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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The Council's Daniel Drezner joins the latest Deep Dish podcast to discuss how trade disputes could spark World War III and why US grand strategy is more or less dead.
Council President Ivo Daalder answers a question about which factors could lead China and the United States into a full-scale military conflict.
One of the newest and most ambitious approaches to combating climate change seeks to eliminate the concept of waste. It's known as the circular economy.
Machines are thinking and acting more like human. But that is only half the story. Artificial Intelligence is also changing what it means to be human.
In this episode, Former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India Raghuram Rajan takes a minute to explain what bananas reveal about markets and governments, the importance of communities in economics, and whether China or India has a more enviable economy.
Warming ties between Iraq and Iran, and souring ties between the United States and both, raise the question: Did Iran come out as the real winner of the Iraq war?
President Erdogan’s long-dominant political party lost elections in Ankara and Istanbul last week. At the same time, a dispute between Washington and Ankara over Turkey buying Russian weapons has hurt ties between the NATO allies.
In this episode, Council distinguished fellow Ertharin Cousin explains the difference between outbreaks, pandemics, and epidemics; what's changed since the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and the one happening today; and how political instability impacts health systems.
Hoda Muthana’s and Shamima Begum’s requests to return to their home countries after joining ISIS have put women’s roles in terrorism at the center of popular news and conversations about violent extremism.
Chicago's property tax assessment system has been a serious source of risk, uncertainty, and global reputational concern.
President Trump has signed an executive order to formally recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Ambassador Dennis Ross joins Deep Dish to explain what's behind the decision.
Over 70 years, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has seen its share of successes and failures. Council President Ivo Daalder explains both on the latest episode of #AskIvo.
The world's population is expected to peak and then decline this century, reshaping everything from economic growth and immigration to government spending and climate change.
The US president and the North Korean leader have met twice now, but more is needed than a good relationship between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un to reach a deal on denuclearization.
Five years after Russia annexed Crimea and on the eve of an important election, is Ukraine turning more toward the European Union and Brussels or toward Putin and Moscow?