Council Special Reports

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.

Afghanistan After the Drawdown

Authors: Seth G. Jones and Keith Crane

The United States maintains important interests in Afghanistan, even as most U.S. and allied troops are withdrawn in 2014. Seth G. Jones and Keith Crane assess the political, security, and economic challenges facing U.S. policymakers in Afghanistan and evaluate a range of policy options.

See more in Afghanistan; Wars and Warfare; Diplomacy and Statecraft

The Future of U.S. Special Operations Forces

Author: Linda Robinson

In the past ten years, U.S. special operations forces have honed their counterterrorism manhunting ability with great operational success. They now are at a critical inflection point in their development where resources should be realigned to successfully employ the other of their two basic capabilities—working alongside indigenous forces to combat national and transnational threats.

See more in United States; Special Operations

Partners in Preventive Action

Authors: Paul B. Stares and Micah Zenko

In this globalized world, countries will need to cooperate on policies that extend across borders to address issues that affect them all, including conflict prevention and peacemaking. The authors of this report assess the strengths and weaknesses of international institutions and provide a set of practical recommendations for how the United States can strengthen the global architecture for preventive action by partnering with those organizations.

See more in Conflict Prevention; United States; International Organizations and Alliances

Strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime

Author: Paul Lettow

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.

See more in Global; Arms Control, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation; Global Governance

The Russian Economic Crisis

Author: Jeffrey Mankoff

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.

See more in Financial Crises; Russian Federation

Somalia

Author: Bronwyn E. Bruton

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.

See more in Somalia; Fragile or Failed States

Intervention to Stop Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Author: Matthew C. Waxman

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.

See more in United States; Genocide; Humanitarian Intervention

The United States in the New Asia

Authors: Evan A. Feigenbaum and Robert A. Manning

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.

See more in Asia and Pacific; Politics and Strategy; United States

Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action

Authors: Paul B. Stares and Micah Zenko

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.

See more in United States; Conflict Prevention

The Canadian Oil Sands

Author: Michael A. Levi

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.

See more in Canada; Climate Change; Oil

The National Interest and the Law of the Sea

Author: Scott G. Borgerson

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.

See more in United States; Oceans; Treaties and Agreements