Provocations

The Global Rise of Personalized Politics: It’s Not Just Dictators Anymore

by Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Erica Frantz and Joseph Wright
While it may not be surprising that power in Russia rests with Vladimir Putin or in China with Xi Jinping, the personalization of politics is alarmingly accelerating to Bangladesh, Hungary, the Philippines, Poland, Turkey, and elsewhere, potentially including the United States itself.

“No More Elsewhere”: France Faces the New Wave of Terrorism

by Michael S. Neiberg
We may be experiencing a paradigm shift in the nature of nonstate violence, with deep cultural and political roots difficult for Westerners to comprehend, potentially requiring us to turn our thoughts about terrorism on its head. Americans would be well-advised to pay less attention to the Islamic State and learn what they can from France since the 2005 Clichy riots.

Political Rationality in Iranian Foreign Policy

by Kayhan Barzegar and Abdolrasool Divsallar
Two Iranian scholars argue that Tehran has moved toward a more balanced foreign policy, rationally assessing resources and strategic limits—as demonstrated by the nuclear deal, strategic patience toward Saudi Arabia, and cooperation with Russia—from its previous ideological version from the 1979 revolution through Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency in 2013.

Recalibrating Deterrence to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

by Robert S. Litwak
Pakistan and North Korea are both on the verge of significantly increasing their stocks of nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials, necessitating a recalibration of deterrent strategies. Nevertheless, effective strategies of deterrence on the state level remain the prerequisite for countering the non-state threat of nuclear terrorism.

U.S. STRATEGY IN A NATIONALIST AGE

SPRING 2017  |  Volume 40  |  Number 1

U.S. Strategy in an Age of Nationalism: Fortress America and its Alternatives

Hal Brands
American grand strategy will clearly have a more nationalistic flavor in years to come, but what might that entail? One model is "Fortress America," which represents a path to superpower suicide and a disordered world, but there is a more benign and constructive version, asserting U.S. interests without dismantling the post-war order. It looks like this...

UN Reform under the Trump Administration: The Way Ahead

by the Hon. Kevin Rudd
The former Prime Minister of Australia argues that the UN is in significant trouble and faces long-term irrelevance. That is a problem for the United States because an effective UN, especially improved by principles outlined here, is demonstrably in the U.S. interest.

Time to Consolidate NATO?

by Joshua Shifrinson
Put simply, NATO has become a two-tiered alliance, fraught with dangers for the United States and all its allies. Instead of struggling against this reality, a sounder course would recognize it. Although rarely discussed by U.S. policymakers, three options are theoretically possible.

Chinese Economic Diplomacy

China's "Belt and Road Initiative": Underwhelming or Game-Changer?

by Nadège Rolland
Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative has received little U.S. attention, seriously underestimating its potential implications for the Eurasian continent. It is an essential component of China's grand strategy to realize the "China Dream" and solve its fundamental geopolitical challenge: how can China rise without provoking a countervailing response?

The Myth of Chinese Sanctions over South China Sea Disputes

by Angela Poh
Further study of China's alleged increasing use of coercive sanctions in its disputes over the South China Sea, focusing on two cases here, reveals that some have reached this conclusion prematurely and promulgated a "sanctions myth." Not only is further study needed, but until then, repeating this allegation may be escalatory and destabilizing for two reasons.

China’s Maritime Trap

by Wei Zongyou
China’s recent vocal assertions and activities over its maritime disputes have harmed its relations with neighbors and others, including the United States. Nevertheless, the July 2016 Hague ruling may have provided a window of opportunity to de-escalate tension as well as a possible way out for all parties.

From Wealth to Power: China’s New Economic Statecraft

by Zhang Xiaotong and James Keith
China, like other great powers since at least the 16th century, tends to believe that the major task of its economic statecraft is to translate its national wealth into the exercise of power. How will Xi Jinping’s emerging economic statecraft differ from other recent Chinese leaders?

 

Behind the Headlines

Modi’s Strategic Choice: How to Respond to Terrorism from Pakistan

by George Perkovich and Toby Dalton
How will Indian decision makers deter and/or respond to the next terrorist attack emanating from Pakistan? The odds-on favorite among defense analysts in Delhi is air power. Unfortunately, the attraction of limited, precise air-borne strikes is offset significantly by inadequacies and risks that could even make them counterproductive.

Six Bad Options for Syria

by Daniel Byman
Syria is at a crossroads; so is U.S. policy. The range of choices is wide, but all of them are bad. A more realistic discussion of policy options should reflect their many potential advantages, limits, and costs, outlined here...

The Price of Inattention: A Survivable North Korean Nuclear Threat?

by Mitchel B. Wallerstein
The former Clinton administration official unveils progress that North Korea has made on four parallel nuclear and missile initiatives that could soon amount to a survivable, strategic nuclear capability. As a result, it is time for the United States to state unambiguously that it will impose secondary sanctions and resort to pre-emptive military action if Pyongyang performs additional nuclear or missile tests or deploys certain new and threatening military systems.

Has U.S. China Policy Failed?

by Harry Harding
The United States is immersed in its most intense China policy debate in decades. For a variety of reasons, reviewed here, dissatisfaction with China’s domestic and international evolution has become widespread as has pessimism about the future of U.S.–China relations, leading to a growing debate over three broad ways to revise U.S. policy.

Great Expectations: Iran after the Deal

by Mehdi Khalaji
Iran’s policy toward nuclear talks changed not because of Rouhani’s election in 2013, but because of Supreme Leader Khamenei in 2011. Yet the future of that agreement, whose significance in Iran is comparable to the 1987 ceasefire with Iraq, depends on continuing political will, which could be disrupted by at least three factors inside Iran.

Who Lost Russia (This Time)? Vladimir Putin

by Kathryn Stoner and Michael McFaul
Neither a ‘‘too soft’’ nor ‘‘too hard’’ U.S. approach to Russia explains the recent return to a bilateral Cold War confrontation, nor was it an inevitable Russian policy. Instead, it is Vladimir Putin’s unique response to Russian domestic political and economic upheaval.