In The Pragmatic Superpower, Ray Takeyh and Steven 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. Cutting against conventional wisdom, the authors argue that, when an inexperienced Washington entered the turbulent world of Middle Eastern politics, it succeeded through hardheaded pragmatism—and secured its place as a global superpower.
Today, nations increasingly carry out geopolitical combat through economic methods, but United States still too often reaches for the gun over the purse to advance its interests abroad. In Geoeconomics and Statecraft, Robert Blackwill and Jennifer Harris show that geoeconomic warfare requires a new vision of U.S. statecraft.
The United States is not the only place possessed by populism, and this week the results from Iowa coincided with a new lurch toward the gutter in formerly sane Britain. The country once governed by Bill Clinton-imitating centrists is now beset by its own version of Trump-Cruzery: a xenophobic nativism that would divorce Britain from Europe in defiance of ordinary good sense.
Authors: Ray Takeyh and Reuel Marc Gerecht Weekly Standard
The recent hostages-for-criminals exchange with Iran is the latest example of the Obama administration’s willingness to concede American red lines, argues CFR’s Ray Takeyh with Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. A permissive and passive diplomatic doctrine only serves to weaken American values and strengthen the resolve of its enemies.
Daniel Markey discusses the “comprehensive assessment of one of the world’s most consequential, peculiar , and poorly understood bilateral relationships” found in Andrew Small’s The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia’s New Geopolitics.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 22, 2016, discussing the United States' global commitments in trade, economic development, foreign relations, and conflict resolution. He specifically mentioned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, the Paris climate agreement, and the Trans Pacific Partnership.
UN-mediated talks in Syria are jeopardized by disagreement over which opposition parties should participate, but a broader obstacle is whether a compromise over Bashar al-Assad’s future can be reached, says CFR’s Philip H. Gordon.
The September China-South Korea summit in Beijing catalyzed the resumption of trilateral talks with Japan in October and the launch of the China-South Korea free trade agreement in December. Beijing’s Korean engagement also included a visit to North Korea in October by Chinese Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan for 70th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). Despite new initiatives to expand economic cooperation, Pyongyang’s apparent defiance of Chinese diplomatic efforts on denuclearization suggests further difficulties in China-North Korea relations.
The White House moved quickly to debunk North Korea's exaggerated claim that a Jan. 5 "artificial earthquake" at the site where Pyongyang had conducted three previous nuclear tests was a breakthrough detonation of a hydrogen bomb. The size of the blast was similar to that of North Korea's January 2013 test and had a yield thousands of times lower than the yield expected of a hydrogen blast. But in downplaying North Korea's claim so as not to feed Kim Jong-un's cravings for international attention, the Obama administration risks underplaying the growing danger posed by North Korea's unchecked efforts to develop nuclear and missile capabilities needed to threaten a nuclear strike on the United States.
The confirmation by UN monitors that Iran has complied with the deal to dismantle large parts of its nuclear program lifts major sanctions and ushers in a new era for the Middle East. This issue guide offers analysis and background.
In Politico, Philip Gordon and Richard Nephew argue that the implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement makes the world safer and buys valuable time. Now the United States must ensure its enforcement; prevent Iran from destabilizing actions in the region; and cautiously explore the possibility of a new and more constructive relationship.
Joshua Kurlantzick looks at current U.S. policy toward China and argues that not only does it alienate allies, but takes U.S. diplomats, money and arms away from places that truly matter, and that in some places America would do best to let China win.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the National Defense University about the Obama administration's foreign policy agenda. The main focus of his speech included strategy for defeating the self-proclaimed Islamic State, addressing the humanitarian crisis in Syria, integrating screened refugees, and beginning implementation of several agreements, including the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the Paris climate change agreement, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Given the complex politics of the India–Pakistan relationship, the United States does not play a role in their bilateral talks, but Washington can certainly take steps to help prevent spoilers from once again disrupting a dialogue process that deserves every chance to succeed.
Anyone watching this meltdown unfold has every reason to think of worse-case scenarios, as it will only deepen the Middle East’s widening sectarian divide, intensify the region’s multiple conflicts, and set back efforts to defeat the Islamic State and end the bloodshed in Syria.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2016 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 »