Russia is emerging as an essential diplomatic and security partner for the U.S. in Syria, despite the Obama administration's opposition to Moscow's support for President Bashar al-Assad.
Foreign policy is about the execution of ideas as much as their formulation.
In a chaotic world, U.S. diplomats will probably have even less contact with the people they need to reach.
The Chinese are planning a manned mission to the moon sometime after 2020, and subsequently, to Mars. The U.S. has abandoned that dream.
Prominent scientists have become increasingly convinced that the connection between carbon emissions and rising temperatures is real, but skeptics have whole truckloads of studies to demonstrate the opposite.
Yes, Europe needs to be more welcoming, but that's only half of it. Muslims need to embrace the obligations of European residence and citizenship.
Things felt pretty crazy on earth in 1969, but the cosmos was friendly. Astronauts had round-trip tickets; they got home.
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.
Chinese experts noted that the U.S. economy has rebounded from the 2008 crash more strongly than some analysts here had expected, while China's own growth is slowing after several decades of rocket-ship acceleration.
Paradoxically, the United States' determination to protect its troops can be self-defeating. Allies and adversaries see U.S. forces living in secure compounds, eating fancy chow and minimizing their exposure to potential terrorist assaults.
Experts say that Britain and France have strong spy agencies; Germany's is competent but afraid to level with its public; the rest are relatively weak, and there is no Europe-wide spy agency.
Intelligence services exist to do things that are illegal abroad. They exist to tell lies.
Politicians often call for sanctions as a way of sounding tough when they don't want to take riskier measures.
Panic is a natural human response to danger, but it's one that severely compounds the risk.
The worm of paranoia begins to eat into even the hardest adversary.
Making economic policy isn't a popularity contest, especially when financial markets are in a panic.
Thanksgiving is America's favorite holiday because it's a time when we put aside our cares, much as the struggling Pilgrims did nearly four centuries ago, and eat a gut-busting meal without worrying about the 'out years.'
Real security will come when it's a moneymaker for private companies who want to satisfy public demand for an Internet that isn't crawling with bugs.
A world in which there are no secrets that can be protected at all is going to be a pretty dangerous world.
Sometimes good countries are so traumatized by events that they lose their bearings and embrace bad leaders.
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 national asset.
The ISI is above all a paramilitary organization. It doesn't do all that much collection of intelligence. It's not a very good spy agency, but it's good at running covert action.
Maybe it's the spy novelist in me looking for a future plot, but I hope the U.S. and its allies are thinking how to operate 'unconventionally' in Iraq and Syria in ways that undermine the Islamic State.
Saudi Arabia is a frightened monarchy. It's beset by Sunni extremists from the Islamic State and Shiite extremists backed by Iran.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, arguably President Obama's best Cabinet appointment, has been leading a quiet revolution in clean-energy technology. Innovation is transforming this industry, costs are plummeting and entrepreneurs are devising radical new systems that create American jobs - in addition to protecting the planet.
We haven't usually had to face the extreme questions about liberty and order because we're not a nation of extremists. We love freedom and good government both.
The value of catastrophic events is that they can help people face up to problems that are otherwise impossible to address.
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.
The Founding Fathers' instructions were clear: The right to free speech includes bad speech; it means tolerance of ideas that many find obnoxious.
My guess is that before Obama departs, he will adopt some of the more aggressive military options he has been resisting, such as 'safe zones' inside Syria and more aggressive deployment of U.S. special forces.
When historians look at the Obama presidency, they're likely to credit him especially for doing the politically unpopular things that were needed in 2009 to salvage the financial wreckage.
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.
Big mistakes were made in Benghazi, and people should be held accountable. But the brave officers who staff American posts in crisis zones know how dangerous the work is.
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.
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.
We're grappling with the same issue facing all advanced economies - how to revive growth and distribute its fruits more fairly. An America that can tackle that problem head-on can perhaps help revive a stagnant global economy.
I began writing fiction because it was the only way to tell all the intricacies of a real-life spy story.
Hedge-fund managers make too much money relative to their social utility. I wish their rewards were a bit closer to those of, say, schoolteachers.
It's fashionable with the Sarah Palin set to attack Harvard and treat its graduates as elitists. But if you spend any time on campus, you see students drawn from all over the world - an astonishing number these days with roots in Asia - whose chief assets are brainpower and hard work.
The European Union needs to reinvent its security system. It needs to break the stovepipes that prevent sharing information, enforcing borders and protecting citizens.
The surest way to empower the new terrorist gangs would be to withdraw from U.S. diplomatic missions.
What frustrates U.S. officials is that China sometimes seems more comfortable accommodating a strong United States, as it did in past decades, than partnering with an America that's less dominant.
I've tried, in 'Bloodmoney,' to tell a story that gets at the crazy relationship between the ISI and the CIA, these absolutely fascinating, often mutually destructive two scorpions in a bottle kind of relationship that they have.
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.
European Muslims need to feel ownership of security, rather than viewing the police as an occupying army.
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.
At the center of President Obama's strategy for dealing with the Islamic State is an empty space. It's supposed be filled by a 'Sunni ground force,' but after more than a year of effort, it's still not there. Unless this gap is filled, Obama's plan won't work.
Journalists couldn't do their jobs overseas without taking risks, and the same is true for diplomats and intelligence officers.
A disaffected America can be drawn into a civilized - but disruptive - dialogue about political change and reformation.