In The Pragmatic Superpower, Ray Takeyh and Steven Simon reframe the legacy of U.S. involvement in the Arab world from 1945 to 1991 and shed new light on the makings of the contemporary Middle East. Cutting against conventional wisdom, the authors argue that, when an inexperienced Washington entered the turbulent world of Middle Eastern politics, it succeeded through hardheaded pragmatism—and secured its place as a global superpower.
Andrew Doran, senior advisor to In Defense of Christians, discusses the historical and cultural context of Christianity in the Middle East and provides an overview of the persecution faced by Christians and other religious groups in the region.
Authors: Ray Takeyh and Reuel Marc Gerecht Weekly Standard
The recent hostages-for-criminals exchange with Iran is the latest example of the Obama administration’s willingness to concede American red lines, argues CFR’s Ray Takeyh with Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. A permissive and passive diplomatic doctrine only serves to weaken American values and strengthen the resolve of its enemies.
With oil prices collapsing, Saudi Arabia is facing similar problems that the Soviet Union faced decades ago. Saudi policymakers’ economic reform strategies also echo those of Mikhail Gorbachev. However, different from Gorbachev’s Soviet Union, Saud Arabia’s foreign policy is both confrontational and interventionist. Saudi seeks change, but hopes to keep it in bounds, and may want the world to remain a dangerous place.
Vali R. Nasr, dean of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, discusses rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran and the subsequent escalation of sectarian conflict throughout the region.
Authors: Max Boot and Michael Pregent Washington Post
President Obama, fresh off the implementation of the nuclear accord and a prisoner swap, may want to believe that Iran is, as he suggested to NPR a year ago while discussing what it would take to get a deal done, now on its way to becoming “a very successful regional power” that will abide “by international norms and international rules.”
UN-mediated talks in Syria are jeopardized by disagreement over which opposition parties should participate, but a broader obstacle is whether a compromise over Bashar al-Assad’s future can be reached, says CFR’s Philip H. Gordon.
Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Philip H. Gordon argues that the Middle East today is going through a period of powerful, tectonic change that the United States did not create and cannot fully control.
The confirmation by UN monitors that Iran has complied with the deal to dismantle large parts of its nuclear program lifts major sanctions and ushers in a new era for the Middle East. This issue guide offers analysis and background.
In Politico, Philip Gordon and Richard Nephew argue that the implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement makes the world safer and buys valuable time. Now the United States must ensure its enforcement; prevent Iran from destabilizing actions in the region; and cautiously explore the possibility of a new and more constructive relationship.
As President Barack Obama prepares to deliver his seventh and final State of the Union Address on Tuesday, January 12, 2016, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and Foreign Affairs offer resources on relevant topics.
Anyone watching this meltdown unfold has every reason to think of worse-case scenarios, as it will only deepen the Middle East’s widening sectarian divide, intensify the region’s multiple conflicts, and set back efforts to defeat the Islamic State and end the bloodshed in Syria.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2015 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 »