Henry Kissinger on the Assembly of a New World Order – WSJ

Kissinger’s new book attempts to chart what comes next in building a coherent, peaceful world order–in light of Arab uprisings, China’s rise, and the host of other developments:

To play a responsible role in the evolution of a 21st-century world order, the U.S. must be prepared to answer a number of questions for itself: What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone? What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort? What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance? What should we not engage in, even if urged on by a multilateral group or an alliance? What is the nature of the values that we seek to advance? And how much does the application of these values depend on circumstance?

For the U.S., this will require thinking on two seemingly contradictory levels. The celebration of universal principles needs to be paired with recognition of the reality of other regions’ histories, cultures and views of their security. Even as the lessons of challenging decades are examined, the affirmation of America’s exceptional nature must be sustained. History offers no respite to countries that set aside their sense of identity in favor of a seemingly less arduous course. But nor does it assure success for the most elevated convictions in the absence of a comprehensive geopolitical strategy.


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The Top 10 Questions About the World’s Biggest Problems

You can count on Stephen Walt to address the big questions, including the destruction of Ukraine:

Will someone get serious about real diplomacy, and make Putin an offer he’s unlikely to refuse? Instead of building more bases in Eastern Europe, the United States and its allies should be working to craft a deal that guarantees Ukraine’s status as an independent and neutral buffer state. And that would mean making an iron-clad declaration that Ukraine will not be part of NATO. (Just because many Ukrainians want to join doesn’t mean NATO has to let them.) Recent proposals for a deal lack that essential ingredient and aren’t going to solve the crisis.

A “Finlandized” Ukraine might not be an ideal outcome, but it is better than watching the country get destroyed. Putin may reject such a solution, of course, but surely it deserves a serious attempt before things get even worse.

via The Top 10 Questions About the World’s Biggest Problems.

Is the World Falling Apart? – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Enquiring minds want to know. (Top experts weigh in on several flash points.)

In different ways, these flashpoints all underline the continued diffusion of power away from the United States to other actors, whether to different regional powers or to nonstate actors. They remind us that such diffusion will multiply the sources of violent conflict in the world. They also are a sober tonic for anyone who started to believe that military force was somehow on its way out in international relations.

Professor Steven Pinker may be right about the overall decline in violence in the world when looked at in a larger historical perspective. But these multiple flashpoints make clear that violence, or the threat of violence by actors of many different types, will continue to shape different parts of the international landscape for the foreseeable future.


Burns Offers Nuanced Perspective On Slew of Crises Facing Obama

A lengthy and helpful take by Nicholas Burns on the challenges facing Obama and the US from abroad:

A growing chorus of critics has called President Obama’s foreign policy “besieged and befuddled,” as The Post’s Fred Hiatt recently put it, but Burns offers a more even-handed, nuanced assessment of Obama’s response to a litany of security crises around the world — an assessment befitting the complexity of the problems the U.S. faces.

The former ambassador said that among these problems, sectarian violence in Iraq is foremost on his mind. Burns said he generally gives Obama high marks on foreign policy, but suggested the president’s legacy on Iraq will be mixed.


What’s to Gain from Gaming World History?

What if you could mix world history into a competetive strategy game where you control a civilization–and match it up against others, both real and imagined?  What if the game could be used to teach diplomacy and negotiation?

Sid Meier has done this, as have others.  To explain, Foreign Policy asked him to delve a little deeper and explain why, exactly, this game works:

FP: So what is the secret of Civ’s longevity?

SM: I think there is a combination of these grand ideas — war and peace, exploration, 6,000 years of history, great leaders — in a playable format. You can easily make a game with these elements that is unplayable or overwhelming. What we’ve tried to do is introduce these elements in a playable, manageable way, so that you as the player can master and experiment with them. Combining these things is the power of Civ.

via You Must First Invent the Universe.

Best Board Game Ever: The Origins of Diplomacy

Consider the one board game to rule them all, at least for diplomats, negotiators, and other would-be hagglers, and it is called Diplomacy.  David Hill writes a tell-all in Grantland this past June–detailing the creation of a game created by Harvard graduate Allan B. Calhamer that sold over 300,000 copies and entered legendary status.

There are two things that make Diplomacy so unique and challenging. The first is that, unlike in most board games, players don’t take turns moving. Everyone writes down their moves and puts them in a box. The moves are then read aloud, every piece on the board moving simultaneously. The second is that prior to each move the players are given time to negotiate with each other, as a group or privately. The result is something like a cross between Risk, poker, and Survivor — with no dice or cards or cameras. There’s no element of luck. The only variable factor in the game is each player’s ability to convince others to do what they want. The core game mechanic, then, is negotiation. This is both what draws and repels people to Diplomacy in equal force; because when it comes to those negotiations, anything goes. And anything usually does.

via The Board Game of the Alpha Nerds «.

Hooked yet? Check out Ira Glass on This American Life for an interview (bleeped version) and more on the powerful effect of negotiation.

Game Theory Secrets for Parents – WSJ

Game theory is, in essence, the science of strategic thinking—a way of making the best decision possible based on the way you expect other people to act. It was once the domain of Nobel Prize-winning economists and big thinkers on geopolitics, but now parents are getting in on the act. Though game theory assumes, as a technical matter, that its players are rational, it applies just as well to not-always-rational children.

A key lesson in game theory, says Barry Nalebuff, a professor at the Yale School of Management, is to understand the perspective of the other players. It isn’t about what you would do in another person’s shoes, he says; it’s about what they would do in their shoes. “Good game theory,” he says, “appreciates the quirks and features that make us unique and takes us as we are.” The same could be said of good parenting.

via Game Theory Secrets for Parents – WSJ.


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