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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Jess Fanzo, professor of food policy and ethics and editor-in-chief of Global Food Security Journal, takes a minute to answer questions on why obesity is rising across the globe and what can be done about it.
Despite the vast amount of research and data available, it shouldn’t be surprising that large gaps in urban knowledge persist. After all, there are many cities—according to the IPCC and UN data, there are around 1000 urban agglomerations with populations of 500,000 or greater—and cities remain difficult to know.
For each bold move abroad, China seems confronted with new vulnerabilities at home, including the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
As the UK Conservative Party prepares to select its new leader, Council President Ivo Daalder answers a question about whether the next prime minister can deliver a Brexit deal.
President Donald Trump has touted a new agreement with Mexico to stem the flow of migrants into the United States. But Mexican officials claimed both sides were still evaluating the situation.
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), takes a minute to answer questions about the fourth industrial revolution and what it means for globalization and equality.
NATO is facing "the most severe crisis in the security environment in Europe since the end of the Cold War and perhaps ever," warn two former US ambassadors to the alliance.
Cities are critical both to understanding our future and to solving the shared problems facing humanity, from climate change and violence to health challenges and inequality.
Futurist Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute and NYU professor, takes a minute to answer questions about artificial intelligence and whether its advancement is in the long-term interest of humanity.
As cities grow in size and power, and as technology and globalization further lower the cost of connecting across distances, local governments are increasingly shaping their own diplomatic agendas independent from national governments.
City governments now represent more people than at any other time in history, and local leaders are increasingly taking center stage in global affairs.
President Trump has just ended tariffs that had been levied on Canada last year in the name of national security. But where do US-Canada relations go from here?
It's been a full year since President Trump ended US participation in the Iran nuclear deal, but in just the last few days, tensions between Tehran and Washington have ramped up considerably.
Derek Scissors, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, takes a minute to answer questions about the economies of China, India, and the United States.
The spread of internet-connected smartphones in India is upending everything from jobs and marriage to politics and education.