Foreign Policy Thin-Sliced (12/26)

Image Wikimedia Commons

Image Wikimedia Commons

More Affection? When Was There Any?

“There’s now more appreciation and even some nostalgia for [George W. Bush’s] resolve, the clarity of his convictions; things that were sometimes seen as liability when he was in office are now looked at with more affection,” said William C. Inboden, a former aide and the executive director of the Clements Center on History, Strategy and Statecraft at the University of Texas, Austin.  [Emphasis added.]

As Bush Settles Into Dallas, Golf Tees and Family Time Now Trump Politics, Peter Baker, the New York Times

A “new level of futility”

Not only has Washington failed to persuade Pakistan to stop using militants to destabilize its neighbors — a major American foreign policy goal in recent years — but its failure also appears to have persuaded Afghanistan to try the same thing.

U.S. Disrupts Afghans’ Tack on Militants, Matthew Rosenberg, the New York Times

Artificial Intelligence a Ticking Time-Bomb

Perhaps enough people will realize that advanced AI is a dual use technology, like nuclear fission. The world was introduced to fission at Hiroshima. Then we as a species spent the next 50 years with a gun pointed at our own heads. We can’t survive that abrupt an introduction to superintelligence. And we need a better maintenance plan than fission’s mutually assured destruction.

When Robots Take Over, What Happens to Us?, Paul Waldman, the American Prospect

U.S. Military Inspires More Fear Than Our Nukes

Most important, deterrence is easier to achieve than nuclear weapons enthusiasts typically admit. Even the Soviet Union, we now know, was eager to avoid a major conventional war, let alone a nuclear escalation. Today’s rivals are even more easily contained by American and allied conventional strength.

Ending Nuclear Overkill, Benjamin H. Friedman and Christopher A. Preble, the New York Times

Kabul Supports the Taliban? Yeah, in Pakistan

Not so long ago, Western officials dismissed Pakistani claims of Kabul’s support for Pakistani Taliban as little more than a conspiracy theory. That changed last month after a U.S. raid captured the deputy leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Latif Mehsud, on a highway south of Kabul—traveling in an Afghan government convoy. Afghan officials acknowledged they had reached out to Mr. Mehsud as a possible intermediary in their efforts to seek peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, an explanation that some Western diplomats have found disingenuous

Mullah Fazlullah’s Rise Complicates Ties Between Kabul, Islamabad, Yaroslav Trofimov, the Wall Street Journal (behind a paywall)

Allies Make the Worst Enemies

“When a real Roma movement does get developed, the first step is going to be to fight Roma opportunists before they can even get to the non-Roma. Similar to civil rights activists of my youth, they’re going to have to start fighting each other, because they have these gatekeepers that have a vested interest in basically managing their suffering.”
— Civil rights activist Michael Simmon

Roma and the Civil Rights Movement, John Feffer,