Foreign Affairs

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Europe's Shattered Dream of Order

Authors: Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard

Until recently, most Europeans believed that their post–Cold War security order held universal appeal and could be a model for the rest of the world. This conviction was hardly surprising, since Europe has often played a central role in global affairs. For much of the last three centuries, European order was world order—a product of the interests, ambitions, and rivalries of the continent’s empires.

See more in Europe; Wars and Warfare

In Defense of Financial Innovation

Author: Andrew Palmer

At a 2013 conference held by The Economist in New York, business and policy leaders debated whether talented university graduates should join Google or Goldman Sachs. Vivek Wadhwa, a serial entrepreneur, spoke up for Google. “Would you rather have your children engineering the financial system [and] creating more problems for us, or having a chance of saving the world?” he asked.

See more in United States; Economics

From Calvin to the Caliphate

Author: John M. Owen, IV

Nearly a century after it first emerged in Egypt, political Islam is redefining the Muslim world. Also called Islamism, this potent ideology holds that the billion-strong global Muslim community would be free and great if only it were pious—that is, if Muslims lived under state-enforced Islamic law, or sharia, as they have done for most of Islamic history.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Europe; Religion

Drone On

Author: Gretchen West
In the beginning, drones were almost exclusively the province of militaries. At first little more than remote-controlled model planes used in the World War I era, military drones advanced steadily over the decades, eventually becoming sophisticated tools that could surveil battlefield enemies from the sky. Today, the terms “drone” and “unmanned aircraft system” denote a vehicle that navigates through the air from point A to point B and is either remotely controlled or flies autonomously.

See more in Global; Space

The Democratization of Space

Authors: Dave Baiocchi and William Wesler IV

Starting with the Soviets’ launch of Sputnik in 1957, early space missions were funded exclusively by national governments, and for good reason: going to space was astronomically expensive. Setting up a successful space program meant making major investments in expertise and infrastructure, along with tolerating a great deal of risk—which only the superpowers could do.

See more in Global; Space

The Precision Agriculture Revolution

Author: Jess Lowenberg-DeBoer

housands of years ago, agriculture began as a highly site-specific activity. The first farmers were gardeners who nurtured individual plants, and they sought out the microclimates and patches of soil that favored those plants. But as farmers acquired scientific knowledge and mechanical expertise, they enlarged their plots, using standardized approaches—plowing the soil, spreading animal manure as fertilizer, rotating the crops from year to year—to boost crop yields.

See more in Global; Agricultural Policy

Too Many Secrets

Authors: Ron Wyden and John Dickas

One of the most persistent challenges of U.S. national security policy is balancing 
the short-term benefits of secrecy with the long-term benefits of openness. Government agencies responsible for dealing with national security threats will often be more effective if they are allowed to keep certain details about their activities secret.

See more in United States; Politics and Strategy

The Torture Blame Game

Author: Robert Jervis

At the end of World War II, the United Kingdom built memorials to every military branch save one: the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command. The group had skillfully carried out its mission, leveling German cities in raids that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. But by 1945, the British public had developed second thoughts about the morality and efficacy of that mission.

See more in United States; Intelligence

Putin's Hard Turn

Author: Joshua Yaffa

For many who arrived in Moscow in recent decades, the city had an almost narcotic effect. In the vacuum created by the Soviet collapse, unabashed opportunism and a limitless sense of the possible became the closest thing the wounded country had to a collective ideology.

See more in Russia and Central Asia; Economics

What Caused Capitalism?

Author: Jeremy Adelman

Once upon a time, smart people thought the world was flat. As globalization took off, economists pointed to spreading market forces that allowed consumers to buy similar things for the same prices around the world.

See more in Americas; Global; Economics

The Real Challenge in the Pacific

Author: Michael Swaine

In past years, Andrew Krepinevich, Jr., has argued for a U.S. military operational concept in the Pacific theater called “Air-Sea Battle.” This concept relies heavily on preemptive deep strikes in the early stages of a conflict and would have been highly escalatory.

See more in Asia and Pacific; Defense and Security

Who Lost Libya?

Authors: Derek H. Chollet and Ben Fishman

A close call. It is tempting to view the chaos in Libya today as yet one more demonstration of the futility of U.S.-led military interventions. That is precisely the case that Alan Kuperman makes in his article (“Obama’s Libya Debacle,” March/April 2015), which asserts that NATO’s 2011 intervention in Libya was “an abject failure” that set free Libya’s vast conventional weapons stockpiles, gave rise to extremist groups, and even exacerbated the conflict in Syria.

See more in Libya; NATO

Warning Signs

Author: Paul B. Stares
Intelligence analysts have labored for years to identify the factors that make countries unstable. For those wanting to anticipate the next failed state, Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Gregory Treverton (“The Calm Before the Storm,” January/February 2015) offer a counterintuitive insight: “Disorderly regimes come out as safer bets than commonly thought—and seemingly placid states turn out to be ticking time bombs.”

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Intelligence

Obama's Last National Security Strategy

Author: Janine Davidson

Janine Davidson, writing on ForeignAffairs.com, evaluates President Obama’s second and final National Security Strategy. According to Davidson, the document carries a coherent philosophy, reaffirming the patience and smart multilateralism that has long characterized Obama’s foreign policy.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State

Race in the Modern World

Author: Kwame Anthony Appiah

Nineteenth-century intellectuals saw races as biological and political facts. Their twentieth-century successors rejected both propositions—but identities rooted in the reality or fantasy of shared ancestry remain central in politics, both within and between nations.

See more in United States; Ethnicity, Minorities, and National Identity

Racial Inequality After Racism

Authors: Fredrick C. Harris and Robert C. Lieberman

What accounts for the continuity of racial inequality in a postracist America? The fact that an earlier era’s racism was built into the structure of various economic, social, and political institutions, so that even their race-neutral operations today produce imbalanced outcomes.

See more in United States; Ethnicity, Minorities, and National Identity