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Highlights From CFR

September 6, 2013


Send Assad a Message He Will Understand

Robert M. Danin

If the Obama administration wants to send a message to Assad that he accurately understands, it must provide not only a credible response to his recent use of chemical weapons but also make him believe that response is part of a larger strategy to compel him to stop slaughtering his own people— by any means. Read the Op-Ed »

Keeping Cool in St. Petersburg

Stewart M. Patrick

Though the crisis in Syria and rift in U.S.-Russian relations overshadowed the G20's economic agenda, it is still imperative for world leaders to ensure coordinated multilateral support for global growth. Read More on The Internationalist »

G20 to Emerging Markets: We Feel Your Pain

Robert Kahn

The G20 summit sounded the right notes on global tax governance and committing to growth-oriented policies but emerging states will need to be watched for signs of abandoning their reform pledges. Read More on Macro and Markets »

Syria and U.S.-Russia Relations: Three Things to Know

Stephen Sestanovich

U.S.-Russia disagreement over how to respond to the conflict in Syria is spurring further deterioration in the relationship between Moscow and Washington. Watch the Video »

Developing a Strategy for Syria

A Guide to the Latest Phase of the Crisis

The Obama administration's call for punitive strikes on Syria following reports of chemical weapons attacks that it says killed more than fourteen hundred people has prompted the most serious debate yet in U.S. policy circles about intervention. The following articles provide background and analysis on the latest phase of Syria's civil war and the potential consequences of intervention. Read the Issue Guide »

America Must Stick to a Course on Syria

Richard N. Haass

The United States needs a strategy that it is prepared to implement and live with. Such an approach will not oust the regime or end the war any time soon, but it does provide a trajectory that protects some of its immediate interests and can be squared with larger American national security concerns both abroad and at home. Read the Op-Ed »

War Powers Debate Revived

James M. Lindsay

President Obama's determination that the United States should take military action to punish the Syrian government for using chemical weapons has revived the perennial debate over how the Constitution allocates the war power between Congress and the White House. Read More on The Water's Edge »

Pick Your Poison

Richard K. Betts

Congress must now share responsibility for determining the least bad way out of the situation in Syria. Indecisive use of military power emerges as the compromise between apparently unacceptable alternatives of doing nothing and doing too much. This is solving Solomon's choice by actually splitting the baby. In other words, it is politically logical but strategically unwise, and it is both understandable and tragic. Read More on »


The Tobacco Problem in U.S. Trade

Thomas J. Bollyky

As further Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meetings commence in Washington, DC, the Obama administration has a tremendous opportunity to forge a new approach on tobacco that balances U.S. mandates on trade with its obligations to promote public health at home and abroad. Read the Expert Brief »

Obama's Quiet Progress on the Asia Pivot

Elizabeth C. Economy

Although the debate over an intervention in Syria dominates the headlines in the United States, the Obama administration's pivot to Asia is making real, albeit slow progress in areas such as security, trade, and environmental protection. Read More on Asia Unbound »


An Audio Preview of the World Next Week

James M. Lindsay and Robert McMahon

In this week's podcast, Lindsay and McMahon discuss the commemoration of 9/11, the congressional vote on Syria, and the Australian general election. Listen to the Podcast »

Island of Tranquility

Elliott Abrams

At the moment, Israel appears to be a lone island of tranquility in the Middle East. But to Israelis, surrounded as they are by a region in complete turmoil, and with both a regime using chemical weapons and a concentration of five to seven thousand jihadists to their north, today's smooth sailing is obviously not permanent. It is especially worrying to them that American prestige and clout in the region are at a historic low. Read the Op-Ed »

Making Colleges Accountable

Rebecca Strauss

The most ambitious part of President Obama's new college accountability plan unveiled in August—tying the eligibility of schools for federal student aid to demonstrated results in preparing students for the job market—is unlikely to survive. The less ambitious part—ranking colleges and making the "value" of a school's degree more transparent to student consumers—probably will. But it is unlikely that transparency alone will shake up the higher education establishment and either lower costs or improve quality, especially when the onus is on students to find and act on the information. Read More on Renewing America »

Nigerian Politics: North vs. South?

John Campbell

The splitting of Nigeria's ruling political party—the People's Democratic Party—appears to have occurred along regional and religious lines and could pose a challenge to national unity ahead of an election year. Read More on Africa in Transition »

China's Spreading Internet Suppression Tactics?

Joshua Kurlantzick

Are Thailand, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries increasing restrictions on social media just emulating China's? Or is there a more direct connection? Read More on Asia Unbound »

Ask CFR Experts: Question of the Week

Jake Mazeitis asks when is an intervention to protect human rights under an oppressive government justified? CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Mark P. Lagon says that mass murder, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, mass rape, and relocation of a particular group justify intervention. Read the Full Answer and Submit Your Question


September 7: General Election, Australia
CFR Resources on: Australia »

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Fiscal Cliff Redux: Last Chance to Get It Wrong?

In September's Global Economics Monthly, CFR Senior Fellow Robert Kahn argues that there is a strong consensus that this fall's fiscal showdown in Congress will result in a compromise agreement, but a deal may be harder to get than markets anticipate.


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