Graham Allison

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Police officers standing guard outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 2024. Evelyn Hockstein / Reuters

From his confirmation hearing to become Director of Central Intelligence in May 1997 until September 11, 2001, George Tenet was sounding an alarm about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. In those four years before al Qaeda operatives attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Tenet testified publicly no fewer than ten times about the threat the group posed to U.S. interests at home and abroad. In February 1999, six months after the group bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, he claimed, “There is not the slightest doubt that Osama bin Laden . . . [is] planning further attacks against us”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Former U.S. President Donald Trump at the New York State Supreme Court in New York City, January 2024. Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

In the decade before the great financial crisis of 2008, the chair of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, became a virtual demigod in Washington. As U.S. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, famously advised, “If he’s alive or dead it doesn’t matter. If he’s dead, just prop him up and put some dark glasses on him”.

During Greenspan’s two decades as chair, from 1987 to 2006, the Fed played a central role in a period of accelerated growth in the U.S. economy. Among the sources of Greenspan’s fame was what financial markets called the “Fed put”. (A “put” is a contract that gives the owner the right to sell an asset at a fixed price until a fixed date.)…  Seguir leyendo »

A Tesla robot in Shanghai, July 2023. Aly Song / Reuters

This year marks the 78th anniversary of the end of the deadliest war in history and the beginning of the longest period in modern times without great-power war. Because World War I had been followed just two decades later by World War II, the specter of World War III, fought with weapons that had become so destructive they could theoretically threaten all of humankind, hung over the decades of the Cold War that followed. When the United States’ atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki compelled Japan’s immediate unconditional surrender, no one thought it conceivable that the world would see a de facto moratorium on the use of nuclear weapons for the next seven decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on May 1 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Ed Ram for The Washington Post)

The extraordinary coup attempt by a Russian mercenary leader provides Ukraine with an unexpected opportunity to press whatever advantages it has in its war with Moscow. If it does not seize this chance and break the stasis that governs the battlefield in eastern Ukraine, we will enter a very different chapter in this conflict.

When President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Russian troops captured more than 1,000 square miles of Ukrainian territory per week. This was followed by a second phase of the war, in which Ukraine’s counteroffensive pushed Russian forces back, recovering hundreds of square miles weekly.

But then last November, the war entered a third phase: For the past eight months, though the casualty rate on both sides remains high, neither army has managed to gain 100 square miles of territory in a single week.…  Seguir leyendo »

Will India Surpass China to Become the Next Superpower?

When India overtook China in April to become the world’s most populous nation, observers wondered: Will New Delhi surpass Beijing to become the next global superpower? India’s birth rate is almost twice that of China. And India has outpaced China in economic growth for the past two years—its GDP grew 6.1 percent last quarter, compared with China’s 4.5 percent. At first glance, the statistics seem promising.

This question has only become more relevant as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington this week. From a U.S. perspective, if India—the world’s largest democracy—really could trump China, that would be something to shout about.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting outside Moscow on Jan. 30. (Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images)

As we end the first year of war in Ukraine, no one can doubt who the big winner is — and who the loser. In this 21st-century version of David and Goliath, Kyiv’s defiance of Moscow’s attempt to erase Ukraine from the map has inspired us all. In a just world, this war would end with a total victory for Ukraine that buried Russian President Vladimir Putin in an ignominious grave.

Most public discussion this winter reflects a conviction that Ukraine must — and can — win a decisive victory. But what constitutes a win against a country such as Russia?…  Seguir leyendo »

Listening to an address by then U.S. President Donald Trump, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, November 2019. Tom Brenner / Reuters

The central institutions of American democracy are under assault, as deepening divisions and poisonous politics paralyze Washington and tug at the seams of society. The U.S. military is not immune to this threat. The nonpartisan ethic of the armed forces is at greater risk today than it has been in our lifetimes, and maintaining it is essential for the survival of American democracy.

