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Joint Iraqi-Iranian Operations in Tikrit

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Iraqi army and Iranian army in joint offensive to retake Tikrit.

IR TOs WH NSS

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Most in the international relations community are not amused by the president’s National Security Strategy.

Syriza Wins Greek Elections

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The anti-“austerity” party Syriza has won a commanding victory in Greece’s parliamentary elections: Greece’s far-left Syriza party, which seeks to renegotiate Greece’s loan deals with Europe’s central authorities, won the largest share of seats in the Hellenic Parliament in historic elections Sunday, capturing 35.5 percent to 39.5 percent share according to exit polling. Syriza’s victory […]

Signifying Nothing

What have our efforts to improve the Afghan economy accomplished?

Crowd-Sourcing Education on Ebola

The YouTube video above is a lecture by Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, that I found excellent. This is a great example of crowd-sourcing. I got the link from another blog who got it from an anonymous commenter and I’m passing it along here and in this post […]

King Abdullah Warns the West

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Is the West next in ISIS’s crosshairs?

Testing to Destruction

Here’s a proposition I hope we never have the opportunity to test. Generals in the People’s Liberation Army apparently have the impression that the PLA can defeat the U. S. military on the field of battle: For years, Chinese military planning assumed that any attack by the People’s Liberation Army on Taiwan or a disputed […]

All Things Pass

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Will ISIS be able to consolidate and hold the territory it’s taken in Iraq?

Is Europe Turning Right?

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Parties described as “far right” or “extreme right” have done very well in Europe’s most recent elections.

Is “Finlandization” an Option?

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Is “Finlandization” a viable option for Ukraine?

“Scumbag Woodstock”

How’s that Libyan intervention working out? Here’s one evaluation, reported by Eli Lake at The Daily Beast: An American counter-terrorism official used a different metaphor to describe the situation. “Libya today plays host to members and associates of several AQ-allied groups, in some ways becoming a jihadist melting pot,” this official told The Daily Beast. […]

From Der Spiegel

I do not know when the last time I saw a more masterful job of rationalization than occurs in this article from Der Spiegel with the alarming title “War in Europe?”, about the crisis in Ukraine. Here’s a sample: Prominent German political scientist Herfried Münkler uses his theories of “heroic” and “postheroic” societies to describe […]

Choosing the Right Sports Metaphor

On his return to Washington after concluding a week-long visit to several Asian countries although, notably, not China, President Obama summed up the diplomatic tour with a sports metaphor: The Asia trip didn’t produce a blockbuster trade deal, or bring an end to North Korea’s nuclear threat. The U.S. won a smaller-scale agreement to station […]

You and Whose Army?

The editors of the Wall Street Journal continue to beat the war drum against Russia: Standard & Poor’s last week downgraded Russian debt to near-junk status, as capital flight picks up. A recession seems likely this year after slow growth in 2013. Sanctions against the Putin circle have their uses, but sanctions on the entire […]

Aegis Jammed?

As you may be aware, the Aegis Combat System is a combined computer and radar system used for the guidance of weapons on board several different classes of U. S. naval vessels as well as those of several other countries, e.g. Japan, Spain, Norway. There’s an interesting but unverified report coming from Russian Radio that […]

Kaminski on Ukraine

Wall Street Journal editor Matthew Kaminski laments the West’s failure to take resolute action against Russian aggression against Ukraine: Any revolution brings a hangover. Ukrainians expected problems: an economic downturn, some of the old politics-as-usual in Kiev, including fisticuffs last week in parliament, and trouble from Russia. Abandonment by the West is the unexpected blow. […]

What Else Did You Expect?

Over at FP Edward Lozansky, echoing things I’ve written here, explains how the Ukraine situation looks from the Russian perspective: For the last 20-odd years, every Russian leader — from Gorbachev and Yeltsin, to Medvedev and Putin — kept sending strong signals to Washington and Brussels about their desire to become an important part of […]

Who Needs Europe or the US?

