Who Are The Blob?

Ending the war in Afghanistan brought out opposition that has been labeled “the Blob.” But who are the Blob?

The commonality among those being labeled the Blob seems to be that they want the war to continue. Many of them deny that but present arguments that a “small” military presence might be maintained. Most argue that the withdrawal was badly done but fail to offer how it might have been done better.

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Biden’s Foreign Policy

[The Biden adminstration’s foreign policy is surprising in many ways. I’ve been thinking it out. The posts summarized here set up a background for development of that foreign policy. In later posts, I’ll look at specifics relating to various countries.]

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Asia and Europe the past two weeks, rebuilding relationships with allies. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin accompanied him to Asia. He and Jake Sullivan also met with their Chinese counterparts in Asia last week, with rhetorical fireworks.

The administration faces five big foreign policy challenges:

  • The relationship with China
  • The relationship with Russia
  • Dealing with Trump’s promise of withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1
  • Rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear agreement with Iran
  • North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs
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The Biden Doctrine

The first week of March, the Biden administration rolled out a speech by Antony Blinken and an interim national security strategy. Those documents overlap significantly with each other and with a report led by Jake Sullivan, now Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor, when he was at the Carnegie Endowment last year.

Any number of authors have shared the 35 things they want Biden to do in his first week and specific solutions to numerous foreign and domestic policy problems, including would-be George Kennans penning their own long telegrams. None seem to have read the administration’s documents. The Carnegie report has been available since last September.

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The Biden Interim National Security Strategy

Remarkably early, the Biden administration has issued an Interim National Security Strategic Guidance. A full national security strategy document usually takes at least a year or two. The document overlaps significantly with Antony Blinken’s speech of March 3 and a report drawn up earlier by Jake Sullivan and his colleagues at the Carnegie Endowment. But after Donald Trump’s policy carnage, it’s necessary to tell government employees, the public, and other nations how the administration proposes to address national security.

The standard national security strategy focuses on how an administration sees military threats and intends to respond to them. Military equipment will be mentioned. Diplomacy and threats like climate change and pandemics each get a token paragraph or two.

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A Foreign Policy For The American People

Joe Biden’s foreign policy is evolving before our eyes. It’s refreshing to see a policy and an administration that has confidence enough to show us how they’re thinking.

While he was at the Carnegie Endowment, Jake Sullivan, now Biden’s National Security Advisor, led a study called “Making U.S. Foreign Policy Work Better for the Middle Class.” I summarized that report here. It was published in September 2020, before the election, but Sullivan would have discussed it with Biden.

Wednesday this week (March 3), Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave a speech “A Foreign Policy for the American People.” Comparing the report and this speech give insights into the administration’s policy development.

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Foreign Policy For The Middle Class

President Joe Biden has said it. Antony Blinken has said it. Jake Sullivan has said it. “Foreign policy for the middle class.” I think I’ve heard Kamala Harris say it too. It comes from a report that Sullivan and others wrote while he was at the Carnegie Endowment.

Yesterday (March 3) Secretary Blinken gave a speech, “A Foreign Policy for the American People.” It looks like that speech is an upgraded version of the report. What I take from the report and the speech is that the Biden administration is bringing a new approach to foreign policy, and, more importantly, that they can change. I’ll work through the speech in a later post, but here’s the report.

 “Foreign policy for the middle class” combines two concepts not usually combined, but the two interact in many ways. The report highlights these interactions and attempts to provide ways to make those interactions more favorable. International trade is an obvious point of contact, but others are addressed in the report as well.

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The Blob’s Time In The Barrel

Ilhan Omar (D – MN) had words for Elliott Abrams in his confirmation hearing yesterday.

She is herself a refugee from wars like those in Central America during the 1980s. Abrams was one of the people responsible for supporting the people who made those wars. The instability that drives people from their homes to the United States today can be traced back to those wars. Now Donald Trump wants Abrams to help with Venezuela. Omar’s questions and comments are appropriate as Trump threatens military intervention in Venezuela. Read More

The Donald Trump Worldwide Threat Assessment

This morning’s Presidential tweet storm confirmed a trend I’ve discerned recently.

I’ve had a running (good-natured) argument with other nuke nerds on Twitter about the President’s delusions with regard to North Korea. His tweets and much of the administration action and speech, particularly Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s, seem to revolve around an assumption that Kim Jong Un is ready to give up his nuclear weapons.

However, every official statement from North Korea says otherwise. Kim sees those nuclear weapons as the foundation of his country’s security from meddling by outside powers. North Korea has long used the word “denuclearization” to indicate a state in which they no longer fear attack and thus can give up their nuclear arsenal.

This disjunction is dangerous. It appears that Kim is playing Donald Trump, and Trump is responding. It may mean that Trump will give up alliances with South Korea and Japan for meaningless actions from North Korea. It may mean that at some point he will recognize the disjunction and feel that he has been betrayed by Kim and will allow John Bolton his desire for a war. Read More

Nobody Expected Such A Great Negotiation

There’s been a certain je ne sais quoi quality to the White House’s discussion of the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. Today we learned what it is.

President Donald Trump told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their Singapore summit in June that he’d sign a declaration to end the Korean War soon after their meeting, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations.

This was number one on Kim’s wish list. And Trump gave it to him, free for nothing. Read More