A sortable index of the best online analyses and inquiries on foreign policy.
"Xi has indicated very clearly from the time that he became General Secretary of the Party that he was obsessed, as maybe other Chinese leaders are also, with the Gorbachev syndrome. Xi Jinping realizes, like Li Keqiang, that there is a need for deep economic reforms—really very important and very difficult economic reforms. But what I think they worry about is that they don't know which reforms could be the ones which unleash a Gorbachev-type situation, where one thing follows another and before you know it the whole country and the whole party system has collapsed."
See more in China; Economic Development
"Moderate voices have been drowned out in the Egyptian media which largely glorifies the army and its chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. An absence of established political parties to encourage dynamic pluralist politics has also pushed moderate politicians into the background while the public, weary of instability, mostly backs the army in its 'war against terrorism.'"
See more in Egypt; Politics and Strategy
"Much attention has been lavished on the speculators who reaped huge paydays betting against the subprime mortgages that stoked the financial crisis. Doomsayers like the hedge fund manager John Paulson and the cast of characters in "The Big Short," the Michael Lewis book, saw calamity coming, and their contrarian bets delivered when the housing market collapsed.
But what about the big long? During the dark days of late 2008, while other investors dumped their holdings or sat paralyzed on the sidelines, who decided that it was time to put money on the line? Who bought low and then sold high?"
See more in United States; Financial Crises
"On November 11, it is worth remembering that the investments involved in preserving peace in Europe are peanuts compared to the price of war. In terms of value for money, the EU is a bargain. So too is NATO. Even the largely dysfunctional UN is, on balance, a cheap asset. Today's anniversary can still offer quite a few political lessons. Unfortunately, they are all about hard work."
See more in Global; Wars and Warfare
"Greece's reform job is not even half finished. The government hasn't done enough to root out the vested interests that strangle the economy. Nor has it cracked down fully on tax evasion or pushed hard enough to privatise state-owned properties."
See more in Greece; Economic Development
"[T]he number of medium-to-large civil wars under way—there are six in which more than 1,000 people died last year—is low by the standards of the period. This is because they are coming to an end a little sooner. The average length of civil wars dropped from 4.6 to 3.7 years after 1991, according to Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, a professor at the University of Essex.
Mr. Gleditsch is one of a growing number of political scientists studying civil wars. The field, long overshadowed by studies of superpower conflict, is coming into its own. Its participants do not claim that all civil wars are the same—the range of causes and types of conflict is obvious. But the sheer number of civil wars allows scholars to attempt, at least, a quantitative approach to the factors that affect the wars' outcomes."
See more in Lebanon; Wars and Warfare
"The most recent spate of denials could affect a broader range of interpreters. They go to the core reason that the program exists — the threat facing Afghan men and women who worked for the U.S. government here."
See more in Afghanistan; Defense and Security
What the editors of CFR.org are reading for the week of November 4 - November 8, 2013.
See more in Global; Politics and Strategy
"The White House heralded Obama's call with Rouhani as a milestone of last-minute diplomacy. But officials began planting the seeds for the exchange months earlier."
See more in Iran; Diplomacy and Statecraft
"It is hard to overstate how fast China is ageing. Life expectancy has more than doubled from 35 in 1949 to 75 today, a miraculous achievement. Meanwhile, the fertility rate has plummeted to 1.5 or lower, far below the 2.1 needed to keep a population stable. Cai Fang, a demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says the country will have moved from labour surplus to labour shortage at the fastest pace in history."
See more in China; Aging
"One problem with economics is that it is necessarily focused on policy, rather than discovery of fundamentals. Nobody really cares much about economic data except as a guide to policy: economic phenomena do not have the same intrinsic fascination for us as the internal resonances of the atom or the functioning of the vesicles and other organelles of a living cell. We judge economics by what it can produce. As such, economics is rather more like engineering than physics, more practical than spiritual."
See more in Global; Economics
"The story of Bush's eight-year pas de deux with the master of the Kremlin, reconstructed through interviews with key players and secret notes and memos, offers lessons for President Obama as he struggles to define his own approach to Putin and shape the future of the two nuclear powers."
See more in Russia and Central Asia; United States; Politics and Strategy
"What happened in Tiananmen, it seems assumed, is just another example of the repeated violence we have witnessed in recent years, ultimately rooted in Beijing's disastrous policies in Xinjiang. But is this really the case? Isn't Tiananmen a turning point?"
See more in China; Terrorism
"International investment agreements are once again in the news. The United States is trying to impose a strong investment pact within the two big so-called "partnership" agreements, one bridging the Atlantic, the other the Pacific, that are now being negotiated. But there is growing opposition to such moves."
See more in South Africa; International Finance
"For the first time in a very long time, people here have hope," says Liban Mahdi, one of scores of diaspora Somalis who have returned to Mogadishu since al-Shabaab were routed from the city by African Union and Somali forces in August 2011. Parts of the battle-scarred capital are experiencing a construction boom, with hospitals, homes, schools, shops and hotels rising from once rubbled neighbourhoods. Streets hum with cars and hawkers. "We have traffic jams in Mogadishu now," says Ismail, who works in construction. "I never imagined I would see that here."
See more in Somalia; Economic Development
"Beijing has invested heavily to build up a nationwide surveillance network that lets police watch every major street and corner in main cities...But with smoggy days becoming more frequent, the effectiveness of the system has been greatly compromised. Some fear terrorists may choose a smoggy day to launch attacks."
See more in China; Pollution
"After all, Asia is no less a demanding theater than the Middle East. Indeed, dealing with it might require reconciling the pivot to Asia with an ongoing presence in the Middle East, if only because the two regions have much in common."
See more in Asia and Pacific; Politics and Strategy
"It is difficult to determine the opportunity cost of the conflict. How well might the Israeli economy have done if the conflict hadn't taken place?"
See more in Israel; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights
"There remain distinctly different approaches to 'finding, fixing and finishing' terrorist targets. The two organizations also use different approaches to producing the 'intelligence feeds' upon which drone operations rely. Perhaps more importantly, after years of conducting drone strikes, the CIA has developed an expertise and a taste for them. The DOD's appetite to take over that mission may not run very deep."
See more in United States; Drones
"'Google believes very strongly in a free internet. The mainland just passed the law about the 500-reposts thing. Then you will definitely think about it before you write. It's a problem, (it) means your voice is not fully heard,' said Schmidt."
See more in China; Internet Policy
No Exit from Pakistan
The story of the tragic and often tormented relationship between the United States and Pakistan, and a call to prepare for the worst, aim for the best, and avoid past mistakes. More
Pathways to Freedom
An authoritative and accessible look at what countries must do to build durable and prosperous democracies—and what the United States and others can do to help. More
The Power Surge
A groundbreaking analysis of what the changes in American energy mean for the economy, national security, and the environment. More
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