Off to China

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Off to China this morning. Shanghai is first part of trip. Feeling a lot like Oakley right now. — Steve Clemons

Obama’s Donilon Machine

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\ Tom Donilon was sworn in as the 23rd National Security Advisor on the 8th of October last year — and though it’s a bit late in the month to pounce on the anniversary date of his ascension, I am putting together an article looking at whether America’s foreign and national security platforms have been enhanced or undermined by President Obama and his team. But a couple of data points from Obama’s White House that jumped out at me really…

Defense Cuts: Rebalancing Away from Middle East to Asia

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The congressional “Super Committee” by most accounts is working feverishly to get some sort of deal that would avoid triggering an automatic $1.2 trillion set of cuts across government accounts.  The committee’s work has been done mostly in secret — though some are reporting that the Republicans on the committee have dug in their heels against any form of tax increases. But what has reached me through a senior national security official is that the level of likely defense cuts…

Maureen Orth and the Peace Corps

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A close friend with whom I worked in Senator Jeff Bingaman‘s office in the 1990s, Wayne Propst, was forged into who he is today in part because of his experiences teaching people how to create fish ponds in Ghana.  And although he’s kind of tight on the number of words he uses in any given sentence, he’s a very cool policy guy.  Another of my friends was a volunteer in Zambia — and there have been tens of thousands of…

Putting a Name on the Face? The Gaddafi Spelling Challenge

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Think tanks in Washington scramble and compete with each other to influence the policy debate on a variety of fronts — but what is desperately needed is for one of them to put forward a white paper on how to spell Moammer Gaddafi’s name.  This is not a trivial matter. President Obama’s national security and foreign policy legacy will be inextricably tied to the action against Libya’s late long-serving dictator, and the history books and blogs need a better guide…

Musharraf the Candidate

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Pervez Musharraf, the former Army general turned (former) President of Pakistan, is a different man than the Musharraf who has now declared that he will again contest for his nation’s presidency.  The earlier version of Musharraf would bristle at questions about his respect for democracy, about the relationship of the Taliban to the security organs of the government, and, well, just about anything.  Musharraf, before, was self-confident, a talker more than a listener, and personally intimidating. The man who spoke…

America Compared

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The World Economic Forum‘s Global Competitiveness Index offers comparative rankings for 139 countries.  Here is the pdf of the United States report. Here’s how the United States ranked on the various criteria in the 2010-2011 Global Competitiveness Report.  The picture is not good.  One of the few categories in which the US leads the world is “University-industry collaboration in R&D” — and many engineering and science department chiefs, most recently at UC San Diego, tell me that America can’t afford…

Huntsman on Afghanistan

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Reuters This morning, Washington Post editors challenge Mitt Romney‘s foreign policy views in this morning’s lead editorial and also give Jon Huntsman a working over.  The editors applaud Romney’s call for American leadership but call his approach to US foreign policy challenges unimaginative and devoid of key details — particularly how he would wrangle the hundreds of billion dollars of new military spending he called for in his recent Citadel address. But then the Washington Post challenges Jon Huntsman by…

U.S. Accuses Iran of Plotting to Assassinate Saudi Ambassador in D.C.

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News is breaking now that U.S. investigators have arrested suspected senior officials of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard/Quds force for an alleged plot to orchestrate the assassination of Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir. As I write this, Attorney General Eric Holder is speaking to the press — and I am watching events from Abu Dhabi where I am attending the Global Council on Geopolitical Risk session of the World Economic Forum. Thus, my information is limited to that which…