Council Special Reports (CSRs) are concise policy briefs that provide timely responses to developing crises or contributions to current policy dilemmas. The Studies Program commissions a CSR when events make a particular situation or conflict ripe for useful intervention and the window of opportunity is likely to close if action is not taken in a timely manner. Because a Special Report can be prepared quickly, it can have an impact when changing events create a space for useful involvement.
The controversial relationship between the United States and the International Criminal Court (ICC) is at a crossroads: After an initial period of hostility toward the ICC, the United States has in recent years pursued a policy of cautious engagement. Vijay Padmanabhan offers a backdrop of the U.S.-ICC relationship and policy recommendations for the U.S. delegation attending the Seven-Year Review Conference in May/June 2010.
Violations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty by Iran and North Korea threaten to undermine the legitimacy of the nonproliferation regime. Paul Lettow proposes a comprehensive agenda for improvements, including tougher sanctions against transgressors, a criteria-based system to limit the spread of enrichment and processing technologies, and expansion of International Atomic Energy Agency authority.
Since 2008, Russia, like many other countries, has experienced a deep economic crisis. The question is how this crisis might affect Russia's domestic politics and foreign policy and, consequently, whether any change is warranted in U.S. policy toward Moscow. Jeffrey Mankoff argues that Russia's need to focus on repairing its economy during this global crisis gives the West an opportunity to deepen its economic engagement with Russia, which could bind Moscow more firmly to the liberal global economic order and encourage reform in both Russia and neighboring states.
Failed states provide fertile ground for terrorism, drug trafficking, and a host of other ills that threaten to spill beyond their borders. Somalia is thus a problem not just for Somalis but for the United States and the world. Bronwyn E. Bruton takes on one of today's most vexing foreign policy challenges, offering concise analysis and thoughtful recommendations grounded in a realistic assessment of U.S. and international interests and capabilities in Somalia.
NATO has been a cornerstone of security in Europe--and of U.S. foreign policy--for six decades. But its ability to continue playing such a central role is unclear. James M. Goldgeier takes a sober look at what the alliance and its members must do to maintain NATO's relevance in the face of today's strategic environment.
Recent events in Darfur raise the familiar question of whether international law facilitates the kind of early, decisive, and coherent action needed to effectively combat genocide. Matthew C. Waxman argues that putting decisions about international intervention solely in the hands of the UN Security Council risks undermining the threat or use of intervention when it may be most potent in stopping mass atrocities.
For more than a decade, the United States has mostly watched from the sidelines as Asian countries organize themselves into an alphabet soup of new multilateral groups. In this report, the authors review the relationship between pan-Asian and trans-Pacific institutions and suggest policy guidelines for a new U.S. approach to this new Asian landscape. A purposeful multilateralism that pools the efforts of those with the greatest capacity, the authors argue, could make Asia a more prosperous and secure region.
The United States can ill afford the burden of additional foreign policy challenges, making it imperative that the U.S. government find ways to identify, delay, and avert international crises that could harm U.S. interests or even lead to military engagement. In this report, the authors provide an actionable road map for how the U.S. government should revamp its existing U.S. prevention architecture to make it more effective in dealing with potential crises abroad.
The Canadian oil sands present an important challenge to policymakers: they promise energy security benefits but present climate change problems. Michael A. Levi assesses the energy security and climate change effects of the oil sands and makes recommendations for U.S. policymakers within the context of broader bilateral relations with Canada.
Seaborne commerce remains the linchpin of the global economy. And beyond trade, a host of other issues, ranging from climate change and energy to defense and piracy, ensure that the oceans will hold considerable strategic interest well into the future. In this report, Scott G. Borgerson explores an important element of the maritime policy regime: the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. He examines the international negotiations that led to the convention, the history of debates in the United States over whether to join it, and the strategic importance of the oceans for U.S. foreign policy today.
In this report, Benn Steil shows that the financial crisis is the inevitable bust of a classic credit boom, and explains how monetary, taxation, and home ownership promotion policy combined with other features of the financial system to fuel an unsustainable buildup in debt. He recommends significant reforms to reverse the debt financing bias and make the system more resilient to falls in asset prices. This report is also available in Arabic.
As the economic crisis has spread from financial markets to real economies in countries around the world, governments have understandably focused on short-term measures to contain the damage. But in order for policymakers to tackle today’s global economic crisis, this report argues, they must go beyond bailouts and stimulus packages and focus on one of the crisis's root causes: imbalances between savings and investment in major countries. This report is also available in Arabic.
This report looks at Russia's rise as an energy power, analyzing its control of supplies and delivery systems and its investments in energy infrastructure across Europe, as well as questions about the potential of its production, recognizing that European dependence on Russian energy will be a reality well into the future and that Europe can increase its energy security only by working with--not against--Russia.
North Korea has long been a serious concern to Washington. Now, with President Kim Jong-Il reportedly in bad health and possibly naming a successor, the United States must consider possible outcomes should the situation deteriorate and the current North Korean government collapse. This report examines the challenges that these scenarios would pose--ranging from securing Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal to providing humanitarian assistance--in the context of the interests of the United States and others in its valuable recommendations.
This report comprehensively analyzes Ukraine's difficulties, related to both domestic conditions and foreign policy, and recommends ways for the United States to encourage Ukraine on a path of stability and integration with the West.
This report lays out a thoughtful agenda for U.S. policy toward the Democratic Republic of Congo, arguing that what happens there should matter to the United States—for humanitarian reasons as well as economic and strategic ones.
Unlike during the Cold War, the threat of nuclear attack now comes from rogue states that receive their weapons from sovereign nations. In this report, Michael A. Levi outlines how to discourage those nations from giving their nuclear technologies to terrorists, how to prevent accidental transfers, and the role that nuclear attribution plays in contemporary proliferation.
In this report, Bruce W. MacDonald illuminates the strategic landscape of military space competition between the United States and China and highlights the dangers and opportunities the United States confronts in space.
The rise in China's trade surplus, the increase in oil prices, and a slowdown in demand for U.S. assets from private investors abroad has increased the United States' reliance on foreign governments for financing. This report examines whether the United States' ability to secure large quantities of external financing from foreign governments is a reflection of its political power, a constraint on its ability to exercise power, or a combination of the two.
This report outlines the nature of the challenges in Pakistan's tribal areas, formulates strategies for addressing those challenges, and distills the strategies into realistic policy proposals worthy of consideration by the incoming administration.
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.
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Now Available: Foreign Policy Begins at Home
The biggest threat to America's security and prosperity comes not from abroad but from within, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass in his provocative new book. More