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  • Author: Aaron Stein
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The United States dramatically increased the commitment of troops and military equipment to a string of permanent bases in the Middle East after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the defeat of the Iraqi army after its 1991 invasion of Kuwait. In the nearly two decades since the Al Qaeda-linked attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States has deepened its military and political commitment to the region, following the decisions to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and then to intervene militarily in Syria. The Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations have sought to focus more on Asia, but have failed to disentangle the United States from conflicts in the Middle East. This report assumes that the United States will retain an overwhelming interest in ensuring close alliances and partnerships with America’s transatlantic allies (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and close partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific even if President Trump is re-elected in 2020. It also assumes that the United States will begin to focus primarily on Asia, with the Russian Federation being considered of secondary importance to the rise of the People’s Republic of China. Given these twin assumptions, the role of American forces and Washington’s policy priorities in the Middle East require new thinking about how to wind down wars that are draining American resources and to re-allocate finite, high-demand assets that could be leveraged for operations in Europe or the Indo-Pacific. This report proposes an interlinked political and military policy that would allow for the United States to retain a robust presence in the Middle East, but in a way that would de-escalate tensions with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and alter how U.S. forces are deployed around the world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Power Politics, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Benedict Robin-D'Cruz, Renad Mansour
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Iraq’s Sadrist movement, led by populist Shi’i cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has been at the heart of Iraqi politics since 2003. The movement’s political strategies have shifted dramatically during this time, encompassing militant insurgency, sectarian violence, electoral politics, and reform-oriented street protests. Consequently, despite their prominence, the Sadrists’ shifting positions mean they remain one of the most complex and frequently misunderstood movements in Iraq. This is further compounded by the near-total absence of engagement between the Sadrists and Western, particularly American, governments. As Sadr has changed his movement’s politics again, this time toward a counter-protest stance, U.S. policymakers are once more grappling with the dilemmas posed by a movement that is both powerful and obscure.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Non State Actors, Muqtada al-Sadr
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Samuel Ramani
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: After spending nearly three decades as a marginal player in the Horn of Africa, the Russian Federation has made significant progress towards recapturing its great power status in the region. Russia has engaged with all countries in the Horn of Africa and refused to take sides in the region’s most polarizing conflicts, so Moscow can be best described as an “engaged opportunist” on the Horn of Africa. Russia is principally focused on establishing itself as the region’s leading arms vendor, but prospectively, has one eye on constructing a Red Sea base. Russia’s resurgence in the Horn of Africa has generally dovetailed with the People’s Republic of China’s regional aspirations, but has placed it increasingly at odds with France and the United States. Looking ahead, Russia’s ability to link its Horn of Africa strategy to its aspirations in the Middle East will shape the future trajectory of its involvement in the region. The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan organization that seeks to publish well-argued, policy-oriented articles on American foreign policy and national security priorities.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Engagement
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Eurasia, Horn of Africa
  • Author: Paul Bracken
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: This report examines the increasing ability of major powers to destroy moving targets, in particular, land-based mobile missiles. Yet, at the same time, it analyzes something much broader and more fundamental. Technology has changed the use of force in peace and war. These changes stem from the growing importance of advanced technologies like AI, cyber, drones, cloud computing, data analytics, and hypersonic missiles.[1] These are increasingly becoming foundational technologies for new mission areas and strategies. One of these in particular is the focus of this report: locating and destroying mobile targets. The hunt for mobile missiles, seen in this broader way, is an exemplar of advanced technologies used in national security.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, National Security, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Weapons , Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Aaron Stein
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The United States has an interest in allowing the Russian Federation to “win” an outright victory in Syria, so long as it secures from Moscow an agreement that is favorable to the Syrian Kurds, builds in negative consequences for an external actor targeting the Syrian Democratic Forces, and establishes a “deconflict plus”-type mechanism to continue to target Islamic State- and Al Qaeda-linked individuals in Syria. A forward-looking policy that the incoming Biden administration could consider is to deprioritize the nascent threat of the Islamic State as a key factor in driving U.S. national security strategy, and instead focus more intently on long-term competition with great powers. This approach would seek to shape how Moscow spends finite defense dollars—at a time of expected global defense cuts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic—in ways that are advantageous to the United States. It also would seek to limit the cost of the U.S. presence in Syria—to include secondary and opportunity costs not accounted for in a basic cost breakdown of the U.S. war against the Islamic State. This approach is not without risk, particularly from a nascent Islamic State insurgency in Russian-controlled territory, but seeks to match U.S. strategic priorities with action and to impose upon a long-term competitor the costs of victory for its intervention in Syria.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, War, Syrian War, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Thomas J. Shattuck
