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Description:Jerome Slater: On the US and Israel skip to main | skip to sidebar Jerome Slater: On the US and Israel Monday, January 9, 2017 Paul Pillar on the state of American democracy In accordance with my deci

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Jerome Slater: On the US and Israel skip to main | skip to sidebar Jerome Slater: On the US and Israel Monday, January 9, 2017 Paul Pillar on the state of American democracy In accordance with my decision to expand the scope of this blog, from time to time I will post (or repost) indispensable political analyses of other writers. I want to bring your attention to today's National Interest online column of Paul Pillar--who I consider to be the finest political analyst in the U.S. today. For those of you who are not familiar with his work, Wikipedia describes him this way: Paul R. Pillar is an academic and 28-year veteran of the CIA, serving from 1977 to 2005. He is now a non-resident senior fellow at Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies, as well as a nonresident senior fellow in the Brookings Institution's Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence. He was a visiting professor at Georgetown University from 2005 to 2012. He is a contributor to The National Interest. Pillar's column today on the state of American democracy is characteristically brilliant, and serves to remind us of just how dreadful the Republican Party--that is, NOT just Trump-- has become. Actually, though Pillar probably wouldn't go that far, in my view it's been dreadful for decades, most certainly including Ronald Reagan's Republican party and administration. Winston Churchill famously said that he regarded democracy as the worst of all possible political systems--except for all the others. In that spirit, I suppose America still needs a two-party system, but it sure gives you pause when one of them is the Republican party. Posted by Jerome Slater at 7:35 PM No comments: Links to this post Posted by Jerome Slater at 7:25 PM No comments: Links to this post Tuesday, December 20, 2016 As I wrote in a blog last April, I have decided to write here about Israel and the U.S. only infrequently—in part because there seems to be fewer and fewer new things to say, in part because there are now many excellent commentaries available on the internet, in part because it’s a lost cause anyway, and in part because my working time is mostly devoted to working on a big book on the topic (lost cause or not). However, aside from Israeli-related issues, I have over fifty years experience in reading, teaching, and writing about general issues in American foreign policy. Therefore , I’ve decided to widen the scope of this blog (and will soon rename it accordingly), to include general commentaries on foreign policy, war and peace, and national as well as international security. Not there’s any shortage of excellent commentators on these topics, either. Still, from time to time maybe I can have something a little different to say. Anyway, such are the dreadful times we live in that one must at least try to say something useful. However, even with this wider new scope, my blogs will be infrequent. Therefore, the best way to know that I’ve posted a new blog is to sign up for automatic email notification (at the top of the column to the right). The “Balance of Power” and a Coming War with China? The traditional American policy of isolationism permanently ended with our entry into World War II, and since then the fundamental premise of U.S. foreign policy has been that national security requires the maintenance of a balance of power in the major world regions, a goal worth going to war over, if necessary. Thus, the preservation of the balance of power in Europe and Asia was the fundamental (though not the only) reason that the U.S. government decided to go to war against Nazi Germany and Japan; after their defeat, the same goal was pursued by the policy of containment, designed to prevent Soviet, Chinese or merely communist expansionism, especially in Europe and Asia. Currently, a new variation of balance of power strategies—“offshore balancing”--has become the dominant “grand strategy” advocated by national security academicians and, evidently, by national security government officials—at least those in the Obama administration, though not necessarily by that name. Under such a strategy, U.S. security would continue to require military intervention if an aggressive major power threatened to destroy the balance of power in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Differing from previous versions of balance of power strategies, however, advocates of offshore balancing argue that our national security is best served by eschewing large ground operations in favor of keeping our forces “offshore,” that is, on “over the horizon” naval and air forces. There is a rather large qualification, however, to this strategy, as developed by its most prominent and sophisticated advocates, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (“The Case for Offshore Balancing,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2016). They write that “the aim is to remain offshore as long as possible.” Nonetheless, they argue, sometimes it may be necessary “to come onshore.” This is a rather large qualification to the general argument, for it means that sometimes it may still be necessary, just as in the past, to fight major land wars in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. While an improvement on previous balance of power policies--which required overseas land bases and the continuing deployment of large-scale standing ground forces, meaning that any outbreak of military conflicts were likely to quickly escalate into major war—offshore balancing is still fundamentally flawed, for it continues to rest on the largely unexamined axiom or premise that U.S. national security requires the maintenance of balances of power in world’s most important regions. Let us examine the case for “containing” China—a different name for balance of power policies---the obvious though unacknowledged purpose of the Obama Administration’s military “pivot” toward Asia. As a consequence of the balance-of-power strategy, the U.S. has fought three major wars in Asia in the last seventy-five years: against Japan in WWII, in Korea in 1950-53, and in Vietnam in the 1960s. If balance of power thinking continues—including that of offshore balancing--there will be a growing risk that this country may stumble into its worst and most dangerous war yet, against a nuclear-armed China. In light of the fact that Japan is almost 4000 miles and China over 5000 miles from Hawaii (as well as 5500 and 6500 miles, respectively, from the U.S. mainland), it is instructive to reflect on how and why the United States came to believe that its national security required the maintenance of a balance of power in Asia. It appears that it began “in a fit of absence of mind,” as 19th century British colonialism was famously characterized. That is, in 1898 the U.S. “acquired” (as it is often quaintly described) the Philippines, then a Spanish colony, as an initially unintended and unforeseen byproduct of the U.S. defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War—largely fought over Cuba, at least until an imperial-minded Assistance Secr...

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