Syria and the Foreign Policy Echo Chamber

If an app existed that could maximize the number and breadth of strong arguments against a policy decision as well as the potential damage that policy could cause while minimizing the possibility that the policy in question could accomplish anything, it would produce the administration's proposed strike against Syria.


Iran, Syria and Egypt

The U.S. is asking, without success, for the Iranian, Syrian, Russian and Chinese governments to do things that, from their perspective, are not in their interests. It is not really a big surprise that Iran is not giving up their weapons because the U.S. wants them to or that Moscow and Beijing are less anxious than the U.S. to call for a leader to resign because he has used excessive force on the citizens of his own country. The U.S., on the other hand, is asking Egypt to do something that is neither against their interests nor a very big reques


U.S. Interests and Universal Goods

During the Cold War, the U.S. viewed, and referred to itself, as the “leader of the free world.” This formulation was far more empowering than simply being one of two superpowers vying for world domination. The U.S. sought to present its leadership role as being in the name of freedom, rather than just the U.S. Since the Cold War, this frame has been a problem for the U.S. because rather than being empowering, it forced the U.S. to take on more responsibilities around the world.


Maybe the US-Russia Reset Isn't About Iran

The Obama administration’s relations with Russia are still a work in progress, but there is some reason to be encouraged, and some suggestions that Biden’s views lie at the core of the administration’s views as well. Thus far, the administration has avoided trading off anything important to the US, such as support for Georgia or recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The administration has conceded things to Russia that they either they did not have, such as a realistic chance of bringing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, or things they did not want, such as missile defense in Eastern Europe. This reflects the understanding of relative power of the two countries suggested by Biden’s comments.

Does the UN Report on the Gaza War Accomplish Anything

These nature of the findings of these reports do, however, raise the question of what the real purpose of the reports were.  The stated purpose of the reports was simply to determine the truth about the origins of one war and the conduct of another, but it is hard to take this entirely at face value.  It is difficult not to come to the conclusion that a major purpose of the both reports was to provide a rationale for both institutions to pursue policies to which they had largely already committed.  This is more true of the EU report because the UN doesn’t usually pursue policies in that sense.