Immigration as Trade Policy

Sam Roggeveen at the Interpreter wonders how I can be so sure that when a Michigan ad for Barack Obama targets John McCain as a foreign car owner, the emphasis is on foreign car owner, not foreign car owner. In other words, there’s the hint of protectionism that Sam worries about, but not the xenophobia he initially mentioned. Truth is, I can’t say for sure that Obama’s protectionist rhetoric is just rhetoric. But I think that the next phase of globalization will be as much dominated by immigration (ie. the liberalization of labor markets) as by protectionism. Case in point, […]

USAID, DOD Plan: Preemptive War Prevention

We’ve talked a lot in this space about Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ advocacy of “strengthening [the United States’] capacity to use ‘soft’ power and for better integrating it with ‘hard’ power,” as he put it in his landmark November 2007 speech at Kansas State University. WPR contributor Sam Brannen wrote of the speech at the time that “Secretary Gates may have written the first chapter in the next Quadrennial Defense Review, due in 2009.” Indeed, it’s a good bet that soft power capabilities will be a major focus of the next version of the every-four-years strategy document that is designed […]

Sovereign Wealth Funds and the Bailout

It’s becoming increasingly clear that foreign capital will not be a major factor in the bailout of the financial sector. A lot of the equity purchases made recently by sovereign wealth funds haven’t exactly panned out, after all, and as Badr al-Saad, managing director of the Kuwait Investment Authority, succinctly put it: We are not responsible for saving foreign banks. This is the duty of the central banks in these countries. Meanwhile, the calls for foreign participation is ironic, given all the anguish over sovereign wealth funds invading the American financial sector earlier this year. But I suppose the biggest […]

Obama’s Intelligence Braintrust

Laura Rozen has a rundown of Barack Obama’s intellligence braintrust over at Mother Jones. As Laura points out, the question of intelligence reform has been a “stealth topic” so far during the campaign, and while some of her sources argue that’s appropriate for such a vital, bipartisan issue, I’m glad to see some discussion of it. I’m also impressed by the kind of broad dialogue Obama is commissioning to address the problems the Bush administration’s approach to politicizing intelligence has created. Of course, listening to a broad spectrum of opinions doesn’t make the final decision any less political. But at […]

Elevating the National Guard

Big mistake in terms of political optics for Barack Obama to send Joe Biden to address the National Guard Association yesterday. But the proposal Biden floated to elevate the National Guard to the level of the Joint Chiefs strikes me as the first substantial change in military posture presented by either candidate. It reflects the fact that the Guard has been transformed from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve to meet the needs of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. I suppose one more Chief at the table could be a recipe for more turf wars and gridlock. But it […]

Global Bailout?

Whether or not the American bailout of the financial sector includes significant regulatory provisions, there’s already an emerging European consensus that the current crisis demonstrates the need for a regulatory body on a global level. From the EU Observer: Peter Steinbrueck, Germany’s Social-Democrat finance minister, raisedon Sunday (21 September) the idea of “an international authority thatwill make the traffic rules for financial markets,” while speaking toGerman radio, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to outline proposals forjust such a body, run under the authority of the International Monetaryfund, in a speech to the Labour Party conference on […]

COIN vs. Conventional Diplomacy

Via Small Wars Journal, two complementary articles on the increasing encroachment of the military instrument on civil development and humanitarian functions. The first, a CSM op-ed by Catholic Relief Services director Ken Hackett, criticizes the recent use of naval gunboats to bring humanitarian aid to Georgia in the aftermath of the recent conflict with Russia. The second, a National Defense University monograph by Patrick Cronin (.pdf), discusses the ways in which the increasingly political nature of irregular warfare has put pressure on the traditional civilian-military balance of power in conflict zones. Hackett’s criticism is based on the need for humanitarian […]

The Drone Wars

Surprise, surprise. The dramatic increase in unmanned aerial drones inthe skies above Iraq, Afghanistan (and now Pakistan) has caused a turfwar between the Army, which prefers placing them under the command ofunit commanders, and the Air Force, which prefers handling them throughthe theatre-wide Joint Force Commander. The former makes for a morerapid and responsive fleet, but the latter minimizes the downtime oftying the UAV’s to the varying conditions of day to day combat needs.Luckily, the two branches seem to be making headway on working out acompromise. Next up? Finding the air space to fly them all in: “Youhave fighters, F-16s, […]

