The World’s Descending Into Chaos

Bradford Thomas | Truth Revolt

On Fox Business Wednesday, former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton declared that under the president’s ineffective leadership, “the world’s descending into chaos” and if America continues to pull back internationally, “you’re going to have anarchy increasing.”

Speaking with host Stuart Varney, Bolton first discussed Vladimir Putin’s hostile strategy in Ukraine and Europe, including increasing the number of Russian troops at the border and conducting cyber-warfare against several European countries—“aggressive” tactics to which Bolton saw no end in sight.

Varney then transitioned to the recent WSJ/NBC poll that presents damning numbers about the American people’s opinion of President Obama’s leadership—particularly in foreign policy, with a dismal 36% approval.

Bolton: Yeah, I’d like to know who those 36% are because the world’s descending into chaos. And I think this poll and the drop in approval numbers overall, gives the lie to the conventional political wisdom that Americans don’t care about foreign policy, that it’s too remote from their lives.

I think the American people are much more sensible and practical than their political leaders, and they see that because our economy here at home depends on a global economy that instability in Europe can have a profound effect…

Read the complete article here.


One Korea, One Less Problem

By Ambassador John R. Bolton

Once again, a dramatic nighttime photo, taken in color from space, shows North Korea as an almost totally black void, surrounded by bright lights across South Korea and nearby China. The pervasive darkness dramatically highlights the failure of 70 years of totalitarian rule.

Nonetheless, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has proven good at one thing: making progress toward a deliverable nuclear weapon, including detonating three nuclear devices since 2006, with more rumored. And, on Feb. 28, Pyongyang launched short-range ballistic missiles, both for their political effect and as part of its continuing efforts to develop intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities.

Unfortunately, President Obama has all but ignored North Korea for five years. Consistent with his general disinterest in U.S. national security, the DPRK has attracted little presidential interest, as if ignoring the danger will reduce it. This childlike, willful blindness is especially misguided in Pyongyang’s case. Disregard only intensifies the long-term menace, allowing it to metastasize in the shadows, guaranteeing an even greater threat when it finally emerges full grown.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s February visit to Beijing highlighted the problem. China has said repeatedly it opposes Pyongyang’s nuclear program because it destabilizes Northeast Asia, thereby impeding Chinese economic growth. This is code language for China’s worry that Japan, South Korea and Taiwan might pursue nuclear weapons as Pyongyang’s threat grows ever more palpable, a much more direct concern than mere economic uncertainty. Indeed, the North’s rising success makes that threat ever more imminent.

In fact, China has done almost nothing to stop North Korea’s burgeoning weapons capabilities. Nonetheless, said Kerry, “China has responded. China has done positive things.” After meeting with President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Kerry stressed that “they are committed to doing their part” to deal with the menacing weapons program long pursued by the DPRK.

We have heard such “commitments” from China for over two decades. Whether through the stalled six-party talks or supposed bilateral demarches to the Kim family dictatorship, the line, faithfully parroted by U.S. diplomats, is that Beijing is doing all it can. If, however, China had undertaken a fraction of what has been claimed, the North’s nuclear effort today would look like President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace initiative.

Kerry’s recent statements merely underline the unreality of Washington’s DPRK policy. Neither Obama nor President Bush pressed China to do what it alone can do: put such enormous pressure on Pyongyang that the regime, if it expects to survive, has no alternative but to renounce nuclear weapons. China supplies over 90 percent of the North’s energy and substantial food and other humanitarian goods. If China used the leverage these transfers provide, it could solve the DPRK nuclear crisis.

China has not acted. While it fears nuclear proliferation in its neighborhood, it also fears that pressuring the DPRK could collapse the regime, thus leading to reunifying the Korean Peninsula, effectively under South Korea’s model. That, and the prospect of U.S. troops on China’s Yalu River border with North Korea, China has not been willing to abide.

Significantly, however, many younger Chinese leaders realize that North Korea is no longer a strategic asset. Instead, in their view, Pyongyang’s ugly, malign behavior is so dangerous to regional stability that Korean reunification, carefully managed, is entirely thinkable. A reunited Korea would be an important trading partner for China and might well be a counterbalance to Japan in regional disputes.

This is not the dynamic Washington prefers, given our longstanding efforts to transform America’s “hub-and-spokes” Pacific alliance system into something more closely resembling NATO’s structure. A reunited Korea might make this objective harder to achieve. Nonetheless, by removing the DPRK’s growing regional menace, reunification would promote greater focus on the primary potential adversary: an increasingly well-armed China and its assertive territorial claims in the East and South China Seas.

