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  • Author: Rachel Kleinfeld, Thomas Carothers, Steven Feldstein, Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Middle-power democracies—countries which regardless of their geopolitical weight have made democracy support a sustained component of their foreign policy—will be crucial to reimagining democracy support strategies and policies to better meet the moment. Some of these states have crafted new initiatives and wielded diplomatic tools to deepen their impact in recent years. However, these states have on the whole punched below their collective weight. This paper suggests that middle-power democracies can maximize their impact on global democracy in the following ways: Enhancing solidarity: when a country acts courageously in defense of democracy, it needs to know that others will stand alongside it. Sharpening their focus: middle-power democracies should target policy areas aligned with democratic values on issues both at the top of the geopolitical agenda and at the top-of-mind for citizens around the world—for example, economic recovery, injustice and discrimination, corruption, digital repression, and climate change. Improving diplomatic cooperation: pursuing flexible and focused multilateral partnerships allows for collaboration on key policy interests and amplifies middle-power actions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Democracy, Solidarity, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Zaha Hassan, Daniel Levy, Hallaamal Keir, Marwan Muasher
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: A new U.S. approach should prioritize protecting the rights and human security of Palestinians and Israelis over maintaining a peace process and attempting short-term fixes. The authors of this paper identified four overarching areas of focus: (1) prioritize rights and protect people, (2) roll back the Trump administration’s actions and reassert international law, (3) clarify expectations for Palestinians and Israelis, and (4) support new multilateral approaches and accountability.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Nathalie Tocci, Riccardo Alcaro, Francesca Caruso, Silvia Colombo, Dario Cristiani, Andrea Dessì, Flavio Fusco, Daniela Huber
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Winds of change are blowing in North Africa and the Middle East. They originate from Washington, where the new Biden administration is expected to abandon its predecessor’s zerosum, erratic approach and take steps towards supporting regional balances and cooperation. Effects are visible especially in the Gulf, with the US pondering its options to re-activate nuclear diplomacy with Iran and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates grudgingly agreeing to put their feud with Qatar on ice. One way or another, these winds of change are working their way through the Levant, the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya. Admittedly, they are still feeble and can easily fade out like a morning breeze. Were that to happen, Europeans would be amongst the most affected – aside, of course, from regional populations themselves. It is now high time for the EU and its member states to leave the backseat they have (un)comfortably been sitting in for years, seize the opportunity of a cooperative US administration and work to play a more proactive role in North Africa and the Middle East commensurate with their considerable financial, diplomatic and military resources.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Affairs, Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, North Africa, United States of America
  • Author: Anahita Motazed Rad
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As the Biden and Rouhani administrations’ position to renew diplomatic efforts on the Iranian nuclear file with European support, they face more challenges than their predecessors did in 2015, when the Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was originally signed. Today, domestic, regional and international confrontations have increased; hardliners and conservatives in Tehran and Washington, on the one hand, and in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the other, are now more aligned and coordinated against a diplomatic success than they were in 2015.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Power, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Asbjørn Thranov, Flemming Splidsboel Hansen
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Russia has proposed an international regime governing the use of cyber and information operations. However, ‘digital sovereignty’ means something very different in Moscow than it does in Washington. In September 2020, the Russian authorities launched a new initiative to regulate the use of cyber and information operations by states. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, introduced the debate by suggesting that Russia and the USA lead the way by signing a bilateral agreement restricting their activities in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The two states, so Putin suggested, should establish regular dialogue and set up a ‘hot line’. Putin also proposed a new agreement on cyber and information operations that should ‘exchange guarantees against interference in the internal affairs of the other side, including into electoral processes, inter alia, by means of the ICTs and high-tech methods’. Shortly afterwards, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, added more details. In a statement, he drew a dark picture of the world ‘facing a real cyber pandemic’, pointing to the risk of cyber attacks against critical infrastructure and the interference by some states in the internal affairs of other states. ‘It is high time’, so he claimed, that the international community agreed on a regime to regulate the use of ICTs. Russia has proceeded to promote the new initiative at the current 75th session of the UN General Assembly, which has responded with a decision to renew the mandate of the open-ended working group on the security and use of ICTs in 2021-2025.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, International Organization, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Internet, Cyberspace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mikkel Runge Olesen
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The Biden administration is likely to adopt a less chaotic US approach to the NATO alliance concerning China. European members should utilize this calmer time to develop viable strategies on how to tackle non-conventional threats from China within the Alliance in concert with the US. RECOMMENDATIONS: NATO members should: Continue to develop their own strategies and procedures against non-conventional Chinese threats in the domains of cyber, influence activities, and trade and investments. Resist the temptation to fall into inertia in determining how NATO should deal with China after the fear of a US withdrawal from NATO has subsided. Work with the Biden administration to develop NATO’s role in relation to China further on grounds that are acceptable on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, International Organization
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Denmark, United States of America
  • Author: Sarah E. Mendelson
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The Joseph Biden Administration has rather famously committed to convene a Summit for Democracy, likely later in 2021 or early in 2022. The Summit has become, as some diplomats have suggested, “the talk of the town,” not only in Washington but also in multiple other national capitals. A cottage industry has sprung up debating the who, the what and the where. More focus is needed on the why — which, in turn, ought to shape the how. To my mind, albeit one preoccupied for over a quarter of a century with human rights and democracy, the why is rather straightforward. The alternatives — bending to the rise of authoritarians, or leaving unaddressed the weakened liberal international order that the United States originally helped create —are not in our or our allies’ national interest. Many democracies are experiencing intense challenges on multiple levels. Chief among these is the global pandemic, which revealed deep socioeconomic inequities in societies that have long been labeled “developed,” when in fact these democracies have not been delivering to many communities. Freedom House has now recorded 15 straight years of decline globally in democracy. The crises at home have been widely broadcast: the new Congress came under physical attack January 6 after a U.S. President attempted, as part of