In a recent essay in The New York Times, former undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns writes about one of the central challenges of the Obama administration’s foreign policy: balancing diplomatic engagement with deterrence. His essay centers on Iran, but this challenge can be seen across many fronts. Take Syria, where former Obama advisor Dennis Ross says the United States hesitated to do more than offer pronouncements—creating a destabilizing power vacuum throughout the Middle East. Or look at China, which the Financial Times reports is ramping up activity in the contested waters of the South China Sea, despite US resistance.
By no means is this balancing act easy. Often, it takes strong and committed allies—which, for the United States, seem hard to come by these days. Old allies such as Saudi Arabia appear to be adding gasoline to a sectarian conflict that has engulfed the Middle East. Europe, meanwhile, is consumed with a migrant crisis, slow economic growth, and rising nationalism, all of which put a strain on transatlantic cooperation. Nevertheless, finding this balance between diplomacy and deterrence will be essential to grappling with America’s most difficult foreign policy challenges today and in the future.
With that, here are some of this week’s recommended reads:
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Anthony F. Pipa and Catherine P. Sheehy discuss how much of the remarkable work on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals is happening at the sub-national level, by cities, local governments, and the private sector.
Whether romanticized as America’s heartland or dismissed as its “Rust Belt,” the region possesses huge political and economic might in the United States—especially in a presidential election year.
America spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined, and the Department of Defense oversees some 1.3 million military personnel. But is it all necessary?
President and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Rachel Bronson takes a minute to explain how the Doomsday Clock works, examine if nuclear weapons make the world safer, and recommend her favorite movie involving nuclear warfare.
UChicago's Rochelle Terman and Paul Poast join Deep Dish to debate the two competing options when it comes to the United States supporting democracy movements abroad.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin announced sweeping plans widely viewed as a means to extend his political power after his current presidential term ends in 2024.
Deep Dish: Strange Bedfellows — Anti-Immigrant Conservatives and Environmentalists Join Forces in Europe
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria, the young head of a conservative party deeply opposed to immigration, has just formed a coalition government with Austria’s Green party. The odd pairing holds lessons for the larger realignment of left-right politics across Europe.
Following the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani last week, Iraq’s parliament voted to ask the prime minister to oust US forces from the country. It comes after violent protests in Iraq against both the Iraqi government and the US embassy in Baghdad.
In retaliation for the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, Iran fired a dozen missiles on two bases in Iraq housing US troops. After, President Trump said Iran "appears to be standing down." But is it?
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, joins Deep Dish to examine why changes in the nature of war have complicated the way international law governs humanitarian crises and urban conflict.
The Diplomat senior editor Ankit Panda takes a minute to discuss North Korea's nuclear program, the range and size of its arsenal, and denuclearization.
Ever since the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and its meddling in US elections in 2016, relations between Moscow and Washington have gone from bad to worse. Should the United States actively work to improve relations or not?
Paul A. Volcker, chairman of the Federal Reserve under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, died earlier this week. The Council's Michael H. Moskow shares his insights on why Volcker is an 'American hero' for his work in monetary policy and public service.