Chinese concern over U.S. forces on its border, a scenario Beijing has feared since the Korean War, is easily resolvable. Washington today doesn’t want troops stationed along the Korean DMZ, much less future dispositions along the Yalu River. We would much prefer basing our military assets at the peninsula’s southern tip to avoid having them pinned down inside Korea and to facilitate their rapid deployment elsewhere in East Asia. China does not particularly welcome that idea either, but it is far more appealing than U.S. concentrations along the Yalu.

In short, reunification is a clear alternative to the seemingly endless charade of fruitless negotiations. For over a decade, the six-party talks have produced nothing but continued North Korean progress. We should at least stop kidding ourselves.

Achieving Korean reunification diplomatically will not be easily or quickly accomplished. Considering both North Korean and Iranian advances in both nuclear technology and ballistic missiles, however, the worldwide proliferation threat is rising rapidly. Obama’s policy, like his predecessors’, is failing. It is time for a change.

This article originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Israel Must Make ‘Fateful Decision’ On Iran Strike

WND Politics

Israel does not have much time to make a “fateful decision” about whether to strike Iran’s nuclear sites, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said Sunday in a radio interview.

“Israel, I think, now faces the fateful decision whether it will allow Iran to get nuclear weapons, thus constituting a true existential threat to Israel,” he said.

“Or whether they will strike as the Israelis have done twice before against nuclear programs in the hands of hostile states,”

“I don’t think Israel has much time,” Bolton continued. “Frankly, they should have done this years ago because we all know intelligence is imperfect and Iran may have a more developed capacity than we know about, perhaps in cooperation with North Korea.”

Read the entire article at WND


Russia Holds Firm Against Military Intervention in Syria

PATRICK J. MCDONNELL |  Los Angeles Times

As diplomats attempted to craft a compromise, Russia remained firm Wednesday in its pledge to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution that could open the door for international military intervention in Syria.

Meanwhile, fighting raged anew in the troubled Middle East nation, with nearly 70 additional deaths reported by opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose bloody crackdown on street protests has led to calls from the Arab League and Western powers for him to step aside.

After a closed-door meeting, U.N. diplomats said progress had been made to overcome Russia’s objections. “But there are a lot of difficult issues and we are not there yet,” said British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, according to the Associated Press.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said, “I think we have a much better understanding of what we need to do to reach consensus.”

But Moscow continues to oppose any U.N. move that calls for Assad to step down or would slap new economic penalties or an arms embargo on Damascus.

Behind Russia’s resolute stance is its longtime relationship with Assad and his family, who have run Syria for four decades, as well as a web of business and security interests, and deep discomfort in Moscow with the concept of foreign-mandated change in leadership. Russian diplomats say they were deceived last year when a U.N. resolution designed to protect Libyan civilians morphed into a Western-led bombing campaign that doomed the long-ruling government ofMoammar Kadafi.

Moreover, opposition to the resolution will not cause significant damage to relations between Russia, the West and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, predicted Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs. Other concerns, such as the situation in Iran and Afghanistan, keep Washington and its allies engaged with Russia, he said, and Moscow’s relations with gulf countries are already bad.

“Russia has nothing to lose,” Lukyanov said.

Read the complete article at Los Angeles Times

Iran’s Ayatollahs Are Again Testing U.S. Resolve

By Ambassador John R. Bolton

Iran’s threats to close the vital Strait of Hormuz, its naval exercises in nearby waters, and the ominous increase in tensions over its nuclear weapons program all point to a dangerous year ahead.

Even worse, Iran’s belligerent rhetoric and behavior today only foreshadow its behavior once it becomes a nuclear weapon-armed state.

Iran undoubtedly wants to avoid further economic sanctions, and is threatening the weak and unstable global economy to magnify the potential effect of any interruption in vital oil shipments from the Gulf region.

But more importantly, Tehran is testing Western resolve, especially Washington’s, as it draws ever closer to a nuclear capacity.

How should America respond? As the U.S. Fifth Fleet did, saying “any disruption will not be tolerated.” Significantly, however, President Obama has not spoken, once again signaling to the ayatollahs that his heart just isn’t into standing up to them.

The president’s continuing lack of leadership in response to Iran’s saber rattling brings to mind the October 1961 Berlin Crisis. There, just a few months after the communists began constructing the Berlin Wall to stop the hemorrhaging of refugees from East Germany, a confrontation developed at the Cold War’s iconic Checkpoint Charlie, located between the U.S. and Soviet sectors in Berlin.

