Marvin Ott

  • Afghanistan: Pick your poison

    The war in Afghanistan has lasted for 18 years and is the longest in U.S. history. It has cost over 4,000 American deaths — military and civilian. It began with an American military response to the 9/11 attacks directed by Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan. The initial objective of the G.W. Bush administration was clear:

  • How to wreck the global economy

    The good news is that today more people in the world live better than ever before. The global economy is more productive and creates more wealth than at any time in human history. This is no accident; it is the result of unceasing effort by governments, businesses and private citizens over many decades. During that

  • Putin’s world

    When the USSR collapsed in 1991, the leaders of post-Soviet Russia faced herculean challenges and fundamental questions of national strategy and direction. Would Russia continue on the Soviet path of hostility toward the West — or would it take a very different course? For Mikhail Gorbachev, the first president of Russia’s new era, the answer

  • Turkey and America: what next?

    It was not long ago — say the 1990s — that Turkey was a good news story on several dimensions. As a key member of NATO, Turkey guarded the eastern border between Europe and Russia. Turkey had the largest military in NATO except for the United States and ties between the Turkish and American armed

  • China’s Hong Kong problem

    Over recent weeks, Hong Kong has been repeatedly rocked by mass demonstrations protesting the actions of its governing authorities. Public protests — somewhere — are a fixture of the international news. What makes these demonstrations noteworthy and very important are their scale and their location. Credible observers estimated the crowds at one point at nearly

  • Crises trifecta

    Tomorrow, President Trump will travel to Japan for an annual meeting of 20 government leaders (G-20) with three international crises at a near boil. Two of these, Iran and China, are the result of measures initiated by the White House. North Korea, by contrast, was set in motion by actions taken by Pyongyang. Each of

  • National security and climate change

    Anyone who has spent time in and around the armed forces and/or the intelligence agencies of the United States will agree — whether you always like what they do or not — that these are serious institutions staffed by serious people. The contrast with the political arena can be stark. In politics, there is plenty

  • America vs. China

    China has long occupied a special place in the American imagination. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Americans envisioned a Christianized China that would become an Asian counterpart to the United States. That and other dreams were dashed by the triumph of Mao Zedong and the communists. However, with the death of Mao

  • Iran: policy disarray

    Foreign policy is not a science; it is a difficult and uncertain craft even in the best of times. But there are certain guidelines and verities. The purpose of foreign policy is to serve the national interest. Its most effective practitioners are strategists — orchestrating the use of economic, political and military assets including the

  • Korea: back to basics

    North Korea moved back into the headlines last week when its leader, Kim Jong-Un, traveled to Vladivostok to meet Russia’s President Putin. At the same time, the possibility of a third Kim-Trump meeting keeps simmering in Washington — for the simple reason that Mr. Trump keeps saying that he wants it. Despite these developments, it

  • Pakistan: The price of strategic folly

    As we inevitably obsess over news close to home, it is worth remembering that profoundly important events are taking place elsewhere. A major political drama will be on view in India over the next several weeks as the world’s largest democracy conducts national elections. Make no mistake; India’s democracy, with 900 million eligible voters across

  • Intelligence: vital and disrespected

    Last year, the budget for the intelligence agencies of the United States (excluding tactical battlefield intelligence) came to $60 billion. It is a big number and looks even bigger against the backdrop of history. Eighty years ago, that number was zero. Historians agree that for most of its history, America saw no need for a