Although the Founding Fathers worried that a large standing army in peacetime would be a danger to liberty, the truth is that today’s U.S. military is more a protector of democracy than a threat to it. The reason for this is the institution’s disciplined ethic and practice of nonpartisanship.…  Seguir leyendo »

New U.S. citizens wave American flags at a naturalization ceremony, welcoming more than 7,200 immigrants from over 100 countries, in Los Angeles on March 20, 2018.Mario Tama/Getty Images

What is the single most significant step the United States can take to sustain the technological predominance it has enjoyed since World War II? The answer should be obvious: to actively recruit the most talented minds in the world and welcome them into a society where they have the opportunity to realize their dreams. From physicist Albert Einstein and the other European scientists who helped the United States win World War II and land on the moon to the founders of Intel, Google, eBay, Uber, and the many technology companies that have powered economic growth, smart and ambitious immigrants have been the country’s secret sauce.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stalled and its forces have pivoted to the battleground in the east, the war is entering a new, darker, and more dangerous phase. Mariupol provides a preview of that future. The Vladimir Putin who bombed the Russian city of Grozny into rubble in order to “liberate” it, and who joined Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in razing Aleppo, certainly has no moral reservations about mass destruction. Moreover, the war in Ukraine is now unambiguously Putin’s war, and the Russian leader knows that he cannot lose—without risking his regime and even his life. So as the fighting continues, if he is pushed to choose between making an ignominious retreat and escalating the level of violence, we should prepare for the worst.…  Seguir leyendo »

Estados Unidos y China han llegado a un momento precario en su relación. Resolverlo en forma pacífica será el mayor desafío geopolítico del siglo XXI. ¿Serán nuestros líderes capaces de hacerlo?

Por el momento, el riesgo parece estar en alza. El gobierno del presidente estadounidense Donald Trump impuso sanciones económicas a entidades chinas con vínculos financieros con Corea del Norte, porque considera que China tendría que haber hecho más para contener al régimen norcoreano. Y como dijo Trump, sin rodeos, si los chinos no se encargan de Corea del Norte, lo hará él. Mientras el régimen de Pyongyang se acerca a tener un misil con ojiva nuclear capaz de alcanzar el territorio continental de los Estados Unidos, Trump amenazó al país con “fuego y furia como el mundo nunca ha visto”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Estados Unidos, China y la trampa de Tucídides

Este mes, bajo inmensas presiones de China, el nuevo presidente surcoreano, Moon Jae-in, dejó en suspenso parte del sistema antimisiles que estaba desplegando Estados Unidos en su país. Este episodio no es más que el último ejemplo del duelo de influencias entre Estados Unidos y China en la región de Asia-Pacífico. ¿Es posible que el duelo acabe convirtiéndose en una guerra abierta?

En mi nuevo libro —Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?— argumento que, con el rumbo actual, el estallido de una guerra entre los dos países en las próximas décadas no solo es posible, sino mucho más probable de lo que se piensa.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los ataques en Bruselas el mes pasado fueron un recordatorio cruel de la determinación de los terroristas y de nuestra vulnerabilidad estructural incluso en áreas de prioridad especial como la seguridad nuclear.

Los agresores atacaron el aeropuerto y una estación de metro, pero algunos investigadores belgas creen que, al parecer, eligieron estos objetivos porque sintieron que tenían a las autoridades muy cerca; sin embargo, su plan original quizá era atacar una planta nuclear. Hace algunos meses, durante una redada en el apartamento de un sospechoso vinculado a los ataques de noviembre en París, los investigadores encontraron videos de vigilancia de un alto funcionario nuclear belga.…  Seguir leyendo »

Could There Be a Terrorist Fukushima

The attacks in Brussels last month were a stark reminder of the terrorists’ resolve, and of our continued vulnerabilities, including in an area of paramount concern: nuclear security.

