Society and Culture

Foreign Affairs Article

A Problem From Heaven

Author: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

We have a problem—not a problem from hell, but one that claims to come from heaven. That problem is sometimes called radical, or fundamentalist, Islam, and the self-styled Islamic State is just its latest iteration. But no one really understands it. 

See more in United States; Religion

Foreign Affairs Article

Holier Than Thou

Author: James Monroe

Americans have been arguing about the role of religion in government since the earliest days of the republic. In 1789, soon after taking office, President George Washington declared a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer.”

See more in United States; Religion

Foreign Affairs Article

China Will Get Rich Before It Grows Old

Author: Baozhen Luo

At a conference on the Chinese economy in 2012, Cai Fang, a demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, issued a dire warning: “There’s now no doubt China will be old before it is rich.” He was expressing a view widely held by economists and China watchers. Over the past 65 years, life expectancy in China has more than doubled, from 35 years to roughly 75, as the fertility rate has plunged. Many fear that if these trends continue, China’s population will age faster than the country can accommodate.

See more in China; Population

Foreign Affairs Article

From Calvin to the Caliphate

Author: John M. Owen, IV

Nearly a century after it first emerged in Egypt, political Islam is redefining the Muslim world. Also called Islamism, this potent ideology holds that the billion-strong global Muslim community would be free and great if only it were pious—that is, if Muslims lived under state-enforced Islamic law, or sharia, as they have done for most of Islamic history.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Europe; Religion

Research Links

International Affairs Indexes and Country Rankings

These rankings include datasets and studies which track the status of a country and compare countries based on different indicators, in the areas of conflict, economics, education, energy, environment, health, human rights, politics, and technology. Critiques of these types of indexes are included, describing why they can be detrimental to development progress and how comparison exercises could be improved.

See more in Global; Global Future Trends; Development


Iran Update

Speaker: Ray Takeyh
Moderator: Irina Faskianos

Ray Takeyh, CFR’s senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies, discusses U.S. policy toward Iran in light of the ongoing nuclear program negotiations and regional security challenges, as part of CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series.

See more in Iran; Nuclear Energy; Religion