Syria has been mired in deadly strife since March 2011 and the outlook for resolving what is now a full blown civil war looks increasingly dire. The worst case outcome for Syria is one whereby the country fragments and becomes a failed state in which the Damascus government no longer controls its own territory. Under such a scenario, the glue holding the country together comes unstuck.
Asked by Georgia Ossorguine, from Grace Church School
Yingluck Shinawatra was elected prime minister of Thailand in July 2011. She has so far achieved the most important thing in Thailand today, which is preserving a fragile peace between different interest groups and political sides.
Asked by Jack Glore, from William Paterson University
Civil institutions are critical pillars of democratic accountability—without them, democracy remains elusive, regardless of the laws written in constitutions. This is particularly true in countries dependent on oil and other natural resource wealth, and those struggling to realize democratic transitions.
Asked by Charlotte Stafford, from Columbia University
The United States restored official relations with Somalia in January 2013 after years of civil unrest there, reflecting an increasingly stable Somali political environment. Better relations with Somalia, however, have little to do with the decrease in piracy, and the drop in offshore piracy cannot be attributed to Somali government efforts.
In the third of threeexcerpts from his new book, Democracy in Retreat, Joshua Kurlantzick says that emerging powers like India, Brazil and South Africa were supposed to be democracy's greatest proponents, but that it hasn't worked out that way at all.
Jerome A. Cohen says, "Beijing's pending prosecution of deposed Politburo member Bo Xilai and the recent murder conviction of his wife, Gu Kailai , have again brought China's criminal justice system to world attention."
Elizabeth C. Economy says corruption and the failure to develop rule of law in China now define much of the country's political and economic life. With Xi Jinping poised to take over, the focus should be on significant political reform.
Jerome A. Cohen says that while Bo Xilai and Chen Kegui "hail from opposite ends of China's political, economic and social hierarchies, they now have much in common, including the determination of the authorities to punish them for political reasons."
Weak rule of law in the developing world deprives countless people of legal rights and economic opportunity. Bridging the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, a global trust could build developing nations' capacity to implement the rule of law, improving human rights and economic outcomes at little cost.
Ray Takeyh argues, "The United States will make genuine progress with Iran only when moderate leaders assume greater control of the state. An interim accord may provide time, but that time must be used to broaden the contours of Iran's political system."
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.