Marvin Ott

  • Lethal incompetence

    “I didn’t know people died from the flu.” -Donald Trump   Every schoolchild in America knew that the flu killed people. But Donald Trump did not know — even though his own grandfather died of the virus. But never mind. The president is a “genius” — “a very stable genius.” He has reminded us of

  • Afghanistan: Vietnam redux?

    Afghanistan, America’s longest war (almost 19 years and counting), may be nearing a conclusion. What that conclusion will actually look like is still deeply uncertain. But for those with a long memory, what is taking shape bears an eerie similarity to what happened 45 years ago in Vietnam. The origins of the current war go

  • China and the virus

    The coronavirus outbreak that began in mid-December in the central Chinese city of Wuhan (Hubei Province) has already exacted a serious human toll with tens of thousands of cases and well over a thousand deaths. In a globalized world with ubiquitous international travel it was inevitable that cases would emerge outside China – most of

  • Brexit and unintended consequences

    For a remarkably long time, Great Britain has exerted an outsized influence on the rest of the world. As early as the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603), Britain was influencing events far from its shores. By 1760, Britain’s imperial domain already included much of North America and large parts of the Indian subcontinent. The

  • Burma in China’s embrace

    China’s challenge to America and its drive for global primacy will dominate international politics for the foreseeable future. This contest will play out across the full spectrum of international affairs: economics, politics, science and technology, ideology and geographic/territorial control. A quick glance at the map will suggest where China’s initial territorial ambitions are focused. China

  • Iran: policy failure

    It is January 2020, the beginning of not just a new year, but a new decade. The natural impulse at such a moment is to be hopeful, even optimistic. However, in the arena of foreign policy and international affairs this new year has started with a bombshell. On Friday, at President Trump’s order, a U.S.

  • China in 2020

    It has long been a truism in American politics that elections focus almost entirely on issues of domestic policy while foreign policy is barely mentioned. As a result, we elect presidents with hardly a clue as to how they will handle their international portfolio. It is remarkable when you think about it because the United

  • The real deep state

    For this writer, the ongoing impeachment inquiry in Congress has generated two principal observations. First, it is a fact that as president, Donald Trump has committed multiple crimes that warrant impeachment and removal from office. They include the use of the presidency (and taxpayer dollars) to further his own personal political and financial interests, witness

  • Cyberwar

    National defense strategy has traditionally focused on the role of military forces (air, land and sea) supplemented by intelligence operations (espionage and covert disruptions of an adversary’s economy and government). With the launch of Russia’s Sputnik in 1957 a new arena opened up — space. Intercontinental ballistic missiles and surveillance satellites became integral to American

  • The Islamic State decapitated

    President Trump announced on Sunday that a daring U.S. commando raid in Syria resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State and the world’s most wanted terrorist. The longer-term implications of this event will become clear over time, but there is much we already know. (1) Baghdadi was the architect

  • Betrayal

    The minimum requirements for an effective foreign policy can be summed up in two points: (1) it must be guided by and serve the national interest and (2) it must be informed, i.e. based on knowledge and expertise. Grounding in the national interest should be almost second nature for any policymaker. As for knowledge, the

  • Impeachment

    As this is written, the House of Representatives has begun the formal process to determine whether the President should be impeached, i.e. removed from office. Even if the House does vote for articles of impeachment — in effect, an indictment — the President will not be removed unless the Senate, sitting as a court in