American Patton tanks, armed and ready, stood tube to tube with Soviet tanks just a few yards away, as Berliners and the world held their breath. At one point, President Kennedy telephoned his personal representative in Berlin, Gen. Lucius Clay, hero of the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift, to hear Clay’s assessment.

Kennedy closed their conversation by saying, “Don’t lose your nerve.” Clay famously shot back: “Mr. President, we’re not worried about our nerves. We’re worrying about those of you people in Washington.”

Iran today may not be equivalent to the Soviet Union in 1961, but then again, Barack Obama is no John F. Kennedy. Iran will be watching every American reaction, especially as it sees the European Union once again on the verge of opening negotiations over the nuclear weapons program.

The Tehran regime has made incalculable progress over the past decade by using the European obsession, shared in many U.S. circles, that there is some satisfactory negotiated settlement to Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

While the prior negotiations droned on inconclusively, Iran gained precious time to advance its nuclear weapons program, enhance its political legitimacy by appearing diplomatically “reasonable,” and fend off stricter sanctions. Every indication is that Iran will unlimber this successful strategy yet again.

Iran’s ingenious, decade-long response to the West’s naivete reveals the basic flaw in the whole sanctions approach, especially Obama’s. Economic sanctions against Iran were once intended to force it to give up its nuclear weapons program, but now the president’s aim is for sanctions simply to get Iran back to the negotiating table.

And once there, what will happen? The race, on the one hand, between Iran’s scientific and technological progress toward achieving a deliverable nuclear weapons capability, and, on the other, the possibility that diplomacy or sanctions can stop Iran from achieving that objective, is now in its final stages.

It has long been clear that, absent regime change in Tehran, peaceful means will never persuade or prevent Iran from reaching its nuclear objective, to which it is perilously close.

Indeed, viewed dispassionately, advocating diplomacy or sanctions, and believing they will actually impede Iran’s nuclear program, simply provides cover for Iran to do just that.

Unfortunately, Iran is paying attention to Obama’s weakness, and the weakness of the Europeans, not to the Fifth Fleet’s unequivocal statements. Once again, as in Berlin in 1961, it is those nerves back in Washington we should be worrying about.

This article originally appeared in The Washington Examiner

Whoever Wins, Obama Faces a Real Challenge

By Ambassador John R. Bolton

The Republican race may be still be a muddle but disenchantment with the President is plain.

At last, after pundits, pollsters and politicians have filled the media for months with their wisdom, tomorrow in Iowa, actual American voters begin actual voting in an actual caucus. A week later, other actual citizens vote in New Hampshire’s actual primary.

Be prepared to be surprised. Polls have fluctuated widely and voters have consistently said that they are open to changing their minds. Only one thing is clear: Republicans are united by an intense, urgent desire to oust Barack Obama from the White House before he further changes the US into a European-style social democracy. Voters now know that in 2008 they elected not only America’s most radical president, but also one of its least competent and effective.

Obama’s sheltered existence as a community organiser, academic and indecisive Illinois state legislator left him completely clueless as to how America’s free economy works, what his fellow citizens truly value, or how to protect our values and interests (including friends and allies) internationally. His wrongheaded policies are retarding recovery, and his signature “Obamacare” health programme continues to decline in popularity even though it is not yet in effect and its very constitutionality has still to be decided by the Supreme Court. Mr Obama’s managerial incompetence, indecisiveness and passive irrelevance to key legislative battles in Congress reinforce a deepening perception of leadership failure.

The volatile battle for the Republican nomination, which necessarily highlights differences among the contenders, should not obscure the strength of the anti-Obama mood. The Tea Party has injected considerable enthusiasm and energy into Republican ranks, and the Democrats have nothing comparable. Their 2008 mantra of “hope and change” now looks embarrassing.

The country is close to firing Mr Obama, but the Republicans have to avoid self-destructing. Some joke that if only we could nominate “Mr Generic Republican” we would have it made. And we would. Nonetheless, the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, in August 2012, will have to nominate someone from the competition now under way. Late entrants or a “brokered” convention are highly unlikely.

Many prospective candidates never ran, perhaps because Team Obama will wage a fierce, personal and dirty campaign, Chicago-style. The White House can’t run on its record, but no one should underestimate Mr Obama’s skills as a campaigner, which far exceed his governing capacity.

