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.

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.