Op-Eds

Published opinions and arguments by CFR fellows and experts.

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

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

Somalia: The Next Oil Superpower?

Author: Alexander Dick-Godfrey
National Interest Online

Last month, Soma Oil and Gas, a London based energy company, searching for hydrocarbon deposits off the coast of Somalia, announced that it had completed a seismic survey to ascertain the potential for recoverable oil and gas deposits. Although further details have yet to be released, chief executive Rob Sheppard announced that the results were encouraging. However, Somalia, and potential investors, should proceed with caution when considering entering this frontier market.

See more in Somalia; Oil

What President Obama Should Say About Guantanamo in the State of the Union

Author: John B. Bellinger III
Lawfare

John Bellinger argues that President Obama’s categorical dismissal of Guantanamo as a “facility that should have never been opened” needlessly politicizes the issue, alienating the congressional Republicans whose support he will need to close it.  President Obama should use his State of the Union address the most compelling reason for Guantanamo’s closure: that its existence has now become a recruiting tool for terrorists around the world.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State

Match Workers to Jobs

Authors: Edward Alden and Robert Maxim
The Hill

The United States once had the world’s most efficient market for matching willing workers with available jobs. As recently as 2000, scarcely one-in-ten unemployed workers had been out of a job for more than six months, compared with more than half of unemployed workers in the major European nations.

See more in United States; Labor