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:
Andrew Coe

Should the United States push Israel to join the Non Proliferation Treaty?

Asked by Gaurav Moghe, from India

The United States tried to convince Israel to join the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) when the treaty was first introduced and before it was widely believed that Israel had nuclear weapons. The NPT's objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology and further the goal of universal disarmament.

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Past Questions

Answered by:
Stephen Sestanovich
Answered by:
Carla Anne Robbins

Will "sequestration" lead to a more isolationist U.S. foreign policy?

Asked by Andreas Maldener, from Trier University

After more than a decade of war and several years of a deep financial crisis, many Americans are asking whether the country should focus more of its attention—and more of its resources—at home. That said, the impulse to lead is still strong in both political parties and most polls show that Americans still feel both a moral and strategic imperative to remain fully engaged in the world.

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Answered by:
Edward Alden

Will “sequestration” affect U.S. education, especially in the STEM fields?

Asked by Mariecor Ruediger

American policymakers have long been concerned about the eroding U.S. advantage in educating science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students. With much of the assembly work for lucrative high-technology products having moved to Asia, future U.S. prosperity depends increasingly on innovating new products and techniques—innovation that requires training (or importing) a new generation of scientists and engineers.

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Answered by:
Richard K. Betts

What is Obama’s “grand” foreign policy strategy?

Asked by Zahra Fatima, from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad

"Grand strategy" is defined as a coherent plan to use diplomatic, military, and economic instruments in certain ways to achieve national, overarching objectives. Grand strategies are usually identified by simple labels such as "containment," "détente," or "engagement and enlargement." In reality, international politics is complicated, and a democratic political system at home imposes constraints from public opinion, mobilized interest groups, and Congress.

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Answered by:
Jendayi Frazer
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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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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