Article in theFrontierPost (Peshawar, Pakistan) on what to expect from President Biden


My article in the Frontier Post today about what to expect from our President elect. Pure speculation, no inside sources. Check back in six months to see if I got it right.

In any case, the conclusion for the moment:

Biden will emphasize diplomacy and development, seeking to return the US to leadership through negotiation, communication and active organizing efforts on world issues. Pakistan has a chance to be a partner with the new Administration if it wants to focus on peace in Afghanistan and economic development in Pakistan.

Link to the full article:

or at the page here.

Quotes in Ming Pao about US election

I did a (written) interview with a Ming Pao (Hong Kong) reporter about the Foreign Policy implications of our election. It was published on October 13 in Chinese.

Some quotes:

“American first” has ended up producing “America Alone”

As we head into a new era, these Alliances can help create a system of global cooperation on global issues, help us benefit from each others’ strengths, help us open our markets to each other on an equal basis, and organize solutions to technological, political, military and diplomatic challenges we all face. Alliances underpin US leadership to make the rules that we all must follow –including emerging powers like China.

,,,”as long as the authorities in Beijing continue to interfere in the politics, the security environment, the education system, the judicial system and the daily life of Hong Kong, the US will maintain sanctions and restrictions –no matter which party controls the White House or the Congress.”

Here’s the Chinese page in full.

Here are the english questions and answers.

Testimony on Afghanistan — It’s time to come home

Senators Rand Paul and Maggie Hassan held a Subcommittee hearing yesterday about our involvement in Afghanistan, spurred by the Washington Post series of Afghanistan Papers.  I joined Inspector General John Sopko, Ambassador/General Doug Lute and Colonel Daniel Davis in discussing where we’ve succeeded and where we’ve failed.

The gist: We rid Afghanistan of the Al Qaeda elements that attacked us, but failed to build stability.  We focused on building central bureaucracy without enabling the government of Afghanistan to take care of people at local levels.  We focused on accountability instead of delivery and spent the vast bunk of our money on contractors, consultants, security and accountants before it got to Afghanistan.  With the government not delivering benefits at local levels, the Taliban stepped into the gap. It’s time for us to come home, but also to provide funding for local efforts by the Afghan government.

Also talked about Pakistan: When we focused on Al Qaeda, cooperation was excellent. As we expended our demands to groups like the Taliban and others, our interests and theirs began to diverge.

This bigger lesson is that America must lead with diplomacy.  The effort to “eliminate terrorists and those who harbor them” will never be achieved by military means; it will be achieved by capable governments delivering services to their citizens.  We need more diplomacy, not more interventions. And, we must fund American diplomacy to lead.

You can read my whole testimony here:…11-february-2020/ ‎Edit

Or, see a Washignton Examiner set of excerpts of each of us here.


New York Times (Chinese) Interview on Hong Kong

I did an interview with the New York Times Chinese language edition (In English, they translated) about Hong Kong demonstrations.

The Gist: Hong Kong leaders lack the political skills to balance a Chinese administration that wants control and order in the city with an increasingly restive young population of Hong Kongers worried about their jobs, their future and their way of life.  Every push against civil liberties and rule of law in Hong Kong drives young people in Hong Kong and Taiwan to think more of autonomy and independence.  Foreign leaders and business people need to speak out for the open society and rule of law that make Hong Kong valuable to its citizens and the world.

It’s wrong to think that “the business of Hong Kong is business.”   The business of Hong Kong is integrity: of deals, of contracts, of regulation, of markets, of personal freedoms.  Anything that impinges on Hong Kong’s integrity is ultimately bad for Hong Kong, bad for Hong Kong investors, bad for China.  The young people demonstrate because they understand this fact. We should all listen to them

Here’s the Chinese version:

And, here’s the English Version:


Teaching by Watching Students in Action

Back to teaching at Brown this semester.   Having a great time with role playing and simulations.  Here are some Action Shots:

Playing Pandemic!!! to save the                        Negotiating at the Green

world from deadly diseases.                            Climate Fund.   Learning how

Also an exercise in interagency                      deals are made in the corridors.




Afghanistan: Keep our eye on the Exit

Wrote an article at (   Gist is that we need to focus on building out the Afghan (and Pakistani) government.   Helping people, killing Taliban, educating girls or building roads may be good things to do, but if we do these things ourselves, it just perpetuates a stalemate.   Our exit strategy, from the beginning, has rested on building an Afghan government that can control its territory and prevent foreign fighters from installing themselves.

