In his speech, the president argued that such cuts would be consistent with the goal of maintaining “a strong and credible strategic deterrent,” but this argument rests on a contested theory about how nuclear deterrence works. The Obama administration, and many scholars and experts, believe that a secure, second-strike capability is sufficient for deterrence and that anything more is “overkill.” Therefore, they believe that nuclear warheads in excess of a “minimum deterrent” threshold can be cut with very little loss to our national security.Sponsored Ads
However, there are those who argue that maintaining a nuclear advantage over one’s opponents enhances deterrence. As Paul Nitze argued during the Cold War, it is of “the utmost importance that the West maintain a sufficient margin of superior capability…. The greater the margin (and the more clearly the Communists understand that we have a margin), the less likely it is that nuclear war will ever occur.”
FP: How worried are you that China and Japan would, or will, go to war?
SM: I don’t think China will declare war and attack the Senkakus with a Chinese military landing force. However, they intend to demonstrate their sovereignty over the islands. A Chinese official ship may capture our fishing boats, within the territorial waters of Senkakus.Or maybe they will send official ships and fishing boats within the territorial waters, and some small unit would land on the Senkakus and stake the Chinese flag — the same behavior they do in the South China Sea.
Our basic position is not to provoke China, and to be very calm, and very patient, in order to protect our territory. I think this kind of official behavior will continue a long time. But there is nothing we can do.
Although Xi’s dream has echoes of the American Dream, these two visions are very different and ultimately incompatible if China desires to become a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system. Which dream succeeds in the coming decades will have profound implications, not just for the United States and China, but for the world. That’s because for almost seven decades, the United States has served as the primary guarantor of peace and stability in the world. It has built alliances, helped establish international institutions, protected the international sea lanes on which commerce flows and helped spread freedom and prosperity. In times of crisis, America has provided leadership and, when necessary, the lives of its citizens to advance its ideals and defend its security.
The vast gap between the two countries’ political systems makes trust impossible. The Chinese Communist Party does not hide its hostility to and fear of the political values — freedom, human rights, political competition, and constitutional rule — that underpin American democracy. In the eyes of the Chinese ruling elites, the United States presents a political threat, even though they understand that a full-fledged military conflict between two nuclear-armed great powers is extremely unlikely. Chinese leaders feel so endangered by U.S. soft power that they are now even orchestrating a propaganda campaign against constitutionalism.
This threat perception has created its own reality. China’s ruling elites know very well that China’s economic rise would not have happened as fast or as successfully without U.S. help, which included bestowing Most-Favored Nation trading status on China, supporting its 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization, and awarding scholarships for hundreds and thousands of Chinese students, among other factors. Still, such awareness does not prevent them from insisting, almost daily, that “hostile Western forces” seek China’s destruction.
Each of these United States military interventions occurred in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire. In each, a secular regime was ultimately replaced by an Islamist one favoring sharia law and the creation of a world-wide Caliphate. The countries that experienced the “Arab Spring” of the 2010s without the help of American military intervention, Tunisia and Egypt, had also been part of the Ottoman Empire, and also ended up with Islamist regimes.
[President of Turkey] Erdogan’s recent  electoral victory speech puts his true intentions regarding Turkey’s foreign policy goals in perspective. He said that this victory is as important in Ankara as it is in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo, under Ottoman times, an important Ottoman city; that his party’s victory was as important in a large Turkish city Izmir, on the Western Anatolian coast, as it is in Damascus, and as important in Istanbul as it is in Jerusalem….
In saying that this victory is as important in all of these former Ottoman cities, Erdogan apparently sees himself as trying to reclaim Turkey’s full Ottoman past.
Why the government of the United States would actively promote German aims — the destruction of Yugoslavia (both World Wars I and II saw Germany invade Serbia) and the re-creation of the Ottoman Empire — is a question that needs to be answered.
Are we on the brink of a new Cold War? The question isn’t as outlandish as it seemed only a few years ago. The United States is still the sole reigning superpower, but it is being challenged by the rising power of China, just as ancient Rome was challenged by Carthage, and Britain was challenged by Germany in the years before World War I. Should we therefore think of the United States and China as we once did about the United States and the Soviet Union, two gladiators doomed to an increasingly globalized combat until one side fades?
In other words, New START provided Moscow an incentive to go up, not down, in strategic nuclear arms. As for the United States, New START will reduce the number of deployed delivery vehicles by about one-fourth. Given these facts, it is perhaps understandable why the new secretary of state chose to say nothing about nuclear reductions, which was, after all, the treaty’s ostensible objective. The one-sided nature of the actual reductions certainly looks more like unilateral disarmament than mutual, bilateral reductions.
Can Israel get away with its attacks on the Syrian regime?
Israel’s recent attacks against Syria are the latest, dramatic development in a conflict that is already spiraling out of control. In the past few days, Israeli aircraft reportedly targeted Iranian surface-to-surface missiles headed for Hezbollah, as well as Syrian missiles in a military base in the outskirts of Damascus. Israel’s strikes show, once again, its intelligence services’ ability to penetrate the Iran’s arms shipment route to Lebanon and its military’s skill in striking adversaries with seeming impunity. But Israel is also risking retaliation and further destabilization of its own neighborhood — in ways that may come back to haunt it.
But Lavrov, a diplomat since the Brezhnev era who has spent a lifetime haggling, blustering, scheming, and speechifying on behalf of the battered Russian state (“his religion,” one top U.S. official told me), chose to go in a different direction, right back in history to Alexander Gorchakov. He cited the princely foreign minister as an example of the blunt style in Russian politics, as a reason for why Russia has absolutely no intention of following America’s lead in the Arab world — or, by extension, anywhere else. Gorchakov, Lavrov proudly noted, had managed “the restoration of the Russian influence in Europe after the defeat in the Crimean War, and he did it … without moving a gun. He did it exclusively through diplomacy.”
When Lavrov did get around to the question at hand, of foreign policy in Putin’s Russia, he offered a sharp lecture on how the Kremlin’s boss had managed to make Russia great again after the indignities of the 1990s — and, more to the point, how a great Russia can once again afford to have an “assertive” foreign policy:
On this night, he was in a hurry. He exited his apartment building and walked quickly to his SUV, crossing behind the tailgate to the driver’s side door. He never made it. Instead, a remotely detonated explosive, containing hundreds of deadly, cube-shaped metal shards, ripped his body to shreds, lifting it into the air and depositing his burning torso 15 feet away on the apartment building’s lawn.
Just like that, the most dangerous man you never heard of was dead, his whole career proof that one person really can reshape politics in the Middle East — and far beyond it. “Both bin Laden and Mughniyeh were pathological killers,” 30-year veteran CIA officer Milton Bearden told me. “But there was always a nagging amateurishness about bin Laden — his wildly hyped background, his bogus claims.… Bin Laden cowered and hid. Mughniyeh spent his life giving us the finger.”