Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his long-anticipated speech before congress on Iran. If you’re interested, here’s the transcript. Netanyahu argues that the deal the Obama administration is trying to work out with Iran would endanger the security of Israel and the United States. His argument is remarkably weak. Here’s why.
During the past week, I went on a bit of a roadtrip (it’s the reason for the gap in posting). While I was driving around, I listened to some talk radio, most of which was religious, conservative, or both. I found what I expected to find–there’s a lot of fear-mongering and threat inflation on talk radio. But what really stood out to me was just how inconsistent it all was. Let me explain what I mean.
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.
In the course of doing my MA at the University of Chicago, I’ve had the opportunity to take a class from John Mearsheimer. Mearsheimer is one of the most widely renowned structural realists in the international relations game today. He disagrees with much of US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War, lamenting the US’s decision to expend its energies maintaining large military presences in regions of the world that contain no threats to the United States. Mearsheimer calls for a strategy of offshore balancing, in which the United States only intervenes in critical regions in order to prevent those regions from being dominated completely by another state. Otherwise, he recommends the US save its strength. I found myself curious today about what many of the world’s region’s power relationships might look like if the United States were to withdraw militarily and allow the powers in those regions to engage in security competition with one another, and I have taken some time to run the figures and make a vast plethora of charts to share with you.
Last week, the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea released a harrowing report that claims that North Korea is a historically bad place in which to live. North Korea’s badness is “unparalleled in the contemporary world”, and the chairman of the UN committee, Michael Kirby, even went so far as to bring the Nazis into it:
At the end of the Second World War so many people said, ‘If only we had known, if only we had known the wrongs that were done in the countries of the hostile forces’…there will be no excusing the failure of action because we didn’t know–we do know.
The implication of his claim is that the world’s people are all complicit participants in the awful things that happen in North Korea because we allow those things to happen and do not take sufficient action to stop them. This claim, which I call the “Never Again” claim, is widely made whenever any great man-made violent tragedy occurs in the world. I’d like to challenge it.