more interesting than Isaac did. Clinton makes what I think are a couple of interesting observations, including this one, about diplomacy in the modern world: What I have found hardest to balance is the amount of travel that is expected today. One would think that in an era where communication is instantaneous, you would not have to get on an airplane and go sit in a meeting.
Kissinger and Clinton Get Cozy
December 22, 2009
It is bad enough that Newsweek and Slate decided to run a long joint interview of Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton. It is even worse that Jon Meacham, the interviewer, asks questions like, "What has surprised you most since becoming secretary of state?" or "How important is the relationship between the secretary and the president?" There is also, of course, Clinton's and Kissinger's warm rapport ("Well, Henry's the expert on theory and doctrine," "I fundamentally agree," "Mm-hmm," " I would add to what Henry said.").
December 06, 2009
Strangest comment of the day (from Bob Woodward, on Meet the Press): Woodward: I think the lives of the average Afghan come into play here. How are they living? What's going on with them? And we are sending our military to protect them. You know what, I mean, that--this isn't an abstraction, it is about our military forces going in, eating goat with them... Gregory: Mm-hmm. Woodward: ...smoking bad cigarettes, using the same toilet.
Behind the Scenes with Larry Summers
October 04, 2009
Ryan Lizza has some fascinating biographical details in his must-read profile of Summers in the forthcoming New Yorker. First, he solves a mystery I'd chewed over but never figured out when profiling Summers myself: M.I.T. hired him as a professor in 1979, then Harvard offered him tenure in 1982, when he was just twenty-seven. He was one of the youngest people to receive tenure in the university’s history.
Inside the Security Council
September 24, 2009
This morning I'm inside the UN Security Council chamber for the special session, chaired by president Obama, on nuclear nonproliferation. Still not sure what to expect, as it's not clear whether anything unexpected might happen and, not unrelated, whether Moamar Qaddafi, whose country is currently a non-permanent Security Council member, will be here. For entertainment's sake, I certainly hope so. Stay tuned. Update: Early sightings as diplomats and leaders fill the room and schmooze: Sam Nunn, Henry Kissinger, Samantha Power.