Since the start of its post-Mao reforms in the late 1970s, the communist regime in China has repeatedly defied predictions of its impending demise. The key to its success lies in what one might call “authoritarian adaptation”—the use of policy reforms to substitute for fundamental institutional change.
For as long as the shah of Iran occupied the Peacock Throne, his relations with the United States depended on a mutually accepted falsehood. Neither side stood to gain from acknowledging that Washington’s favorite dictator owed his position to American skullduggery.
Back in 2009, during his heavily promoted Cairo speech on American relations with the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama noted, in passing, that "in the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government."
It didn't take long for Congo's transition from Belgian colony to sovereign state to turn ugly. Both the Soviet Union and the United States were keeping a close eye on the mineral-rich country at the heart of Africa when, on June 30, 1960, it gained independence under a democratically elected government headed by Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.
On September 9, 1973, I was eating lunch at Da Carla, an Italian restaurant in Santiago, Chile, when a colleague joined my table and whispered in my ear: "Call home immediately; it's urgent." At the time, I was serving as a clandestine CIA officer.
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."
Asked by Igbinosa Ojehomon, from Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus Author: Robert Danin
The United States' policy toward a post-Assad Syria would largely depend on what political scenario results. A victory by unified rebel forces would generate a vastly different policy than a new govenrnment that includes jihadists. In the more likely event that post-Assad Syria descends into greater sectarian violence, Washington would urge regional partners like Turkey and Saudi Arabia to exert influence with those rebel groups to which they had provided arms and ammunition.
Speakers: Michele Dunne and Michael Wahid Hanna Presider: Isobel Coleman
Michele Dunne, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Michael Wahid Hanna, senior fellow at the Century Foundation, discuss Egypt's turbulent transition, the prospects for stabilization and economic progress in the country, and possible U.S. foreign policy responses toward the ongoing political crisis.
The reported death of Muammar al-Qaddafi marks a dramatic end to his sway over Libya. Libyans now need considerable Western help in securing and rebuilding the country he leaves behind, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass.
U.S. calls for Syria's Assad to step down can only be realized if combined with stronger measures to forge a diplomatic coalition and drive a wedge between Assad and his supporters, says CFR's Robert Danin.
Military and popular support for Tunisian President Ben Ali's departure from power could mean pressure on new leadership for reform, and could also lead to modest concessions to reform in Egypt and elsewhere, says CFR's Steven Cook.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice credits sanctions with deepening the isolation of Iran's leaders, defends regime change in Iraq, and says the Bush administration's democracy promotion agenda has changed the discourse in Mideast states.
Paul Kerr, a nonproliferation expert for the Arms Control Association, says any international deal worked out with Iran should include a pledge by the United States not to seek regime change in Iran in exchange for Tehran's agreement on limiting its nuclear program.
Syria is trapped on a crumbling precipice, and however it might fall will entail significant risks for the United States and for the Syrian people, says this memo written by experts on Middle East at Brookings.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2015 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 »