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Tag Archives: foreign policy

America’s path to war with Russia

That’s the title of my feature with RealClearDefense, published this weekend. Full text follows here. The Biden administration has worked hard to keep Russia from treating America as a co-combatant in Ukraine. But that doesn’t mean NATO isn’t deeply embroiled in the fight. The level of support is extraordinary and increasing, including sanctions, intelligence sharing, weapons transfers, and money. Add to that the ever-heightening political rhetoric: “The United States is in this to win...

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Will China invade Taiwan, and what (if anything) can the United States do about it?

Last week I wrote a long thread about whether and why China would invade Taiwan: Will China invade Taiwan? Did Biden’s remarks today make war more or less likely? I’ve been reading up on this a lot lately. Here’s a summary of the best things I read, and what could lead to a war. Mostly I’m reassured. But not entirely. A 🧵, obviously. pic.twitter.com/ooLwXItxgB — Chris Blattman (@cblatts) May 23, 2022 I’ll write up what the analysts and the theory say as a longer post this summer....

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What are the prospects for a long war of attrition in Ukraine?

How long will the Russian war in Ukraine continue? The Russian aggression has no end in sight and so Ukraine should prepare for a war of attrition. In other words, it will be not only a fight of armed forces but also an economic competition. Who can procure more weapons? Who can muster more materiel? Who has larger reserves? That is UC Berkeley economist (and Ukrainian) Yuriy Gorodnichenko in Vox Ukraine. He writes about lessons from war mobilization of the US and European economies. But the...

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Every war has both psychological and strategic roots, and we don’t need to choose just one explanation

That is my op-ed in today’s WSJ. You don’t get to pick your headlines, and I am guessing “The Strategic Logic of Russia’s War on Ukraine” will get misinterpreted somewhat.My view: this is a war driven by Mr. Putin’s psychology, but like all psychological roots of war, they are only decisive when the strategic bargaining space is so narrow. Some will see this as a rationalist take on war, but this is only partly true (and it’s a term I loathe). That’s because it’s not an either/or—strategic...

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The German romance with Russia was wider than Gerhard Schröder

This New York Times article on Gerhard Schröder’s entanglements with Russia and Putin is justifiably gaining attention. It’s a good piece. I still remember Tyler Cowen’s post on this from 5 years ago, which shocked me as something deeply important in foreign affairs of which (to that point) I was wholly unaware.Here is Tyler’s original post in full, titled A bit of context on Trump, NATO, and Germany:I strongly favor NATO and I don’t think you can trust the Russians with just about anything,...

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Why are so many African and Asian nations ambivalent about Russia’s invasion? International identity politics

Americans agree on few issues, but one thing they have come together on is condemnation of Russian aggression. Western Europeans too. But not so the rest of the world. To explain India’s muted diplomatic reaction, Western papers emphasize the fact that India gets most of its arms from Russia, but here is an interesting NPR panel broadening the view: FRAYER: And the news commentary here about sanctions and diplomacy is also often sympathetic to Russia. Listen to how one of India’s most...

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The new Kashmir: How I think the Russia-Ukraine conflict could play out

After reading many things, talking to colleagues knowledgable about Russia, thinking about parallels to other conflicts, and idly speculating about a place that five months ago I struggled to find on an unlabelled map, here are some thoughts. One plausible scenario is that we are looking at the next Kashmir—something that will soon evolve into a tense but durable “peace” without any real settlement, but at least one where few people are dying. For the next while there will be more fighting...

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The new Kashmir: How I think the Russia-Ukraine conflict could play out

After reading many things, talking to colleagues knowledgable about Russia, thinking about parallels to other conflicts, and idly speculating about a place that five months ago I struggled to find on an unlabelled map, here are some thoughts. One plausible scenario is that we are looking at the next Kashmir—something that will soon evolve into a tense but durable “peace” without any real settlement, but at least one where few people are dying. For the next while there will be more fighting...

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Up with international relations theory, down with the -isms, and down with the certainty

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has rekindled another, potentially more bitter conflict: the long-running war between international relations school of thought. You may have read the Mearshimer interview in the New Yorker that roiled so many, defending his version of realism. Maybe you read Stathis Kalyvas’ defense of constructivism. Or one of a thousand tweets, raging against or loving an IR take. If you’re like most people, however, you’re just confused. If so, forgive yourself. I spent years...

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The danger of demonization

Some lessons from the last war seem relevant for the current one. What I’ve been reading: …The Taliban in 2002 were broken. After fleeing Kandahar, Mullah Omar hid out in northern Helmand, Uruzgan, and Zabul. A new direction for the movement had yet to coalesce. Various commanders were preparing to continue the war, a few in al-Qa‘eda and militant camps in Pakistan. Others were resting in Pakistan or attempting to retire to community life inside Afghanistan. A number wanted to cooperate with...

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