In Iowa, two conventional wisdoms will face off. The old school holds that extensive organisation in its 93 counties (“the ground game”) is crucial: candidates who do not meticulously organise down to precinct level will fail, as Hillary Clinton did in 2008. The new school contends that press coverage, the 18 candidates’ debates and the internet and social media have transformed the political landscape, creating virtual organisations to do what precinct captains and phone-banks once did.

Whatever the poll fluctuations, the one steady name has been the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He came close to beating John McCain in 2008, and, in traditional Republican fashion, many believe it is “his turn”. He is a proven business executive, a consistent, although not flashy, debater and has an apparently impeccable personal life. Nonetheless, Romney has had to fight charges of flip-flopping on issues such as abortion and gun control. Then there is “the Mormon thing”, a nomination issue among some evangelicals, and an election issue for leftist/secularists who don’t like any religion, especially Mormonism.

Previously ahead in Iowa, but now falling behind, the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is the best debater, but his Speakership was controversial and his personal life has been complicated. Mr Gingrich argues that he has matured and is ready for the presidency. Redemption has historically been a powerful and often successful paradigm in American politics, and he is the latest to test it.

Ron Paul, the most libertarian candidate, whose foreign policy views are often indistinguishable from the radical left, is reputed to have a strong Iowa organisation and could finish second or even first. Under no circumstances, however, will he win the nomination. In fact, Mr Paul may be the wild card if he runs as a quixotic third-party candidate in November, siphoning off Republican votes in key states and allowing Mr Obama to squeak through to a second term. This is the Republican nightmare.

Rick Santorum is the most recent candidate to surge in the polls, and his timing may turn out to be the best. He is competing with the Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has recovered from early debate stumbles and has a strong Iowa ground game. Mr Santorum and Mr Perry both have impressive support among “values voters” and could gain strength from Republicans who turn away from Mr Gingrich and Mr Paul.

Michele Bachmann, although an Iowa native daughter, has fallen rapidly in recent days, and Jon Huntsman is a mere blip in the state.

My guess? The Iowa result will be muddled, making New Hampshire critical, especially for Mr Romney, who must win convincingly in a state next door to Massachusetts. Primaries in South Carolina and Florida follow rapidly in January, perhaps affording the “not Romneys” a chance to compete effectively, thereby signalling a long battle all the way to the Tampa convention, along the lines of the 2008 Democratic Obama-Clinton contest.

With the exception of Mr Paul and Mr Huntsman, all the Republicans are strong advocates of a robust US national security policy, vigorously waging the war on terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. If the Republicans win in November, America’s allies can breathe a sigh of relief, and its adversaries should take note: no more bowing to foreign rulers, no more worldwide apology tours for America’s past transgressions. We will be back on track for the next American century.

This article originally appeared  in The Times

The Mysterious Reputation of George F. Kennan

By Ambassador John R. Bolton

Yale professor John Lewis Gaddis has written an impressive biography of George Kennan, the Cold War strategist, Soviet expert, and intellectual icon of the liberal establishment. Well worth reading, it nonetheless raises the basic question of whether Kennan’s concrete contributions justify the many accolades he has received. While Gaddis may not have intended it, his exhaustive research, in fact, demonstrates how marginal Kennan’s public career actually was, but for a single, fleeting period. There is less to the Kennan mythology than meets the eye.

With two spectacular exceptions, Kennan’s strategies were losers—losers which, we must concede, became over time the American left’s prevailing strategic doctrines. In one brief, shooting-star moment, Kennan achieved his reputation for “grand strategy” by writing the legendary 1946 “long telegram” from Moscow, and the article signed “X” in Foreign Affairs (“The Sources of Soviet Conduct”), articulating the policy of containment which undergirded America’s Cold War policy toward the Soviet Union.

Undoubtedly, both essays are essential to understanding the Truman administration’s strategic thinking and its ramifications. But however astute and timely those two essays were, do they justify a reputation for “greatness” and the obeisance from universities, editorial boards, and the chattering classes that followed? Did they shift policy, or did they simply give voice to inchoate policy ideas which would have crystallized anyway? Is Kennan important simply because of constant repetition, there because he’s there?

X wrote unambiguously that America required “a policy of firm containment designed to confront the Russians with unalterable counterforce at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world.” We had to recognize that Moscow’s policy combined both the Communist imperative to world domination (being a scientific philosophy obeying ineluctable dialectical laws) and historical Russian expansionism, both of which Kennan described compellingly.

