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The Transformation of Diplomacy

The Transformation of Diplomacy

We joined the U.S. Foreign Service nearly 40 years ago in the same entering class, but we took very different paths to get there. One of us grew up amid hardship and segregation in the Deep South, the first in her family to graduate from high school, a Black woman joining a profession that was still very male and very pale. The other was the product of an itinerant military childhood that took his family from one end of the United States to the other, with a dozen moves and three high schools by the time he was 17. There were 32 of us in the Foreign Service’s class of January 1982. It was...

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William J. Burns and Linda Thomas-Greenfield
3d ago
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The Transformation of Diplomacy

The Transformation of Diplomacy

We joined the U.S. Foreign Service nearly 40 years ago in the same entering class, but we took very different paths to get there. One of us grew up amid hardship and segregation in the Deep South, the first in her family to graduate from high school, a Black woman joining a profession that was still very male and very pale. The other was the product of an itinerant military childhood that took his family from one end of the United States to the other, with a dozen moves and three high schools by the time he was 17. There were 32 of us in the Foreign Service’s class of January 1982. It was...

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William J. Burns and Linda Thomas-Greenfield
3d ago
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The Endless Fantasy of American Power

The Endless Fantasy of American Power

In this year’s presidential election campaign, candidates have largely sidestepped the role of armed force as an instrument of U.S. policy. The United States remains the world’s preeminent and most active military power, but Republicans and Democrats find other things to talk about.Ever since the end of the Cold War, successive administrations have enthusiastically put U.S. military might to work. In the last three decades, the flag of the United States Army has accumulated —each for a discrete campaign conducted by U.S. troops. The air force and navy have also done their share, conducting...

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Andrew Bacevich
Sep 18
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One Virus, Two Americas

One Virus, Two Americas

The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every nation in the world, with results as variable as each government’s response. While some countries rapidly harnessed the powers of science and good governance to contain the virus, others shunned the advice of health experts and failed to slow the spread of the disease. Eight months into the pandemic, the United States finds itself in the latter category, leading the world in COVID-19 deaths, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of population. But if the U.S. response deserves to be called a failure at the national level, the picture...

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Ashish Jha
3d ago
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How to Do More With Less in the Middle East

How to Do More With Less in the Middle East

It has been clear for some time that the United States should do less in the Middle East, despite the attendant risks and costs—a case that we made in these pages last year (“,” January/February 2019). At the time, some this argument; others at it. Yet the dramatic developments of recent months have underscored the need for the United States to focus less on the region, highlighting both the opportunity costs of remaining entangled and the unique dangers of President Donald Trump’s approach.Even before the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent collapse in oil prices...

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Mara Karlin and Tamara Cofman Wittes
Sep 15
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The Death Penalty Isolates America

The Death Penalty Isolates America

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Daniel Baer
Sep 16
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The Coming Tech Cold War With China

The Coming Tech Cold War With China

Three and a half years into its first term, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has finally assembled a comprehensive strategy for technological competition with China. From cutting chains that supply Chinese tech giants to barring transactions with them to regulating the undersea cables on which telecommunications depend, the Trump administration’s measures have often been incomplete, improvisational, and even detrimental to some of the great strengths of the American innovation system. They have, however, set the outlines of U.S. technology policy toward China for the near...

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Adam Segal
Sep 9
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The Climate Case Against Decoupling

The Climate Case Against Decoupling

The past few years have seen a heated debate among U.S. politicians and analysts about whether the United States should “decouple” from China by severing the supply chains, trade relationships, and financial links that bind together the world’s two largest economies, transforming a one-world economy into two separate spheres of influence. Among American officials and scholars, the debate mostly centers on whether the of decoupling would offset its . That framing, however, ignores what should be a major factor in determining the best course of action—a factor that tips the balance against...

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Jeff D. Colgan
Sep 14
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America’s Exceptional Housing Crisis

America’s Exceptional Housing Crisis

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Sam Winter-Levy and Bryan Schonfeld
Sep 14
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The Kremlin’s Plot Against Democracy

The Kremlin’s Plot Against Democracy

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Alina Polyakova
Aug 11
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American Support for Taiwan Must Be Unambiguous

American Support for Taiwan Must Be Unambiguous

For four decades, successive Republican and Democratic administrations resisted answering the question of whether the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense if China mounted an armed attack. Washington’s deliberate ambiguity on the matter helped dissuade China from attempting to “reunify” Taiwan with the mainland, as it could not be sure that the United States would remain on the sidelines. At the same time, the policy discouraged Taiwan from declaring independence—a step that would have precipitated a cross-strait crisis—because its leaders could not be sure of unequivocal U.S....

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Richard Haass and David Sacks
Sep 2
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The Only Way Out of the Middle East Is Through It

The Only Way Out of the Middle East Is Through It

The United States has long made containing Iran a focus of its efforts in the Middle East, from troop deployments to diplomatic dealmaking. But so far, containment has largely failed. Since 2018, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal and exerted maximum pressure on Iran, even moving an additional into the Middle East. The Iranian threat has only grown. Iran has expanded its nuclear and missile programs and its investment in proxy forces, sophisticated drones, and cyber-capabilities. Critics of the Iran nuclear deal claim that the...

