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.

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank decision

The U.S. Should Not Fear Competing With China

October 31, 2014

On October 24, 21 Asian nations signed a memorandum to form a new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, to be drawn on considerable Chinese funds. U.S. opposition to the new bank illuminates a much greater issue: Will the U.S. seek to contain every international initiative by China, or will it only counter aggression but welcome China’s non-coercive engagement in regional and world affairs? 

The Capitol Building

Midterm Elections

October 31, 2014

In many ways, we already know the results of the midterm elections: The country continues to tilt toward right of center. This is evident because, even if the Democrats are somehow able to hold on to a thin majority in the Senate, they will do so only because of the election of red-state Democrats who support many of the same policies that Republicans do. 

Character and Opportunity cover

We Need Empathy, Too

October 23, 2014

“Character” has been used in American political discourse as a code word for arguing that if people are suffering – are poor, unemployed, or hooked on drugs or alcohol – it is because they have not been brought up properly and thus have a poor character, especially one that is short on self-government and controlling impulses. But people of good character can lift themselves up by their own boot straps, make their own opportunities. 

Goat with Obama Sticker

The Tea Party Is Winning—the Liberal Agenda Is Being Suffocated

September 24, 2014

Liberals say Republicans, who are engaged in a civil war with each other while campaigning to defund Obamacare, are ignoring the wishes of the majority of Americans. They contend that if the GOP continues on its present course, it will once again shoulder the blame for shutting down the government, or worse.

Soldier with gun

Grant Kurdistan Arms and Independence

August 14, 2014

In dealing with Iraq, the U.S. and its allies would benefit from drawing on an important axiom of economics, that of “sunk costs.” It suggests that contrary to common intuition, how much you have invested in a property (or policy) in the past should not affect your decisions about future investments. The decisive question is whether the property is currently in good shape, or is falling apart. 

Hillary Clinton's book Hard Choices

Hillary Clinton’s China Policy

August 06, 2014

Hillary Clinton’s book Hard Choices reaffirms what critics have long stated about President Barack Obama’s China policy: that there is none but merely vague generalizations and that the administration is largely reactive rather than proactive. 


Should We Go Back to the Moon?

July 22, 2014

Today marks 45 years since Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, taking "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Overall, 12 American astronauts have walked on the lunar landscape, the last – Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt – doing so in 1972.

Iran Road

Road to Damascus Runs Through Tehran

July 17, 2014

Iran, a state that is known to support terrorists and insurgent groups, has its tentacles in several states throughout the Middle East. Trying to pry one loose will leave the others tightening their unwelcome grip.

Facebook logo

Facebook's Experiment: Trivial Pursuit

July 08, 2014

The recent hullabaloo about the "experiment" Facebook conducted for one week, in which it scrambled the newsfeed of some of its customers to see if the differences would make them happier, says much more about us than about Facebook. It shows that we would much rather deal with a new scandal, however trivial, rather than face deep, long standing flaws of our whole social system.


The Cantonization of Iraq

July 03, 2014

The public debate about the future of Iraq has locked on two options -- partition along confessional-ethnic lines or a unity government. Both proposals have problems. Iraq would be better served, and those who cajole it would be wise to promote, strong autonomy for the country's 19 provinces.

A Gavel

Repeated Assaults--And No Remedies

June 19, 2014

A recent front page New York Times report reveals that individuals caught by authorities and detained as illegal immigrants are being paid $1 a day or less to work at the detention centers they are kept in while their cases are awaiting resolution. There are an estimated 135,000 people who are held in detention centers, many of which are operated by profit making corporations.