Marvin Ott

  • The roots of Russian conflict

    In case you missed it, early this week Kremlin authorities produced a large public celebration, replete with fireworks, on the first anniversary of Russia’s takeover of Crimea. It was accompanied by a fawning TV documentary featuring President Putin in which he reveals that he put Russian nuclear forces on highest alert during the takeover to

  • The Netanyahu speech

    A few days ago, Israel Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress at the invitation of the Speaker of the House — without informing the White House. Since the President, by tradition and Constitutional authority, has the lead in foreign policy, this was obviously an unusual — and in fact unprecedented —

  • Defeating ISIS

    The latest high visibility atrocity committed by the “Islamic State” (IS or ISIS) is the public beheading of 21 Egyptians — because they were Coptic Christians. ISIS was the obvious, if largely unstated, reason the White House convened a two-day conference on “international extremism.” It is also the focus of ongoing efforts of U.S. military

  • Strategy in the real world

    The White House recently published its “National Security Strategy 2015” — the official statement of how the U.S. government sees threats and opportunities around the world and how it is responding to what it sees. The document, itself, does not make for riveting reading but it does provide a useful springboard for looking at the

  • Sometimes the good guys win

    To its everlasting credit, the United States emerged victorious from World War II determined to do something different, something seminal. The normal historical pattern would have seen an American empire established on the defeated remnants of Imperial Japan in the Pacific and the Third Reich in Europe. Instead, Washington set about to create a postwar

  • The “Torture” Report

    “The truth shall make you free.”  [Inscription at the entrance to the CIA] The recent release of the 500-page summary of a much longer report from the majority staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee has predictably generated intense controversy. By any measure, the report is an impressive effort. Two staff members spent five years wading

  • A defense secretary departs

    Last week’s forced resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel could hardly have come at a worse time with security challenges mounting in the Middle East/Afghanistan, Russia/Eastern Europe and East/Southeast Asia. The damage is compounded by the fact that the White House staff cannot seem to provide any convincing reason why Hagel had to go

  • Untying the Iranian nuclear knot

    It is a truism of American politics that a President in the last two years of his term will tend to focus on foreign policy — particularly if the last congressional elections have gone against him (as they usually do). President Obama is no exception. In the wake of the electoral drubbing his party suffered

  • The American century

    Economics is the foundation for national power. The relative ascendance in international affairs that Americans have become used to will continue into this century if — and only if — the U.S. economy can support it. The shaping of the modern American economy began with the industrial revolution of the post-Civil War decades. Theodore Roosevelt

  • The world is with us

    The Ebola crisis has become a textbook illustration of a defining characteristic of our time — the globalization of nearly everything. A couple of centuries ago, an event like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa would have been a news story in Europe and North America, but little more than that. It would have been