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Foreign Policy in the United States

The United States faces an increasingly urgent challenge: reevaluating how we choose and implement foreign policy. Currently, our government’s approach to foreign policy is paradoxically too democratic and not democratic enough. Presidents’ decisions to use force are strongly influenced by electoral incentives, but citizens have few opportunities to directly influence a specific decision about the…

Norman Naimark: Obama’s speech at West Point and the future of U.S. foreign policy

In general, I think one can conclude that the West Point speech reflected a weariness with foreign involvements that characterizes the present mood in the White House, Congress and the country as a whole. At the same time, President Obama appropriately warned us that the dangers of terrorism are shifting and changing, and that the struggle against its increasingly diverse manifestations is far from over. Interesting in this context was his plan to appropriate considerable funds for allies and “friends” around the world who might be threatened by terrorist attacks in their own countries.

Francis Fukuyama: The “end of history,” continued

We need to present a good model to the world, and that form of soft power has been the dominant way that American influence has spread over the last two centuries. And right now we’ve got some serious problems: We just went through a big financial crisis, adjustments that need to be made to the economic model, and I think we’ve got an ongoing political crisis, because the government is largely polarized and paralyzed and unable to pass budgets and things of that sort. We need to fix these domestic things. The other things that we’ve done have to do with helping to level the playing field so that democratic forces can express themselves. But overall, we have made a lot of progress towards democracy, because we’ve gone from about 35 to about 120 countries around the world having some form of electoral democracy between 1970 and the present. I do think it is still the dominant form of political organization.

Are drones democratic?

The availability of hard data is critical in order to legitimize American military actions for other countries and to ensure that no one branch of government monopolizes military decision making on drones. Drones themselves are not undemocratic, but the current system of secrecy and opaque decision-making is questionable. Drones have the potential to do great harm, which is why separate branches of the U.S. government must carefully monitor their use.

On drones and foreign policy

There was a time when Americans could believe in the exceptional nature of our nation and in the unique and “self-evident” protections of our constitution. From the sea of authoritarianism and monarchy emerged a community founded on revolutionary principles of the rule of law and justice, one that held the government accountable to the people and not the other way around. The more I learn about the true state of our nation and our foreign policy, the more I begin to feel that dark moment of clarity in which one realizes that reality is far uglier than one hoped.

Team America: World Police?

The world today is rife with conflict. As I write, Russia’s parliament has just voted to allow President Putin to send troops into Ukraine. Less than 2,000 miles away, the Syrian Civil War trudges on, taking 130,000 individuals with it. In our hemisphere, Caracas, Venezuela is experiencing a surge of violent riots. Bangkok, Thailand has…

Beware of the “Bad”: A Second Look at Ukraine

Imagine if a popular pro-Chinese movement in Tokyo toppled the Japanese government today. Yes, this scenario is extremely unlikely, but indulge me for a moment. The United States has very well-defined interests inside Japan, including a number of important military bases. The Japanese government is our largest ally in the area and a great supporter…