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  • Author: Enrique Krauze
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico. By Amy S. Greenberg. Knopf, 2012, 344 pp. $30.00 (paper, $16.95). Every country sooner or later confronts the sins of its past, though rarely all at once. In recent decades, historians of the United States have revealed and explored the sins of American imperialism, recounting in detail Washington's interventions in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Yet they have largely overlooked American meddling in Mexico. Consequently, few in the United States recognize that the Mexican-American War (1846–48) was Washington's first major imperialist venture. Fewer still would understand why future U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, who fought in Mexico as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, would come to see it as the country's most “wicked war.”
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Latin America, Mexico, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Harold Hongju Koh, Michael Doyle
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In “The War of Law” (July/August 2013), Jon Kyl, Douglas Feith, and John Fonte purport to explain the state of international law and how it “undermines democratic sovereignty.” Their portrayal, however, hardly rises above caricature. Their legal prescriptions ignore constitutional history and, if followed, would drastically weaken U.S. foreign policy. The authors may not like the contemporary practice of international law, but their own ideas are painfully antiquated, better suited to an insular nineteenth-century nation than the great power the United States has become.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Law, Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kal Raustiala, Steven Tepp, Chritopher Springman
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In their essay “Fake It Till You Make It” (July/August 2013), Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman urged the United States to “relax” when it comes to the flagrant disregard for intellectual property laws in China. The authors make two essential arguments: first, that the United States in its early days, like China today, was a “pirate nation,” and second, that copying drove the United States' economic growth. As China's economy develops, they say, so, too, will its “balance of interests.” Like the United States before it, China will rely less on copying and “adopt a less permissive approach” to copyright infringement -- not in response to U.S. prodding but on its own initiative.
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Michael O'Hanlon
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Stephen Biddle and Karl Eikenberry are outstanding public servants and scholars, but their respective articles on Afghanistan (“Ending the War in Afghanistan” and “The Limits of Counter­insurgency Doctrine in Afghanistan,” September/October 2013) convey excessively negative assessments of how the war is going and of Afghanistan's prospects. Their arguments could reinforce the current American malaise about the ongoing effort and thereby reduce the odds that the United States will continue to play a role in Afghanistan after the current NATO-led security mission there ends in December 2014. That would be regrettable; the United States should lock in and solidify its gains in Afghanistan, not cut its losses.
  • Topic: NATO, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Anish Goel
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In their respective articles “Why Drones Work” and “Why Drones Fail” (July/August 2013), Daniel Byman and Audrey Kurth Cronin make arguments that are not mutually exclusive. Byman emphasizes that U.S. drone strikes have decimated al Qaeda's senior leadership; Cronin, that they have galvanized extremist recruiting and soured foreign public opinion of the United States. Both points are undoubtedly true, and to argue otherwise in either case would be to deny the basic realities of U.S. drone warfare. Both authors neglect to mention, however, that the use of drone strikes needs to be tempered by the domestic political realities in the countries where they are carried out. Only then can drone warfare achieve the benefits outlined by Byman while minimizing the drawbacks explained by Cronin.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mike Wenstrup
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Scott Borgerson (“The Coming Arctic Boom,” July/August 2013) is right to argue that “Alaska should invest its considerable wealth in its underdeveloped university system, finance ambitious infrastructure projects, and create policies that attract talented immigrants and encourage them to start new businesses, such as renewable energy ventures.” Unfortunately, the recently passed Alaskan Senate Bill 21 reduces the income Alaskans receive from oil produced on public lands. Alaska has already begun to run deficits, is unable to finance university investments, and, for the fourth straight year, has frozen funding for basic classroom instruction. Oil companies have high profit margins yet pay less for extracting oil in Alaska than in Norway or countless other countries. Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell is squandering an opportunity to convert oil wealth into human and physical capital. Alaska's oil resources are finite, and the state should invest the profits now in capital development and economic diversification.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Oil
  • Political Geography: Norway, Alaska
  • Author: Ivo Daalder, James Stavridis
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: NATO's operation in Libya has rightly been hailed as a model intervention. The alliance responded rapidly to a deteriorating situation that threatened hundreds of thousands of civilians rebelling against an oppressive regime. It succeeded in protecting those civilians and, ultimately, in providing the time and space necessary for local forces to overthrow Muammar al-Qaddafi. And it did so by involving partners in the region and sharing the burden among the alliance's members. NATO's involvement in Libya demonstrated that the alliance remains an essential source of stability. But to preserve that role, NATO must solidify the political cohesion and shared capabilities that made the operation in Libya possible -- particularly as its leaders prepare for the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago this May.
