All in American Foreign Policy
On the 14th of February, two conferences took place on the Middle East. One, featuring representatives from over 60 countries, took place in Warsaw under the leadership of the United States, with generous support from Poland. The other one was a trilateral summit at Sochi, featuring the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Turkey, and organized by Russia. These two summits provide a perfect example of the two approaches that major powers currently employ towards the region, as well as the sharp contrasts in the leadership and effectiveness of Russia and America in the region.
There is a growing tide of opinion in the U.S. that treats China’s Belt and Road Initiative as a grand strategy of epic economic and geopolitical proportions. It holds that China is “methodically assembling a network of client governments in hock to Beijing and advancing its military ambitions.” But China is not a monolith, and neither is the Belt and Road Initiative. BRI, in reality, is a brand — a grab-bag of initiatives and projects that numerous Chinese institutions independently design and advance.
The United States has officially announced that it is withdrawing from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Force Treaty in response to what it deems a “material breach” of the Treaty by the Russian Federation. Although the announcement marks the official loss of the Treaty, the unraveling of the INF has been years in the making. Although neither the United States nor Russia are yet able to agree upon who is to blame for the demise of the INF Treaty, there is no doubt that the next move is Moscow’s to make.
North Korea has not produced any measurable and verifiable denuclearization measures after the Singapore Summit in June, and yet the United States seems to have no intention of imposing sanctions or applying pressures other than UN sanctions on North Korea. In contrast, the Obama-era Iran Nuclear Deal saw resounding success in demilitarizing Iran’s nuclear program. Yet, despite these achievements, the Trump administration has withdrawn from the pact and reinstated sanctions on Iran.
As ISIS crumbles in the Levant and the variety of anti-ISIS operations reach their crescendo, the Syrian civil war appears to have acquired yet an additional degree of complexity—Operation Olive Branch, a Turkish military campaign against Syrian Kurdish forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Xi Jinping has gained enough power to remove Party constraints on him. What does this mean for China and the world around it?
On January 20th, 2017, in an effort to normalize relations with Cuba, President Obama announced the end of the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that allowed Cuban refugees who reached U.S. soil a pathway to residency after one year. In a joint statement Cuban President Raul Castro called for Cubans to respect the policy decision and noted that the law was a benchmark in improving bilateral relations.
American President Donald Trump has more often than not advocated for military action against North Korea, citing its arsenal of nuclear weapons as a danger to the world. But what would war with North Korea look like? Is the United States ready to go to war with the rogue state? Are the American people prepared for the costs of the conflict? What about the North Koreans? Let's find out.
Go, called Weiqi in Mandarin, is a game played in East Asia and considered an oriental equivalent to Chess. Unlike Chess, Go does not focus on seizing parts of the board and successfully eliminating pieces in a tactical manner. Instead, the whole game is built around a strategic effort to encircle and limit the movements of an opponent. That same game was being played in a grander scheme as Donald Trump made his first trip to Asia.
In the wake of the Iraqi Kurdish referendum on independence the international community has predictably come out in opposition to both the vote and the results. Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurdistan’s neighbors have forcefully opposed the referendum, with Ankara considering cutting off Kurdish access to a lucrative oil pipeline, Tehran threatening further blockade and isolation, and Baghdad contemplating military action. Given this intense opposition from its neighbors, it is difficult to imagine the landlocked Iraqi Kurdistan functioning as an independent state.
President Donald Trump wants a better relationship with Russia. Seven months into the Trump administration, however, U.S. - Russian relations remain just as low now as they were under Obama. While there are several points of hostility between the two powers—NATO enlargement, Syria, cyberattacks—it’s easy to forget that the illegal annexation of the relatively unknown Crimea, was the springboard for this current era of animosity.