Stephen M. Walt
Stephen M. Walt
Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.-- George OrwellSource
Brookline, MA
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It’s Time to End the ‘Special Relationship’ With Israel

It’s Time to End the ‘Special Relationship’ With Israel

The latest round of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians ended in the usual way: with a cease-fire that left Palestinians worse off and the core issues unaddressed. It also provided more evidence that the United States should no longer give Israel unconditional economic, military, and diplomatic support. The benefits of this policy are zero, and the costs are high and rising. Instead of a special relationship, the United States and Israel need a normal one. Once upon a time, a special relationship between the United States and Israel might have been justified on moral grounds. The...

May 27
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Biden’s War at Home Over Afghanistan Is Just Beginning

Biden’s War at Home Over Afghanistan Is Just Beginning

Each of U.S. President Joe Biden’s three predecessors—George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump—had to decide what to do about the United States’ unsuccessful nation-building effort in Afghanistan. Each chose to kick the can down the road and prolong an unwinnable war. They did so either because they believed a bit more effort would turn the tide or because they were unwilling to challenge a foreign-policy establishment that did not know how to win the war yet insisted it be allowed to keep trying.Biden has rejected this outdated advice and announced that U.S. combat forces will leave...

Apr 16
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China Wants a ‘Rules-Based International Order,’ Too

China Wants a ‘Rules-Based International Order,’ Too

A ready ability to use the phrase “rules-based international order” seems to have become a job requirement for a top position in the U.S. foreign-policy apparatus. One need look no further than Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s during his recent meeting with top Chinese officials. “Our administration is committed to leading with diplomacy to advance the interests of the United States and to strengthen the rules-based international order,” he said. The alternative, he continued, “is a world in which might makes right and winners take all, and that would be a far more violent and unstable...

Mar 31
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Why ‘Hostage Diplomacy’ Works

Why ‘Hostage Diplomacy’ Works

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday in which he denounced the practice of arbitrary detention, calling it “completely unacceptable.” He’s correct, but what’s especially puzzling about this practice is that states sometimes use it even when it is contrary to their stated aims and damaging to their overall interests.China offers an apt illustration. A paramount goal of Chinese statecraft has been to convince the rest of the world that its rise to greater global influence is a benign development, and to portray the country as a responsible power with (nearly) everyone’s best...

Feb 17
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A Face Lift Can't Fix the State Department

A Face Lift Can't Fix the State Department

You can count me among the people—including newly sworn-in President Joe Biden—who think the U.S. Department of State needs some serious repair work. But reforming the department and revitalizing the foreign service won’t make U.S. foreign policy more successful if America’s diplomats are forced to spend their time, energy, credibility, and other resources on quixotic or misguided missions. A better department will still come up short if it is asked to do the impossible.To be clear: The State Department was in bad shape before former President Donald Trump showed up to make things worse....

Jan 21
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Trump’s Final Foreign-Policy Report Card

Trump’s Final Foreign-Policy Report Card

A lifetime ago—January 2017—I sat down to assess outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign-policy performance. Obama inherited a global financial panic and two unsuccessful wars, behaved with exemplary poise and dignity throughout his two terms as president, and achieved several clear foreign-policy successes. Yet despite having voted for him twice, I that “in foreign policy Obama’s record was mostly one of failure.”Now, as President Donald Trump’s single term staggers to a chaotic and undignified close, it’s time to perform a similar evaluation. Having run for office calling U.S....

Jan 5
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10 Ways to Tell if Your President Is a Dictator

10 Ways to Tell if Your President Is a Dictator

There are good reasons to worry about how Donald Trump will handle foreign policy, but there are also reasons to think he won’t be any worse than some other administrations. The neoconservatives who dominated foreign-policy making in George W. Bush’s administration had lots of prior experience, God knows, and look at all the harm they did. My fears about Trump’s foreign policy have always been two-fold: that he might pursue a more sensible grand strategy but do it incompetently, thereby weakening America’s international position, or that he will eventually get co-opted by the foreign-policy...

November 23, 2016
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Trump Is in Denial—and America Is Unsafe

Trump Is in Denial—and America Is Unsafe

U.S. President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede that he lost the election—a stance that has received support from officials such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior Republican leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Lindsey Graham—reveals a blithe disregard for its . Continuing to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s (based, I emphasize, on counting the same ballots that elected lots of Republican senators and representatives) does further damage to democratic institutions and will weaken the United States relative to other countries. Those who continue to...

Nov 17
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Everyone Misunderstands the Reason for the U.S.-China Cold War

Everyone Misunderstands the Reason for the U.S.-China Cold War

DON'T LOSE ACCESS:Your IP access to ForeignPolicy.com will expire on June 15.To ensure uninterrupted reading, please contact Rachel Mines, sales director, at .The United States is pretty polarized these days, but nearly everyone seems to agree that China is a big problem. The Trump administration has been at odds with China on trade issues since day one, and its 2017 National Security Strategy China a “revisionist power” and major strategic rival. (President Donald Trump himself seems to have been if it would help him get reelected, but that’s just a sign of his own venality and with the...

June 30, 2020
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Everyone Misunderstands the Reason for the U.S.-China Cold War

Everyone Misunderstands the Reason for the U.S.-China Cold War

DON'T LOSE ACCESS:Your IP access to ForeignPolicy.com will expire on June 15.To ensure uninterrupted reading, please contact Rachel Mines, sales director, at .The United States is pretty polarized these days, but nearly everyone seems to agree that China is a big problem. The Trump administration has been at odds with China on trade issues since day one, and its 2017 National Security Strategy China a “revisionist power” and major strategic rival. (President Donald Trump himself seems to have been if it would help him get reelected, but that’s just a sign of his own venality and with the...

June 30, 2020
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