One draws from The Americans the realization that the KGB, with its division of "wet operations" (assassinations) is far more lethal than most Americans ever dreamed of. Clandestine activity is not just a way of life, it is a way of Russian life.
Rather than simply managing crises over the short-term, the United States needs to be more organized and realistic when its deals with the Kremlin.
Obama has understood from the beginning that, in certain global situations, American power is severely limited. Despite the overwhelming US military arsenal, we cannot police the world as we wish -- unless we want to risk miring ourselves in new Iraqs and Afghanistans. Our best use of our power is to use our diplomatic skills to resolve disputes without resort to armed action. Obama is now trying to do this in Syria, Iran, North Korea, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in Ukraine. Obama's pragmatism may sometimes seem too cautious or too "small ball" -- but, so far, over six years he has kept the peace, brought our troops back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and saved our country from wars in Syria, Iran and Ukraine. Not a terrible record after all.
While Bashar al-Assad's military continues to consolidate its position in strategically important areas of central Syria, the Syrian Opposition Coalition is trying to counteract the regime's advances with a campaign of its own -- in Washington.
Let me be clear; Americans are not interested in another military intervention, and Barack Obama is probably the soberest guy in Washington today. But is his sobriety a sign of carefulness or utter indifference to the soaring Syrian tragedy?
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is a byproduct of the choice that America made in the late 1980s, when it could have helped the Soviet Union navigate into the European mainstream, but instead tried to emasculate the Great Power to its bone.
On this week's episode of Conversations with Nicholas Kralev, we discuss the role career diplomats play in making U.S. foreign policy, and why presidents tend to distrust the Foreign Service.
Already the GOP has bet heavily that its obsession with Obamacare will bolster its political position -- a bet that increasingly looks like a loser. Now, in its never-ending attempts to mollify the tea party fringe, the GOP leadership has turned down another political blind alley.
During the Cold War and the war on terrorism, expediency too often trumped principle. That is what makes our foreign policy weak, not the failure to use military force. The best way to strengthen our foreign policy is to rebuild our nation and revitalize our economy at home and make that our beacon to the world.
All in all, I don't think Barack Obama has been a very good president. Yet despite all the recent criticism, his foreign policy may be the best since Republican and Democratic presidents in the mid- to late-1970s.
A plethora of pundits, law makers and think tanks continue to criticize the Obama Administration for presiding over what appear to be persistent failures in the foreign policy arena. Opponents are quick to attack the perceived lack of meaningful progress.
If there is one salutary benefit to Vladimir Putin's aggression it has surely been a wakeup call to remind the Europeans why they still need a military deterrent.
The pile-on by Republicans and the media on his foreign policy challenges is excessive. I mean, what would you have him do that is more sensible than what he's doing? Let's take the big issues one at a time. Russia: There is simply no good course of action against Vladimir Putin's grab of Eastern Ukraine. This is a majority-Russian region, and Putin has been both ruthless and deft at using thuggish locals as cats' paws for an eventual takeover. Obama is pursuing economic sanctions and threatening more sanctions, despite being undercut by our European allies. The U.S. is pursuing Containment II to try to isolate Russia that is not all that dependent on global trade, and the original Containment took more than four decades. Maybe there will yet be some kind of de facto compromise, in which Eastern Ukraine becomes a Russian protectorate and Western Ukraine is able to become part of Europe.
Sub-Saharan African countries have been slow to adopt modern agricultural tools like GM seeds. To date, commercial GM crops can only be planted in three countries on the continent.
When countries are in acute difficulties and turn to the United States for support, then they do not expect to be publicly rebuked for corruption. Now, Vice President Joe Biden on a visit to Ukraine has done just this and it may signify a change in U.S. foreign policy approaches to dealing with kleptocratic regimes.
In the future, to contain a rapidly rising China, the United States would need Russia again -- and Russia would need the United States. That's why Russia's behavior in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, despite its unacceptability, will probably be forgotten rather quickly in Washington.