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jerryking : grand_strategy   18

Year in a Word: Thucydides’s trap
December 18, 2018 | Financial Times | Gideon Rachman |

Thucydides’s trap

Coined by Harvard professor Graham Allison to capture the idea that the rivalry between an established power and a rising one often ends in war....The ancient Greek historian Thucydides had observed that the Peloponnesian war (431BC-404BC) was caused by “the growth of Athenian power and the fear that this caused in Sparta”....
Graham_Allison  op-ed  rivalries  Thucydides_trap  China  China_rising  conflicts  endgame  Huawei  security_&_intelligence  superpowers  rising_powers  grand_strategy  strategic_thinking  U.S.foreign_policy  U.S.-China_relations  post-Cold_War  Donald_Trump  confrontations 
december 2018 by jerryking
America, China and the art of confrontation
December 17, 2018 | Financial Times | Gideon Rachman.

Tell me how this ends? was the despairing question attributed to American generals as they contemplated the quagmires in Vietnam and Iraq. The same question needs to be asked by US policymakers now, as they consider the escalating tensions between America and China.

The world’s two most powerful countries are locked into confrontations on a range of issues, including trade, technology, espionage and control of the South China Sea. Broadly speaking, there are two ways of interpreting these clashes. The first is that Donald Trump’s administration is determined to reset the US-China relationship. The second is that the US has now embarked on an effort to block China’s rise.

The first approach focuses on objectionable Chinese behaviour; the second objects to the very idea of China as a rival superpower.

These two ways of thinking point to very different potential endings. The first approach — the reset — ultimately ends with a deal. The second approach — blocking the rise of China — points to a prolonged and deepening antagonism......but, over the long term, both Washington and Beijing must think more profoundly about “how this ends”.

The Chinese need to recognise that there has been a profound and bipartisan shift in American thinking. So trying to hoodwink Mr Trump or wait him out will ultimately not work. Instead, China has to consider much more significant changes in its policies on everything from forced technology transfer, to the South China Sea. It could be its last chance to head off a long-term confrontation with the Americans.

The US also has some thinking to do. The hawks in Washington are relishing the more overt use of US power in their confrontation with China. But they too need to think about “how this ends”.

It is not realistic to think that the US can ultimately stop China’s rise.
China  China_rising  conflicts  endgame  Huawei  rivalries  security_&_intelligence  superpowers  Thucydides_Trap  rising_powers  grand_strategy  strategic_thinking  U.S.foreign_policy  post-Cold_War  Donald_Trump  confrontations  U.S.-China_relations 
december 2018 by jerryking
China Could Sell Trump the Brooklyn Bridge - The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman NOV. 14, 2017

The saying — “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there” — and it perfectly sums up the contrast between China’s President Xi Jinping and President Trump.....All along, Xi keeps his eye on the long-term prize of making China great again. Trump, meanwhile, touts every minor victory as historic and proceeds down any road that will give him a quick sugar high.

Trump literally has no idea what he’s doing and has no integrated strategy — because, unlike Xi, Trump’s given no thought to the big questions every effective leader starts his day with: “What world am I living in? What are the biggest trends in this world? And how do I align my country so more of my citizens get the most out of these trends and cushion the worst?”

What world are we in? One in which we’re going through three “climate changes” at once.
(1) Destructive weather events and the degradation of ecosystems are steadily accelerating.
(2) globalization: from an interconnected world to an interdependent one; from a world of walls, where you build your wealth by hoarding resources, to a world of webs, where you thrive by connecting your citizens to the most flows of ideas, trade, innovation and education.
(3) technology and work: Machines are acquiring all five senses, and with big data and artificial intelligence, every company can now analyze, optimize, prophesize, customize, digitize and automatize more and more jobs, products and services. And those companies that don’t will wither.
artificial_intelligence  Tom_Friedman  China  U.S.  Donald_Trump  globalization  technology  climate_change  TPP  international_trade  questions  think_threes  wealth_creation  grand_strategy  foundational  existential  extreme_weather_events  Xi_Jinping 
november 2017 by jerryking
The Enlightenment Project
FEB. 28, 2017 | The New York Times| David Brooks.

