Stephen M. Walt

The Perils of an Itchy Twitter Finger

Trying to cram a nuanced view on the tragedy in Ukraine into 140 characters was a mistake. Taking a closer look at the West's role is not.

I had a valuable learning experience last week, prompted by a hasty tweet I sent out on the subject of Ukraine.

When I heard the news about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, my first thought was that this was another case where our failure to understand the risks of the situation and to move swiftly to resolve a simmering crisis had contributed to a tragic outcome. The people who shot down the plane were responsible for what happened, of course, but the tragedy might never have occurred had the EU and the United States been less eager to pull Ukraine into the Western orbit and less reluctant to cut a deal with Moscow that would have guaranteed Ukrainian neutrality. So I took to my Twitter feed and tried to make this point, writing, "Airliner tragedy in #Ukraine shows US & EU erred by not pushing to keep Ukr. as neutral buffer state, not potential EU/NATO member."

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Let Tehran's Atomic Clock Keep Ticking

The only way to reach a nuclear deal with Iran is to accept that Iran will be able to go nuclear.

Will the United States and Iran succeed in reaching an agreement on Iran's nuclear program, and will U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani be able to overcome the hard-liners who remain at best wary of a deal and at worst fervently opposed? Secretary of State John Kerry struck a somewhat upbeat tone at a recent press conference, but he is often more optimistic than circumstances warrant.

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There's No Partnership in Pivot

If the United States is going to shift focus to Asia it’s going to have to do it without Europe.

If you've been obsessing over recent events in Iraq and Syria, or perhaps the World Cup, you probably haven't spent much time thinking about the evolving situation in Asia. But if you stand back and take the long view of global developments, the shift in economic and military power toward Asia will be far more significant than the events that have been dominating the headlines of late. For realists, the distribution of material power has always been a central driving force in world politics, and that is why smart geopoliticians will not lose sight of Asia for long.

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Democracy, Freedom, and Apple Pie Aren't a Foreign Policy

We like to think our way of life is the best in the world. But trying to spread American values always backfires.

What has gone wrong? Iraq has come unglued. ISIS just announced the founding of a new caliphate. The Afghan presidential election is contested and getting ugly. The nuclear talks with Iran are going slowly, even as opponents devise new ploys to derail them completely. Ukraine is a mess with a tentative cease-fire being blown apart. China continues to throw sharp elbows. Japan is getting martial again. And Britain is getting closer to leaving the European Union. I could go on, but you may not have enough antidepressants handy.

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Being a Neocon Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

These guys were wrong about every aspect of Iraq. Why do we still have to listen to them?

From 2001 until sometime around 2006, the United States followed the core neoconservative foreign-policy program. The disastrous results of this vast social science experiment could not be clearer. The neoconservative program cost the United States several trillion dollars and thousands dead and wounded American soldiers, and it sowed carnage and chaos in Iraq and elsewhere. 

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