Since the trend toward rising economic inequality in the United States became apparent in the 1990s, scholars and commentators have heatedly debated its causes and consequences.
As growth slows in mature economies across the developed world, economic inequality has reachednew heights. Defined in terms of the shares of disposable income of households across the economic spectrum, adjusted for varying needs, inequality today in the United States is significantly higher than it was a generation ago.
In recent years, as public anxiety over growing inequality has intensified, policymakers and academics have started scrambling for some increasingly extreme solutions.
On January 28, 2009, barely a week into his presidency, Barack Obama met with the U.S. military’s top generals and admirals on their own turf, inside “the tank,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s conference room on the second floor of the Pentagon. A senior official recalled the new president as “remarkably confident—composed, relaxed, but also deferential, not trying to act too much the commander in chief.”
The nuclear deal that the United States and five other great powers signed with Iran in July 2015 is the final product of a decadelong effort at arms control. That effort included sanctions in an attempt to impede Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapons capability.
The scholar Edward Corwin famously described the separation of powers between the executive and the legislative branches set out in the U.S. Constitution as “an invitation to struggle for the privilege of directing American foreign policy.” With different parties controlling different branches of government, partisan politics tends to intensify this struggle, and the consequences can be ugly.
Since the early 1990s, daily life in poor countries has been changing profoundly for the better: one billion people have escaped extreme poverty, average incomes have doubled, infant death rates have plummeted, millions more girls have enrolled in school, chronic hunger has been cut almost in half, deaths from malaria and other diseases have declined dramatically, democracy has spread far and wide, and the incidence of war—even with Syria and other conflicts—has fallen by half.
At a time when Russian relations with the United States and western European countries are growing cold, the relatively warm ties between China and Russia have attracted renewed interest.
At the end of September, Russia began conducting air strikes in Syria, ostensibly to combat terrorist groups. The strikes constitute Russia’s biggest intervention in the Middle East in decades. Its unanticipated military foray into Syria has transformed the civil war there into a proxy U.S.-Russian conflict and has raised the stakes in the ongoing standoff between Moscow and Washington.
After Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, the Obama administration responded with what has become the go-to foreign policy tool these days: targeted sanctions.
Last October, the European Court of Justice struck down the Safe Harbor agreement, a 15-year-old transatlantic arrangement that permitted U.S. companies to transfer data, such as people’s Google-search histories, outside the EU. In invalidating the agreement, the ECJ found that the blurry relationship between private-sector data collection and national security in the United States violates the privacy rights of EU citizens whose data travel overseas.
Almost five years ago, mass protests swept the Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power. Most local and foreign observers believed that Egypt was on the path to a democratic future; some even proclaimed that democracy had arrived.
Just a few years ago, Latin America was on a roll. Its economies, riding on the back of the Chinese juggernaut, were flourishing. A boom in commodity prices and huge volumes of foreign direct investment in agriculture and natural resources generated a golden decade.
The biggest revelation offered by Ben Bernanke’s memoir of his time as chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve is just how much the public, the media, and especially elected officials have misunderstood the real lessons of the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent Great Recession—events that defined Bernanke’s tenure, which began in 2006 and ended in 2014.
The EU is under siege. The arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria has tested the single-border principle at the core of the union.
If the world is to avoid climate calamity, it needs to reduce its carbon emissions drastically by the middle of this century—a target that is simply out of reach with existing technology. Varun Sivaram and his co-author present the case for a massive investment in clean energy research and development to reach that goal.
In this May 2016 Foreign Affairs article Rob Knake looks back at the Obama administration's "cyberdoctrine" and the importance of making cybersecurity a private sector responsibility.
Why U.S. Trade Deals Haven't Exported U.S. Drug Prices
Robert E. Litan and Hal Singer examine future scenarios and the multiple possibilities for the future of net neutrality regulations.
To ensure the success of Myanmar's historic democratic transition, the United States should revise its outdated and counterproductive sanctions policy.
Blackwill and Campbell analyze the rise of Chinese President Xi Jinping and call for a new American grand strategy for Asia.
Williams argues that greater U.S. involvement is necessary to enhance the quality and success of peacekeeping missions.
Kurlantzick offers the sharpest analysis yet of what state capitalism’s emergence means for democratic politics around the world. More
In a cogent analysis of why the United States is losing ground as a world power, Blackwill and Harris explore the statecraft of geoeconomics. More
Takeyh and Simon reframe the legacy of U.S. involvement in the Arab world from 1945 to 1991 and shed new light on the makings of the contemporary Middle East. More
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2015 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass.
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