Marvin Ott

  • 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

  • Venezuela on the brink

    Venezuela is rapidly becoming the most dramatic political crisis in Latin America since the Cuban revolution. Unlike Cuba, events in Venezuela are being driven by a massive, and totally unnecessary, humanitarian disaster. Venezuela should be the richest country in Latin America, if not the entire Western Hemisphere because it sits on the largest known oil

  • Thai drama

    “And now for something completely different.” — Monty Python Recent news reports from Thailand revealed that a royal princess — a sister of the king — had accepted the nomination of a political party to be its candidate for prime minister in upcoming elections. A few hours later, the candidacy was terminated when the king

  • A failure of leadership

    The world’s two most prominent and venerable democracies, Great Britain and the United States, are both experiencing severe strains in their political fabric and institutions. Two fundamental developments of the last decade or so have profoundly challenged traditional democratic institutions and processes. The first is rooted in the info-tech revolution and the advent of a

  • 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