a protracted effort, to overturn the 2020 election and prohibit the peaceful transfer of power. How then the Summit for Democracy can help repair and revive democracy here and among our allies needs more consideration and detail. Numerous factors roll up to a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink and refresh exactly how we advance democracy at home and abroad. New approaches, themes and methods can help revitalize strategy and policy. Such new approaches need to connect and account for domestic shortcomings and link progress at home to efforts abroad. In doing so, post-pandemic democracy promotion needs to reflect a comprehensive focus on rights that includes socioeconomic issues and sustainable development (e.g., democracies must deliver dignity). The Biden Administration ought to consider labeling the Summit “Democracies Deliver Dignity and Development” or the 4Ds Summit. The Summit can provide the road map for these new approaches while being informed and shaped by extensive consultations at home and abroad. Finally, new methods should include data-driven, human-centered design shaping foreign assistance as well as elevating local voices. Internationally, that would be a significant change to the dominant modalities, largely Congress-driven, supporting specific types of institution building, such as central election commissions. Such work will undoubtedly continue, given support in Congress and among the U.S.-based NGOs that receive the funding (notwithstanding the damaged credibility of our democracy). At a minimum though, demonstrably demand-driven assistance ought to supplement this older business model in order to better deliver to populations, listening and responding to the multitude of needs.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Authoritarianism, Democracy, NGOs
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kenneth I. Juster
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The conventional wisdom is that the foreign policy of Donald Trump’s Administration severely damaged relations with U.S. allies and partners. Commentators point to repeated criticism by the United States of friends in Europe and Asia, as well as the abrupt withdrawal from trade and other arrangements. But such critics overlook the U.S. relationship with India, which made significant advances and will be an area of substantial continuity in Joseph Biden’s Administration. The U.S.-India partnership has grown steadily since the turn of the century, with the past four years seeing major progress in diplomatic, defense, economic, energy and health cooperation. The strengthened bilateral relationship has become the backbone of an Indo-Pacific strategy designed to promote peace and prosperity in a dynamic and contested region. The longstanding U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific has underpinned the stability and remarkable economic rise of this region over the last 70 years. While the concept of the Indo-Pacific has been many years in the making, in the past four years the United States and India have turned it into a reality. For the United States, the Indo-Pacific agenda meant working with India to provide coordinated leadership in addressing the threat from an expansionist China, the need for more economic connectivity and other challenges in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: China, India, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Richard N. Holwill
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The U.S. policy of normalization toward Cuba in the Barack Obama Administration was reversed by President Donald Trump, largely because it failed to address an underlying issue. The Cuban “revolution,” though consolidated on the Island, was soundly rejected by the Cuban exile community who view their country as mired in an unresolved civil war. The importance of the Florida vote was sufficient to prompt President Trump to “cancel” President Obama’s efforts at normalization. Meaningful change will require a more comprehensive approach to the challenge of implementing an effective Cuba policy. In truth, there is no justification for overt hostility toward Cuba. The Cold War is over, and the role that Cuba played in that conflict – an alliance with the Soviets, exporting violent revolution and doctrinaire socialism – has ended, as well. Going forward, the Biden Administration must adjust policies to reflect the fact that Cuba is on the verge of becoming a failed state, which would have negative consequences for the United States.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Fragile/Failed State, Conflict, Regionalism
  • Political Geography: Cuba, Caribbean, North America, United States of America
  • Author: John M. Logsdon
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed that “the new horizons of outer space must not be driven by the old bitter conflicts of imperialism and sovereign claims.” Kennedy announced that the United States would “urge proposals extending the United Nations Charter to the limits of man’s exploration of the universe, reserving outer space for peaceful use, prohibiting weapons of mass destruction in space or on celestial bodies, and opening the mysteries and benefits of space to every nation.”[1] Just over five years later, after several rounds of negotiations carried out primarily with the Soviet Union but within the framework of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), the “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activity of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” was opened for signature on January 27, 1967.[2] As of February 2021, 111 nation states, including all major space-faring countries, are party to that treaty; another 23 have signed the treaty but not yet ratified it. The principles set out in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, supplemented over the more than 50 years since 1967 by four implementing treaties and a number of non-binding statements of principles and multilateral agreements, constitute today’s international governance framework for space activities. It was Kennedy’s 1961 speech that started the process of creating that framework. President Joseph Biden has a similar opportunity, 60 years later, to take the lead in updating space governance for the 21st century.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Governance, Space
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S. concerns center on Turkey’s democratic backslide and deepening ties between Erdogan and Putin—but the Turkish president also wants to develop a rapport with Joe Biden and fortify his country’s weakened economy. In the seventh in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining the Middle East and North Africa, Soner Cagaptay offers guidelines for reinforcing the strained U.S.-Turkey relationship. Principal causes for unease involve U.S. concerns about Turkey’s democratic backslide and deepening ties between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, particularly Ankara’s decision to purchase the S-400 missile defense system from Moscow. Yet Erdogan also wants to develop a rapport with President Biden and fortify his country’s weakened economy. Further, Ankara and Washington can find many areas for tactical cooperation in places such as Syria, Libya, and China’s Xinjiang province, where the government is carrying out a genocide against the Muslim Uyghur population “Erdogan needs to reverse the current dynamic by advancing the narrative that he is getting along just fine with Washington,” the author explains. “Thus, in this early phase of the U.S. administration, Biden would appear to have a brief window of leverage over his Turkish counterpart.” In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Satloff, Sarah Feuer
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Modest invest­ments of U.S. diplomatic capital, economic aid, and security assistance can help these three countries and advance American interests. In the third in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining the Middle East and North Africa, Robert Satloff and Sarah Feuer look at the U.S. relationship with Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. All three countries are facing sharp challenges, from economic strains exacerbated by the pandemic to potential instability arising from the conflicts in Western Sahara and Libya. But this far corner of the region also offers strategic opportunities for the Biden administration to help these countries and, in turn, advance a range of key U.S. interests. “In contrast to many other areas of the Middle East, northwest Africa offers a realm in which relatively modest invest­ments of American diplomatic capital, economic aid, and security assistance can yield substantial returns, and the point of departure for the incoming administration’s bilateral engagement will, for the most part, be not one of tension but rather of opportunity,” write the authors. In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Economy, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Algeria, North Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, United States of America
