Marvin Ott

  • 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

  • Iran: Case study in defective policy

    The United States, like other major countries, maintains extensive diplomatic, defense and intelligence capabilities to support the nations’s policy initiatives. In turn, those policies should meet certain basic tests or criteria if they are to warrant such support. These tests include: 1) Does the proposed policy/strategy serve important national interests? 2) Does it embody goals

  • Making Russia great again

    It has been a week since the grotesque and now infamous Helsinki summit between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. But the passage of a little time has not dulled the shock of watching an American President grovel and debase himself in front of a Russian autocrat. An ethnic Russian analyst at the Brookings Institution described

  • Trade war

    The Trump Administration has launched a no-kidding trade war with China — and no one who knows Donald Trump well is surprised. If this President has one core belief, it is that the U.S. has been the victim of unfair trade practices by other countries aided and abetted by bad trade agreements signed by previous

  • Immigration becomes insoluble

    It is hard to recall another instance where the government of the United States has looked as chaotic and incompetent as it has along the southern border over recent days. In May, the administration announced a “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal migrants that would mean the arrest of any unauthorized border crosser and (probably) the

  • Tale of two elections

    In the last month, we have witnessed elections in two very comparable countries, Malaysia and Venezuela, with results that could hardly be more dissimilar. In the recent Malaysian elections — in a drama worthy of Shakespeare — the voters ended 61 years of unbroken rule by the Barisan Nasional party dominated by its ethnic Malay