Offshore

  • Putin meets Xi

    Last week, Vladimir Putin visited Samarkand in central Asia to attend a diplomatic summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), comprising four countries from central Asia plus China, Russia, Pakistan and India. This was no small thing. It was Putin’s only trip outside Russia since the pandemic took hold — with the exception of a

  • “A miracle”

    Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, died a few days ago. George Kennan, the iconic Sovietologist, ambassador and architect of America’s successful Cold War containment strategy, described Gorbachev as a “miracle.” He was every bit of that. Gorbachev was born and educated in Stalin’s USSR, a totalitarian police state ruled by a

  • Intelligence: success and failure

    Intelligence: success and failure

    In an increasingly complicated and dangerous world, the work of U.S. intelligence agencies has never been more vital and more difficult. As it acts on the international scene, the U.S. government obtains information and analysis from myriad sources, including foreign service officers, journalists and other governments. Most of this involves information from public sources. In

  • The Iran nuclear dilemma

    “We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon” — Joe Biden President Biden’s recent trip to the Middle East generated considerable news coverage — much of it devoted to his friendly “fist bump” with the murderous leader of Saudi Arabia. Beyond that, most attention focused on the remarkable warming of relations between Israel

  • Remembering Shinzo Abe

    The past week has seen two political leaders pass from the scene: one a farce and the other a tragedy. First, the farce. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, facing a storm of opposition from within his own party, reluctantly announced his resignation. Johnson is the kind of politician who exposes the vulnerabilities inherent in democracy.

  • A New Era

    Over the past six days, President Biden has attended two key international gatherings — the G-7 meeting of the advanced industrial democracies and a NATO summit — both in Europe. The importance of these meetings is magnified by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and growing Chinese territorial ambitions in Asia. The world is increasingly coalescing

  • Insoluble problems

    Every foreign policy practitioner from the youngest diplomat to the president knows a basic, and largely unspoken, truth about international affairs. There are some problems/issues that are, for all practical purposes, insoluble. Several prominent examples are hiding in plain sight. The dispute between India and Pakistan over the status of Kashmir has produced three wars

  • Ukraine’s Asian echoes

    Last week, President Biden met with the leaders of nine Southeast Asian nations — the first such gathering since 2016 and the first ever at the White House. The event was greatly overshadowed by the ongoing war in Ukraine, but it took on added significance precisely because of the events in Europe. East Asia/Southeast Asia

  • High stakes — and rising

    The full magnitude of seminal events can be hard to grasp when we are in their midst. The ongoing war in Ukraine is far more than a bloody, but localized, conflict on Russia’s western periphery. It began with a massive miscalculation by Vladimir Putin — that he could invade and occupy Ukraine with minimal resistance

  • The Cold War — again

    It is still the early stages; the final outcome of the war in Ukraine is unknown. Many scenarios, including a protracted bloody stalemate, are possible. However, it is increasingly clear that this war will shape the international strategic landscape in ways more profound than any since World War II. Wars in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian

  • American prospect

    The character and direction of international affairs are determined in no small part by the relative capabilities of the major powers. There have been many voices over recent years pronouncing the end of the American era. Analysts have forecast the rise of new non-Western powers — India, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and, possibly, others. Senior

  • A European cancer

    Twentieth century Europe was nearly destroyed by dictators who tried to subjugate the entire continent to their own megalomania. The instrument of Europe’s rebirth has been the European Union — an economic common market politically committed to democracy. There is nothing automatic or guaranteed about the ascendance of democracy in Europe. On Europe’s eastern flank,