  • Author: Dennis Ross, Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A revamped approach to the alliance should stay focused on shared goals, from ensuring a stable oil market to promoting a more tolerant version of Islam at home and abroad. In the fourth in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining the Middle East and North Africa, Dennis Ross and Robert Satloff discuss the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. Over the past four years, the Trump administration embraced Riyadh almost unconditionally, looking the other way even after outrages such as the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But now, the Biden administration has vowed to “reassess” the alliance, adopting a posture informed by American interests and values alike. A more balanced approach makes sense, the authors contend, recognizing the fundamental U.S. interest in the direction of social and economic reform underway in the kingdom. Such a policy should stay focused on shared goals, from ensuring a stable oil market to pushing back against Iran, promoting Arab-Israel normalization, preventing nuclear proliferation, countering terrorism, reducing or ending regional conflicts, and encouraging a more tolerant version of Islam at home and abroad. The authors add that “while there is a role for punitive steps in response to outrageous actions, measures implemented out of appropriate context or imposed in a way to cause public embarrassment have the potential to trigger a backlash within the kingdom that could diminish U.S. influence, slow the pace of reform, or both.” In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Oil, Alliance, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A reimagined approach to Iran nuclear talks could extend the country’s breakout time, preserve U.S. negotiating leverage, and strengthen American alliances in Europe and across the Middle East. In the first in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining policy challenges across the Middle East, esteemed diplomat and policymaker Dennis Ross provides an innovative approach to reengaging Iran in nuclear diplomacy. His ideas have the potential to extend Iran’s breakout time, preserve U.S. negotiating leverage, and strengthen U.S. alliances in Europe and across the Middle East. Ross explains: “If regime change is not a realistic or advisable goal, the objective must be one of changing the Islamic Republic’s behavior. While this would be difficult, history shows that the regime will make tactical adjustments with strategic consequences when it considers the price of its policies to be too high.” In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Nuclear Power, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the second in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining policy challenges across the Middle East, expert David Makovsky explores how the Biden administration can use progress in Arab-Israel normalization to reenergize dormant ties between the United States and the Palestinian Authority, and between Jerusalem and Ramallah. After urging the administration to invest in strengthening and expanding normalization with Arab states, he argues for gradualism on the Palestinian issue, rooted in mutual efforts on several fronts, including preventing the slide to a one-state reality, taking a differentiated approach to Jewish settlements, and encouraging a range of trust-building exercises. “The gradualist approach to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking is not one of grand declarations, high-profile White House announcements, or flag-waving signing ceremonies,” explains Makovsky. “To the contrary, if it succeeds, it will emerge from hours of intensive consultation with Israeli and Palestinian interlocutors, as well as the coordinated input and support of key Arab, European, and international partners.” In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Julius Caesar Trajano
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite Duterte’s desire to shift Philippine security policy away from its treaty alliance with the US, Manila remains a close American ally. Key domestic, strategic and humanitarian factors actually make the alliance healthier. The Biden administration might just wait for Duterte to finish his term in a year's time.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Philippines, North America, Asia-Pacific, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 12-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: This project maps the trade, investment, employment, business, diplomacy, security, education, tourism, and people-to-people connections between the United States and the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the national, state, and local levels. Part of the Asia Matters for America initiative, this publication, the one-page connections summaries for states, and the AsiaMattersforAmerica.org website are resources for understanding the robust and dynamic US-ASEAN relationship.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Agriculture, Diplomacy, Health, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Asia, North America, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Rei Kataoka Coleman
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Although Japan does not recognize dual citizenship, the United States and Japan would both benefit from such an arrangement. A combination of on-the-ground realities of dual citizens in Japan, the emerging needs and capabilities of the Japanese state (namely digitalization of public services and taxation), and the interests of U.S.-based corporations operating in Japan should inspire the United States to encourage dual citizenship initiatives by the Japanese government. The driving forces of globalization and the benefits of exploring new avenues of U.S.-Japan relations combine with domestic developments in Japan to make dual citizenship a “common sense” goal for both countries, at both the institutional and person-to-person level of international diplomacy and mutual understanding. Just as foreign professionals proved indispensable to modernization in Japan’s Meiji Period (1868 - 1912), bi-national Americans currently on the ground in multinational corporations and other entities in Japan are playing a part in economic and cultural synergy, while contributing to a more well-informed U.S. stance on a number of important bilateral issues. Giving these agents of positive change the benefits of dual citizenship will make their lives in Japan easier and more fulfilling, while inviting more Americans with talent and knowledge to the grand project of mutual cooperation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Business , Dual Citizenship
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Sarah Sieloff, Sean Connell
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In our increasingly networked world, the international activities of states, cities, and other subnational actors are expanding rapidly. Their rising importance has spurred Congress to consider legislation establishing an Office of Subnational Diplomacy within the U.S. State Department that would institutionalize and support these initiatives, while better aligning them with national diplomatic strategies. Moreover, they offer opportunities for envisioning new foreign policy approaches that directly benefit U.S. communities. The U.S.-Japan relationship — with its robust history of subnational interaction, strategic global interests and increasingly integrated economies — offers a fertile environment for developing and implementing new models for subnational diplomacy, with global applicability. While state and local governments cannot commit the federal government to action, they can conduct activities that advance both local and national interests. This is evidenced by an ever-expanding range of trade and business missions, and cultural and educational exchanges that bridge subnational actors with international partners. Increasingly, these activities are evolving into new areas, including technology-driven entrepreneurship, environmental quality and disaster resilience. At their best, subnational initiatives—which national leaders have cited as critical to U.S. foreign relations—create meaningful, long-term relationships amid often-changing national-level politics and officials. By stimulating information exchange, training and research opportunities, and business connections, they deliver concrete benefits to participants on both sides of the Pacific, especially in areas where national governments are not best positioned to engage.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Leah Mason, Jodi Sanger
