Ask CFR Experts

This archived feature invited 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 were answered by CFR fellows. This feature is now retired.

Featured Question

Answered by:
Yanzhong Huang

Should we be worried about China's genetic manipulation of food?

Asked by Matthias Tindemans

In 2012, China imported nearly 60 million tons of soybeans, most of which were genetically modified. In that sense, even if GM foods are found to have any long-term hazards, one probably should not worry too much about only China's GM foods, but about those from all countries, including the United States, the largest producer and consumer of GM foods.

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Past Questions

Answered by:
Colonel Julian Dale Alford, USMC
Answered by:
Gregory D. Koblentz

Do North Korea’s nuclear capabilities give it a voice that cannot be ignored?

Asked by Yu Bum Kim, from New York University

Some argue that the best way to restrain North Korea is to strengthen sanctions, principally by putting more pressure on China to reduce its trade with North Korea. Others advocate a diplomatic approach and argue that engagement, not escalation, would be more effective. What all parties need to remember is that actions speak louder than words.

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Answered by:
Daniel S. Markey

How can the United States assist dialogue between India and Pakistan on Afghanistan?

Asked by Jessica Brandt, from Harvard Kennedy School

The Afghan civil war of the 1990s was partly fueled by longstanding Indo-Pakistani rivalry, with different Afghan factions receiving support from different regional neighbors. The United States has a clear interest in avoiding a similar outcome as it disengages from the current war in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, promoting Indo-Pakistani dialogue on Afghanistan will not be easy.

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Answered by:
Scott A. Snyder

Which option would be more effective in containing North Korea: Through unity with South Korea, diplomacy, or military intervention?

Asked by Seram Lee, from Pepperdine University

North Korea's ratcheting up of tensions requires South Korean and U.S. military forces in Korea to be prepared to defend against North Korean military incursions. Resumption of diplomacy will only be possible when North Korea signals it is ready to resume dialogue and all parties agree on an agenda that includes both tension-reduction and denuclearization.

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Answered by:
Julia E. Sweig

Where do you see Brazil in 2020? As a country with the lowest growth rates among the BRICS, is the dream over for Brazil?

Asked by Fagner Dantas, from Universidade Federal da Bahia

The Brazilian government faces a number of challenges and opportunities concerning its economic forecast in the coming years. After peaking at 7.5 percent growth in 2010, Brazil's recent economic slowdown has caused worry that the dream of a new high-growth economy had slipped out of reach.

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Answered by:
Colonel John S. Kolasheski, USA

When will AFRICOM headquarters move to Africa?

Asked by Lloyd Cata

While there was some early discussion on where to base the command (continental United States, Africa, or Germany), its current location in Germany has the existing infrastructure, transportation links, housing, schools, and health facilities to support its personnel, employees, and family members. Any future rebasing discussions will need to take into account a cost-benefit analysis—and in a time of fiscal uncertainty, the cost might be prohibitive.

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Answered by:
Daniel P. Ahn

What is the impact of the economic crisis on the climate change debate?

Asked by Soumaya Maghnouj, from Sciences-Po
Author: Daniel P. Ahn

The global economic crisis and the subsequent attention to economic and budgetary issues have monopolized the political debate. With the aftermath of the crisis still being felt, there is not much political will for policies that may create short-term economic pain for long-term benefits. These include policies to combat or adapt to climate change.

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Answered by:
Blake Clayton

With renewable energy sources in countries like Brazil and Bolivia, will U.S. energy policy shift toward South America?

Asked by Fagner Dantas, from Universidade Federal da Bahia

The global energy map is being redrawn at an accelerated pace. All signs point to the United States becoming part of an increasingly hemispheric energy trade, both for oil as well as for biofuels like ethanol. The Middle East will still loom large in U.S. energy policy given its crucial role in the world oil market, but U.S. energy officials and companies are forging deeper ties with their counterparts elsewhere in the Americas.

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Answered by:
Terra Lawson-Remer
Answered by:
Ray Takeyh

What should U.S. policy toward Iran be in order to prevent further development of its nuclear program?

Asked by Aaron Marks, from Staten Island, New York

Since the discovery of illicit Iranian nuclear facilities in 2002, the United States has sought to mobilize an international coalition to address the Iranian nuclear challenge through various coercions and incentives. UN member states agree that Iran is entitled to a civilian nuclear program for purposes of energy generation, but they require assurances that such a program is not going to be misused for military purposes.

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Answered by:
Robert Kahn
Answered by:
Captain Peter Troedsson, USCG

Have U.S. relations with Somalia improved since stronger maritime security measures have decreased piracy?

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.

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