The Realist Candidates

Fareed Zakaria on the realism of the two presidential candidates: Rhetoric about transcendent threats and mortal dangers grips the American imagination. But it also twists U.S. foreign policy in ways that can prove to be extremely costly to the country and the world. I think that both candidates are realists dressed up in idealist rhetoric. Zakaria argues that the world more closely resembles Barack Obama’s vision of it than John McCain’s. But I would reformulate that as, The world’s challenges will be more responsive to Barack Obama’s remedies than to John McCain’s. It’s easy to caricature McCain’s vision of Russia […]

September 11th, 2008

In as quiet and unassuming a way as possible, I’d simply like to acknowledge the significance of today’s date, even if seven years later its meaning still escapes me. More than anything, my thoughts are drawn to the acts of courage, bravery and heroism, great and small, and the outpouring of solidarity, individual and collective, that followed the attacks. I’ve found in my own life that the pain of loss grows less sharp with time, while the memory of gestures of love and humanity that have always followed it grows more pronounced. I hope this is the case for 9/11, […]

Media Appearance

I’ll be appearing as a guest on Sirius Radio’s Blog Bunker program this evening at 5pm EST. I did the show from their NY studio last May and had a blast. Tonight, I’ll be doing it by telephone from Paris. If you’re not already a Sirius subscriber, you can catch the show by registering for a free 3-day trial period here. (Don’t tell ’em I told you.)

Future Global Risks

Via today’s WPR Media Roundup, the WaPo reports on a U.S. intelligence forecast of future global risks being prepared for the next president. Not a whole lot you couldn’t get from the recent crop of books on the post-American world (although I’d point out that “reduced dominance” is still dominance). But there’s also this: In the new intelligence forecast, it is not just the United States that loses clout. Fingar predicts plummeting influence for the United Nations, the World Bank and a host of other international organizations that have helped maintain political and economic stability since World War II. It […]

Future Combat Systems

Defense Industry Daily’s got a short piece addressing the Army’s recently released 2008 Modernization Strategy. It’s worth a glance in light of the recent back and forth between the McCain and Obama campaigns over “Future Combat Systems” vs. “future combat systems.” Both candidates seem to be cautious regarding the former, but contrary to McCain’s claims, Obama is not necessarily opposed to the latter. In fact, neither candidate has offered much substance on the matter. Army doctrine has undergone a COIN revolution, but procurement still seems to be based on its pre-COIN foundations. that’s to be expected given all of the […]

World Politics Review Now Featuring AFP Video

We are pleased to announce that World Politics Review now features video reports from Agence France-Presse. Watch our latest videos in the WPR video section. AFP wants viewers of its videos to be aware of the following copyright terms: AFP material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. AFP news material may not be stored in a whole or in part in a computer except for personal and nom-commercial use. AFP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions in any AFP news material or […]

Pro-China Fervor Shows Up in Hong Kong Elections

Since Hong Kong was handed back to China by the British in 1997, politics here has been defined by a push and pull between pro-communist and pro-Capitalist factions. Spooked by human rights atrocities like the Tiannanmen Square massacres on the mainland and by the prospect of being subsumed by communist China, a deep-rooted suspicion of Beijing and its influence on local politics has haunted Hong Kong for the past decade. But while capitalist Hong Kong has not altered much in character since the handover, China has changed radically. The country has opened up enormously to foreign investment and influence. Its […]

Globalization as Grand Strategy

Thomas PM Barnett puts it well: From history’s perspective, it can’t get much dumber than this: our globalization sweeping the planet in the form of an international liberal trade order, but right at its apogee, the four million-man army nations [note: U.S., Russia, India and China] find a way to turn on each other more than the collective problems and opportunities staring them in the face. Barnett argues here, meanwhile, that globalization should be the grand strategy of American foreign policy, and it seems to me that any assessment of the Clinton presidency would conclude that that was, in fact, […]

Off-Duty Cop

The current issue of Military Review (.pdf, via Small Wars Journal) contains a quiet but significant article by Christopher Housenick titled “Winning Battles but Losing Wars” (p. 91). The overlap with French Gen. Vincent Desportes’ analysis — synopsis here (.pdf), interview here (.pdf) — is pretty striking, especially with regards to the ways in which attacks on state infrastructure in the initial destructive phase of an intervention will inevitably hamper reconstruction efforts in the stabilization phase. According to Desportes, the challenge before Western militaries isn’t to “. . .conduct a ‘better war’. . .[but to] aim for a ‘better peace.’” […]

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