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  • Author: Melvyn P. Leffler
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The United States is now in a period of austerity, and after years of huge increases, the defense budget is set to be scaled back. Even those supporting the cuts stress the need to avoid the supposedly awful consequences of past retrenchments. “We have to remember the lessons of history,” President Barack Obama said in January 2012. “We can't afford to repeat the mistakes that have been made in the past -- after World War II, after Vietnam -- when our military policy was left ill prepared for the future. As commander in chief, I will not let that happen again.” Similarly, then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Congress in October 2011, “After every major conflict -- World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the fall of the Soviet Union -- what happened was that we ultimately hollowed out the force. Whatever we do in confronting the challenges we face now on the fiscal side, we must not make that mistake.”
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Soviet Union, Vietnam, Korea
  • Author: Jack A. Goldstone
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Revolutions rarely succeed, writes one of the world's leading experts on the subject -- except for revolutions against corrupt and personalist "sultanistic" regimes. This helps explain why Tunisia's Ben Ali and Egypt's Mubarak fell -- and also why some other governments in the region will prove more resilient.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Soviet Union, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Stephen Flynn
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The United States has made a mess of homeland security. This is hardly surprising. The policymakers responsible for developing homeland security policy in the wake of September 11, 2001, did so under extraordinary conditions and with few guideposts. The Bush administration's emphasis on combating terrorism overseas meant that it devoted limited strategic attention to the top-down law enforcement and border-focused efforts of the federal departments and agencies assigned new homeland security responsibilities. President Barack Obama has largely continued his predecessor's policies, and congressional oversight has been haphazard. As a result, nearly a decade after al Qaeda struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Washington still lacks a coherent strategy for harnessing the nation's best assets for managing risks to the homeland -- civil society and the private sector. For much of its history, the United States drew on the strength of its citizens in times of crisis, with volunteers joining fire brigades and civilians enlisting or being drafted to fight the nation's wars. But during the Cold War, keeping the threat of a nuclear holocaust at bay required career military and intelligence professionals operating within a large, complex, and highly secretive national security establishment. The sheer size and lethality of U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenals rendered civil defense measures largely futile. By the time the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union collapsed, two generations of Americans had grown accustomed to sitting on the sidelines and the national security community had become used to operating in a world of its own. To an extraordinary extent, this same self-contained Cold War-era national security apparatus is what Washington is using today to confront the far different challenge presented by terrorism. U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, the border agencies, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are subsumed in a world of security clearances and classified documents. Prohibited from sharing information on threats and vulnerabilities with the general public, these departments' officials have become increasingly isolated from the people that they serve.
  • Topic: Cold War, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Soviet Union
  • Author: Kanan Makiya
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Igor Golomstock's encyclopedic tome on the art produced in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and communist China makes a good case that totalitarian art is a distinct cultural phenomenon. But a new postscript on art under Saddam Hussein is less compelling, writes a former Iraqi dissident.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: China, Iraq, Soviet Union, Germany, Italy
  • Author: William McCants
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: On 9/11, the global jihadist movement burst into the world's consciousness, but a decade later, thanks in part to the Arab Spring and the killing of Osama bin Laden, it is in crisis. With Western-backed dictators falling, al Qaeda might seem closer than ever to its goal of building Islamic states. But the revolutions have empowered the group's chief rivals instead: Islamist parliamentarians, who are willing to use ballots, not bombs.
