Must Reads

A sortable index of the best online analyses and inquiries on foreign policy.

Washington Institute: The Assad Regime Winning by Inches?

Author: Jeffrey White

"The regime's political goals are to remain in power, restore its control over as much of Syria as it can, and render the political opposition an irrelevant exile movement. Its military goal is to reduce the armed opposition to a manageable terrorist threat. This does not imply that the opposition has to be completely eliminated or that every inch of lost ground has to be recovered. Yet the regime has never shown any intention other than to fight, and it fights essentially everywhere in Syria."

See more in Syria; Conflict Assessment

Majalla: Iran's Fourth Estate

Author: Arash Karami

"The state of the Iranian media can serve as a bellwether for understanding where the country is headed. In the past, the restrictions under which Iranian journalists had to operate fluctuated as the political fortunes of conservatives and reformists shifted."

See more in Iran; Censorship and Freedom of Speech

Carnegie Europe: Foundations of German Power

Author: Ulrich Speck

"Without a strong and assertive Germany, there can be no strong and assertive EU in the world. And without a more self-confident EU, the liberal global order―built and underpinned for decades by the United States―might not be sustainable. Germany must start to invest more in an order from which it has benefited so much over the decades."

See more in Germany; Business and Foreign Policy

Congressional Research Service: Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests

"Although Russia may not be as central to U.S. interests as was the Soviet Union, cooperation between the two is essential in many areas. Russia remains a nuclear superpower. It still has a major impact on U.S. national security interests in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Russia has an important role in the future of arms control, the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and the fight against terrorism."

See more in Russian Federation; United States; Defense and Security

Financial Times: North Korea: Glimmer of Hope

Author: Simon Mundy

"After the starvation of up to 1m people in the famine demonstrated the state's inability to feed its people, it was forced to turn a blind eye to the informal markets that sprang up. For residents of cities such as Hyesan, near the border with China, the opportunity to engage in illicit trade with Chinese merchants has been especially lucrative."

See more in North Korea; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Foreign Policy: The New Tyranny

Author: William Easterly

"The international professionals perpetrate an illusion that poverty is purely a technical problem, distracting attention away from the real cause: the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights. The dictators whom experts are advising are not the solution -- they are the problem."

See more in Global; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

New Yorker: Who Will Protect the Crimean Tatars?

Author: Natalia Antelava

"There are about three hundred thousand Crimean Tatars on the peninsula, and although they constitute only fifteen per cent of its population they have great political significance. If they do not back the upcoming referendum, it will be far more difficult for the pro-Moscow government in Crimea to legitimize what is in effect a Russian annexation of the peninsula."

See more in Ukraine; Politics and Strategy

The Diplomat: Could a ‘Third Front’ Win?

Author: Ram Mashru

"With no major party likely to win an outright majority of 272 and with Congress's vote-share likely to crumble, if the BJP underperform or fail to woo coalition partners a third front government may just steal a victory."

See more in India; Elections

Political Violence at a Glance: Boarding Up Windows of Opportunity in Ukraine

Author: Andrew Kydd

"Eventually the new regime will consolidate power and increase its ties to the West, possibly joining the EU or even NATO. At that point, intervention would be prohibitively risky and Russia would simply have to live with the loss of Ukraine.…This seems to leave Putin no choice but to intervene now and press his advantage to the point of peaceful partition, if the Ukrainians do not resist, or civil/international war if they do. Windows of opportunity are powerful things. When you combine demonstrated hostility, present weakness and future strength, the incentive to act can be overwhelming."

See more in Ukraine; Politics and Strategy

CNN: If Russia Swallows Ukraine, the European System is Finished

Author: Timothy Snyder

"In Vienna, where I live, one also hears constant mentions of 1938. Austrians and other citizens of European Union countries are beginning to consider what the end of Ukraine might mean for their own European system. The point is not that Putin is like Hitler; the point is that the removal of a state from Europe has consequences for the continent."

See more in Ukraine; Politics and Strategy

n+1 Magazine: Ukraine, Putin, and the West

"What role has the American intellectual community played in this saga, if any? Certainly we failed to prevent it. But there is more. For the past two years, since Putin re-assigned himself to the Russian presidency, we have indulged ourselves in a bacchanalia of anti-Putinism, shading over into anti-Russianism."

See more in Ukraine; Politics and Strategy

Economist: What's Gone Wrong with Democracy

"Democracy is going through a difficult time. Where autocrats have been driven out of office, their opponents have mostly failed to create viable democratic regimes. Even in established democracies, flaws in the system have become worryingly visible and disillusion with politics is rife. Yet just a few years ago democracy looked as though it would dominate the world."

See more in Global; Russian Federation; Organization of Government

Washington Post: Interview: Karzai Says 12-Year Afghanistan War Has Left Him Angry at U.S. Government

Author: Kevin Sieff

"In an unusually emotional interview, the departing Afghan president sought to explain why he has been such a harsh critic of the twelve-year-old U.S. war effort here. He said he's deeply troubled by all the casualties he has seen, including those in U.S. military operations. He feels betrayed by what he calls an insufficient U.S. focus on targeting Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. And he insists that public criticism was the only way to guarantee an American response to his concerns."

See more in Afghanistan; Defense and Security