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: This paper explores U.S. government scholarship opportunities available to U.S. students interested in an international experience, highlighting different sponsoring agencies. It analyzes how the scholarships support U.S. government programming goals of encouraging citizen diplomacy, strengthening national security, and building a globalized workforce. Case studies presented in this paper demonstrate the contributions of U.S. government scholarship programs to study abroad and the international experiences of U.S. students.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Education, Globalization, Government, National Security, Study Abroad
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Abdullah Al-Arian
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Prof. Abdullah Al-Arian discusses how Islamist movements have historically viewed diplomacy as important to their activist missions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War, Diplomacy, Politics, History, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Egypt, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document presents recommendations for initial policy steps that the Biden Administration can take to advance Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. It describes the current state of play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as Biden takes office, identifies nine key goals for the new administration in advancing peacemaking, and outlines concrete policy steps for their implementation. These are the goals outlined in the document: (1) Highlighting the importance of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; (2) Renewing ties and building trust with the Palestinian leadership; (3) Emphasizing US commitment to the two-state solution and formulating parameters for a final-status agreement; (4) Preserving the feasibility of the two-state solution and drawing red lines; (5) Leading multilateral steps, such as creating a new international mechanism and an incentives package; (6) Leveraging Israeli-Arab normalization to advance the peace process; (7) Improving the situation in Gaza and ending the internal Palestinian divide; (8) Empowering pro-peace Israeli and Palestinian actors, including in civil society; (9) Setting a constructive tone to relations with the Israeli leadership and public.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict, Peace, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Kamal Ali-Hassan, Ehud Eiran, Nimrod Goren, Merav Kahana-Dagan, Roee Kibrik, Lior Lehrs, Gabriel Mitchell, Elie Podeh, Ksenia Svetlova, Nadav Tamir, Yonatan Touval
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document summarizes recommendations for initial policy steps that the Biden Administration could take to advance Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. It identifies nine key goals for the new administration and outlines concrete policy steps for their implementation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The year 2020 was characterized by the intensification of US-China confrontation and strategic competition, which had been pointed out in the Strategic Annual Report 2019, in all areas from military and security affairs as well as dominance in advanced technologies and supply chains to narratives on coronavirus responses. Amid this confrontation, the rules-based international order faced even more severe challenges; the multilateral framework established after World War II with the United Nations at its core lost its US leadership and fell into serious dysfunction. While the international community is struggling to cope with the rapidly expanding outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China has been moving to expand its influence through increasingly authoritarian and assertive domestic and international policies on the rule of law and territorial issues, as well as through economic initiatives such as the existing “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) and its responses to the pandemic. The confrontation with the United States is becoming more and more pronounced, and the Indo-Pacific region is turning itself into divided and contested oceans. In this transforming strategic environment, expressions of support for the vision of a rulesbased “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) that Japan has been promoting for the past several years, or announcements of similar visions have followed one after the other. The year 2020 also saw significant strengthening of the cooperative framework among four countries – Japan, the United States, Australia, and India (QUAD) – together with the enhancement of bilateral cooperation between countries in this group. At the same time, progress was also made in a regional cooperation framework that includes China with the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement in East Asia. The Strategic Annual Report 2020 looks back at major international developments since last year’s Report through the end of 2020, focusing on the transformation of the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific region and the response of the international community.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Multilateralism, COVID-19, Destabilization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Middle East, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Tetsuo Kotani
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: A summit meeting between Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and President Joe Biden was held on April 16, 2021, followed by a joint statement. In the statement, for the first time in the 52 years since 1969, the importance of the security of the Taiwan Strait was emphasized by the leaders of Japan and the United States, confirming that both countries are increasingly concerned about the current situation regarding Taiwan. According to a poll conducted by Nikkei Inc. after the summit, 50% of the Japanese public considered the U.S.-Japan summit itself as "positive" (32% "negative"), and 74% of the respondents "agreed" that Japan should be involved in stabilizing the Taiwan Strait, while only 13% "disagreed." These figures were received with some surprise by experts. This paper will analyze these changes in Japan's perception of Taiwan, and then examine the issues that Japan should address in the future following the recent Japan-U.S. joint statement.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Japan, Taiwan, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Nobumasa Akiyama
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: On January 20, 2021, a new administration will take office in the United States. This could lead to changes in US-Iran relations. The Trump administration continued to provoke Iran by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), tightening sanctions, and killing Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Meanwhile, the incoming president Joe Biden and key members of his diplomatic team are oriented toward a return to the JCPOA. In the midst of all this, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist who is believed to have played a central role in Iran's nuclear development, was murdered. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded by saying he would retaliate at an "appropriate" time, and an advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he would take "decisive" action. Although the US is not believed to have been directly involved in this incident, there are concerns that it will cast a dark shadow on the diplomacy between the US and Iran over the JCPOA. Shortly thereafter, Iran's parliament passed a law that obliges the government to take steps to expand nuclear activities that significantly exceed the JCPOA's limits and to seek the lifting of sanctions. The new US administration will need to be very careful not to overlook either hard or soft signals, to analyze Iran's future course, and to take diplomatic steps to reduce Iran's nuclear and regional security threats.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, JCPOA, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: András Rácz, Milan Nič
