What the editors of CFR.org are reading the week of May 3–9, 2014.
A sortable index of the best online analyses and inquiries on foreign policy.
What the editors of CFR.org are reading the week of May 3–9, 2014.
"History is full of instances where a rising power, aggrieved and dissatisfied, acts aggressively to obtain new borders or other international concessions. In Russia today we see a much more unusual case: This increasingly menacing and ambitious geopolitical actor is a state in decline."
"Maps can be a powerful tool for understanding the world, particularly the Middle East, a place in many ways shaped by changing political borders and demographics. Here are 40 maps crucial for understanding the Middle East — its history, its present, and some of the most important stories in the region today."
"China, one hopes, will not take the route that America followed, with such disastrous consequences. The challenge for its leaders is to devise effective regulatory regimes that are appropriate for its stage of development."
"As revelations of murder plots and assassinations mount, easy narratives of good overcoming evil become more and more difficult to sustain. The reality in Rwanda is far more complex. The mass killings of the 1990s and the recent assassination plots left almost no one untainted."
"The story of [nonprofit corporation International Relief and Development] reflects the course of America's ambitions in Iraq and Afghanistan, which started with great enthusiasm and consumed tremendous resources, only to see many hopes go awry. Nation-building projects aimed at supplanting insurgents and securing the peace that looked promising on paper in Washington proved to be difficult to execute in dangerous and unpredictable war zones."
"[Joaquin] Guzman has been characterized by the U.S. Treasury Department as "the world's most powerful drug trafficker," and after the killing of Osama bin Laden, three years ago, he became perhaps the most wanted fugitive on the planet. Mexican politicians promised to bring him to justice, and the U.S. offered a five-million-dollar reward for information leading to his capture. But part of Guzmán's fame stemmed from the perception that he was uncatchable, and he continued to thrive, consolidating control of key smuggling routes and extending his operation into new markets in Europe, Asia, and Australia. According to one study, the Sinaloa cartel is now active in more than fifty countries."
"The rebels of the 12th Company appear to be Ukrainians but, like many in the region, have deep ties to and affinity for Russia. They are veterans of the Soviet, Ukrainian or Russian Armies, and some have families on the other side of the border. Theirs is a tangled mix of identities and loyalties."
"Mr. Erdogan's shake-up, a rapid-fire response to a power struggle with political enemies, has left Internet companies and government officials from Washington to Brussels worried that Turkey could become a template for other countries where leaders want to rein in the Internet without cracking down with as much force as China or Iran."
"We've already seen that the U.S. cannot pursue the pivot—undertaking the painstaking steps needed to resolve disputes, build up cooperation and lay the foundations of new regional organizations—while key personnel in the national security establishment remain distracted by crises and events in other parts of the world. By the time a crisis in Asia puts it at the top of the agenda, it will already be too late to play catch-up; the goal has to be to have understandings and mechanisms already in place."
What the editors of CFR.org are reading the week of April 26– May 2, 2014.
"The circumstances of the kidnapping, and the military's deception, especially, have exposed a deeply troubling aspect of Nigeria's leadership: when it comes to Boko Haram, the government cannot be trusted. Children have been killed, along with their families, in numerous Boko Haram bombings and massacres over the past five years."
"About 15 percent of Central Africans are Muslims, and for much of the country's 54-year history, they lived in relative harmony with the Christian majority. But in the last year, CAR has collapsed—first in a spasm of political violence and now in a grisly carnival of factional and religious slaughter that has left it one of the very worst places on Earth."
"Sikorski is seen as a possible successor to Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign-policy chief, when her five-year term ends this year. But has he been pleased with how Brussels has responded to the Ukraine crisis as compared with Washington, which has passed more stringent sanctions against Russia and has taken a generally more combative diplomatic line? It would be an unfair comparison, he said, to expect the European Union to act like the United States -- or Russia, for that matter."
"While the complexities of purchasing power cannot be wrapped up in a sandwich, the Falafel Index offers an insight into the underlying economic problems that confront a strategic region."
"The resurgence of Iraq's Shiites is the greatest legacy of the American invasion, which overthrew Sunni rule and replaced it with a government led by Shiites—the first since the eighteenth century. Eight years after Maliki took power, Iraqis are sorting through the consequences. The Green Zone—still known by its English name—has the same otherworldly feel that it did during the American war: a placid, manicured outpost in a jungle of trouble. Now, though, it is essentially a bastion of Shiite power, in a country shot through with angry Sunni citizens."
What the editors of CFR.org are reading the week of April 21–25, 2014.
"Torn between Russia and the West, Moldova's fault lines are visible everywhere and are rendered more volatile by the country's weak sense of national identity. And the tension is clearly being strained by the crisis in neighboring Ukraine, as well as by Moldova's successful European-integration drive -- and Moscow's determination to prevent it."
"But if Mr. Xi is indeed declaring war on the country's elites in the name of cleansing the party of corruption, the consequences could be grave in terms of political stability."
"Washington does not have a Yemen policy, much less a progressive vision for the country. Instead, American policies in the Peninsula privilege the permanence and prosperity of the GCC monarchies, notably the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Neither the Bush nor the Obama administrations have regarded Yemen as a real place with real politics."
Ashley's War tells the poignant and gripping story of a groundbreaking team of female American warriors who served alongside Special Operations soldiers in Afghanistan. More
Smith's insightful book explores the policy issues testing the Japanese government as it tries to navigate its relationship with an advancing China. More
This revolutionary new look at volatility and crisis in oil markets explores the conditions in which oil supply fears arise, gain popularity, and eventually wane. More
Rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries are increasing faster than in wealthier countries. The Independent Task Force outlines a plan for collective action on this growing epidemic.
This Independent Task Force asserts that elevating and prioritizing the U.S.-Canada-Mexico relationship offers the best opportunity for strengthening the United States and its place in the world.
Williams argues that the status quo for peace operations in untenable and that greater U.S. involvement is necessary to enhance the quality and success of peacekeeping missions.
The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass.
Read and download »
To request permission to reprint or reuse CFR material, please fill out this permissions request form (PDF), referring to the instructions on page 1.