When the United States has succeeded in the world, it has done so by changing course—usually amid deep controversy and uncertainty. Maximalistfinds lessons in the past that anticipate and clarify our chaotic present, revealing the history of U.S. foreign policy in an unexpected new light.
On February 7, 1984, President Ronald Reagan withdrew the U.S. Marines from Lebanon—an action that was "perhaps the most purposeful and consequential foreign-policy decision of his presidency," Micah Zenko writes. In this article, Zenko discusses the unclear and unachievable mission of the United States in Lebanon, and Reagan's subsequent decision to withdraw.
Robert D. Blackwill reviews The Blood Telegram, by Gary Bass, a text that smears Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger as "heartless villains" of Pakistan's political stalemate and human rights crisis in the 1970s.
This communiqué (also known as Document 9, 9号文件 ) outlines how the Chinese Communist Party can resist what the Party considers ideological threats from "Western value systems," such as civil society organizations and universal values. The document also offers a definition of constitutionalism and human rights for China. Originally published in September 2013 by Mingjing Magazine, the Asia Society's ChinaFile translated and republished it with permission.
Benn Steil takes a critical look at the longstanding efforts of former IMF historian James Boughton to disparage the evidence that the Fund's founding architect, FDR Treasury official Harry Dexter White, engaged in espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union.
If Operation Overlord failed, the entire Allied enterprise in World War II faced abject collapse. This new history of the events leading up to D-Day explains why, and what the preparations for success actually involved.
War makes for strange bedfellows, and among the oddest pairings that World War II produced was that between "Wild Bill" Donovan's Office of Strategic Services and the emigre German Jewish Marxists he hired to teach Washington about the Nazis.
The foreign policy of China's newly-installed president, Xi Jinping, is in its infancy, but one variable that has already generated much discussion is the role that Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan might play in shaping China's image abroad.
Benn Steil's article in the June 2013 edition of History Today takes a critical look at John Maynard Keynes's performance as a diplomat during World War II, concluding that Britain had made a mistake sending him to Washington. His temperament and overinvestment in his personal legacy resulted in Britain paying a high political and economic price for American financial assistance.
There is a well-known adage that politics stops at the water's edge, but this tends to be more hope than reality. American history is filled with examples in which political disagreement at home has made it difficult for the United States to act, much less lead, abroad.
Asked by Adepoju Adeola Praise, from Eastern Mediterranean University
The League of Nations was championed by President Woodrow Wilson in a fourteen-point speech to a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1918, and formally began its operations in January 1920. However, the League failed to win Senate approval and is forever remembered as a major example of a communications breakdown between the president and the Senate.
CFR President Richard N. Haass calls on Americans to "resolve our political dysfunction, rethink our foreign policy and restore the foundations of American power—and in the process provide another century of American leadership."
Ray Takeyh examines examples of foreign policy failures turned success, including "the shift in U.S. containment policy during the early stages of the Truman presidency; the changed U.S. approach to the Vietnam War after Richard Nixon's 1968 election; and George W. Bush's surge in Iraq."
The Venezuelan revolutionary Simon Bolívar has a remarkably elastic legacy. Ever since his death in 1830, Latin American politicians across the political spectrum have claimed to be his rightful heir. What Bolívar left behind, it turns out, was less a coherent set of ideas than an abstract vision of Latin American unity -- a vision that remains impossible today.
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.
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.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 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 »