Analysis + Opinion | 2019

A North Korean missile test in an undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency in November 2019 KCNA / Reuters

Analysis + Opinion

December 30, 2019

Is a new nuclear age upon us?

Nicholas L Miller, Vipin NarangForeign Affairs

The year 2019 has been an inflection point for three key features of a new nuclear age: renewed nuclear competition; the emergence of new nuclear powers; and a greater tolerance for escalation among existing nuclear powers. 

Japan Coast Guard PL51 Hida 2

Analysis + Opinion

December 12, 2019

The ever-evolving importance of Japan’s coast guard

Mina PollmannThe Diplomat

Two recent changes highlight the multifaceted role the JCG will continue to play in Japan’s defenses.

People attend a "Fight4Her" pro-choice rally in front of the White House at Lafayette Square in March 2019. A coalition of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, and Population Connection Action Fund gathered to demand the end of the "Global Gag Rule."ASTRID RIECKEN/GETTY IMAGES

Analysis + Opinion

December 10, 2019

End the ‘Global Gag Rule’

Shola LawalThe Boston Globe

Nigeria needs to speak up and rethink its strategies on reproductive rights as a matter of urgency

African migrants walk in the streets of Tapachula, heading to the central park. The arrival of African and other migrants is changing the demographics of this Mexican town. Enncarni Pindado

Analysis + Opinion

December 6, 2019

Exporting the American dream

Shola LawalThe Boston Globe

An increasing number of migrants who’ve been stopped from entering the United States are opting to stay in Mexico, changing the country’s demographics.

 Thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert at Churchill Downs for the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Baffert’s horse McKinzie may run in the debut $20-million Saudi Cup in Riyadh in February. (Gregory Payan / Associated Press )

Analysis + Opinion

November 25, 2019

Opinion: Saudi money in US horse racing is the sport’s next moral jam

John TirmanLos Angeles Times

Saudi money in US horse racing is the sport’s next moral jam, writes John Tirman, the executive director of the MIT Center for International Studies.

A protester waves an Iraqi flag during an anti-government demonstration in Baghdad on Nov. 1, 2019. (Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)

Analysis + Opinion

November 7, 2019

Iraqi protesters demand constitutional change. Can they make it happen?

Marsin Alshamary and Safwan Al-Amin The Washington Post

The bid to rewrite Iraq’s 2005 constitution has been surprisingly accepted and promoted by political elites, some of whom were involved in its original drafting. However, their positions are not as aligned with those of the protesters as they may appear to be.


Analysis + Opinion

October 29, 2019

Baghdadi’s martyrdom bump

Santiago Segarra, Ali Jadbabaie, and Richard NielsenForeign Policy

It is clear that the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will damage the organizational and strategic capacity of the already beleaguered Islamic State. But will it meaningfully undermine the popularity of Baghdadi’s militant ideas?

John Tirman

Analysis + Opinion

October 28, 2019

Tirman featured at “Tyranny Comes Home” symposium

John Tirman10z US Politics

It was recently reported that the United States government is denying passports to citizens who were Hispanic people, who were born or who earned citizenship, and lived near the border with Mexico.

Analysis + Opinion

October 22, 2019

Trump's asylum policy is a death sentence for Africans fleeing violence

Shola LawalThe Boston Globe

While media coverage of the migrant crisis at the border has focused on the thousands of asylum seekers from Central America, little has been reported about the waves of migrants from African countries attempting to cross.


Analysis + Opinion

October 3, 2019

With trophy hunting, wildlife loses

Shola LawalThe Boston Globe

I know at least five Nigerians, including myself, who have had to throw large chunks of beef in the trash as we approached US customs officials. US border policies don't allow the import of meat products from African countries because they may carry diseases. That's fair.

Analysis + Opinion

September 30, 2019

Japan’s whack-a-mole foreign policy

Richard J SamuelsThe Boston Globe

Japanese leaders have recently faced a furious barrage of foreign policy and national security challenges, some of their own making. Each has presented itself as if a game of whack-a-mole—some in which the unhidden and unpredictable hand of President Trump has been prominent.

Hala Aldosari

Analysis + Opinion

September 29, 2019

Its monarchy has left Saudi Arabia fragile and unbalanced

Hala Al Dosari

Jamal Khashoggi and I came from very different backgrounds, and this shaped our views on the politics of our Saudi homeland. There were many issues on which we didn’t agree. But we did share one crucial belief: that untrammeled power is always a danger—and particularly in the case of Saudi Arabia.

