The Soul of the Tyrant: Xenophon’s Hiero Revisited

Perhaps there is value into looking into the soul of the leaders of nations, especially when the leader in question seems to be of a certain type: what the ancients called a “tyrant.”

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The Soul of the Tyrant: Xenophon’s Hiero Revisited

Perhaps there is value into looking into the soul of the leaders of nations, especially when the leader in question seems to be of a certain type: what the ancients called a “tyrant.”

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Resources on Lee Kuan Yew, The Sage of Singapore

Lee Kuan Yew is often referred to as “the Sage of Singapore.” The Cambridge University-educated Lee was the founding father of that modern independent city-state. He served as its prime minister from 1959 to 1990, overseeing its rise as the first of the Southeast Asian “tigers.” He was also one of the region’s most influential international statesmen, renowned for his geopolitical acumen as well as his far-sighted economic vision. When Harry Lee spoke, people listened.

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Resources on Lee Kuan Yew, The Sage of Singapore

Lee Kuan Yew is often referred to as “the Sage of Singapore.” The Cambridge University-educated Lee was the founding father of that modern independent city-state. He served as its prime minister from 1959 to 1990, overseeing its rise as the first of the Southeast Asian “tigers.” He was also one of the region’s most influential international statesmen, renowned for his geopolitical acumen as well as his far-sighted economic vision. When Harry Lee spoke, people listened.

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Morrisey and Mahoney on de Gaulle, Geopolitics, and Democracy

Churchill stood at the head of a maritime nation while de Gaulle led a land power situated on the dangerous northern European plain; Churchill enjoyed a stable political foundation and concentrated his attention on its defense while de Gaulle needed first to build such a foundation, even as he defended ill-founded regimes. Both leaders understood their supreme task to be the protection of their citizens as civil or political beings who should not be subject to tyranny. Although geopolitics focuses the attention of statesmen on political realities, Churchill and de Gaulle believed that moral principle and prudence can continue to widen the scope of human liberty.

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Morrisey and Mahoney on de Gaulle, Geopolitics, and Democracy

Churchill stood at the head of a maritime nation while de Gaulle led a land power situated on the dangerous northern European plain; Churchill enjoyed a stable political foundation and concentrated his attention on its defense while de Gaulle needed first to build such a foundation, even as he defended ill-founded regimes. Both leaders understood their supreme task to be the protection of their citizens as civil or political beings who should not be subject to tyranny. Although geopolitics focuses the attention of statesmen on political realities, Churchill and de Gaulle believed that moral principle and prudence can continue to widen the scope of human liberty.

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Alex Deep on Putin, Clausewitz, and Ukraine

According to Deep, Putin is attempting to balance the trinity of passion, military means, and political aims in executing a plan that relies on friction and mass to succeed on the ground; and to use war as a way of achieving political ends.  However, the real question might not be whether Putin’s strategy is Clausewitzian, but whether he is choosing the correct means by which to accomplish the goal of increasing Russian influence along its borders.

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Alex Deep on Putin, Clausewitz, and Ukraine

According to Deep, Putin is attempting to balance the trinity of passion, military means, and political aims in executing a plan that relies on friction and mass to succeed on the ground; and to use war as a way of achieving political ends.  However, the real question might not be whether Putin’s strategy is Clausewitzian, but whether he is choosing the correct means by which to accomplish the goal of increasing Russian influence along its borders.

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Civil-Military Relations: Huntington’s World, or No?

“It’s an Eliot Cohen world.” This judgment, rendered by former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy at New America’s Future of War Conference, according to Thomas E. Ricks, has to do with the proper understanding of American civil-military relations. The traditional post-World War II understanding was articulated by the late Samuel P. Huntington in The Soldier and the State (1957). Huntington’s theory of “objective control” was challenged in 2002 by Eliot A. Cohen in his Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime.

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Civil-Military Relations: Huntington’s World, or No?

“It’s an Eliot Cohen world.” This judgment, rendered by former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy at New America’s Future of War Conference, according to Thomas E. Ricks, has to do with the proper understanding of American civil-military relations. The traditional post-World War II understanding was articulated by the late Samuel P. Huntington in The Soldier and the State (1957). Huntington’s theory of “objective control” was challenged in 2002 by Eliot A. Cohen in his Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime.

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Is Putin Another Metternich?

Mitchell A. Orenstein, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Northeastern University, offers the provocative thesis that Vladimir Putin is an aspiring Metternich. At first glance, this seems a rather odd comparison, in temperament and style, certainly.  In foreign policy terms, Metternich would seem to be the consummate conservative, wedded to the idea of a stable European balance of power in which Austria could maximize its waning power; Putin, the foreign policy revolutionary, who seeks to kick over the table in order for Russia to maximize its waning power.

