Sources for In Class essay

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Executive Director of the Center for the National Interest,

Paul J. Sanders


This article outlines some differences between the cold war time and the present:

The United States and Russia are not equals (or even close): Russia is no longer anything like a superpower peer of the United States. America’s economy is eight times Russia’s and the same is true of the European Union’s total economy, making a combined sixteen-to-one ratioThe U.S. defense budget is seven times Russia’s. Moreover, notwithstanding some erosion, the United States is in a stronger position internationally that it was during much of the Cold War, retains a significant technological and soft-power edge over Russia, and has expanding energy resources too. Russia’s economy has fallen into recession and is facing accelerated capital flight; Russia simply cannot sustain a long-term confrontation with the West in the way that the Soviet Union did. A new Cold War would not be a seventy-year endeavor.

Globalization and technology empower spoilers: Many have described how the modern interconnected world empowers individuals for good and ill. A more accurate assessment might be that globalization and technology empower the weak (in relative terms), whether individuals, organizations, or governments. Incorporating the sad and permanent reality that it almost invariably takes many to build but only one to destroy, Russia’s capability to utilize modern technologies like cyber-attacks toward disruptive ends could help Moscow to level the playing field with America and Europe. Science fiction fans will recall Paul-Muad’dib’s statement in Dune that “the power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it”—and observers of Russia’s foreign policy will recognize echoes of this mindset in Moscow’s conduct.

Cold War 1 developed rules; Cold War 2 has none. By the time the Cold War ended, the United States and the Soviet Union had constructed an elaborate system of rules and signals to regulate their competition and mitigate risks. All of this is now gone—in fact, few remember its existence, much less its operation. If the United States and Russia enter a new Cold War, it will reset to 1945, not 1985. This means a new iterative trial-and-error process to define the rules—this time, starting with thousands of nuclear warheads, cyber-weapons, precision munitions and drones. And don’t forget sanctions, energy dependence, and angry Russian minorities in neighboring states. With global 24-hour television and the Internet, this mess will play out in real time. Governments on both sides will struggle to shape messages and manage public opinion in an environment totally unlike that of decades ago. This could produce powerful domestic pressures well beyond what early Cold War leaders had to handle.



Jeremy Shapiro and Miriam R. Estrin

In Syria, both the Bosnia and Iraq analogies should point us toward a greater understanding of the proxy war problem in modern civil wars. Civil wars are too often wrongly conceived as a conflict between — and only between — two intrastate parties. In fact, modern civil wars are frequently fed by competing external supporters who use local proxies as part of a larger regional or even global struggle. As long as outsiders can access the theater, insurgents eager to fight usually have little difficultly linking up with external supporters willing to supply them with funds and weapons. And these weapons needn’t be too sophisticated or wielded by trained armies, since insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s, and improvised explosive devices pose a formidable challenge even to a Western military trying to impose order. These weapons may not be enough to bring decisive victory, but they are enough to maintain a sense of disorder and instability. So long as external supporters keep the weapons and money coming and insurgents stay motivated, a conflict can last essentially forever. What history does show — in Bosnia, Iraq, and many other places — is that effective U.S. or Western intervention requires understanding that the proxy war problem is a recurring feature of modern civil wars.

The Cold War experience bears this out. Two fairly matched external supporters — the United States and the Soviet Union — supplied their proxies in civil wars in Angola, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Vietnam, among many others. No matter the continent or context, the external supporters had access to the theaters of conflict, a steady supply of weapons, and populations who were willing to fight each other endlessly. Indeed, the number of civil wars in the Cold War period rose “by leaps and bounds,” with 18 percent of countries fighting civil wars. Only after the fall of the Soviet Union did the civil wars gradually come to an end, as the external supporters lost interest and stopped supplying their proxies. The massive drop-off in civil wars at the end of the Cold War period is striking, to such an extent that the Economist concluded that “nothing has done more to end the world’s hot little wars than winding up its big cold one.”