Larisa Rudenko

Analysis + Opinion

September 12, 2019

What digital nerds and bio geeks have to worry about


Code is code, but because we're dealing with molecules—and sometimes actual forms of life—the risks can be much greater, explains Larisa Rudenko and her coauthor Bruce Schneier, in a recent CNN opinion piece.

India's nuclear tests in 1998 were celebrated across the country

Analysis + Opinion

August 22, 2019

Why India wants to break its decades-old nuclear pledge

Christopher Clary and Vipin NarangBBC News

Christopher Clary and Vipin Narang examine the implications for peace and security in South Asia after India's defence minister suggested that the country may re-evaluate its "no first use of nuclear weapons" doctrine.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Army Chief Bipin Rawat in Pokhran. (ANI Photo)

Analysis + Opinion

August 18, 2019

‘No first use’ nuke policy isn’t dead, but losing sanctity

Christopher Clary and Vipin NarangHindustan Times

A policy of no first use is, in fact, a promise not to do something in the future: not to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict.

Saudia Arabia guardianship program

Analysis + Opinion

August 14, 2019

Saudi Arabia must dismantle the male guardianship system

Hala Al-DosariThe Washington Post

In a vague statement published recently by a national newspaper in Saudi Arabia, the government announced that it will consider altering its restrictive male guardianship laws for women.

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani

Analysis + Opinion

July 11, 2019

How Donald Trump pushed Iran to the bomb

Jim WalshCNN

Since the day he took office, President Donald Trump has been caught in an Iran trap, or more precisely, two traps. Jim Walsh explains in a recent CNN opinion piece.

President Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Analysis + Opinion

July 3, 2019

China is not an enemy

M Taylor Fravel , J Stapleton Roy , Michael D Swaine , Susan A Thornton and Ezra VogelThe Washington Post

Experts published seven propositions that represent their collective views on China, the problems in the US approach to China and the basic elements of a more effective US policy.

Chinese military

Analysis + Opinion

June 11, 2019

Jaw–Jaw: A look at the PLA's history of planning for war with Taylor Fravel

M Taylor Fravel and Brad CarsonWar on the Rocks

How does China think about the nature of war? How has China’s conception of war changed over time? What are “military guidelines” in Chinese statecraft and what leads the Chinese leadership to develop new ones? These and other questions are discussed in the latest episode of Jaw-Jaw, where Professor Taylor Fravel discusses his recent book Active Defense: China’s Military Strategy Since 1949.

US flag and Japan flag - If the U.S.-Japan military alliance is to be effective in a new era of geopolitics, both sides need to be realistic about the “grand bargain” that underpins it.

Analysis + Opinion

June 7, 2019

Learning to embrace an unequal alliance

Mina Pollmann Tokyo Review

To keep the military alliance between the US and Japan sustainable and effective during the tumult of a global power transition, both sides need to update how they think about the “grand bargain” that underlies it.

An Iranian woman and child walk past a mural in downtown Tehran on April 27, 2016. Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Analysis + Opinion

May 23, 2019

Even conservative Iranians want closer ties to the United States

Fotini Christia, Elizabeth Dekeyser, Dean KnoxForeign Policy

For most in the country, Washington isn’t the archenemy—at least for now.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Aug. 12, 2015.

Analysis + Opinion

May 17, 2019

Time to pull US nuclear weapons out of Turkey

Harvey M SapolskyDefense One

Storing nuclear weapons close to trouble is a bad idea, and giving Ankara a shared finger on the nuclear trigger is rapidly losing its charm.

 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leads the testing of a newly developed tactical weapon, in this undated photo released in November 2018

Analysis + Opinion

May 16, 2019

Why North Korea is testing missiles again

Ankit Panda and Vipin NarangForeign Affairs

After 522 days without a ballistic missile test, North Korea is at it again. On May 4, two months after the failed Hanoi summit, Pyongyang fired a new type of solid-fuel short range ballistic missile and tested two separate multiple rocket launch systems.

Photo Credit: Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo via Washington Examiner

Analysis + Opinion

April 14, 2019

Russia might regret the US drawdown in Syria

Carol R SaivetzLawfare

The Syrian conflict, while hardly over, is diminishing. The Syrian people clearly lost, but who—other than the barbarous Assad regime—won? 

A stairwell at Fatih University in Istanbul on March 7, 2013. (Photo by Monique Jaques/Corbis/Getty Images)

Analysis + Opinion

March 18, 2019

The geography of Gulenism in Turkey

Tugba Bozcaga, Fotini Christia Foreign Policy

Any government would have reason for concern if a group with undemocratic motivations such as the Gulen movement reached enormous capacity in bureaucracy and social services. 