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: In 2020, DGAP’s Strategy Group on Russia focused on Moscow’s long-term efforts to diversify its foreign policy portfolio, turn away from Europe, and build-up other non-Western vectors in its diplomacy. Against this background, this report assesses Russia’s relations with the EU, China, and the United States. While Russian relations with the West are unlikely to improve in 2021 – especially ahead of this fall’s Duma election – there is still a chance for limited engagement on issues of mutual interest.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, European Union, Democracy, International Order
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Eurasia, United States of America
  • Author: Laura Gelhaus, Pavel Havlíček, Stefan Meister
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Supporting the rule of law has been central to the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) policy since 2009. There has been very limited success in this, however. The EU’s core problem is what is usually its strength: addressing a highly politicized area through a technical approach. EU policymakers need to acknowledge that their political silence is permitting ruling elites in EaP countries to block progress in the rule of law and that the EU is failing to call out pervasive systems of informality there.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, European Union, Partnerships, Rule of Law
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, United States of America
  • Author: Nancy Gallagher, Clay Ramsay, Ebrahim Mohseni
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: This report covers findings from two surveys fielded in September and early October 2020 and late January through early February 2021 to assess how Iranians were faring as the covid-19 pandemic intensified the challenges their country was already facing, what they thought about the parliamentary election in Iran and the presidential election in the United States, and how the inauguration of Joe Biden impacted their attitudes towards nuclear diplomacy and regional security. Iran was one of the earliest countries to be hard-hit by the novel coronavirus, with the country’s first cases confirmed on February 13, 2020, two days before the parliamentary election, senior officials among those soon infected, and high death rates reported. Western reporting depicted widespread government incompetence and cover-ups exacerbating the pandemic’s toll. As in other countries, Iranian officials struggled to decide whether to close schools, curtail economic activities, and restrict religious observances in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread, but cases and deaths remained high through 2020. When we fielded the first survey wave, the daily number of new confirmed covid-19 cases in Iran was starting to climb sharply again after having been relatively flat since May. Some world leaders, including the U.N. Secretary General, called for an easing of sanctions on Iran as part of global efforts to fight the pandemic. The United States, which had withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, maintained that medicine, personal protective equipment, and other humanitarian supplies were exempt from the steadily increasing sanctions applied as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign. But, the United States’ designation in September 2019 of the Central Bank of Iran as a terrorist organization made most foreign suppliers of humanitarian goods reluctant to sell to Iran. A decision in October 2020 to also designate the few Iranian banks that were not previously subject to secondary sanctions further impeded humanitarian trade, caused another sharp drop in the value of Iran’s currency, and had other negative economic effects. The Trump administration’s stated objective was to keep imposing more sanctions until Iran acquiesced to a long list of U.S. demands articulated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The original twelve points include the types of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program that the government rejected during previous negotiations and that the Iranian public has consistently opposed. It also included stopping development of nuclear-capable missiles and ending support for various groups throughout the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Public Opinion, International Community
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: At the conclusion of the fourth round of the strategic dialogue between Baghdad and Washington, US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi signed an agreement officially ending the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, more than 18 years after US forces entered Iraq. In return, Baghdad confirmed Iraq's commitment to protecting the international coalition personnel, who provide advisory and training assistance. According to the statements of the Iraqi Foreign Minister, the fourth round of the strategic dialogue between the two countries will be the last. Hence, the understandings that took place between the two sides will form the general framework governing the bilateral relations between the two countries.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Armed Forces, Dialogue
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ruba Husari, Samantha Gross, Gerald Feierstein, Jean-Francois Seznec
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: One of President Biden's most ambitious campaign promises is centered around American energy policy. Biden has vowed to shift away from a traditional focus in oil toward investments in renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, the oil industry in the Middle East is already facing severe repercussions from the coronavirus pandemic. States like Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon are struggling to replace oil revenue, cutting social benefits and worsening social unrest in the process. Oil has been the economic backbone on which the U.S. and nations in the Middle East have built diplomatic relationships and maintained mutual security interests. How will these crucial bonds be affected by a greener Biden presidency?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Energy Policy, Oil, Pandemic, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, United States of America
  • Author: Giorgi Surmava
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: On January 26, 2021, during a phone conversation between the President of the United States, Joseph Biden, and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, a decision was confirmed by the parties to extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START, CHB-3) without any preconditions for five more years from February 5, 2021 to February 5, 2026 after which the sides exchanged diplomatic notes. New START was the last treaty still in force with regard to nuclear armaments as the United States left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) under the Trump administration. At the same time, the Trump administration was also against extending New START without changes as it was set to expire in February 2021. Russia, on the other hand, was opposed to any kind of changes to this treaty. In a very short while after Biden’s arrival to power, the treaty was extended by five years without any changes. What was the reason for this decision? Why was the prior presidential administration against this and why did the new one make efforts to achieve an agreement in a short period of time? What can we expect to happen next? These are the questions that we will attempt to answer in this publication.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States of America
  • Author: Felipe Ferreira de Oliveira Rocha, Marcelo de Almeida Medeiros
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Contexto Internacional
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Abstract: In this article, we analyse the content of the speeches delivered by Brazilian Presidents, Foreign Ministers and Ambassadors at annual Ordinary Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly in the period between 1946 and 2019. Our primary objective is to find out how often and under what circumstances Brazilian diplomats mentioned the subject of American regionalism and whether the mention was made in reference to specific projects or to abstract concepts of regional integration and cooperation. Based on this analysis, we highlight the great deal of importance that was given to MERCOSUR – and, to a lesser extent, UNASUR – to the detriment of other regional integration projects, as well as the preference, by Brazilian diplomats, for a flexible, low-profile, ab- stract and low-cost discursive approach. In short, we found that cooperation and integration have frequently been discussed, although little attention has been devoted to the limits and possibilities of each project under construction.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, United Nations, Regionalism
