The stakes are high. Both Russia and China are growing increasingly powerful and increasingly assertive in challenging the United States and its allies—Russia in Eastern Europe and Syria, China in the South China Sea and East China Sea. Iran is working on acquiring nuclear weapons; North Korea has them already. ISIS is on the defensive but Al Qaeda may well step into the vacuum. Nations from Yemen to Libya are in chaos. The Syrian civil war continues to rage out of control. The war on terror continues to push the limits of U.S. military and intelligence capabilities, while raising difficult questions for international and domestic law. The military faces the twin challenge of maintaining its combat advantage in the information age while accepting the budget constraints of the age of austerity. The National Security and Defense program aims to help policymakers and the public better understand these and other threats facing the United States and the options we have for responding to them.
Osama bin Laden’s death is a real and symbolic blow to al-Qaeda, and its stature in the Middle East is already diminished by the pro-democracy movements in the region, but the group remains lethal. Seven CFR experts discuss.