Will China Test Trump? Lessons from Past Campaigns and Elections

by Kacie Miura and Jessica Chen Weiss
Although some might expect China to try to exploit an inexperienced President Trump, our research, emphasizing two key factors in recent behavior, suggests that Beijing is unlikely to gamble on such a risky strategy, or even probe the new administration, and is more likely to adopt a wait-and-see approach and extend an early “grace period” toward the new president.

The Survival Strategy of the Chinese Communist Party

by Bruce J. Dickson
China watchers are often obsessed with the prospects for regime change. What is often overlooked is the nature of public opinion in China, including how society responds to the CCP survival strategy’s three elements: repression, legitimation, and co-optation.

Unpacking the Iranian Nuclear Deal: Nuclear Latency and U.S. Foreign Policy

by Rupal N. Mehta and Rachel Elizabeth Whitlark
Iran is one of 31 countries to have historically possessed nuclear latency, or the technology to build nuclear weapons. Yet both the academic and policy communities have understudied this critical facet of proliferation: what drives states like Iran to acquire latency? What are the consequences for regional and global security? What should strategically be done?


WINTER 2017  |  Volume 39  |  Number 4

Trumpism and the American Politics of Insecurity

by Andrew Rojecki
Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign was the result of a set of underlying conditions that has been building for a generation and has led to what may be a new normal in U.S. politics—a politics of insecurity that originate beyond the nation’s borders.

The Return of Jacksonianism: the International Implications of the Trump Phenomenon

by Taesuh Cha
Trump’s rise is symptomatic of American people, particularly in rural southern and interior Western communities in the Jacksonian tradition, increasingly embracing the idea of being freed from the burdens of global leadership. Many overseas are concerned we are witnessing a historical watershed with the direction of U.S. hegemony and the post-war liberal world order beginning to change.

An Agenda for the Next President

Barack Obama and the Dilemmas of American Grand Strategy

by Hal Brands
Did the Obama administration have a grand strategy? Yes, if one defines grand strategy realistically. Was it effective? That record was more ambiguous, revealing fundamental dilemmas of contemporary U.S. grand strategy that are unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

Belligerent Minimalism: the Trump Administration and the Middle East

by Marc Lynch
As has been true for decades, the structural realities of the Middle East are likely to defeat any efforts by the Trump administration to transform the U.S. role in the region. But the greatest question of all will not be about strategy, but whether Trump rethinks any of the five U.S. interests that have remained stable for 60 years.

Reading Reagan in Tehran: A Strategy of Realistic Engagement

by Michael McFaul and Abbas Milani
A return to isolation and complete confrontation with Iran is neither wise nor possible. Instead, in part because current U.S.-Iranian relations are analogous to U.S.-Soviet relations in the 1980s, the Trump administration should take a page from Reagan and Secretary George Shultz toward the Soviets and adopt an approach of realistic engagement toward Iran.

Confronting Pakistan’s Support For Terrorism: Don’t Designate, Calibrate

by Stephen Tankel
As emotionally gratifying as it might be, designating Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism would be a mistake. But unilateral and multilateral mechanisms could be used to try to coerce Pakistan to undertake tactical shifts on militancy that might have strategic effects over time.

The Strategic Illogic of Counterterrorism Policy

by Jenna Jordan, Margaret E. Kosal and Lawrence Rubin
How and why has the use of force become a counterterrorism strategy, not just an important tactic? Kinetic options are not the only, or even primary, answer to countering terrorism and often result in suboptimal strategies which weaken U.S. power and lead to a greater loss of American lives.

The Lingering Problem of Fragile States

by Charles T. Call
The failed states paradigm has receded, but what should be done about the humanitarian and security challenges presented by fragile and failing states? Here are seven elements of a new approach that might reverse the global trend toward more numerous, deadly, and costly conflicts.


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.