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October 9, 2019

Sub-Saharan Africa
The Origins of African States, and Their Names

An article on the origins of the names of African countries was recently published in Quartz. It includes a map of the continent in 1885, shortly after the Berlin Conference. Portuguese and Arabic traders and explorers are the origins of some names, European mispronunciation of tribal names are the origins of others.

A bird flies in front of Mount Kenya on the horizon in Laikipia national park, Kenya.

August 20, 2019

United States
Back-to-School Reading Special

Every year CFR.org editor Bob McMahon and I record a summer reading episode of CFR’s “The World Next Week” podcast. We usually do it in June as we entertain visions of leisurely summer days yet to co…

Books

January 2, 2018

Nigeria
Lord Lugard Created Nigeria 104 Years Ago

Lord Frederick Lugard, in a bid to simplify his colonial duties and subsidize his northern territory with his southern territory, signed a piece of paper on January 1, 1914 and created the political space that is Nigeria.

Nigeria-Independence-Day-Lagos

December 27, 2017

United States
Ten American Foreign Policy Influentials Who Died in 2017

Year’s end is a time for taking stock, counting successes, and assessing failures. It is also time for remembering those who are no longer with us. Here are ten Americans who died in 2017 who through…

American obituaries

August 30, 2016

U.S. Foreign Policy
The Syria Red Line, Three Years Later

It was three years ago, Labor Day weekend in 2013, that President Obama reversed himself and refused to enforce his "red line" against use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. What’s the outc…

April 28, 2016

Syria
Carnage in Syria and President Obama’s Legacy

Here’s what’s going on in Syria. Reuters reports that "Air strikes hit a hospital in a rebel-held area of Syria’s Aleppo and killed at least 27 people, including three children and the city’s last…

April 26, 2016

Middle East and North Africa
Obama, the EU, Brexit, and Syria

President Obama has been in Europe this week. In the U.K., he told the Brits not to think of leaving the E.U. In Germany, he said that   So this is a defining moment. And what happens on this c…

February 24, 2016

Middle East and North Africa
Syria Delusions, Round Two

In 2012, the group that is supposed to be the senior national security team--the secretary of state (Hillary Clinton), secretary of defense (Leon Panetta), and CIA director (David Petraeus)--urged Pr…

August 25, 2015

Middle East and North Africa
"Pantomime of Outrage:" Obama and Syria

I’ve called attention to the writings on Syria of Amb. Fred Hof in several blog posts (here’s one). Hof, after a career in the U.S. Army, became the State Department’s resident expert on Syria and th…

June 26, 2015

Iran
Obama on Iran and Syria: See No Evil

The slaughter in Syria and the awful human rights violations in Iran cannot be denied by the Obama administration, but they sure can be downplayed and ignored. On the Iran point, consider the releas…