Reader Mail: Irish Troops in the Heart of Africa

To the Editor: Judah Grunstein’s interesting article on EUFOR/Tchad quotes Yves Boyer remarking on the amazing European fact of an Irish general commanding a European protection force in the heart of Africa (and his further doubts that Ireland would have the political will to take casualties). You should know that this does not mark the first time an Irish general has commanded peacekeeping troops in the heart of Africa, nor the first time Ireland has taken casualties in the cause of peacekeeping there or elsewhere. During the Congo Crisis of the early 1960s, the U.N. command in Katanga and in […]

Rice Removes Road Map Roadblock

The chief U.S. correspondent of the Israeli daily Haaretz, Shmuel Rosner, recently argued that American officials were reluctant to put pressure on Israel because “the underlying factors that are obstructing a final arrangement [between Israel and the Palestinians] will not change if Israel removes five outposts or seven checkpoints.” Rosner even offered a presumably imagined exchange between Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak: “Rice pressures Barak to do more. . . . There must be some checkpoint you can remove, she says. Nu, Barak responds, let’s say there is, can Rice point to it and also take responsibility […]

More McCain

I thought I’d toss this Daily Standard piece by Joseph Loconte on McCain’s foreign policy address into the mix. He seems to come down somewhere between Hampton and myselfon what McCain offers: a little uneasy about the idealist hurdles aLeague of Democracies will present to a realist agenda, but ultimatelyreassured by being more sympathetic to McCain than I probably am. I’dadd that should McCain become president, America will undoubtedly betied down in Iraq for the foreseeable future, meaning that whateverpotential dangers for military adventurism his democracy agendapresented would be moot. As for the democracy agenda itself, I’m trying to get […]

Another View of McCain’s Foreign Policy

Those interested in Judah’s thought-provoking analysis of McCain’s foreign policy address in Los Angeles last week should also check out David Brooks’ March 28 column about the speech and McCain’s foreign policy views in general. While Judah seems to argue (correct me if I’m wrong Judah) that McCain’s foreign policy vision, because he ultimately puts so much emphasis on democracy promotion, is really just neoconservatism dressed up in realist clothing, Brooks gives more credence to McCain’s attempts to fashion a foreign policy aimed at accomplishing idealistic ends with realistic means. Judah objected most strongly to McCain’s statement that whether Iraq […]

Murat Kurnaz on 60 Minutes

On CBS News’ 60 Minutes tonight, Scott Pelley interviewed German resident Murnat Kurnaz about his time held by the U.S. military as an unlawful enemy combatant, including several years at Guantanamo Bay. Pelley’s report leaves the impression that the Kurnaz case is, pure and simple, the story of a completely innocent man caught up in a corrupt and arbitrary system of U.S. military justice. Writing in World Politics Review in June 2007, John Rosenthal describes how Kurnaz’s case received similar treatment in the German media. Facts that cast doubt on Kurnaz’s credibility, and several aspects of his claims of innocence, […]

McCain’s Foreign Policy Address

John McCain’s foreign policy address is a tricky bundle to digest. Where it’s good, it’s very reassuring; where it’s bad it’s very worrying. The problem to my eyes is that the two seem to be mutually exclusive. In other words, I like the picture he draws of the destination. I just don’t see how you get from here to there using the itinerary he offers. To start with what I liked, I’d agree with Hampton that it’s not just his call for multi-lateralism, but his appeal for taking advantage of all the many and varied instruments of power at America’s […]

The U.N. Peacekeeping Chief’s Greatest Worries

I just went to hear U.S. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno speak at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Guéhenno is credited by many with bringing U.N. peacekeeping operations back to a respectable state after what Guéhenno himself calls the “tragedies of the 90s” — the series of peacekeeping operations, perhaps exemplified by Yugoslavia and Rwanda, where the U.N. got in way over its head either because there was no real peace to keep, because the deployed force was insufficiently robust, because the mission was ill-defined, or for some other reason. Guéhenno struck me as an impressive and […]

McCain on Smart Power

The headlines after John McCain’s major foreign policy address yesterday have focused on the emphasis on multilateralism and his distancing himself from Bush’s “go-it-alone” foreign policy. But it should be noted that he also emphasized what one might call a multilateralism of means — the use of all instruments of national power in creating an integrated strategy: Prevailing in this struggle [against radical Islamic terrorism] will require far more than military force. It will require the use of all elements of our national power: public diplomacy; development assistance; law enforcement training; expansion of economic opportunity; and robust intelligence capabilities. I […]

Is Basra Really Evidence of Surge Failure?

