"All of these steps are meant to ensure that the prime minister, and not the Army chief, is the most powerful Sharif in Pakistan. But that status is not easy to guarantee: before he was toppled by Musharraf, in 1999, Sharif thought that his position was invulnerable, thanks to a landslide victory that gave him an overwhelming majority in Parliament. If the direct threat of a coup has receded, today Sharif faces a broader array of checks on his power."
Vice President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered remarks to the press in Tokyo on December 3, 2013. The meeting was the beginning of the vice president's travel in Asia, to discuss the Obama administration's rebalance to Asia and China's announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone.
The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, conducted a written interview with Vice President Joe Biden on December 2, 2013, before the vice president's trip to China, Japan, and South Korea. The interview covers China's announcement of its Air Defense Identification Zone, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, defense and cybersecurity alliances, and the Obama administration's "pivot to Asia."
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.
"In the coming weeks, Thailand's political crisis is likely to escalate, not de-escalate, ultimately resulting in either a snap election or some kind of extraconstitutional removal of the government," writes Joshua Kurlantzick.
Senior administration officials preview Vice President Joe Biden's trip to China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea during December 1-8, 2013. According to the briefing, the trip will underscore the Obama administration's "rebalance" to Asia.
The United States maintains important interests in Afghanistan, even as most U.S. and allied troops are withdrawn in 2014. Seth G. Jones and Keith Crane assess the political, security, and economic challenges facing U.S. policymakers in Afghanistan and evaluate a range of policy options.
"[Karzai] would support an alternate center of power in the provinces in order to undermine the official one, such as the governor, that he had formally appointed. That way, both could be controlled by being balanced against each other; two weak allies were better than a single strong one who might break away. The result was perpetual instability. The tragedy of Karzai is that his survival strategy has been one that ultimately promotes weakness rather than strength."
A preview of world events in the coming week from CFR.org: The EU holds its Eastern Partnership Summit in Lithuania; the European Court of Human Rights hears a burqa ban case; and Mali begins parliamentary elections.
"Independent reports by human rights groups back Karzai's contention that there are too many civilian deaths in Afghanistan. But if they have become his rallying cry, it is also because they bring to mind the broader issue of Afghan sovereignty — the feeling Afghans have that they have become colonized subjects."
James M. Lindsay argues that while Congress has no direct role in the conduct of U.S. diplomacy, it can nonetheless still shape what presidents say to foreign governments or if they say anything at all.
Europe's social democrats hoped that the 2008 economic meltdown would vindicate their politics and strengthen their hand. But they failed to see how badly they had damaged their brand by compromising on core principles during the previous two decades. To find their way forward, they must return to their roots.
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.