Must Reads

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

Vox: 40 Maps that Explain the Middle East

Author: Max Fisher

"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."

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Society and Culture

Washington Post: Big Budgets, Little Oversight in War Zones

Authors: Scott Higham, Jessica Schulberg, and Steven Rich

"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."

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

New Yorker: The Hunt For El Chapo

Author: Patrick Radden Keefe

"[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."

See more in Mexico; Politics and Strategy

Wall Street Journal: Turkey's Erdogan: One of the World's Most Determined Internet Censors

Authors: Joe Parkinson, Sam Schechner, and Emre Peker

"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."

See more in Turkey; Politics and Strategy

World Politics Review: To Save the Pivot, Obama Must Disown It

Author: Nikolas Gvosdev

"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."

See more in Asia and Pacific; Politics and Strategy

New Yorker: Nigeria's Stolen Girls

Author: Alexis Okeowo

"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."

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

New Republic: Hell Is an Understatement

Author: Graeme Wood

"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."

See more in Central African Republic; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Foreign Policy: Can Radek Sikorski Save Europe?

Author: Michael Weiss

"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."

See more in Europe; Global Governance

New Yorker: What We Left Behind

Author: Dexter Filkins

"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."

See more in Iraq; Politics and Strategy

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Tiny Moldova Faces Its East-West Moment of Truth

Author: Robert Coalson

"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."

See more in Moldova; Politics and Strategy

Muftah: Of Transitology and Counter-Terror Targeting in Yemen

Author: Sheila Carapico

"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."

See more in Yemen; Politics and Strategy

NYT: Obama’s Strategic Shift to Asia Is Hobbled by Pressure at Home and Crises Abroad

Authors: David E. Sanger and Mark Landler

"The premise of Mr. Obama's strategy — that American power must follow its economic interests in a region where a growing middle class yearns for everything from iPhones to the new Ford Mustang — still makes sense, his advisers say. But they acknowledge that it faces acute challenges, which will demand a delicate balancing act."

See more in Asia and Pacific; Politics and Strategy