Published opinions and arguments by CFR fellows and experts.

Obama's Anti-ISIS AUMF: A Classic Muddle

Author: Max Boot

Yesterday I wrote “here we go again” with President Obama agonizing over another major foreign-policy decision–whether or not to arm Ukraine–even as our enemies push ahead with great determination and cunning. Today we are seeing yet another Obama MO: the tendency, once endless administration deliberations are finished, to produce a split-the-difference solution that doesn’t accomplish as much as it should.

See more in United States; Military Operations; Presidents and Chiefs of State

The Ayatollah and the U.S. Embassy

Author: Ray Takeyh
Weekly Standard

It has long been the conceit of Iran specialists and political commentators that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was not informed that militant students intended to take over the U.S. embassy in Iran in 1979. The Western intelligentsia has vouched for the Islamic Republic and claimed that the hostage crisis was a product of an internal power struggle. It was not about America, but rather about a revolution sorting itself out. As such, the hostage drama should not stand in the way of a rapprochement between the two nations. 

See more in Iran; United States; History and Theory of International Relations

The Great Deglobalizing

Author: Joshua Kurlantzick
The Boston Globe

During a seemingly successful trip to Asia in November, Barack Obama announced several breakthroughs. Among them was a promise that the United States and Asian nations would proceed toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a free-trade deal that, if enacted, would create a free trade area with a total gross domestic product of more than $27 trillion.

See more in Global; Globalization; Financial Crises

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

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