- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
By Christopher J. Fettweis
Best Defense guest columnist
3) Putin is a master strategist. He plays chess while we play checkers.
One of the most popular metaphors to explain the U.S. reaction to the crisis has been to suggest that while Putin plays chess, President Obama plays checkers. Putin is strategic and clever, in other words, while Obama is simple and one-dimensional. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee believes checkers gives Obama too much credit; the president is actually only playing marbles.
As political scientist Robert Jervis observed some time ago, for a variety of reasons all "actors tend to see the behavior of others as more centralized, disciplined, and coordinated than it is." In part because they are far more aware of their own internal deliberations and only see the outcomes of those elsewhere, people tend to believe that the other is unified, strategic, and purposeful. As a result, it appears to some that every enemy the United States has ever faced has played chess while Washington merely played checkers. It is never true.
(Still more to come.)
Christopher J. Fettweis is associate professor of political science at Tulane University in New Orleans. The thoughts in this essay are extensions of his latest book, The Pathologies of Power: Fear, Honor, Glory and Hubris in U.S. Foreign Policy.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |