Foreign Policy

What to do about Libya

The Romans twice ran Libya.

The first time, they brought the Libyans a “Golden Age.” As Wikipedia puts it: “As a Roman province, Libya was prosperous, and reached a golden age in the 2nd century AD, when the city of Leptis Magna rivalled Carthage and Alexandria in prominence. For more than 400 years, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were wealthy Roman provinces and part of a cosmopolitan state whose citizens shared a common language, legal system, and Roman identity. Roman ruins like those of Leptis Magna, extant in present-day Libya, attest to the vitality of the region, where populous cities and even smaller towns enjoyed the amenities of urban life — the forum, markets, public entertainments, and baths — found in every corner of the Roman Empire. Merchants and artisans from many parts of the Roman world established themselves in coastal Libya and the province was greatly 'Romanized' ... "


Remind me, please ...

... What we are doing, or accomplishing, or aiming for, in Afghanistan.

... What defines victory, or the end of our involvement, in Afghanistan.

... What is our way out (“exit strategy” is the term the pros use) when wars have only one way out — victory — which we can not define after nearly a decade there.

... What we might use the money we are spending in Afghanistan for to solve problems in the United States.


Obama’s Mideast gamble

There’s plenty of free advice for the Obama administration over its Middle East policies at the annual Herzliya conference in Israel, where policymakers and other security experts are meeting to discuss the strategic challenges of the day.

In the past dominated by Iran and its nuclear program, this year’s conference has been marked by angst about the turmoil in Egypt. The Israelis are particularly worried about the authoritarian government of President Hosni Mubarak being replaced after elections by a government where the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood could have a role.


Foreign aid on the chopping block

According to a Gallup poll released right before the president’s State of the Union address, a majority of Americans said they favor cutting U.S. foreign aid, but more than six in 10 opposed cuts to education, Social Security and Medicare.

That is not that surprising. Nobody wants his or her Social Security touched. Let’s cut spending on all those foreigners.

Another survey, released in 2010 and conducted by The project at the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, asked the question: "What percentage of the federal budget goes to foreign aid?" The median answer was roughly 25 percent, according to the poll of 848 Americans. In reality, about 1 percent of the budget is allotted to foreign aid.


Egypt: A new birth for an old idea

The crisis in the Middle East is the result of the failure of the national security establishment of both political parties since the Second World War to develop a foreign policy strategy both worthy of our nation and protective of our security.

For far too long our security establishment has accepted the Kissingerian notion of utilitarian alliances, which tolerates vile governments because their enemy is our enemy.


So how about those baby girls, President Hu?

Chinese President Hu Jintao has just left Chicago, where I live, and his presence here — where he received a more unadulterated enthusiastic welcome, led by China’s chief cheerleader Mayor Richard Daley, than he received in Washington — got me thinking about the main event: his visit to D.C.

I loved that the Obamas’ cherished daughters, Malia and Sasha, were present for some of the festivities, and that Sasha later used President Hu to test her Chinese language skills.


Hu Jintao comes to town

Some American observers are billing Hu Jintao's visit to Washington as the most important state visit in three decades — and not without good reason.

His trip comes at a time when there is a widespread belief — in both Washington and Beijing — that the U.S. is in decline. According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, 47 percent of Americans believe that China is the world's leading economic power, compared to 31 percent who believe that America is. Although America's GDP is currently over twice as large as China's, it seems likely that China's economy will become the world's largest within the next two decades, if not sooner (The Economist has even introduced an interactive graphic that allows readers "to predict when China will overtake America" by inputting different growth rates for each country going forward).


Obama must challenge China on human rights

The Chinese president, Hu Jintao, arrives in Washington today for a red-carpet welcome as his country’s Nobel Peace Prize winner languishes in jail.

It is time for President Obama to stand up to China over its shameful human-rights record. Last week the Obama administration was talking up its human-rights stance and raising expectations that the president would be more demanding. He met personally with five Chinese human-rights advocates for an hour at the White House, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a speech at the State Department that the U.S. would continue to defend Chinese bloggers, political activists and religious believers persecuted for challenging the ruling party dogma.


Bipartisanship in the 112th: It's a START

In the flurry of lame-duck victories for President Obama and the Democrats, the ratification of the START Treaty probably tells the most important story about the coming two years. The GOP opponents of approving START insisted there wasn't enough time, though the first START in 1992 and its successor in 2003 both passed in a week or less on the Senate floor. There was ample time. And with 13 Republican senators joining the Democrats to ratify the arms-control agreement — four more than the necessary nine to reach a required 67 votes — there was ample support as well.