A thought-provoking piece from Pyotr Vlasov, originally published in Gazeta, and conveniently translated by Worldmeets.us: But even if the inconceivable happens – and it’s hard to imagine the West ripping the shirt from its chest and suddenly demolishing all trade ties with Moscow, no economic apocalypse will occur. There will be no repetition of the […]

No Meltdown But the End of 10% Economic Growth for China

Martin Wolf has a very good column at The Financial Times about China’s troubling financial situation: Imagine you were told of an unnamed economy that had soaring investment and credit, but falling growth. A rising proportion of investment activity was being funded by debt, while at the same time returns were falling. You would surely […]

That’s a Good Question

Writing at Atlantic, Jeffrey Tayler asks President Obama ten questions about Ukraine. They’re all good, thoughtful questions. Here’s a key one: Currently, the United States has 67,000 troops in Europe, down from 400,000 during the Cold War. If, to confront a new Russian threat, Washington decides to beef up NATO forces on the continent, how […]

WSJ Wonders About Transnistria, Too

Echoing my post of yesterday, the Wall Street Journal speculates whether Transnistria might be next on Putin’s agenda: Transnistria voted in 2006 to ask to join Russia and this month its leaders repeated the request. Russia hasn’t taken up that appeal, but it did hold military exercises in the region last weekend. Another minority enclave […]

Where Is Transnistria?

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The future may hold a lot of vehement arguing over insignificant bits of territory.

Two Great Articles on the Ukraine Crisis

One of the best opinion pieces on the situation in the Ukraine that I’ve read so far is this one by Fred Kaplan at Slate. It’s worth reading in full but here’s his conclusion: Right now, then, this is at most a regional conflict, not a global one, and the best thing that Obama can […]

The Ukrainian Situation: I Yam What I Yam

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There are lots of different ways of looking at the situation in Ukraine—historical, game theoretical, and interpersonal perspectives.

So Many Opinions, So Little Time (Ukraine Edition)

The Christian Science Monitor sees a primary role for German leadership in resolving the crisis in Ukraine: “The law of the jungle is placed against the strength of the law, unilateral geopolitical concerns against understanding and cooperation,” she [Ed.: i.e. German Chancellor Angela Merkel] said. “The clock cannot be turned back. Conflicts of interest in […]

Understanding Russia’s Interests

There’s an interesting article originating in RIA Novosti and sponsored by Foreign Affairs that explains Russia’s actions in Ukraine: Before talking about the consequences and the cost of the Russian intervention, one has to make it clear that, under the circumstances, Russia had no choice. It was not that, as the West claims, Russia wanted […]

A Harsh Editorial on the President’s Foreign Policy

After castigating the president’s foreign policy as based on fantasy, the editors of the Washington Post declaim: The White House often responds by accusing critics of being warmongers who want American “boots on the ground” all over the world and have yet to learn the lessons of Iraq. So let’s stipulate: We don’t want U.S. […]

The Ukrainian Demonstrations

I want to recommend a post by Timothy Snyder at the blog of the New York Review of Books. The post considers the propaganda aspects of the demonstrations and killings in Ukraine that lead to the present circumstances there. It deserves to be read in its entirety but here’s a telling paragraph: Who was killed? […]

The Russian People Demand Intervention in Ukraine

There were mass demonstrations across Russia today as the demands for military intervention in Ukraine intensified: Large protest marches calling for intervention in Ukraine took place on Sunday across Russia amid an increasingly strident propaganda campaign by Kremlin-controlled media aimed at boosting support for military action. Thousands of people carrying Russian flags marched through Moscow […]

The Russian Drumbeat to War in Ukraine

The Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, has approved the use of force in Ukraine: Russia’s upper house of Parliament voted unanimously Saturday to approve sending Russian military forces into Ukraine, amid mounting tensions in the country’s Crimea region. The vote followed a request from Russian President Vladimir Putin for approval to […]

The Ukraine Crisis in Three Maps

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Casting a bit of cartographic light on the crisis in Ukraine.

