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Chinese Military

For a New Sino-American Relationship

September 23, 2013

To avoid the United States and China falling into the Thucydides trap, both nations will be served if they embrace a strategy of Mutually Assured Restraint (MAR). Political scientists argue that since the days of the ancient Greeks, when a new power arises and the old superpower does not yield ground quick enough — wars ensue. However, the record shows that there are no historical Iron Laws.

Obama walking with President Xi

MAR: A Model for US-China Relations

September 20, 2013

The United States and China, as well as the international community, would benefit significantly if both powers adopted a strategy of Mutually Assured Restraint (MAR). It would help them to move away from the current distrust both sides exhibit in their dealings with each other, cap the military build up, reduce the risks of unintended conflagrations, allow both nations to dedicate more resources to urgent domestic needs, and increase collaborations in many matters that concern both powers.

Missile Launching

Air-Sea Battle: A Dangerous Way to Deal With China

September 03, 2013

On the face of it, the Pentagon’s Air-Sea Battle plan makes eminently good sense; it is a clear response to a clear challenge. China has been developing a whole slew of weapons (especially anti-ship missiles) over the past two decades that are of great concern to the U.S. military.

Egyptian Election Protests

Secularism Can Save Egypt

August 13, 2013

Elections, the favorite American tool for democratization, until they turn out badly as in the Gaza strip, are widely viewed as the way out of the current impasse in Egypt. But they are most likely to leave one of the major camps—and both are important—deeply alienated. What Egypt should focus on instead is the formulation of a new constitution, employing it as an opportunity to seek a basic understanding about the future of the regime to which both sides can subscribe.

Individual protesting for the rights of whistle blowers

The Case for Keeping Whistleblowers Nervous

August 08, 2013

In its coverage of the government’s investigation into national-security leaks, the media have forfeited any claim to professional objectivity. News reports are loaded with editorializing terms such as “aggressive [anti-leak] policy,” “sweeping subpoenas,” and “fishing expedition.” And while editorials are full of sound and fury, condemning these and earlier investigations as “outrageous,” “threatening,” and Nixonian, voices on the other side are much less frequently heard.

Al Kuds, Jerusalem, Palestine

An Israeli-Palestinian Commonwealth?

July 23, 2013

Secretary John Kerry is reported to making progress in restarting the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Typing on a computer keyboard

Unorthodox Questions About Leaks

July 17, 2013

Most everybody is up in arms over the recent revelations about government snooping and the Obama administration’s investigation of the media to find the leakers. These investigations, the media reports, “chill” its sources and prevent it from doing its job–keeping the public informed. Well, if you’ll bear with me for a moment, I have some questions about this whole ball of wax.

"Tahrir Square during Friday of Departure" by (Mona sosh)

Demonstration Democracy

July 05, 2013

Many are asking why people in democratic regimes are taking to the streets. The topic should attract attention. After all, democratic theory assumes that if people are dissatisfied with their government, they will get a new one via the ballot box. But whether in Brazil, Turkey or many other democracies, people are instead protesting. Moreover, all too frequently what start as a peaceful demonstrations turn into violent confrontations with the police or other demonstrators.

Chief of Naval Operations speaks at the Brookings Institute about the Air-Sea Battle concept

Preparing to Go to War With China

July 02, 2013

If you have never heard of the Air-Sea Battle (ASB) concept, you are in the good company of most Americans. Since 2009 the Pentagon has been fleshing out this operational concept, which prepares the United States, among other contingencies, for an all-out war with China. You may say, “Wait a moment; surely the military has a contingency plan for everything, even for an alien invasion” — and you would be correct. Air-Sea Battle, however, is moving beyond the contingency phase to implementation, including force restructuring and significant budget allocation.

Aftermath of Tornado in Moore, Ok

The Libertarian Alamo

June 20, 2013

The horrible tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma reminds one that libertarians are people who like gambles in which heads, they rake it in; tails, you pay. They object to government regulations, even those of local municipalities, that would require residents in tornado-prone areas to include a life-saving “safe room” in their homes — objecting even to requirements that these rooms be included in schools. They then proceed to complain bitterly when federal aid for cleaning up and rebuilding their homes is delayed.

FSA rebels cleaning their AK47s

The Moral Minimum in Arming Rebels

June 11, 2013

The debate about whether to arm the Syrian rebels is centered around the question which groups are “good” rebels (those who favor democratic regimes and the United States) or “bad” rebels (various kinds of jihadists). The Obama administration is widely reported to be reluctant to aid Syrian rebels due to the difficulty of identifying “leaders who are committed to a unified, democratic Syria that respects minority rights” as opposed to “militants who might turn them against Western interests.” In Dissent, Michael Walzer finds that his readers “would be happy to see the victory of Syrians who have been studying John Stuart Mill or who take their cue from Swedish social democracy,” which he warns is not going to happen.

Secretary of State John Kerry with Israeli President Peres (left) and Palestinian President Abbas (right)

What John Kerry Can Learn From John F. Kennedy

June 06, 2013

“Some say that it is useless to speak of peace… until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitudes, as individuals and as a Nation, for our attitude is as essential as theirs,” said former President John F. Kennedy as he stood at American University on June 10, 1963. The rarely discussed reset of U.S.-Soviet relationship that followed Kennedy’s speech has significant implications when it comes to both present-day U.S.-China relations and the restarted Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Richard N Haass speaks to the Microsoft Political Action Committee

The Realism of Richard Haass

May 31, 2013

Richard Haass’s new book, Foreign Policy Begins at Home, should delight realists. His strong case that we should put our own house in order is neither isolationist nor declinist. On the contrary, he persuasively shows that United States continues to be the indispensable nation: as he puts it, if the United States will not provide leadership for the world order, no other nation stands ready to take over. Nor is there a contradiction between focusing on shoring up the nation at home and its international role. To maintain its status in the world, the United States must have a strong economy, polity and society.

The Danger of Overcorrecting on Terror

May 29, 2013

In a speech last week at the National Defense University, President Obama made clear that he is moving to the left. This will mean more transparency and Congressional oversight of his high flying drone program, new ways to close Gitmo, and cutting the list of terrorist groups that may be hit. Last week, he promoted a shield for journalists who publish state secrets—a shield against the kind of government inquiry that his attorney general just carried out in collecting the phone records of the Associated Press. And Obama has already vastly reduced the number of drone hits.

Charge American Terrorists With Treason

May 24, 2013

When Boston bombing conspirator Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured, the event brought up–again–questions about the proper legal procedures for perpetrators of terrorism, particularly when those terrorists who are American citizens. Several conservative senators rushed to suggest that Tsarnaev be designated an “enemy combatant,” which would allow for the suspension of his habeas corpus rights and the relaxation of what are otherwise Constitutional rights to due process and, by extension, certain rules of evidence and so forth. Meanwhile, it has long been the position of many on the left that the strongest statement of American values should be to try terrorists as ordinary criminals, with all the Constitution rights to which ordinary criminals are entitled.