Nonetheless, as Gaddis recounts, X’s article had not even appeared before Kennan began backing away from it and the Long Telegram. Kennan complained vigorously that he was being distorted, that he had never favored “counterforce,” threatened or actual, to the extent new converts to containment believed necessary. But his complaints ignore what he said repeatedly at the time. Whether or not he later choked on these words, they were his. The notion that he did not foresee containment almost inevitably requiring a significant military component is fanciful. Gaddis ruefully concludes, “After 1947, [Kennan] could never regard the doctrine with which he was credited as his own. That produced a dejection extending over dozens of Kennan birthdays to come.”

Kennan rarely seemed taken with his native land, writing his sister Jeanette in 1935: “I hate the rough and tumble of our political life. I hate democracy; I hate the press .  .  . ;
I hate the ‘peepul’; I have become clearly un-American.” In words those enraptured by China today would enjoy, Kennan said in 1936 that it was “time to drop ‘the angel of democracy’ as well as ‘the bogey-man of dictatorship.’ ” Little wonder that Gaddis stresses “one of [Kennan’s] most persistent paradoxes: that he understood the Soviet Union far better than he did the United States.” It certainly explains Kennan’s views of the Reagan administration, which he described as “ignorant, unintelligent, complacent, and arrogant; worse still is the fact that it is frivolous and reckless.”

And as his private writings reveal, Kennan gives pessimism and depression a bad name. His almost unrelievedly bleak diaries virtually compel the conclusion that his jaundiced views of mankind infused his erratic strategic thinking. Gaddis concedes that “Kennan always had trouble keeping his emotions apart from his strategies” and possessed “an inability to insulate his jobs from his moods.” Having interviewed Kennan’s family, friends, and coworkers, Gaddis concludes that, in daily life, Kennan was not nearly as gloomy as in his private musings, which perhaps provided a release valve so his tensions and concerns were not inflicted on others.

Of course, personality traits are not sufficient explanations of his grand strategies, which must stand or fall on their merits. A great power cannot be dependent on the mood swings of its supposed savants.

