Analysis + Opinion | 2020

 
Cartoon of President Trump using red China flag to bullfight a donkey

Analysis + Opinion

May 10, 2020

Can the democrats avoid Trump’s China trap?

Democrats, and Republicans who truly put American security first, face a choice. Joe Biden in particular will decide whether to lead his party into Mr Trump’s trap or play a different game.

Drawing of cat on balcony overlooking apartment balconies

Analysis + Opinion

May 9, 2020

An ode to the humble balcony

It is private, yet public; exposed, yet secluded. It offers company without the demands of intimacy, and we should never take it for granted again, writes Bernardo Zacka in a New York Times opinion piece available here.  

Photo of Kim Jong Un at funeral procession

Analysis + Opinion

May 8, 2020

4 things that will happen if Kim Jong-un died

Should Chairman Kim exit early, there may be an opportunity to return to the negotiating table, especially given the North's precarious situation--one that is likely to deteriorate even further over the near to medium term, writes Jim Walsh in The National Interest's series asking what happens if Kim Jong-un died.

Ship on the South China Sea

Analysis + Opinion

May 7, 2020

Does the global pandemic open new South China Sea opportunities for Beijing? Not really.

A number of recent analyses have emphasized that China is seizing pandemic-created opportunities to improve its position in the South China Sea as other countries are distracted or otherwise unable to respond. A key implication of such claims is that absent the pandemic, China would have acted differently and perhaps with more restraint.

Aerial view of the Pentagon

Analysis + Opinion

April 28, 2020

Don’t classify the FYDP; Budget transparency helps allies, taxpayers

Unclassified information about DoD’s current plans will help the country weigh options such as sustaining the current defense budget, shifting priorities within it or significantly shrinking it by rethinking the US approach to the world.

Long unemployment line

Analysis + Opinion

April 25, 2020

Europe has kept down pandemic unemployment--and the US hasn’t. Here’s why.

Over the last several decades, the United States has either shrunk its state capacity or failed to build it, especially around providing social benefits. In Europe, by contrast, governments have enough administrative capacity to deliver comprehensive help swiftly and directly.

Serbian soldiers stand guard at border crossing with Croatia

Analysis + Opinion

April 23, 2020

Do pandemics promote peace?

Covid-19 does nothing to mitigate such risks for world leaders—and a great deal to feed their reasonable pessimism about the likely outcome of even a conventional war, says Barry Posen in an essay in Foreign Affairs.

Military trucks on dusty road in the Middle East

Analysis + Opinion

April 21, 2020

The Middle East in an era of great power competition

Middle East Institute

How does or should the Middle East fit in America’s new grand strategy? Does the great power competition require a new approach toward the Middle East? Which approach best serves Washington’s new global plans? To answer these questions and more, the Middle East Institute (MEI) hosted a conversation with Barry Posen (MIT) and Stephen Walt (Harvard). Find the video and transcript here.

 

Image of smartphone and globe indicating tracking Covid-19

Analysis + Opinion

April 15, 2020

How digital contact tracing slowed Covid-19 in East Asia

For Western democracies the time has come to either rethink our values around the tradeoff between personal privacy and public safety in a pandemic or to accelerate technology innovation and policy development that can preserve both. 

Participants at the conference

Analysis + Opinion

April 15, 2020

Insights from the After iGEM biosecurity policy conference

Ronit Langer

The parallels between the findings of the IGEM biosecurity policy conference last November and the actions of scientists and policy makers across the world in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic today are striking: Scope, containment, and communication.

Joel Brenner

Analysis + Opinion

April 8, 2020

The inspector general’s badge of honor

The president’s power to remove Senate confirmed officials is not stated in the constitution. That power is grounded in the president’s constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” In this case, ironically, Trump removed Atkinson for having faithfully executed the law, explains Joel Brenner in a recent opinion piece. 

President Trump addressing Covid-19

Analysis + Opinion

April 3, 2020

It’s high time we fought this virus the American way

James E BakerNew York Times

The administration has all the authority it needs to produce medical supplies and prepare for a potential vaccine, argues James E Baker in a recent New York Times opinion piece.  Judge Baker was a former CIS Robert E Wilhelm fellow.

Fotini Christia

Analysis + Opinion

March 29, 2020

Deal-making during the coronavirus pandemic

It is unclear what a negotiated settlement could look like between the Afghan government and the Taliban given the latter’s clear desire to head the state. Whether the Taliban can commit to power sharing is a highly doubtful proposition as many expect it to get militarily emboldened as soon as the US withdraws and to become the de facto ruling power.

Yemeni soldiers

Analysis + Opinion

March 26, 2020

Yemen's proxy wars explained

Five years of war have accentuated the futility of pure military resolutions to the fighting in Yemen. However, its proxy wars are likely to persist, much for the same reason they have persisted in Syria and Libya; namely, because the potential benefits to intervening states still outweigh the costs that they pay to gain control, maintain the status quo, or simply feed the chaos.   

