New Trump, Old Bottles

It didn’t take long for Donald Trump to discover that U.S. foreign policy is about as easy to turn around as a warship in dry dock. Despite any number of promises to shake things up — during the election and even in his first days as president — Trump is falling back on some very conventional approaches to the world. In the last week, for instance, Trump suddenly discovered that firing a...
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Trump Is from Mars

So, let me see if I’ve got this right. North Korea has been pushing its ally China to rein in the United States. Pyongyang is worried that Washington is about to launch a preemptive attack, so it has tried to use whatever minimal amount of influence it has to persuade China to use its considerable economic leverage with the United States to get those knuckleheads inside the Beltway to listen to...
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Making America Mediocre Again

The first signs of decline are physical. Citizens don’t grow as tall. They don’t live as long. They start killing each other in large numbers. Sounds like the post-mortem for a society that disappeared long ago, a conclusion that archaeologists deliver after sifting through bone fragments and pottery shards. Why, the puzzled scholars ask, did such a vibrant society, which produced beautiful...
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Colombia: Disturbing the Peace

The nuclear deal with Iran never went before the American people for an up-or-down vote. Nor did it require two-thirds support of the Senate, since it wasn’t technically a treaty. The effort to roll back Iran’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for the elimination of some sanctions faced a much more modest hurdle. It had to attract just enough votes to sustain the president’s threatened...
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Drones and Blowback

The targeted assassination of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour last weekend wasn’t just another drone strike. First of all, it was conducted by the U.S. military, not the CIA, which has orchestrated nearly all drone strikes in Pakistan. Second, it didn’t take place in Afghanistan or in the so-called lawless tribal region of Pakistan known as the Federally Administered Tribal...
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Asia Smiles for the Cameras

It wasn’t long ago that certain pundits were predicting war in Asia. Back in the spring, the conflict over the South China Sea was heating up as China sparred with Vietnam over an oil exploration rig and with the Philippines over disputed reefs. Japan and China, meanwhile, were butting heads over a string of uninhabited rocks in the ocean between them. South Korea and Japan, both U.S. allies,...
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