Moreover, Kennan’s tangible diplomatic achievements were nothing to write home about. Most spectacularly, the Soviet Union declared him persona non grata for committing what today we call a gaffe: telling the truth at the wrong time. While visiting Berlin shortly after becoming ambassador to the Soviet Union, Kennan compared contemporary life in Moscow to his detention (along with other diplomats) by the Nazis at the outbreak of World War II. Being the first and only American ambassador to Moscow to be “PNG’d”—and by Stalin, no less—might be a badge of honor for some, but not for Kennan.
Before Moscow, he was the first head of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, often labeled the department’s “think tank.” But “S/P” (as it is known in the bureaucratic nomenclature) has always struggled to find its niche, perhaps futilely, since its role depends entirely on the incumbent secretary of state. Does he or she want a stable for speechwriters and special assistants, or truly strategic thinkers? And how do “policy planners” relate to the regional and functional bureaus that carry out State’s day-to-day responsibilities? Pushed in one direction, S/P becomes little more than a perch for second guessers; pushed in the other, as Kennan did, the Policy Planning Staff becomes simply irrelevant (“a failure,” as Kennan confided to his diary). Thus, even his bureaucratic crown jewel was badly flawed, and Gaddis writes that, after just a year, “Kennan found himself becoming a policy dissenter once again. He had, he discovered, lost his footing. He never quite regained it.”
And that was in 1948! Kennan’s considerable reputation beyond X and the Long Telegram stems substantially from the innumerable opportunities for criticism his longevity afforded him. Whether that reputation is warranted, however, is a different story—as, for example, in the extent of his role in formulating the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan.
In reality, he was simply a verbalizer for ideas already swirling at the State Department, particularly those of Dean Acheson and Will Clayton, undersecretary for economic affairs. (Joseph Marion Jones’s classic account, The Fifteen Weeks, makes precisely this point.) Further, Kennan disagreed with Truman and Acheson on politico-military matters, opposing NATO’s creation as “a final militarization of the present dividing-line through Europe.” Kennan also reversed course on Germany, initially favoring its division to stabilize Europe, then advocating its demilitarized reunification, well before Western European economic recovery and rearmament. Fortunately, his path to reunification never became American policy, since it would have opened a Central European power vacuum ripe for Soviet exploitation. Dean Rusk correctly judged that “that approach .  .  . allows you to be nibbled to death, like ducks. Kennan couldn’t see that.” Remarkably, in November 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, Kennan wrote in the Washington Post that it was too soon to consider reunification!
At the outset, containment was seen as the weaker of the competing alternative grand strategies, with many Republicans arguing for “rolling back” Communist advances. (Who can forget Richard Nixon’s critique of “Dean Acheson’s College of Cowardly Communist Containment”?) Yet when the Eisenhower-Nixon-Dulles team took office, it adhered rigorously to containment, including allowing Soviet tanks to crush the Hungarian Revolution rather than
intervening militarily.
The shadow figure lurking in Gaddis’s biography is Dean Acheson, far more successful politically, diplomatically, and, arguably, conceptually than Kennan. As the British ambassador Oliver Franks put it, “Having your thinking done for you, which is what the Policy Planning Staff stood for, was alien to Dean. .  .  . [He] was a man of action. He wanted actually to get things done.” Kennan had a more disdainful view: “[Acheson] was basically a Washington lawyer, not a diplomat. The fact that he looked like a diplomat confused people, but it didn’t make him one.” When Kennan, in a 1957 series of lectures, criticized NATO while advocating reuniting Germany outside it, Acheson roundly denounced him as one who “has never .  .  . grasped the realities of power relationships, but takes rather a mystical attitude toward them.” Even Harry Truman jumped in, saying Kennan was “not a policymaker” and only a good ambassador when Acheson was there “to tell him what to do.”
This debate reflects a lasting, ultimately destructive, cleavage within the Democratic party, which Gaddis vividly portrays. Typically unsuccessful in persuading others while at State, Kennan was much more successful as a scholar in weakening our national resolve, culminating in a May 1987 interview when he accepted the slogan “better red than dead.” Indeed, Kennan’s views ultimately prevailed over the Achesonian Democrats, who either fled as refugees to the Republican party or, if they stayed behind, now seem like lights blinking out one by one on a distant shore.
On Vietnam, Kennan reached a political zenith in his blistering 1966 attack on Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam policy in hearings before Senator Fulbright’s Foreign Relations Committee. And on strategic arms policies, his antinuclear views became increasingly unrealistic—but undoubtedly central to the regnant arms-control theology, now revived again by President Obama. Characteristically, Kennan’s later views on nuclear weapons were far removed from his 1947 stress on “the deterrent effect of overwhelming retaliatory power in the hands of this country.”
Ironically, in 1967, Kennan garnered enormous attention for his scathing condemnation of the New Left, saying, “that these people are embattled is unquestionable. That they are really students, I must be permitted to doubt. .  .  . The fact of the matter is that the state of being enragé is simply incompatible with fruitful study.” This was a cultural attack rather than a disagreement on Vietnam or broader policy, but that got lost in the ensuing controversy. His fellow academics, having fought the anti-Communist barbarians in the 1950s, could not grasp that the protesters were their intellectual progeny, and that the barbarians were no longer outside the university but in their classrooms, denouncing them as establishment tools, or worse.
Today, Professor Gaddis is perhaps the foremost teacher of “grand strategy,” often over sullen opposition from political scientists who deride his work as mere “history.” But the popularity and reputation of the Yale grand strategy program he leads with Charles Hill and Paul Kennedy, and widely emulated at other universities (over the opposition of other sullen academics), testify to the vitality of his approach. “Grand strategy” in academia is substantive international-affairs scholarship, not what political scientists, who believe more in algorithms and statistics, now churn out. While they are researching the globe’s political capillaries, mere historians like Gaddis are unraveling how American diplomatic strategy actually unfolded during critical decades.
Given the Cold War focus of Gaddis’s scholarship, it was no surprise he would be Kennan’s biographer; but it is quite surprising that the weight of the evidence reveals Kennan not to be the transformative strategist of mythology, certainly not on a sustained, consistent basis. Ultimately, the real strategist transforms his thinking into reality, or perhaps more accurately, transforms reality to be consistent with his thinking. This Dean Acheson accomplished, but George Kennan did not. While the Truman-Marshall-Acheson policies are remembered through X’s language, X was more a reflection of Washington’s evolving postwar thinking than an independent, causative force. And beyond the thinkers were the real actors, whom Kennan aspired to join but never did.
These recalibrations do not make Kennan irrelevant. Gaddis argues forcefully that Kennan’s skill as a historian and writer constitute greatness, and he doubtless spoke influentially in our national debate—wrongheaded though he was, if rarely so in government. Better appreciating what he achieved, and what he did not, is important background for the 20th century’s second half. Nonetheless, George F. Kennan leads to the conclusion that its subject was, like the proverbial stopped clock, right twice a day—or in Kennan’s case, twice in his lifetime. This judgment may be (in Dean Acheson’s phrase) “clearer than the truth,” but not by much. Kennan’s two most famous essays were distinctly out of character, idiosyncratic not because of his personal peculiarities but because of the vagaries of his own thinking on grand strategy. And that paradox justifies carefully reading this biography, to understand the realities, not the myths, of Kennan’s life.