Enlightenment thought. The Enlightenment included thinkers like John Locke and Immanuel Kant who argued that people should stop deferring blindly to authority for how to live. Instead, they should think things through from the ground up, respect facts and skeptically re-examine their own assumptions and convictions.

Enlightenment thinkers turned their skeptical ideas into skeptical institutions, notably the U.S. Constitution. America’s founders didn’t trust the people or themselves, so they built a system of rules, providing checks and balances to pit interest against interest.

....Today’s anti-Enlightenment movements don’t think truth is to be found through skeptical inquiry and debate. They think wisdom and virtue are found in the instincts of the plain people, deep in the mystical core of the nation’s or race’s group consciousness.

Today’s anti-Enlightenment movements believe less in calm persuasion and evidence-based inquiry than in purity of will. They try to win debates through blunt force and silencing unacceptable speech.

They don’t see history as a gradual march toward cooperation. They see history as cataclysmic cycles — a zero-sum endeavor marked by conflict. Nations trying to screw other nations, races inherently trying to oppress other races.

These movements are hostile to rules-based systems, multilateral organizations, the messy compromises of democratic politics and what Steve Bannon calls the “administrative state.” They prefer the direct rule by one strongman who is the embodiment of the will of the people.

When Trump calls the media the “enemy of the people” he is going after the system of conversation, debate and inquiry that is the foundation for the entire Enlightenment project....
David_Brooks  grand_strategy  history  Yale  John_Locke  Immanuel_Kant  rules-based  Abraham_Lincoln  multilateralism  De_Tocqueville  the_Enlightenment  skepticism  checks_and_balances  Stephen_Bannon  worldviews  zero-sum_games  strongman  constitutions 
march 2017 by jerryking
What Comes After Acheson’s Creation? - WSJ
By PEGGY NOONAN
Feb. 9, 2017

The U.S. military needs to know what the U.S. government seeks from it. The White House need to communicate an overarching plan because if there’s no higher plan they, in turn, can’t make plans to meet the plan.....like tornado victims, those interested in foreign policy have been [shellshocked]—staring in shock at the wreckage of the post-War II international system.

But something has to be rebuilt. Everyone now has to be an architect, or a cement-pourer, or a master craftsman carpenter.

It’s been instructive the past week to reread a small classic of statecraft, “Present at the Creation” by Dean Acheson, published in 1969. As undersecretary and then secretary of state he was involved in the creation of the postwar order.

What is inspiring about Acheson’s first-rate second-rateness is that he’s like a lot of those we have developing foreign policy right now.

Acheson, though he did not present it this way, provides useful lessons for future diplomats in future crises.

• Everyone’s in the dark looking for the switch.
• Don’t mess things up at the beginning.
• Be able to see your work soberly. Keep notes so history will know what happened.
• Cheer up. Good things can come of bad times, great things from fiercely imperfect individuals.
• Even though you’ll wind up disappointed. All diplomats in the end feel frustrated over missed opportunities and achievements that slipped away. “Alas, that is life. We cannot live our dreams.”

Still to be answered: What is America’s strategy now—our overarching vision, our big theme and intent? What are the priorities? How, now, to navigate the world?

That soldier needs an answer to his question: What do you need from us? What’s the plan?
questions  U.S.foreign_policy  post-WWII  diplomacy  Dean_Acheson  Marshall_Plan  Peggy_Noonan  priorities  change  statecraft  books  Cold_War  international_system  rebuilding  dislocations  The_Establishment  crisis  crisis_management  Communicating_&_Connecting  grand_strategy  statesmen  imperfections  U.S._military  note_taking  missed_opportunities 
february 2017 by jerryking
The Grand Strategy Obama Needs
SEPT. 10, 2014 | NYTimes.com | Vali R. Nasr.

What’s missing is a grand strategy — a road map not just for managing two crises but for ending them....But Eisenhower had a larger goal — not upsetting the delicate balance of power in the Cold War. Above all, he sought to avoid greater conflict, especially when he was trying to start arms control talks with Moscow.

In other words, he had a long-term global perspective.

