Politics

The discount rate is a basic tool of accounting and economics: people and institutions often need to deal with costs and benefits which will arise in the future, and it doesn’t usually make sense to simply value them as if they were happening today. A person expecting pension payments of $1,000 per month in thirty […]

{ 0 comments }

Mutual deterrence dissolves when one or both sides can remove the opponent’s ability to inflict severe damage in retaliation. In a crisis the side believing that an unacceptably large part of its retaliatory capacity could be suddenly nullified by an opponents forces might be impelled to strike preemptively. The superior side also might be motivated […]

{ 1 comment }

The New York Times has published an exceptional long article by Scott Anderson about the history of the Middle East since 2003. It’s an ambitious text to have written, not a trivial task to read, and perhaps a suggestion that print journalism is enduring in its dedication to telling complicated stories, despite ongoing challenges to […]

{ 4 comments }

Finally, and very subjectively, there is an inauspicious storyline surrounding second-term secretaries of defense: none has ever finished his second term, each having been asked by the president to leave before his term was over. I believe that this is not coincidence; that there is something about this particular job that causes it to go […]

{ 0 comments }

But [Richard] Holbrooke was irrepressible and his proposal [to invite Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic states to join NATO in 1996] moved forward. I went to President Clinton, explaining my concerns, and asking for a full meeting of the National Security Council to air my concerns and my arguments for a delay. […]

{ 0 comments }

During those tense days [of trying to stop North Korean reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel for weapons], an op-ed in the Washington Post caused considerable excitement. Brent Snowcroft, the former national security advisor, and his colleague Arnie Kanter (both long-time friends), wrote a column essentially stating that the United States would strike the Yongbyon reactor […]

{ 1 comment }

This principle of the interplay between conventional and nuclear forces is fundamental to deterrence in the nuclear era. The dangerous example today of the consequences of failure to maintain strong conventional forces is Russia. Given the decline in their conventional arms, the Russians are embarked on a major nuclear buildup and leaders have starkly stated […]

{ 1 comment }

In an interesting recent article on urbanization, The Economist noted: A huge and growing number of people live somewhere like Mikwambe [“on the edge of Dar es Salaam”]. Between 2005 and 2015 the world’s cities swelled by about 750m people, according to the UN. More than four-fifths of that growth was in Africa and Asia; […]

{ 0 comments }

President George H.W. Bush followed up these arms control initiatives. In 1991, he signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which called for reducing the number of ICBMs and warheads on both sides; ICBMs were reduced to 1,600 and deployed warheads to 6,000. In January 1993, just before President Bush left office, he signed […]

{ 2 comments }

During the last few years, solidarity with indigenous peoples has been a major area of emphasis for environmentalist, climate change activist, and anti-pipeline groups. In part, this seems to be based on the view that indigenous peoples have the strongest legal tools for blocking new fossil fuel projects, at least in Canada. This raises the […]

{ 1 comment }