Have we really reached the end of American hegemony? For those who think so, the signs of America’s decline and the rise of emerging powers are everywhere. According to this line of argument, the world’s sole superpower succumbed to overstretch. U.S. failures in the “war on terror” revealed the limitations of American military power, while its role in provoking the global economic crisis revealed the shortcomings of American economic leadership. As a result, rising powers around the world feel suddenly emboldened by America’s visible weakness. Brazil’s president blames the worldwide recession on “white-skinned people with blue eyes,” and Russia and […]

The Iraq Surge’s Political Success

In reading up on the recent violence in Iraq for a France 24 taping I did this morning (I’ll post the link when it goes live tomorrow), I found myself thinking that the Surge ultimately did achieve its second-stage objective of providing the space for political reconciliation. Not in Iraq, that is, but in the U.S. And that might turn out to be just as, if not more, important. Because the Iraqi political accomodation the Surge was meant to facilitate was the one aspect of the strategy that was entirely out of our hands. The Surge — and here I […]

Throughout its history, America has experienced many kinds of bubbles. The 19th century brought us a railroad bubble, the 20th, an Internet bubble. Now, 100 days into a new presidency, America has replaced the housing bubble that opened the 21st century with an Obama bubble. But while bubbles usually convey negative connotations, the “Obama Bubble” is one that we in America — and the rest of the world — desperately need. When George W. Bush came into office, the United States was still perceived by most countries as an ascendant nation — one reviving the infrastructure of its post-World War […]

The first hundred days is an artificial benchmark for assessing presidential performance. In foreign policy, Barack Obama has not had time to do much, and the moves he has made have yet to produce clear consequences. He has, however, set a tone. It is reminiscent of the approach George W. Bush proposed in his 2000 campaign debate with Al Gore when he said, “If we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us. If we’re a humble nation . . . they’ll welcome us.” Whether Mr. Bush’s foreign policy would have embodied that prescription had Osama bin Laden’s minions not struck the […]

Has France Passed into the Opposition?

I’ve been following recent developments in French-American relations with some concern, because after having correctly calculated that political advantage was to be had in “befriending” the toxic, late-term Bush administration, it increasingly seems like President Nicolas Sarkozy has decided the opposite is true with regards to the wildly popular, young Obama administration. So far, there are only behind-the-scenes whisperings to signal that France has once again passed into the “opposition,” in particular some post-London G-20 spin debunking the “Obama as savior” line pushed by the White House press team. But if Sarkozy’s “alignment” with Bush had everything to do with […]

Condoleezza Rice’s Tell

This video of Conoleezza Rice has been getting quite some attention around the web. Before offering some quick remarks, I’d just like to say hat’s off to Michael Wilkerson, a WPR alum finishing up his Stanford degree, who as best as I can tell was the first person to get this. A few things jumped out at me about this. First, as Friday Lunch Club noted, the very ex-post-facto realpolitik take on foreign policy that Rice espouses with regard to Saudi Arabian human rights violations. Interesting that this realist pass is only extended to American friends, not adversaries. I’ve long […]

With many of the world’s navies engaged in anti-pirate patrols off the coastal waters of Somalia, it’s no surprise to find French, German and Spanish frigates among them. The frigates are there, though, not under their respective national commands, but rather under that of a joint EU naval force, whose mission is to protect World Food Program vessels delivering food aid to Somalia, as well as commercial and other vessels threatened by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. While EU NAVFOR Somalia is the EU’s first maritime operation, it is not its first military operation, whether in Africa or beyond. […]

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