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Highlights From CFR

February 14, 2014

The World This Week

Why Franco-American Ties Matter

Charles A. Kupchan

France has emerged as the United States' strongest European security partner, supporting U.S. policy toward Syria and Iran and taking firm military action on its own against militants in Mali. The beleaguered French president's visit to Washington is also a sign that the White House is pivoting toward a more engaged foreign policy after months of domestic focus. Read the interview »

U.S. Policy in the Middle East

The Upcoming Arab Outreach

Robert M. Danin

When President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry meet with leaders of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, they will need to provide compelling answers to questions regarding Iran, Syria, and Egypt. Unless they do, whatever goodwill is engendered by this outreach is likely to be as enduring as the jet contrails that will follow their aircraft when they depart their meetings. Read more on Middle East Matters »

Obama's Syria Policy Is a Deadly Mistake

Max Boot

Although the Obama administration missed an opportunity when it failed to provide arms to the Free Syrian Army, it still has options—such as arming the moderate opposition, declaring a no-fly zone, and creating humanitarian zones near the Turkish and Jordanian borders—that could curb the Assad regime's recent gains. Read the op-ed »

The Cost of the “Peace Process”

Elliott Abrams

Secretary Kerry and other U.S. officials have spoken often about the negotiations and their goals, but I do not recall any honest discussion of the problem of growing corruption and lawlessness in the Palestinian Authority. State Department spokesmen issue statement after statement about Israeli settlement activity, seemingly whenever one brick is laid atop another, yet ignore these serious issues. What kind of Palestine is it that the United States is seeking to create? Read more on Pressure Points »


Egypt and the Exigencies of Self-Preservation

Steven A. Cook

There is no machine in Egypt, but there is most certainly a system—a self-reinforcing one—that is the result of an environment of uncertainty in which Egyptian elites are individually and collectively trying to discern the direction of politics. Once they think they know how events will unfold, these elites will do everything possible to ensure that they are on the "right side" of history. Read more on From the Potomac to the Euphrates »

The Taliban Is Winning the War on Polio

Laurie Garrett and Maxine Builder

That polio has reappeared in Afghanistan after a thirteen-year hiatus is attributable to the Taliban's attacks on polio workers and intimidation of mothers in the region. With U.S. troops and aid workers scheduled to drawdown in 2014, public health must be part of all agreements related to the withdrawal of U.S. military personnel. Read the op-ed »

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Union?

Edward Alden

If Volkswagen's Tennessee workers unionize and find success with a German-style works council, it could change some of the anti-union sentiment that permeates much of American business and politics. Read more on Renewing America »

The World Ahead

An Audio Preview of the World Next Week

James M. Lindsay and Robert McMahon

In this week's podcast, Lindsay and McMahon discuss President Obama's trip to the North American Leaders' Summit in Toluca, Mexico; the continuing negotiations on Iran's nuclear program; and the sixth anniversary of Kosovo's independence. Listen to the podcast »

NAFTA's Economic Upsides

Carla A. Hills

In the twenty years since the North American Free Trade Agreement entered into force, the agreement has proved to be an economic boon. But if North America is to remain a uniquely competitive region, it will need to build on NAFTA's success by opening markets beyond its borders. Read more on »

Chemical Weapons in Myanmar?

Joshua Kurlantzick

The government of Myanmar's detention and possible arrest of six Burmese journalists who reported that the country may have had a chemical weapons factory under its former military dictator is a problem that extends beyond the issue of freedom of the press. Read more on Asia Unbound »

South Africa's Upcoming Elections

John Campbell

In the first South African elections since the death of Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress is expected to face competition from its opposing Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters parties, but their organizational and fundraising limitations make it unlikely they will be a viable threat. Read More on Africa in Transition »

Five Financial Questions for Ukraine

Robert Kahn

The possibility of political change in Ukraine, coupled with Russia's decision to suspend disbursements to Ukraine on its $12 billion financial package, has created an opening for meaningful economic reforms and renewed ties with global financial bodies. Should Ukraine establish a technocratic and reform-oriented government, its Western counterparts should address five economic questions. Read more on Macro and Markets »

The Limits of Speech in India

Alyssa Ayres

The announcement that Penguin India had decided to withdraw from the market Wendy Doniger's book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, follows a legal battle that claimed the book intended to wound religious feelings. It is getting harder to reconcile the India that symbolizes robust democracy, pluralism on a grand scale, and the lessons of tolerance with the India tiptoeing to avert hurt feelings. Read more on Asia Unbound »

Hamid Karzai Isn’t Crazy

Fred Kaplan

For years now, Afghan president Hamid Karzai has pulled stunts that seem erratic, exasperating, and contrary to U.S. interests. But viewed from a different angle, they fall within the boundaries of rational behavior—and they're not at all contrary to what Karzai might regard as his own interests. Read the op-ed »

Ask CFR Experts

This week, Isaiah Smith asks, will the United States support Ukraine's opposition forces? CFR Senior Fellow Charles A. Kupchan says the United States does support the Ukrainian opposition. Washington has manifested this support through regular visits of U.S. officials to Ukraine, as well as through ongoing efforts to work with the EU to offer economic assistance that would persuade the Ukrainian government to consider integrating with Europe. Read the full answer and submit your question »

World Events Calendar

February 18 - 19: President Obama to Attend the North America Leaders’ Summit, Toluca, Mexico

View the Calendar »

Inside CFR

At CFR's Washington office, General Raymond T. Odierno discussed the challenges and opportunities facing the U.S. Army, including budgetary concerns and reintegrating veterans into society. Watch the event »

New Book: Maximalist

In Maximalist: America in the World from Truman to Obama, George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies Stephen Sestanovich argues that the most challenging phase of retrenchment comes after the United States has extricated itself from a stalemated conflict. Postwar cutbacks in the Pentagon budget usually last longer than the surge that preceded them, but political controversies over the direction of American foreign policy begin much sooner.


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