Tom discusses the Ukraine “deal” on Al Jazeera

I’ve talked several times during this crisis with John Siegenthaler at Al Jazeera America. Last night we talked about the “deal” (or whatever it is) reached in Geneva yesterday. The one the Russian separatists are already violating.

Yes, I know I’m not wearing a tie. I’d just gotten out of class when they asked me to do the interview.


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Ukraine: What do we do now?

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Ukrainian forces near the border. Waiting.

Criticism keeps us honest, and that includes the critics of the critics. I’ve made it clear, both as a citizen and as a scholar of Russian affairs, that I’m deeply unhappy with the way official Washington has handled the crisis over Ukraine. I have said repeatedly that the administration has projected an air of un-seriousness, of reactivity, and of an overall — dare I use this word — malaise when it comes to foreign affairs in general and this crisis in particular.

But that leads to the question, at least from honest interlocutors, about what I would do if I could change U.S. policy. When asked sincerely, that’s a fair question, so I’ll do my best to answer it.  Continue reading →

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The difference between conservatives and liberals in foreign policy: the short version

left-vs-right-politicsI was having a discussion with my friend Shoq on Twitter, and he was curious about why I would prefer (or even defend) conservatism these days. It’s a variant on an old question I used to get as a young Reaganite in the 1980s: “How can a guy as smart as you be a…” And then something like “Republican,” or “conservative,” or “Reagan voter” would follow.

That’s too long a question to get into here. (Especially since my time in state government was with a Democrat, and in the Senate it was with a notably moderate Republican. These days I’m an independent). But in my new book, No Use, I did include a page about missile defense and what it means to conservatives and liberals that I asked several friends — both conservative and liberal — to look at during the drafting of the manuscript. It’s on page 60 and it describes, briefly, how I see the two movements as they relate to foreign affairs.

I’m reproducing it here as a kind of short-hand explanation for how I see the politics of the foreign policy world. (I should note, however, that unlike many conservatives, I am not a partisan of national missile defenses, which I think are a waste of money.) More to come later. Continue reading →

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