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Standard

Save The Euro, End The Atlantic Alliance

By John R. Bolton

After the European Union’s latest crisis summit last week, international financial markets reacted cautiously. And well they should, since this umpteenth effort to save several Eurozone countries from fiscal collapse, and the common currency itself, produced mediocre results.

Less understood are the summit’s political consequences, as Great Britain broke sharply with the continental duopoly, Germany and France. Both the EU and NATO will be dramatically affected, with enormous implications for America and the West’s security posture globally. Geostrategically, the EU has always been less than the sum of its parts, so Washington should welcome change which restores national autonomy in opposing security threats to the West.

By blocking an EU-wide treaty on the euro, London opened the possibility of radically changing or even fracturing the EU itself. (Prime Minister David Cameron’s Liberal Democrat coalition partners roundly criticized his stance, but if he retreats, Tory Euroskeptics could revolt, also threatening his coalition government.)

The full impact of Britain’s decision remains unclear, but the EU tendency to “muddle through” is almost certainly history. It now faces a choice between two “corner solutions,” with huge stakes for Europe’s future shape. In one, the euro implodes, many of its members revert to national currencies, and what’s left of the common currency remaining is a new Deutschmark for Germany and its economic satellites.

In the other, the euro is preserved, but with a massive transfer of national sovereignty (fiscal as well as monetary policy) by Eurozone members to the bureaucracy in Brussels, which would become the true capital of 17 former nation-states, now Eurozone provinces. The United Kingdom and other non-Eurozone countries could break away from the EU entirely, or have a vastly different relationship with the new EU state.

This political and economic convergence of policy-making is central to the theology underlying the euro in the first place, but its ultimate implications were well concealed (or ignored) before the current crisis. No longer is that possible. Britain as we know it will never accept having critical policies first decided by Eurozone members, and only then presented to the non-Euro EU members as faits accomplis.

The media have wrongly stressed that Britain stood alone in opposing an EU-wide treaty, thus effectively barring the EU’s central bureaucracy from dominating fiscal policy. In fact, no actual agreement yet exists. Eurozone leaders needed to declare a political victory, so (as is their custom), they announced a deal to satisfy financial markets, but left the hard bargaining for later. The markets increasingly realize that even Eurozone members are deeply skeptical of the supposed triumph, as they wonder what the summit actually agreed to.

Clearly, several EU members, not wanting to break openly with Germany and France, took cover under Britain’s defiance. And skepticism about the deal will grow, not diminish, as actual treaty language emerges from the typically labyrinthine EU negotiating process, spelling even more trouble for the summit “agreement.”

But even if the dissident bloc (inside the EU, but outside the Eurozone) consists of Britain alone, this major power will then inevitably have a different relationship with the EU. By retaining far more sovereignty and freedom of action than currently possible in the EU, Britain will make itself more consequential, and the EU less so, in world affairs.

Moreover, a radically restructured EU could have significant security implications, with NATO also reshaped by which “corner solution” the EU adopts. If EU members retain their sovereignty, a more robust NATO could return — perhaps even going global, adding the likes of Japan, Australia, Singapore and Israel, as former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has suggested.

If, by contrast, Eurozone members become less sovereign, an increasingly lock-step, Franco-German bloc inevitably means a less effective NATO. Should Germany continue insisting on a “little Europe” approach to international affairs, America would have to consider forming an entirely new alliance, among non-EU NATO members and some members still remaining in the EU. This smaller, like-minded group could then also decide to globalize their new partnership along Aznar’s lines.

All these possibilities are profoundly unsettling, but this EU Summit, intentionally or not, has opened the door to potentially sweeping consequences. The United States has to consider what its strategy in response should be, not simply watching passively as the Obama administration is doing.

This article originally appeared in the New York Post

Be warned, America’s Withdrawal From Iraq Heralds a World of Instability

By Ambassador John Bolton

America’s complete withdrawal of its troops from Iraq is a tragic mistake. It jeopardises the gains made by President Bush’s (and Tony Blair’s) eminently correct 2003 decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and risks the broader Middle East falling into chaos. Sadly, Bush himself initiated this mistake by agreeing to this end point in our status-of-forces agreement with Iraq, but it was consummated by Barack Obama, who never wanted to be in Iraq, and who is now delighted to pull the plug.

