Posts tagged foreign policy

From foreignaffairsmagazine:

How Germany’s response to the Ukraine crisis signals a new era for German foreign policy: http://fam.ag/1iA8BAX

Interesting.

From foreignaffairsmagazine:

How Germany’s response to the Ukraine crisis signals a new era for German foreign policy: http://fam.ag/1iA8BAX

Interesting.

newshour:

“If the bad guys arrest you, there’s no question that they will behead you.”
Why are thousands of military translators left behind in Afghanistan?

We didn’t really think about Afghanistan before 9/11. Most of my students couldn’t even find the country on a map shortly after. These days, despite growing up in the shadow of our intervention there, they still know little about it. Our lack of knowledge about the world, and the consequences if our behavior (and ignorance) is embarrassing. Or it should be. If we spent any time thinking about it.

newshour:

“If the bad guys arrest you, there’s no question that they will behead you.”

Why are thousands of military translators left behind in Afghanistan?

We didn’t really think about Afghanistan before 9/11. Most of my students couldn’t even find the country on a map shortly after. These days, despite growing up in the shadow of our intervention there, they still know little about it.

Our lack of knowledge about the world, and the consequences if our behavior (and ignorance) is embarrassing. Or it should be. If we spent any time thinking about it.

From thepoliticalnotebook:

In case you weren’t aware, the fabulous Dirty Wars documentary A) was just nominated for an Academy Award and B) is on Netflix Instant. 
[List of Academy Award nominees]
[Dirty Wars]

From thepoliticalnotebook:

In case you weren’t aware, the fabulous Dirty Wars documentary A) was just nominated for an Academy Award and B) is on Netflix Instant. 

[List of Academy Award nominees]

[Dirty Wars]

Via newsweek:

Three years after it was discovered, Stuxnet, the first publicly disclosed cyberweapon, continues to baffle military strategists, computer security experts, political decision-makers, and the general public. A comfortable narrative has formed around the weapon: how it attacked the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz, how it was designed to be undiscoverable, how it escaped from Natanz against its creators’ wishes. Major elements of that story are either incorrect or incomplete. That’s because Stuxnet is not really one weapon, but two. The vast majority of the attention has been paid to Stuxnet’s smaller and simpler attack routine — the one that changes the speeds of the rotors in a centrifuge, which is used to enrich uranium. But the second and “forgotten” routine is about an order of magnitude more complex and stealthy. It qualifies as a nightmare for those who understand industrial control system security. And strangely, this more sophisticated attack came first. The simpler, more familiar routine followed only years later — and was discovered in comparatively short order. (via Stuxnet’s Secret Twin)

Wow. 

Via newsweek:

Three years after it was discovered, Stuxnet, the first publicly disclosed cyberweapon, continues to baffle military strategists, computer security experts, political decision-makers, and the general public. A comfortable narrative has formed around the weapon: how it attacked the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz, how it was designed to be undiscoverable, how it escaped from Natanz against its creators’ wishes. Major elements of that story are either incorrect or incomplete. That’s because Stuxnet is not really one weapon, but two. The vast majority of the attention has been paid to Stuxnet’s smaller and simpler attack routine — the one that changes the speeds of the rotors in a centrifuge, which is used to enrich uranium. But the second and “forgotten” routine is about an order of magnitude more complex and stealthy. It qualifies as a nightmare for those who understand industrial control system security. And strangely, this more sophisticated attack came first. The simpler, more familiar routine followed only years later — and was discovered in comparatively short order. (via Stuxnet’s Secret Twin)

Wow. 

theatlantic:

If a Drone Strike Hit an American Wedding, We’d Ground Our Fleet

On my wedding day, my wife and I hired a couple of shuttle vans to ferry guests between a San Clemente hotel and the nearby site where we held our ceremony and reception. I thought of our friends and family members packed into those vehicles when I read about the latest nightmarish consequence of America’s drone war: “A U.S. drone mistakenly targeted a wedding convoy in Yemen’s al-Baitha province after intelligence reports identified the vehicles as carrying al Qaeda militants,” CNN reported, citing government sources in Yemen. “The officials said that 14 people were killed and 22 others injured, nine in critical condition. The vehicles were traveling near the town of Radda when they were attacked.”
Can you imagine the wall-to-wall press coverage, the outrage, and the empathy for the victims that would follow if an American wedding were attacked in this fashion? Or how you’d feel about a foreign power that attacked your wedding in this fashion?
The L.A. Times followed up on the story and found slightly different casualty figures: “The death toll reached 17 overnight, hospital officials in central Bayda province said Friday. Five of those killed were suspected of involvement with Al Qaeda, but the remainder were unconnected with the militancy, Yemeni security officials said.”
Read more. [Image: Reuters]


Indeed. We should seriously think about why things like this encourage (not discourage) people to join al Qaeda. The inability to put ourselves in the shoes of others seriously hampers our ability to conduct a serious, effective foreign policy.

theatlantic:

If a Drone Strike Hit an American Wedding, We’d Ground Our Fleet

On my wedding day, my wife and I hired a couple of shuttle vans to ferry guests between a San Clemente hotel and the nearby site where we held our ceremony and reception. I thought of our friends and family members packed into those vehicles when I read about the latest nightmarish consequence of America’s drone war: “A U.S. drone mistakenly targeted a wedding convoy in Yemen’s al-Baitha province after intelligence reports identified the vehicles as carrying al Qaeda militants,” CNN reported, citing government sources in Yemen. “The officials said that 14 people were killed and 22 others injured, nine in critical condition. The vehicles were traveling near the town of Radda when they were attacked.”

