Foreign Affairs

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Autopsy of a Cambodian Election

Author: Stéphanie Giry

Khmer New Year is the closest thing Cambodia has to a High Holiday, and in April, Prime Minister Hun Sen celebrated it in style with his fiercest opponent. During a festival at the ancient temples of Angkor, he and Sam Rainsy ate together from a gigantic cake of sticky rice weighing more than four metric tons—a Guinness World Record. 

See more in Cambodia; Presidents and Chiefs of State

An Unworthy Ally

Authors: C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly

Ever since 9/11, the United States has provided Pakistan with a steady supply of security and nonsecurity assistance. U.S. officials have justified these generous transfers—worth more than $30 billion since 2002—on the grounds that they secure Pakistan’s ongoing cooperation in Afghanistan, bolster Pakistan’s ability to fight terrorism, and give the U.S. government influence over the country’s ever-expanding nuclear weapons program. 

See more in Pakistan; Foreign Aid

Bean Counters to the Rescue

Author: Diane Coyle

What is a company worth? On its latest balance sheet, Apple showed assets of $261 billion, including $8.7 billion of “intangibles,” such as the positive views of the company held by consumers and investors.

See more in Global; Economics

Leading From Between: How California and Germany Can Fix the Climate Agenda

Authors: Varun Sivaram and David Livingston

Climate talks have largely failed to curb rising temperatures, but bottom-up initiatives featuring subnational actors hold great promise if coordinated effectively. Varun Sivaram and David Livingston argue that California and Germany can “lead from between” to bridge international and subnational climate action.

See more in United States; Germany; Environmental Policy

The Robots Are Coming

Author: Daniela Rus

Robots have the potential to greatly improve the quality of our lives at home, at work, and at play. Customized robots working alongside people will create new jobs, improve the quality of existing jobs, and give people more time to focus on what they find interesting, important, and exciting.

See more in United States; Technology and Science

Same as It Ever Was

Author: Martin Wolf

Belief in “the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us,” as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby, is a characteristic American trait.

See more in United States; Technology and Science

The Coming Robot Dystopia

Author: Illah Reza Nourbakhsh

The term “robotics revolution” evokes images of the future: a not-too-distant future, perhaps, but an era surely distinct from the present. In fact, that revolution is already well under way.

See more in Global; Technology and Science

The Next 
Safety Net

Authors: Nicolas Colin and Bruno Palier

As advanced economies become more automated and digitized, almost all workers will be affected, but some more than others. Those who have what the economists Maarten Goos and Alan Manning call “lovely jobs” will do fine, creating and managing robots and various digital applications and adding lots of value in service sectors such as finance.

See more in Global; Digital Infrastructure

A Problem From Heaven

Author: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

We have a problem—not a problem from hell, but one that claims to come from heaven. That problem is sometimes called radical, or fundamentalist, Islam, and the self-styled Islamic State is just its latest iteration. But no one really understands it. 

See more in United States; Religion

Islamic Scripture Is Not the Problem

Author: William McCants

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is correct that darker passages of Islamic Scripture endorse violence and prescribe harsh punishments for moral or theological infractions.

See more in Global; Religion

Time to Negotiate in Afghanistan

Authors: James Dobbins and Carter Malkasian

Peace talks, if not peace itself, may be close at hand in Afghanistan. Over the past few months, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Afghan Taliban have made unexpected strides toward talks.

See more in Afghanistan; Wars and Warfare

The Long Road to 
Animal Welfare

Author: Wayne Pacelle

On election night in November 1992, I waited anxiously with other animal welfare activists at the Radisson Hotel in Denver, Colorado, to learn the outcome of a statewide ballot measure to ban the baiting, hound hunting, and spring hunting of black bears. The initiative was a big deal both for me (it had been my idea) and for the animal welfare movement more generally. Colorado was a political redoubt for the National Rifle Association and other pro-hunting groups; if the ballot measure passed, it might inspire other reforms for animals, and if it failed, it might set the movement back years. 

See more in United States; Humanitarian Intervention

The Death and Life of the Two-State Solution

Authors: Grant Rumley and Amir Tibon

On March 17, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won reelection, thanks in part to a desperate last-minute pledge to his right-wing base that the Palestinians would never get a state so long as he was in power. After the election, he tried to walk his comments back, but Palestinian observers weren’t buying it. 

See more in Palestine; Wars and Warfare

The Decline of International Studies

Author: Charles King

In October 2013, the U.S. Department of State eliminated its funding program for advanced language and cultural training on Russia and the former Soviet Union. Created in 1983 as a special appropriation by Congress, the so-called Title VIII Program had supported generations of specialists working in academia, think tanks, and the U.S. government itself. But as a State Department official told the Russian news service RIA Novosti at the time, “In this fiscal climate, it just didn’t make it.”

See more in Global; History and Theory of International Relations

China’s Soft-Power Push

Author: David Shambaugh

As China’s global power grows, Beijing is learning that its image matters. For all its economic and military might, the country suffers from a severe shortage of soft power. According to global public opinion surveys, it enjoys a decidedly mixed international image.

See more in China; Energy and Environment

Go East, Young Oilman

Author: Michael A. Levi

Most observers agree that the United States, propelled by its boom in oil and gas production, is becoming increasingly central to global energy. As oil prices have plummeted, American oil producers have taken credit. As U.S. imports have fallen, foreign policy thinkers have suggested that Washington could rely far less on the Middle East.

See more in Asia and Pacific; Energy and Environment

Improving 
Humanitarian Aid

Authors: David Miliband and Ravi Gurumurthy

Every month, nearly one million people flee their homes because of conflicts or natural disasters. With few wars ending, and new wars starting, the number of people displaced by conflict now exceeds 50 million. Not since World War II have people sought refuge—in their own countries or in neighboring states—on such a scale.

See more in Global; Humanitarian Intervention

Regime Change for Humanitarian Aid

Authors: Michael N. Barnett and Peter Walker

The global humanitarian system, already under considerable strain, will soon be tested as never before. In 2013, the gap between the funds available for humanitarian aid and estimated global needs reached $4.5 billion, leaving at least one-third of the demand unmet. The gap seems certain to widen, as key donors cut their contributions and humanitarian disasters grow more frequent and severe.

See more in Global; Humanitarian Intervention