In the post-Cold War period, no external supporters remain willing to finance civil conflicts across the entire world. But in those regions where external supporters still support proxies, the same dynamics allow civil wars to fester. In the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, insurgent groups with external supporters were able to persist in fighting even against the massive military might of the United States. U.S. planners who thought the invasion of Iraq would be a swift operation failed to account for many complications, including Iran’s ability to take advantage of wartime disorder and a porous border to funnel money and weapons to militant groups. Annual disbursements of just $100 to 200 million to local insurgents allowed Iran to undercut massive U.S. military power and keep the Iraqi civil war alive.




Trump’s year of taunting, teasing and threatening Kim Jong Un

 January 4

The barbs between Trump and Kim are nothing new. Here are the most notable from 2017:

Jan. 1: During his annual address, Kim says North Korea is in the “final stages” of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Jan. 2: Trump, still weeks from his inauguration, tweets: “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!”

Feb. 12: North Korea tests a midrange ballistic missile in its first challenge to the Trump administration.

March 2: In an interview with the Financial Times, Trump warns that the United States will take unilateral action against North Korea if China doesn’t step up to help.

March 5: North Korea launches four missiles. North Korea said its military units tasked with striking U.S. bases in Japan were involved in the test launch.

March 6:  The United States calls North Korea “a pariah” and reaffirms its commitment to allies.

March 12: North Korea test fires four ballistic missiles.

March 18: North Korea conducts a rocket engine test.

April 4: North Korea fires a ballistic missile.

April 11: Trump tweets“North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”

April 12: Trump says a powerful “armada” of naval vessels is heading to the Korean Peninsula. That proves to be misleading.

April 13: Trump tells the Wall Street Journal that the North Korea nuclear issue is more complicated than he thought.

April 16: North Korea test fires a missile, but it fails.

April 28: Approaching his 100th day in office, Trump tells Reuters a “major, major” conflict with North Korea is possible but that he still seeks diplomacy.

May 1: In an interview with Bloomberg News, Trump says he would be “honored” to meet Kim “under the right circumstances.” “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump said. “If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.”

May 14: Kim celebrates the test of a ballistic missile. He’s quoted by state media saying, “If the U.S. awkwardly attempts to provoke the DPRK, it will not escape from the biggest disaster in the history.” DPRK refers to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

May 23: The Post reports that Trump called Kim a “madman with nuclear weapons” during a phone conversation weeks prior with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Trump said: Kim’s “rockets are crashing. That’s the good news,” according to a transcript obtained by The Post.

June 30: In a show of solidarity alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump denounces North Korea’s “reckless and brutal” regime.

July 4: North Korea launches a test of what appears to be an intercontinental missile.

Aug. 8: Trump warns North Korea that it will be met with “fire and fury” if it continues to threaten the United States. It is his harshest language yet against the regime.

Aug. 9: North Korea responds by saying it is reviewing plans to target the U.S. territory of Guam. “The nuclear war hysteria of the U.S. authorities including Trump has reached an extremely reckless and rash phase for an actual war,” said KCNA, North Korea’s official state media.

Aug. 10: Trump escalates his rhetoric, saying his earlier statement may not have been “tough enough.”

Aug. 29: North Korea launches a ballistic missile. In response, Trump says “all options are on the table.”

Aug. 30: “Talking is not the answer!” Trump tweets as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with South Korea’s defense minister at the Pentagon. Mattis tells reporters: “We’re never out of diplomatic solutions.”

Sept. 14: North Korea test fires a missile.

Sept. 17: Trump taunts Kim on Twitter: “I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!”

Sept. 22: Kim calls Trump a “mentally deranged dotard,” prompting the public to search for the definition of the archaic insult.

Sept. 23: Trump tweets: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

Sept. 19: Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, Trump threatens to “totally destroy North Korea” and says “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

Oct. 1: Trump sends two tweets. One at 9:30 a.m. EST, saying Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” and another at 2 p.m. saying he “won’t fail” to rein in Kim.

Nov. 11: After reports surface that North Korean state media referred to Trump as a “lunatic old man,” Trump tweets: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”

Nov. 29: North Korea launches an intercontinental ballistic missile called the Hwasong-15, which it claims can carry a “super large heavy warhead.”

