Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Balance of Power

Relax: Turkey and Russia Will Not Go to War

Turkey has shot down a Russian jet that strayed into its airspace. The Turks claim they issued 10 warnings, while the Russians claim they never heard one of them. Over the last few days, many people have speculated on social media that this may lead to World War III. This needlessly stirs up fear–Russia and Turkey will not go to war over something like this. Instead both countries will say bellicose things to stir up support at home while trying to deescalate the situation with relatively muted, token responses. Those claiming otherwise are drastically overestimating Russia’s power and consequently its aggressiveness.

Read the rest of this entry »

No, We Should Not Arm Ukraine

In a recent report titled Preserving Ukraine’s Independence, Resisting Russian Aggression: What the United States and NATO Must Do, the Brookings Institution in conjunction with the Atlantic Council and the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs advise NATO to drastically increase its arms commitment to Ukraine. The report has fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the conflict in Ukraine and has consequently given governments advice that is both irrelevant and terrible. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »

Saudi Arabia under King Abdullah

King Abdullah’s reign in Saudi Arabia has come to an end with his death at age 90. Abdullah became king in 2005, but his rule truly began in 1996, when, as crown prince, he became King Fahd’s regent. Effectively, he was in power for nearly 20 years. It can often be difficult to judge the legacies of democratically elected leaders. Their short terms in office make it difficult to distinguish the effects of their administrations from those who precede and follow them. By contrast, autocratic rulers not only typically rule for far longer, but they also have much greater personal influence over the policies that emerge during their reigns. For these reasons, when a long-serving autocrat passes the torch, it is an interesting and useful exercise to have a look at how much better or worse off their country is now than it was when they rose to power. In March 2013, I ran a similar piece about Hugo Chavez’ 14-year reign. So let’s look at Abdullah’s legacy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hillary Clinton should not be President

Hillary Clinton is currently way out in front of the early polls for the democratic presidential nomination 2016. In January, a full 73% of registered democrats picked Clinton over Joe Biden (12%) and Elizabeth Warren (8%). I think this is deeply unwise, because Hillary Clinton has a remarkably narrow and unsophisticated view of US foreign policy. I say this even though I defended Clinton and her department on the Benghazi affair. Let me show you what I mean.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Crisis in Ukraine is America’s Fault

I am an American and I love America, but we got this one wrong and we need to collectively own up to our screw up. American foreign policy decisions have been direct causes of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. The narrative in the popular American press, that Putin is behaving aggressively or even irrationally, is incorrect. In truth, Russia is acting from motivations that are grounded in its desire to defend its legitimate security interests. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »