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Council on Foreign Relations The World This Week
Highlights from CFR

January 31, 2014

The World This Week

Securing the Sochi Olympics

Raymond W. Kelly

The vast size and scale of the Sochi Winter Olympics, paired with it being within one of the world's most volatile regions, makes the 2014 games an increased security risk. Despite ramped-up security efforts, concerns persist over the potential for terrorist activity. Watch the video »

Put America's House in Order

Richard N. Haass

Americans must resolve their political dysfunction, rethink their foreign policy, and restore the foundations of American power—and in the process provide another century of American leadership—or the United States will increasingly find itself at the mercy of what happens beyond its borders and beyond its control. Read the article »

Face the Assad Reality In Syria

Leslie H. Gelb and Frank G. Wisner

Washington must pressure moderate rebels and Assad (with Russian help) to set aside their mutual hatred and focus on what they both see as the much larger, long-term danger to them both—the jihadis. And the parties in Syria must show some basic decency and save their own people. Read the op-ed »

State of the Union

A Missed Opportunity for Progress

Edward Alden

President Obama's speech missed opportunities to build goodwill with Republican counterparts who have made headway on immigration, tax reform, and the budget. His plan to pursue executive action is understandable given limited prospects for cooperation with Congress, but the issues that really matter require their cooperation. Read more on Renewing America »

Fixing America's Infrastructure: Not a Solo Act

Heidi Crebo-Rediker

Infrastructure investment is win-win for the country. An investment in an asset that can help businesses be more productive and efficient, provide jobs, ensure safer transit of goods and people around the country, and provide greater resilience against storms should be a no-brainer. To fix America's infrastructure in some areas, the president can act alone. But in most, he will still need to rely on congressional support to move the infrastructure agenda forward. Read more on Macro and Markets »

An Epitaph for Neoconservatism

Stewart M. Patrick

The three broad themes of returning to normalcy after twelve years of the global war on terror, using diplomacy to resolve the gravest security threats, and the necessity of reframing the language of American exceptionalism signaled the president's determination to bury troubling vestiges of neoconservatism that had survived the Bush years. Read more on The Internationalist »

Modest Proposals for Growth

Robert Kahn

Overall, the speech was pragmatic, balancing a willingness to use executive action against offers to negotiate. Some have criticized the speech as small ball, and like many State of the Union speeches the need to cover many, many issues limits effectiveness. But it is also a realistic assessment of the hurdles he faces at this stage of his presidency. Read more on Macro and Markets »

 

Education and Egypt's New Constitution

Isobel Coleman

Despite criticism of the recently approved Egyptian constitution for its unprecedented extension of powers to the military and failure to protect many human rights, its increased expansion of access to education and vocational training could prove to be its most positive developments. Read more on Democracy in Development »

Political Chaos and Thailand's Corroding Economy

Joshua Kurlantzick

Thai economy, the second-largest in Southeast Asia, has proven extraordinarily resilient, surviving nineteen coups and attempted coups, natural disasters, the Indochina wars, and many Bangkok street protests that ended in bloodshed. But that resiliency is not going to last forever. The years of political turmoil are instead having a corrosive effect on Thailand's economy, more like the drip, drip, drip of a slightly leaky faucet that ultimately busts your water bill than the gusher of a pipe that breaks open and pours water everywhere. Read more on Asia Unbound »

The World Ahead

An Audio Preview of the World Next Week

James M. Lindsay, Raymond Kelly, and Robert McMahon

This week, former New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly joined the podcast to discuss security challenges at the Sochi Olympics. Additionally, Lindsay and McMahon discussed Thailand's upcoming parliamentary elections and the ongoing protests in Ukraine. Listen to the podcast »

The Panama Canal's Limited Reach

Shannon K. O'Neil

In its centennial year, the Panama Canal remains an impressive feat of engineering, and one that generates roughly $6 million per day for Panama. Despite the country's 7 percent growth rate since assuming control of the canal in 1999, the wealth it has generated does not benefit all. Read more on Latin America's Moment »

Implications of Reduced Oil Imports for the U.S. Trade Deficit

Robert Z. Lawrence

Although falling imports could have significant short-term effects, any improvement in the oil trade balance is likely to be offset in the long run by deterioration in other parts of the U.S. trade balance. Read the Working Paper »

The Rise of Islamic Finance

Global Islamic financial assets have soared from less than $600 billion in 2007 to more than $1.3 trillion in 2012, an expansion rooted in the growing pool of financial assets in Muslim-majority countries driven by consumer demand for products that comply with religious codes. This Backgrounder examines the origins and potential of Islamic finance. Read the Backgrounder »

North Korea's Test of Trustpolitik

Scott A. Snyder

Despite the growing distrust between North and South Korea, there are signs—namely an open letter from North Korea's National Defense Commission—that could offer a path forward for inter-Korean cooperation. Read more on Asia Unbound »

Ask CFR Experts

Chaitali Phadke asks, how does Bangladesh's socio-political situation affect India? CFR Senior Fellow Alyssa Ayres says that Bangladesh is a critically important neighbor for India, but should radical elements gain ground in Bangladesh, the potential threat of terrorism emanating from Bangladeshi territory could be a great concern. Read the full answer and submit your question

World Events Calendar

February 2: Presidential Election, Costa Rica
CFR Resources on: Costa Rica

February 2: Presidential Election, El Salvador
CFR Resources on: El Salvador

February 7: Opening of the Winter Olympics, Sochi
CFR Resources on: The Sochi Olympics

View the Calendar »

Inside CFR

At CFR's New York headquarters, Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael A. Levi discussed their new book, By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World. Watch the video

At CFR's DC office, Senator Angus King discussed the current negotiations with Iran, the role of Congress, and U.S. policy options moving forward. Watch the video

Earlier this week, Daniel L. Glaser, Lee S. Wolosky, and Juan Carlos Zarate discussed the recent history and evolution of the U.S. government's use of financial power and influence in national security. Watch the video

The Foreign Policy Implications of Child Marriage

A new InfoGuide examines the threat that child marriage poses both to the prosperity and stability of the countries in which it is prevalent and to U.S. development and foreign policy interests.

 

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