Must Reads

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

NYT: Germany Adds Lessons in Islam to Better Blend Its Melting Pot

Author: Alison Smale

"For the first time, German public schools are offering classes in Islam to primary school students using state-trained teachers and specially written textbooks, as officials try to better integrate the nation's large Muslim minority and counter the growing influence of radical religious thinking. The classes offered in Hesse State are part of a growing consensus that Germany, after decades of neglect, should do more to acknowledge and serve its Muslim population if it is to foster social harmony, overcome its aging demographics, and head off a potential domestic security threat."

See more in Germany; Religion

New Yorker: The Al Qaeda Switchboard

Author: Lawrence Wright

"Yes, the F.B.I. could have stopped 9/11. It had a warrant to establish surveillance of everyone connected to Al Qaeda in America. It could follow them, tap their phones, clone their computers, read their e-mails, and subpoena their medical, bank, and credit-card records. It had the right to demand records from telephone companies of any calls they had made. There was no need for a metadata-collection program. What was needed was coöperation with other federal agencies, but for reasons both petty and obscure those agencies chose to hide vital clues from the investigators most likely to avert the attacks."

See more in United States; Defense and Security

Monkey Cage: How Hard Is it to Win Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan? Very Hard.

Author: Jason Lyall

"While a key policy takeaway—avoid civilian casualties—seems obvious, even taking great pains to minimize civilian suffering is no guarantee that civilians can be won over. Cognitive biases that predispose individuals to favor (or excuse) the actions of their fellow in-group members, while simultaneously using negative actions by the out-group (like ISAF) to confirm prior prejudices, are powerful frameworks not easily overcome during wartime. Without engaging these underlying psychological biases, however, efforts to win hearts and minds are likely to be expensive, protracted, and, in the end, fleeting."

See more in Afghanistan; Defense and Security

NYT: The House Edge

Authors: David Kocieniewski and Gretchen Morgenson

Articles in this series examine the challenges posed by Wall Street's influence over markets and the prices consumers pay.

See more in United States; Economics

Time: Why Iraq's Most Violent Province Is a War Zone Again

Author: Ned Parker

"There is not a Sunni region in the country now that is not enmeshed in strife.… The conflict in Sunni regions is creating an atmosphere of perpetual crisis that could tip the country into civil war or be used by Maliki as a justification to stay in power after what is expected to be a closely fought election. The more chaos, the greater the chance for al-Qaeda-linked fighters to hide among the population and reap chaos."

See more in Iraq; Terrorism

CRS: Bitcoin: Questions, Answers, and Analysis of Legal Issues

Authors: Craig K. Elwell, M. Maureen Murphy, and Michael V. Seitzinger

"This report has three major sections. The first section answers some basic questions about Bitcoin and the operation of the Bitcoin network and its interaction with the current dollar-based monetary system. The second section summarizes likely reasons for and against widespread Bitcoin adoption. The third section discusses legal and regulatory matters that have been raised by Bitcoin and other digital currencies."

See more in Global; Economics

Project Syndicate: The World Economy’s Shifting Challenges

Author: George Soros

"A successful transition in China will most likely entail political as well as economic reforms, while failure would undermine still-widespread trust in the country's political leadership, resulting in repression at home and military confrontation abroad."

See more in Global; Economics

WSJ: To Secure Peace, Be Ready for Battle

Author: Catherine Ashton

"An effective and coherent security and defense policy is a necessity, not a luxury, for Europe. Possessing the capacities for crisis prevention and peacekeeping are vital if we are to build a more peaceful world order."

See more in Europe; Defense and Security

Project Syndicate: Europe’s Ukrainian Blunder

Author: Joschka Fischer

"The EU's behavior demands explanation. Yanukovych had always been the Kremlin's ally. Indeed, his election in 2010 marked the end of Ukraine's pro-European Orange Revolution, which had defeated his effort to steal the presidential election in 2004 and keep Ukraine in the Russian camp. So why did the EU press for an association agreement, without being able to offer Ukraine anything comparable to what Russia offered?"

See more in Europe; Politics and Strategy

New York Review of Books: How al-Qaeda Changed the Syrian War

Author: Sarah Birke

"The Salafist-jihadist insurgency, and the emergence of one of al-Qaeda's most fearsome affiliates within it, has fundamentally changed the war in Syria. In a conflict in which some 6,000 people continue to die every month and a third or more of the population have been forced to leave their homes, the problem of basic security has almost completely supplanted the aspirations of a once-peaceful protest movement trying to take on an autocratic, militarized, and sectarian regime. And as the regime…has resorted to increasingly brutal attacks, organizations like ISIS have spread unprecedented terror on the rebel side."

See more in Syria; Terrorism

NY Times: A Deadly Mix in Benghazi

Author: David Kirkpatrick

"The United States waded deeply into post-Qaddafi Libya, hoping to build a beachhead against extremists, especially Al Qaeda. It believed it could draw a bright line between friends and enemies in Libya. But it ultimately lost its ambassador in an attack that involved both avowed opponents of the West and fighters belonging to militias that the Americans had taken for allies."

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Terrorism

Washington Post: Why the Elites Are Rising Up

Author: Jackson Diehl

"[G]lobalization is not merely an economic story. It is accompanied by the spread of freer and more inclusive elections to dozens of countries where they were previously banned or rigged. That has enabled the rise of populists who cater to globalization's losers and who promise to crush the old establishment and even out the rewards. In country after country, they've succeeded in monopolizing the political system. Hence, the elite revolt."

See more in Global; Globalization; Political Movements and Protests

Reuters: Inside Germany's Campaign to Free Khodorkovsky

Author: Michelle Martin and Lidia Kelly

The Kremlin source told Reuters that for Putin, Khodorkovsky would have been much more of a headache if he served his sentence and was released as scheduled. If he were to stay in Russia, he would attract more attention for longer, which could empower him, the source said, adding that this way, Putin had closed his way back to Russia.

See more in Russian Federation; Human Rights

Guardian: South Sudan: the State that Fell Apart in a Week

Author: Daniel Howden

"The fighting has already claimed thousands, if not tens of thousands, of civilian lives. Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have fled into the bush or returned to home villages, according to the UN. The official death toll of 500, which corresponds with the number of dead in a single Juba hospital six days ago, is being dismissed by experts."

See more in South Sudan; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Reuters: Why Ukraine Spurned the EU and Embraced Russia

Author: Elizabeth Piper

"What caused the U-turn by the leadership of a country of 46 million people that occupies a strategic position between the EU and Russia? Public and private arm-twisting by Putin, including threats to Ukraine's economy and Yanukovich's political future, played a significant part. But the unwillingness of the EU and International Monetary Fund to be flexible in their demands of Ukraine also had an effect, making them less attractive partners."

See more in Ukraine; Politics and Strategy

Amnesty International: "Treat Us Like We Are Human": Migrant Workers in Qatar

"Migrant workers in Qatar face a range of abuses at the hands of their employers. In some of the cases investigated by Amnesty International, these abuses amount to forced labour and human trafficking. Some arrive to find that the nature of the work, their salaries, hours of work or conditions are very different to those they had been promised. Many migrant workers find their employers delay their pay or stop paying them at all."

See more in Qatar; Human Rights