Marvin Ott

  • American policy in disarray

    The strategic incoherence that has been a hallmark of the Trump administration was on vivid display over the last three weeks in Syria and the broader Middle East. In the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, the U.S. put in place a system for orderly, informed decision-making on key national security issues. It was centered on the

  • “The commander-in-chief”

    Two years in, the Trump presidency has become more toxic and dysfunctional by the day. The decline in American standing and influence in the world has been steep. Foreign governments used to looking to the United States for leadership and support see a volatile, narcissistic president whose grasp of reality is often tenuous at best.

  • The China challenge is for real

    China has long occupied a unique place in America’s relations with the world. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, China was a commercial magnet. Chinese products — tea, porcelains, silks — were in huge demand and drew American merchants to Cathay. The clipper ships that plied the Pacific tea trade became as much a

  • George H.W. Bush: The Gold Standard

    George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, has died. He was a Mainer at heart. After losing his wife, Barbara, he told intimates that he wanted to live long enough to have one more summer in Maine. At a minimum, he had one of the most remarkable and consequential careers of anyone

  • North Korea illusions

    For decades, North Korea has been a source of frustration and failure for U.S. foreign policy. The Korean War ended with a ceasefire, a divided peninsula and North Korea as a totalitarian police state determined to one day subjugate the South. The United States has maintained over 30,000 troops in the South ever since to

  • Can the center hold?

    “Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” — W.B. Yeats These familiar words were penned at the conclusion of World War I and captured the sense of foreboding and despair that shadowed Europe. As it happens, we are within a few days

  • The murder of Jamal Khashoggi

    Jamal Khashoggi was well known and well liked in Washington and in journalistic circles worldwide. He was described by all who knew him as a friendly teddy bear of a man — a Saudi citizen living in self-imposed exile in the United States so he could speak and write freely. He was a former confidant

  • The Brexit blues

    The United States is not the only country with political divisions so deep that government policy is often paralyzed and dysfunctional. Great Britain is within two months of a watershed decision on implementing Brexit — the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union. The historical antecedents of this moment go deep into the past. Britain,

  • Taiwan tripwire

    Under the Trump administration, U.S.-China relations have moved rapidly and dramatically from a prevailing mood of engagement to one of sharp rivalry. The arena has been primarily economics (trade and investment) as the administration has imposed tariffs on a growing range of Chinese exports to the United States and has threatened to extend new tariffs

  • John McCain in his own words

    It has been nearly two weeks since John McCain died, and he would be the first to say it is now time to move on. However, when a hero dies we can reasonably mourn a bit longer. I did not know McCain personally. I attended Senate hearings where he presided and spoke, but that was