Russia and Eastern Europe, US Foreign Policy

Ukraine, Israel, and the Incoherence of U.S. Foreign Policy

The process of crafting congressional legislation is often likened to sausage-making. Best not to look behind the scenes at the mechanics of the process, which is a bloody mess. But the analogy is not apt. Sure, sausage-making can be ugly. The end product, however, is presentable and usually quite tasty. The legislation that emerges from… Continue reading Ukraine, Israel, and the Incoherence of U.S. Foreign Policy

US Foreign Policy

The Break-Up?

Critics of Israel once occupied the fringes of the debate in the United States. Then, in 2007, J Street was founded as a loyal opposition to the kind of Israeli politics that received uncritical support from the U.S. mainstream. By organizing “pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans” in favor of a more enlightened U.S.-Israel relationship, J Street… Continue reading The Break-Up?

US Foreign Policy

Internationalism, the Donald Trump Way

If a NATO member doesn’t spend enough on its own defence, Donald Trump said in February, he’d ‘encourage’ Russia ‘to do whatever the hell they want’ to those ‘delinquent’ countries. The Republican frontrunner for the US presidency, as usual, didn’t apologize or back away from his comment, which defies seven decades of US support for… Continue reading Internationalism, the Donald Trump Way

US Foreign Policy

Destroying the Lawn in Gaza

Ever since it withdrew its settlements in 2005, Israel has periodically attacked Gaza. This shelling of locations throughout the narrow strip of land gave rise to the Israeli expression “mowing the lawn.” In other words, Israel was bombing Gaza on a regular basis to “maintain order.” Over the last few months, Israel has gone far… Continue reading Destroying the Lawn in Gaza

China, Russia and Eastern Europe, US Foreign Policy

How to Deconstruct the New Iron Curtain

The head of the U.S. Strategic Command told Congress last week that a powerful set of countries is ganging up against the United States and World War III is on the horizon. General Anthony Cotton’s testimony didn’t receive much attention from the U.S. press, other than some breathless coverage from conservative outlets eager to emphasize… Continue reading How to Deconstruct the New Iron Curtain

US Foreign Policy

Gaza: Grand Bargain or Wider War

On the horizon, shimmering like some heavenly ideal, is a grand bargain to end the war in Gaza, establish an independent Palestinian state, and stabilize the Middle East. Also on the horizon, blazing like an infernal nightmare, is the prospect of an escalation of the current war in Gaza and the spread of destabilizing violence… Continue reading Gaza: Grand Bargain or Wider War

US Domestic Policy, US Foreign Policy

How Long Can America Maintain a War Economy?

The U.S. economy is in reasonably good shape, according to conventional measurements. The official unemployment rate is below 4 percent, and the productivity of U.S. workers is surging. In the last quarter, economic growth was nearly 5 percent, and Inflation has been levelling off. Americans are buying things, throwing parties, and going on vacations. Last… Continue reading How Long Can America Maintain a War Economy?

US Foreign Policy

The Enduring Limits of U.S. Power

The United States is the most powerful country on the earth. If you add together its nuclear arsenal, its unmatched array of conventional weaponry, and its global economic reach, America might be the mightiest country in the history of the planet. The United States has been responsible for destroying countries (Germany, Japan) and raising them… Continue reading The Enduring Limits of U.S. Power

US Foreign Policy

Cooling the Guns in the Middle East

The Palestinian people have never really figured prominently in the calculations of U.S. administrations. The Middle East is a locus of power politics, and Palestinians have very little power. Tragically, Arab states have all too often treated Palestinians like pawns as well. In Israel, as second-class citizens and residents of occupied territory, Palestinians hardly merit… Continue reading Cooling the Guns in the Middle East

Russia and Eastern Europe, US Foreign Policy

U.S. and Ukraine: Sending Arms or Twisting Arms?

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the United States quickly moved to support the government in Kyiv. With Joe Biden in the White House, having replaced someone who made no effort to conceal his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, this U.S. support was no surprise. Prior to the invasion, the Biden administration had… Continue reading U.S. and Ukraine: Sending Arms or Twisting Arms?

China, US Foreign Policy

Spying vs. Spying

This weekend, I went on a walk on a paved road that soon turned to dirt. The further into farmland it went, the muddier and more difficult to traverse the road became. The map function on my phone, connected by invisible strands to a satellite way above my head, continued to show me these roads,… Continue reading Spying vs. Spying

US Domestic Policy, US Foreign Policy

George W. Bush Was a Disaster — But Trump Was Worse

In 2021, over 140 historians participated in the C-SPAN evaluation of American presidents. The rankings haven’t changed much in two decades. The reputations of Woodrow Wilson, Andrew Jackson, and Grover Cleveland have declined. Ulysses Grant’s approval rating has risen. And George W. Bush moved from 36th place in 2009 to 29th in 2021 — just… Continue reading George W. Bush Was a Disaster — But Trump Was Worse

