Must Reads

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

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

Al-Jazeera: Paid News Clouds India Elections

Author: Baba Umar

"According to various estimates, political parties in the world's largest democracy are pumping about $5bn into vigorous campaigns to lure 814 million voters - a sum second only to the 2012 US presidential polls, in which more than $6bn was spent."

See more in India; Politics and Strategy

NYT: Investigating Family’s Wealth, China’s Leader Signals a Change

Authors: Michael Forsythe, Chris Buckley, and Jonathan Ansfield

"Some political analysts argue that a leader of Mr. Zhou's status would not face an inquiry of this kind unless Mr. Xi regarded him as a direct threat to his power… But another school of thought is that Mr. Xi considers the enormous agglomeration of wealth by spouses, children and siblings of top-ranking officials a threat to China's stability by encouraging mercenary corruption and harming the party's public standing."

See more in China; Politics and Strategy

Radiolab: 60 Words

"In the hours after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a lawyer sat down in front of a computer and started writing a legal justification for taking action against those responsible. The language that he drafted and that President George W. Bush signed into law called the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF)has at its heart one single sentence, 60 words long. Over the last decade, those 60 words have become the legal foundation for the 'war on terror.'"

See more in United States; 9/11 Impact

New America Foundation: Strategic Empathy

Author: Matt Waldman

"Empathy can provide insights into how other actors are likely to perceive and react to what the United States does, and expose false assumptions that sometimes underpin strategic mistakes.This kind of information is critical as the United States weighs options for action–coercive or otherwise–in Syria, Ukraine and beyond. The case of Afghanistan shows that the human, financial and geopolitical costs are too high for empathy to be ignored."

See more in United States; Afghanistan; Politics and Strategy

World Politics Review: Australia’s Abbott Seeks to Balance Japan, South Korea and China on Asian Trip

Author: Roxana Horton

"Japan and Australia share an important ally in the United States, and lest the U.S. pivot to Asia be forgotten, Japan and Australia reaffirmed the importance of strong U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific region and expressed strong support for what the U.S. now calls the rebalance. But how can Australia pull this off without antagonizing Beijing?"

See more in Asia and Pacific; Politics and Strategy

Economist: A Peace Process That is Going Nowhere

"The only way this bleak prognosis could change is if Mr Netanyahu himself were to 'do a Sharon'—that is, to defy his own Likud party, forge a new outfit, reshape his coalition, and—in an expression that often comes up in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv—'cross the Rubicon' on the way to two states."

See more in Israel; Politics and Strategy

Economist: Beneath the Glacier

"The organisations could be a way for the Communist Party to co-opt the energy and resources of civil society. They could also be a means by which that energy challenges the party's power. And so their status has big implications."

See more in China; Politics and Strategy

Breaking Views: Greece Unbound

Author: Hugo Dixon

"The reopening of the markets to Greece also means it probably no longer faces a funding gap, which the last official projections by its creditors put at 15 billion euros over the next two years."

See more in Europe; Emerging Markets

NYT: During Hagel Visit, China Showed Its Military Might, and Its Frustrations

Author: Helene Cooper

"The displays of China's military power reveal some dividends from years of heavy investments, and perhaps a sense that China is now more willing to stand toe-to-toe with the Americans, at least on regional security issues. But American officials and Asia experts say the visits also showed a more insecure side of China's military leadership — a tendency to display might before they are ready to deploy it, and a lingering uncertainty about how assertively to defend its territorial claims in the region."

See more in China; Politics and Strategy

Foreign Policy: ‘They Just Stood Watching’

Author: Colum Lynch

"Darfur's combatants, particularly the Sudanese government, have effectively neutered the U.N. peacekeeping mission, undermining its capacity to fulfill its primary duty to protect nearly 2 million civilians displaced by Sudan's genocide. During the past year alone, more than 500,000 terrified men, women, and children have poured into the region's already overcrowded refugee camps."

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

The Diplomat: U.S.-Japan Relations: Not So Sweet Caroline

Author: Yo-jung Chen

"America, which badly needs stability in East Asia and a solid U.S.-Japan-South Korea alliance in order to face an assertive—but indispensible—China and an unpredictable North Korea, has been disturbed by the worsening tensions between Japan and its two neighbors under Abe's watch. Although Japan may not be the only party to blame in these quarrels, Washington is increasingly irritated by what it sees as Abe's unhelpful flexing of nationalism that has served only to aggravate an already precarious situation in Asia."

See more in Japan; Politics and Strategy