Analysis + Opinion | 2017

A North Korean military training exercise in August.

Analysis + Opinion

December 6, 2017

The price of war with North Korea

Barry PosenNew York Times

The complexity, risks and costs of a military strike against North Korea are too high. A combination of diplomacy and deterrence…is a wise alternative, says Barry Posen.

Manual workers should be respected and cherished, not repaid with arrogance, discrimination and humiliation. Illustration: Craig Stephens

Analysis + Opinion

November 29, 2017

Beijing’s cruel eviction of its migrant workers

Audrey Jiajia LiSouth China Morning Post

As a society urbanises, its “hardware” and “software” should both improve. Manual workers should be respected and cherished, not repaid with arrogance, discrimination and humiliation. 

Jalen Hill reads his statement during a news conference at UCLA on Nov. 15 in Los Angeles. Three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China admitted to the crime and apologized before coach Steve Alford announced they were being suspended indefinitely.

Analysis + Opinion

November 22, 2017

Trump intervened with Xi on UCLA players. But what about human rights activists?

Audrey Jiajia LiBoston Globe

Some may argue that in the “America First” era, the president understandably pays far less attention to the fate of foreign human rights activists than that of US citizens. 

Analysis + Opinion

November 20, 2017

Nuclear stability, conventional instability: North Korea and the lessons from Pakistan

Ankit Panda and Vipin NarangWar on the Rocks

This is the twelfth installment of “Southern (Dis)Comfort,” a new series from War on the Rocks and the Stimson Center. The series seeks to unpack the dynamics of intensifying competition — military, economic, diplomatic — in Southern Asia, principally between China, India, Pakistan, and the United States.

Grace Mugabe at a church interface rally in Harare, November 2017.

Analysis + Opinion

November 17, 2017

Why Zimbabwe's military abandoned Mugabe

Philip MartinForeign Affairs

Zimbabwe’s recent military putsch is all the more remarkable. For the first time in the country’s 37 years of independence, the military has intervened directly in domestic politics against the wishes of the civilian head of state.

Hotel attendants for delegates pose in Tiananmen Square as the 19th party congress closed on October 24. Photo: Simon Song

Analysis + Opinion

November 11, 2017

China, a model for gender equality? The reality would say otherwise

Audrey Jiajia LiSouth China Morning Post

The glaring absence of women in top national decision-making bodies, and a culture where sexism and misogyny still thrive, mean female empowerment in China still has a long way to go.

Donald Trump talked to China's President Xi Jinping as Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived for a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 9.

Analysis + Opinion

November 9, 2017

Trump and Xi forge a friendship with a frightening edge

Audrey Jiajia LiBoston Globe

Despite his China-bashing campaign rhetoric, President Trump is enjoying the warmest reception of his overseas trips — since his inauguration — in Beijing.


Analysis + Opinion

November 1, 2017

What next for Kurdistan?

Aswo Safari and John TirmanThe Huffington Post

The central government of Baghdad all along was threatening the Kurdistan regional government, as did Turkey, Syria, and in particularly Iran.

Ai Weiwei's guilded cage

Analysis + Opinion

October 26, 2017

Ai Weiwei: The enemy of walls

Audrey Jiajia LiThe Boston Globe

Ai Weiwei is not an enemy of the state. He is an enemy of walls, physical or virtual, no matter who builds them, Trump or Xi Jinping.

Analysis + Opinion

October 25, 2017

What political science tells us about the risk of civil war in Spain

Sara PlanaWar on the Rocks

Spanish stability may well turn on what happens near the regional parliament building in Barcelona’s Barri Gotic—in the shadow of Roman and medieval relics — as Catalan citizens prepare to form human shields to literally block Spanish direct rule.

Analysis + Opinion

October 16, 2017

Deadly Overconfidence: Trump thinks missile defenses work against North Korea, and that should scare you

Ankit Panda and Vipin NarangWar on the Rocks

Could a president’s overconfidence in U.S. defensive systems lead to deadly miscalculation and nuclear armageddon? Yes. Yes, it could. If Trump believes — or is being told — that American missile defenses are that accurate, not only is he factually wrong, he is also very dangerously wrong.

Saudi election officials sit at a polling station in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Dec. 12, 2015. (Dina Fouad/AFP/Getty Images)

Analysis + Opinion

October 10, 2017

Women will soon be issuing fatwas in Saudi Arabia. This isn't as groundbreaking as you'd think.

