Articles

Academic articles by CFR fellows and experts.

The Brilliant Incoherence of Trump’s Foreign Policy

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
The Atlantic

Trump dominated the election-year debate by proposing a more hopped-up version of foreign-policy activism than the usual advocates of activism, and a fuller kind of disengagement than those who wanted to scale down. The combination—radicalism at both ends of the spectrum—seemed the essence of his appeal. For Trump, American policy was supposed to serve only American interests. Best of all, Trump suggested, his entire approach would be free. Yes, we could be “great again”—and on the cheap. Such a blend of much more and much less could easily have seemed incoherent, or crazy. But the two halves of Trump’s formula worked together better than critics appreciated.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Diplomacy and Statecraft

The Need to Change Palestinian Political Culture

Author: Elliott Abrams
Mosaic Magazine

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will be visiting Washington soon and will call for a renewed commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state. But both opinion polls, and actions by the Palestinian Authority glorifying terrorism and terrorists, suggest that Palestinian political culture is oriented to violence and revanchism, not to peace. Elliott Abrams argues that a change in Palestinian political culture is a necessary precondition for real peace.

See more in Palestine; Politics and Strategy; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Can India Save the Warming Planet?

Author: Varun Sivaram
Scientific American

With its population and living standards rising quickly, India is a wild-card country that could prevent the world from limiting global warming to sought-for levels—or it could help make the difference in a better future. For the country to make a low-carbon transition, technical and financial support from other nations will be crucial, writes Varun Sivaram. 

See more in India; Global; Climate Change

How Trump's Foreign Policy Team Is Mastering Complex Challenges in Difficult Times

Author: Ray Takeyh
Washington Examiner

Thus far, President Donald J. Trump’s foreign policy resembles a traditionally realist Republican one that focuses on balance-of-power politics, dealing with other great powers on equal footing, and building coalitions for specific tasks, writes Ray Takeyh. In time, he may also recognize the importance of a robust human rights and democracy promotion policy.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Stop Supporting Palestinian Terror

Author: Elliott Abrams
National Review

Should Congress cut aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it ceases payments to terrorists and their families? In the new issue of National Review magazine, Elliott Abrams argues that Congress should pass the Taylor Force Act, cut the aid, and try to force a change in Palestinian political culture.

See more in Palestine; Israel; Conflict Assessment

Small Footprint, Small Payoff

Authors: Stephen D. Biddle, Julia Macdonald, and Ryan Baker
Journal of Strategic Studies

Stephen Biddle, Julia McDonald, and Ryan Baker argue that training, equipping, and advising partner militaries is an increasingly popular alternative to large U.S. ground force deployments in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and many other places where the United States has real but limited interests at stake. Yet SFA has often yielded disappointing results in actual practice. The authors explain this pattern as the result of systematic interest misalignment between the United States and the partners it must work with in these kinds of missions—and argue that these problems are only partly remediable. The authors present ways to do better at the margin, but also argue that underlying interest misalignment will limit this tool's likely utility in the future, and that U.S. decision makers must take this into account when deciding when, where, and how to use it. 

See more in Iraq; Afghanistan; Defense and Security; Conflict Assessment

Forget the Subs: What Taipei Can Learn From Tehran About Asymmetric Defense

Authors: Colin Carroll and Rebecca Friedman Lissner
War on the Rocks

Ahead of the Donald Trump-Xi Jinping summit this week at Mar-a-Lago, Taiwan is understandably anxious. Trump’s ascendance to the American presidency has injected uncertainty into the U.S. approach to China and Taiwan — an element of foreign policy that is traditionally carefully calibrated to avoid upsetting the precarious cross-strait arrangement.

See more in Taiwan; Iran; Defense Strategy