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.
  • 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

  • “A good deal”

    The words above were used by President Barack Obama to characterize the recent draft nuclear agreement with Iran. He’s right, but the future of the agreement is far from assured. A first thing to appreciate is just how hard it was to get to this point. After more than a year of intense diplomatic effort,

  • The roots of Russian conflict

    In case you missed it, early this week Kremlin authorities produced a large public celebration, replete with fireworks, on the first anniversary of Russia’s takeover of Crimea. It was accompanied by a fawning TV documentary featuring President Putin in which he reveals that he put Russian nuclear forces on highest alert during the takeover to

  • The Netanyahu speech

    A few days ago, Israel Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress at the invitation of the Speaker of the House — without informing the White House. Since the President, by tradition and Constitutional authority, has the lead in foreign policy, this was obviously an unusual — and in fact unprecedented —

  • Defeating ISIS

    The latest high visibility atrocity committed by the “Islamic State” (IS or ISIS) is the public beheading of 21 Egyptians — because they were Coptic Christians. ISIS was the obvious, if largely unstated, reason the White House convened a two-day conference on “international extremism.” It is also the focus of ongoing efforts of U.S. military

  • Strategy in the real world

    The White House recently published its “National Security Strategy 2015” — the official statement of how the U.S. government sees threats and opportunities around the world and how it is responding to what it sees. The document, itself, does not make for riveting reading but it does provide a useful springboard for looking at the

  • Sometimes the good guys win

    To its everlasting credit, the United States emerged victorious from World War II determined to do something different, something seminal. The normal historical pattern would have seen an American empire established on the defeated remnants of Imperial Japan in the Pacific and the Third Reich in Europe. Instead, Washington set about to create a postwar

  • The “Torture” Report

    “The truth shall make you free.”  [Inscription at the entrance to the CIA] The recent release of the 500-page summary of a much longer report from the majority staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee has predictably generated intense controversy. By any measure, the report is an impressive effort. Two staff members spent five years wading

  • A defense secretary departs

    Last week’s forced resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel could hardly have come at a worse time with security challenges mounting in the Middle East/Afghanistan, Russia/Eastern Europe and East/Southeast Asia. The damage is compounded by the fact that the White House staff cannot seem to provide any convincing reason why Hagel had to go