But those, like Obama, who welcome US withdrawal as vindicating their opposition to the Iraq war are profoundly misguided, ignoring the international coalition’s real successes in Iraq and the dismal implications of their McGovernite “come home, America” strategy.

First, the world is safer with Saddam dead and his regime on history’s ash heap. He was a military aggressor, a terrorist supporter and a tyrant. His record of developing and using weapons of mass destruction is unquestionable, and his future course, had he succeeded in ending UN economic sanctions and freeing Iraq of weapons inspectors, entirely predictable. Now, no longer will Saddam invade his neighbours and threaten the use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against either his fellow citizens or foreign adversaries, or have his thumb on the world’s economic windpipe. With 20-20 hindsight, we now see we should have overthrown him in 1991 after he invaded Kuwait.

Second, Iraq is a better place without Saddam and his dictatorship. Anyone who believes differently has to argue that tyranny is better than representative government and rebut Benjamin Franklin’s penetrating observation, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty not safety.” Good luck with that.

Undeniably, the period between Saddam’s overthrow and today was grim, and deadly for too many. Post-Saddam, we should have rapidly handed over civil authority to Iraqis rather than establishing the Coalition Provisional Authority. Despite the CPA’s intense, good-faith efforts, al-Qaida and Iran were sure to try exploiting its highly visible role, thus creating steadily deteriorating security conditions, even as the Iraqi people sought to construct the institutions of a free society. President Bush’s 2006-07 surge overcame many, but far from all, of the security threats that existed, again setting Iraq on the right path. It is thus particularly cruel to Iraqis that Obama is withdrawing according to an arbitrary, essentially ideological timetable, rather than one based on facts on the ground.

Third, and a fine irony, US withdrawal from Iraq will enhance Iran’s influence there and throughout the region, facilitating Tehran’s progress toward achieving virtually all its goals. Considerable criticism of our overthrowing Saddam rested on the argument that terminating his regime eliminated a strong Arab-Sunni barrier to expanding Iranian-Shia influence. That view was always simplistic, given the region’s vastly complex religious and ethnic politics. We had two threats to combat, and eliminating one inevitably meant confronting the other in due course. Unfortunately, under both Bush and Obama, we did not deal adequately with Iran’s nuclear-weapons programme and its support for terrorism. That Iran is now more of a danger stems far more from that western failure than from overthrowing Saddam.

Iran has already substantially increased its meddling inside Iraq, both influencing the regime of Nouri al-Maliki and enhancing the capabilities of terrorist thugs like Muqtada al-Sadr. It is challenging its Arab neighbours across the Gulf, threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz and target the US bases and facilities there (as well as Nato forces in Turkey). Tehran is obviously willing to shed considerable Syrian blood to keep Assad’s dictatorship in power, and Hezbollah effectively in control in Lebanon. And Iran moves inexorably closer to its long-sought objective of nuclear weapons deliverable by intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The withdrawal of US forces from Iraq will unquestionably increase Iran’s relative regional power. America’s Arab allies in the Gulf Co-operation Council are extraordinarily nervous about Washington’s staying power, especially under the weak, indecisive and inattentive Obama presidency. Containing and ultimately overthrowing the regimes in Iran and Syria could have been substantially advanced during the US military presence in Iraq, and will clearly be much more difficult after our withdrawal. Those who say they want Iran contained should have supported a substantial, long-term US military presence in Iraq.

In short, our withdrawal from Iraq presages a world where Obama-style policies of American decline and turning inward have prevailed. Be warned: you’ll miss us when we’re gone. By then, of course, it will be too late.

This article originally appeared in The Guardian

Opponents Dispute Nicaraguan Election Results


Nicaragua’s election officials have officially declared President Daniel Ortega’s victory, but opponents are protesting the results.

A report from the Organization of American States indicated “irregularities in the elections,” but supported official results saying that Ortega won re-election after garnering more than 62% of votes.

“A process is legitimate if the people feel that there wishes were respected, and that is what we are experiencing here,” said Roberto Rivas, president of Nicaragua’s election authority.

But protests and clashes throughout the country after the November 6 elections have left at least four people dead and dozens injured, police said.

According to a report presented by the Organization of American States’ election observers, irregularities during elections included problems providing identification card to vote, problems in the accreditation of observers and imbalances in political parties present at polling stations.

For opponents of Ortega, the report shows evidence of fraud.

“Obviously here transparency is missing. They didn’t take a series of legal steps that they should have,” said Eduardo Montealegre, a representative from the opposition Independent Liberal Party.

The Organization of American States says its vote count echoes the official election results.

Read the complete article at CNN