Syria Links – April 7, 2017

Remarks by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor H. R. McMasters.

After the strikes, diplomacy is necessary – Anthony Blinken.

Striking at Assad carries opportunities and risks for Trump – David Sanger.

What effect will Trump’s airstrikes really have? – Daniel Byman.

Trump’s attack on Syria – the good, the bad, and the ugly – Ryan Evans.

The issues that make dealing with the mess in Syria so difficult – Robert Farley.

Explaining nerve agents – Dan Kaszeta. More about the institutional means necessary for them – Kelsey Atherton.

Transcript of Trump’s statement and video. I found Trump’s invocation of God, the word used three times in the speech, strange. He also asked us to pray for the souls of the dead and for God to bless the whole world. I’ve never been comfortable with presidents invoking God’s blessing on the United States, and this is more presumptuous, both to whatever God Trump believes in and to the beliefs of the rest of the world. Praying for the dead is a mostly Catholic practice, even narrower than asking for God’s blessing.

This is an oldie-but-goodie article on the idea that macho posturing in the international arena confers “credibility”, which serves to deter bad actors. It doesn’t.

Will add more articles below the jump as they appear. Read More

Links – January 13, 2017

As I’ve noted before, Donald Trump’s strategy seems to be to keep enough balls in the air that we can’t keep track of any of them. And other sources are now lobbing some balls into the mix. These links don’t include much about the Trump – intelligence community – Russia dustup now occurring. I’ll try to address that separately (or at least present what I consider the better links). Here’s an FAQ for now. Read More

Links – January 7, 2017

Donald Trump continues as a one-man DDOS attack on coherent thought. He has been tweeting at an elevated rate the past few days. I am trying to tune most of that out, but it does slow down my productivity. Since the guy is going to be President of the United States, it’s hard to ignore him. David Brooks captures the problem.

Here’s the intelligence community’s report on Russian interference in the US election.

Everyday authoritarianism is boring and tolerable. This post, from a scholar of comparative politics, is consistent with what I have been told by people who lived in the Soviet Union. It’s why we need to be extra vigilant about trends and actions by Donald Trump and his government. More from Daniel Nexon. Read More

Links – December 12, 2016

Sorry to be depressing, but we need to be aware of how we can lose our democracy, given many of the things that Donald Trump and his administration-to-be have said and done. It’s not an overnight change, but one little thing after another. The best thing is to avoid getting into those little things. More from Masha Gessen, this time on similarities between how Trump is likely to govern and what we see in Vladimir Putin. Read More

Links – December 9, 2016

Donald Trump continues to insist that hacking before the election could not have been by Russia. Germany, with an election in the near future, is seeing a similar pattern of hacking. Republicans in Congress are asking for an investigation. Republicans!

This is a good explanation of what the problem may be with Mike Flynn, Trump’s designated National Security Advisor. But the National Security Advisor is supposed to help in distinguishing bad information from good. Read More

Links – November 21, 2016

How much of a danger is a Donald Trump presidency to the United States? We simply don’t know. Trump has lied and contradicted himself. A few themes can be derived from what he has said, but he has also praised unpredictability as a virtue. The appointments he has announced so far give no confidence that the worst scenarios envisioned for his presidency won’t be realized. It is possible that his presidency will be merely chaos and division; here is what I consider a better-case scenario. But we must think about the worst-case scenarios, too, because they will be extremely damaging and very difficult to recover from. For that reason, you will see more of them here than the better cases, until I see additional reasons that up their probabilities. Read More

Links – November 2, 2016

Problems for the next president: North Korea. Assad’s phony farewell to chemical arms. Interview with Assad; hard to tell if he is self-deceived or trying to sell his line.

Attention Donald Trump: Strategic reasons for publicizing military offensives.

Estonia trains citizens for insurgency operations in case Russia decides to invade. The tactics recall those of the Forest Brothers who resisted both the Nazis and the Soviets. Photo from this article; I love seeing Estonia’s forests and countryside, hate seeing the idea of war there. Read More