US Army ready to fight

Analysis + Opinion

March 20, 2020

How coronavirus will affect the US military

Rachel Tecott, Erik SandWashington Post

The coronavirus pandemic will continue to negatively affect US military readiness, leaving the Pentagon to think carefully about how to mitigate the impact on training and overall troop readiness, says Rachel Tecott and Erik Sand in a recent opinion piece originally published in The Washington Post (online).

Greta Thunberg, protesting in Brussels this month

Analysis + Opinion

March 19, 2020

Coronavirus halts street protests, but climate activists have a plan

Shola LawalThe New York Times

The coronavirus outbreak has prompted climate activists to abandon public demonstrations, one of their most powerful tools for raising public awareness, and shift to online protests. 

MIT President Reif

Analysis + Opinion

March 18, 2020

We lead three universities. It’s time for drastic action.

New York Times

“Is all this disruption really necessary? We believe the answer is yes,” MIT President L Rafael Reif and counterparts Lawrence Bacow ’72 of Harvard University and Marc Tessier-Lavigne of Stanford University write in The New York Timeson the “painful steps” needed to address Covid-19. “The time to act is right now.”

Angry President Trump

Analysis + Opinion

March 8, 2020

How Donald Trump should handle China's growing power

Joshua ShifrinsonThe National Interest
President Trump holding up document with signature on Executive Order on Iran sanctions

Analysis + Opinion

March 3, 2020

Courting war

Barry PosenBoston Review

Despite claims to the contrary, the Trump administration wants regime change in Iran and is risking a full-scale war in order to get it.

Illustration of hand putting iron in the ocean

Analysis + Opinion

February 26, 2020

Tweak ocean ecosystems? Maybe not, study says.

Shola LawalThe New York Times

A controversial idea to fight climate change by using iron to manipulate ocean ecosystems probably won’t work, according to a study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

President Donald Trump heads to India on Feb 24-25, making stops in New Delhi as well as Ahmedabad, in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat. This will be Trump's first visit to India as president.

Analysis + Opinion

February 23, 2020

Trump and Modi will meet in India this week; here's what to expect

Christopher ClaryThe Washington Post

President Donald Trump heads to India on Feb 24-25, making stops in New Delhi as well as Ahmedabad, in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat. This will be Trump's first visit to India as president.

Soldiers march in formation past Tiananmen Square on Oct. 1 during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

Analysis + Opinion

February 21, 2020

Mike Pompeo criticized China for not respecting its neighbors’ territorial integrity. What’s the story?

M Taylor Fravel The Washington Post

M Taylor Fravel reflects on how China’s approach to territorial disputes has been quite different from what Pompeo suggests.

Analysis + Opinion

February 7, 2020

Iraqi protesters will likely push forward despite violence

Marsin AlshamaryThe World | PRI

Despite violence, Iraqi protesters have made political gains, the most significant of which is the recognition by all parties that legitimacy can only come from the people.

A swarm of fireflies on Shikoku, in southern Japan.Credit...Kei Nomiyama/Barcroft Media, via Getty Images

Analysis + Opinion

February 3, 2020

Fireflies have a mating problem: The lights are always on

Shola LawalThe New York Times

These are tough times for fireflies. Like a lot of other insects, they face increasing threats from habitat loss, pesticides and pollution. But they also have a problem that’s unique to luminous bugs: It’s getting harder for them to reproduce because light pollution is outshining their mating signals.

The Thwaites glacier, above, helps to keep the much larger West Antarctic Ice Shelf stable.Credit...NASA/OIB/Jeremy Harbeck

Analysis + Opinion

January 29, 2020

Temperatures at a Florida-size glacier in Antarctica alarm scientists

Shola LawalNew York Times

Scientists in Antarctica have recorded, for the first time, unusually warm water beneath a glacier the size of Florida that is already melting and contributing to a rise in sea levels.

Trump shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo courtesy of The White House.

Analysis + Opinion

January 28, 2020

Trump’s peace plan is a paradigm shift

Peter KrausePolitical Violence At A Glance

What’s significant about the deal is that it represents a paradigm shift in US policy, at least under Trump, from one model of conflict resolution to another. This shift is evident in other areas of foreign policy, too, including Trump’s pulloute from the Iran nuclear deal... 

Willoughby image for book publication

Analysis + Opinion

January 26, 2020

Samuels summarizes "Special Duty" in Ambassador Brief

Richard SamuelsAmbassador's Brief

Since Japan‘s intelligence community (IC) had never been the subject of serious study, and since Japanese strategists have begun to focus their attention on intelligence reform, Richard Samuels took the opportunity to produce his new book, Special Duty. He summarizes the key findings in a recent Ambassador's Brief.

Analysis + Opinion

January 13, 2020

Here’s how to regulate artificial intelligence properly

David EdelmanThe Washington Post

If we’re going to govern AI, we need to recognize it for what it is: a tool, with innumerable uses. And that means we need to govern it for the ways people actually use it, and not as a phenomenon in and of itself.