Article

China Wakes Up to Its Environmental Catastrophe

Author: Elizabeth C. Economy
BusinessWeek

China's premier declared a "war on pollution" at the National People's Congress, responding to the Chinese public's distress over the state of the country's environment. Though the government announced an array of new targets and measures, Elizabeth Economy argues that Beijing must move beyond bold promises of change and initiate real environmental reform.

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Must Read

Financial Times: North Korea: Glimmer of Hope

Author: Simon Mundy

"After the starvation of up to 1m people in the famine demonstrated the state's inability to feed its people, it was forced to turn a blind eye to the informal markets that sprang up. For residents of cities such as Hyesan, near the border with China, the opportunity to engage in illicit trade with Chinese merchants has been especially lucrative."

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Article

Obama’s Focus Is on Nation-Building at Home

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
The New York Times

Every period of great exertion in American foreign policy — World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the cold war, the post-9/11 wars — has been followed by some sort of downsizing. To many, this feels like weakness; to others, mere realism. But there's no arguing with the pattern. The past few years were going to be a time of retrenchment no matter who was in charge.

See more in United States; Development

Testimony

The Northern Ireland Peace Process Today

Author: Richard N. Haass

In his testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, Richard N. Haass discusses his role as the chair of the Panel of parties in the Northern Ireland Executive and the remit of forging consensus on the use of flags and emblems; the regulation of parades, commemorations, and attendant protests; and contending with the past.

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Ask CFR Experts

How should the United States react to Al-Qaeda regaining influence in Iraq?

Asked by Tyler Malcolm
Author: David Palkki

Recent gains by al-Qaeda's main offshoot in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), are dangerous and discouraging. ISIS control of Fallujah is particularly disheartening, given the U.S. blood spilled to liberate this city in 2004. ISIS occupation of cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi in western Iraq, and Raqqa in eastern Syria, are part and parcel of a plan to destroy the Iraqi state and to create an Islamic caliphate. Important U.S. interests in Iraqi stability and regional security are at stake.

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Primary Sources

Department of Defense: Quadrennial Defense Review Report

The Quadrennial Defense Review is mandated by Title 10, Section 118 of the US Code, which states that every four years, the Secretary of Defense, with input from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, must conduct "a comprehensive examination ... of the national defense strategy, force structure, force modernization plans, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the defense program and policies of the United States with a view toward determining and expressing the defense strategy of the United States and establishing a defense program for the next 20 years."

See more in Defense Strategy; Defense Budget; United States

Must Read

Foreign Policy: The New Tyranny

Author: William Easterly

"The international professionals perpetrate an illusion that poverty is purely a technical problem, distracting attention away from the real cause: the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights. The dictators whom experts are advising are not the solution -- they are the problem."

See more in Global; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights