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.
  • Plan Colombia

    Although you would never know it from listening to much of the current campaign rhetoric, U.S. foreign policy has achieved some important recent successes. One of them was on display this past week with the visit to Washington by the president of Colombia. President Santos’ purpose, in several public appearances as well as a meeting

  • Korean conundrum

    Last week, North Korea forced itself back on to the world’s agenda with a high decibel announcement that it had successfully tested a “hydrogen bomb.” Sure enough, seismic indicators revealed that what was probably a nuclear explosion had occurred at a test site used for three previous tests (one unsuccessful). In all probability, the device

  • Year-end scorecard

    Foreign policy is not an athletic contest, but the international arena is an intensely competitive one where the losers, unlike in sports, often lose everything. This time of year a great many Americans will be focused on the culmination of the football season with college bowl games and professional playoffs. Given the national zeitgeist, it

  • Climate engineering

    Historians of the future may well conclude that Dec. 12, 2015, was the single most important date in the entire 21st century. On that date 195 nations mapped a collective response to a looming threat over the very future of planet Earth. It is hard to think of a comparable moment when a global consensus

  • Europe under pressure

    Europe is being buffeted by security challenges that almost no one saw coming even three or four years ago. As Syria implodes along with Libya, Yemen and part of Iraq, a flood of refugees/migrants in the hundreds of thousands — and potentially in the millions — is pouring into Europe. Who could have imagined Syrian

  • Paris and beyond

    The Paris terror strikes have been described as “an attack on civilization” by President Obama and an “act of war” by President Hollande. They are both. They mark a resurgence of relatively large scale terrorist assaults reminiscent of those in Madrid, London and Mumbai (India) in the recent past, though obviously not on the scale

  • 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