Gordon Adams

While John Kerry Is on a Plane…

There's a gaping hole at the State Department that needs fixing. Here's how to do it.

John Kerry is on a plane, seemingly every day, trying to put out the surge in global military and diplomatic wildfires. Vladimir Putin and the Ukrainian separatists have bullied and murdered their way onto the front of the foreign-policy agenda. Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas are busy proving how badly each needs the hostility of the other to stay in power; peace talks have vanished in the rearview mirror. The Islamic State is on the verge of consolidating an extremist Sunni nation (or at least some version of a "look-alike") between Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, the Syrian conflict grinds on and on, with a toll that has now reached 170,000. Libya is in flames. China and Vietnam are nearly at sword's point. U.S. forces are slowly exiting Afghanistan, leaving corruption and insecurity behind. And Boko Haram spreads like an evil oil slick in Nigeria. It reminds me of the Tom Lehrer song "They're Rioting in Africa."

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Magic Money and Budgetary Malpractice

There's something fishy about the U.S. Navy wanting to create a new fund to pay for nuclear submarines -- so it can also pay for other ships.

Everybody fiddles with their budget from time to time. How will we pay for the new car? Or that summer spike in the gas bill? What about that unanticipated bail expense, from before Colorado legalized pot? Even federal agencies do the same thing. What about that extra expense for the unplanned long stay in Iraq? Or how to help citizens deal with an unexpected tsunami when no one planned for it in the budget?

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Blame America

The United States tried to build a stable state in Iraq. We should've known better.

What is happening in Iraq right now is both a cautionary tale and an unfolding tragedy. The lesson is not about leaving Iraq too early, nor is it about having a Status of Force Agreement that would have kept us there. It's not about firing the current national security team and appointing another one. It's not about the effectiveness of air power in halting the advance of an insurgency.

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Obama's Big, New Counterterrorism Plan Is a Hot Mess

The White House is promising to give allies around the world $5 billion to fight terrorists. But America’s been doing that for years -- and no one seems to know what this new program is.

President Barack Obama defended his foreign policy this week, speaking to the graduating cadets at West Point. For the most part, it was a re-articulation of things he has said before. We can't go to war every time there is a problem around the world, and we can't retreat from the world. But we are still the "indispensible" and "exceptional" nation, with global responsibilities.

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Through the Fiscal Looking Glass

The latest plans for the Pentagon's budget present an alternate reality.

Gabriel García Márquez died this month and Lewis Carroll has been dead for decades, now. But the memory of magical and upside down thinking, which they captured so well, lives on in the Pentagon. The Pentagon planning machinery (and the congressional Armed Services Committee members) are working from that script, with no shame at all. They continue to walk through the looking glass, engage in magical thinking, and stand budgetary realities on their head -- all in the hopes that somehow new language and unreal numbers will lead Congress and the White House to decide that the August 2011 budget deal was just a big mistake, that all is forgiven, and that bigger defense budgets will be soon be arriving.

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