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Is Putin Another Metternich?

Mitchell A. Orenstein, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Northeastern University, offers the provocative thesis that Vladimir Putin is an aspiring Metternich. At first glance, this seems a rather odd comparison, in temperament and style, certainly.  In foreign policy terms, Metternich would seem to be the consummate conservative, wedded to the idea of a stable European balance of power in which Austria could maximize its waning power; Putin, the foreign policy revolutionary, who seeks to kick over the table in order for Russia to maximize its waning power.

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The Original Grotian Moment

in February 1603, in which ships commanded by Jacob van Heemskerk of the Dutch East India Company seized the Santa Catarina, a Portuguese merchant ship, without explicit authorization to do so. To defend the seizure, the Dutch hired a 26-year old lawyer named Hugo Grotius, who claimed that it was a legitimate challenge to Portugal’s monopoly on commerce with Asia.  The incident happened off Singapore’s upper east coast, near Changi, where the Santa Catarina was anchored after sailing from Macau to Malacca. Grotius' opinion would subsequently be published in Mare Liberum (The Free Sea) and De Jure Praedae (On the Law of Prize and Booty).  Grotius’ arguments about the freedom of the seas, and just war, would be folded into his corporate works that became the foundation of the modern law of nations.

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The Original Grotian Moment

in February 1603, in which ships commanded by Jacob van Heemskerk of the Dutch East India Company seized the Santa Catarina, a Portuguese merchant ship, without explicit authorization to do so. To defend the seizure, the Dutch hired a 26-year old lawyer named Hugo Grotius, who claimed that it was a legitimate challenge to Portugal’s monopoly on commerce with Asia.  The incident happened off Singapore’s upper east coast, near Changi, where the Santa Catarina was anchored after sailing from Macau to Malacca. Grotius' opinion would subsequently be published in Mare Liberum (The Free Sea) and De Jure Praedae (On the Law of Prize and Booty).  Grotius’ arguments about the freedom of the seas, and just war, would be folded into his corporate works that became the foundation of the modern law of nations.

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Paul D. Miller on Niebuhr & Contemporary Realism

During the run-up to the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama cited the influence of Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr on his own thinking. This presumably included Niebuhr’s views on foreign policy – so-called Christian realism, which coincided with the strategic (Nicholas Spykman), diplomatic (George Kennan), academic (Hans Morgenthau) and journalistic (Walter Lippmann) views of “realism” that were circulating in intellectual and policy circles. Niebuhr rejected the notion that Christianity mandated pacifism in the face of tyranny (he supported World War II and resistance to Soviet communism, but opposed the Vietnam War). His views remain a source of inspiration and contention, specifically when it comes to the promotion of democracy.

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Paul D. Miller on Niebuhr & Contemporary Realism

During the run-up to the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama cited the influence of Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr on his own thinking. This presumably included Niebuhr’s views on foreign policy – so-called Christian realism, which coincided with the strategic (Nicholas Spykman), diplomatic (George Kennan), academic (Hans Morgenthau) and journalistic (Walter Lippmann) views of “realism” that were circulating in intellectual and policy circles. Niebuhr rejected the notion that Christianity mandated pacifism in the face of tyranny (he supported World War II and resistance to Soviet communism, but opposed the Vietnam War). His views remain a source of inspiration and contention, specifically when it comes to the promotion of democracy.

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Is Strategy an Illusion? Karl Walling reflects on Richard Betts

From time to time in history, the very notion of “strategy” has come into question. Strategy, in this sense, means the ability to exercise some degree of “reflection and choice” in international politics and warfare; of being able to bring about a rational relationship between the exercise of power, especially military power, and policy objectives. Strategic skeptics, or in extreme cases, strategic atheists, if we may term them that, point to the recent failures of the United States in the Middle East (and before that, in Vietnam), and of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, as evidence that beyond a very limited point, policymakers’ efforts to exercise “strategy" points in the direction of imperial overstretch.

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Is Strategy an Illusion? Karl Walling reflects on Richard Betts

From time to time in history, the very notion of “strategy” has come into question. Strategy, in this sense, means the ability to exercise some degree of “reflection and choice” in international politics and warfare; of being able to bring about a rational relationship between the exercise of power, especially military power, and policy objectives. Strategic skeptics, or in extreme cases, strategic atheists, if we may term them that, point to the recent failures of the United States in the Middle East (and before that, in Vietnam), and of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, as evidence that beyond a very limited point, policymakers’ efforts to exercise “strategy" points in the direction of imperial overstretch.

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