Foreign Policy Thin-Sliced (10/9)

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Sanctions Represent a Failure of Imagination

Why pass new sanctions that will drain Iran’s moderates of domestic political capital, slam shut the window for what may be the last best chance to constrain Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy, and risk shattering international unity on Iran?

The most disingenuous argument for sanctions yet, Jamal Abdi, the Hill’s Congress Blog

Self-Respect Is in the National Interest

I would like to say that suspending aid to Egypt is now in America’s national interest. Maybe it’s not; maybe it’s a wash. So I will say instead that it has become a matter of national self-respect. Democracies have to be able to look at themselves in the mirror, and to accept, if not like, what they see.

Speak Softly and Carry No Stick, James Traub, Foreign Policy

The Smart Money Is on Carrier Pigeons

[Glenn Greenwald’s work on Edward Snowden] is immensely complicated by the certainty that it would be highly unadvisable for Greenwald (or any other journalist) to regard any electronic means of communication as safe. The Guardian’s work on the Snowden story has involved many individuals taking a huge number of flights in order to have face-to-face meetings. Not good for the environment, but increasingly the only way to operate. Soon we will be back to pen and paper.

David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face, Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian

The Success of Counterterrorism Depends on Doubling Down on the Law, Not Skirting It

In the long run, careful adherence to the law matters more than eliminating another bad actor. … Terrorism embraces lawlessness. … So why restrain our response? Why subject ourselves to the rule of law? Because abiding by the law is the point—especially with a weapon like the drone. … Abiding carefully by the law—man’s law, not God’s—making judgments carefully, making them transparent and subject to review, is the only way to invest them with moral authority, and the only way to clearly define the terrorist as an enemy of civilization.

The Killing Machines, Mark Bowden, the Atlantic

Easy to Stigmatize Chemical Weapons Since They’re Not Effective

Why, then, the outrage over gas? And why was it banned after World War I? I think it was because chemical weapons/poison gas proved both indecisive and inglorious. If chemical weapons had produced decision on the battlefield, they would have been retained, despite their inglorious and wretched effects. But their military utility proved limited and their image disreputable to military concepts of honor, so they were outlawed.

Why We’re Outraged by Poison Gas, William Astore, The Contrary Perspective

Deposing Assad Just a Means to an End for Jihadis Fighting With Rebels

While the jihadis claim to be superior fighters, and have collaborated with secular Syrian rebels, some analysts and diplomats also note that they can appear less focused on toppling President Bashar al-Assad. Instead, they said, they focus more on establishing a zone of influence spanning Iraq’s Anbar Province and the desert eastern areas of Syria, and eventually establishing an Islamic territory under their administration.

Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West, C.J. Chivers, the New York Times