Ask CFR Experts

This new feature invites members of the public to submit questions to CFR's experts on various topics related to U.S. foreign policy. Selected questions on matters ranging from the latest news headlines to long-term international issues are answered by CFR fellows and featured on CFR's homepage.

Ask a Question

Featured Question

Answered by:
Elliott Abrams

What is the U.S. position regarding the legality of Israeli settlements?

Asked by James Hurt

The U.S. position has fluctuated over time. In the Reagan years, the United States said the settlements were "not illegal." The Clinton and George H.W. Bush administrations avoided the legal arguments but criticized the settlements frequently. President George W. Bush called the larger settlement blocs "new realities on the ground" that would have to be reflected in peace negotiations.

Read full answer

Past Questions

Answered by:
Patrick J. Mahaney Jr.

What role will counterinsurgency operations play in future conflicts?

Asked by Justin McDowell, from Minnesota State University Moorhead

Counterinsurgency (COIN) operations will continue to be a viable option in future conflicts, particularly given rising instability in areas of interest to the United States and its allies. However, the relative feasibility and ability to support large COIN operations is very much in question.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Daniel S. Markey

What is the impact of growing Pakistan-China relations on the United States and India?

Asked by Shreedhar K. Powar, from Shivaji University
Author: Daniel S. Markey

Relations between China and Pakistan are indeed growing, but must be considered in a wider context to understand their potential implications for the United States and India.

Close Sino-Pakistani relations are nothing new. Especially with respect to military and nuclear ties, Beijing and Islamabad have have been friendly since the 1960s. In recent years, bilateral trade and investment have increased. Looking to the future, China's expanding influence in Central Asia and its interest in overland access to the Arabian Sea could motivate even stronger links with Pakistan.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Karen Kornbluh

Could the revelations regarding the NSA PRISM program hinder U.S. relations around the world?

Asked by Andre Ribeiro, from LaGuardia Community College

Revelations about the National Security Agency's (NSA) electronic surveillance program were met with tough words from many of the United States' allies. German leaders criticized the United States and France threatened to delay the start of U.S.-EU trade talks. More recently, Brazilian president DilmaRousseff delivered a searing address to the United Nations General Assembly after canceling a state visit to the White House.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Jendayi Frazer

Will the Obama administration show a greater interest in Africa in the second term?

Asked by Nuno Halpern, from West Sussex

The Obama administration is demonstrating a renewed interest in African economic partnerships after largely ignoring the continent during the president's first term. During his summer 2013 trip to Africa, President Obama articulated a policy focus on energy and business ventures. He announced that the United States would aim to expand sub-Saharan Africans' access to electricity and committed $7 billion over five years to the "Power Africa" initiative. He also vowed to send more trade missions to Africa and invite African leaders to a U.S. summit in 2014.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Jerome A. Cohen

Will Tibet ever achieve full statehood?

Asked by Brian Luckett, from Morgan State University

There is little prospect Tibet will achieve full statehood in the foreseeable future. Apart from preservation of its own power, China's Communist Party's highest imperative is the territorial integrity of the country. It is determined to keep Tibet a part of China and thus far the world community has acquiesced in China's claim.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Isobel Coleman
Answered by:
Ed Husain

Why have many Muslim states struggled to achieve democracy?

Asked by Farah, from University of Karachi

If "democracy" is achieved when governments rule by consent through free and fair elections, then some of the world's largest Muslim nations are democratic: Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Turkey. In the Arab world, experiments to achieve democratic governance are underway in Iraq, Lebanon, and Tunisia, and are beginning in earnest in Egypt. Arguably, Pakistan has just witnessed its first democratic transition of power.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Benn Steil

Is IMF policy to blame for the prolonged eurozone economic crisis?

Asked by Maxwell Fenton, from Dowling Catholic High School

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is, with the European Commission and the European Central Bank, part of the so-called troika responsible for setting the conditions that the Greek government must meet to secure continued official financial support. Greece is the eurozone's largest IMF program beneficiary, with about €28 billion in outstanding loans from the IMF.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Paul B. Stares

Is the South China Sea, like Taiwan, a core national interest now for China?

Asked by Michael, from University of St. Gallen

Spanning from the Singapore and Malacca straits to the Strait of Taiwan, the South China Sea is one of the world's most hotly disputed bodies of water. China lays claim to nearly the entire sea, overlapping with the maritime claims of Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines. With sovereign territory, natural resources, and national pride at stake, this dispute threatens to destabilize the region and even draw the United States into a conflict.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Reza Aslan

Would an Israeli attack on Iran help or hurt the Ayatollah politically?

Asked by Lily Nellans, from Roosevelt High School (NFL), Des Moines, Iowa

A military attack on Iran, especially one by Israel, would rally all Iranians to the government. It would completely stifle the voices of dissent in the name of national security, and provide precisely the glue the Ayatollah needs to keep his country together under his control.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Julia E. Sweig

In a post-Chavez era, how can the U.S. rebuild Latin American ties?

Asked by Joel Cerda, from University of Maryland

Hugo Chávez ruled Venezuela from 1999 until his death in 2013. It is tempting to assume that ties between the United States and Latin America broke during the Chávez era, and that they must now be repaired. The reality, however, is more complex: despite the heated rhetoric coming from Washington and Caracas during Chávez's presidency, bilateral trade quadrupled from $16 billion in 1998 to $64 billion in 2008.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Charles A. Kupchan

How can the United States help support peace in Macedonia and the Balkans?

Asked by Selim Ibraimi, from Webster University

The Balkans region in southern Europe has been unsettled since the dismantling of Ottoman dominance there in the late nineteenth century. During the twentieth century, ethnic and sectarian tensions not infrequently brought war to the region, most recently during the 1990s amid the breakup of Yugoslavia. The United States played a significant role in bringing peace to Bosnia in 1995 and to Kosovo in 1999, but the region faces continued instability.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Stephen Sestanovich