According to the rules of an old Washington parlor game, there is only one thing to do upon the release of a memoir by a former high-profile official: search the text for the most salacious, damning, or quotable put-downs of other officials and shout them over Twitter at your political opponents. Thus, if you have heard anything about former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's new memoir, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, you know that he has some sharp criticisms of Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for being partisan and shortsighted. He is especially contemptuous of Congress. In private, he writes, members of Congress were "sometimes insightful and intelligent," but TV cameras "had the effect of a full moon on a werewolf." Some members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee "were rude, nasty, and stupid."
The news today is that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has postponed his trip to the Dominican Republic this week to return to Washington from Chile for meetings with the Ukrainian prime minister on Wednesday, March 12. That is unfortunate, because senior official attention is needed on the growing political problems there.
The Russian military intervention caught many foreign policy analysts by surprise. Articles explaining why Russia wouldn't intervene ran in Foreign Affairs, Time, and the New York Times even the intelligence community was caught off guard according to the Daily Beast (hat tip to Ben Domenech for his post on this in The Federalist). Events have proven them wrong.
The conflict in Ukraine is not simply a regional crisis. Asian nations are watching to see whether a revanchist great power can launch a military attack against a pro-Western neighbor with impunity. There are nine lessons Asians will be looking to learn from the biggest security crisis in Europe since the end of the Cold War.
Tumult in Ukraine and Venezuela in recent weeks has overshadowed a consequential regional election taking place this Sunday, March 9. Voters in El Salvador will go to the polls in a second round to choose from between two starkly different candidates. The result could shape Central American politics for the next several years -- and not necessarily for the better.