The framers hated the tyranny of King George, but they were also afraid of the mob. That is why they put so many checks and balances into our system, to guard against the excesses of a government that might be inflamed by public passion or perverted by a dictator’s whime
If you walk into the front hallway of the CIA, you will see, on your left, a statue of William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan. Bill Donovan was the person who created the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, which was America’s spy agency during World War II and then kind of morphed into what’s now the CIA.
Sometimes good countries are so traumatized by events that they lose their bearings and embrace bad leaders.
Moscow and Washington have evolved a delicate process for ‘de-confliction’ in the tight Syrian airspace, where accidents or miscommunication could be disastrous
During an economic crisis, what matters is that the government keeps its foot on the accelerator.
Saudi Arabia is a frightened monarchy. It’s beset by Sunni extremists from the Islamic State and Shiite extremists backed by Iran.
Bob Gates has unusual standing in the debate about the Obama administration’s foreign policy: He was defense secretary for both a hawkish President George W. Bush and a wary President Obama. He understood Bush’s desire to project power and Obama’s skepticism.
A disaffected America can be drawn into a civilized – but disruptive – dialogue about political change and reformation.
This is a universal human dream – that brains, not brawn, will rule – and the fact that America has the world’s finest institutions of higher education may be our greatest single nationa
Things felt pretty crazy on earth in 1969, but the cosmos was friendly. Astronauts had round-trip tickets; they got home
The worm of paranoia begins to eat into even the hardest adversary.
Frightened people want to protect themselves, sometimes without thinking about others. Often, they get angry and want to find someone to blame for catastrophe. Inevitably, they spread information without checking if it’s true.
U.S. power flows from our unmatched military might, yes. But in a deeper way, it’s a product of the dominance of the U.S. economy.
If you want better behavior from bankers, then make their financial incentives more like those in the hedge-fund world – where managers have ‘skin in the game,’ and their net worth is tied to their long-term performance.
Images sometimes capture particular periods in history. The unreachable green light, beckoning from across the bay in ‘The Great Gatsby,’ has become a symbol of the yearning of America in the 1920s
Helping Wall Street regain confidence and stability was the last thing an angry public wanted in 2009 after the markets crashed. But without such support, markets can buckle and liquidity can disappear – often for decades, as has been the case in Japan.
The secret of any kind of reporting is to go with a guide. So if you, you’re going to see Hezbollah in Beirut, you go with someone who knows the local people, and you’ll be fine.
A world in which there are no secrets that can be protected at all is going to be a pretty dangerous world.
Machiavelli did believe that it was better to appear to be good than to be good. If you’re good, you’re just too vulnerable, but if you appear to be good, you get all the benefits plus you can be sneaky and, when necessary, stab someone in the back.
The truth is, as you know, people like us look at what’s happening in the world, and then we project it forward. We think, ‘If I know A and B, then I’ve got to know that C and D are coming,’ and that’s kind of the way it’s been with my fiction.
The CIA in real life, we know, is looking for new kinds of cover. It’s looking for new platforms, as they like to say, and it’s trying to use the revolution in communications technology, the ability to use all sorts of corporate entities in ways that are hard to detect to get our spies in the places where they need to be.
The world has changed, the CIA is having to change, and again, the challenge for someone like me as a spy novelist is to write realistically about where they’re actually going.
Sometimes James Bond movies drive me crazy. They’re fun to watch, but they don’t have anything to do at all with what intelligence officers really do.
I began writing fiction because it was the only way to tell all the intricacies of a real-life spy story.
As so many writers know, the experience of creating an imaginary world is closer to dreaming than it is to normal, grit-your-teeth work. It’s preconscious rather than conscious. Ideas fall into your head, and the book writes you, rather than the other way around.
This experience of getting so lost in my writing that I lose track of time, or of anything outside the imagined world, is a release for me.
Empty political space will be filled by extremists unless the United States and its allies build strong local forces that can suppress terrorist groups and warlords both. When the U.S. creates such local forces, it must be persistent. If it withdraws from these efforts, as America did in Iraq in 2011, it invites mayhem.
Middle Eastern wars rarely end with outright victory and permanent stability, so the word ‘settlement’ may promise too much. At best, for many years, it may simply mean stable ceasefire lines, reduced bloodshed, fewer refugees, and less terrorism.
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