U.S. Foreign Policy Publications
Social media is responsible for much positive change in the world. But these new tools can be used by bad actors to foment strife and undermine stability, as seen during violent incidents in the Assam state of northeast India in July 2012. Cybersecurity efforts must take into account the growing potential for cyber-attack using social media, where hoax messages are incorporated into a stream of otherwise legitimate messages, and understand how quickly mobile apps and text services can disseminate false information.
U.S. policy toward Africa has been on autopilot for much of the past four years, following a laundry list of good intentions that established priorities for Africa’s well-being and U.S. security interests. However, a truly sustainable and forward-looking U.S. policy toward Africa should refocus attention on Africa’s opportunity as an economic powerhouse of the future, a strategy that combines both domestic self-interest and an opportunity to help Africa move forward.
The role that nuclear weapons play in international politics and security is evolving. For wealthy, militarily powerful countries, nuclear weapons are playing a diminishing role in security planning. Conversely, some countries that lack advanced military capabilities may be coming to see nuclear weapons as increasingly important for their security. The differences between these two groups are reinforced by the fact that, over the past decade, two dictators who ended their nuclear programs have lost their regimes and their lives. As a result, authoritarian leaders may now have an increasingly personal interest in holding on to their nuclear ambitions. U.S. interests can be advanced by minimizing the association that has developed over the past decade between ending nuclear weapons programs, ending regimes, and ending authoritarian leaders’ lives.
Acting Director William Pomeranz examines the impact of the reset policy on the U.S.-Russian relationship. President Vladimir Putin’s first few months in office witnessed the “resetting of the reset” in which Putin unilaterally canceled several major U.S. assistance programs and generally showed little interest in improving U.S.-Russian relations. As a result, the Obama administration will have to reassess its strategy with Russia and find alternative ways of engaging with the Russian people. Such a strategy will include lowering the profile of the reset policy while pursuing more traditional exchanges that bypass high-level politics and promote direct links between the two countries.
The growing presence of Brazilian global companies in the United States complements traditionally strong investments by U.S. companies in Brazil. This trend has created a two-way street where common interests are more visible and both governments are pressured to recognize the benefits of working together or risk paying a political price for not doing so.
Although Iran’s mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle presents an inherent option for creating a bomb, the Tehran regime has no urgent incentive to build nuclear weapons. Current U.S. policy, which emphasizes coercive sanctions and diplomatic isolation to compel Iran to comply with its obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), would fall squarely under the rubric of containment, even as the term has been eschewed and delegitimized in the U.S. policy debate. As long as Iran does not overtly cross the U.S. “red line” of weaponization, U.S. policy will likely remain containment in form, if not in name.
President Barack Obama has made “pivoting” or “rebalancing” of U.S. policies toward Asia one of his strategic priorities. The next administration must not simply maintain this policy on autopilot; it must also provide institutional structure, budgetary support, and conceptual legitimacy to the policy.
Promising to level the playing field with China has been a vote-winning mantra among Democrats and Republicans alike. Yet competition for new markets, natural resources, good jobs, and global talent is as likely to come from Japan and South Korea as from China.
Washington and Beijing both consider good bilateral relations to be vital, but their growing strategic rivalry has the potential to evolve into mutual antagonism. In this new policy brief, published as the new leadership was announced in Beijing, China expert Stapleton Roy argues that the US should focus on regional engagement through multilateral organizations like ASEAN, as opposed to its military presence in the region.
Drawing on past work supported by the Cold War International History Program, the A. Ross Johnson and R. Eugene Parta apply lessons from successful U.S. international broadcasting during the Cold War to today’s transformed geopolitical, media, and technological world. They suggest a restatement of mission and corresponding organizational changes to ensure that international broadcasting remains an effective instrument of U.S. soft power – one supporting freedom and democracy abroad in the national interest.