U.S. Foreign Policy Articles

Strategic Horizons: U.S. Military Must Prepare for China’s Rise—and Fall

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

For now, Russia’s revived aggression is dominating the news in the United States. Once the furor subsides, al-Qaida will likely regain most of the attention. But in the long term, these issues pale in importance to the challenge of China’s rising power and the danger that may come with a Chinese slow-down. For the U.S., the priority is maintaining maximum flexibility in case a declining China lashes out. more

Despite China’s Protests, U.S. Remains Adamant About Taiwan’s Defense

By Eric Auner
, on , Trend Lines

Three decades after the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States continues to augment Taiwan’s military capabilities—recent discussions have raised the possibility of the U.S. helping Taiwan to acquire U.S.-made frigates and a new indigenous type of diesel submarines. But China’s rising military capabilities place the island in an increasingly vulnerable position. more

Full-Spectrum Diplomacy: Of Kennan, Racism and Realism

By Heather Hurlburt
, on , Column

Seven hundred pages of George Kennan’s diaries have just been published, and they reveal something that historians knew, but which the public might not: Kennan was a bigot. One is tempted to see this as reason enough to downgrade or dismiss Kennan from the foreign policy pantheon. Yet the analytic and human failings on view in Kennan’s diaries are reason not to dismiss his thinking but to reconsider its impact. more

Expanded Military Ties With China May Be of Limited Utility for U.S.

By Eric Auner
, on , Trend Lines

On a 10-day trip through Asia, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel sought to build military ties with allies and partners involved in the U.S. rebalance to the region. He also reached out to China, the presumptive main U.S. competitor in the region, and announced the need for a “new model” of military-to-military relations between the two nations. more

The Realist Prism: West’s Tactical Blunders on Ukraine Go Unquestioned

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, on , Column

A Communist Party deputy who was attacked earlier this week as he addressed Ukraine’s parliament raised some uncomfortable points that Western policymakers need to consider about their response to the crisis in Ukraine. By driving Ukraine’s elected president out of office, protesters created the conditions for other aggrieved parties in Ukraine—and Russia—to use similar tactics to advance their own interests. more

NSA Leaks Fallout Will Fade Faster Than Hit to U.S. Pride

By James Andrew Lewis
, on , Briefing

Americans are having a hard time coming to terms with the effect of Snowden’s leaks and the damage they have done to America’s status in the world. In part, U.S. leaders do not want to admit that the leaks were merely the final straw for the growing discontent with American global leadership that predated Snowden and has many causes. The unipolar moment was never popular—the leaks confirm that it is over. more

U.S. Failure to Clarify Interests in Cyberspace Weakens Deterrence

By Eric Sterner
, on , Briefing

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Gen. Keith Alexander expressed misgivings about America’s deterrent posture in cyberspace, raising concerns about the lack of a threshold that, when crossed by cyberattackers, would prompt a U.S. response. Though the U.S. possesses deterrent capabilities and has used them in other domains, deterrence in cyberspace is more challenging. more

Appearance of Partisan Tensions Masks Broad Agreement on Missile Defense

By Eric Auner
, on , Trend Lines

Russian actions in Ukraine have injected new urgency, and partisan vitriol, into the debate over U.S. plans to deploy ballistic missile defense systems in Europe. But beneath the surface, many of the most fundamental issues relating to U.S. missile defense plans seem to be politically uncontroversial, even as technical experts continue to question whether U.S. systems will actually perform as designed. more

U.S. Struggles to Build Coherent Response to Ugandan Anti-Gay Law

By Matt Peterson
, on , Trend Lines

A panel discussion on Thursday organized by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the NYU School of Law discussed options for U.S. policy toward Uganda, after relations were ruffled by a new Ugandan law signed in February that imposes harsh legal penalties, including life sentences, for homosexual acts. The question is whether the Obama administration can produce an effective response to the new law. more

Full-Spectrum Diplomacy: The Myth of American Decline

By Heather Hurlburt
, on , Column

Instead of trying to cram the lessons learned from a stay in Israel-Palestine into a 1,000-word column, I’ll turn a regional lens on another source of full employment for foreign policy pundits these days: the twin tropes of American decline and American essentialism. Or, as expressed by liberals and conservatives alike, “America can no longer do as much as it did before,” and “America needs to do more.” more

The Realist Prism: U.S. Unwilling to Give or Take on Ukraine

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, on , Column

It was no surprise when last Sunday’s emergency meeting in Paris between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ended inconclusively. The U.S. is not prepared to cut a 19th-century-style deal with Moscow, but neither has it articulated a 21st-century response that would change Russia’s calculus. The U.S. seems unwilling to make a grand bargain or to reverse Russian gains. more

