As Libya moves ahead with a leadership transition, it faces challenges including restarting the economy, dealing with humanitarian abuses, and the rising influence of Islamists.
Both tyranny and anarchy are bad political options for a country. The political theorist Thomas Hobbes, looking at the ravages of anarchy during England's civil war in the 17th century, famously concluded that life without government was terrible because "there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; … no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, [is] solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short."
The United States' policy toward a post-Assad Syria would largely depend on what political scenario results. A victory by unified rebel forces would generate a vastly different policy than a new govenrnment that includes jihadists. In the more likely event that post-Assad Syria descends into greater sectarian violence, Washington would urge regional partners like Turkey and Saudi Arabia to exert influence with those rebel groups to which they had provided arms and ammunition.
The reported death of Muammar al-Qaddafi marks a dramatic end to his sway over Libya. Libyans now need considerable Western help in securing and rebuilding the country he leaves behind, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass.
U.S. calls for Syria's Assad to step down can only be realized if combined with stronger measures to forge a diplomatic coalition and drive a wedge between Assad and his supporters, says CFR's Robert Danin.
Military and popular support for Tunisian President Ben Ali's departure from power could mean pressure on new leadership for reform, and could also lead to modest concessions to reform in Egypt and elsewhere, says CFR's Steven Cook.
The Syrian opposition has realized that Assad likely cannot be toppled militarily, but must be pushed out through a negotiated solution, says CFR's Ed Husain.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice credits sanctions with deepening the isolation of Iran's leaders, defends regime change in Iraq, and says the Bush administration's democracy promotion agenda has changed the discourse in Mideast states.
Paul Kerr, a nonproliferation expert for the Arms Control Association, says any international deal worked out with Iran should include a pledge by the United States not to seek regime change in Iran in exchange for Tehran's agreement on limiting its nuclear program.
Syria is trapped on a crumbling precipice, and however it might fall will entail significant risks for the United States and for the Syrian people, says this memo written by experts on Middle East at Brookings.
The strongman may be Latin America's most important contribution to political science. The crisis in Honduras has many terrified that power-hungry leaders are making a comeback.
Operation Iraqi Freedom succeeded in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, but Iraq remains violent and unstable because of Sunni Arab resentment and a related insurgency.
Robert Litwak of the Woodrow Wilson Center and Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute debate whether regime change in Iran should be part of U.S. foreign policy.
Richard N. Haass says many of the world's bad guys departed the scene this past year, but looking back, 2011 was a year of great transition—not of transformation.
Max Boot says that while Qaddafi has fallen in Libya, it is too soon to tell whether Operation Unified Protector is a success.
Joshua Kurlantzick says Libya is hardly the only country that has reason to rejoice at the fall of Muammar al-Qaddafi.
Micah Zenko says Western leaders can take lessons from the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi and apply them to Syria.
Elliott Abrams argues that while the fall of Muammar al-Qaddafi is a victory, President Obama's failure to act sooner and more resolutely in the Libyan conflict has caused NATO to suffer greater damage than necessary.
Richard N. Haass says international assistance, and most likely an international force, is likely to be needed for some time to restore and maintain order in Libya.
The authors assess the political, security, and economic challenges facing U.S. policymakers in Afghanistan and evaluate a range of policy options.
Special operations play a critical role in how the United States confronts irregular threats, but to have long-term strategic impact, the author argues, numerous shortfalls must be addressed.
The story of the tragic and often tormented relationship between the United States and Pakistan, and a call to prepare for the worst, aim for the best, and avoid past mistakes. More
An authoritative and accessible look at what countries must do to build durable and prosperous democracies—and what the United States and others can do to help. More
A groundbreaking analysis of what the changes in American energy mean for the economy, national security, and the environment. More