Mr. Beinart is a journalist and commentator who writes frequently about American foreign policy.
President Biden has the chance to avert a nuclear crisis that could push the United States to the brink of war and threaten the coalition he’s built to counter Russia. But he isn’t seizing it for one overriding reason: He fears the political blowback.
Since taking office, Mr. Biden has pledged to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal that Barack Obama signed and Donald Trump junked. That’s vital, since Tehran, freed from the deal’s constraints, has been racing toward the ability to build a nuclear bomb. Now, according to numerous press reports, the United States and Iran have largely agreed on how to revive the agreement.”
David Lindsay: How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?
6. One to change the light bulb, and 5 to discuss how they miss and preferred the old light bulb better.
On that note, I miss the NYT Picks, even though I was often mift at them. I would go into them, when the crowd was off on a terribly popular tangent or two, like it is here.
Peter Beinart has written an extraordinarily strong piece, but the crowd will not have any of it.
Beinart wrote: “No president can carry out everything in his party’s platform, of course. But Mr. Biden won’t even repeal policies imposed by the president he defeated and reinstate those of the president he served. And in the case of Iran, that unwillingness is both absurd and dangerous.
It’s absurd because there was no good reason to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization in the first place. Until Mr. Trump did so in 2019, the designation had never been applied to a foreign military. The corps was already under multiple sanctions. And supporters of Mr. Trump’s move frankly acknowledged that the designation was intended to make it politically painful for any future president to revive the Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration killed.”
This is strong, excellent writing, and appears to based on facts and cold logic. Biden is doing a very good job, but there is still room for improvement.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net.
Mr. Kupchan is a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“During his recent speech in Warsaw, President Biden said that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” only to clarify a few days later that he was merely expressing outrage, not announcing a new U.S. policy aimed at toppling Russia’s leader. The episode, interpreted by many as a dangerous gaffe, underscored the tension in U.S. foreign policy between idealism and realism.
Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine should provoke moral outrage in all of us, and, at least in principle, it warrants his removal from office. But Mr. Putin could well remain the leader of a major power into the next decade, and Washington will need to deal with him.
This friction between lofty goals and realpolitik is nothing new. The United States has since the founding era been an idealist power operating in a realist world — and has on balance succeeded in bending the arc of history toward justice. But geopolitical exigency at times takes precedence over ideals, with America playing power politics when it needs to.
During the Cold War, Washington promoted stability by tolerating a Soviet sphere of influence and cozying up to unsavory regimes willing to fight Communism. In contrast, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, America operated under conditions of geopolitical slack; great-power rivalry was muted, enabling Washington to put front and center its effort to promote democracy and expand a liberal, rules-based international order.”
“LVIV, Ukraine — Each night, Ukrainian pilots like Andriy loiter in an undisclosed aircraft hangar, waiting, waiting, until the tension is broken with a shouted, one-word command: “Air!”
Andriy hustles into his Su-27 supersonic jet and hastily taxis toward the runway, getting airborne as quickly as possible. He takes off so fast that he doesn’t yet know his mission for the night, though the big picture is always the same — to bring the fight to a Russian Air Force that is vastly superior in numbers but has so far failed to win control of the skies above Ukraine.
“I don’t do any checks,” said Andriy, a Ukrainian Air Force pilot who as a condition of granting an interview was not permitted to give his surname or rank. “I just take off.”
Nearly a month into the fighting, one of the biggest surprises of the war in Ukraine is Russia’s failure to defeat the Ukrainian Air Force. Military analysts had expected Russian forces to quickly destroy or paralyze Ukraine’s air defenses and military aircraft, yet neither have happened. Instead, Top Gun-style aerial dogfights, rare in modern warfare, are now raging above the country.”
David Lindsay: NATO should make the Polish migs available immediately.
NATO should also provide training and more modern jets if Ukraine has pilots available to learn how to operate them.
“I think that is the place to end. So always our final question, what are three books you’d recommend to the audience?
I think the book that I remember best, when I got my Ph.D. in international relations, is a book by Kenneth Waltz, called “Man, the State and War.” And it’s the most elegant exposition of the kind of realpolitik point of view, about why living in a world without a world government makes countries have to fend for themselves.
The most articulate expression of the liberal international order is “A World Safe for Democracy” — by John Ikenberry — “Liberal Internationalism and the Crisis of Global Order.” And the book that taught me a lot about Russia, George Kennan, probably the greatest diplomat of the 20th century for America, greatest just in being a literary scholar, an amazingly profound, insightful guy — spoke Russian fluently, among many other languages — he wrote memoirs that won the Pulitzer Prize.
So think about a diplomat whose memoirs won the Pulitzer Prize. And the first volume of those memoirs is basically, 1925 to about 1945. And it’s a fascinating story about what diplomacy was like in those times, what Russia was like, what it meant for the United States to be trying to shape events, when it was not the dominant superpower in the world. And it’s beautifully written. So that’s the third.”