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Kurlantzick Chronicles the U.S. Secret War in Laos and Creation of a Paramilitary CIA in New Book

“Over the course of the war, U.S. bombing of Laos would become so intense that it averaged one attack every eight minutes for nearly a decade,” observes Joshua Kurlantzick in his new book, A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA. Kurlantzick, a Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia, mines extensive interviews and recently declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records to give a definitive account of the secret war in the tiny Southeast Asian nation of Laos, which lasted from 1961 to 1973, and was the largest covert operation in U.S. history. The conflict forever changed the CIA from a relatively small spying agency into an organization with vast paramilitary powers.

See more in Laos; Vietnam; Intelligence; Wars and Warfare

Op-Ed

Gag Me: Trump's Anti-Abortion Executive Order

Author: Laurie Garrett
cnn.com

Here we go again. The bad old days of United States foreign assistance are coming back, now that President Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating the global gag rule on overseas discussion of abortion by individuals and organizations receiving federal funding. We have been here twice before -- under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush -- and we know that this order often backfires, leading to increased abortion rates.

See more in United States; Women; Presidents and Chiefs of State

Event

The Future of the U.S. Supreme Court

Speaker: Linda Greenhouse
Speaker: Charles M. Lane
Speaker: James D. Zirin
Presider: Michael Kramer

Experts provide their perspectives on the polarization of the U.S. Supreme Court, the role partisan politics has played in recent decisions, and the impact of the presidential election on the Court.

See more in United States; Politics and Strategy

Article

Crowd Size Is Trivial; Trusting White House Numbers Is Not

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
cnn.com

The Trump administration is only a few days in and already the fight with reporters over the media's view of the White House and the math behind its crowd counts is occupying America's headlines. A tug-of-war over facts -- both real and alternative -- is now in full swing, with the White House pulling crowd count numbers over to the side of the unbelievable with the committed vigor of the believer.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State

Article

Post-Ebola Reforms: Ample Analysis, Inadequate Action

Authors: Suerie Moon, Jennifer Leigh, Liana Woskie, Francesco Checchi, Victor Dzau, Mosoka Fallah, Gabriella Fitzgerald, Laurie Garrett, Lawrence Gostin, David Heymann, Rebecca Katz, Ilona Kickbusch, J. Stephen Morrison, Peter Piot, Peter Sands, Devi Sridhar, and Ashish K. Jha
British Medical Journal

Reports on the response to Ebola broadly agree on what needs to be done to deal with disease outbreaks. But Laurie Garrett and colleagues find that the world is not yet prepared for future outbreaks.

See more in Global; Health Policy and Initiatives; Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Article

Will Trump Be the End of the Pax Americana?

Author: Max Boot
Los Angeles Times

With the “America First” emphasis in his truculent inaugural address, Donald Trump has signaled that a radical reorientation of American foreign policy may be in the offing. For more than 70 years, the United States has been the world’s leading champion of free trade, democracy, and international institutions, particularly in Europe and East Asia. But for how much longer?

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State

Article

Nuclear Test, Political Fallout, and Domestic Turmoil

Authors: Scott A. Snyder and See-won Byun
Comparative Connections

South Korea’s domestic political vacuum following the impeachment of Park Geun-hye on December 9 overshadows prospects for renewing China-ROK relations in the year ahead. While the current cycle of DPRK provocations and international sanctions has drawn attention to vital Chinese interests in ensuring stability on the peninsula, Beijing’s deteriorating bilateral relationships with the two Koreas and the United States impede immediate regional efforts to break this cycle.

See more in United States; Asia and Pacific; Regional Security; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Article

Assessing U.S.-Asia Relations in a Time of Transition

Author: Sheila A. Smith
Asia Policy

“Although Abe’s quick reach out to Trump in the wake of an election has eased some of the anxiety about the future of the alliance under new U.S. leadership, the larger uncertainty about how the new president will shake up U.S. policy toward Asia continues to shape Japanese attitudes on the transition,” writes CFR Senior Fellow Sheila Smith.

See more in United States; Asia and Pacific; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Article

Why Argentina’s Macri Could Have a Rockier Year in 2017

Author: Shannon K. O'Neil
Fortune.com

Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his team can take a bow for their first year in office. Despite Macri’s outsider status and his party’s limited influence in the Congress, he in short order took on the country’s biggest economic distortions—unifying the exchange rate, resolving the fight with international creditors, cutting energy subsidies, reestablishing credible statistics, and eliminating a whole host of tariffs, quotas, and export licenses.

See more in Argentina; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Economics

Article

Middle East Derangement Syndrome: Egypt, Turkey, and Israel Have All Fallen Prey to Delusions About Trump

Author: Steven A. Cook
salon.com

The belief among Egyptian, Turkish, Israeli, Saudi, and Emirati officials that the Donald J. Trump administration will demonstrate better “American leadership” in the Middle East is misguided, argues CFR’s Steven A. Cook. The lack of a coherent foreign policy means that Middle Eastern leaders will more likely than not be disappointed.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Diplomacy and Statecraft