External Memory: This Week’s Good Bloggy Bits

Tony Karon on Biggie Smalls, Israel, and Iran:

But when Israel bombed Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981, and when it struck what it claimed was a Syrian nuclear facility late last year, there was no coverage of the preparations for those missions in the New York Times.

Foreign Policy interviewed Condoleeza Rice.  Here she is talking about the Arab Spring:

You’re not going to treat states with which you have relationships and a chance to influence them as friends the same way you’re going to treat implacable enemies, in those circumstances. I don’t begrudge anyone having policies that are tailored to the circumstances as long as you recognize that authoritarianism is not stable and you are trying to bring about change.

Roger Cohen, in the New York Times, has a succinct defense of “Leading from Behind:”

In these circumstances it’s sensible to husband resources, use the burden-sharing of military alliances to the full, take out terrorists one by one rather than go to war against them, and act in concert with like-minded nations where possible — which is what I take “leading from behind” to mean. It’s a doctrine for a changed world. The Libyan intervention was a conspicuous example of its capacity for good.

In Foreign Affairs, Benjamin Valentino puts forth a strong argument for public health, disaster relief, and vaccination as more effective than humanitarian intervention, in terms of dollar spent per life saved:

Even using the exceedingly generous estimates above of the number of lives saved by military intervention, this means that on a per-life basis, measles vaccination would be 3,000 times as cost-effective as the military intervention in Somalia and more than 500 times as cost-effective as the intervention in Bosnia.

Abu Muqamawa has a short response to the idea, currently being touted by Peter Beinhart, that a military more free to speak politically is a good thing. Here’s Muqamawa:

If anyone noticed Sam Huntington spinning in his grave, that’s because Beinart is arguing that in a democracy, a military that actively resists the policy preferences of its elected leaders is a more responsible military than one that faithfully executes those same policy preferences.

Muqamawa’s piece ends with a pointed jab/example of Pakistan as a state whose political-military relations are full of problems.  Speaking of these problems, the United States has pledged more support to Pakistan.  The Associated Press takes care to point out that:

On Pakistan, the department said the relationship with Islamabad “is not always easy, but it is vital to our national security and regional interests.”

In fact, the relationship has been extremely strained the last few months to the point of breaking.

Lastly, Strobe Talbot has a lengthy tribute to the late Richard Holbrooke. Here’s a snippet:

He was also wary of grand strategy — any grand strategy. “Diplomacy is not like chess,” he once told Michael Ignatieff. “It’s more like jazz — a constant improvisation on a theme.” As both a student and practitioner of statecraft, he saw master plans as tending to blinker policy makers, causing them to miss or misread indications that their theory of the case is faulty or that circumstances have changed in ways that call for new assumptions, goals, and responses.


About kdatherton

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