Articles by: Marvin Ott

Marvin Ott

Marvin Ott

Columnist at The Ellsworth American
Marvin Ott is a professor at Johns Hopkins University and a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center of the Smithsonian Institution. He is a summer resident of Cranberry Isles.
  • A critical American moment

    In recent days, the United States has launched two military initiatives, one in the Middle East and the other in Asia, which may well mark a historic turning point. For some time now there has been a steady drumbeat of criticism from Republicans in Congress and many commentators in the media aimed at the administration’s

  • Middle East wars of religion

    The multiple ongoing conflicts in the Middle East are assuming an increasingly sectarian/religious character. The phenomenon is not new, but the scale and intensity are. Consider the roll call of recent events: Hundreds of Muslim pilgrims (including many Iranians) die in a stampede during the annual Haj to Mecca, triggering angry accusations from Iran about

  • Putin and Obama

    Russia’s sudden military intervention into Syria has highlighted stark differences in the strategic approach of two rival leaders: Vladimir Putin, the riverboat gambler, and Barack Obama, risk-averse and guided by the dictum, “Don’t do stupid stuff.” Commentaries on events in Syria divide between those seeing Putin as proving his mastery over a feckless Obama and

  • Middle East pathologies

    To an extraordinary degree, global politics and U.S. and European foreign policies have been shaped and driven by events and forces in the Muslim world of the Middle East. Beginning with the 9/11 attacks the effects have been strikingly negative and costly. The most dramatic example at the moment is the tidal wave of desperate

  • A U.S. military strategy for the South China Sea

    As any close observer knows, the South China Sea is a rapidly evolving, and increasingly perilous, strategic arena. China’s assertion that almost the entire sea is “indisputably” Chinese territory has been backed by a rapid buildup of maritime military power and an audacious series of land grabs. The most dramatic of these has been the

  • The scourge of corruption

    President Obama’s just completed Africa trip was an interesting spectacle in part because he did something that only an African-American president could pull off — he delivered several tough love lectures, telling his hosts they were making important progress but that they needed to do much better. He repeatedly came back to the subject of

  • Iran: Last best chance

    The agreement signed last week between major global powers and Iran was over four years in the making and is, by any measure, a very big deal. In broad brush, it comprises an Iranian agreement to accept severe limits on its nuclear activities — in order to forestall development of nuclear weapons — in return

  • Vietnam comes calling

    With all the drama surrounding the negotiations between Greece and the EU and between Iran and the United States, it is easy to overlook another diplomatic development — the official visit by Vietnam’s Communist Party leader to the White House. It is the first time Nguyen Phu Trong has set foot in the United States

  • Migrant tsunami

    Refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers have been part of the international scene since Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt in search of a promised land. The vast majority of the U.S. population can trace its roots back to emigrants who followed in the footsteps of the Pilgrims. In the modern era, periods of international conflict

  • The Rubik’s Cube at Camp David

    America already is well into its next presidential campaign — almost two years before the election. This campaign already has one familiar characteristic: among a raft of candidates for the Republican nomination not one has a shred of foreign policy experience. Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, already has pronounced that foreign policy doesn’t require

  • Saigon in Retrospect

    Forty years ago, Saigon fell to North Vietnamese forces, making it clear that America’s decade-long war in Indochina had been lost. The significance attached to that anniversary varies dramatically by generations. Today’s college students barely know the war even happened, much less anything about it. For their grandparents, however, it was a profound and defining

  • Japan takes center stage

    Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will arrive in Washington next week on an official state visit — including the first address to a joint session of Congress by a Japanese leader in 150 years. President Obama is known for his aversion to such highly formal occasions; there have been very few state visits during his