Nov. 30: Trump condemns the test, telling reporters: “We will take care of it.” He later tweets: “After North Korea missile launch, it’s more important than ever to fund our gov’t & military!” ”

Dec. 31: In a New Year’s address, Kim warns the United States that he has a “nuclear button” on his desk. He also extends an olive branch to South Korea, saying he would be willing to consider talks between the two nations.


President John F. Kennedy

Moon shot Speech:

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.

In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and most complex exploration in man’s history. We have felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the testing of a Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Atlas which launched John Glenn, generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with their accelerators on the floor. We have seen the site where five F-1 rocket engines, each one as powerful as all eight engines of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to make the advanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to be built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a 48 story structure, as wide as a city block, and as long as two lengths of this field.

Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the earth. Some 40 of them were “made in the United States of America” and they were far more sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to the people of the world than those of the Soviet Union.

The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most intricate instrument in the history of space science. The accuracy of that shot is comparable to firing a missile from Cape Canaveral and dropping it in this stadium between the the 40-yard lines.

Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a safer course. Tiros satellites have given us unprecedented warnings of hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for forest fires and icebergs.

We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them. And they may be less public.

To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead.

The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.

And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year¹s space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year–a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority–even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today–and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.

I’m the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay cool for a minute. [laughter]

However, I think we’re going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don’t think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the term of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.

I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United States of America.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.”

Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Thank you.


John F Kennedy

Cuban Missile Crisis


This Nation is prepared to present its case against the Soviet threat to peace, and our own proposals for a peaceful world, at any time and in any forum–in the OAS, in the United Nations, or in any other meeting that could be useful–without limiting our freedom of action. We have in the past made strenuous efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. We have proposed the elimination of all arms and military bases in a fair and effective disarmament treaty. We are prepared to discuss new proposals for the removal of tensions on both sides–including the possibility of a genuinely independent Cuba, free to determine its own destiny. We have no wish to war with the Soviet Union–for we are a peaceful people who desire to live in peace with all other peoples.

But it is difficult to settle or even discuss these problems in an atmosphere of intimidation. That is why this latest Soviet threat–or any other threat which is made either independently or in response to our actions this week–must and will be met with determination. Any hostile move anywhere in the world against the safety and freedom of peoples to whom we are committed–including in particular the brave people of West Berlin–will be met by whatever action is needed.

Finally, I want to say a few words to the captive people of Cuba, to whom this speech is being directly carried by special radio facilities. I speak to you as a friend, as one who knows of your deep attachment to your fatherland, as one who shares your aspirations for liberty and justice for all. And I have watched and the American people have watched with deep sorrow how your nationalist revolution was betrayed– and how your fatherland fell under foreign domination. Now your leaders are no longer Cuban leaders inspired by Cuban ideals. They are puppets and agents of an international conspiracy which has turned Cuba against your friends and neighbors in the Americas–and turned it into the first Latin American country to become a target for nuclear war–the first Latin American country to have these weapons on its soil.

These new weapons are not in your interest. They contribute nothing to your peace and well-being. They can only undermine it. But this country has no wish to cause you to suffer or to impose any system upon you. We know that your lives and land are being used as pawns by those who deny your freedom.

Many times in the past, the Cuban people have risen to throw out tyrants who destroyed their liberty. And I have no doubt that most Cubans today look forward to the time when they will be truly free–free from foreign domination, free to choose their own leaders, free to select their own system, free to own their own land, free to speak and write and worship without fear or degradation. And then shall Cuba be welcomed back to the society of free nations and to the associations of this hemisphere.

My fellow citizens: let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we have set out. No one can see precisely what course it will take or what costs or casualties will be incurred. Many months of sacrifice and self-discipline lie ahead–months in which our patience and our will will be tested–months in which many threats and denunciations will keep us aware of our dangers. But the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing.

The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are–but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world. The cost of freedom is always high–and Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.

Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right- -not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this hemisphere, and, we hope, around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved.

Thank you and good night.