- Doug Bandow, Cato Institute
From the time he entered office after being tapped by Boris Yeltsin to succeed him, President Vladimir Putin’s overarching objective was to consolidate power – at home and abroad. From earlier focuses on the Russian economy and quashing internal rivals, President Putin now seeks to recover geo-strategic assets lost in the Soviet collapse, which he called “the greatest geo-political catastrophe of the 20th century.”
President Putin's adventurism in the “post-Soviet space” was previously limited to cyber-activities in the Baltics, widespread regional economic and security pressure, and the 2008 invasion of Georgia. But in 2014 he aimed far higher by invading and annexing Crimea and then destabilizing eastern Ukraine. The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine has caused the West to re-assess its overall approach to Russia.
What is President Putin up to? How far will he go? What should the United States do to deter President Putin's ambitions to make Russia the dominant power in Eurasia? And what are our European allies willing to do?
The world today is overwhelmed by wars between nations and within nations, wars that have dominated American politics for quite some time. Point of Attack?: Preventative War, International Law, and Global Welfare calls for a new understanding of the grounds for war. In this book, University of California at Berkeley School of Law Professor John Yoo argues that the new threats to international security come not from war between the great powers, but from the internal collapse of states, terrorist groups, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and destabilizing regional powers. In Point of Attack, he rejects the widely-accepted framework built on the U.N. Charter and replaces it with a new system consisting of defensive, pre-emptive, or preventive measures to encourage wars that advance global welfare. Professor Yoo concludes with an analysis of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, failed states, and the current challenges posed by Libya, Syria, North Korea, and Iran. Professor Yoo and Ohio Northern University College of Law Professor Michael W. Lewis explored the premises of Professor Yoo’s book and the ways super powers might respond and adapt to the changing geopolitical landscape.
The United States Government has consistently interpreted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other key treaties as not applying to its actions outside the U.S. It is in the process of explaining that interpretation to a United Nations monitoring panel, which disagrees. This process has potential implications for both the fight against terrorists and intelligence gathering. What should the U.S. position be?
Do the Constitution’s structural limits on federal authority impose constraints on the scope of Congress’ authority to enact legislation to implement a valid treaty, at least in circumstances where the federal statute, as applied, goes beyond the scope of the treaty, intrudes on traditional state prerogatives, or is unnecessary to satisfy the government’s treaty obligation? What is the extent of authority under the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, 18 U.S.C. §229, and how does it affect the balance of power between the state and federal governments?
On November 4, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in U.S. v. Bond, which examines these questions. Our experts attended the oral arguments and offer their analysis of the merits of the case and the likely outcome in light of the day’s proceedings.