Adroit geo-strategists take new realities into account as they try to imagine how global politics will unfold. In the foreign policy business, however, inertia is a powerful force and 'adroit' a little-known concept.
Revolutionaries who come to power by force of arms usually have great crimes in their background. Leaders who survive campaigns by great powers to destroy them do not survive because they observe the niceties of law. Subversives who shape world events by covert action and violence work in shadows and detest the light of day.
One October day in 1976, a Cuban airliner exploded over the Caribbean and crashed, killing all 73 people aboard. There should have been 74. I had a ticket on that flight, but changed my reservation at the last moment and flew to Havana on an earlier plane.
Not all eagles can be trained, but those who take to life with a master display intense loyalty. Although they are not tethered, they always return after killing their prey.
American strategic doctrine suggests that Mexico is of second-level importance to the United States. It ranks below Japan and Indonesia, Brazil and India, Egypt and Israel, and European powers including Britain, France, and Germany. This is a grave geopolitical miscalculation.
Most Pakistani politics is conducted within a narrow spectrum. Politicians spend much time debating the best ways to fight India, or take Kashmir, or dominate Afghanistan, or punish the United States for its real and imagined sins.
Iran, in its former incarnation as Persia, created the world's first empire, produced titanic figures like Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes, and is one of the great fonts of world culture.
Romney is a classic case of re-invention. As governor of Massachusetts, he supported government-sponsored healthcare, was sympathetic to gay rights, and opposed harsh restrictions on abortion. After measuring the difference between the Massachusetts electorate and the national one to which he must now appeal, he has reversed those positions.
Other places are also generators of far-flung violence beyond their own borders - Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are obvious examples - but none has as long a history of war, resistance, and terror as Chechnya.
Any country that grants asylum to Snowden risks retaliation from the United States, including diplomatic isolation and costly trade sanctions. Several don't seem to care.
The United States is holding hundreds of suspected terrorists in prisons at Guantanamo and elsewhere. Many are locked up indefinitely. They have not been tried or even charged with any crime.
There is much to justify Turkey's reverence for Ataturk. He is the force that allowed Turkey to rise from the ashes of defeat and emerge as a vibrant new nation.
In fairness, Latin America's elected civilian leaders have made progress in some areas. They have brought their countries back to international respectability, curbed flagrant human rights violations, and sought to build democratic political institutions.
By the late 1970s, repression and economic chaos were causing increasing unrest throughout Latin America. Army strongmen were forced to cede power in Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
It is truly vital for the United States to assure that it is not attacked with weapons of mass destruction; to prevent wars in other countries from spreading onto American soil; and to maintain access to global sea lanes on which our economy depends. Beyond that, there is little or nothing in the world that should draw the United States to war.
Guerrilla leaders win wars by being paranoid and ruthless. Once they take power, they are expected to abandon those qualities and embrace opposite ones: tolerance, compromise and humility. Almost none manages to do so.
Human Rights Watch wants Rwandans to be able to speak freely about their ethnic hatreds, and to allow political parties connected with the defeated genocide army to campaign freely for power.
One of the most perplexing political questions of the late 20th century is how new democracies should punish deposed dictators and their associates. Victims cry for justice, but leaders of new regimes must decide to what extent it is possible, moral or prudent to pursue evildoers of the past.
Because Iranians have had to fight so long and painfully for political freedom, they have a deep appreciation for its value - perhaps deeper than many in the West who take their electoral rights for granted.
Guatemala's ornate presidential palace, once a terrifying fortress whose every corridor was patrolled by heavily armed soldiers in berets and camouflage uniforms, is now a normal public building where ordinary citizens enter without fear.