James Mann

James Mann is author-in-residence at Johns Hopkins’s School of Advanced International Studies. He is the author of Rise of the Vulcans (Viking) and The Obamians (Viking).

Recent Articles

Not Your Father's Foreign Policy

In its first months, President George W. Bush's new foreign-policy team has gotten the wrong rap--an inane one that deflects attention away from the serious questions. Since November the press has been abuzz with the supposed insight that Bush's appointees are "retreads" from previous Republican governments. Yet this conceit has obscured the far more important issue of what Bush's new team intends to do. What goals have they set? Are these goals prudent, affordable, and achievable? What will the impact be upon America's role in the world? Once you study the new administration, its instincts, and its priorities, a paradox emerges. Bush's new foreign-policy team, for all its reassuring stability and experience, may be a bunch of risk takers. A group of bright, talented men and women whose background and orientation are deeply rooted in the past traditions of American foreign policy could, in fact, propel the United States into an uncharted world. A new administration deeply and...

The Asian Challenge

On the face of things, the overseas focus of America's antiterrorist campaign should be on the Middle East. Osama bin Laden is a Saudi. His al-Qaeda network is made up primarily of Saudis, Egyptians, and others from the Middle East. No matter how you define the underlying causes of the problem--whether you blame Islamic fundamentalism, state support for terrorism, the corrupt and undemocratic nature of regimes like Saudi Arabia, the inequitable distribution of oil wealth, America's need for military bases to protect oil supplies, or, in bin Laden's recent redefinition, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--they all have their origins in the Middle East. Yet America's campaign against terrorism has now unleashed forces that could lead to dramatic, violent upheavals elsewhere in the world--and especially in Asia. The antiterrorist effort is necessary, but the potential side effects are scary. It will require not just skillful U.S. diplomacy but a lot of luck to avert some new, unforeseen...

Our China Illusions

A merica is in the midst of a supposedly great debate over China policy. Congress will soon hold a seemingly momentous vote on whether to extend indefinitely China's trading rights in the United States. The Clinton administration and the business community are pressing hard, indeed desperately, for congressional approval, which they argue is necessary for American companies to reap the full benefits of China's expected membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Yet oddly enough, from a broader perspective, the upcoming congressional test is not nearly so important as it is commonly portrayed to be. Sheer political realism tells us that Congress will soon approve permanent normal trading rights (PNTR, as they are now called) for China, as it has already authorized one-year renewals of trade with China annually since 1980. Even if opponents in the labor movement should succeed in postponing a vote this spring, then PNTR will almost certainly be approved at the end of the year or...