Op-Eds

Published opinions and arguments by CFR fellows and experts.

I Interviewed Bashar al-Assad About Syria's Civil War. He's Still Too Delusional to End it.

Author: Jonathan Tepperman
Washington Post

In recent weeks, Western governments have begun subtly shifting their positions on Syria. The Obama administration seems to have quietly dropped its demand that President Bashar al-Assad resign as a precondition of peace talks. Instead, reports suggest it has embraced proposals that would allow Assad to be part of an interim deal. The new approach implies that the White House and its allies believe that the Syrian president might be open to a compromise that could end his country’s four-year civil war.

See more in Syria; Conflict Assessment

Why Saudis Are Holding Strong on Oil

Author: Meghan L. O'Sullivan
Bloomberg View

While the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia may not change the course of Saudi oil policy, Meghan O'Sullivan writes that interesting changes to the Kingdom's cabinet roster and other energy policies could be closer than most realize.

See more in Saudi Arabia; Oil

The Myth of the Terrorist Safe Haven

Authors: Micah Zenko and Amelia Wolf
ForeignPolicy.com

Counterterrorism strategies of the past thirteen years have relied upon a myth of 9/11: terrorists require safe havens to conduct international terrorist attacks. Micah Zenko and Amelia M. Wolf argue that there is no evidence to support this assumption, which most recently served as the basis for launching a war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

See more in United States; Havens for Terrorism

Peace Through Strength, Indian-style

Author: Daniel S. Markey
Indian Express

In his second visit to India, US President Barack Obama has another opportunity to take the measure of his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Over the past six months, US officials like former Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel have tried to emphasise the ways in which Obama and Modi are similar, noting, for instance, that both are outsider candidates from humble backgrounds.

See more in India; United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Conflict Assessment

Atmospherics of the US-India Relationship

Author: Robert D. Blackwill
Indian Defence News

Ambassador Robert Blackwill argues that expectations for the U.S.-India relationship in 2015 should be modest at best. Unless Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama put the strategic transformation of U.S.-India relations in a preeminent place in their foreign policy agendas, there will be no short-term strategic partnership between the United States and India.

See more in India; United States; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Limiting the Veto in Cases of Mass Atrocities: Is the Proposed Code of Conduct Workable?

Author: Stewart M. Patrick

In Paris, Stewart Patrick analyzes prospects for a French proposal in which the UN Security Council would adopt a “responsibility not to veto” norm in situations of mass atrocities. Despite tremendous challenges in implementing such a code of conduct, he concludes that it is ultimately a goal worth pursuing.

See more in France; International Law; Humanitarian Intervention

Legal Posturing and Power Relations in the South China Sea

Author: Matthew C. Waxman
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

The Philippines took China to international court in 2013 in order to challenge China’s assertion of vast maritime claims over the South China Sea. Matthew Waxman discusses why using international legal institutions in this way serves as a poor replacement for diplomacy and instead adds to both its complexity and set of instruments.

See more in China; Philippines; International Law

Obama Should Push to Give Workers a Stake

Author: Peter R. Orszag
Bloomberg View

Here's a good idea that I'd like to see prominent in President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech tonight: shared capitalism. That is, stock-ownership plans or simple profit-sharing schemes for corporate employees. These plans have been shown to effectively align workers' incentives with those of the company's equity owners, but they have not received much attention lately.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State