Published opinions and arguments by CFR fellows and experts.

Is Russia an ‘Existential Threat’?

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
Wall Street Journal

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on Russia last week to address this question: How should we think about Russian actions in the Middle East and Europe? Having been invited to speak, I found that one theme of my testimony stirred up an argument—among other witnesses, senators, staff, and even (in follow-on e-mails) administration officials.

See more in Russia and Central Asia; United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Diplomacy and Statecraft

The Second Conquest of Afghanistan

Author: Max Boot

What used to be known as the Global War on Terrorism seems to be lurching from one defeat after another. In the Middle East, ISIS has taken control of cities from Palmyra to Mosul. Libya and Yemen and Syria and large swathes of Iraq have no effective governance, leaving their territory to be fought over between competing terrorist groups.

See more in Afghanistan; Global; Counterterrorism

The Key to Resolving Syria’s Refugee Crisis? Ending Its War.

Authors: Elliott Abrams and Michael Singh
Wall Street Journal

A wave of Syrian refugees has caught Europe and the United States flat-footed, leaving the European Union scrambling to devise a plan to deal with those arriving on its shores and Americans debating our role in the matter. A humanitarian reaction is natural–but woefully inadequate, because refugees will keep coming as long as the Assad regime continues to brutally repress Syria’s Sunni majority. Only by bringing the conflict to an end will the flow of ever more thousands of refugees stop.

See more in Syria; Europe; Conflict Assessment; Refugees and the Displaced

The Insecurity Underpinning Xi Jinping’s Repression

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
Washington Post

This week’s visit to Seattle,the District and New York by Xi Jinping, widely viewed as China’s strongest dictator since Mao Zedong, will give Americans another occasion to take his measure and ponder the many dilemmas of Sino-American relations. Xi arrives fresh from Beijing’s extraordinary Sept. 3 military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II .

See more in China; Presidents and Chiefs of State

What’s Missing From Deal Supporters’ Talk of Restraining Iran? Specifics.

Author: Ray Takeyh
Wall Street Journal

A curious defense of the Iran deal is emerging. Some Democrats say that if the agreement is implemented, they will resist nefarious Iranian policies, domestic abuses, human rights repression, and sponsorship of terrorism. In a speech Wednesday, Hillary Clinton pledged that as president, “I will raise the costs for their actions and confront them across the board.”

See more in Iran; United States; Treaties and Agreements

Could Iran Be Following a Soviet Model Toward Downfall?

Author: Ray Takeyh
Wall Street Journal

Overall, the landscape of Iran suggests few reasons for optimism: The Islamic Republic has negotiated an advantageous arms-control agreement, and the accord looks likely to survive opposition in the U.S. Congress. Tehran’s regime represses its citizens and has embarked on an expansion of its influence from the Persian Gulf to the banks of the Mediterranean. 

See more in Iran; United States; Treaties and Agreements