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America, North America, United States of America
  • Author: James Franklin Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ)
  • Institution: Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ)
  • Abstract: In his foreign policy, President Trump followed new approaches and shaped the international stage in ways that will be hard for the Biden administration to reverse. These approaches, nowhere more apparent than in the Middle East, include, first, focus on near peer competition, in the Middle East, that included containing Russia, Iran, and Islamic violent extremists such as al-Qaida and particularly Daesh or ISIS. The second is reliance upon partners and allies. The Trump administration succeeded by its standards using the above approaches: Iran’s regional advance was contested and to some degree constrained, Teheran is under far greater economic pressure and faced with a regional coalition encouraged by the Abraham Accords. The administration had moved most of the region beyond the endless Palestinian issue as the lodestone of regional diplomacy, destroyed the ISIS territorial state, and with help from Turkey contained Russian advances. With the exception of the Iranian nuclear file, this looks like success. The issue now is whether the Biden administration can build on this success or revert to Obama
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Leadership, Transition
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Assal Rad
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ)
  • Institution: Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ)
  • Abstract: The attacks on 11 September 2001 not only shaped the focus of US foreign policy over the last two decades, but also de!ned how a generation of Americans understood the gravity of these policies by bringing the cost and tragedy of con"ict home. For many young Americans, it was the !rst time they became aware of the extent of US interventionism and how it impacts the way other nations and peoples view the United States. But events over the last year in the United States have brought the attitude of US foreign policy—which has long been driven by the idea that problems can be solved exclusively through militarism and force—much closer to home. Images of police violently confronting Black Lives Matter protestors and an insurrection at the Capitol were often likened to images of war zones abroad, the very wars started by the United States.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Merari Hall Fortun
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ)
  • Institution: Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ)
  • Abstract: Ileft Cuba as a young two-year-old child on 9 April 1968 with my parents, an older brother, and sister. My parents were also expecting another child, my younger brother, who was later born in the United States. My parents’ oldest son was of military age and at university and was not granted the exit visa with the rest of the family. He would eventually join us as an adult, ten years later with his own family. We settled in Union City, New Jersey, after a few months at my father's uncle's home in New York. As I recall, the residents of Union City (or at least in my close community) at the time were mostly Cubans; a good number of Italians; a few Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Germans; and people who practiced conservative Judaism. In our home we only spoke Spanish, but I remember the feeling of not understanding all of the children when I played outside, as they would speak English, the language I was yet to speak or understand. I was pretty much always surrounded by Cubans, the Cuban culture, and an all-Spanish community. Not a day went by in our home when Cuba was not mentioned. My mother had left all of her six brothers behind, and my father, his only sister. Both had left behind numerous nephews and nieces, friends, neighbors, and a whole life's worth of relationships. The main reason for the daily mention, however, was that their eldest son remained there and this separation was too much to bear and very painful for them. All they wanted was to have the family unit together again.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Immigration, Peace, Regionalism
  • Political Geography: Cuba, Caribbean, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Augusto C. Dall'Agnol, Marco Cepik
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional (RBPI)
  • Institution: Instituto Brasileiro de Relações Internacionais (IBRI)
  • Abstract: This article explains changes in strategic stability through a path dependence framework, discussing its antecedent conditions, increasing returns, cleavages, critical junctures, reactive sequences, and legacy. We identify the leading causes of its formation, reproduction, modification, and, eventually, its end. Such an analysis is relevant as far as we observe significant changes in cornerstone’s aspects of strategic stability after the abrogation of the ABM Treaty and the INF Treaty. We argue that strategic stability as an institution passes through radical modifications produced by reactive sequences breaking the causal loop that allowed its reproduction since its formation.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, INF Treaty
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kelsey Davenport, Julia Masterson
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Arms Control Association
  • Abstract: Addressing the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons is one of the most significant and complex challenges facing the United States. Developing, implementing, and sustaining a verifiable diplomatic process that reduces risk and rolls back Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program requires a whole of government approach, including constructive contributions from members of the U.S. Congress. While crafting and implementing such an approach will be the prerogative of the Executive Branch, the role that Congress can play in supporting or hindering such a process should not be overlooked. Congress has used an array of tools to put in place conditions for negotiations, express its support or opposition to administration policy, and implement coercive measures toward North Korea designed to punish Pyongyang for its violations of international law and stymie its weapons development efforts. Using survey data and in-depth interviews from the late months of 2020, this report provides insight into how Congress views the North Korean nuclear threat and U.S. approaches to engaging with Pyongyang. More clarity into Congressional views and attitudes may lead to more effective policymaking.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Paul Stronski
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Eurasia is squeezed between a rising China and an aggressive and unpredictable Russia. The United States should remain engaged with the region to help it resist Russian advances. Since 2014, Russia has redoubled its efforts to build a sphere of influence, operating frequently under the flag of Eurasian integration. Its undeclared war in Ukraine and hardball tactics vis-à-vis other neighbors demonstrate the lengths to which it is willing to go to undermine their independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Moscow has pushed hard to expand the membership and functions of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the formal vehicle for cross-regional integration of political and economic activity. However, Russia’s limited economic resources and lack of soft-power appeal; the engagement with the region by other outside powers, including the European Union, China, Turkey, and the United States; and societal change in neighboring states are creating significant long-term obstacles to the success of Russian neo-imperialist ambitions and exposing a large gap between its ends and means. Russia’s ambitions in Eurasia are buffeted by unfavorable trends that are frequently overlooked by analysts and policymakers. Russia’s own heavy-handed behavior contributes to both regional upheaval and instability as well as to the creation of diplomatic headwinds that constrain its own room for maneuver.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Richard Sokolsky, Eugene Rumer