AFSA Reviews Obama Appointments

I am inclined to defer to the president’s judgment in his or, possibly, her appointments and I think that Congress should do likewise. Following that rubric I have been predisposed not to question President Obama’s ambassadorial appointments. Appointing cronies and political allies as ambassadors, after all, goes back to the beginnings of the republic. However, […]

It’s the “Tall Whites”!

FARS, the Iranian national news agency, is reporting that U. S. foreign policy is dominated by the aliens known as “Tall Whites”: TEHRAN (FNA)- Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden revealed documents providing incontrovertible proof that an alien/extraterrestrial intelligence agenda is driving US domestic and international policy, and has been doing so since […]

Good News: India Is Polio-Free

Multiple sources are reporting a welcome development. India is well on track to be declared officially free of polio: CHANDIGARH: India will complete three years without any polio case on Monday. The last polio case was reported on January 13, 2011 from West Bengal. Three years is the gestation period for the WHO to declare […]

War As Aspirational

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Why do we persist in going to war?

What Should We Think About the Syrian Civil War?

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As Syria enters its third year of civil war, Marc Lynch summarizes the findings of a workshop he convened at George Washington University’s Project on Middle East Political Science. Participants included civil war scholars, Middle East scholars, and Syria specialists. The prognosis for the Syrian civil war isn’t particularly good: The fragmentation and infighting of […]

One of These Is Not Like the Others

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Yesterday in the comments of this post of Steven Taylor’s, “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”, I mentioned a bar chart comparing healthcare costs in a number of developed economies over at my place. Above, courtesy of a frequent commenter there and here, is an alternative representation of the information, sampled from an article at Forbes. […]

Massive Oil Discovery Puts Outback Town on World Energy Map

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Will this new Australian oil discovery shake up world politics?

One Month?

Is Iran really just one month from producing a nuclear weapon?

UN Report Finds Syria Sarin Use (Updated)

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The next shoe has dropped on the case against Bashar al-Assad for the use of chemical weapons.

Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons

The State Department has posted a brief outline of the agreement being hammered out among the United States, Russia, and Syria. Here’s the meat of it: The United States and the Russian Federation commit to work together towards prompt adoption of a UN Security Council resolution that reinforces the decision of the OPCW Executive Council. […]

The Only Way to Win Is Not to Play

Writing at Defense One Stephanie Gaskell makes the point that Bashar al-Assad may already have a won a strategic victory against the United States: If President Obama doesn’t launch a limited military strike against Syria for using chemical weapons against its people, President Bashar al-Assad will be able to claim victory over the United States. […]

The “Powell Doctrine” As Applied to Syria

The “Powell Doctrine”, enunciated by Colin Powell in 1990 during his tenure as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, consisted of eight questions: 1. Is a vital national security interest threatened? 2. Do we have a clear attainable objective? 3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed? 4. Have all […]

Picturing the Syria Strike Force

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I found this infographic from RIA Novosti of the strike force that could potentially be arrayed against Syria sufficiently interesting that I thought I’d pass it along. You can click on it for a larger version. It’s attached to an op-ed by Simon Saradzhyan, researcher at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. Here’s a snippet: To […]

The Problem of Secrecy

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Persuasion is sometimes an important part of being president.

Question About Syria

The Russians are saying that their satellite imaging clearly shows two rockets being launched from territory presently held by the Syrian rebels and they are asserting that those rockets carried the chemical weapons that have caused all the death, destruction, and uproar over the use of chemical weapons by the regime. Just for the sake […]

A Counter-Argument on the Use of Force Against Syria

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There’s more than one way to look at the civil war in Syria.

Of Realpolitik and Red Lines

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The Syrian regime may have used chemical weapons again, this time in an even larger and more deadly attack.

Is the U. S. Relevant to Egypt?

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Let’s flip the question I asked in this post around. Is the U. S. relevant to Egypt? Does it make any difference to outcomes in Egypt whether we provide military support for the country or not? Does what President Obama say to or about Egypt make any difference to outcomes there?

Is Egypt Irrelevant?

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Does interest in Egypt make the same sense it did 30 years ago?

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