American Exceptionalism: A Bipartisan Consensus?

I realized only today that the scholarly journal World Affairs, which was first published beginning in 1837, was relaunched in January as an entirely new sort of publication. A quick perusal of the winter and spring 2008 issues indicates the journal shows some promise as a place (like, we hope, World Politics Review), where a wide range of opinions and ideas, regardless of ostensible political stripe, have found a home. One essay that caught my eye was by David Rieff, who, in the guise of a review of both a recent book by Anne-Marie Slaughter and Barack Obama’s April 2007 […]

Military-to-Military Relations in Libya, Elsewhere in Africa

Our friends at Inside the Pentagon this week are reporting a number of interesting developments (scroll down to “Mil-to-Mil”) relating to the U.S. military presence in Africa. First, in another step in the process of normalizing U.S.-Libya relations that began when Libya voluntarily abandoned its covert WMD programs in December 2003, the U.S. government will soon restart military-to-military relations with the country, ITP reports: The United States is close to signing a memorandum of understanding with the Libyan government that will open the doors to formal military engagement following years of strained relations, according to a senior military official in […]

Iraqi Insurgents Claim to Have Hacked U.S. Robots

It never ceases to amaze me how closely terrorist propagandists in Iraq and elsewhere monitor events in the United States for tidbits that they can use against their enemy. For example, this from the May 13 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus (as of this writing, the current issue was not yet online): The Iraqi mujahideen are claiming that resistance engineering units have successfully “decoded” U.S. military robots designed for urban combat and turned them against U.S. soldiers. After redirecting the robots against U.S. forces, the American military was forced to withdraw the robots from service, according to the […]

More on Pentagon ‘News’ Web Sites

The USA Today story which Judah flagged below concerns a Pentagon program that I had mentioned previously on this blog hearing about in an off-the-record conversation with a government contractor. In my previous post, I mentioned that focusing our information operations efforts on making our enemies look bad (targeting Muslim extremists for ridicule in ways that drives a wedge between them and Muslim moderates, for example) would be a more efficient and effective approach than focusing on bolstering the U.S. image. This goes double for the Pentagon. While an information operations campaign aimed at demoralizing and dividing U.S. enemies is […]

The Pentagon’s Global “News” Network

Melinda Brouwer of the FPA’s U.S. Diplomacy blog flags a USA Today article on the Pentagon’s latest information operations campaign, “a global network of foreign-language news websites.” The sites feature “reporting” by local journalists designed to promote American interests, and while the Pentagon’s involvement is not hidden, it is far from prominently displayed. The article itself focuses on the ethical problem of targeted propaganda being passed off as “news.” It mainly discusses the site already launched for Iraq, but additional sites are in the works for Latin America and Asia. The program is based on a site launched in 1999 […]

Israel at 60: Surveying its Strengths and Challenges

TEL AVIV — According to the Jewish calendar, Israel turned 60 on Thursday — but since the day begins in the evening according to the lunar calendar, the big fireworks and street parties took place Wednesday night. Many other celebrations have been going on for quite some time, with events organized by Jewish groups all over the world. And more is yet to come, including a planned May 14 visit by President Bush to mark the anniversary of the Jewish state’s establishment. Anyone who wonders why a country should celebrate its 60th anniversary so extensively probably doesn’t take into account […]

The Responsibility to Protect: Not Ready for Prime Time

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner yesterday said the United Nations should invoke the “responsibility to protect” in passing a resolution to deliver aid to Burma with or without the government’s consent. Here’s what the 2005 U.N. resolution concerning the “responsibility to protect” says about the responsibility of the international community: The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared […]

Finally, Some Good News About Food

As far as I can tell it hasn’t hit the English-speaking media yet, but researchers in Chile announced this week (warning: links in Spanish) the discovery of a new genetically engineered variety of rice that can be cooked with 1/4 the amount of water needed for normal rice. Here’s the official University of Santiago release, reviewing the new strain of rice and also the crush of press interest since the first reports on Monday. The project was cosponsored by Chile’s governmental Foundation for Agricultural Innovation, which is sponsoring a number of other projects to help increase Chile’s agricultural output. In […]