  • Topic: Cold War, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Soviet Union, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: December marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the Soviet dictatorship and the beginning of Russia's postcommunist transition. For Russians, the intervening years have been full of elation and promise but also unexpected trouble and disappointment. Perhaps of all the painful developments in Russian society since the Soviet collapse, the most surprising -- and dismaying -- is the country's demographic decline. Over the past two decades, Russia has been caught in the grip of a devastating and highly anomalous peacetime population crisis. The country's population has been shrinking, its mortality levels are nothing short of catastrophic, and its human resources appear to be dangerously eroding. Indeed, the troubles caused by Russia's population trends -- in health, education, family formation, and other spheres -- represent a previously unprecedented phenomenon for an urbanized, literate society not at war. Such demographic problems are far outside the norm for both developed and less developed countries today; what is more, their causes are not entirely understood. There is also little evidence that Russia's political leadership has been able to enact policies that have any long-term hope of correcting this slide. This peacetime population crisis threatens Russia's economic outlook, its ambitions to modernize and develop, and quite possibly its security. In other words, Russia's demographic travails have terrible and outsized implications, both for those inside the country's borders and for those beyond. The humanitarian toll has already been immense, and the continuing economic cost threatens to be huge; no less important, Russia's demographic decline portends ominously for the external behavior of the Kremlin, which will have to confront a far less favorable power balance than it had been banking on.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: Russia, Soviet Union
  • Author: Robert Legvold
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Reversing the collapse of U.S.-Russian relations is one of the great tests facing the Obama administration. Among the major powers, Russia is the hard case. And the stakes involved in getting U.S.-Russian relations right are high -- much higher than the leadership of either country has acknowledged or perhaps even realized so far. If the Obama administration can guide the relationship onto a more productive path, as it is trying to do, it will not only open the way for progress on the day's critical issues -- from nuclear security and energy security to climate change and peaceful change in the post-Soviet area -- but also be taking on a truly historic task. One of the blessings of the post-Cold War era has been the absence of strategic rivalry among great powers, a core dynamic of the previous 300 years in the history of international relations. Should it return, some combination of tensions between the United States, Russia, and China would likely be at its core. Ensuring that this does not happen constitutes the less noticed but more fateful foreign policy challenge facing this U.S. president and the next.
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Soviet Union
  • Author: Mitchel B. Wallerstein
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Since the early days of the Cold War, the United States has restricted the export of certain advanced technologies and the sharing of sensitive scientific and technical information with foreign nationals. Initially, these restrictions were justified on the grounds that the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies were engaged -- through fronts, third parties, and outright espionage -- in a systematic effort to buy or steal information, technology, and equipment developed in the West that they could then use in their own military systems. Because Soviet industry could not design or produce certain high-tech products, such as personal computers or sophisticated machine tools, the Soviets were forced to obtain them by other means. By successfully denying technology to the Soviet Union, the United States enabled NATO to maintain a strategic and tactical advantage without having to match the Warsaw Pact nations' troop strength in the field. Yet 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and long after the Soviet Union ceased to exist, the same system of export controls remains in place. It has only become more arcane and ineffective with time. U.S. export controls have survived largely because of outdated "fortress America" thinking -- the view that the United States is the primary source of most militarily useful scientific ideas and products and that it can continue to deny technology to potential adversaries without seriously damaging the global competitiveness of U.S. companies or, in the end, jeopardizing national security. In an earlier era, when the United States was far more economically and technologically dominant, the costs associated with a technology-denial strategy were easier to absorb. But in today's highly competitive world, the business lost due to export controls poses a threat to the well-being of key U.S. industries; estimated losses range as high as $9 billion per year.
  • Topic: NATO, Cold War
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Soviet Union
  • Author: Dmitri V. Trenin
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Two decades after the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and nearly 20 years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has shed communism and lost its historical empire. But it has not yet found a new role. Instead, it sits uncomfortably on the periphery of both Europe and Asia while apprehensively rubbing shoulders with the Muslim world. Throughout the 1990s, Moscow attempted to integrate into, and then with, the West. These efforts failed, both because the West lacked the will to adopt Russia as one of its own and because Russian elites chose to embrace a corporatist and conservative policy agenda at home and abroad. As a result, in the second presidential term of Vladimir Putin, Russia abandoned its goal of joining the West and returned to its default option of behaving as an independent great power. It redefined its objectives: soft dominance in its immediate neighborhood; equality with the world's principal power centers, China, the European Union, and the United States; and membership in a global multipolar order. Half a decade later, this policy course has revealed its failures and flaws. Most are rooted in the Russian government's inability and unwillingness to reform the country's energy-dependent economy, the noncompetitive nature of Russian politics, and a trend toward nationalism and isolationism. In terms of foreign policy, Russia's leaders have failed to close the book on the lost Soviet empire. It is as if they exited the twentieth century through two doors at the same time: one leading to the globalized market of the twenty-first century and the other opening onto the Great Game of the nineteenth century. As the current global economic crisis has demonstrated, the model that Russia's contemporary leaders have chosen -- growth without development, capitalism without democracy, and great-power policies without international appeal -- cannot hold forever. Not only will Russia fail to achieve its principal foreign policy objectives, it will fall further behind in a world increasingly defined by instant communication and open borders, leading to dangers not merely to its status but also to its existence. Russia's foreign policy needs more than a reset: it requires a new strategy and new policy instruments and mechanisms to implement it.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Soviet Union
  • Author: Philip D. Zelikow
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Europe, Soviet Union