Breaking: There Are Women in the Obama Administration

There are more important foreign policy subjects to weigh in on, I know, and I’ll try to get to some of them today. But I thought I’d add a couple observations to Matthew Yglesias’ and Spencer Ackerman’s objections (via the New Atlanticist) to the National Interest cover depicting Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano and Susan Rice as “Obama’s Angels.” First, while there is something a bit obvious to their reactions (Ackerman preemptively calls it “humorless”), that doesn’t necessarily make them wrong. But more than outrage, I think what will ultimately make the media stop going to this particular well is that […]

While few can predict exactly what new policies will be implemented by the incoming Obama Administration, it is clear that addressing climate change will be among its top priorities, and that any successful approach to the challenge will involve international cooperation. The outlines of a solution are relatively simple. Over time, global carbon emissions need to be reduced, which means that current emitters — largely in the developed world — will need to reduce their emissions. Countries in the developing world, meanwhile, will need to limit the increase in their emissions as their economies grow and modernize, so as not […]

Music Diplomacy

From the gang at Foreign Policy Watch (congrats on the well-deserved Weblog finalist nomination, guys), I learn that I am old. Ah, well, it could be worse. Warren Zevon’s dead. Apparently, forty’s the new thirty, but I’m just fine with forty being forty. As I observed to a charming twenty-something not long ago who tried to reassure me by protesting that I wasn’t that old, “You say that as if young is a compliment.” All of which is to say, if you want recent music by living artists, you’d do well to send recommendations (and preferably open source links). Even […]

When throngs of Brazilians take to the streets of Rio de Janeiro next month for the famous Carnival, Barack Obama will be there, dancing to the sultry beat of the samba. Obama masks are all the rage as preparations for the Carnival kick into high gear. When the party starts, hundreds, maybe thousands of Brazilians with Obama masks will hit the streets. Not surprisingly, the new president of the United States has become a celebrity in Latin America, just as he has in the rest of the planet. While at times it seems the entire globe is cheering Obama in […]

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

I’d like to plug a friend’s book which is tangentially related to foreign policy. It’s a primer on what environmentalists need to know about economics with the very clever title, What Environmentalists Need to Know about Economics. The author, Jason Scorse, is a professor of environmental economics at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and hopefully a future WPR contibutor. I’ve only gone through the first chapter so far, but it’s a well-written introduction to the economic fundamentals behind environmental policy, from a reasoned and thoughtful perspective. That should be pretty relevant now that the American government is back on […]

Obama’s Post-American America

I’m not going to get too involved in unpacking President Obama’s inaugural speech. I was somewhat surprised by its soberness, but these are, after all, sobering times. But I do want to mention three things that struck me in terms of his treatment of America’s place in the world. First, the scriptural reference to putting away childish things, and the idea that America must mature as a nation. Second, the line about “the world is changing, and we must change with it” — almost unheard of in American politics, even if it was followed by a recommitment to global leadership. […]

WPR on France 24

World Politics Review’s managing editor, Judah Grunstein, appeared on France 24’s panel discussion, The Debate, yesterday evening, to discuss expectations and realistic possibilities for President Barack Obama’s domestic policies, as well as the impact of his election on race relations in America. Part one of the program can be found here. Part two can be found here.

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office today, he will become the person most empowered to protect Americans, and the world, from attacks of mass destruction. Although he assumes the presidency at a time of grave danger, real progress in curtailing the threat from weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is possible under his leadership. The threats, both real and potential, are significant. This past weekend, for instance, North Korean leaders claimed to have used the plutonium generated by the country’s nuclear energy program to make several atomic bombs. They insist that they will not relinquish these nuclear weapons even […]

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ended 2008 on a roll. The party, which had ruled Mexico for 71 years until losing power in 2000, overwhelmingly swept local and legislative elections in five of the six states holding them last year. On the federal level, its federal lawmakers achieved legislative success in a divided Congress by brokering deals on such matters as reforms to the criminal justice system, public security and the petroleum industry. Public opinion polls now list the PRI as the most popular of Mexico’s three major parties, and no longer — as in the recent […]

The Luggage, the Luggage

I don’t know what these people were thinking, but whoever organized the flotilla of rescue boats for the U.S. Airways plane that went down in the Hudson just put a mighty big dent in New Yorkers’ carefully crafted reputation for being mean, unfriendly and unwilling to go out of our way to help a stranger in need. I mean, it’s not like the pilot brought the plane in close to the pier, or anything. This thing was out in the middle of the river, for crine out loud, on a day when even the polar bears at the Central Park […]

Getting Away with Torture?

I’m not a lawyer, but in reading Bob Woodward’s WaPo interview with Susan Crawford, it seems that Crawford exculpates the coercive interrogation techniques authorized at the highest levels of the Bush administration in the very terms she uses to confirm that Mohammed al-Qahtani was tortured. Here’s the passage: The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in whichthey applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . Youthink of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to anindividual. This was not any one particular act; this was just acombination of things that had a […]

During the U.S. presidential election, the Republican National Committee made headlines with a campaign flyer it mailed out to voters in Missouri and Virginia. A photo on the front showed a plane with its nose pressed against the exterior of an airport terminal, presumably filled with travelers. The text, beside a picture of the Democratic nominee on the inside, read, “Barack Obama thinks terrorists just need a good talking to.” The flyer was meant to be provocative in its partisan assessment of an Obama presidency. Equally intriguing, however, was what it reflected about the way Americans still think of terrorism. […]

The Foreign Policy Bait and Switch

Writing on Monday in her new digs over at Foreign Policy, Laura Rozen told the story of how Candidate Obama’s foreign policy brain trust has been largely bypassed in President-elect Obama’s foreign policy team in favor of Hillary Clinton loyalists. My first reaction was basically, Boo-hoo. I can think of worse things than being left stranded in a tenured academic gig. But today Laura followed that piece up with an email from one of her sources for the original piece, explaining the policy implications of what went down: There’s an old saying in Washington: policy is people. This means thatto […]

Obama’s Conception of America’s Global Role: Plus ça Change . . . ?

In the January/February issue of the Atlantic, that publication’s polymathic literary editor (and former foreign policy analyst at RAND) Benjamin Schwarz takes on what he calls the “dangerous sentiments” about America’s virtually unlimited role in the world that have been held by all recent presidents, regardless of party, including, if one is to judge by his rhetoric and that of his advisers, President-elect Obama: To define, as Obama does, conflict, misrule, nondemocratic states, and noncapitalist economies as threats in themselves; to assert (as did Anthony Lake, Obama’s senior and probably closest foreign-policy adviser, when he served as national-security adviser in […]

Bad policies — and a bad attitude — need improvement to avoid endangering America’s nuclear arsenal, a senior-level U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) task force has concluded. The report (.pdf) warned that any further slippage could compromise the ability of the United States to deter potential threats as well as assure the security of friends and allies. It also offered many recommendations on how to improve DOD nuclear management. The incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama should consider how to address these proposals in the context of its broader nuclear weapons policies. The report was the second issued by the […]

The Crisis Bubble

For obvious reasons, this lede from Keith Bradsher’s IHT piece describing how the Chinese are cooling to U.S. government debt got me clicking through to the Merriam-Webster definition of the word, “crisis”: China has bought more than $1 trillion in American debt, but as theglobal downturn has intensified, Beijing is starting to keep more ofits money at home — a shift that could pose some challenges to the U.S.government in the near future but eventually may even produce salutaryeffects on the worldeconomy. Theword has its roots in medical usage, and me being the optimist that Iam, I’d identified it with […]

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