Putin, Snowden, and How Credibility Works in International Politics

Our old friend Max Boot has a post at Commentary that demonstrates a common confusion about how credibility works in international politics. Boot argues that Russian President Vladimir Putin offered NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum because he doesn’t fear Obama because Obama hasn’t yet gone to war in Syria… or something. I’ll let him explain:

Obama understandably doesn’t want to get stuck in the Syrian morass. But he should understand that when the president of the United States makes threats and then fails to make good on them, that has consequences for America’s dealings with the rest . . .
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Max Boot Responds! And He's Still Wrong…

Earlier this week, Max Boot responded to my post from Sunday night on the differences between Israel's Iron Dome and U.S. missile defense efforts. Unfortunately Mr. Boot obscures the issue even further in his response than he did in his initial post. The new post misrepresents the history of missile defense, fails to properly address the errors in his initial post, continues to ignore the conceptual differences between Iron Dome and national missile defense, and erects a strawman argument as to the motives of those opposed to his views. Needless to say, I am less than impressed.

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Iron Dome Does Not Vindicate SDI

Sure, Max Boot makes terrible historical analogies, but I’ve always just assumed that the disagreements I have with him are based on honest differences and not utter ignorance. After today, I’m no longer sure that’s the case. Writing at Commentary Magazine’s Contentions blog, Boot argues,

The latest Gaza war is only a few days old, but already one conclusion can be drawn: missile defense works. This is only the latest vindication for the vision of Ronald Reagan… who made missile defense a major priority for the U.S. and our allies.

Boot is referring to the Iron Dome system co-developed . . .
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The Historical Uncertainty of Middle Eastern Nuclear Proliferation

There seems to be one area of agreement between hawks and doves on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program:  the veritable certainty of a nuclear proliferation “casacade” in the Middle East whereby Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and others respond to an Iranian nuclear weapon with nuclear programs of their own.  Fears of that scenario were understandably raised recently when Prince Turki al-Faisal, a member of the royal family and former head of Saudi intelligence, explicitly stated that the Kingdom would consider pursuing its own nuclear capability were Tehran to obtain a nuclear weapon of its own.  Max Boot cited . . .
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Max Boot and the Abuse of Historical Analogy

Let it never be said that if there’s an opportunity to make a hackneyed historical analogy that Max Boot will not take it.  Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Boot, a senior fellow at the Council Foreign Relations, asserts:

Why did the West do so little while the Nazis gathered strength in the 1930s? While the Soviet Union enslaved half of Europe and fomented revolution in China in the late 1940s? And, again, while Al Qaeda gathered strength in the 1990s?… The answer to the riddle—why did the West slumber?—becomes easier to grasp if we think about present-day relations . . .
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Libya and the New New American Way of War

A meme is emerging in the aftermath of the death of Col. Moammar Qaddafi.  According to some, a new American paradigm for future conflicts has been established.  In the Wall Street Journal, Julian Barnes and Adam Entous describe Libya as “a new template for future military intervention” that “emphasizes quick planning, a small footprint and limited duration engagements, according to U.S. officials assessing the outcome.”  Barnes and Entous go on to quote Vice President Joe Biden lauding the operation:  “NATO got it right…This is more the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward.”  And, . . .
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The Weekly Standard’s Weak Standards

Two items from this week’s edition of the Weekly Standard are striking—not so much for what they argue but for the weak cases they make.  The articles, by Max Boot and Thomas Donnelly and Gary Schmitt, respectively, argue for regime change in Libya and raising the defense budget because of the current operations taking place in Libya.

Boot is up first with a call for deposing Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi.  He asserts that displays of American military power will most likely “shock and awe” Qaddafi’s supporters into submission and surrender.  Boot believes the regime change operation should be modeled . . .
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America’s Iraq ADD

Max Boot thinks there is a possibility the United States may “lose” Iraq in the near future, and the blame for this failure comes from the current lack of attention paid to it by American policymakers:

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In a way, Iraq has been a victim of its own success. Because it seems to be doing relatively well, policymakers have shifted their attention to more urgent concerns. But there is a danger that our present inattention could undo the progress that so many have struggled so hard to attain.

Iraq has made impressive gains since 2006, when . . .
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