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: U.S.-Russia relations will remain frosty for years, but even Cold Wars eventually thaw. The United States should prepare now to act decisively when this one finally does, even if it takes a decade. U.S.-Russian relations are at the lowest point since the Cold War. Almost all high-level dialogue between the two countries has been suspended. There are no signs that the relationship will improve in the near future. However, this situation is unlikely to last forever—even during the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union maintained a limited but meaningful dialogue; the two countries eventually will reengage, even if mostly to disagree, and new U.S. and Russian leaders could pursue less confrontational policies. What is the agenda that they will need to tackle then—perhaps as far in the future as 2030?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: What’s new? A U.S. resolution seeking to extend UN arms restrictions on Iran beyond their October 2020 expiration failed at the Security Council. Washington has asserted that it will claim the right to unilaterally restore UN sanctions, which were terminated as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement. Why does it matter? Any U.S. attempt to reimpose sanctions will be controversial, given the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and likely to create deadlock at the Security Council. The administration’s goal is clear: kill the deal or make it that much harder for a successor administration to rejoin it. What should be done? The remaining parties to the deal should be united in resisting Washington’s efforts, as should other Security Council members. They should essentially disregard a U.S. “snapback” – restoring sanctions – as ineffectual, obstruct attempts to implement it and discourage Iran from overreacting to what will end up being a symbolic U.S. move.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, United Nations, Sanctions, UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: For years, Gulf powers have mulled the notion of regional dialogue to calm existing crises and head off new ones. Today, with several active Middle Eastern conflicts, all sensitive to rising U.S.-Iran tensions, it is an idea whose time has come. What’s new?* Middle East tensions spiked in the past year following attacks on oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities, the U.S. killing of a senior Iranian commander and Iranian military retaliation. Some of Washington’s allies, losing confidence the U.S. will reliably extend military protection, have started making cautious diplomatic overtures to Iran. Why does it matter? While these tentative steps toward de-escalation are welcome, they risk being inadequate, particularly in the absence of regular, high-level communication channels among potential conflict actors. Existing UN-led mechanisms for resolving individual conflicts, such as Yemen, are worthwhile but insufficient to lessen region-wide tensions. What should be done? Diplomatic efforts are needed to both de-escalate tensions and make progress toward resolving regional conflicts. Gulf actors, supported by external stakeholders, should consider launching an inclusive sub-regional dialogue aimed at reducing the risk of inadvertent conflict by opening new communication channels.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Brendan Taylor
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Australian diplomacy could ease rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait, if Australian policymakers rediscovered an appetite for involvement in the flashpoint. Tensions between Taiwan and China are rising, driven in part by an increasingly assertive government in Beijing, growing Taiwanese estrangement from the Chinese mainland, and deteriorating US–China relations. If key regional governments fail to help de-escalate tensions, the consequences are likely to be serious. Rather than continue the debate about Australia’s position on its ANZUS obligations should the United States invoke the treaty in a Taiwan conflict, Australia should work with other regional powers to advocate for more robust risk avoidance and crisis management mechanisms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Multilateralism, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Ben Bland, Alexandre Dayant, John Edwards, Stephen Grenville, Natasha Kassam, Herve Lemahieu, Alyssa Leng, Richard McGregor, Shane McLeod, Alex Oliver, Jonathan Pryke, Roland Rajah, Sam Roggeveen, Sam Scott
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The fight against COVID-19 has been the greatest challenge the world has faced since the middle of last century. As countries have fought to control the disease, they have closed borders, quarantined their citizens, and shut down economies almost entirely. The ramifications will reverberate for years, if not decades, to come. In April 2020, the Lowy Institute published a digital feature in which twelve Institute experts examined the ways in which the COVID crisis would affect Australia, the region and the world. In this new feature, Lowy Institute experts provide policy recommendations for Australia to address issues that are critical to our nation’s — and the world’s — successful emergence from the pandemic. Countries have turned inwards in an attempt to fend off the threat of an infection that is oblivious to borders. Some have seen globalisation as the cause of the crisis, and have focused on solving problems without recourse to the international institutions of global security and prosperity, including the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the G20. Yet global problems require international solutions. As the world emerges from the crisis, cooperation between nations will be more important than ever. Nation states cannot revive their economies purely through national solutions. They cannot address global threats, including the possibility of further pandemics, alone. Australia’s achievements in managing the COVID crisis have been exemplary. It has handled the health and economic emergency with great competence. But this is just the beginning of our crisis recovery. The challenges in our region, and the global problems that existed before COVID, have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Australia has already done much to address the domestic economic and health issues from the COVID crisis. But to shape a prosperous and secure future, it will also need to work in cooperation with other nations, large and small, allies and partners, on a much broader array of international issues ranging from the economic disruption across the region, pressure from China on trade, and development challenges in the Pacific, to increasingly competitive relations between the United States and China, the weakening of the World Health Organization, and the declining utility of the G20.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Health, World Health Organization, G20, Geopolitics, COVID-19, International Order
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Luke Patey
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Many fear that strategic competition between the US and China threatens longstanding regional cooperation and stability in the Arctic. But if they recognise their own political and economic significance and work collectively, the Nordic states and Canada can still play an instrumental role in steering the region’s future away from confrontation. Recommendations: Recognise how US–China strategic competition represents a false binary for policy choices in the Arctic. Understand how economic connectivity provides room for manoeuvre against big power pressure. Encourage participation of non-Arctic states with similar economic and political norms on natural resource and infrastructure development.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Climate Change, Diplomacy, Environment, Oil, Power Politics, Gas, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, Arctic, United States of America
  • Author: Hans Mouritzen
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Bilateral diplomacy has become increasingly important in today’s multipolar world. A number of cases are analysed in this DIIS Working Paper, where Nordic countries have been ‘disciplined’ in bilateral diplomacy by the emerging great powers of Russia, China, or India. Compared to the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, with US unipolarity and EU normative power, the Nordics have experienced a narrowing of their freedom of manoeuvre. It is no longer possible, without significant costs, to criticise these great powers’ internal affairs or foreign policies based on allegedly universal values. In general, it is crucial for decision-makers not to overstep their state’s freedom of manoeuvre. But on the other hand, they should not be too docile and desist from occasionally challenging its limits. Trial balloons or parallel action with related countries might do exactly that.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Power Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, United States of America
