"Five months into his first term in office, President Barack Obama laid out his vision for how American values would guide his thinking in crafting foreign policy. 'We uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and it keeps us safe,' he said at the time…. The next five years have shown the difficulty that comes when some of those values clash with each other, jostling for dominance."
Jason Stearns, director of the Usalama project at the Rift Valley Institute, discusses the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with professors and students, as part of CFR's Academic Conference Call series.
"Museveni claims that he decided to sign the bill into law because he concluded there is no scientific evidence that homosexuality is determined by a person's genes, and is therefore 'deviant' behavior."
Authors: Karol Boudreaux, Tiernan Mennen, Larry Diamond, and Jack Mosbacher
Larry Diamond and Jack Mosbacher ("Petroleum to the People," September/October 2013) rightly observe that the coming oil boom in Africa is, paradoxically, a frightening prospect for the continent's poor and marginalized.
"The campaign of looting and murder in recent weeks has led to an alarming demographic crisis in the Central African Republic. About 1 million of its 4.6 million people have been displaced and at least 2,000 have been killed."
"A quiet boom in manufacturing in Africa is already taking place. Farming and services are still dominant, backed by the export of commodities, but new industries are emerging in a lot of African countries."
"The court's future now rests to a large extent on the battle being waged between African leaders with little interest in justice and those Africans, including many activists and victims, who see an end to impunity for mass atrocities as essential for Africa's future. One can only hope that the welfare of African people takes precedence over the perceived interests of African leaders."
U.S. strategic interests in Africa's Sahel have been marginal for decades, but there is a strong case for expanding ties with regional allies to quell a spreading security threat, write J. Peter Pham and CFR's John Campbell.
Asked by George Macharia, from University of Nairobi
Terrorism in the Horn of Africa is a complex problem that requires a "full spectrum" solution. The first step in any counterterrorism campaign is developing an understanding of the terrorists' motivations and goals. In the Horn of Africa, the chief terrorist threat emanates from al-Shabab fighters attempting to violently overthrow the Somali government and impose fundamentalist Islamic law. The group and its affiliates are also attempting to sow unrest in neighboring countries like Kenya.
"The fighting has already claimed thousands, if not tens of thousands, of civilian lives. Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have fled into the bush or returned to home villages, according to the UN. The official death toll of 500, which corresponds with the number of dead in a single Juba hospital six days ago, is being dismissed by experts."
"Unemployment, at nearly 25% of the workforce, is higher than it was when Mr. Mandela took office in 1994. If the two million or so adults who have given up looking for work are included, the jobless rate rises to 37%. The economy is growing too slowly to create many jobs, even as much of the rest of Africa is booming."
"Mandela's example is a ringing endorsement of what is derisively known as the "great man school of history"–the notion that influential individuals make a huge difference in how events turn out," writes Max Boot.
Asked by John Isibor, from Eastern Mediterranean University
The response to Boko Haram and other "jihadist" insurgencies is shaping U.S. foreign policy toward Nigeria and the Sahel. But despite rhetoric to the contrary, the region remains a marginal U.S. priority.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The authors argue that it is essential to begin working now to expand and establish rules and norms governing armed drones, thereby creating standards of behavior that other countries will be more likely to follow.
The author examines Pakistan's complex role in U.S. foreign policy and advocates for a two-pronged approach that works to quarantine threats while integrating Pakistan into the broader U.S. agenda in Asia.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »