Posting posts from better blogs makes this blog better
Here are short recaps of three blog posts from this past week, which I think were particularly good. The first is from World Politics Review’s Judah Grunstein on President Obama’s foreign policy. The second is from Michael Krepon at Arms Control Wonk on the differences between nuclear abolitionists of the 1980s and today. And the third is by Fabius Maximus on the experts who advised General McChrystal’s Afghanistan review.
From World Politics Review: “The Three Layers of Obama’s Foreign Policy” (by Judah Grunstein)
Grunstein describes President Obama’s foreign policy as “multi-layered” with a focus on global opinion, long-term impact, and building an international governance architecture that is based on a multi-partner (not multi-polar) order.
Much of the article addresses Secretary Clinton’s multi-partner framing of global governance. This diplomatic approach emphasizes America’s role as a global stabilizer and steward of international leadership while bringing together other nations in partnerships to solve problems. Consequently, it also means the US cannot act alone nor mold international institutions completely to its will.
As Grunstein states:
Obama is essentially trying to reduce American ownership of the many crises plaguing the global commons by getting the “rising rest” to buy in and shoulder their fair share of the responsibility for addresing them. The counterparty to that, of course, is spreading globalized privileges and benefits more fairly as well.
From Arms Control Wonk: “Morality and the Bomb” (by Michael Krepon)
Krepon draws attention to how the debate over nuclear proliferation was based more on moral grounds in the 1980s as opposed to now where the debate is focused on national security. Essentially, while the US and USSR were locked in a nuclear showdown that drove both powers to increase their nuclear arsenals, the commentary on nuclear proliferation was focused on the need to draw down to avoid nuclear holocaust.
In contast, contemporary nuclear abolitionists focus their concerns on the national interest instead of moral arguments. Krepon at least partially singles out the end of the Cold War and nuclear reductions for the decline in moral arguments. I would likewise add that the rising threat of nuclear terrorism has vaulted concerns of national interests over debates on morality.
From Fabius Maximus: “Who are the experts advising our generals? We know what they’ll say.”
Fabius Maximus has some strong opinions (similar to mine) about the US counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan. In this post, FM pulls from news stories and other blog posts to lambast the DoD for its choice of advisers to Gen. McChrystal’s Afghanistan strategy review. The main criticisms of the McChrystal’s advisers is that they were already supportive of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and not experts in Afghanistan (this reported by Spencer Ackerman).
Additionally, their recommendations to Gen. McChrystal were that nation-building can be accomplished but required more troops and more money. And that most (if not all of them) cast a rather optimistic outlook on the war. But FM points out that while the advisers policy debate centered on troop levels and reconstruction costs, it did little to address the strategic use of such resources.
As Fabius Maximus states, “Nobody has drawn an explicit chain of reasoning between a likely outcome of the Afghanistan War and any future attacks on the US.”
Along similar lines, Juan Cole posted an article in Tom Dispatch about Washington’s “Paranoia about Pashtuns“.