Can you imagine the wall-to-wall press coverage, the outrage, and the empathy for the victims that would follow if an American wedding were attacked in this fashion? Or how you’d feel about a foreign power that attacked your wedding in this fashion?

The L.A. Times followed up on the story and found slightly different casualty figures: “The death toll reached 17 overnight, hospital officials in central Bayda province said Friday. Five of those killed were suspected of involvement with Al Qaeda, but the remainder were unconnected with the militancy, Yemeni security officials said.”

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Indeed. We should seriously think about why things like this encourage (not discourage) people to join al Qaeda. The inability to put ourselves in the shoes of others seriously hampers our ability to conduct a serious, effective foreign policy.

Free Syrian Army rebels defect to Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra

Maybe (just maybe?) this wouldn’t have been an issue if the West had helped the FSA about a year ago? No one will every know for sure, of course. But worth thinking about.

President Evo Morales acted on a longtime threat Wednesday and expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development for allegedly seeking to undermine Bolivia’s leftist government, and he harangued Washington’s top diplomat for calling the Western Hemisphere his country’s “backyard.”

Bolivia’s President Morales expels USAID, accused it of working against him | The Washington Post

I was going to comment on this. But I’ve been asked to do so on NPR affiliate WBEZ’s Worldview tomorrow. So I’m going to hold off until after that. Plus, I want to get my thoughts together on this.

History Matters: Suez Crisis Edition

Last night’s Daily Show, while commenting on Israel’s election, included clips of administration critics suggesting that Obama is the most anti-Israel president, ever. I beg to differ.

Obama certainly has his differences with current Israeli foreign policy under “Bibi” Netanyahu. Then again, what two heads of state wouldn’t? I agree with those who suggest that making blanket statements about unyielding support for Israel comes dangerously close to writing a blank check we might not be ready to cash in (would we support Israel if it attacked vital US interests?).

But do Obama’s public differences in policy with “Bibi” make him the most anti-Israel president, ever? I think that title goes to Dwight Eisenhower during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Let me explain:

In 1956, after Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, Israel, France, and Britain invaded Egypt. The United States was opposed to Israeli intervention and—together with the Soviet Union (although with different ulterior motives, obviously)—pushed Israel to withdraw from the conflict and give up its gains in the Sinai. And this wasn’t just public rhetoric: the US imposed (and encouraged its allies to follow suit) economic sanctions on Israel for its role in the conflict and even threats of expulsion from the UN.

I don’t think Obama has quite gone that far.

Of course, perhaps the award for the most anti-Israeli sentiment by someone at the White House could go to Henry Kissinger (scroll down to the “Middle East” section), Nixon’s Secretary of State. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Kissinger famously told Nixon to “let Israel bleed” (by denying assistance) in order to “soften it up” before negotiations.

I’m pretty sure Obama hasn’t done anything like that, either.

The US and Israel are, today, staunch allies. But that wasn’t always the case. The US cautiously supported Israel’s independence in 1948. And until the 1970s, the US worried that being too closely tied to Israel would weaken its position in the region (where lots of oil was at stake). Since the 1980s, however, our foreign policies have merged. But there’s a reason why we have other very close allies in the region. Like Saudi Arabia. And it’s telling that we never sent troops to back Israel in any of its conflicts, like we did for Kuwait in 1990. US-Israeli relations are much more complicated. As are all foreign relations.

History matters.

A fascinating (!!) look at diplomacy in action—and in real time.

From thepoliticalnotebook:

International diplomacy in action… A very interesting set of tweets/exchanges between the feed for the Muslim Brotherhood (@Ikhwanweb) and that of the US Embassy in Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood decries the violence in Libya that killed the ambassador and three others, and moves on to denounce clashes at the embassy in Cairo. One of their tweets was this:

”.@khairatAlshater:We r relieved none of @USEmbassyCairo staff were harmed & hope US-Eg relations will sustain turbulence of Tuesday’s events”

To which the embassy responded:

”.@ikhwanweb Thanks. By the way, have you checked out your own Arabic feeds? I hope you know we read those too.”

(Oooh, snark.)

The latest in the exchange has been this from the Brotherhood:

”.@usembassycairo we understand you’re under a lot of stress, but it will be more helpful if you point out exactly the Arabic feed of concern”

All screencapped above. 

[HT: The Guardian’s excellent live-blog]

From foreignaffairsmagazine:

The September/October issue of Foreign Affairs is now online!
Kindle, NOOK, and Google Play subscribers can also access the new issue on their devices.

From foreignaffairsmagazine:

The September/October issue of Foreign Affairs is now online!

Kindle, NOOK, and Google Play subscribers can also access the new issue on their devices.