  • Topic: NATO
  • Political Geography: Europe, Libya, Kosovo
  • Author: Christopher Sabatini
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Running down the list of the U.S. State Department's Latin America policy objectives in El País in September 2010, the economist Moisés Naím noted that they focused almost exclusively on domestic concerns: building democratic institutions, promoting local social and economic opportunity, and so forth. These issues were not only given a higher priority in policy toward Latin America than they were for other regions, but they were also issues largely beyond Washington's ability to control. Naím was correct, but the point can be taken further. The focus on politics within Latin American states rather than on relations between them is characteristic not simply of the State Department but also of the Latin American regional studies community in the United States more generally, from where the U.S. policy and advocacy community absorbs much of its personnel and intellectual orientation. Such attitudes have harmed U.S. policy by focusing excessive attention on small countries with little geostrategic influence and fostering the facile notion that political and economic liberalization are the necessary and sufficient criteria for the advancement of all major U.S. interests. This approach has distorted Washington's calculations of regional politics and hampered its ability to counter outside influences and deal sensibly with rising regional powers. U.S. scholars and policymakers need a reminder that development does not mean the end of politics and that twenty-first-century Latin America has its own, autonomous power dynamics. A little realism would go a long way. THAT '80S SHOW When it comes to Latin America, for decades U.S. universities and regional studies centers have focused almost exclusively on matters of comparative politics and political and economic development. In the 1970s and 1980s, the last time scholars paid much attention to the region's international relations, their chief concern was the workings and implications of U.S. hegemony. The issue facing both scholars and policymakers today, however, is what happens as U.S. power declines and new forces in the region emerge, and unfortunately, when it comes to these questions, there is little intellectual capital on which to draw.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Author: Adam Segal
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In March 2011, the U.S. computer security company RSA announced that hackers had gained access to security tokens it produces that let millions of government and private-sector employees, including those of defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, connect remotely to their office computers. Just five months later, the antivirus software company McAfee issued a report claiming that a group of hackers had broken into the networks of 71 governments, companies, and international organizations. These attacks and the many others like them have robbed companies and governments of priceless intellectual property and crucial military secrets. And although officials have until recently been reluctant to name the culprit, most experts agree that the majority of the attacks originated in China. In response, analysts and policymakers have suggested that Washington and Beijing work toward some form of détente, a broad-based agreement about how countries should behave in cyberspace that might eventually turn into a more formal code of conduct. Proponents argue that the two sides' long-term interests are aligned, that one day China will be as dependent on digital infrastructure for economic and military power as the United States is today. As Major General Jonathan Shaw, the head of the British military's Defence Cyber Operations Group, has said, China's “dependence on cyber is increasing, the amount of cybercrime taking place inside that society is huge, and the impact on their economic growth and their internal stability is also going to be huge. . . . There's more common ground than people might suggest.”
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Beijing
  • Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama articulated his vision for the future of American space exploration, which included an eventual manned mission to Mars. Such an endeavor would surely cost hundreds of billions of dollars -- maybe even $1 trillion. Whatever the amount, it would be an expensive undertaking. In the past, only three motivations have led societies to spend that kind of capital on ambitious, speculative projects: the celebration of a divine or royal power, the search for profit, and war. Examples of praising power at great expense include the pyramids in Egypt, the vast terra-cotta army buried along with the first emperor of China, and the Taj Mahal in India. Seeking riches in the New World, the monarchs of Iberia funded the great voyages of Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan. And military incentives spurred the building of the Great Wall of China, which helped keep the Mongols at bay, and the Manhattan Project, whose scientists conceived, designed, and built the first atomic bomb.
  • Political Geography: China, America, India, Egypt