President Putin’s op-ed in the NYT today is fantastic. It’s a virtual end-zone twerk, as this botoxed former KGB hack brags about restoring a more peaceful world order, basks in the relatively new concept of Russia’s global stature, asserts obvious untruths – such as the idea that the rebels were behind the chemical attack of August 21 or that they are now targeting Israel – and generally preens.
Diplomacy is dead, at least according to New York Times columnist Roger Cohen writing earlier this year. His claim certainly sparked a great deal of discussion. But as someone who studies and teaches about foreign policy leaders, I would argue that the question is not so much whether diplomacy is dead, but how effectively diplomats – with their tradition of solving problems peacefully, creatively and innovatively – can collaborate with a growing number of governmental and non-governmental actors in an increasingly complex world.
In April, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, at the age of 75, abdicated, followed this week by the 79-year-old King Albert II of Belgium, who declared he was too old. At 87, Queen Elizabeth II shows no sign of stepping down, and polls show the British people aren’t asking her to.
On Sunday the New York Times ran a front-page article previewing what appears to be the emerging consensus in GOP circles on how to stop Hillary Clinton from winning the White House in 2016: by portraying her as too old for the job…This is a terrible political strategy, argues Joshua Green.
Recent political debate in the United States and other advanced capitalist democracies has been dominated by two issues: the rise of economic inequality and the scale of government intervention to address it. As the 2012 U.S. presidential election and the battles over the “fiscal cliff” have demonstrated, the central focus of the left today is on increasing government taxing and spending, primarily to reverse the growing stratification of society, whereas the central focus of the right is on decreasing taxing and spending, primarily to ensure economic dynamism. Each side minimizes the concerns of the other, and each seems to believe that its desired policies are sufficient to ensure prosperity and social stability. Both are wrong.
As luck would have it, I was in Beijing when word came of China’s apparent hacking of the New York Times. The newspaper says it became the target of sustained cyber-attack immediately after it had revealed the vast fortune – estimated as “at least $2.7bn” – amassed by the family of China’s outgoing premier, Wen Jiabao. Among the dead giveaways: hostile activity on the NYT‘s system dropped off during Chinese public holidays. It seems even state-sponsored hackers need a day off.
We don’t know for sure whether or not the Chinese government was behind the four-month-long campaign of China-based cyber attacks on the New York Times. For what it’s worth, a specialist in Chinese hacking at the Council on Foreign Relations named Adam Segal explains here why analysts tend to suspect Beijing’s hand in the sophisticated and “depressingly ordinary” Chinese hacks on Western targets from newspapers to defense contractors. There are the breadcrumb trails back to facilities associated with the Chinese military, for example, and the hackers’ deep interest in topics that would only seem important to senior Communist Party officials, such as the reputations of the Dalai Lama and of party officials themselves.
This past fall was not kind to U.S. President Barack Obama‘s foreign policy. It became increasingly clear that Afghan security forces were not going to be ready for the 2014 transition. The New York Times highlighted the administration’s failure to persuade the Iraqi government to allow a residual U.S. force to stay in the country, leaving Baghdad ever more at the mercy of Tehran. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fought publicly over how to respond to Iran’s advancing nuclear program. The administration’s much-touted “pivot” to the Pacific seemed like more talk than action, as the United States passively watched tensions rise between China and Japan. And then, the administration tripped over itself repeatedly in trying to explain the fiasco in Benghazi, Libya.
Yet despite all this, Obama not only won the election in November but was more trusted by the public than Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, on foreign policy and national security issues.