Issue Briefs

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One of the most fundamental challenges created by climate change is managing the developing global water crisis. Whether it is controlling floodwaters and rising sea levels, or maintaining potable water access during a drought, governments and individuals worldwide are forced to find new ways to mitigate the impact of this crisis.

 

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Twenty years after the Asian Financial Crisis, Asian economies are buoyant, working with a smartly reformed IMF to brace for future crises, and rhetoric aside, it will a while before China’s RMB challenges the US dollar as the world’s first reserve currency. But the risk of regional financial efforts in Europe and Asia leading to a fragmentation of  the global financial system still may be only one global crisis away.

 
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Geographic proximity and shared religion, specifically Shia Islam, give Iran deep influence in Iraq, as shown in a new Atlantic Council issue brief entitled  “Iran in Iraq,” by American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Kenneth M. Pollack. Despite advantages in geography and demography, Pollack argues that Iranian influence in Iraq is not insurmountable. The United States should therefore seek to implement policies that strengthen Iraq's government and unify its people in order to keep Iran at bay. 

 
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The great Asian paradox is that a region steadily becoming more economically integrated is filled with distrust, competing nationalisms, and territorial disputes in the security realm. This is epitomized by Northeast Asia and the North Pacific: the region features the world’s three largest economies; three of the largest militaries; three of the five declared nuclear weapons states, and one de facto nuclear state. It is the locus of the greatest near-term threat to regional stability and order—the North Korea nuclear problem—and it is also increasingly the nexus of the global economy. Each North Korean missile launch and nuclear test highlights the risks of a very dangerous nuclear flashpoint.

 

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No one can know the future. China and Russia—who are currently challenging, albeit in different ways, the Western liberal order—face difficulties at home and could become inward-focused and disengaged. Nonetheless, almost thirty years after the end of the Cold War, geopolitics looks like it is poised for another turn of the wheel that may not be as favorable to Western interests.

 

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Ambassador John Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, writes in a new issue brief entitled "Partners or Competitors? The Future of the Iran-Russia Power Tandem in the Middle East" that Russia and Iran are currently drawn into partnership over common regional interests and anti-American policies and sentiments despite centuries of historical rivalry. While their strategic partnership might not survive long-term shifts in either country’s politics, it remains inimical to US interests in the short-term.

 
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Due to proximity and historical ties, no other country is as well placed as Iran to play a dominant role in Afghan society, as Middle East Institute senior fellow Alex Vatanka shows in his new paper, "Iran's Bottom Line in Afghanistan."

 

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This new issue brief argues that the United States should craft a realistic Turkey policy, given the current state of tensions over regional policy and the entrenchment of authoritarianism and illiberalism in Turkey. The piece contends that the trajectory of the relationship between the United States and Turkey suggests a need for the United States to focus on "transactionalism," wherein the majority of bilateral talks are simply aimed at managing a troubled but important relationship, rather than waiting for tensions over US actions in Syria to subside.

 

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has managed to hold onto power through the civil war and has the determined support of Iran to thank for his position. In “Tehran Stands Atop the Syria-Iran Alliance,” author Danielle Pletka examines ties between Syria and Iran, the power relationship that has emerged, and the legacy it leaves for the next Syrian ruler.

 
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Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have vexed US policy makers for generations. But for American citizens, problems of stability on the peninsula, and North Korean threats to its neighbors were problems over there. Not anymore. North Korea’s dual advances in nuclear weapons and intercontinental delivery systems are edging the situation toward profound. Ever since the term proliferation of weapons of mass destruction entered the lexicon, we have dreaded the idea of a dangerous, wildly unpredictable state—seemingly impervious to sanction—acquiring the capability to hold the US homeland hostage. Yet, that time is approaching. North Korea may be a few years off, as it still needs to perfect its long-range ballistic missiles and miniaturize a nuclear warhead on its cone, but strategic thresholds have been crossed, and we appear no closer to solving the problem.

 

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