Must Reads

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

Brookings Essay: Monnet's Brandy and Europe's Fate

Author: Strobe Talbott

"Monnet is once again exerting his influence, this time from beyond the grave. The crisis in the eurozone has focused minds in key capitals on cobbling together institutional measures of the sort that he believed were necessary for monetary union. As a result, his vision of a united Europe may well survive and, over time, succeed."

See more in Europe; Economics

NYT: Rein in the Saudi Religious Police

Author: Manal Al-Sharif

"The government, for its part, is wary of clamping down on the mutaween for fear of inciting a conservative backlash and is walking a fine line between the religious police and an increasingly angry populace. While dismantling of the force is unrealistic, this delicate moment opens a window of opportunity for Saudis. By continuing to voice anger and disapproval, the public may provide Riyadh with the leverage it needs to demand police adherence to regulations already in place, and slowly weaken the commission's influence."

See more in Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights; Saudi Arabia

NYT: Iran Must Embrace Religious Pluralism

Author: Camelia Entekhabifard

"Of the approximately hundred thousand Jews in Iran at the time of the revolution, only twenty thousand remain. Theyno longer felt welcome in their homeland. Today, despite promises by the new president, Hassan Rouhani, to protect the freedom of ethnic and religious minorities (and the appointment of an aide to focus on their affairs), the persecution continues."

See more in Iran; Religion

Project Syndicate: Death by Finance

Author: Dani Rodrik

"This is not the first time that developing countries have been hit hard by abrupt mood swings in global financial markets. The surprise is that we are surprised. Economists, in particular, should have learned a few fundamental lessons long ago."

See more in Global; Financial Markets

Financial Times: Obama Walks Into Crossfire of Asian Tensions

Authors: Geoff Dyer, Demetri Sevastopulo, and Simon Mundy

"The U.S. has been particularly frustrated at the deterioration in relations between Tokyo and Seoul, as it believes that relationship is important to help check the rise of China in the region, which is one reason that some high-profile Asia experts in the US have been urging Mr Obama to visit South Korea."

See more in Japan; South Korea; Economic Development; Global Governance

New York Review of Books: Africa Attacks the International Criminal Court

Author: Kenneth Roth

"The court's future now rests to a large extent on the battle being waged between African leaders with little interest in justice and those Africans, including many activists and victims, who see an end to impunity for mass atrocities as essential for Africa's future. One can only hope that the welfare of African people takes precedence over the perceived interests of African leaders."

See more in Africa (sub-Saharan); Global Governance

The Diplomat: Japan and Russia: Arctic Friends

Author: Stratos Pourzitakis

"Through its warming ties with Russia, Japan seeks to exploit the Arctic's potential and to win support in standing up to what it regards as China's assertive policies. Working with Russia is a great opportunity for Japan to strengthen ties with the most important player in the Arctic and gain leverage within the Arctic Council. It will also give Japanese energy and maritime corporations and scientific institutions valuable Arctic access."

See more in Japan; Russia and Central Asia; Energy Policy

New Republic: The Loneliness of Vladimir Putin

Author: Julia Ioffe

"The increasingly real threat of economic turmoil is already chipping away at Putin's power with more effectiveness than any protest movement. There is bound to be a vacuum when the forces of economics prevail. But a movement that is pulled in myriad different directions, that cannot decide on an identity, and yet lacks variety in its leaders cannot fill the void. By crushing the opposition, Putin has all but ensured that, once again, Russia's history will repeat itself, and only the wrong people will be there to step in—the ultra-nationalists, childlike faddists, and dangerous purists."

See more in Russia and Central Asia; Economics; Development

Al-Jazeera: Flipping the Corruption Myth

Author: Jason Hickel

"Many international development organizations hold that persistent poverty in the Global South is caused largely by corruption among local public officials. In 2003 these concerns led to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which asserts that, while corruption exists in all countries, this 'evil phenomenon' is 'most destructive' in the global South, where it is a 'key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.' There's only one problem with this theory: It's just not true."

See more in Global; Corruption and Bribery

ICG: The North Caucasus: The Challenges of Integration

"Recent attacks, including two in Volgograd, suggest that Islamist terrorists may try to strike across the country and embarrass Moscow during the Olympics, the preparations of which have been beset by allegations of abuses against the local populace. Beyond the immediate risk, they underline the urgent need to achieve a comprehensive political solution to the North Caucasus conflicts before rolling out fully an ambitious tourism project in republics that still have active insurgencies or have been seriously affected by conflict."

See more in Russian Federation; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Bloomberg: Turkey Crisis Puts Jailed Millionaire at Heart of Gold Trail

Author: Mehul Srivastava

"As western nations ring-fenced Iran's banks, they created a temporary market where gold could be used to pay Iran for its only major export: oil and gas. That chaotic marketplace created opportunities for men like Sarraf. He used his connections in Iran and Turkey to move almost a metric ton of gold to Iran every day for 1 1/2 years, according to a person familiar with his finances."

See more in Turkey; Corruption and Bribery

Politico: The Day We Lost Atlanta

Author: Rebecca Burns

"What happened in Atlanta this week is not a matter of Southerners blindsided by unpredictable weather. More than any event I've witnessed in two decades of living in and writing about this city, this snowstorm underscores the horrible history of suburban sprawl in the United States and the bad political decisions that drive it."

See more in United States; Disasters