How I Knifed The Swiss Army

Twenty-Five Years Ago, Young Swiss Activists Used a Ballot Initiative to Try to End My Country’s Military. They Won, Because They Knew How to Lose.

Some people in my home country of Switzerland keep trying to weaken the Swiss Army, which is famous worldwide for its neutrality and knives. The latest attempt—a national ballot initiative to abolish conscription for Swiss men and make the Army a voluntary force—failed recently. But it may not be the last such effort.

I must confess that this is my fault, at least in part. I was present at the beginning of this Swiss Army Syndrome, a continuous effort to change a revered but very questionable institution through initiatives and referendums.

In …

Be Worried About Brazil’s Tantrum

If the United States Can’t Make Friends With Brasilia, Who Can We Get To Join Our Club?

It has become one of the clichés of American diplomacy: The United States welcomes the rise of new powers and wants them to continue rising—especially when those new powers are …

When the U.S. Learned to be Mr. Nice Guy

Containing Anti-Gringo Sentiment in Revolutionary Mexico Gave Birth to Public Diplomacy

Why do they hate America? What can we do to make them like us? There has been much talk about the promise and limits of U.S. public diplomacy in the …

The Agony of Being Canadian

It’s Not Easy Being Misunderstood By You Americans Down South

My hometown of Vancouver is just 25 miles from the Peace Arch, the crisp white monument on the border that marks the strength and endurance of Canadian-American relations. One of …

San Francisco, Almost the Capital of the World

The City's Campaign to Host the United Nations Failed, But Left a Legacy You Can See Today

In today’s San Francisco, there are traces of the dream that gripped the city in the spring of 1945, when diplomats from around the world gathered to draft a charter …

U.S. + Mexico = Shared Destiny

Once Described As Distant Neighbors, the Two Parent Nations of California Warily Get Closer

These are bullish times for cultural and economic trade between the United States and Mexico, even as the two nations struggle with thorny security threats along the border and lingering …