East-West: The Origins of a Crisis

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East-West: The Origins of a Crisis

A great deal of ink has been spilled over the last month about the proximate causes of the fighting in the Caucasus. Abkhaz, Georgians, Ossetians and Russians have all presented conflicting accounts of who fired first”€”with timelines that stretch back to the 18th century. Meanwhile, the debate in the West has centered over whether the efforts to enlarge NATO to Russia’s doorstep were foolhardy and provocative, or timely and essential for the preservation of the Euro-Atlantic community. But even if the Georgian crisis had not occurred, something was bound to happen.

Gipper Anxiety”€”The Struggle Over What Would Reagan Do

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Gipper Anxiety”€”The Struggle Over What Would Reagan Do

How did it come to pass that the “€œconservative”€ position on foreign policy involves proclaiming the virtue of revolutionary upheaval around the world, worrying that the survival at freedom at home depends on the active spread of American-style democracy abroad, and arguing that the standard for determining whether a country is friendly to the United States is not what it does to affect U.S. interests but the extent to which its domestic political institutions conform to Washington’s preferences? The answer, I have been told, has a lot to do with “Reaganism” and the flowering of the foreign policy vision of our 40th president.

Intelligence Failure”€”Why America Can”€™t Think Its Way Out of Iraq

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Intelligence Failure”€”Why America Can”€™t Think Its Way Out of Iraq

The fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War was marked by a deluge of retrospective commentary, much of it focused on the past: how we got into this conflict and how it has been conducted. Fine, it is always appropriate to assess lessons learned. But why and how we got into Iraq and what choices could have been made differently are not central to when and how we get out. Washington loves to exaggerate differences in nuance into appearing as major and substantive differences”€””€œMy opponent sees six eggs, but I say there are half a dozen”€”€”but the difference between the McCain and Obama positions is largely one of emphasis rather than degree. Language in one may appeal to neoconservatives, in the other appear to concede to liberal sentiments, but when one puts campaign rhetoric aside, the fundamentals are largely the same. The Iraq “€œdebate”€ now largely recycles the same ground, and given these parameters, it is not surprising that there is not much creative thinking among Washington politicians about what to do next in Iraq. We will continue to meander in Iraq”€”and continue to bleed in terms of lives and treasure”€”until we have a serious debate, not about the Iraq we would like to see, but the Iraq we are prepared to live with.

Kosovo, Russia, and the Last Grasps of American Unipolarity

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Kosovo, Russia, and the Last Grasps of American Unipolarity

Kosovo is the latest irritant in what was already a deteriorating U.S.-Russia relationship. Disagreements over energy policy, Iran, a U.S. missile-defense system in central Europe, a further round of NATO expansion, as well as Russia’s own domestic political and economic evolution have all contributed to a growing chill in the air. Although few in Washington recognize it, the Kosovo affair might also represent the twilight of the U.S. worldview of the 1990s”€”the so-called “unipolar moment.” Dealing with its aftermath, especially in the U.S.-Russia relationship, will test whether American politicians and policymakers are prepared to adapt to the realities of a much more multipolar 21st century. So far, the jury is out.


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