A huge unification flag is seen during the mass games performance of "The Glorious Country" at May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018.

Analysis + Opinion

March 12, 2019

The Hanoi Summit – we asked Se Young Jang what happens next in US-North Korea relations

Se Young JangThe National Interest

Washington and Pyongyang need to promptly resume working-level negotiations and restore trust in each other as negotiating partners.

NATO on Uncle Sam's back

Analysis + Opinion

March 10, 2019

Trump aside, what’s the US role in NATO?

Barry R PosenThe New York Times

President Trump has many bad ideas. Reconsidering America’s role in NATO isn’t one of them.  NATO’s founding mission has been achieved and replaced with unsuccessful misadventures.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump listen to questions from the media during their one-on-one bilateral meeting at the second North Korean-U.S. summit in the Metropole hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 2019.

Analysis + Opinion

March 5, 2019

The Hanoi Summit was doomed from the start

Ankit Panda and Vipin NarangForeign Affairs

It should come as no surprise that the Hanoi summit between the United States and North Korea ended in failure. The two countries’ incompatible demands made reaching a new agreement—not just on North Korea’s nuclear program but on anything—almost impossible.

In this 2015 file photo, students walk on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge. (Michael Dwyer/AP, File)

Analysis + Opinion

March 5, 2019

Woods Hole, MIT targeted by Chinese hackers

Callum Borchers, Paris Alston, Walter WuthmannWBUR

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that MIT and more than two dozen other universities have been targeted by Chinese hackers.  Joel Brenner joins as a guest in the conversation exploring what kind of technology the Chinese government might be interested in, and just how vulnerable these research institutions are to cyber attacks.

U.S. Soldiers from the Fort Hood, Texas-based 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and the Vilseck, Germany-based 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, participate in closing ceremonies for Iron Sword 2014, in Pabrade, Lithuania, Nov. 13, 2014.

Analysis + Opinion

March 1, 2019

It is long past time to stop expanding NATO

Matthew Cancian and Mark CancianWar on the Rocks

NATO should have learned from its 2004 inclusion of the Baltic states, militarily weak and exposed countries whose defense now constitutes a major, expensive, and perhaps unachievable military requirement. Instead, the expansion of membership has continued. Albania and Croatia joined in 2009, Montenegro in 2017. It’s time to stop NATO expansion.

Pakistani protesters shout anti-Indian slogans in Karachi on Feb. 23, a day after Indian authorities arrested dozens of Muslim leaders in raids across Kashmir and sent thousands of reinforcements to the troubled territory. (Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images)

Analysis + Opinion

February 25, 2019

After terrorist attack in Kashmir, will India seek vengeance or de-escalation?

Christopher ClaryThe Washington Post

On February 14, a suicide bomber in Kashmir drove his explosives-filled vehicle into a bus carrying members of India’s paramilitaries, killing over 40 and injuring dozens more. An Islamist terrorist group, Jaish-e-Muhammad—based in Pakistan though nominally banned by the Pakistani government—reportedly took credit for the attack.

Trump and Putin - Game theory? Photographer: Chris McGrath/Getty Images Europe

Analysis + Opinion

February 23, 2019

Winning the nuclear game against Putin’s Russia

Tobin HarshawBloomberg

It’s a question of who would strike whom first, and who would enter the fray.  Interview with Vipin Narang on nuclear games and strategy, and the upcoming second meeting with President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.

  It's like chess, with nuclear weapons.  Photographer: Nicky J. Sims/Getty Images for Kaspersky Lab

Analysis + Opinion

February 16, 2019

Winning the nuclear game against North Korea

Tobin HarshawBloomberg

Vipin Narang thinks many moves ahead in the international chess of modern deterrence. While not a game theorist himself, Vipin Narang’s beautiful mind is pushing forward on how traditional nuclear deterrence strategy can be modernized for the new era of great-power conflict.

Analysis + Opinion

February 13, 2019

US–South Korea military negotiations could cost the alliance

Se Young JangEast Asia Forum

Inter-Korean rapprochement, ushered in by the series of North–South summits and working-level meetings that took place in 2018, is changing the security environment on the Korean Peninsula. While reconciliation between North and South Korea develops, the latter’s relationship with the United States is running into difficulty. Seoul and Washington failed to renegotiate a defence cost-sharing agreement in 2018, which then expired on 31 December.

