Stephen M. Walt

10 Things World Leaders Are Thankful For

Why Angela Merkel is thinking of France, Khamenei is grateful for Lindsey Graham, and why China isn’t disappointed the United States is back in Iraq.

The United States isn't the only country that devotes a holiday to giving thanks, yet it still feels like a quintessentially American celebration. It starts with a feel-good story about cooperation between the Pilgrims and the local tribes back in 1621, a tale more pleasant to contemplate than the subsequent treatment of the native population by their European conquerors. Most of the day focuses on eating too much -- an art form America seems to have perfected. And what could be more American than a holiday whose date was chosen in part to extend the shopping season and boost the economy?

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The Top 5 Foreign Policy Lessons of the Past 20 Years

From Russia to China to the United States, from hubris to ultimatums to power plays, the good, the bad, and the ugly of (recent) world politics. 

Tell me, friend: Do you find the current world situation confusing? Are you having trouble sorting through the bewildering array of alarums, provocations, reassurances, and trite nostrums offered up by pundits and politicos? Can't tell if the glass is half-full and rising or half-empty, cracked, and leaking water fast? Not sure if you should go long on precious metals and stock up on fresh water, ammo, and canned goods, or go big into equities and assume that everything will work out in the long run?

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The Big Counterterrorism Counterfactual

Is the NSA actually making us worse at fighting terrorism? 

The head of the British electronic spy agency GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, created a minor flap last week in an article he wrote for the Financial Times. In effect, Hannigan argued that more robust encryption procedures by private Internet companies were unwittingly aiding terrorists such as the Islamic State (IS) or al Qaeda, by making it harder for organizations like the NSA and GCHQ to monitor online traffic. The implication was clear: The more that our personal privacy is respected and protected, the greater the danger we will face from evildoers.

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Netanyahu's Not Chickenshit, the White House Is

The administration is a coward for not saying what it really thinks about the special relationship with Israel.

I've been reluctant to say much about this week's tempest in a teapot -- i.e., the U.S.-Israeli flap over "chickenshit-gate" -- because the flap itself is of little strategic importance.

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Keep Calm and Carry On, Stephen Harper

Doubling down on counterterrorism at home and abroad won’t make Canada a safer place.

The attack on the Canadian Parliament building on Wednesday raises familiar questions about how democratic leaders should respond to such events. The death of a Canadian soldier demands a respectful mourning, but the broader issue is how this event should be understood and how Canada's government and society should react. Will the attack be met with calm resolution -- as one might expect after a damaging flood, a destructive tornado, or a tragic fire -- or will the fact that the attack is an act of "terror" reinforce the paranoia and "clash of civilizations" worldview that has warped the West's response ever since 9/11?

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