Foreign Policy Thin-Sliced (1/13)

Al Aqsa Mosque

Al Aqsa Mosque

You Can’t Win a Nuclear War, Chapter 743

Another reason we cannot credibly threaten to use nuclear arms against small states is that our retaliation would seem disproportionate, even to our own allies. This matters both strategically and morally. If the United States uses a nuclear weapon, whatever started the war will quickly become irrelevant, as attention will immediately turn to the casualties from the U.S. retaliation. The burn victims alone will present a ghastly moral dilemma we have never encountered before; like it or not, the United States will end up responsible for the care of its defeated enemy, and troops advancing through areas destroyed by an American nuclear response (who themselves will be at risk in a nuclear environment) will quickly realize that they will have no humane choice but to euthanize many of those civilian casualties on the spot. That footage, and not the initial attack on the United States, will be the images that will run in perpetuity on the world’s television screens, and perhaps might even achieve the propaganda victory the enemy wished for in the first place.

The Case for Conventional Deterrence, Tom Nichols, the National Interest

Middle-East: Instability Fueled by Lack of Economic Growth

But Kerry grasps the Middle East’s central challenge: a looming demographic explosion that will cause instability to metastasize unless economic growth is radically accelerated. His activism is not the neoconservative sort, nor even the sort typically associated with liberal interventionism; he is not proposing to transform the region through ground invasions or revolution from afar, and he is generally wary of even limited military engagement. But patient, opportunistic diplomatic engagement—days, months, and years of listening and cajoling, leveraging and negotiating—is another matter. If adversaries can be brought to the negotiating table and given clear incentives, then dynamics can change, and salutary developments might occur. Or so the secretary of state believes.

How John Kerry Could End Up Outdoing Hillary Clinton, David Rohde, the Atlantic

Deny Climate Change All You Want, But the Oceans Are Still Rising

The Obama administration understands the crisis in Kiribati serves at least a pedagogical role. “There are many canaries in the coal mine on this issue, but this is an important one for a very obvious reason,” Todd Stern, the U.S. Department of State’s special envoy for climate change, said. “When you look at the parade of terribles, the massive events we’ve been seeing—the typhoon in the Philippines, gigantic floods in Pakistan, two 100-year droughts in the Amazon within five years, Hurricane Sandy—we can’t tell you that each one happened because of global warming. You can question the link between specific events and general warming trends. But the warming of the oceans, the melting of glaciers—this isn’t debatable. There’s more water in the ocean, and it’s going to sink those islands. So when you talk about the future of Florida, of New York City, this is a kind of warning.”

Drowning Kiribati, Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg Business Week

Al Aqsa Mosque’s Surprising Deterrent Value

Even if Iran somehow gets to spring a nuclear device surprise, along with its delivery platforms, and associated support systems, the likelihood that it will use such a device within the boundaries of Israel is below minuscule. The Iranians, devout Muslim that they are, are unlikely to drop a nuclear device anywhere in the remote, incidental vicinity of the Al Aqsa Mosque.

A Few Things Israel’s Government and Citizens Should Know, Doron Pely, Foreign Policy in Focus

Dead Afghan Women Don’t Have Rights

After the Sept. 7 airstrike, the men said, angry villagers confronted Gov. Jalala in the provincial capital, Asadabad. They demanded an apology from the United States. The governor told them it was “an American affair” and he could do nothing, the men said.

The villagers said the families had received no compensation from the coalition. Crichton said that a condolence payment was made to one family but that the ISAF had not identified other families who may have suffered losses.

“We don’t want compensation,” Jan said. “We want the Americans to find the person who reported Taliban and terrorists in that truck, and we want him prosecuted and punished for his lies.”

The men scoffed at U.S. insistence that the rights of Afghan women be improved. “Is it women’s rights when they kill women and mix their body parts with men’s?” Jan asked.

Afghans describe relatives’ deaths in recent U.S. drone strike, David Zucchino, the Los Angeles Times

The More Pertinent Question: Is President Obama Too Machiavellian?

What [Machiavelli] refuses to praise is people who value their conscience and their soul more than the interests of the state. What he will not pardon is public displays of indecision. We should not choose leaders who agonize, worrying about the moral hazards of the power they exercise in the people’s name. We should choose leaders who sleep soundly after taking ultimate risks with their own virtue. They are doing what must be done. The Prince’s question about the current president would be: Is he Machiavellian enough?

Machiavelli Was Right, Michael Ignatieff, the Atlantic