The Rational Person’s Guide to Fidel Castro

There are few leaders who inspire the kind of irrational passion that surrounds the recently-deceased Fidel Castro.  He is a hero and a villain, and to have an opinion on him so often forces you to choose between the two. But there is another way to judge leadership.  To understand Castro's true historical legacy, we … Continue reading The Rational Person’s Guide to Fidel Castro

The Geopolitics of President-elect Donald J. Trump

What, exactly, does President-elect Donald J. Trump believe?  From 1987 until 1999 he was  a Republican; that year, he changed to the nearly defunct Reform Party, an obscure New York City legacy party.  He then became a Democrat from 2001 until 2008, when he switched back to the Republicans again. Meanwhile, simply in the past … Continue reading The Geopolitics of President-elect Donald J. Trump

After Mosul Falls, What Then?

There are some 100,000 troops involved in the conquest (or reconquest, depending on your perspective) of Mosul.  On the surface, the battle is meant to restore the Iraqi government to its full writ; a Baghdad-united Shi'a and Sunni realm, a nation-state on the way to functionality.  In other words, a normal country. Ah, dreams. Careful … Continue reading After Mosul Falls, What Then?

If This Is Cold War 2.0, Then the Russians Are Winning

Sequels are so often disappointing; I'd love to meet someone who thought Independence Day 2 was an improvement.  So it is with so-called Cold War 2.0: it can certainly feel meaningless, as Moscow doesn't hope to raise a hammer and sickle above the White House. Perhaps it's better to refer to it as Cold War 1.5, a … Continue reading If This Is Cold War 2.0, Then the Russians Are Winning

Turkey Goes Into Syria: Or, Understanding How To Influence People With Tanks

Nature abhors a vacuum; so too does geopolitics.  The nation-state has conquered the world, and it cannot abide an empty place on the map for long. The collapse of the Syrian state has left behind such a vacuum.  The question has never been if it will be filled; short of human extinction, that is inevitable. … Continue reading Turkey Goes Into Syria: Or, Understanding How To Influence People With Tanks

The World Is Much Better Off Than It Feels

There will be few who will miss 2016; perhaps fewer still that will miss 2017.  Americans despair their electoral choices (choosing cancer or a heart attack, to some); Brits have quit the European Union; Turkey, post-coup, is also mid-purge; Islamic State's lone wolves butcher and bomb.  Even the Pope is using the 'w' word to … Continue reading The World Is Much Better Off Than It Feels

Turkey’s Coup Signals A Generational Shift to Islamism

On Friday, a faction of the Turkish military tried to overthrow presidential strongman Recep Erdogan, leader of the Justice and Development Party and increasingly the man of Turkish politics.  They failed; first, they didn't kill or capture Erdogan in the opening moments of the coup, then they failed to shut off the Internet and media so … Continue reading Turkey’s Coup Signals A Generational Shift to Islamism

The Geopolitical Argument Against Donald Trump

I have argued in the past that the damage Donald Trump could do is limited: balanced by a vast and enduring American state, every U.S. president, regardless of the strength of their support or the breadth of their mandate, invariably finds their political capital spent.  A could-be President Trump would be no different, and a … Continue reading The Geopolitical Argument Against Donald Trump

Culture, Power, and Geopolitics: How All Three Explain Us

It's very easy to make geopolitics seem simple - Country A and Country B have a bad history. Both want something from Country C.  Alas for Country C, it's rather weak, so Countries A and B go ahead and have proxy war in Country C. And while that may explain the rough outlines, it's still too Civilization … Continue reading Culture, Power, and Geopolitics: How All Three Explain Us

Why Saudi Arabia Doesn’t Want Those 28 Pages Declassified

The answer, it may seem, is simple: yet another cover-up, yet another scandal brushed under the rug, more nasty men in the halls of power getting away with the terrible things they do. Such a narrative gives us a simple good vs. bad tale of morality, with evil Saudi princes laughing behind closed doors.  As … Continue reading Why Saudi Arabia Doesn’t Want Those 28 Pages Declassified