US Foreign Policy Strategy: Don’t Watch the Hand



In recent days, i attended an off the record discussion with several senior Obama administration officials involved in international “stuff” — some foreign policy, some commerce, some defense and intelligence sector deal-making. One of the most interesting comments made to a question I posed probing the administration’s strategy in Asia, was “Steve, don’t watch the hand!” What this person was saying was ‘don’t get lost in everything going on at the surface’ in US-China relations or US-Japan relations, but rather…

Time Magazine on The Washington Note



Wow. Thanks to Dan Fletcher and the team at Time who picked The Washington Note as one of their favorite blogs of the year. We are really honored — and caught off guard by the salute from Time. Blogs are interesting enterprises and with TWN, I try to keep learning and thinking about political, economic and foreign policy topics that I find interesting and which we hope matter to many of you. Thanks so much to all of you for…

Is Turkey Still America’s Best Ally in the Middle East?



(Photo Credit: White House Photostream) Joshua Walker has a good piece at Foreign Policy that takes a broad view of U.S.-Turkey relations and arrives at largely positive conclusions about the long-term prospects for the alliance. Walker is part of a team of scholars at the German Marshall Fund‘s Transatlantic Academy who recently wrote “Getting To Zero: Turkey, Its Neighbors, And The West,” a comprehensive examination of Turkey’s rapidly expanding role in regional and global politics. (The title alludes to Turkey’s…

Now the US Senate Will Change



Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) has died at 92. I had the privilege of speaking with Senator Byrd on many occasions but the most memorable was after his vote against the Iraq War Resolution. He was frustrated with his colleagues and compared the moment to Roman Senators forfeiting their own responsibilities and handing too much power to Caesar. But Senator Byrd has also been the single US Senator most opposed to change in the Senate chamber — preventing modification of arcane…

What are the GOPers on Judiciary Committee Thinking?



Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I have no issues with her and think that she is a disciplined, fair-minded, creative thinker who will add a lot to the highest court in the land. That said, I just learned that the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling none other than the God-connected, crusade-obsessed saber rattler retired Lt. General William G. “Jerry” Boykin as one of four military witnesses raising questions about Kagan’s policy of making…

Scratching the Surface of Radicalism in Germany



On Monday Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, announced the launch of a new counter-terrorism initiative, a hotline for members of radical Islamists groups to call where they can get advice for leaving the group. The idea, based on long-running programs for Germans leaving neo-Nazi groups, has gotten relatively favorable coverage from wire services and news sites. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizi

LIVE STREAM TODAY — AfPak Diary: Notes From Islamabad and Kabul



The news of former ISAF commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s and his staff’s comments about senior administration officials and the President, followed by McChrystal’s sacking this morning, have sucked up much of the news about Afghanistan in the last few days. But while the war effort faces difficulty and certain questioning as Gen. David Petraeus takes over (temporarily), one success in Afghanistan is the export of soft power, in the form of radio. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, originally founded in 1949…

Starting up START Treaty Politics



When groups start buying full page ads in Politico or any of the other leading political papers like The Hill or Roll Call, it’s a sure sign that folks see a policy battle ahead. The bipartisan Partnership for a Secure America has today purchased a page in Politico calling for the Senate to ratify the newly negotiated START Treaty. (here is pdf) This begs the question of the consequences of not ratifying this treaty. I’m expecting former US Ambassador to…

Tick Tock: McChrystal to Petraeus, Rudd to Gillard



This is just a week of regime change, even if those going out and those coming in look very similar in overall perspective. General Stanley McChrystal has been replaced by counter-insurgency uber-guru General David Petraeus. Bottom line: No policy change in Afghanistan. And yesterday, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was dethroned inside his own party which then affixed its hopes to the dynamic Julia Gillard. I have to admit liking Kevin Rudd as much as Barack Obama. Many may not know…