Richard A. NielsenThe Washington Post

Within days of the reversal of Saudi Arabia’s infamous driving ban for women, the Saudi government announced that women will be authorized as muftis to give state-sanctioned Islamic legal rulings. Yet those hoping that this move extends women’s rights in the kingdom will probably be disappointed.

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke Tuesday during the 86th Interpol General Assembly in Beijing.

Analysis + Opinion

September 26, 2017

China’s delicate dance with ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘dotard’

Audrey Jiajia LiBoston Globe

Mao Zedong succeeded in joining the nuclear club, and no external force in the world could undermine his grip on power after that. 

Analysis + Opinion

September 15, 2017

Command and control in North Korea: What a nuclear launch might look like

Vipin Narang and Ankit PandaWar on the Rocks

A new nuclear state, in a major crisis with a conventionally superior nuclear-armed adversary, contemplates and prepares to move nuclear assets in the event it has to use them. Who controls the nuclear forces?

If Kim Jong Un feels threatened, he may believe he has no other choice. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Analysis + Opinion

September 8, 2017

Why Kim Jong Un wouldn’t be irrational to use a nuclear bomb first

Vipin NarangThe Washington Post

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is advancing quickly. Soon Kim Jong Un will be able to deliver it to our shores, if he cannot do so already.

Analysis + Opinion

September 4, 2017

Welcome to the H-Bomb Club, North Korea

Ankit Panda and Vipin NarangWar on the Rocks

After months of anticipation, it finally happened. On Sunday morning, September 3, at precisely noon local time, North Korea detonated its sixth nuclear device ever to test a presumably new thermonuclear bomb design.

Analysis + Opinion

September 1, 2017

Why India did not ‘win’ the standoff with China

M. Taylor FravelWar on the Rocks

The end of a standoff between India and China over a remote road on the Doklam plateau has prompted a vibrant discussion about the lessons learned. The emerging consensus is that India “won” and China “lost.”

North Korea

Analysis + Opinion

August 23, 2017

Should you be worried about North Korea?

Jim WalshAl Jazeera

To no one's surprise, I can't "save us", but I can give you a sense of where things stand, where they might be going, and a few things we might want to do, writes Jim Walsh in a recent opinion piece.


Analysis + Opinion

August 18, 2017

Revisit NIH biosafety guidelines

Kenneth OyeScience

The NIH recently marked the 40th anniversary of its Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules.The meeting was an inspiring start for charting future oversight of nonclinical applications.

US and Afghanistan flags

Analysis + Opinion

August 18, 2017

It's time to make Afghanistan someone else's problem

Barry PosenThe Atlantic a good place to create problems for America’s adversaries. And the best way to do that is to get out, says Barry Posen.

North Korea military

Analysis + Opinion

August 10, 2017

North Korea, Trump, and strategic stability

Vipin Narang and Ankit PandaWar on the Rocks

Words matter, especially when nuclear weapons use is on the line. In a matter of 30 seconds on a Tuesday afternoon, Trump negotiated himself into a disastrous strategic corner.


US soldier

Analysis + Opinion

August 5, 2017

The US will keep losing wars until it decides what it stands for

Harvey SapolskyNational Interest

Despite the promises, the panels and the pronouncements, a grand strategy for the United States, on par with the Cold War’s containment and Germany’s unconditional surrender during World War II, remains elusive.

Analysis + Opinion

July 18, 2017

Danger at Dolam

M. Taylor FravelThe Indian Express

Current India-China standoff bears a resemblance to the dispute that sparked the 1962 war. But let’s not stretch the analogy.

Prime Minister Abe

Analysis + Opinion

July 14, 2017

Will Tokyo’s arms exports help or hurt US interests in Asia?

Eric Heginbotham and Richard Samuels The Cipher Brief

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s current political problems obscure the striking speed with which he successfully tackled thorny and long-standing security policy problems, including the lifting of the country’s arms export ban.


North Korea missile

Analysis + Opinion

July 6, 2017

North Korea's ICBM: A new missile and a new era

Ankit Panda and Vipin NarangWar on the Rocks

So what? North Korea was nuclear before, it is nuclear after. What’s the big deal? Vipin Narang and Ankit Panda explain in War on the Rocks.

North Korea missile

Analysis + Opinion

June 21, 2017

North Korea won't be solved without South Korea

Jim WalshFox News

Any military action on the Korean peninsula would, by necessity, require South Korean consent if not commitment. If war breaks out, it will be Seoul, not San Francisco, that will carry the brunt of the fighting.


