RSS Feed

Commentary, publications, news and updates – all in a single feed.

January 8, 2020

Interview on CBC Radio, 8 January 2020.

June 17, 2018

The Real Story, BBC World Service

Broadcast description:

What is Donald Trump thinking? In one week he calls Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ‘dishonest and weak’ and then proceeds to boast of his ‘terrific relationship’ with the dictator Kim Jong-Un. In just a few days, he riles America’s closest allies at the G7 summit and then signs a nuclear deal with the country considered one of the biggest threats to international security. The president’s critics say he is tearing up the rule book without considering the consequences. His supporters say a new approach to international diplomacy is long overdue. So which is it? Has President Trump decided to abandon the military and political alliances that structured the post-World War II liberal order – or is he simply reminding old allies not to take the United States for granted? Is ‘the West’ dead – or is the alliance mutating into one where the US has more space to put itself ‘first’. On the Re...

October 18, 2017

Interesting discussion with Janice Stein and Randall Schweller.

Blurb: "Between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, and every populist in between, the idea of sovereignty has become the guiding idea animating opposition to the post-WWII liberal international order. It underscores the belief that the national self-interest should continue to be the fundamental motivation in international behaviour without regard to any other considerations. The Agenda welcomes experts to discuss these ideas."

November 18, 2016

Globe and Mail

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has ushered in a period of unsettling uncertainty in international affairs. He has called the foundations of American foreign policy into question, but his precise intentions remain mysterious.

If Mr. Trump allows this uncertainty to continue — or worse, if he turns his back on U.S. allies and trading partners, as he has threatened to do — he risks harming America’s closest friends, empowering its rivals, and making the world even more dangerous.

Uncertainty during presidential transitions is nothing new. But this transition is different. During the campaign, Mr. Trump disavowed decades-old tenets of U.S. foreign policy. He cast doubt on America’s commitment to its allies, describing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as “obsolete” and suggesting that Japan and South Korea might want to acquire their own nuclear weapons.

He called for warmer relations with Russia at a moment when Moscow is working to...

January 28, 2016

I had the pleasure of "interviewing" Fareed Zakaria at the 2016 Ottawa Forum (starting at 30:00).

September 13, 2014


President Barack Obama’s speech on Wednesday marks the third major shift in United States counterterrorism strategy since 9/11, but it remains to be seen if the new approach will work better than the previous ones.

The first shift followed the 9/11 attacks, when George W. Bush launched what became known as the Global War on Terror. The main elements of this strategy included forcible regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq; mass deployment of US and allied ground forces to both countries; a global hunt for suspected Al Qaeda operatives and their incarceration in secret “black” prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency or in the US military facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” ordered by President Bush; and enormous growth in the domestic and foreign surveillance apparatus of the US and other Western countries.

The second shift occurred when Barack Obama took office. He had campaigned on ending the “dumb war” in Iraq and on con...

July 11, 2012

Globe & Mail

It was fitting that last weekend’s international donors’ conference on Afghanistan took place in Tokyo: The event resembled the city’s famous kabuki theatre, with its ritualized drama of grand gestures and hidden meanings.

The centrepiece of the meeting was a pledge by donors, including Canada, for $16-billion in development aid to Afghanistan over the next four years in exchange for the Kabul government’s commitment to fight corruption, among other things.

In fact, there is virtually no chance that the Afghan government will tackle corruption – and everyone knows it. President Hamid Karzai has made similar commitments for years, yet not a single high-level official has been convicted for graft, in a country whose public sector ranks as the third-most corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International.

The unspoken reality is that the United States, which drives international policy on Afghanistan, appears to have resigned itself to this kleptocracy. Back in...

November 22, 2011

Is the United States “pivoting” its foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific region, as prominent Obama administration officials, news reports, and commentators have claimed?

Daniel Drezner, a Fletcher School professor and Foreign Policy blogger, isn’t convinced. For one thing, he points out, the U.S. never really lost interest in maintaining a presence in East Asia. The big difference now is “the eagerness with which the countries in the region, ranging from Australia to Myanmar, have reciprocated.”

Second, regardless of what U.S. officials may say or want, the rest of the world will continue to demand their attention:

“A pivot implies that the United States will stop paying attention to Europe or the Middle East and start paying attention to East Asia. While I’m sure that’s what the Obama administration wants to do, it can’t. Europe is imploding, as are multiple countries in the Middle East. The United States can’t afford to ignore these regions, since uncertainty there eventually tr...

November 17, 2011

Sometimes, the most interesting part of a political speech isn’t what is said, but what’s not said. On Thursday, President Barack Obama delivered an address to Australia’s Parliament in which he set out the rationale and priorities of the U.S. policy shift towards the Asia Pacific region. The speech was largely about China, but Mr. Obama barely dared to say that country’s name out loud. The complexity and sensitivity of the U.S.-China relationship were on full display to those ready to read between the lines.

Much of the speech sought to reassure China’s neighbours about America’s commitment to regional security in the face of rising Chinese power. The United States, said Mr. Obama, will “deter threats to peace” and keep its commitments to allies including to Japan, South Korea and Australia. It will adopt a more “flexible” military posture, including by basing Marines in northern Australia and by training the naval and land forces of regional partners. It will also deploy “...

Please reload

Roland Paris
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

120 University Private, Room 6053

Ottawa, Ontario, K1Y 3M5, Canada

+1 (613) 562-5800 x4047

© Roland Paris 2020