Judah writes below that what’s happening in Basra is “pretty damning stuff for advocates of the Surge.” In the interest of stimulating a little debate here (and I invite you to weigh in by clicking on our new “discuss this item” button below), I don’t see that this is conclusively the case. To the extent that the strategic goal of the Surge was to create space for political reconciliation, Basra’s descent into fighting is perhaps more evidence that this goal hasn’t been reached. At the same time, however, Surge advocates will be able to credibly make the argument, as I […]

Globalization and the Midwest

It probably takes the editor of a Midwestern newspaper to get away with saying something like this about Midwestern newspaper people: I’ve got a staff here of really smart newspaper people and almost none of them have probably been outside the United States. I’ve got to name one of them the foreign editor, and that person is going to have to edit the AP foreign wire, and there’s nobody here with the world view, the international sophistication, to take that wire and turn it into something meaningful for my readers. The passage comes from an interview/profile of Richard Longworth linked […]

WASHINGTON — Several recent U.S. court decisions are threatening an effort to dramatically reduce Russia’s stockpiles of weapons-grade uranium. The court decisions would eliminate high tariff barriers that have effectively blocked Russia’s exports of uranium to the United States, except for those covered by a 1993 U.S.-Russian agreement for downblending 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from nuclear weapons into fuel for nuclear reactors by 2013. To date, the agreement has helped lead to the downblending of 325 metric tons of HEU, equivalent to 13,000 nuclear warheads. The downblended uranium currently supplies more than 40 percent of the […]

Cheney in Ankara

You’ll recall that last month I mentioned an increase in Turkey’s troop commitment in Afghanistan and a more active Turkish role in pushing back against Iran’s nuclear program as likely chits for the U.S. signing off on its weeklong incursion into northern Iraq. Well, it seems that Dick cheney flew into Ankara today and met with Turkey’s president, prime minister and chief of staff to collect on both accounts. And in a further sign of America’s diminished standing in the region, he left more or less empty-handed. (Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan did issue a pro forma declaration urging Tehran […]

Taking Exception to American Exceptionalism

Here’s something that caught my eye for no particular reason, from The Interpreter, the blog of the Lowy Institute for International Policy (Australia). Michael Fullilove wrote this in response to Barack Obama’s claim, most recently in his speech on race, that his story is only possible in America: I know plenty of first and second generation immigrants sitting in Australian parliaments; our deputy prime minister is a woman and one of our most senior ministers is a gay woman of Chinese heritage. The French recently installed a man with a Hungarian name in the Élysée Palace. New Zealand’s foreign minister […]


The theme of the day being strategy vs. tactics, this Shawn Brimley piece at Small Wars Journal bears mentioning. Brimley argues for organizing a grand American strategy for the 21st century around the theme of sustainment, and he identifies in particular three vital global interests that America needs to defend by virtue of its position as the world’s dominant power and de facto “leader”: Beyond the defense of the homeland, a grand strategy of sustainment would commit the United States to the pursuit of three vital global interests: stable balances of power in key regions, an open international economy, and […]

The West’s Declining Influence

In his Newsweek column, Dan Drezner notes that while improved trans-Atlantic relations have allowed Europe and America to agree on common external threats, they have not yet found adequate responses to them. The result is a decline in the West’s overall influence, something that Drezner considers inevitable in the long run, even if it is sometimes prematurely announced. In many ways this is obvious, and something that we should be approaching not as some terrible threat but as a necessary evolution in geopolitics. In his book, Continuing History, former French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine discussed the need for the West […]

WPR Top 10 March 17-23

The top 10 most-read articles on World Politics Review last week: 1. Are Unmanned Airplanes the U.S. Air Force’s Salvation?2. Nabucco Follies: State Department Shills for EU Pipeline to Carry Iranian Gas3. After Surprising Elections, True Test of Malaysian Democracy Lies Ahead4. Saakashvili-Bush Summit Faces Serious Obstacles5. As Tibet Burns, Exiles in Nepal Feel the Heat6. Rebellion in Northern Niger Exacts Large Human, Economic Toll7. Bucharest Summit Offers an Opportunity to Begin Repairing NATO’s Warfighting Capacity8. Rights & Wrongs: Afghanistan, China, Syria and Zimbabwe9. The United Nations’ Unscientific War on Biotechnology10. Migration, Governance at Root of Global Shortage of Health […]

Quick Links from Around the Blogosphere

A few quick links from our blog reading this afternoon: –Eric Trager at Commentary’s Contentions blog is unimpressed with the results of Cheney’s Middle East trip. –Lucy Moore at Foreign Policy’s Passport blog looks at some of the dubious moral support China is receiving for its Tibet crackdown. –The U.S. State Department’s Dipnote blog reveals just what exactly a passport file contains. –The Counterterrorism blog links to the first installment of the the Investigative Project on Terorrism’s look at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. –Phil Carter at Intel Dump says Barack Obama should be the choice of veterans and military […]

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