In April 2014, President Obama left on his rescheduled trip to Asia, making stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Senior Fellow for Japan Studies Sheila Smith and Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia Joshua Kurlantzick discussed the president's priorities in Asia prior to his trip.
Questions have arisen in recent months about the sustainability of the United States' rebalance toward Asia. The costly cancellation of President Obama's trip to the region during the U.S. government shutdown last fall fueled that skepticism, which has only grown as urgent foreign policy challenges have required U.S. leadership in the Middle East and Europe.
In Project Syndicate, Richard Haass writes: "The strategy needed to resist Putin's efforts to expand Russia's influence beyond its borders – and to induce change within them – resembles nothing so much as the 'containment' doctrine that guided Western policy for the four decades of the Cold War."
Votes are still being counted in Afghanistan's presidential election, but preliminary results suggest that no candidate won a majority. If these results hold up and no backroom deals are cooked up between Afghan politicians, a runoff poll will follow and the victor will not likely be declared until late summer. That timeline is making U.S. and NATO military planners very nervous.
Despite last week's fence-mending meeting between President Obama and King Abdullah, serious differences over policy regarding Iran, Syria, and Egypt remain between the United States and Saudi Arabia, says expert F. Gregory Gause.
According to a press release from the European Union, EU-Ukraine Association Agreement is the "first agreement based on political association between the EU and any of the Eastern Partnership countries, and is unprecedented in its breadth (number of areas covered) and depth (detail of commitments and timelines)." After Russia presented an alternative trade agreement, the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, did not sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. Yanukovych was removed from power through revolution in February 2014 and Ukranian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk signed the political section of the agreement on March 21, 2014.
The current state of U.S.-China relations would appear to be in disarray—a number of high-profile efforts at cooperation have fallen short, and domestic politics in both countries offer little reason for hope. But even though there have not been any major breakthroughs, small accomplishments can nonetheless be significant, says Elizabeth Economy, building a strong foundation to the bilateral relationship.
The Obama administration's search for a less costly, more "sustainable" foreign policy recalls previous presidents who wound down major wars, according to Stephen Sestanovich, George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. In Maximalist: America in the World from Truman to Obama, Sestanovich argues that the most challenging phase of retrenchment comes after the United States has extricated itself from a stalemated conflict. Postwar cutbacks in the Pentagon budget usually last longer than the surge that preceded them, but political controversies over the direction of American foreign policy begin much sooner.
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The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
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