 China’s President Xi Jinping (back L) and US President Donald Trump (back 2nd L) attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017.  AFP/Getty Images

Analysis + Opinion

February 12, 2019

US-China relationship guidelines

Asia SocietyAsia Society

A new report published by Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relations and UC San Diego’s 21st Century China Center offers recommendations for American policymakers. Among its authors is Taylor Fravel.

China US cold war

Analysis + Opinion

February 8, 2019

The 'new Cold War' with China is way overblown. Here's why.

Joshua ShifrinsonWashington Post

Is a new Cold War looming—or already present—between the United States and China? Many analysts argue that a combination of geopolitics, ideology and competing visions of "global order" are driving the two countries toward emulating the Soviet-US rivalry that dominated world politics from 1947 through 1990.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Analysis + Opinion

February 6, 2019

North Korea and America’s second summit

Vipin NarangThe National Interest

There are several possible outcomes I think from the summit if and when it happens.


Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the militant Shiite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Baghdad on Jan. 28, 2019. (Khalid Mohammed/AP)

Analysis + Opinion

February 4, 2019

The role of Iraq’s influential Shiite clerics is changing. Here’s how.

Marsin AlshamaryThe Washington Post

In a recent interview, an influential Iraqi Shiite cleric and militia leader warned the United States to withdraw its troops from Iraq. The leader, Qais al-Khazali, represents a class of politician preachers who have come to dominate the political scene in post-2003 Iraq. The ascendancy of these clerics raises questions about the role of the Shiite religious establishment in contemporary Iraqi politics.

Thousands protest in Belgrade on December 22, 2018. (Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images)

Analysis + Opinion

February 1, 2019

Serbian journalists are under attack. Does the international community care?

Una Hajdari The New Republic

Supported by the US and EU, praised at Davos: President Aleksandar Vucic is on a roll. No one seems to want to contemplate the appalling assaults on press freedoms.

Joshua Shifrinson

Analysis + Opinion

January 29, 2019

Great power competition

Joshua Shifrinson, Emma Ashford, and A. Trevor ThrallCato Institute

Joshua Shifrinson, author of Rising Titans, Falling Giants, discusses foreign policy trends on a Cato Institute podcast.

U.S. military vehicles in Syria’s northern city of Manbij on Dec. 30. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

Analysis + Opinion

January 24, 2019

Trump wants a safe zone in Syria. Is that even possible?

Sara PlanaThe Washington Post

A Jan 13 tweet by President Trump revived the idea of imposing a safe zone--an area meant to protect civilians and minimize refugee burdens within a war zone--in Syria. Syria today looks very different from 2016, the last time there were serious public calls for a safe zone, says Sara Plana in a Washington Post oped.

 Governments have never fully loosened their grip on the flow of data. Image: REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis - GF20000075156

Analysis + Opinion

January 16, 2019

National borders don't stop in the physical world – they're in cyberspace too

Meicen SunWorld Economic Forum

State sovereignty rages on with each vehicle returned and each visa revoked. But in case you thought the divisions were just physical, virtual borders have also been subtly dividing the world, writes Meicen Sun in an article for the World Economic Forum

KCNA via REUTERS A ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army is seen at an unknown location, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang, March 2016.

Analysis + Opinion

January 11, 2019

The year of living dangerously with nuclear weapons

Nicholas L Miller and Vipin NarangForeign Affairs

If the Trump administration’s foreign policy continues on its current trajectory, there is a significant chance that the United States could find itself in not one but three nuclear crises in the next 12 months.

Figure 1. An SSBN returns home from patrol.  The ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana travels in Hood Canal, Washington, May 3, 2018 as it returns to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor following a strategic deterrent patrol. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Michael Smith. Image courtesy of US Defense Department

Analysis + Opinion

January 7, 2019

Are ballistic missile submarines still the best deterrent for the United States?

Owen R. Cote Jr.Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The service lives of the US Navy’s 14 Ohio-class nuclear-powered, ballistic nuclear missile submarines (SSBNs)…are coming to an end while their replacements, the new Columbia-class subs, undergo research and development. 

Vipin Narang

Analysis + Opinion

January 1, 2019

India’s counterforce temptations: strategic dilemmas, doctrine, and capabilities

Christopher Clary and Vipin NarangInternational Security

Is India shifting to a nuclear counterforce strategy? The conventional wisdom is that India only reluctantly acquired nuclear weapons and has been a restrained nuclear weapons power that adheres to a no-first-use (NFU) policy and rejects the possibility of nuclear warfghting.