Thus, we need to spend our money directly through the Afghan government so that they deliver services and security to the population.  We should build their fighting capability.  If we want to do something right, DON’T do it ourselves.

As frustrating as it is to deal with Pakistan, they have the same problem:  control of territory and border.  We can work with them to monitor the border and to expand government control into the tribal areas, where they have recently imposed military order.

Only by supporting local capability will we be able to leave.   We need to keep our focus on the exit.

Screw you guys, I’m going home

Wrote an article for TheCipherBrief (see on Trump and the Europeans.  They tried to “educate” him yet he persisted in his views.  Whatever the discord, we’re stuck with each other on issue after issue:    “Together, we face digitization, automation, terrorism, Middle East turmoil, Russian belligerence, and Chinese resurgence.  From ISIS to cod to laptop bans to data privacy, neither the U.S. nor Europe can make policy alone….“Go it alone” won’t work for either Americans or Europeans and the sooner we accept our fate and mollify our pretensions to independence, the better off we’ll be. ”

Detached analysis aside, Trump’s visit reminds me of two memes from South Park.  When the new President was shown the Pentagon last season, he marveled at the toys:   nukes, satellites, drones.  When he opened the door marked “Diplomatic negotiations” he blurted out:  “Oh jeez, this doesn’t look like fun.”    That kind of sums of Donald’s trip to Europe.   Whereupon, he departs muttering Eric Cartman’s refrain  and pulls out of the Paris Accords on his return.

Diplomacy on the Rocks: Disputes and Solutions over Rocky Outcroppings from the South China Sea to the Arctic

We (Brown Junior Sophie Purdom and I) organized a great workshop last Friday in Providence.  We had a wonderful cast of participants and the variety of experts gave us insights that we might have otherwise missed.

The incredible speakers ranged from Law of the Sea Experts (U of Maine Law School’s Charles Norchi), to Naval War College academics (James Kraska, Walter Berbrick) and scholars from Brown’s Environmental Institute (Caroline Karp, Siri Veland and Ewige Cavan).   The Coast Guard Academy (Becca Pincus) contributed more ideas on the Arctic, and we enjoyed the presence of the Thai Navy (Kovit Talasophon), the Korean Coast Guard (Sukkyoon Kim) and, last but not least, diplomats like Ambassador Chas Freeman and Icelandic DCM Erlingur Erlingsson.

All were accomplished in their fields and lively presenters; together, they created a dialogue that looked at these issues from all angles, legally, environmentally and practically.    The icing on the cake, or at least the rainbow of sprinkles, were Brown student presentations on specific issues, and one big idea:  An Arctic Peace Park!   The whole proceedings are at this link.Wrap up

Summary:    Disputes over rocks grow from law of the sea claims (but remember islands have fresh water, rocks do not; islands convey economic zones, rocks do not) and spin dreams of hydrocarbons and fish or just of power and control.   These disputes are unlikely to find solutions in legal arguments, including the Philippines case against China at the tribunal over the south China sea, but the problems can be managed. We all have an interest in seeing them resolved, or at least shelved continentally, because we all need environmental standards and navigation regulations to apply, especially in sensitive areas like the Arctic.   The Arctic council does a very good job of expanding standards and promoting cooperation, but we shouldn’t expect it to tackle sovereignty and other claims.    In the South China sea, just about all the features that can be occupied have been occupied, so it’s time to accept that the “Go” board is full and see what we can do about settling things in place.   In the end, we need the political will to manage the resources and opportunities jointly and move away from sterile disputes about who owns what.

Santa Clara Law

Just catching up before I post some latest thoughts.   I participated in a symposium at Santa Clara Law School in February.   It was an lively (really!) and interesting (yes!) discussion of developments in international law and standards for corporate compliance.   I gave a keynote with my big theory of the world:

Value Chains –>  Exploding Middle Class –> Demands for fairness and impartial services –> Revolts when they don’t get it (Arab Spring, Occupy, Tea Party, Indian demonstrators) –> Companies need to keep clean –> Governments had better deliver good governance and efficient services or risk global instability.

Full length version:   SpeechforSantaClaraLawCenter

Ten Rules for Press from 20 years ago

I did the new eight rules because I couldn’t find my old ten rules — they’re essentially the same because the underlying truth (keep your mouth shut unless you know what you are saying) remains constant. Still for those who prefer an aged version, here are the Old Ten once known as Words of Wisdom.


Credit to Caitlin for finding these first but she’s not the only one.