Thanksgiving 2008

I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and also to thank all of you who make WPR and this blog a part of your regular reading. I know how crowded the online media landscape is, because I spend quite a bit of time navigating it each day. Which makes your continued support all the more gratifying. I mentioned to Hampton that there are a few days out of the year that are especially tough for an expat, and Thanksgiving is definitely one of them. I’ve tried to explain the essence of what the holiday […]

Obama-Scowcroft Connection Points to Realism

Whether Barack Obama is at heart a Wilsonian idealists or “progressive realist,” as Nikolas Gvosdev put it in his recent piece for WPR, is one of the key questions about the incoming administration’s foreign policy. Early in the campaign, I worried that some of Obama’s foreign policy advisers’ rhetoric about “dignity promotion” and a “transformative agenda” indicated the then-candidate was disposed to a brand of idealism that Walter McDougall has called “global meliorism.” In our expression of support for the President-elect in the wake of his election victory earlier this month, the WPR editors again voiced the worry that Obama […]

Replacing the Left-Right Axis in Foreign Policy

Andrew Sullivan makes a good point in responding to Ross Douthat’s assertion that Barack Obama’s foreign policy will be “to the right of Bill Clinton’s”: Ross is not wrong, but the “left-right” rubric is dated, it seems tome, especially in foreign policy, where any return to realism afterBush means, on the old compass, a hefty shift to the right. The “left-right” rubric in foreign policy is a vestige of the Cold War, when in fact there was a confrontation between two semi-coherent ideologies that aligned along that axis. If there is one region where it still has some semblance of […]

WPR on Barack Obama’s Victory

From WPR’s editorial on President-elect Barack Obama: Theworld has an ongoing love-hate relationship with America, born often ofthe higher expectations and disappointed hopes that it holds for theworld’s most enduring democracy. The United States also has swornenemies and dangerous rivals. Much has been made of the symbolic impactMr. Obama’s presidency will have on global opinion. But more than hisimage, it will be his leadership that will define the United States’foreign relations for years to come. Just as America still needs theworld, the world still needs America. Its national genius forinnovation and historic willingness to advance fearlessly into theunknown, combined with […]

The Daunting Defense Transition has a rundown of “all that we know about the state of the Pentagon’s budget and transition efforts as the move to an Obama administration begins in earnest.” Among the highlights, this Defense Science Board report (pdf) on “Defense Imperatives for the New Administration.” The DSB’s report points out that “it’s been more than two generations since the presidency transitioned with troops engaged in major combat operations,” and makes recommendations about which issues should top the agenda of the next defense secretary. (Or the current defense secretary under Obama?) A few of the problems the report highlights: * Weapons […]

As much as anything, the great secular ritual of voting defines the United States as a nation. Yesterday, through the peaceful casting of ballots rather than the violent clash of arms, Americans chose Barack Obama to lead them. As a maker of history, foremost among the world’s powers, America’s choices for president are always historic, but more so this year than in the past. A generational transition occurred. And more significantly, America demonstrated to itself and to the world that it can live up to its ideals and face its difficult racial past. The United States is too resilient for […]

No matter who is elected president today, the next leader of the United States should make reforming the U.S. national security system a top priority. That’s the conclusion of the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR), a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization funded and supported by Congress, foundations, and the private sector. After more than a year spent analyzing case studies of how the U.S. government mitigated, prepared for, responded to, and recovered from various national security challenges, the PNSR research indicates that the U.S. national security system’s performance is inconsistent. And America needs better to address the challenges it will […]

Election? What Election?

You wouldn’t know it from the press coverage here, but apparently there’s an election in the States today. You’d think they’d have heard about it. Seriously, you don’t need to speak French (or English English, for that matter) to get a sense of the wall-to-wall coverage: Le Monde Le Figaro Times of London Guardian I could link to the front pages of the fifty or so newspapers I’ve got bookmarked, but the short version is that the entire world is watching. Go vote.

Guns and Butter

I understand that attacking Barney Frank for calling for cuts in the defense budget, and Barack Obama for calling for ending the Bush tax cuts, makes for good electoral politics at a time when America is at war. But when the federal government just added $500 billion in debt in the month of October alone (via Andrew Sullivan), it seems reasonable to point out that eventually something’s got to give.