By contrast, American policy today sees the world in fragments — ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Russia in Ukraine. But those crises have something important in common: Both trace to political fragmentation in weak states living within unsettled borders. That leaves those states prone to internal dissent, and America’s recent minimalist posture has given these brewing troubles room to explode into crises....American grand strategy should identify these weak countries before they turn on themselves; bolster their political mechanisms for living together in pluralism; declare our unyielding opposition to any outside forces that would seek to divide them. America’s military strength could assure the third part. The rest is work for our political and diplomatic experts.
Obama  Ukraine  strategy  geopolitics  '50s  Middle_East  Russia  strategic_thinking  nation_building  failed_states  long-term  weak_states  diplomacy  grand_strategy  roadmaps  Non-Integrating_Gap  Dwight_Eisenhower  crisis  Vali_Nasr 
september 2014 by jerryking
Henry Kissinger on the Assembly of a New World Order - WSJ
Aug. 29, 2014 | WSJ | By HENRY KISSINGER.

To play a responsible role in the evolution of a 21st-century world order, the U.S. must be prepared to answer a number of questions for itself: What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone? What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort? What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance? What should we not engage in, even if urged on by a multilateral group or an alliance? What is the nature of the values that we seek to advance? And how much does the application of these values depend on circumstance?

For the U.S., this will require thinking on two seemingly contradictory levels. The celebration of universal principles needs to be paired with recognition of the reality of other regions' histories, cultures and views of their security. Even as the lessons of challenging decades are examined, the affirmation of America's exceptional nature must be sustained. History offers no respite to countries that set aside their sense of identity in favor of a seemingly less arduous course. But nor does it assure success for the most elevated convictions in the absence of a comprehensive geopolitical strategy.
U.S.foreign_policy  Henry_Kissinger  geopolitics  dual-consciousness  crisis  Kissinger_Associates  strategic_thinking  strategy  questions  21st._century  international_system  grand_strategy  history  national_identity  unilateralism  multilateralism  arduous  APNSA 
august 2014 by jerryking
Saving the System - NYTimes.com
APRIL 28, 2014 | NYT | David Brooks.

“The ‘category error’ of our experts is to tell us that our system is doing just fine and proceeding on its eternal course toward ever-greater progress and global goodness. This is whistling past the graveyard.

“The lesson-category within grand strategic history is that when an established international system enters its phase of deterioration, many leaders nonetheless respond with insouciance, obliviousness, and self-congratulation. When the wolves of the world sense this, they, of course, will begin to make their moves to probe the ambiguities of the aging system and pick off choice pieces to devour at their leisure.

“This is what Putin is doing; this is what China has been moving toward doing in the maritime waters of Asia; this is what in the largest sense the upheavals of the Middle East are all about: i.e., who and what politico-ideological force will emerge as hegemon over the region in the new order to come. ....Today that system is under assault not by a single empire but by a hundred big and little foes. As Walter Russell Mead argues in a superb article in Foreign Affairs, geopolitics is back with a vengeance. Whether it’s Russia seizing Crimea or China asserting itself, old-fashioned power plays are back in vogue. Meanwhile, pre-modern movements and people try to eliminate ethnic and religious diversity in Egypt, Ukraine and beyond.

China, Russia and Iran have different values, but all oppose this system of liberal pluralism. The U.S. faces a death by a thousand cuts dilemma. No individual problem is worth devoting giant resources to. It’s not worth it to spend huge amounts of treasure to establish stability in Syria or defend a Western-oriented Ukraine. But, collectively, all the little problems can undermine the modern system. No individual ailment is worth the expense of treating it, but, collectively, they can kill you (JCK: Worst of all worlds).
authoritarianism  autocracies  category_errors  China  Colleges_&_Universities  Crimea  curriculum  David_Brooks  death_by_a_thousand_cuts  dilemmas  diplomacy  geopolitics  grand_strategy  insouciance  international_system  Iran  liberal_pluralism  multiple_stressors  obliviousness  power_plays  power_to_obstruct  rogue_actors  Russia  self-congratulatory  South_China_Sea  stratagems  strategic_thinking  strategy  Walter_Russell_Mead  worst_of_all_worlds  Yale 
april 2014 by jerryking
Hillary Clinton’s Diplomatic Legacy
February 11, 2013 | The New Yorker | by George Packer.