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Once again, the future of Kuomintang (KMT), the political party headed by Chiang Kai-shek for decades and that favors a closer relationship with Mainland China, is in doubt due to the results of the recent presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was reelected in a landslide against her opponent Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang. Tsai received a record 8+ million votes, and the DPP retained its majority in the country’s national legislature by winning 61 seats—though it did lose seven compared to the 2016 election when the party won its first-ever majority. The blowout victory puts the KMT’s future into question—though more senior analysts note that this conversation occurs after every election, particularly the 2016 election, and nothing really changes. Maybe, just maybe, this time will be different.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Reform, History , Kuomintang
  • Political Geography: Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Louisa Keeler
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The small Gulf state of Oman’s identity is closely—if not inextricably—linked with the person of Sultan Qaboos, who passed away on January 10 after nearly 50 years in power. He singlehandedly transformed the country from a sleepy, closed-off country comprising disparate groups to an interconnected, modern, and unified state that has proven itself an invaluable player on the international scene. Within Oman, his portrait is ubiquitous, and his name is on countless mosques, hospitals, and institutions throughout the Sultanate, a sign of both his revered status and proof of his impact on society. Now that he is gone, he leaves behind an untested successor who is not particularly well known to the international community. Qaboos’ presence will be missed during one of the tensest moments since 1979 between the United States, Iran, and the Arab Gulf states, countries which have relied on Oman as a badly needed messenger and facilitator for negotiations. If there was ever a good time for Sultan Qaboos to die, this was not it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Domestic politics, Monarchy, Sultan Qaboos
  • Political Geography: Oman, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Joseph de Weck
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Do you want to know how Beijing would like Europe to act? Take a look at Switzerland. Switzerland and China have been close for decades. It was the first Western nation to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in January 1950. Bern wanted to protect investments in the new People’s Republic from nationalization and hoped Swiss industry could lend a hand in rebuilding China’s infrastructure after the civil war. Being friendly to China paid off, but only 30 years later, once reformer Deng Xiaoping took the reins of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In 1980, Swiss elevator producer Schindler was the first foreign company to do a joint venture in China. Today, Switzerland is the only continental European country to have a free trade agreement (FTA) with China.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Switzerland, Sweden
  • Author: Geoffrey Sloan
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: This essay draws on the author’s previous work, specifically: The Geopolitics of Anglo-Irish Relations in the 20th Century. The greatest failure of the European referendum campaign in 2016, which can be attributed to both sides, was the inability to articulate an understanding of Britain’s geopolitical relationship to Europe. By geopolitics, I do not mean its current usage: interpreted merely as a synonym for international strategic rivalry. I refer, instead, to classical geopolitics, which is a confluence of three subjects: geography, history, and strategy. It draws attention to certain geographical patterns of political history. It fuses spatial relationships and historical causation. It can produce explanations that suggest the contemporary and future political relevance of various geographical configurations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Britain, Europe
  • Author: Alexander Luck
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On June 6, the Wall Street Journal set off an avalanche of commentary by reporting that U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a drastic reduction in U.S. troops deployed in Germany within a space of only six months. The move was met with significant pushback in Washington and Brussels, causing Congressional Republicans to raise their concerns in letters and public statements. Trump’s announcement, however, was in fact an extension of earlier plans mooted in June 2019, when the administration first suggested moving at least 1,000 troops from Germany to Poland. At the time, Trump suggested that the proposed move was to “affirm the significant defense cooperation between our nations.” Washington picked up this potential troop move again in a rather unrelated context following a spat over the German refusal to participate in a naval mission in the Persian Gulf to deter Iran, reinforcing the notion Trump keeps using American deployments in Germany as a bargaining chip for any interaction on foreign policy with the Merkel government.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Robert E. Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On August 26, Politico reported that U.S. service members were injured after an altercation with Russian forces in northeast Syria. This pattern of Russian challenges to U.S. forces was enabled by the Trump administration’s decision to retreat from parts of northern Syria in 2019, allowing Russia to fill the void. Until this decision was made, the two countries had agreed to make the Euphrates River the deconfliction line to keep U.S. and Russian forces separated. Russia stayed on the west side of the river, and the United on the east side, where this incident took place. Robert Hamilton, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, commented on the story and warned that it will not be a one-off incident: “We need to respond to this immediately and forcefully. Russian forces deliberately escalated against U.S. partners when I was running the ground deconfliction cell for Syria in 2017, but tended to be careful when U.S. forces were present. Unless we make it clear that we’ll defend ourselves, these escalations will continue with dangerous and unpredictable results.” Below, we offer readers an excerpt from a chapter written by Robert Hamilton from a forthcoming edited volume on Russia’s Way of War in Syria.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Troop Deployment
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, North America
  • Author: Ivan Ulises Klyszcz
