Authors: Eliot A. Cohen, Eric S. Edelman, and Ray Takeyh
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 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.
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.
For the first time since the start of Britain’s referendum fight over Europe, the polls predict “Brexit.” The four most recent national surveys put the “Leave” side ahead with margins of between one and 10 percentage points. Most people, including many disaffected Britons who want to shake up the system by backing a Brexit, understand that this would mean a political and economic shock. But they underestimate its severity.
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.
“British citizens will be voting on June 23 on a question that will affect not just the future of Europe, but also the future of the United States, argues CFR President Richard N. Haass in the American Interest.”
Amy Pope, U.S. deputy homeland security advisor and deputy assistant to the president at the White House National Security Council, joined CFR for a discussion on how the networks, talents, and perspectives of diverse populations help the United States to ensure the safety and security of its homeland against 21st century threats. Pope reflected on how women and civil society help to strengthen community resilience and combat radicalization, and what policies, strategies, and tactics the U.S. government can employ to best partner with them and address the risks that they face.
Amina Mohammed will join us for a discussion on how to implement the ambitious post-2015 agenda. This roundtable meeting is part of a new high-level series, in collaboration with the UN Foundation, to explore issues related to implementation of the sustainable development agenda.
Tom Vilsack, the longest serving member of the Obama administration cabinet and former governor of Iowa, discusses his department’s role in U.S. national security strategy, including its work in protecting U.S. food supplies, conserving U.S. natural resources and forests, securing a clean water supply, and aiding developing nations.
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. Read and download »