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

Past Questions

Answered by:
Joshua Kurlantzick
Answered by:
Bernard Gwertzman

Why did the United States fail to join the League of Nations?

Asked by Adepoju Adeola Praise, from Eastern Mediterranean University

The League of Nations was championed by President Woodrow Wilson in a fourteen-point speech to a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1918, and formally began its operations in January 1920. However, the League failed to win Senate approval and is forever remembered as a major example of a communications breakdown between the president and the Senate.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Isobel Coleman

Does Egypt deserve U.S. economic support?

Asked by Gamal Khalifa, from Cairo, Egypt

Outside of a humanitarian crisis—such as a famine or a natural disaster—it is hard to make the case that any country deserves another's economic support. To paraphrase Britain's Lord Palmerston, countries do not have permanent friends, only permanent interests.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Matthew C. Waxman

What is preventing international action in Syria?

Asked by Jake C., from University of Texas at Tyler

A number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Qatar, have been providing support to the opposition in various forms, ranging from humanitarian aid to military supplies, such as weapons, armor, and communication devices. However, these efforts have not been enough to turn the tide, and after three years of fighting, a diplomatic solution still seems unlikely.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Jeanne Hull

Is it part of the U.S. anti-drug policy to sell weapons to Mexico to combat drug cartels?

Asked by Zub Merch

Under the security cooperation agreement called the Merida Initiative, the United States provides military and law enforcement assistance to the Mexican government in support of efforts to combat drug cartels and organized crime. The United States and Mexico jointly developed this agreement in response to a substantial increase in drug-related criminal activity and violence on both sides of the border.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Captain Peter A. Garvin, USN

Will China extend its influence in the Indian Ocean by building a naval base in Gwadar, Pakistan?

Asked by Hassan, from National University Of Sciences and Technology

To date, Chinese officials have asserted that their interest in Gwadar is strictly a commercial effort to provide another energy corridor for Middle East oil, and Pakistani government officials stridently affirm this position. New Delhi, on the other hand, has expressed "concern" about the true motivations in developing Gwadar, suspecting that it is a Sino-Pak effort at encirclement.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Mark P. Lagon

What will be the effect of the UN Arms Trade Treaty on the Syrian conflict?

Asked by Gabriel

The UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was passed on March 28, 2013, and seeks to regulate and limit trade in arms in circumstances of human rights violations. Unfortunately, it will have minimal effect on the Syrian conflict. Syria's own vote against the treaty, along with Iran's and North Korea's, sounded the death knell for a universally applicable treaty to limit small arms, ammunition, and conventional weapons technology.

Read full answer

Answered by:
Linda Robinson

Is using drones against terrorists cheaper than using special forces?

Asked by The Universal Human and Civil Rights Union, from Brooklyn, New York

The Obama administration has increasingly relied on drones in its counterterrorist operations. And, as I explain in a recent CFR report, U.S. special operations forces are doing more things in more places than ever before. The heavy reliance on both drones and unilateral commando raids needs to be reassessed.

Read full answer