The attackers struck an airport and the subway, but some Belgian investigators believe they seemed to have fallen back on those targets because they felt the authorities closing in on them, and that their original plan may have been to strike a nuclear plant. A few months ago, during a raid in the apartment of a suspect linked to the November attacks in Paris, investigators found surveillance footage of a senior Belgian nuclear official.…  Seguir leyendo »

Americans spend about $2,300 per head on defense, including the defense of Europe. Europeans spend $550 per head on their own defense. (Helen Farrer / EPA)

This month in Poland, President Obama offered $1 billion in military assistance to address our NATO allies' anxiety about a resurgent Kremlin. Labeled the European Reassurance Initiative, this boosts NATO's budget by a mere 0.1%. It was nonetheless received with enthusiasm by European partners happy to have a Band-Aid to cover up an unpleasant truth: For decades, our NATO allies have so underinvested in creating their own security forces that when Vladimir Putin moved 40,000 Russian troops to Ukraine's border, they had no capacity to respond.

The crisis in Ukraine reminds us of dangers that are too easy to forget. Obama missed an opportunity to borrow a line from President Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address.…  Seguir leyendo »

Despite the ray of good news in Thursday's Geneva agreement on steps to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, President Obama was right to sound a note of caution, observing that "I don't think we can be sure of anything at this point".

The deal, reached by Russia, Ukraine and the West, called for, among other things, disarming illegally armed pro-Russian demonstrators in eastern Ukraine, and the surrender of the government buildings they have seized.

These are good and essential first steps, but unless they can now be implemented as a basis on which the parties can move to further, bolder steps to reverse underlying trends, Ukraine could still slide into civil war.…  Seguir leyendo »

As President Obama welcomes China’s new president, Xi Jinping, for an informal “shirt-sleeves” summit meeting in California on Friday, the bureaucracies of both governments must be quivering. Each will have prepared a long list of issues for its country’s leader to discuss, from cyberattacks and trade disputes to North Korean antics and competing claims in the seas near China. Talking points have been drafted, and many hope that a historic communiqué is in the works.

But if that’s all that happens, this summit meeting will have been a huge missed opportunity. Let us hope that these two leaders will rise above their bureaucracies’ narrow goals to confront the overarching challenge facing the two most important nations in the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

The most dangerous message North Korea sent Tuesday with its third nuclear weapon test is: nukes are for sale.

The significance of this test is not the defiance by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, of demands from the international community. In the circles of power in Pyongyang, red lines drawn by others make the provocation of violating them only more attractive.

The real significance is that this test was, in the estimation of American officials, most likely fueled by highly enriched uranium, not the plutonium that served as the core of North Korea’s earlier tests. Testing a uranium-based bomb would announce to the world — including potential buyers — that North Korea is now operating a new, undiscovered production line for weapons-usable material.…  Seguir leyendo »

For three years Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, seemed to be united in urging an early military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. But last week that alliance collapsed, with Mr. Netanyahu accusing Mr. Barak of having conspired with the Obama administration, in talks behind his back.

The clash came as a surprise in Israel, but in hindsight, there was a prelude — the speech Mr. Netanyahu delivered a week earlier to the United Nations General Assembly. In a memorable cartoonish graphic, Mr. Netanyahu depicted a “red line” that he said Israel would not let Iran cross.…  Seguir leyendo »

Fifty years ago, the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. During the standoff, President John F. Kennedy thought the chance of escalation to war was “between 1 in 3 and even,” and what we have learned in later decades has done nothing to lengthen those odds. Such a conflict might have led to the deaths of 100 million Americans and over 100 million Russians.

The main story line of the crisis is familiar. In October 1962, a U.S. spy plane caught the Soviet Union attempting to sneak nuclear-tipped missiles into Cuba, 90 miles off the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev posed for the cameras in Prague on Thursday before solemnly signing a treaty to reduce by 30 percent their number of active strategic nuclear weapons. Americans over 40 can be excused for recalling Yogi Berra's line about deja vu all over again. They have seen this show each decade since the 1970s. Many college students, however, will be puzzled by what seems a historical anachronism. As a freshman said to me recently: Weren't nuclear weapons a Cold War story?

Today's 18-year-olds, of course, were born after the Soviet Union disappeared.

The Obama administration will tout "New START" as a significant step toward the president's vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.…  Seguir leyendo »