The Misunderstood Roots of International Order—And Why They Matter Again

by James Goldgeier
It is easy to forget that the founders of the postwar order did not initially build it for the Cold War, but to constrain what they believed were the root causes of political and economic catastrophes: hyper-nationalism and protectionist trade policies. Now, those threats are back, not just elsewhere in the world, but in U.S. policies themselves.

The Road to Recovery: How Once Great Powers Became Great Again

by Paul K. MacDonald & Joseph M. Parent
After a decade studying transitions over the last century and a half in which a great power loses its economic rank to another, the authors discovered that declining great powers actually recover their former position around 40 percent of the time, but only if policymakers make difficult decisions about foreign policy commitments, military investments and domestic reforms, requiring a fundamental rethinking of American power and priorities today.

Who Wants What from Iran Now? The Post-Nuclear Deal U.S. Policy Debate

by Kian Tajbakhsh
What is at stake is not merely disagreement over the best means of achieving a commonly agreed upon goal toward Iran, but the broader objective itself. Four primary objectives advanced by four identifiable constituencies will shape the U.S. debate over the coming months and years.

Rohingya: Victims of a Great Game East

by C. Christine Fair
While the Rohingya endure a life of hardship in the world’s largest and most population-dense refugee camps, the international community remains paralyzed. What are the international and domestic factors that preclude any meaningful access to justice for these people?


Beijing’s Bismarckian Ghosts: How Great Powers Compete Economically

by Markus Brunnermeier, Rush Doshi and Harold James
Much focus on great power competition is military, but the central battlefield may now be economics. Yet, the twenty-first century United States-China rivalry holds an uncanny resemblance to the nineteenth century Anglo-German one, yielding a useful guide for policymakers to understand four areas of subtle and sophisticated economic competition likely to be employed, beyond the blunt levying of tariffs, and the risks likely to be incurred.

The Himalayan Impasse: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Wake of Doklam

by Sumit Ganguly and Andrew Scobell
In 2017, Indian and Chinese military units became involved in a close confrontation in the disputed Doklam plateau. Was it simply an idiosyncratic incident or emblematic of deeper currents in their rivalry? The coming months in 2018-19 should provide important clues.

Is Southeast Asia Really Balancing against China?

by Feng Zhang
China’s assertiveness in Southeast Asia since 2010 is by no means self-defeating. Though decried by critics outside China, it has not engendered a regional backlash detrimental to its interests, from a Chinese perspective. With regional states even embracing Chinese influence, it may be working well after all.


Mushroom Cloud

FALL 2018  |  Volume 41  |  Number 3

How Strong Is the Nuclear Taboo Today?

by Nina Tannenwald
The author who wrote the classic book revisits the state of the nuclear taboo over ten years later. In a new nuclear era and with the global normative order at risk of unraveling, she asks and answers: How strong is the taboo against the use of nuclear weapons today? How can it be strengthened?

When Preventive War Threats Work for Nuclear Nonproliferation

by Matthew Fuhrmann
The 1981 Osiraq strike against Iraq is the most well-known preventive attack for nuclear nonproliferation, but when are preventive war threats an effective nonproliferation tool? Military threats can work, particularly if three conditions are satisfied, but three other challenges may undermine their effectiveness.

A Nuclear Posture Review for the Third Nuclear Age

by Michael Smetana
The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review strikes a rather different tone than its predecessor and provides a novel strategic narrative for the development of U.S. nuclear posture, but a careful contextual analysis also reveals much more policy continuity with previous administrations than meets the eye.

Behind the Headlines

The Day After Trump: American Strategy for a New International Order

by Rebecca Friedman Lissner and Mira Rapp-Hooper
Defending the liberal international order as an end unto itself today is a mistake. Instead, foreign policy strategists must begin to craft a new U.S. grand strategy now. Thoughtful plans for rebuilding new and needed forms of order will require advanced preparation, beginning with reassessing three fundamental assumptions of the extant international order, diagnosing threats from without and within, and designing and defining the limits of a new system.

Perils of Polarization for U.S. Foreign Policy

by Kenneth A. Schultz
A source of the decline of U.S. standing in the world comes from within: a long-term trend of partisan polarization in American politics which has made it harder for the United States to conduct foreign policy and to wield its diplomatic and military power in the world in four ways. Recognizing these problems may help mitigate their worst effects.

What If California Had a Foreign Policy? The New Frontier of States’ Rights

by David Freeman Engstrom and Jeremy M. Weinstein
A range of new efforts on issues such as climate change, human rights and immigration by actors like California are testing the legal limits of federal power in foreign affairs. How much latitude will the courts ultimately grant to the states? Policymakers, on both sides of the aisle, would be wise to get ahead of the courts and think strategically about the benefits and risks of an evolution in legal thinking about federalism’s boundaries.

Democracy’s Future: Riding the Hegemonic Wave

by Seva Gunitsky
The evolution of the global spread and retreat of modern democracy over the past century has followed a surprisingly specific pattern. Domestic regime changes often cannot be explained by the specifics of local revolts but a broader geopolitical process of tectonic shifts in the structure of global power, or hegemonic shocks. What does that mean for the future of global democracy?

Whither ISIS? Insights from Insurgent Responses to Decline

by Paul Staniland
How will ISIS respond to recent setbacks? By examining fifteen other major insurgent organizations that faced decline, this study suggests that ISIS will likely survive even devastating territorial losses, and identifies three potential trajectories for the organization, and the conditions likely to lead to each.

Germany’s Nuclear Education: Why a Few Elites Are Testing a Taboo

by Tristan Volpe and Ulrich Kühn
Days after the 2016 U.S. election, a small group of German experts began to publicly debate whether Berlin should pursue one of three nuclear options. Although the debate was short-lived, there is evidence that each may have begun to bring one or more verboten topics out of the shadows and could, over time, amount to a fundamental change of Germany’s national identity.