Joe and Jill Biden

Maligning Biden

January 22, 2014

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates — who presided over the failed war in Afghanistan and the failing intervention in Iraq — claims that Vice President Biden was “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

Donkey and Jordanian man

Breaking Through the Impasse on the Jordan Valley

January 20, 2014

Recent news reports indicate that a major stumbling block in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is the insistence by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on maintaining a military force on the border between the future Palestinian state and Jordan, along the Jordan Valley.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in press conference

The Benefits of Being Clear on Taiwan

January 17, 2014

Making more explicit that which is viewed by many as an implicit understanding between China and the United States regarding the status of Taiwan would constitute a major step in defusing tensions between the two powers. The governments of both China and the United States have already shown considerable restraint in this matter, ignoring demands from Chinese who wish to use force to “reclaim” Taiwan as part of the mainland and from Americans who call for recognizing Taiwan as an independent nation.

Mayor De Blasio addressing a crowd

For a Fair Society

January 03, 2014

The left’s eyes are glued to New York City where the Great New Hope for progressive people just took office. The fact that Mayor Bill de Blasio was elected by a wide margin, that the support in several parts of the nation for increasing the minimum wage is considerable, and that public opinion polls consistently reveal that a majority of Americans want the government to curb inequality are all viewed as promising signs there may be a new wave of support for major social reforms.

Meeting of American and Chinese Officials

A Three-Pronged Approach to the ADIZ

December 17, 2013

In responding to the ADIZ, the U.S. needs to consider carefully its position on China as a rising power.

President Obama

Obama’s Misguided Focus on Inequality

December 12, 2013

Until Democrats—liberals and centrists alike—show government can work, the public won’t be receptive to government-driven social-justice proposals.
I have come to dread President Obama’s speeches.

Motorist on the open road

Are Libertarians Going Soft?

November 22, 2013

Jonathan Rauch, one of the keenest observers of American public life (and acontributing editor at The Atlantic), reminded a group of worried progressives recently that whenever extremist forces seem poised to take over the United States, moderate counterforces move in and save the day. He had no need to mention the key examples, because they are well-known: Ted Cruz ought to take note of what happened to Joe McCarthy, the John Birch Society, and, above all, the Moral Majority.

Blackberry phone

It Takes a Village to Prevent a Crime

November 12, 2013

Riding an Amtrak train from Washington D.C. to New York City, Michael Hayden was giving interviews to reporters using his cell phone regarding national security related matters. In three different conversations, the former NSA head voiced numerous criticisms of the Obama administration, including the president’s use of a Blackberry, which he believed left the president vulnerable to foreign spying.

Iran Flag

A ‘Syrian’ Approach — to Iran

November 04, 2013

The P5+1 (i.e., the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany) are about to respond to Iran’s hour-long presentation about how it plans to come clean about its nuclear program. The P5+1 should not respond by trying to modify the proposal Iran puts forward; rather, it should suggest that Iran follow the model just agreed to by Syria.

President Obama

Why Is Obama Ready to Fold in Budget Talks?

October 29, 2013

President Obama’s opening position in forthcoming budget negotiations includes a commitment to cut into the two major social-safety nets, Social Security and Medicare.


In Defense of Drones

October 24, 2013

Amnesty International has just issued a report that is highly critical of the use of drones by the United States. Its main concern is the great number of civilian casualties that these strikes cause – the so-called collateral damage. There is considerable disagreement among observers about the extent of these casualties. Amnesty International relies on local people, who are keen to call attention to them. Whatever the actual number, though, they deserve careful consideration.

President Obama and President Xi Jinping

MAR or War?

October 17, 2013

In a recent post for The Diplomat, Michael Haas describes my suggestion that the U.S. and China draw on Mutually Assured Restraint (MAR) to avoid falling into the Thucydides Trap, as “constructive” but subject to major criticism.

President Rouhani

Iran Opening: Keep It Simple

October 15, 2013

Will someone explain why they consider the policy issues raised by Iran’s recent move much of an issue, a subject that needs much deliberating? Unlike Syria, where it is difficult to know with whom to side, and Egypt—where no one seems to have any good suggestions– the situation with Iran seems abundantly clear.

Daniel Kahneman

A Proposal for Humble Decision Making

October 11, 2013

In his 2011 best-selling book, Thinking Fast and Slow, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman summarizes the findings of Behavioral Economics, which show that people cannot make rational decisions. Our brains are hardwired to process information poorly and draw wrong conclusions.

Supreme Court at dusk

Will the Court Pull All Stops?

October 07, 2013

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether the core, remaining limits on campaign contributions — the individual caps — should be struck down in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. Given the Court’s conservative majority and that the same Roberts Court recently put an end to caps on what corporations and labor unions can donate (in Citizens United) — one should expect the worst: allowing those with deep pockets to use unlimited amounts of money to sway politicians.