Stephen M. Walt

The Top 5 Foreign Policy Lessons of the Past 20 Years

From Russia to China to the United States, from hubris to ultimatums to power plays, the good, the bad, and the ugly of (recent) world politics. 

Tell me, friend: Do you find the current world situation confusing? Are you having trouble sorting through the bewildering array of alarums, provocations, reassurances, and trite nostrums offered up by pundits and politicos? Can't tell if the glass is half-full and rising or half-empty, cracked, and leaking water fast? Not sure if you should go long on precious metals and stock up on fresh water, ammo, and canned goods, or go big into equities and assume that everything will work out in the long run?

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The Big Counterterrorism Counterfactual

Is the NSA actually making us worse at fighting terrorism? 

The head of the British electronic spy agency GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, created a minor flap last week in an article he wrote for the Financial Times. In effect, Hannigan argued that more robust encryption procedures by private Internet companies were unwittingly aiding terrorists such as the Islamic State (IS) or al Qaeda, by making it harder for organizations like the NSA and GCHQ to monitor online traffic. The implication was clear: The more that our personal privacy is respected and protected, the greater the danger we will face from evildoers.

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Netanyahu's Not Chickenshit, the White House Is

The administration is a coward for not saying what it really thinks about the special relationship with Israel.

I've been reluctant to say much about this week's tempest in a teapot -- i.e., the U.S.-Israeli flap over "chickenshit-gate" -- because the flap itself is of little strategic importance.

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Keep Calm and Carry On, Stephen Harper

Doubling down on counterterrorism at home and abroad won’t make Canada a safer place.

The attack on the Canadian Parliament building on Wednesday raises familiar questions about how democratic leaders should respond to such events. The death of a Canadian soldier demands a respectful mourning, but the broader issue is how this event should be understood and how Canada's government and society should react. Will the attack be met with calm resolution -- as one might expect after a damaging flood, a destructive tornado, or a tragic fire -- or will the fact that the attack is an act of "terror" reinforce the paranoia and "clash of civilizations" worldview that has warped the West's response ever since 9/11?

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Uncle Sucker to the Rescue

Washington is making all its favorite mistakes in (another) Iraq war.

In case you hadn't noticed, the new U.S. war in Iraq is not going well. The alliance we've been trying to assemble to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State (IS) is looking like a lot of other recent U.S.-led coalitions: Uncle Sucker takes the lead and does most of the work while our allies free-ride, engage in mostly symbolic military actions, or actively undermine the common effort. No wonder U.S. President Barack Obama was reluctant to get into this war, and why he keeps warning that it will take longer than the rest of his presidency.

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