Foreign Affairs

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Germany’s New Global Role

Author: Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Over the past two decades, Germany’s global role has undergone a remarkable transformation. Following its peaceful reunifica­tion in 1990, Germany was on track to become an economic giant that had little in the way of foreign policy. 

See more in Germany; Politics and Strategy

Human Work in the Robotic Future

Authors: Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson

The promises of science fiction are quickly becoming workaday realities. Cars and trucks are starting to drive themselves in normal traffic. Machines have begun to understand our speech, figure out what we want, and satisfy our requests.

See more in Global; Technology and Science

Democracy in Decline

Author: Larry Diamond

In the decade following the Cold War, democracy flourished around the world as never before. In recent years, however, much of this progress has steadily eroded. B

See more in Global; Democratization

The Innovative Finance Revolution

Authors: Georgia Levenson Keohane and Saadia Madsbjerg

Assessments of how governments and international organiza­tions have dealt with global challenges often feature a familiar refrain: when it comes to funding, there was too little, too late. The costs of economic, social, and environmental problems compound over time, whether it’s an Ebola outbreak that escalates to an epidemic, a flood of refugeesthat tests the strength of the EU, or the rise of social inequalities that reinforce poverty.

See more in Global; Financial Markets

The Many Africas

Author: Ian Solomon

In his memoir, The Lion Awakes, Ashish Thakkar describes how, as a young entrepreneur selling computer parts across Africa in the 1990s, he noticed that flights within the conti­nent seemed to take longer than the distances on a map would suggest. “Were the planes slower?” he wondered. 

See more in Africa (sub-Saharan); Economic Development

Having It All

Author: Victoria de Grazia

The historian Frank Trentmann has written the first total history of consumption. Empire of Things is an original, ambitious account that begins in the fifteenth century, spans the globe, and examines a wide range of regimes, from liberal democracies to fascist dictatorships. The book could hardly be more relevant: since the Great Recession began in 2007, the world has been mired in a global economic crisis with the consumer at its core. As inequal­ity soared in the years leading up to the crash, middle-class consumers, in the absence of rising incomes, relied on credit to sustain their standards of living. Sensing an opportunity, banks and other financial firms began selling mortgages to people who could not afford them.

See more in Global; Economics

Russia's Perpetual Geopolitics

Author: Stephen Kotkin

For half a millennium, Russian foreign policy has been characterized by soaring ambitions that have exceeded the country’s capabilities. Beginning with the reign of Ivan the Terrible in the sixteenth century, Russia managed to expand at an average rate of 50 square miles per day for hundreds of years, eventually covering one-sixth of the earth’s landmass. By 1900, it was the world’s fourth- or fifth-largest industrial power and the largest agricultural producer in Europe.

See more in Russian Federation; Society and Culture

Putin's Foreign Policy

Author: Fyodor Lukyanov

In February, Moscow and Washington issued a joint statement announcing the terms of a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria—a truce agreed to by major world powers, regional players, and most of the participants in the Syrian civil war. Given the fierce mutual recriminations that have become typical of U.S.-Russian relations in recent years, the tone of the statement suggested a surprising degree of common cause.

See more in Russian Federation; Politics and Strategy

How Putin Silences Dissent

Author: Maria Lipman

In December 2015, the Russian antigraft activist Alexey Navalny released adocumentary in which he exposed the corrupt business dealings of the children of Yuri Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general—the top law enforcement official in the country. In the film, Navalny accuses Chaika’s son Artem of “continuously exploit[ing] the protection that his father, the prosecutor general of the Russian Federation, gives him to extort from and steal other people’s companies.”

See more in Russia and Central Asia; Censorship and Freedom of Speech

Making America Great Again

Authors: Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson

At a debate among the Republican presidential candidates in March, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas boiled down his campaign message to its essentials: “Here’s my philosophy. The less government, the more freedom. The fewer bureaucrats, the more prosperity. And there are bureaucrats in Washington right now who are killing jobs and I’ll tell you, I know who they are. I will find them and I will fire them.”

See more in United States; Economics

The Once and Future Superpower

Authors: Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth

After two and a half decades, is the United States’ run as the world’s sole superpower coming to an end? Many say yes, seeing a rising China ready to catch up to or even surpass the United States in the near future. By many measures, after all, China’s economy is on track to become the world’s biggest, and even if its growth slows, it will still outpace that of the United States for many years.

See more in United States; China; Economic Development

The Fed's Unconventional Monetary Policy

Author: Martin S. Feldstein

Now, almost a decade after the Great Recession hit, the story of its origins and course has become familiar. It began in December 2007, soon after the U.S. housing bubble burst, triggering the widespread collapse of the U.S. financial system. Credit dried up, as banks lost confidence in the value of their assets and stopped lending to one another.

See more in United States; Monetary Policy