The criticism that there is no encompassing “Obama doctrine” misses the point. Geopolitics today is too complex, messy, and various to be bent to America’s will by an overarching doctrine like containment, or a massive initiative like the Marshall Plan, or a single breakthrough like Nixon’s trip to China. A doctrine was what put the country in a deep hole; climbing out required restraint, flexibility, and opportunism. A first-term Secretary of State with one grand strategic vision wouldn’t have matched the demands of the moment, which called for a fox, not a hedgehog....The standard debates in American foreign policy—realism vs. idealism, heavy footprint vs. light footprint—don’t get to the heart of the problem with Obama’s foreign policy. It’s not that diplomatic engagement is the wrong approach; it’s just that the President’s first four years have given us the idea of diplomacy more than the thing itself. In a forthcoming book, “The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat,” Vali Nasr, a former adviser under Hillary Clinton and the late Richard Holbrooke, argues that, from North Africa to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the White House has relied too much on the military and the C.I.A. (mainly in the form of drones) to guide policy: “These agencies’ solutions were not, and could never be, a substitute for the type of patient, long-range, credible diplomacy that garners the respect of our allies and their support when we need it.” In Nasr’s view, a White House that feared being called soft and wanted to keep intractable foreign entanglements out of the news turned to Clinton only after things had fallen apart, as in Pakistan at the end of 2011, when she moved to repair a relationship that had degenerated into outright antagonism.

Obama and Clinton wanted to “pivot” away from the Middle East, toward the Pacific, but a bloody hand keeps reaching out to pull America back.
George_Packer  George_Marshall  U.S.foreign_policy  legacies  diplomacy  Middle_East  Mideast_Peace  Obama  Hillary_Clinton  geopolitics  Pakistan  complexity  messiness  restraint  flexibility  opportunism  U.S._State_Department  grand_strategy  Vali_Nasr  CIA  drones  Marshall_Plan  foxes  hedgehogs  long-range  books 
february 2013 by jerryking
Book Review: General Albert C. Wedemeyer - WSJ.com
September 9, 2012 | WSJ | By JONATHAN W. JORDAN.
The Man With a Plan
A warrior who helped lead the Allies to victory armed with charts, graphs and a meticulous attention to detail.

Albert Coady Wedemeyer (1897-1989) was from an upper-middle-class family in Omaha, Neb. Fascinated by European history and the grand strategy of empires as a youth, he was inexorably drawn to the life of a soldier and graduated from West Point in 1919. He foresaw another war with Germany and, in the late 1930s, attended the German army's prestigious general-staff school, the Kriegsakademie. There he learned the art of blitzkrieg alongside his future enemies. He watched Nazi brownshirts strut around Berlin, venting their hatred against Jews. He was in Vienna during the Anschluss, and he saw the Czechoslovakian crisis unfold from the German perspective.

Wedemeyer's report summarizing German tactics and organization brought him to the attention of George C. Marshall, who in 1939 became the Army's chief of staff. Marshall assigned Wedemeyer to the War Plans Division and tasked him with reducing America's mobilization requirements to a single document. In the summer of 1941, in response to a request from Roosevelt, Wedemeyer's team expanded this into a blueprint on how to defeat America's likely enemies in a future war.
1919  book_reviews  WWII  U.S._Army  logistics  generalship  warfare  war  blitzkrieg  military_academies  George_Marshall  mobilization  grand_strategy  '30s  blueprints  detail_oriented  West_Point 
september 2012 by jerryking
The New Cold War
May 14, 2008 | New York Times | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN.

The next president is going to be a cold-war president — but this cold war is with Iran...As the May 11 editorial in the Iranian daily Kayhan put it, “In the power struggle in the Middle East, there are only two sides: Iran and the U.S.”

For now, Team America is losing on just about every front. How come? The short answer is that Iran is smart and ruthless, America is dumb and weak, and the Sunni Arab world is feckless and divided...Ehud Yaari, one of Israel’s best Middle East watchers, calls “Pax Iranica.” In his April 28 column in The Jerusalem Report, Mr. Yaari pointed out the web of influence that Iran has built around the Middle East — from the sway it has over Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, to its ability to manipulate virtually all the Shiite militias in Iraq, to its building up of Hezbollah into a force — with 40,000 rockets — that can control Lebanon and threaten Israel should it think of striking Tehran, to its ability to strengthen Hamas in Gaza and block any U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“Simply put,” noted Mr. Yaari, “Tehran has created a situation in which anyone who wants to attack its atomic facilities will have to take into account that this will lead to bitter fighting” on the Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi and Persian Gulf fronts. That is a sophisticated strategy of deterrence...Alas, the right question for the next president isn’t whether we talk or don’t talk. It’s whether we have leverage or don’t have leverage.

