What the editors of CFR.org are reading the week of March 31–April 4, 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 31–April 4, 2014.
"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."
"There are several lessons that Germany could convey. The first is that reconciliation need not conform to the East Asian ideal. There is a tendency in East Asia to see reconciliation as perfect peace and harmony -- and therefore unattainable -- but Germany's was long, messy, and has not yet ended."
"The troops in Crimea may be the elite of the new Russian military. But the Kremlin's investment, analysts said, has revived the military, which has now shown that it can field a competent and even formidable force, and both guard the nation and project power to neighboring states."
"To replace what they pump, oil companies need to collaborate with state-owned companies that control 90% of the globe's remaining oil reserves, by a World Bank estimate. But governments often give foreign oil companies access only to the hardest-to-develop acreage. Kashagan's large-scale stumble shows how collaborations in these difficult fields can go sour for both sides."
"Katsuyama and his team did measure how much more cheaply they bought stock when they removed the ability of some other unknown trader to front-run them. For instance, they bought 10 million shares of Citigroup, then trading at roughly $4 per share, and saved $29,000 — or less than 0.1 percent of the total price… It sounded small until you realized that the average daily volume in the U.S. stock market was $225 billion. The same tax rate applied to that sum came to nearly $160 million a day."
"The US currently has 24 different sanctions programmes covering countries such as Côte d'Ivoire, Belarus and Syria, and companies involved in "conflict" diamonds. But as recently as the 1990s, support for them seemed to be waning."
"By 2020 Mr Abe wants women to occupy 30% of all "leadership" positions—which would include members of parliament, heads of local government and corporate executives. His most practical step has been to try to shorten waiting lists for child care by allowing more private companies into a previously state-dominated sector."
What the editors of CFR.org are reading the week of March 24–28, 2014.
"Five months into his first term in office, President Barack Obama laid out his vision for how American values would guide his thinking in crafting foreign policy. 'We uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and it keeps us safe,' he said at the time…. The next five years have shown the difficulty that comes when some of those values clash with each other, jostling for dominance."
"Budget constraints are clearly affecting President Obama's plan to beef up the military's presence in Asia, and just how much is starting to become clearer."
"The altar of wishful thinking is that this trip will in some way influence how Chinese president Xi Jinping directs the Chinese navy to behave on the East and South China Seas or how he responds to Russia's behavior in Crimea."
"Two camps are emerging: one led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which maintains that political Islam is a perilous force that should be confronted; and the other led by Qatar and Turkey's ruling party, which believes in political Islam's ability to transform the region. 'This confrontation has not reached its peak yet,' [Tarek Osman] says. Saudi Arabia's policies might be pursued in the name of stability. But they could well achieve the opposite."
What the Editors of CFR.org are reading the week of March 17–21, 2014.
"In a nutshell, Asia's biggest economies think they are becoming even more of a buyer's market for Russian energy, and hope to use Moscow's current turmoil to buy more gas for lower prices. If they're right, countries like China and South Korea would gain a longer-term, cheaper source of energy, while Moscow would be able to keep tapping its mineral wealth for decades to come."
"As NATO's long involvement in Afghanistan concludes, the renewed emphasis on Russia and Europe is also likely to delay the alliance's efforts to turn itself into a global actor, able to deal with threats like terrorism and cyberwarfare."
"The threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism has not disappeared, though the world has made important progress in reducing these risks. Urgent new steps are needed to build effective and lasting nuclear security worldwide. The nuclear security effort must now shift from short-term improvements toward a focus on a continued search for excellence, lasting as long as terrorist groups bent on mass destruction and the nuclear and radiological materials they might use both continue to exist."
"The Malaysia Airlines mystery is the biggest China story of the year so far—at least 152 passengers on board were Chinese—yet the Chinese media have been snoozing. More accurately, they've been sedated."
"America's failure to fully understand and actively confront Pakistan on its support and export of terrorism is one of the primary reasons President Karzai has become so disillusioned with the United States. As American and NATO troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year, the Pakistani military and its Taliban proxy forces lie in wait, as much a threat as any that existed in 2001."
"The dilemma of Obama's rebalance to Asia is that it must reassure allies and friends of U.S. commitment, without causing serious concerns or suspicions from China. In that context, Michelle Obama's weeklong trip to China may serve as a rebalance to her husband's rebalance."
Kurlantzick offers the sharpest analysis yet of what state capitalism’s emergence means for democratic politics around the world. More
In a cogent analysis of why the United States is losing ground as a world power, Blackwill and Harris explore the statecraft of geoeconomics. More
Takeyh and Simon reframe the legacy of U.S. involvement in the Arab world from 1945 to 1991 and shed new light on the makings of the contemporary Middle East. More
The Task Force recommends revising U.S. policy toward North Korea to break the cycle of North Korean provocation and promote stability in Northeast Asia.
India now matters to U.S. interests in virtually every dimension. This Independent Task Force report assesses the current situation in India and the U.S.-India relationship, and suggests a new model for partnership with a rising India.
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 report outlines a plan for collective action on this growing epidemic.
This report 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.
Knopf argues that the only remaining path for South Sudan is for an international transitional administration to run the country for a finite period.
The U.S. relationship with Israel is in trouble. Blackwill and Gordon offer six core policy proposals to repair, redefine, and invigorate the partnership.
To ensure the success of Myanmar's historic democratic transition, the United States should revise its outdated and counterproductive sanctions policy.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2015 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass.
Read and download »
To request permission to reprint or reuse CFR material, please fill out this permissions request form (PDF), referring to the instructions on page 1.