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  • Author: F. Gregory Gause III
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The vast majority of academic specialists on the Arab world were as surprised as everyone else by the upheavals that toppled two Arab leaders last winter and that now threaten several others. It was clear that Arab regimes were deeply unpopular and faced serious demographic, economic, and political problems. Yet many academics focused on explaining what they saw as the most interesting and anomalous aspect of Arab politics: the persistence of undemocratic rulers. Until this year, the Arab world boasted a long list of such leaders. Muammar al-Qaddafi took charge of Libya in 1969; the Assad family has ruled Syria since 1970; Ali Abdullah Saleh became president of North Yemen (later united with South Yemen) in 1978; Hosni Mubarak took charge of Egypt in 1981; and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali ascended to Tunisia's presidency in 1987. The monarchies enjoyed even longer pedigrees, with the Hashemites running Jordan since its creation in 1920, the al-Saud family ruling a unified Saudi Arabia since 1932, and the Alaouite dynasty in Morocco first coming to power in the seventeenth century. These regimes survived over a period of decades in which democratic waves rolled through East Asia, eastern Europe, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Even the Arab countries' neighbors in the Muslim Middle East (Iran and Turkey) experienced enormous political change in that period, with a revolution and three subsequent decades of political struggle in Iran and a quasi-Islamist party building a more open and democratic system in secular Turkey.
  • Political Geography: America, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Rory Miller
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In the middle of a stalled peace process, one of the few things Israeli and Palestinian officials agree on is that U.S. President Barack Obama deserves much of the blame for the impasse. Israeli policymakers are furious with the demand that Obama made early in his term that Israel freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and with his declaration in May that Israel's 1967 borders should serve as the starting point for peace discussions. Palestinian leaders, for their part, believe that Obama has failed to fulfill the promise he made in his June 2009 Cairo speech to back their legitimate aspirations for statehood, and they are irritated that he has not forced the Israelis to continue the settlement freeze. The recent decisions by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to strike a unity deal with Hamas and press for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood is a sign of how frustrated with Washington he has become. In the face of this impasse, a variety of international figures are now asking Europe to step in. Arab leaders such as former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa have called on Europe to take charge of the peace process. In a May meeting with EU officials, for example, King Abdullah of Jordan urged Europe "to intensify efforts with a view to removing the obstacles that impede the resumption of the peace process." The EU's current political and diplomatic leaders need no encouragement. They already seem to feel that they have both a right and a duty to help solve the conflict. Last year, then French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Miguel Ángel Moratinos, his Spanish counterpart, said in a joint statement that the EU "must play a role because it is a friend of Israel and of the Palestinian Authority [PA] and above all because its own long-term security is at stake."
  • Topic: Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Palestine
  • Author: Hugo Nixon
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Conventional wisdom has it that the eurozone cannot have a monetary union without also having a fiscal union. Euro-enthusiasts see the single currency as the first steppingstone toward a broader economic union, which is their dream. Euroskeptics do, too, but they see that endgame as hell -- and would prefer the single currency to be dismantled. The euro crisis has, for many observers, validated these notions. Both camps argue that the eurozone countries' lopsided efforts to construct a monetary union without a fiscal counterpart explain why the union has become such a mess. Many of the enthusiasts say that the way forward is for the 17 eurozone countries to issue euro bonds, which they would all guarantee (one of several variations on the fiscal-union theme). Even the German government, which is reluctant to bail out economies weaker than its own, thinks that some sort of pooling of budgets may be needed once the current debt problems have been solved. A fiscal union would not come anytime soon, and certainly not soon enough to solve the current crisis. It would require a new treaty, and that would require unanimous approval. It is difficult to imagine how such an agreement could be reached quickly given the fierce opposition from politicians and the public in the eurozone's relatively healthy economies (led by Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands) to repeated bailouts of their weaker brethren (Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain). Moreover, once the crisis is solved, the enthusiasm for a fiscal union may wane. Even if Germany is still prepared to pool some budgetary functions, it will insist on imposing strict discipline on what other countries can spend and borrow. The weaker countries, meanwhile, may not wish to submit to a Teutonic straitjacket once the immediate fear of going bust has passed.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Greece, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Ireland
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: President Viktor Yanukovych has led Ukraine, no stranger to crisis, into another round of turmoil. He has rolled back democracy while failing to take on corruption or take the country closer to Europe. Now, much of the public has turned against him -- and the country could be headed for more unrest.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Whitney Shepardson