When you have leverage, talk. When you don’t have leverage, get some — by creating economic, diplomatic or military incentives and pressures that the other side finds too tempting or frightening to ignore.
Lebanon  Iran  U.S.foreign_policy  Tom_Friedman  nuclear  Hezbollah  incentives  deterrence  Middle_East  Mideast_Peace  Cold_War  leverage  ruthlessness  influence  Palestinian  Iraq  Persian_Gulf  multiple_stressors  grand_strategy 
january 2012 by jerryking
Managing China's Rise
June 2005 | ATLANTIC MAGAZINE | By Benjamin Schwarz.
Contending effectively with China's ambitions requires a better
understanding of our own. (1) Acknowledge that the pace of China's
military modernization and the nature of its geopolitical alignments are
very much tied to the post—Cold War imbalance of power in Washington's
favor. (2) The U.S. should conduct whatever foreign policies it deems
appropriate—but it must recognize that actions it perceives as selfless,
others will most likely see in an entirely different light.
..Intervention by a dominant power accelerates the rise of other great
powers and ensures their wariness, if not their hostility, toward it.(3)
Rethink how Washington defines a "China threat."(4) examine the
strategic implications raised when regional and great powers emerge.
Far from discouraging the rise of China and other independent powers,
such as the European Union and Japan, Washington should recognize the
significant benefits that can result.
China  geopolitics  China_rising  U.S._Navy  U.S.-China_relations  PACOM  introspection  grand_strategy  strategic_thinking  U.S.foreign_policy  post-Cold_War  misinterpretations  Thucydides_Trap  selflessness  rising_powers  rivalries  confrontations  imbalances 
march 2010 by jerryking
Fear of China - WSJ.com
APRIL 21, 2006 | Wall Street Journal | by ROBERT D. KAPLAN.
"Given the stakes involved in the competition between the U.S. and China
in the new century, the only way that the business community's optimism
can be sustained is if the U.S. military thinks and plans in terms of
worst-case scenarios." "Motives -- especially in a dynamic and volatile
society such as China's -- can easily change over time, and are
dependent upon unforeseen domestic and foreign crises. Thus, when it
comes to countries that are not allies, the job of a military is to
think in terms of capabilities; not motives."... While American and
European elites think purely in terms of globalization, Chinese leaders
think also in terms of 19th-century grand strategy. "relationships are
more important than hardware." "Thinking pessimistically about China
should never be a self-fulfilling prophecy,"
Robert_Kaplan  China  ambitions  scenario-planning  worst-case  U.S._military  motivations  capabilities  strategic_thinking  PACOM  grand_strategy  thinking_tragically 
march 2010 by jerryking
Where are the Kissingers for the 21st century?
Feb. 26. 2010 | The Globe & Mail | by Jeremi Suri. At
its core, leadership is about connections and calculated risk-taking.
Mr. Kissinger excelled at both. He was a big-picture thinker who drew
actively on the work of people with diverse areas of expertise. Mr.
Kissinger might not have done the original research, but he knew how to
identify and exploit valuable new knowledge. In the decades after the
Second World War, Mr. Kissinger guided policy-makers in their responses
to the challenges of postwar reconstruction, communist containment, the
nuclear arms race, limited warfare, Third World revolutions and détente.
Henry_Kissinger  career_paths  leadership  risk-taking  the_big_picture  Communicating_&_Connecting  humanities  realpolitik  21st._century  statesmen  diplomacy  strategic_thinking  grand_strategy  APNSA 
march 2010 by jerryking
YAM March 2003 - Studies in Grand Strategy
March 2003| Yale Alumni Magazine | by Bruce Fellman

Article profiles participants in an innovative course called "Studies in Grand Strategy" learn how to see the big picture.
Yale  Colleges_&_Universities  curriculum  strategy  innovation  strategic_thinking  grand_strategy  the_big_picture  Sun_Tzu 
april 2009 by jerryking

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