Obama and Soft Power

To add my $0.02 to the discussion of Barack Obama’s foreign policy (Hampton’s response to Matthew Yglesias’ pushback against Hampton’s original post), I’d say that to the extent that digging wells is a better way to not live up to your utopian rhetoric than dropping bombs, I think Matthew has a point. But therein lies the rub. The danger of Obama’s overly ambitious and unrealistic rhetoric, like all overly ambitious and unrealistic rhetoric, is in raising expectations, both domestically and abroad, about the transformative capacity of American power, at a time when a smart foreign policy would attempt to downsize […]

Are Means Everything?

Matthew Yglesias says my previous criticism of Obama’s foreign policy doesn’t really hold water: The rhetoric of American foreignpolicymaking has always been suffused with grand — some would say grandiose — aspirations and professions of lofty ideals. And yet the actual substance of policymaking has differed enormously over the years, decades, and centuries. That’s because methods — what’s dismissed here as “their strategy for achieving this goal” — are essentially the entire ballgame. Practical American politicians will always commit themselves to a set of basically similar highest-order goals of spreading wonderfulness throughout time and space. Even in our “do not […]

Children of the Iranian Revolution: Photo Exhibit

Readers who will be in Washington anytime between May 14 and July 10 should stop by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars to check out a photo exhibit called “Children of the Iranian Revolution.” The photographer, Iason Athanasiadis, has been an occasional contributor to World Politics Review. With Iran looming so large in international relations at the moment, it can’t hurt to gain insight into the culture of the 70 percent of the country that is under 30. For a taste of Athanasiadis’ photographic style, check out these three photo essays that he contributed to World Politics Review: Istanbul’s […]

The Coming Global Orders

There’s been some thought-provoking discussion of the various analytical models of the world order over the past few weeks. Steve Clemons summarized the “next faultline in foreign policy combat” as “The U.S. matters” vs. “No, it really doesn’t.” Sam Roggeveen has some thoughts along with the relevant links here, including this John Ikenberry response to Clemons’ original post. Obviously, this is a fertile moment in foreign policy theorizing, in part because of the enormous shifts in economic activity taking place, but also because it’s still very uncertain how those shifts will translate into the sphere of real power and influence, […]

America’s Self-Image Perceived Abroad

Two very interesting posts over at the Lowy Interpreter on how Americans present themselves to and are perceived by non-Americans (in this case, Aussies). The first discusses Americans’ tendency towards self-deprecation and self-criticism (particularly, but not exclusively, in terms of foreign policy); the second suggests that this is both a cover for “an unwavering belief in [our] pre-eminence” and a poker-playing culture’s technique for eliciting information based on the listener’s reaction. Significantly, the first is based on American officials encountered in Australia, whereas the second is based on American private citizens encountered in America, which might explain for the different […]

Military Appearances Can Be Deceiving

As part of tomorrow’s inauguration ceremony for Gazprom’s new president Russia’s new president, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian military will parade its big ticket hardware through Red Square for the first time since, well, the square was truly Red. It’s the culmination of a year’s worth of Russian flexing of its military muscle, which also saw the reintroduction of long range bomber patrols and Russian naval exercises in the Mediterranean and off the North Atlantic coast. As an indication of how seriously Moscow takes tomorrow’s display, the cobblestones in Red Square have been reinforced to resist the Topol missile system’s hundred […]

Another Kind of Crusader State? Obama as Global Meliorist

Ever since Judah early last month highlighted this Spencer Ackerman piece on Barack Obama’s foreign policy, I have been meaning to get down some thoughts about Obama and the limits of U.S. power. The almost utopian rhetoric used by Obama’s advisers to describe their central foreign policy goal of “dignity promotion” has been bothering me. Here’s former Obama adviser Samantha Power, for example, as quoted by Ackerman: “He goes back to Roosevelt,” Power says. “Freedom from fear and freedom from want. What if we actually offered that? What if we delivered that in the developing world? That would be a […]

Showing 18 - 34 of 39First 1 2 3 Last