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.

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.

How China Ends Wars: Implications for East Asian and U.S. Security

by Oriana Skylar Mastro
How would China end wars? In the major wars it has fought since 1949, Beijing exhibited problematic tendencies in the three factors key to timely war resolution. Since those conflicts, changes in China are likely to magnify Beijing’s pernicious war termination tendencies further. How should the United States adjust?

The End of Elite Unity and the Stability of Saudi Arabia

by Stig Stenslie
November 4, 2017 will be remembered as Saudi Arabia’s Night of the Long Knives, when Muhammad bin Salman consolidated his power to the extent that no single modern Saudi prince has before, while also dramatically undermining the Kingdom’s stability. Saudi Arabia looks like a train about to derail—or worse.

The Myth of the Ticking Bomb

by Ron E. Hassner
The ticking bomb scenario has influenced interrogation policies at all levels of U.S. decision making. If it were not so influential, it would be laughable as it is a dangerous trope that has promoted harmful policy on terrorism and torture. The time has come to dismantle this myth.


Cascading Chaos in Nuclear Northeast Asia

by Alexandre Debs and Nuno P. Monteiro
Nuclear nonproliferation, security assurances and strategic stability are deeply connected. If fully implemented, a U.S. strategy decreasing commitment to its allies’ security while increasing aggressiveness toward its nuclear adversaries will likely lead to a cascade of nuclear proliferation—both vertical in North Korea and horizontal to South Korea and possibly Japan.

South Korea’s Nuclear Hedging?

by Lami Kim
A more likely scenario than pursuing nuclear weapons, given the enormous potential security and economic costs, is Seoul’s nuclear hedging and latency. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s pursuit of nuclear-powered submarines may be part of such a nuclear hedging strategy in Seoul.


SPRING 2018  |  Volume 41  |  Number 1

Power Transitions: Thucydides Didn’t Live in East Asia

by David C. Kang and Xinru Ma
The empirical examples that international relations scholars use to derive their theories about power transitions are almost all European. Two pre-modern East Asian cases lead to three new insights about power transitions.

Cooperation, Uncertainty, and the Rise of China: It’s About “Time”

by David M. Edelstein
Underexplored in debates about power transitions is why declining powers typically pursue a mix of cooperative and competitive strategies toward rising and potentially threatening powers? Cooperation between the United States and China has been facilitated by the interaction of short time horizons of a declining power and long time horizons of a rising power.

Status, Prestige, Activism and the Illusion of American Decline

by John Glaser
Status and prestige have been the most prevalent drivers of U.S. foreign policy for decades, but such concerns are the shadow, not the substance, of U.S. power, and lead to fears of U.S. decline. The United States can choose to forswear status and prestige-driven foreign policy excesses, or it can hasten its own actual decline.

Behind the Headlines

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.

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 Sunshine: The Limits of Engagement with North Korea

by Inhan Kim
President Moon Jae-in appears to be reviving Seoul’s 1998-2008 “sunshine policy” toward Pyongyang. Yet that experience and the policy’s underlying assumptions–which actually violate well-established theories of economic interdependence, engagement, and aid–make economic engagement with North Korea a false promise today.

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.

Safer at Sea? Pakistan’s Sea-Based Deterrent and Nuclear Weapons Security

by Christopher Clary and Ankit Panda
Its January 2017 and March 2018 missile tests demonstrate Pakistan’s commitment to develop sea-based nuclear weapons in the coming decade. While some argue this could enhance deterrence, it may increase the dangers of higher readiness and unauthorized use; the risks of inadvertent escalation, preemption, and crisis stability; and the threat of theft or sabotage.

Inside the Iran Deal: a French Perspective

by Laurent Fabius
The then-French Foreign Minister (2012–2016) provides a fascinating insider’s account of the monumental effort from experts, diplomats, scientists, and other leaders to successfully negotiate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran—including France’s reaction upon discovering the existence and substance of the secret U.S.–Iran talks in Oman—and draws his lessons learned, including the vigilance still required to ensure implementation.