What the editors of CFR.org are reading the week of April 26– May 2, 2014.
A sortable index of the best online analyses and inquiries on foreign policy.
What the editors of CFR.org are reading the week of April 26– May 2, 2014.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"While the complexities of purchasing power cannot be wrapped up in a sandwich, the Falafel Index offers an insight into the underlying economic problems that confront a strategic region."
"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."
What the editors of CFR.org are reading the week of April 21–25, 2014.
"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."
"But if Mr. Xi is indeed declaring war on the country's elites in the name of cleansing the party of corruption, the consequences could be grave in terms of political stability."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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.'"
"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."
What the editors of CFR.org are reading the week of April 14– 18, 2014.
"The ills that plague Petrobras — too much debt and spending for too little return — reflect a larger concern that the golden age for Brazil, China, Russia and Turkey, once the vanguard of the emerging-market boom, is coming to an end."
"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?"
"Though less popular than in 2010, Maliki believes he will benefit from the fear and chaos, presenting himself as the only one capable of guarding his community and saving Iraq. The sectarian conflict becomes another way of waging politics and outlasting competitors."
"During the first year of the Xi administration, China's policy toward Africa has shown several new trends that illustrate Beijing's evolving priorities and strategies in the continent. These new trends foreseeably will have significant implications for the future of Africa and Sino-Africa relations."
Ashley's War tells the poignant and gripping story of a groundbreaking team of female American warriors who served alongside Special Operations soldiers in Afghanistan. More
Smith's insightful book explores the policy issues testing the Japanese government as it tries to navigate its relationship with an advancing China. More
This revolutionary new look at volatility and crisis in oil markets explores the conditions in which oil supply fears arise, gain popularity, and eventually wane. More
Rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries are increasing faster than in wealthier countries. The Independent Task Force outlines a plan for collective action on this growing epidemic.
This Independent Task Force asserts that elevating and prioritizing the U.S.-Canada-Mexico relationship offers the best opportunity for strengthening the United States and its place in the world.
Williams argues that the status quo for peace operations in untenable and that greater U.S. involvement is necessary to enhance the quality and success of peacekeeping missions.
The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
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