World Citizen: Obama Visit Offers Glimpse Into Saudi Arabia’s Future

By Frida Ghitis
, on , Column

When President Barack Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia last Friday, he briefly opened a window into the closest circles of power in Riyadh. One of the most striking images was that of Saudi King Abdullah breathing with the aid of an oxygen tank. Although the king appeared animated and energetic, the image of ill health betrayed the urgency of a royal succession process that has already gone into overdrive. more

South Korea Buy a Bright Spot for Troubled F-35 Program

By Eric Auner
, on , Trend Lines

South Korea recently announced that it will purchase the F-35 fighter jet as part of an ambitious plan to modernize its air defenses. Japan also plans to purchase the F-35, meaning that the two countries most central to the Obama administration’s Asia rebalance will be using the same platform. This is good news for a fighter that has become the most expensive defense acquisition program in history. more

Special Report: The Ukraine Crisis’ Regional Fallout

By The Editors
, on , Report

The effects of Russia’s military takeover of Crimea are being felt far beyond Ukraine’s now-disputed borders. The crisis has put a spotlight on NATO, placing it once again at the center of European security discussions. For Russia, the move into Ukraine comes with great risk, as Moscow’s control of European energy supplies has weakened in recent years while a long-running military modernization program has yet to transform Russian forces. And in Washington, next steps depend on an assessment of exactly where U.S. interests lie. This special report reviews the key regional actors in the Ukraine crisis through recently published articles. more

In Unstable Middle East, Obama Moves to Reassure GCC States

By Eric Auner
, on , Trend Lines

The Obama administration faces many severe challenges in the Middle East, ranging from preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon to brokering peace between Israelis and Palestinians. But President Barack Obama’s trip to the region last week was partly aimed at addressing a lower-profile problem—the emerging fissures in the traditional partnership between the U.S. and the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council. more

Despite Rift, U.S. and Russia Seek to Keep Arms Control On Track

By Eric Auner
, on , Trend Lines

Even as the United States works with allies to isolate Russia diplomatically and deter further Russian aggression, the Obama administration hopes to maintain business as usual in efforts to restrain threats from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Russian cooperation is a prerequisite for almost any meaningful progress in tackling nuclear and WMD proliferation in Iran and elsewhere. more

Time for U.S. to Come Off the Sidelines on Venezuela Repression

By Christopher Sabatini
, on , Briefing

The arrest of two mayors by the Venezuelan government last week demonstrated that repression is ramping up in the oil-producing and deeply troubled country. Sadly, Venezuela’s neighbors are unlikely to do anything about it, and this collective failure to protect democratic norms and human rights has placed the U.S. in the position of coming forward to defend what was once thought to be a hemispheric consensus. more

With Lack of Major Breakthroughs in U.S.-China Relations, the Small Things Matter

By Elizabeth Economy
, on , Briefing

One year into Xi Jinping’s presidency of China, it would be easy to despair about U.S.-China relations. Washington’s efforts to push cooperation with Beijing have fallen well short of ambitions, while the Asia rebalance appears off-balance and China looks to enforce territorial claims in provocative ways. But an accumulation of small achievements is building a firmer foundation for the bilateral relationship. more

Diplomatic Fallout: Why the Ukraine Crisis Is Good for Obama

By Richard Gowan
, on , Column

Will Vladimir Putin or Barack Obama ultimately benefit most from the crisis in Ukraine? Most pundits are betting on the former. The Russian president has pulled off a bravura display of ruthless guile in seizing control of the Crimea, while his American counterpart has looked limited. Obama’s critics have naturally attributed Putin’s aggression to U.S. weakness. But Obama may emerge as the final winner. more

Modi’s Frontrunner Status in India Elections Puts U.S. in Awkward Position

By Eric Auner
, on , Trend Lines

With India’s parliamentary elections a month away, the man who served as Gujarat state’s chief minister since 2001, Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), looks likely to become India’s next prime minister. His tenure in Gujarat was marked by brisk economic growth as well as a spasm of communal violence, and his position as prime ministerial favorite puts the U.S. in an awkward position. more

Strategic Horizons: Russia’s Ukraine Invasion Signifies a Changing Global Order

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Russian troops pouring into Ukraine were one more wake-up call to America about the scale of Moscow’s ambition. But while previous such episodes led to U.S. military build-ups and strengthened resolve, this one may lead in a new direction. Another Cold War seems less likely than a revival of an old international system: a multipolar balance of power. Adjusting to the new order will be a challenge for the U.S. more