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."
"Left unchecked, rising ethnic hatred and increasing attacks could push the country into a terrible period of ethnic cleansing," writes Joshua Kurlantzick about the continuing ethnic violence against Muslims in Myanmar.
"While the United States may want to shed its Afghanistan obligations -- including its commitment to supporting the Afghan economy -- those who care about Afghanistan's security, and America's, will want to make certain the green shoots get tended," writes Gayle Tzemach-Lemmon
As countries from Libya to Tunisia to Myanmar navigate complex paths to democracy, a new CFR book offers insights and recommendations from political and economic transitions that have unfolded in recent decades. "By understanding the trade-offs and critical economic and policy decisions that transitioning countries have faced in the past, policymakers can make smarter choices to improve the chances of successful democratization in states undergoing transitions today," write Isobel Coleman, CFR senior fellow and director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative, and Terra Lawson-Remer, CFR fellow, in Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons From Democratic Transitions.
John Campbell, Isobel Coleman, and Terra Lawson-Remer discuss their new Council on Foreign Relations book, Pathways to Freedom, which offers 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.
The Balkans region in southern Europe has been unsettled since the dismantling of Ottoman dominance there in the late nineteenth century. During the twentieth century, ethnic and sectarian tensions not infrequently brought war to the region, most recently during the 1990s amid the breakup of Yugoslavia. The United States played a significant role in bringing peace to Bosnia in 1995 and to Kosovo in 1999, but the region faces continued instability.
With concise historical analysis and forward-looking prescriptions, Pathways to Freedom offers 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.
Global support for the "responsibility to protect" doctrine weakened after the UN-endorsed no-fly zone that helped topple Libya's regime, and debate continues over the threshold for mounting armed humanitarian interventions, explains this Backgrounder.
Ambassador Mark P. Lagon's testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee of Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations discussed the rankings of individual states in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report released by the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP office). Ambassador Lagon called on the advice of experts in the TIP office to be heeded and the report be reflective of the situation on the ground rather than be politically expedient.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom's (USCIRF) Katrina Lantos Swett and Elizabeth K. Cassidy discuss USCIRF's 2013 Annual Report, as part of CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series.
According to Micah Zenko, "We are deluding ourselves if we believe that we need more time to "think through" U.S. military intervention options for Syria. We have an excellent understanding of what those options are, and a vast majority of officials, policymakers, and the American people do not believe they are worth the effort."
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.