Regions

Africa

Snapshot,
Paul Hidalgo

Kenya is on its way to becoming the world’s next hotbed of extremism as a result of al Shabaab’s active and growing presence there. And so far, the Kenyan government has been its own worst enemy in attempting to reverse this trend.

Snapshot,
Ricardo Soares De Oliveira

The countries of East Africa are in the early throes of an oil boom, with an unprecedented opportunity for economic development. Unless they avoid the mistakes of those before them, though, the region's governments could easily squander it.

Snapshot,
David Malet

Foreign fighters might seem like a product of twenty-first-century warfare, but they are nothing new. Over the past two centuries, more than 70 insurgencies have successfully gone transnational. The patterns of recruitment for such disparate groups are broadly similar and, because of that, their campaigns all have the same Achilles’ heel.

Americas

Comment, May/June 2014
Robert A. Hefner III

Thanks to new technologies, U.S. companies have extracted vast quantities of natural gas and oil trapped in once-inaccessible deposits of shale. Other countries may envy this economic boost, but they will find it hard to replicate -- because only America has the entrepreneur-friendly legal and regulatory system that made the boom possible.

Comment, May/June 2014
Sharon E. Burke

The Defense Department is the United States’ largest energy consumer, but it’s also a major incubator of cutting-edge technologies. To cut fuel demands and meet new threats, the Pentagon is transforming the U.S. military from an organization that uses as much fuel as it can get to one that uses only as much as it needs.

Essay, May/June 2014
Daniel Byman and Benjamin Wittes

Behind all the talk of reforming the National Security Agency lies the question of whether it can win back the public’s trust, or at least its acquiescence. U.S. policymakers and citizens need to weigh how much security and diplomatic advantage they are willing to forgo in return for greater restraint and transparency.

Asia

Snapshot,
Jere Van Dyk

Although the identity of Afghanistan's next president is uncertain, Afghans know for sure that it will not be Hamid Karzai, who has held power for 12 years. In keeping with his country’s 2004 constitution, he agreed to step down after his second term was up. That has never happened before in Afghanistan, and it marks the true introduction of democracy in this shattered land.

Essay, May/June 2014
Walter Russell Mead

Whether it is Russian forces seizing Crimea, China making aggressive claims in its coastal waters, or Iran trying to dominate the Middle East, old-fashioned power plays are back. These revisionist powers never bought into the geopolitical settlement that followed the Cold War, and their ongoing attempts to overturn it will not be peaceful.

Essay, May/June 2014
Kenneth M. Pollack and Ray Takeyh

The problems of the Middle East remain too deeply intertwined with U.S. national security and the American economy to ignore. Whatever it might prefer to do, the Obama administration can’t just walk away from the region, but has to take a greater interest in it.

Europe

Snapshot,
Halil Karaveli

Turkey might seem like a confident rising power, but its leaders fear being abandoned by the West as much as ever. As it has in the past, the United States can push Turkey toward political reform by reminding Ankara that it has to live up to Western democratic standards if it wants to continue to enjoy the benefits of being counted as an ally.

Snapshot,
Jonathan Hopkin and Mark Blyth

Wealthy Russian expats seem to wield substantial influence over the British government's approach to the Ukraine crisis, which points to the outsized role that such super-rich play in British politics. But all that foreign money reveals deep structural weaknesses in the British economy.

Essay, May/June 2014
Marina Ottaway and David Ottaway

Iraqi Kurdistan has achieved new prosperity by exporting its own oil and gas to Turkey, against the objections of Iraq’s central government. By challenging Baghdad’s claims to exclusive control of Iraq’s natural resources, the Kurds are showing how economic cooperation can make Middle Eastern borders more porous.

Middle East

Essay, May/June 2014
Walter Russell Mead

Whether it is Russian forces seizing Crimea, China making aggressive claims in its coastal waters, or Iran trying to dominate the Middle East, old-fashioned power plays are back. These revisionist powers never bought into the geopolitical settlement that followed the Cold War, and their ongoing attempts to overturn it will not be peaceful.

Essay, May/June 2014
Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner

Asia is going to command ever more attention and resources from the United States, thanks to the region’s growing prosperity and influence and the enormous challenges the region poses. The Obama administration’s pivot or rebalancing makes sense; the challenge now is giving it proper form, substance, and resources.

Essay, May/June 2014
G. John Ikenberry

China, Iran, and Russia are not determined to undo the post–Cold War settlement. They are not full-scale revisionist powers but, at most, part-time spoilers. The United States is far more powerful and has built a robust liberal world order countries need to integrate with in order to succeed.

Russia & FSU

Essay, May/June 2014
Walter Russell Mead

Whether it is Russian forces seizing Crimea, China making aggressive claims in its coastal waters, or Iran trying to dominate the Middle East, old-fashioned power plays are back. These revisionist powers never bought into the geopolitical settlement that followed the Cold War, and their ongoing attempts to overturn it will not be peaceful.

Snapshot,
Alina Polyakova

By inking a deal with Russia last week, the West seemed to sign on to Russia’s strategy for the region -- “federalism” or, more likely, partition. The agreement itself quickly fell through, but Russia now has the West's acquiescence in writing.

Essay, May/June 2014
Jeffrey Mankoff

Russia’s annexation of Crimea is Moscow’s latest attempt to maintain influence in a post-Soviet state by creating a so-called frozen conflict, in which a splinter territory remains under Russian protection and beyond the control of the central government. But history suggests Russia’s move will backfire and push the rest of Ukraine west.

Global Commons

Snapshot,
Alan B. Sielen

There is no shortage of international recommendations, action plans, and other prescriptions for restoring the oceans’ health. The problem is not ignorance but political will. Yet the longer governments and societies delay action, the worse things will get. Here are some things they can start doing now.

Snapshot,
Stacie L. Pettyjohn

Last month, Washington pledged to give up control of ICANN, a nonprofit that manages the Internet's domain name system. Critics say the move will empower repressive regimes to restrict Internet freedom. But it actually provides the best chance of preserving an open system.

Snapshot,
David A. Welch

We have come to appreciate that our rapidly increasing technological sophistication -- which has brought such benefits as safe and convenient air travel -- carries with it potential costs. It gives us greater ability to destroy, of course. But, it can also lead to the creation of vulnerable, tightly-connected, and inadequately resilient systems. And in those systems, individuals and organizations are often the weakest links -- as the recent Malaysia Airlines disaster makes clear.