Articles

Academic articles by CFR fellows and experts.

Democratic Backsliding and the Reach of ISIS in Southeast Asia

Author: Joshua Kurlantzick
Current History

In early May 2016, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines made a major announcement. The three countries, which often have trouble cooperating on transnational challenges, and have long disputed ownership of some of their adjacent waters, said they would begin coordinated patrols at sea and install a threeway hotline to discuss kidnappings and other militant activities.

See more in Asia and Pacific; Terrorist Organizations and Networks

Venture Capital and Cleantech: The Wrong Model for Clean Energy Innovation

Author: Varun Sivaram
MIT Energy Initiative

Venture capital (VC) firms spent over $25 billion funding clean energy technology (cleantech) start-ups from 2006 to 2011 and lost over half their money; as a result, funding has dried up in the cleantech sector. In this report, we present the most comprehensive account to date of the cleantech VC boom and bust, aggregating hundreds of investments to calculate the risk/return profile of cleantech, compared with those of medical and software technology investments. The results are stark—cleantech offered VCs a dismal risk/return profile, dragged down by companies developing new materials, chemistries, or processes that never achieved manufacturing scale. We conclude that the VC model is broken for the cleantech sector, which suffers especially from a dearth of large corporations willing to invest in innovation. Fortunately, new public and private capital may be on the way after announcements made at the 2015 Paris Climate Change Summit. If a new and more diverse set of actors avoids the mistakes of the cleantech VC boom and bust, then they may be able to support a new generation of cleantech companies."

The publisher of the third featured publication should be "Stanford University Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance

See more in Global; Energy and Environment

The Problem With Vows to 'Defeat' the Islamic State

Authors: Stephen D. Biddle and Jacob Shapiro
The Atlantic

In recent weeks, ISIS has suffered territorial losses on multiple fronts, including in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The organization may look nearer to defeat than at any time in the past two years, but there is still a great deal of fighting to be done before the group is destroyed, or more likely beaten back to an underground terrorist organization as it was in 2009.

See more in Iraq; Syria; Counterterrorism

Future Warfare in the Western Pacific

Authors: Stephen D. Biddle and Ivan Oelrich
International Security

Adjunct Senior Fellow Stephen Biddle and his co-author, Ivan Oelrich, argue in the latest issue of the journal International Security that Chinese antiaccess/area denial is a real, but limited long term threat. It can allow China to gain control of its own airspace, it can deny the U.S. wartime freedom of movement across much of the South and East China Seas, and U.S. counter-efforts are unlikely to prevent this in the 2040 time frame on which we focus.

See more in Asia and Pacific; Wars and Warfare

The Costs of an American ‘No First Use’ Nuclear Doctrine

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
Wall Street Journal

The desire to leave an enduring legacy can inspire presidents to do great things — also foolish ones. That Barack Obama is considering a change in strategic doctrine, declaring that the U.S. would never use nuclear weapons first, is the subject of op-eds in the New York Times and Washington Post, of agreat video explainer in The Wall Street Journal, of countless news articles, and of cabinet-level controversy.

See more in United States; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament

The Refugee Problem in New York

Author: Richard N. Haass
Project Syndicate

Every September, many of the world’s presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers descend on New York City to mark the start of the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass. This year, they will once again highlight the international community's inability to address a pressing global challenge.

See more in Global; International Organizations and Alliances; Refugees and the Displaced

The No-Bailout Principle

Author: Benn Steil
Wall Street Journal

Benn Steil’s review of Joseph Stiglitz’s new book, The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe, for the Wall Street Journal weekend edition. 

See more in Greece; Monetary Policy

What a Failed Soviet Coup Can Teach Us About 21st-Century Populism

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
Washington Post

Twenty-five years ago this week, a group of Politburo hard-liners launched a coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The effort to depose him provoked a gigantic popular protest and collapsed in just three days. With the failure of the coup, the communist system itself began to unravel. “The 20th century” — so claimed Boris Yeltsin, Gorbachev’s rival, rescuer and eventual successor — had “essentially ended.” People power had defeated the Soviet state.

See more in Russian Federation; Conflict Assessment; Diplomacy and Statecraft

The TPP Debate Has Devolved Into Generalizations. What’s Actually in the Deal?

Author: Edward Alden
World Politics Review

U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to continue his push for Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), despite firm opposition to the free trade agreement from both of the major candidates for president, including his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. “Right now, I’m the president and I think I’ve got the better argument,” he told reporters following a meeting Tuesday with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

See more in United States; Trade; Treaties and Agreements

Review: ‘Zika’ Tracks the Trajectory of an Epidemic

Author: Laurie Garrett
The New York Times

If a publisher had come to me four months ago and asked me to write a book about the Zika crisis in just 30 days, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to say yes, as Donald G. McNeil Jr. did. So many assumptions written in March or April could prove wrong by June or August that the challenge of quickly producing a book on Zika would seem too risky — given that there will also be sleep deprivation, speed writing, high-velocity editing and rewrite ahead.

See more in Global; Public Health Threats and Pandemics