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: If the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) did not exist today, the United States would not seek to create it. In 1949, it made sense in the face of a potential Soviet invasion to forge a bond in the North Atlantic area among the United States, Canada, and the west European states. Today, if the United States were starting from scratch in a world of transnational threats, the debate would be over whether to follow liberal and neoconservative calls for an alliance of democracies without regard to geography or to develop a great power concert envisioned by the realists to uphold the current order.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, NATO, International Cooperation, International Organization, International Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Canada, Soviet Union
  • Author: Jack A. Goldstone
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: A series of looming demographic trends will greatly affect international security in the twenty-first century. How policymakers adjust to these changes now will determine the course of global political and economic stability for years to come.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jessica Stern
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Is it possible to deradicalize terrorists? The success of a rehabilitation program for extremists in Saudi Arabia suggests that it is -- so long as the motivations that drive terrorists to violence are clearly understood and squarely addressed.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Stuart E. Eizenstat, Anthony Luzzatto Gardner
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: On December 1, 2009, after nearly a decade of acrimonious debate, the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force across the 27 member states of the European Union. The treaty reforms EU institutions, making the organization more accountable to voters and enhancing its ability to address European and global challenges. Over the long term, the treaty may make the EU a more coherent international actor, thereby significantly affecting non-EU countries, including the United States. The Lisbon Treaty is the latest in a long line of EU reform efforts. It is the fifth amendment to the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, the EU's predecessor. Following the Single European Act of 1986 -- which laid the foundations for Europe's single market, assuring for the first time the free flow of goods, capital, people, and services among the member states -- the EU reformed its institutions and decision-making process through the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, and the Nice Treaty of 2001. But with the cumulative effect of these amendments widely acknowledged to have complicated decision-making -- and with the organization planning to enlarge from 15 to 25 member states in 2004 -- EU leaders sought to replace the confusing patchwork of EU treaties with a single, overarching constitution. The resulting document, drafted by a constitutional convention in 2002-3, was signed by all EU heads of government in 2004 but was rejected the following year by French and Dutch voters, who feared that a European constitution would limit their countries' national voting rights, sovereignty, and access to EU funds. In 2007, after a two-year "period of reflection," the EU heads of state agreed in Lisbon on a draft treaty that was nearly identical in substance to the constitution but -- in deference to public opinion in some member states -- dropped references to the trappings of statehood (such as an EU flag and an EU anthem) and sought to amend, rather than replace, earlier EU treaties. By November 2009, every EU member state had ratified the treaty.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Charles A. Kupchan
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In his inaugural address, U.S. President Barack Obama informed those regimes "on the wrong side of history" that the United States "will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." He soon backed up his words with deeds, making engagement with U.S. adversaries one of the new administration's priorities. During his first year in office, Obama pursued direct negotiations with Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs. He sought to "reset" relations with Russia by searching for common ground on arms control, missile defense, and Afghanistan. He began scaling back economic sanctions against Cuba. And he put out diplomatic feelers to Myanmar (also called Burma) and Syria. Over a year into Obama's presidency, the jury is still out on whether this strategy of engagement is bearing fruit. Policymakers and scholars are divided over the merits and the risks of Obama's outreach to adversaries and over how best to increase the likelihood that his overtures will be reciprocated. Debate continues on whether rapprochement results from mutual concessions that tame rivalries or rather from the iron fist that forces adversaries into submission. Equally controversial is whether the United States should pursue reconciliation with hardened autocracies or instead make engagement contingent on democratization. And disagreement persists over whether diplomacy or economic engagement represents the most effective pathway to peace. Many of Obama's critics have already made up their minds on the merits of his outreach to adversaries, concluding not only that the president has little to show for his efforts but also that his pliant diplomacy demeans the United States and weakens its hand. Following Obama's September 2009 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, in which he called for "a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect" and "new coalitions that bridge old divides," the conservative commentator Michelle Malkin charged that the president had "solidified his place in the international view as the great appeaser and the groveler in chief."
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Europe, North Korea
  • Author: Lawrence D. Freedman
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As the years pass, the Cold War increasingly appears as an undifferentiated chunk of history that stretched across time and space, with a vast cast of characters and occasional moments of drama. It is presented as a curious concatenation of summits and negotiations, alliances and clients, spies and border posts, ideological dogmas and underground resistance, and a combination of arcane theories about deterrence and some nasty actual wars.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe