Barack Obama

Obama's Timid Budget

February 06, 2015

We hear a great deal from luminaries who delight in the “liberated” Obama, who is said to have found his mojo, and begun to take on inequality. A closer look reveals that, even if all the policies and changes in the tax code the President called for in the just-released budget were implemented completely, they would barely dent inequality. Moreover, the gap between his overblown rhetoric and his weak proposals is likely to add to the cynicism of the American people.

Mosque in Brunei

Two Islams Are Better Than One

January 28, 2015

The Paris attacks reignited the debate over the relationship between Islam and violence. On the one hand, the Obama Administration stresses that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. On the other hand, conservative commentators blast the White House for trying to disassociate Islam from terrorism.

Naval ships

Assessing -- Threat Assessments

January 21, 2015

The United States' military is reported to greatly exaggerate the threat posed by China's and Russia's navies according to a prize-winning column in the Washington Post by Walter Pincus. Others have written about this bias, but Pincus documents it very effectively and above all succinctly.

Australian soldier

Is the United States a ‘Dangerous’ Ally?

January 20, 2015

Some American strategists have of late expressed the concern that the United States’ growing military ties with various nations in East and Southeast Asia give these nations a finger on the American trigger. This issue has been particularly raised with regard to Japan because the U.S. has declared that it views the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands as if they were parts of Japan – which the United States is committed by treaty to defend.

Je suis Charlie

Start With 'Thou Shalt Not Kill'

January 14, 2015

In response to the Paris massacres, as we reach out to the Muslim world, we should not focus on the value of freedom of expression but on that of life. There are both principled and prudential reasons for starting with "thou shalt not kill." 

Computer with a lock image on the screen

Corporations Undermine Cybersecurity

January 13, 2015

At first, it may seem obvious that the private sector should be keen to protect its computers from cyber-attacks. After all, hacking has caused considerable losses of trade secrets and other proprietary information. Actually, the private sector is opposing most new cybersecurity measures. Despite major implications of this opposition for homeland security, little has been done to make corporations defend their customers and the nation.

Elizabeth Warren

The Left's Unpopular Populism

January 08, 2015

The debate between Democrats who want to play up populist themes (let’s call them the Elizabeth Warren camp) and those who favor centrist ones (the Hillary Clinton crowd) ignores a major division among the various themes that carry the populist label. The difference is crucial because, as we will see shortly, the data show that some populist ideas are much less popular than others.


The NSA Panel’s Pointless Private-Sector Fig Leaf

December 24, 2014

Turning phone-metadata collection over to telephone companies or a third party introduces new security risks without meaningfully addressing civil-liberties concerns.

James Risen

No Limits to Freedom of the Press?

December 23, 2014

Few things bring about so furious a storm of media protest from the Left and the Right as does jailing a reporter. No wonder Attorney General Eric Holder, who is about to leave office and is no doubt concerned about his legacy, did not want to end his years in office by jailing James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter.

Computer Keyboard

A Band of Little Big Brothers: The Privacy Merchants

December 23, 2014

The American public has long understood rights, first and foremost, as protecting the individual from the state. During discussions of privacy violations, the first that typically comes to mind is “Big Brother” — that is, the state. Most informed citizens probably know by now that corporations collect information about them, but they may be unaware of the extent of these privacy invasions. Read the rest of the article here.

Orin Hatch

How to Fix Campaign Finance

December 23, 2014

The existing campaign financing system is a major source of corruption in the U.S., but limiting private contributions is viewed by the U.S. Supreme Court as limiting free speech. And there is little hope that the court will change its mind or that a constitutional amendment can be passed to address the problem. So what if, instead of focusing on contributions, we penalize those who gain substantive, material favors for their contributions and those who grant such favors for receiving contributions? 

Twin Tower Spotlights

Debating the ACLU: Advocacy vs. Policy Analysis

December 16, 2014

The president of the ACLU, Professor Susan Herman, recently debated the proposition that "Our government is doing the terrorists' work for them by undermining our way of life and our liberties." She presented highly troubling cases in what she called government "dragnets" leading to the arrest and long detention of innocent people. She railed against the lack of transparency and the chilling effects of investigating leaks to the press. I was supposed to take the other side.

China Flag

China: Young Voices

December 08, 2014

I used the occasion of my invitation to deliver the keynote address at the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Beijing Forum to meet with a group of Chinese students. I found them to be more interactive than they were during my previous trips. They were more willing not only to ask questions, but also to comment on my presentations, although they delivered all their comments in a congenial manner. (The one student who struck a discordant note turned out to be an American studying in Beijing.)


It's Economic Insecurity, Stupid

December 02, 2014

The post-mortem of the midterm elections is widely held to show that people are more concerned about economic stagnation than about any of the specific policies Democrats promote, such as climate control, immigration reform, and Internet neutrality. My interviews with middle-class Americans reveal that many are even more concerned with losing what they have than with gaining more of the same. 


US Grand Strategy: More Restraint

December 01, 2014

In his important new book Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy, Barry R. Posen raises one more call for restraint, although he reaches this conclusion in a distinct way uniquely his own. Posen finds that the United States has fallen prey to the illusion that it can – indeed, is being called upon to – bring to the nations of the world a democratic, stable form of government and a prosperous way of life to boot. He calls this thesis “liberal hegemony” and points out that its experiences in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan should have made the United States realize that it cannot make this vision come true.