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.
The Western Balkans were supposed to be a solved problem. The United States has mostly watched from afar in recent years, thinking that the Europeans had these matters mostly in hand. US diplomats have played crucial roles in key moments; yet, the region continued to slide down the US political agenda.
As one of the African continent’s largest and most sophisticated economies, South Africa offers a myriad of opportunities for engagement with the United States on diplomatic, commercial, security, and social fronts. It is a self-sufficient, complex, and dynamic country in a struggling, complex, and dynamic region. Yet, the centrality of South Africa to the United States’ relationship with the wider continent is underappreciated by Washington’s policy community, which has become distracted by the displays of dysfunctionality and high-level corruption that have come to characterize South African politics. These political dramatics have knocked US relations with South Africa off track by obscuring the enduring social inequities at the heart of South Africa’s problems, both in media depictions of South Africa and in serious policy discussions.
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.
Education remains a crucial component of economic development and poverty reduction. Primary education is especially important, as it provides students with the foundational skills necessary to continue with advanced education and participate in local and global economies. Collectively, educational benefits extend beyond individuals to benefit broader communities.
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.
It is now a truism among foreign and defense policy practitioners that the post Cold War nuclear buildup in the India Pacific region constitutes the drawn of the "second nuclear age." From the 1990s onward, China's decision to stir out of its strategic languor and modernize its nuclear arsenal, along with the resolve of India and Pakistan to deploy operational nuclear forces, and, more recently, North Korea's sprint to develop reliable long range nuclear capabilities that can credibly threaten the continental United States, has led many to aver that the "second nuclear age" will rival the worst aspects of the first.
“Russia’s interference in the US presidential election in 2016 sent a signal to the West: democratic societies are deeply vulnerable to foreign influence,” writes Dr. Alina Polyakova in The Kremlin’s Trojan Horses 2.0: Russian Influence in Greece, Italy, and Spain, a new report from the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. Following a successful installment on Russian influence in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, this report examines Russian political presence in Southern Europe.
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."
On June 18, 2017, an Indian patrol disrupted construction of a Chinese road along the disputed border of Sikkim, a remote state in northeast India, reigniting a border conflict between China and India. This incident rapidly evolved into a standoff, with the apparent threat of militarized escalation between the two countries. The tension dissipated without consensus on the substantive issues, but under an interim diplomatic arrangement whereby India withdrew troops and China halted its road building, thus ending a seventy-one-day impasse.