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Central America has received little attention in the Russia Federation’s ‘return’ to Latin America. The region’s small population and underdeveloped markets make it relatively uninteresting for a far-off country like Russia. Yet, in recent years, Russia has intensified and diversified its engagement with Central America, expanding beyond Moscow’s traditional partner, the Republic of Nicaragua. Central American leaders want more trade and investment with Russia as Moscow seeks to bolster its presence in the Caribbean. However, tense relations between Managua and its neighbors could make Moscow’s defense cooperation with Nicaragua counterproductive. Seeking to become a significant player in the region, Moscow is set to expand its presence in Central America through bilateral and multilateral channels, a move that will likely affect the region’s conflicts.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Investment, Engagement
  • Political Geography: Russia, Latin America, Central America
  • Author: John R. Haines
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Several weeks after winning a plurality in Bulgaria’s late March parliamentary election, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov did something unprecedented: he brought the nationalist United Patriots (Obedineni Patrioti) into his coalition government. The United Patriots is an electoral alliance of three parties, the IMRO[2]-Bulgarian National Movement (VMRO-Bulgarsko Natsionalno Dvizhenie), the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (Natzionalen Front za Spasenie na Bulgaria), and Attack (Attaka). Their inclusion in the coalition government has given rise to concern among Bulgaria’s NATO allies (and many Bulgarian themselves) about what the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s Korneliya Ninova called Mr. Borissov’s “floating majority, his unprincipled alliance”[3] (plavashti mnozinstva, bezprintsipni sŭyuzi). That concern is well placed for several reasons. Only a few years ago, even the nationalist IMRO-BND and NFSB excluded the radical Ataka[4] from their electoral alliance dubbed the “Patriotic Front” (Patriotichen front) because of Ataka’s positions on Russia and NATO. Even then, however, the Patriotic Front’s “nationalist profile” (natsionalisticheskiyat profil) was so far to Bulgaria’s political right to cause Mr. Borissov to exclude the Patriotic Front from his coalition government. He did so with the active encouragement of his center-right European People’s Party allies across the European Union. “Nothing against the PF, but unfortunately the things Valeri Simeonov [a PF leader, more about whom anon] proposes do not correspond to our Euro-Atlantic orientation,” said Mr. Borissov at the time.[5]
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Nationalism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Bulgaria
  • Author: John F. Lehman (ed), Harvey Sicherman (ed)
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: A decade has passed since the end of the Cold War. The demise of the Soviet Union concluded the most vulnerable period in American history, a time when the possibility of nuclear attack threatened the very existence of the United States. No wonder then that Americans heaved a mighty sigh of relief, having survived to watch the fall of their country's most powerful enemy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Paul Dickler
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: This article will take a snapshot of Korea today and look back to the past to see the origins. It will offer many comparisons between North and South Korea. Why have North Korea (The Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea--DPRK) and South Korea (Republic of Korea—ROK) become what they are in the present, and what are the most likely scenarios for their future? Is reunification likely, or even desired by Koreans today? Are the troop commitments from the United States going to last another 60 years, or will events change that dynamic?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Lorenzo Vidino
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Few observers foresaw the Arab Spring, but it should not have surprised anyone that the Islamist movements - the most organized movements in the Arab world - became the main beneficiaries of the turmoil that ensued. Islamism, in its gradualist and pragmatic approach embodied by the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots worldwide, seems ready to reap the rewards of its three decades-old decision to abandon violence and focus on grassroots activities. This monumental change has created many concerns among liberals, religious minorities and, more generally, all non-Islamists in the countries where Islamists have won. In addition, Arab states ruled by non-Islamist regimes have expressed concern. The former worry that Islamist ideology - even in its more contemporary, pragmatic form - remains deeply divisive and anti-democratic, often at odds with their values and interests. The latter believe that on foreign policy issues, most of the positions of various Brotherhood-inspired parties are on a collision course with the policies of established regimes in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Islam, Self Determination, Political Activism, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Walter A. McDougall
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In 1973, Congress passed the infamous War Powers Resolution (WPR), over Richard Nixon’s veto. It was perhaps the most ambitious Congressional effort to bridle the President since the battle with Andrew Johnson over Reconstruction. The WPR is worth reading—once—then forgetting, because its convoluted, contradictory, and doubtless unconstitutional mix of instructions, restrictions, and ticking clocks has never been honored by any administration or upheld by any court. Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush all dispatched U.S. forces into combat situations without paying more than lip service to the WPR. In 1990, following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, President Bush stationed 100,000 personnel in Saudi Arabia. He sought no authorization and, in fact, informed just one member of Congress: Senator Sam Nunn (D., Ga.). When he then prepared Operation Desert Storm to liberate Kuwait, 54 Congressmen led by the chairman of House Armed Services Committee, Berkeley radical Ron Dellums (D., Calif.), filed for an injunction to stop the war. U.S. District Judge Harold H. Greene ran for cover. Noting that 54 fell far short of a majority, he judged the case “not ripe for judicial determination.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Governance, Law, Constitution
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James Kurth
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Fifteen years ago, Samuel P. Huntington published, first as an article (“The Real Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993) and then as a book (The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon and Schuster, 1996), his famous argument about the clash of civilizations. The clash that he was referring to was the clash between the West—Western civilization—and the rest. Of the rest, he considered the greatest challenges to the West would come from the Islamic civilization and the Sinic, or Confucian, civilization. These challenges would be very different because these civilizations were very different. But together they could become a dynamic duo that might raise very serious challenges to the West.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus