Articles

US involvement in Afghanistan has broadened and deepened diplomatic and economic relations with Central Asian countries. Yet soon-to-retire former US defense secretary Chuck Hagel's visit to Afghanistan early this month reminded Americans and the world that large-scale US and NATO troop engagement in Afghanistan is nearing its end. The withdrawal of most US and coalition forces is giving rise to considerable concern among the Central Asian states that this may mark the beginning of a much lower level of overall US and Western engagement in the region.

Read More

2014 was an annus horribilis in foreign policy, as the Ebola crisis, Putin's invasion of Ukraine, the rise of ISIS in a burning Middle East, and multiple civil wars in Africa attest.

As the year ends, however, a closer look illuminates thousands of courageous men and women who work ceaselessly for the elusive hope of peace. I asked some of the smartest, globally-minded people I know — my students at the Harvard Kennedy School and my three daughters — to suggest those people, from the celebrated to the unknown, who gave us hope in an otherwise turbulent year. Here are their and my heroes.

Read More

To salvage the Russian economy, Putin should withdraw from Ukraine and accept a compromise.


Russian President Vladimir Putin's problem is that he was born on third base, but thinks he hit a triple. Putin's tenure in office has, until now, been lubricated by high oil prices that account for 60 percent of Russian exports and, along with natural gas, more than 50 percent of its budget.

Before Putin's economic system began to melt down, oil and gas exports fueled the growth of a Russian middle class. Putin showered petrodollars on them with pension increases, wage increases to government employees and other public spending.

Read More

Bottom Line Up Front:
•  Nearly three years after the collapse of Muammar Qadhafi’s regime, Libya has become a failed state, reaching levels of instability never before experienced in North Africa and the Sahel

•  More than 1,700 competing clans, regional and Islamist militias are vying over control of what remains of the state; some radical groups are gaining ground amidst horrific and anarchic violence that has spilled over into neighboring states (Egypt, Tunisia, Niger, Algeria, and Mali); and regional powers are exploiting the disorder to pursue their own interests in the country

Read More

President Barack Obama's executive order today dramatically alters Cuba policy in a manner likely to advance individual freedom and democratic change. In taking steps to pursue direct engagement with a country just 90 miles off our coast, the president's actions will open access to information, increase exchanges, boost private enterprise, and accelerate democracy. Once walls are torn down – like with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union – the truth becomes hard to hide. The beginning of the end of the island's authoritarian legacy will come because Cubans will now more easily see what is beyond their shores.

Read More

In the last month, President Obama has used executive orders to address the two largest structural impediments to better US relations with Latin America; immigration, and Cuba. We commend his leadership on both counts. Today, nearly 55 years of ineffective Cuba sanctions policy has come to an end.

Read More

The actions taken by President Obama today are the effective end of a policy that for nearly 55 years has failed to produce real, democratic change in Cuba. The embargo now exists in name only.

The freeing of Alan Gross and an unnamed US intelligence asset has opened the door for relaxing restrictions on banking, remittances, and travel. This, along with the restoration of diplomatic relations, will move Cuba further down the path of reform. After the review process, Cuba should be expected to be removed from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, which will open the island to the reform pressures that come with the access this brings to international financial institutions. Engagement is what brings about change and will eventually allow Cubans to one day live in a free society.

Read More

When it comes to the Middle East, things can always get worse and often do.

But as 2014 limps to an end, there are reasons to question this mantra.

On several fronts, there are glimmers of optimism about easing decades-long confrontations in ways that would strengthen the coalition against the group that calls itself the Islamic State.

Read More

What does the future hold for North Korea? In 2013 North Korean Kim Jong-un proclaimed a national strategy he called byungjin ("parallel strategy") – simultaneously developing nuclear weapons and the economy. He has raised expectations among North Korea's 24 million citizens that he will lead the nation to prosperity.

Read More

On the same day that the Senate Intelligence Committee released its blockbuster report on CIA interrogation practices after 9-11, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation declaring December 10 "Human Rights Day."

Read More