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.

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Featured Question

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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Past Questions

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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Answered by:
Thomas Bollyky
Answered by:
Sebastian Mallaby

What will happen if Britain quits the European Union?

Asked by Neela Chipalkatty, from New York University
Author: Sebastian Mallaby

Britain has long been ambivalent about the European Union (EU) and Britons' low regard for the EU has been exacerbated by the euro crisis. British prime minister David Cameron has said two things. There will be a referendum on Europe before the end of 2017. But before that, Cameron promises to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the EU. Putting these two promises together, the referendum may be less important than one might think.

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Answered by:
Ed Husain

Does the presence of radical Islamic groups in the Syrian opposition affect Iran?

Asked by Bashayar Ghasab, from Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus

Yes and no. Because of sectarian differences between the Iranian government and the Sunni Salafi fighters in the Syrian opposition, Iran's influence becomes weakened at first sight if the Syrian opposition wins. But the Iranian regime can (and has) created common cause with Sunni radicals in the recent past. History shows that this would not be the first time an unlikely alliance between opposing groups has formed.

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Answered by:
Robert M. Danin

What effect would the fall of the Assad regime have on U.S. policy towards Syria?

Asked by Igbinosa Ojehomon, from Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus
Author: Robert M. Danin

The United States' policy toward a post-Assad Syria would largely depend on what political scenario results. A victory by unified rebel forces would generate a vastly different policy than a new govenrnment that includes jihadists. In the more likely event that post-Assad Syria descends into greater sectarian violence, Washington would urge regional partners like Turkey and Saudi Arabia to exert influence with those rebel groups to which they had provided arms and ammunition.

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Answered by:
Max Boot

Why is the United States still in Afghanistan?

The answer is simple: 9/11. The most costly terrorist attack ever was carried out from Afghanistan. The United States showed bipartisan determination to bring the perpetrators to justice and—the part that explains our continuing engagement in Afghanistan—to prevent its soil from ever being used again to stage terrorist attacks.

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Answered by:
John Campbell

What will it take for the United States and others to address the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

Asked by Lauren Harrison, from Harvard Kennedy School
Author: John Campbell

The exploitation of Congo's vast resources by competing elites and militaries for personal enrichment promotes insecurity and stymies development. Only very strong Western and African public outcry and a change in China's nonintervention approach might open the possibilities for change.

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Answered by:
Edward Alden

In light of the global economic slowdown, do you still believe globalization is a cause for good?

Asked by Fagner Dantas, from Universidade Federal da Bahia

Globalization refers to the increasing ease with which goods, services, capital and people can move across the world, which has been accelerated by advances in technology and government policies to reduce barriers. In terms of reducing poverty in as many countries as possible, there is no question that globalizationcontinues to be beneficial, even after the 2008 financial crisis. Poverty continues to fall worldwide at a rapid rate, and countries most integrated into the world economy have seen the biggest reductions in poverty. But it is also true that even before the crisis, the gains from globalization were not spread evenly. Though millions have been lifted out of poverty and everyone benefits from cheaper consumer goods and the opening of new export markets, there are still winners and losers.

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