Analysis + Opinion

May 30, 2017

Some of the top political science journals are biased against women. Here’s the evidence.

Dawn Langan Teele and Kathleen ThelenThe Washington Post

For our study in PS, we collected information on all articles published by 10 top journals over the past 15 years. The data shows that they publish a lower proportion of articles written by women than there are women in the discipline as a whole.

A Turkish electoral official shows a “Yes” vote as ballots are counted in the referendum on expanding the powers of the president on April 16, 2017 in Istanbul. (Ozan Kose/Agence-France Presse via Getty Images)

Analysis + Opinion

May 6, 2017

Turkish referendum rallies in Europe made headlines. Did they affect election results?

Tugba Bozcaga and Fotini ChristiaThe Washington Post

Turkey’s recent referendum, which ended its parliamentary system by transferring all executive powers to the president, has been a source of contention within its borders, as well as outside them.

North Korean soldiers walk in front of bronze statues of North Korea's late founder Kim Il-sung and late leader Kim Jong-il at Mansudae in Pyongyang

Analysis + Opinion

April 26, 2017

Is war coming to North Korea?

Jim WalshAljazeera

Could war really break out on the Korean Peninsula? Could a conventional war lead to the first use of nuclear weapons since 1945? Is this actually for real? Jim Walsh addresses the good and bad news in a recent opinion piece.

Joel Brenner

Analysis + Opinion

March 23, 2017

Protecting America from cyber attacks

Joel Brenner

Joel Brenner, a senior research fellow at CIS, gave a presentation on protecting America’s critical infrastructure from cyber attacks to InfraGard, a partnership between the FBI and the private sector dedicated to sharing information to prevent hostile attacks against the United States.

A peshmerga solider training near Erbil, Iraq

Analysis + Opinion

March 16, 2017

Syria Showdown: will Trump be pressured into putting Turkey first, America second?

Barry R. PosenThe National Interest

Turkey may retaliate against the United States if its desire to recapture Raqqa is denied, writes Barry Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the MIT Security Studies Program.

Kim Jong Un

Analysis + Opinion

March 12, 2017

Is it time for our dealmaker in chief to talk with North Korea?

Jim Walsh Fox News Opinion

North Korea’s recent missile tests will put new pressure on the Trump administration to choose a strategy for dealing with this pesky proliferator.

US-Japan Flags

Analysis + Opinion

March 9, 2017

US-Japan relationship: past, present, and future

Richard Samuels

Richard Samuels spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the past, present, and future of the US-Japan relationship. Samuels has written widely on Tokyo’s grand strategy, on the events of 3/11 in Fukushima, and is now working on a book on the Japanese intelligence community. Read transcript

military tank burning money

Analysis + Opinion

March 6, 2017

Trump’s military budget minus a plan

Caitlin TalmadgeThe New York Times

President Trump called to revitalize the United States military, with a 10 percent increase in the defense budget. Such proposals make for a snappy sound bite, yet in the absence of a coherent national strategy, arbitrary increases in the defense budget will do little to make America safer, and could make the world more dangerous.

Protesters at airport

Analysis + Opinion

February 5, 2017

Making sense of Trump’s travel ban

Harvey M. SapolskyE-International Relations

The dangerous part stems from the belief that President Trump’s ban, temporary or not, blocked or not on legal grounds, will become a recruiting incentive for terrorists.

A Japanese F-15 fighter jet (Courtesy of Japan's Self-Defense Forces)

Analysis + Opinion

January 26, 2017

Smartening up Japan's defenses

Eric Heginbotham and Richard J. SamuelsNikkei Asian Review

Targeted spending increases needed to buttress deterrence as threats rise. The balance of power in Asia is shifting rapidly, with important consequences for Japanese security and the U.S.-Japan alliance. The People's Liberation Army has become a formidable military force capable of challenging U.S. power at an increasing distance from the Asian continent.

The first of 100 Airbus planes arrived in Iran last week after its historic nuclear deal ended some sanctions.

Analysis + Opinion

January 14, 2017

Guess who we don’t talk about these days? Iran

Thomas R. Pickering and Jim WalshThe Charlotte Observer

Have you noticed? The nuclear agreement with Iran is no longer in the headlines. Not long ago, Iran’s nuclear program was the central issue in U.S. foreign policy.