What the Editors of CFR.org are reading the week of March 10–14, 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 March 10–14, 2014.
While the world awaits Sunday's referendum in Crimea and nervously watches the Russian troops massing on Ukraine's eastern border, the world is missing that, in Moscow, Vladimir Putin is busily cleaning house.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"By next year, Texas will be spewing four million barrels, which will put it ahead of old oil powers such as the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Iran. If it were a nation, Texas would already be the ninth biggest oil producer in the world."
"The fallout has also focused attention on Feinstein and Brennan, revealing a deep rupture between two of the most powerful figures in the U.S. intelligence community that has the potential to spill into other areas where spy agencies rely on Feinstein as an ally."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
What CFR.org editors are reading the week of March 3-7, 2014.
"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."
"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."
"For a generation of senior Community Party members, the attack is a sensational confirmation of what has become the most neuralgic issue of their time: the sense that the greatest threat to the country as they know it is the loss of territory."
"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."
"[Bitcoin] is clearly an amazing and potentially world-changing technology... [b]ut it's also a technology that was pushed forward by a community of people who were unprepared or unwilling to deal with even the basics of everyday business."
"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."
"As pro-Russia demonstrations in 11 cities have suddenly erupted where significant populations of ethnic Russians live, the apparent organization of the demonstrators, appearances of Russian citizens and reports of busloads of activists arriving from Russia itself suggest a high degree of coordination with Moscow."
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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