The GOP Must Be the Big-Tent Party

My latest blog for The National Interest argues that diversity within America’s political parties – and even boisterous infighting between the leaders of party factions – shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing.  This seems to me to be particularly true when looking at the emerging field of contenders for the Republican Party’s nomination.  Read the post here.

The United States’ political parties have always been amalgams of factions rather than vehicles for any single interest. Partly because of the pressures of the electoral system and partly because of the republic’s vastness, forging either of the two major parties into a political monolith has been impossible; the need to cater to a wide base of Americans tends to keep the parties broad and relatively inclusive.

This embedded pluralism of the U.S. party system has diminished somewhat in the current era of polarization but it has not evaporated entirely…


Righting a wrong: how to restore decency to the British Indian Ocean Territory

I have a new article on openDemocracy, in which I take stock of the recently released feasibility study into the resettlement of the Chagos Islands (British Indian Ocean Territory) and the admission by a senior Bush administration official that Diego Garcia in the Chagos Islands was used by the CIA to hold detainees in the global war on terror.  My argument is that allowing the resettlement of the Chagos Islands is not only the moral thing to do, but also would be a “smart” move by those appalled by the way Diego Garcia has been used in recent years. Read the full article here.

Diego Garcia is the largest island of the Chagos Archipelago, a collection of tiny specks in the central Indian Ocean that together comprise the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).  The history of this outpost of empire – the last ever colony, in fact, to be created by the British Empire – is a dark one, sullied by the mistreatment and dispossession of its indigenous population and, more recently, by suspicion that the territory played host to torture during the Bush-era war on terrorism.  Recent events give hope that a new page will be turned.  Yet a better future for BIOT is far from assured and critically depends upon hard choices being made by politicians at Westminster…

2014 Marvin Gelber Essay Prize

I’m pleased to have been awarded the Marvin Gelber Essay Prize for the best article by a junior scholar in a given volume of International Journal: Canada’s Journal of Global Policy Analysis.  My article is called “Environmental protection as international security: Conserving the Pentagon’s island bases in the Asia–Pacific,” and is included in volume 69, no.3.

Read the full article here.  Abstract:

Island bases are integral to US grand strategy in the Asia–Pacific. In this article, I discuss the increasingly common practice of using environmental protection initiatives to secure the Pentagon’s hold on these prized assets. I argue that nature reserves on or around militarized sites on Guam, the Central Pacific islands, and Diego Garcia serve to buttress US political control over the territory concerned. In short, nature reserves in the Pacific and Indian oceans give vital political cover to the island fortresses that they envelop by adding a public relations-friendly rationale for the US military’s occupation of colonized territories as well as an additional layer of politico-legal control.

Minsk Summit on Ukraine: Great Power Politics, Local Realities

In October, I wrote a piece for on the proposal made by John Mearsheimer and others that Ukraine should be turned into neutral buffer state.  Today, I have a follow-up published in light of the Minsk summit.  Read the full article here.

As leaders from Berlin, Paris, Moscow and Kiev gather in Minsk on Wednesday, viable proposals to end the war in Eastern Ukraine appear thin on the ground. Western governments in particular seem to be plagued by indecision. Should the focus be on providing Kiev with more and better arms in the hope that Russian-backed rebels can be bludgeoned into accepting a permanent peace? Or is a purely diplomatic solution still possible? At a more fundamental level: what is the endgame of Western policy towards Ukraine, and how should the West’s relationship with Kiev be calibrated to fit within the broader architecture of East-West relations?

One proposal that refuses to go away is that of turning Ukraine into a permanently neutral buffer state…

Anarchy in the UK: England’s Increasingly Messy Politics

Politics in the United Kingdom is getting messy.  I look ahead at the upcoming General Election in my latest blog for The National Interest.

In three months, voters across the United Kingdom will head to the ballot box to choose their next government. Most commentators and pollsters seem to agree that a hung parliament will ensue—that is, an electoral aftermath whereby no single party controls an overall majority of the House of Commons.

Such was the result in 2010 (only the second hung parliament since 1929), after which election David Cameron’s Conservative Party opted to form a coalition government with the centrist Liberal Democrats. This first coalition government since World War II was a big change for Britain, portending a new—or, at least, an unpracticed—style of government and politics. Yet the post-2015 political landscape looks almost certain to be even more dramatic.

Read the full piece here.

The American People Aren’t Ready for China

My piece from last year on the rise of China and the U.S. political response has been reposted at The National Interest:

How should the United States respond to the rise of China? Scholars and practitioners of foreign policy are divided on this question. The battle lines are familiar. Optimists about the future of U.S.-China relations, who believe that China can and should become a “responsible stakeholder” in the international community, argue that the United States must adopt strategic restraint and conciliatory behavior towards China so that Beijing will reciprocate in kind. Pessimists, regarding it as inevitable that China will seek to overturn the American-made international system, counter that only by maintaining a favorable balance of power can the United States and its allies protect their interests in the context of China’s seemingly inexorable ascent to material preponderance.

For all their differences, these two stylized responses to China’s rise share a common focus on U.S. external relations. That is, each approach consists of a set of foreign policy prescriptions for dealing with China. Yet it is not just in the realm of foreign policy that the U.S. must prepare for China’s rise. In domestic politics, too, there are significant moves that must be made to prepare the U.S. for relative decline vis-à-vis China—and, indeed, other rising states…

Read the full feature here.

Will Gitmo Throw a Wrench in the U.S.-Cuba Rapprochement?

My latest piece for The National Interest looks at the issue of Guantánamo Bay as a feature of U.S.-Cuba relations.  View the full feature by following this link.  Here’s a short excerpt:

Raul Castro has insisted that the United States return control of Guantánamo Bay to Cuba as part of the normalization of relations between the two neighbors. He has good reason to do so. Not only is American control over the bay a powerful symbol of the imperial condescension that characterized U.S.-Cuban relations for the first half of the twentieth century, but it also constitutes a veritable national-security concern for Cuban leaders. How can Cuba be truly free and independent with an unwanted foreign military base on its soil?

Havana knows, however, that the United States is unlikely to relinquish control over Guantánamo any time soon. The very fact that Castro’s demand is noisily being made in public suggests that any private solicitations made as part of the ongoing diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the United States were resoundingly rebuffed…