  • Author: Michael McFaul
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: President-elect Joseph R. Biden has an opportunity to forge a bipartisan, sustained grand U.S. strategy for Russia. With decades of experience in foreign affairs, especially transatlantic relations, he knows Russia, he knows Vladimir Putin and, equally important, he knows the region. When I worked at the National Security Council during the Barack Obama administration, I traveled with then-Vice President Biden to Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Russia. Unlike his immediate predecessor, President Biden rightfully will not try to befriend Putin. He and his expert team of foreign policy advisors understand that the central objective in U.S. policy towards Russia today is to contain Putin’s belligerent behavior abroad. At the same time, the incoming Biden administration offers the U.S. a chance to develop a more predictable pattern of bilateral relations with the Russian government and Russian people, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike. After relations with China, competing with Russia is the second-greatest foreign policy challenge of our time, complicated by the fact that China and Russia today are closer to each other now than they were during the Cold War. To successfully achieve American objectives will require the implementation of a comprehensive, sophisticated and nuanced strategy for containing Putin’s belligerent actions abroad and simultaneously cooperating with Moscow on a small set of issues of mutual benefit.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Thomas Graham
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: During the depths of the 45-year-long Cold War in the early years, neither side believed it had an understanding of what the other side was doing. Both sides feared a sudden bolt from the blue in which nuclear weapons would lay waste to their societies. The threat was indeed beyond rational description. One U.S. B-52 bomber in those days carried more explosive power than all the bombs dropped by all the sides in World War II. The Soviet Union deployed an intercontinental ballistic missile with a 25-kiloton warhead that could strike the United States with only a few minutes of advanced warning, perhaps 20 minutes. One way of thinking about the explosive capability of just one megaton is to contemplate a freight train loaded with dynamite stretching from New York to California. Just one Soviet missile had 25 times this capability, and the Soviet Union had hundreds of such weapons. The bombs on the U.S. strategic bombers were of the same destructive force. And the U.S. ultimately built a missile force that had a destructive capability that was at least three or four times greater than the Soviet force. The two nations were like two strong men fighting each other to the death in a pitch-black room with long knives. The principal difference was that one of the men would eventually win and emerge victorious from the darkroom; yet in nuclear war, there would be no winners, only losers—and both contestants would be effectively destroyed.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, United States , Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mike Pryor
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: As this paper went to press, Americans were in their fourth agonizing day of waiting for the final results of the 2020 U.S. presidential elections. No matter who the victor turns out to be, restoring America’s tarnished image abroad should be a central task for the next U.S. President. Public diplomacy (PD) will no doubt be a big part of any such effort, and a number of prominent U.S. foreign policy experts have already called for increased funding and resources for our State Department’s PD programs. As a Foreign Service Officer and PD practitioner for over a decade, I certainly echo these calls. But the truth is that simply doing more public diplomacy is unlikely to achieve the desired outcome. Rather, we need to do more effective public diplomacy. And to be more effective, we need to get real about what PD can and can’t do. What PD can’t do, as the past two decades have shown us, is overcome bad foreign policies through “messaging,” or achieve large-scale development outcomes through small-scale grant programs. What PD can do is use programs such as exchanges, traveling speakers, English teaching and cultural events to build relationships and affinity for U.S. values that provide for sustained U.S. access and influence in important sectors of foreign societies. This access has benefits for the United States at the short- term, the intermediate-term, and the long-term levels. This approach, more realistic than others, acknowledges that while we as a nation can’t direct policy outcomes in foreign countries, we can shape those outcomes at critical moments by leveraging influence built up through relationships over time. The truth is, all diplomacy is about relationship building, and PD activities are best understood as delivery mechanisms for relationships. The main reason this obvious truth is not more widely accepted is because PD has historically struggled to connect the dots between its programs, the long-term relationships the programs create, and the impact those relationships have on the achievement of foreign policy goals. Thus, the task of rethinking public diplomacy begins with creating a framework to contextualize relationships over time. One way to do this is to situate all activities within the concept of the “ladder of engagement.” The ladder model shows how relationship-building activities complement and build on each other over the course of years or even decades in order to bring targeted foreign audiences closer to the U.S. orbit. The ladder is widest at its base, enabling the maximum number of people to climb on. As the engagement deepens, the ladder narrows. At the top, engagement is most profound with a relatively small number of the most influential audience members.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Public Opinion, Public Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After the fall of Sirte, Erdogan and Putin’s desired ceasefire can only be achieved with Washington’s support. Over the past week, regional and European actors have increased their diplomatic activity around Libya in response to intensifying violence in the nine-month-old civil war. On January 8, less than a week after the Turkish parliament approved sending forces to support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin met in Istanbul and called for a Libya ceasefire to begin on January 12. Whether or not Moscow and Ankara manage to pause the violence temporarily, their growing influence in Libya represents an epic failure of Western attempts to resolve the conflict diplomatically. The longer-term effort to jumpstart Libya’s political transition requires a wider international effort at peace and reconciliation—something Russia and Turkey can support but not lead. Putin and Erdogan seemed to acknowledge that fact at their summit, endorsing a long-planned multilateral conference in Berlin aimed at recommitting all relevant actors to support an end to hostilities and respect the UN Security Council’s mandatory but widely ignored arms embargo. Even assuming Putin is serious and withdraws Russian mercenaries from the frontlines, a full, lasting ceasefire cannot transpire until the other actors who support Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) agree to withdraw their equipment and personnel for a fixed period while negotiations are launched—especially the United Arab Emirates, which provides the LNA with critical air superiority. At the same time, Turkey would have to take commensurate de-escalatory steps of its own. The United States is the only actor that holds enough weight with all the foreign parties to bring about an authentic ceasefire. Despite being consumed with crises in Iran and Iraq, Washington should expend the diplomatic effort required to pursue durable stability in Libya before the country slips further toward endemic chaos.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, United Nations, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya, North Africa, United States of America