US Foreign Policy

The UN Crisis

Jair Bolsonaro gave a speech at the UN General Assembly this month. It was full of the usual misstatements and exaggerations for which the Brazilian leader has become notorious. But the most noteworthy part of the speech had nothing to do with its contents. It was Bolsonaro’s refusal of take a COVID-19 vaccine, despite New… Continue reading The UN Crisis

US Foreign Policy

The Handcuffing of Joe Biden

The far right would like to impeach Joe Biden, kick him out of the White House, perhaps even throw him in jail. “Lock him up” has been a predictable chant at Trump rallies going back to before the 2020 election. Even Republicans in Congress have joined this chorus. Bipartisanship? As Donald Trump would say in… Continue reading The Handcuffing of Joe Biden

US Foreign Policy

Did 9/11 Change Everything?

Twenty years ago, the United States sustained the first substantial attacks on the mainland since the War of 1812. It was a collective shock to all Americans who believed their country to be impregnable. The Cold War had produced the existential dread of a nuclear attack, but that always lurked in the realm of the… Continue reading Did 9/11 Change Everything?

US Foreign Policy

The Spread of Global Hate

One insidious way to torture the detainees at Guantanamo was to blast music at them at all hours. The mixtape, which included everything from Metallica to the Meow Mix jingle, was intended to disorient the captives and impress upon them the futility of resistance. It worked: this soundtrack from hell did indeed break several inmates.… Continue reading The Spread of Global Hate

US Foreign Policy

International Law Uncancelled

When the loony right gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference back in February, the theme of the Trump-heavy gathering was “America Uncanceled.” Speaker after speaker railed against “political correctness” in American culture, from “woke mobs” to “censorship” in the mainstream news media. Incredibly, they tried to transform so-called cancel culture into the single greatest… Continue reading International Law Uncancelled

US Foreign Policy

Is the Long War Finally Ending

In October 1944, with the end of World War II in sight, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin passed a note back and forth to each other at a conference in Moscow. On the piece of paper, Churchill had assigned percentages to several Eastern European countries. Stalin amended the numbers, and Churchill agreed. The deal remained… Continue reading Is the Long War Finally Ending

US Foreign Policy

Painting the World Green

Once upon a time, a rich hypochondriac was complaining about pains in his head and stomach. He consulted a wise man who pointed out that the root of the problem lay somewhere else: in the man’s eyes. To resolve the persistent headache and stomachache, the sage suggested focusing on just one color in the surrounding… Continue reading Painting the World Green

US Foreign Policy

The U.S. Senate Is a Global Problem

Watching the Senate conduct the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump brought back a flood of memories from high school. I distinctly remember an earlier incarnation of those Trump-friendly Republican senators taking up their positions at the back of class to snicker, yawn ostentatiously, and otherwise disrupt the serious, well-researched presentations of their fellow students.… Continue reading The U.S. Senate Is a Global Problem

US Foreign Policy

America: The Unreliable Superpower

The nightmare is over. The vanquished beast has crawled back to Mar-a-Lago to lick his wounds. The heroes are hard at work repairing the damage. As America returns to the international stage, the world heaves a collective sigh of relief. That, at least, is the story the incoming Biden administration is telling. “America is back,… Continue reading America: The Unreliable Superpower

US Foreign Policy

Szitsky Krik

In Season One of the wildly popular TV series Szitsky Krik, viewers thrilled to see the delicious comeuppance of a former U.S. president and his once-glamorous wife Melania. Having ruthlessly climbed over people to become the most powerful couple in the world, Donny and Melania are abruptly stripped of their political influence within months of… Continue reading Szitsky Krik

Books, Non-Fiction, US Foreign Policy

The Pandemic Pivot

If the current pandemic is a test of the global emergency response system, the international community is flunking big time. It has done just about everything wrong, from the failure to contain the virus early on to the lack of effective coordination thereafter. As the predicted second wave begins to build — the world is… Continue reading The Pandemic Pivot

US Foreign Policy

The Problem of Surplus White Men

The problem of America today is the problem of white men. Who lies at the intersection of guns, right-wing fanaticism, pandemic and climate change denialism? Who ensures that racism continues to course through the lifeblood of the country? Who stands in the way of gender equality? Who supports foreign wars and the military-industrial complex? Who… Continue reading The Problem of Surplus White Men

US Foreign Policy

Trump’s Scorched-Earth Policy

It is a recent tradition among occupants of the White House, as they head out of office, to play a few practical jokes on their successors. The Clinton administration jesters, for instance, removed all the Ws from White House keyboards before handing over the keys to George W. Bush’s transition team. The Obama administration left… Continue reading Trump’s Scorched-Earth Policy

US Foreign Policy

Trump and the Troops

My father enlisted in the Army to fight in World War II. He was 19 or 20 years old, and he wanted to defeat the Nazis. He was one of a million other young Americans to sign up that year. But my father was also a fun-loving guy who played clarinet in a jazz band… Continue reading Trump and the Troops