It used to be said by security analysts, back in the days of the Cold War, that the Soviet Union, though benighted in so many other ways, managed to maintain a highly sophisticated and realistic view of the balance of power across the various geographies over which it was in contention with the United States. The Soviets looked at something they termed the “correlation of forces”, which was comprised of all things that determined relative power: public opinion, political allegiance, economic prosperity, class struggle, and military might. This holistic concept the analysts contrasted unfavourably with what they saw as a Western view too focused on counting tanks; if you wanted to get the full picture of what was going on in a country, in other words, it was often most useful to look at things through Soviet lenses.
In a not-so-strange parallel, it appears that John Bolton — the recess-appointed former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and permanent advocate of missileboat diplomacy — has emerged as a similarly accurate lens on the true direction of U.S. foreign policy. Continue reading