Foreign Affairs

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American Political Decay or Renewal?

Author: Francis Fukuyama

Two years ago, I argued in these pages that America was suffering from political decay. The country’s constitutional system of checks and balances, combined with partisan polarization and the rise of well-financed interest groups, had combined to yield what I labeled “vetocracy,” a situation in which it was easier to stop government from doing things than it was to use govern­ment to promote the common good.

See more in United States; Elections

The Case for Offshore Balancing

Authors: John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt

For the first time in recent memory, large numbers of Americans are openly questioning their country’s grand strategy. An April 2016 Pew poll found that 57 percent of Americans agree that the United States should “deal with its own problems and let others deal with theirs the best they can.” 

See more in United States; Grand Strategy

The Truth About Trade

Author: Douglas A. Irwin

Just because a U.S. presidential candidate bashes free trade on the campaign trail does not mean that he or she cannot embrace it once elected. After all, Barack Obama voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement as a U.S. senator and disparaged the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a presidential candidate.

See more in Global; Trade

NATO's Next Act

Author: Philip Breedlove

In May 2013, when I became commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, I found U.S. and NATO forces well suited for their requirements at the time but ill prepared for the challenges that lay ahead. 

See more in Europe; Defense and Security

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