• The American century: a requiem

    America’s “greatest generation” is justly celebrated for overcoming the Great Depression at home and the mortal threat posed by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan overseas. In many respects, the postwar generation of the 1950s and 1960s built a legacy that was equally consequential. At the conclusion of World War II, Europe and Asia lay in

  • Assassinating democracy

    President Obama gave an eloquent appeal at the recent Democratic Party convention calling upon citizens to protect “your democracy.” To see what is at stake, we need only look at events over the last few days in Belarus and Russia. Belarus seldom headlines the news. It is a medium-sized country sandwiched between Russia and Europe.

  • Taiwan: the next crisis

    National security planners in the Pentagon and elsewhere get paid to look ahead. What threats and challenges will the United States face in the years ahead that require serious preparations now and in the near term? There is a list, and at the top of that list is a place few Americans even think about

  • The Pacific War: a legacy

    Aug. 15 is the 75th anniversary of one of history’s seminal events — the unconditional surrender of Japan and with it the end of World War II. That war was a cataclysm that produced seismic changes on a planetary scale, nowhere more than in the Pacific. The conquest of East Asia by Imperial Japan lasted

  • The new cold war

    In the ongoing rush of events, it is easy to lose track of the big picture.  As tensions grow between the U.S. and China, there are occasional references to a possible new cold war. Such thoughts are not misplaced; that is exactly where we are headed but the arena will not be limited to China

  • COVID: reshaping the world

    It goes without saying that the COVID pandemic has already shaken the world. Anyone who studies pandemics could have predicted that the impact of such an event on personal and communal life would be profound. Anticipating the effects, if any, on international affairs/international politics would have been more difficult. Yet, at this point, roughly seven

  • India under the gun

    The uneasy relationship between Asia’s two giants, India and China, took a sudden turn for the worse earlier his month. With no apparent warning, a violent clash broke out between Indian and Chinese troops manning a remote section of disputed border in the high Himalayas. Because a prior agreement barred firearms, the fighting was conducted

  • The sword and the state

    One of the most remarkable aspects of American constitutional democracy is the role of the armed forces within it. Consider what an extraordinary thing it is that this country has long maintained a vast military establishment without the slightest concern that this same military might pose a threat to civilian rule and democracy itself. This

  • America in crisis

    It is a truism in international affairs that we live in an era of rapid, often destabilizing, change. That said, the global situation just a few months ago actually looked relatively stable and predictable. A lot that was going on was not pretty. The war in Afghanistan kept grinding on with Afghans dying by the

  • A (brave?) new era

    Ever since the rise and consolidation of nation-states in the late 17th century, international affairs have been dominated by rivalries among the great powers of the day. For much of this era that competition was between European powers, notably Britain, France, Germany and Russia. By the mid-20th century, contests between the United States and Russia

  • China: sunlight and shadow

    Following Nixon’s surprise trip to Beijing in 1972, U.S. attitudes toward China shifted suddenly and dramatically. After 20-plus years of deep hostility that included the Korean and Vietnam wars, China reclaimed the prominent place it had held in the American imagination from the mid-19th century through World War II. In the early 20th century, American

  • Pandemic economics: knowns and unknowns

    It risks stating the obvious to assert that the COVID-19 pandemic is a calamity beyond the experience of all but the oldest Americans. Only those who lived through the Great Depression can recall something comparable — and that was without a pandemic. Current indicators paint a dire picture. Deaths from the virus are expected to