America Faces a World of Trouble

Americans, their new president and his team, and the 115th Congress face a world that, in former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s memorable words, is “exploding all over.” New Secretary of Defense James Mattis asserted in his confirmation hearing that the world order “is under the biggest threat since WWII.” Hostilities, atrocities and weapons programs…

Since the Iraq War

Since the Iraq War

Since the Iraq War, many, if not most, Americans have succumbed to the either-or assumption that either we refrain from an active foreign policy or we’ll end up with “boots on the ground.” They recoil from attempts to influence events and ideas in dangerous parts of the world, fearing that influence will translate into military…

A Preview to Obama’s Final UN Speech

Obama

President Obama’s September 2009 speech at the United Nations General Assembly implicitly rejected both the idea that the United States has done anything exceptional for political freedom, and the idea that political freedom is an appropriate priority for US foreign policy. The speech instead emphasized shared “interests” and “collective action”; indeed, the words interests and collective appeared…

Why I Wrote ‘A Perilous Path’

Why I Wrote A Perilous Path

At about the time of President Obama’s first inauguration, I began to compile material for a book on the foreign policy speeches of presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush. I felt no urgency. But as the foreign policy approach of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was articulated and put into…

Obama’s Reluctant, Specious Return to Deterrence

Obama’s Reluctant, Specious Return to Deterrence

The Obama administration is playing an impossible game of catch-up. Having degraded America’s defenses and alliances, deemphasized America’s democratic principles and priorities, and delayed taking responsibility, it finds itself in a world so dangerous and hostile that it has no choice but to respond. With the world, in former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s own…

The Power of Words in American Foreign Policy

Words from Obama, Kerry and Biden

Responding to Donald Trump’s bombastic rhetoric, Marco Rubio recently said, “The problem is presidents can’t just say anything they want. It has consequences here and around the world.” Positioning herself as “kind” compared to combative Republican opponents, Hillary Clinton recently said, “Boy does it matter, when you are president, what you say, and how the…

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