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Carlos Barria / Reuters
Aug 26
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Lessons From Three Years in an Iranian Prison

Lessons From Three Years in an Iranian Prison

In August 2016, shortly after I was arrested by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, one of my interrogators asked me what I thought of the antagonism between Iran and the United States. I told him frankly that like many Americans, I did not believe that Iran and the United States should be enemies. I said that I thought President Barack Obama should visit Tehran and turn a new page in the relationship, just as President Richard Nixon had done by going to Beijing in 1972. The interrogator sneered. The U.S. president would never be welcome in his country, he told me.  My view of the...

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Wang Xiyue
Sep 3
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The Revolutionary Guards Are Poised to Take Over Iran

The Revolutionary Guards Are Poised to Take Over Iran

A new saying is making the rounds in Iran: power is being sucked away from heads to toes, which is to say, from men who wear turbans to men who wear boots. Iran’s new parliament furnishes the most recent evidence. Its speaker, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, is a former brigadier general of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. of the parliament’s presiding board are either former members or still affiliated with the IRGC and its auxiliary organizations. Many in Iran and in the United States have long foreseen an IRGC takeover of the Iranian government; the next step toward that outcome would be...

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Ali Reza Eshraghi and Amir Hossein Mahdavi
Aug 27
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Europe’s Geopolitical Awakening

Europe’s Geopolitical Awakening

Europe has been a geopolitical nonentity since the 1990s. With the largest economy in the world, 450 million people, and defense spending comparable to Russia’s, the continent could be a colossus. Yet Europe has never come close to equaling the combined clout of its constituent countries. Beset by chronic economic, political, and institutional limitations and crises, the European Union has for the last three decades exerted remarkably little influence on global affairs. Europe’s most powerful member states, meanwhile, have either seen their sway diminish, as France has, or, like Germany,...

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Max Bergmann
Aug 20
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The Pandemic Hurts Countries That Don’t Value Workers

The Pandemic Hurts Countries That Don’t Value Workers

In recent years, academics and policymakers in the United States have struggled with an economic mystery. Why, even as the U.S. economy has grown in the past few decades, have wages remained relatively stagnant? Many scholars have landed on one reason in particular: the decline in the of U.S. workers due to shrinking union membership and the rise of subcontracting. Workers have benefited less from economic growth as their ability to bargain for higher wages has withered. Instead, major gains have gone to investors and managers, and inequality in the United States has soared.  Other...

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Andrew Kelly / Reuters
Aug 19
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Present at the Disruption

Present at the Disruption

Present at the Creation is an 800-page memoir written by Dean Acheson, U.S. President Harry Truman’s secretary of state. The title, with its biblical echo, was immodest, but in Acheson’s defense, it was deserved.Working from planning begun under President Franklin Roosevelt, Truman and his senior advisers built nothing less than a new international order in the wake of World War II. The United States adopted the doctrine of , which would guide U.S. foreign policy for four decades in its Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union. It transformed Germany and Japan into democracies and built a...

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The Project Twins
Aug 11
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Xi Jinping Is Not Stalin

Xi Jinping Is Not Stalin

In a series of speeches this summer, senior officials in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump have cast the United States and China as antagonists in a new Cold War. Speaking to the Arizona Commerce Authority in June, U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien Chinese President Xi Jinping directly to the Soviet dictator in power when the actual Cold War began: “Let us be clear, the Chinese Communist Party is a Marxist-Leninist organization. The Party General Secretary Xi Jinping sees himself as Josef Stalin’s successor.”A month later in California, U.S. Secretary of State...

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Thomas Peter / Reuters
Aug 10
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The U.S. Has AI Competition All Wrong

The U.S. Has AI Competition All Wrong

The development of artificial intelligence was once a largely technical issue, confined to the halls of academia and the labs of the private sector. Today, it is an arena of geopolitical competition. The United States and China each invest billions every year in growing their AI industries, increasing the autonomy and power of futuristic weapons systems, and pushing the frontiers of possibility. Fears of an AI arms race between the two countries abound—and although the rhetoric often outpaces the technological reality, rising political tensions mean that both countries increasingly view AI...

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Bart van Overbeeke / ASML / Reuters
Aug 7
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The Fragile Republic

The Fragile Republic

When the U.S. president used his power to target immigrants, the press, and his political opponents, the sheer overreach of his actions shocked many citizens. Tensions among the country’s political leaders had been escalating for years. Embroiled in one intense conflict after another, both sides had grown increasingly distrustful of each other. Every action by one camp provoked a greater counterreaction from the other, sometimes straining the limits of the Constitution. Fights and mob violence often followed.Leaders of the dominant party grew convinced that their only hope for fixing the...

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Library of Congress
Aug 7
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A Council of Democracies Can Save Multilateralism

A Council of Democracies Can Save Multilateralism

Registration on ForeignAffairs.com is free and unlocks articles, special offers, and our weekly newsletter.Among the most glaring failures of the COVID-19 era has been thenear total absence of effective international coordination to fight the novel coronavirus. The UN Security Council has been unable to muster anything beyond symbolic action, the World Health Organization has lost the support of the United States, and the G-20 has limited its economic response to temporarily suspending poor countries’ debt repayment obligations. But even before the coronavirus pandemic, the multilateral...

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Jeff J Mitchell / Pool / REUTERS
Aug 3
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How Satellites Can Save Arms Control

How Satellites Can Save Arms Control

Registration on ForeignAffairs.com is free and unlocks articles, special offers, and our weekly newsletter.During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union spent decades negotiating over how to control the competition in nuclear arms. The resulting agreements kept the peace by limiting the number and type of nuclear weapons each side deployed and by establishing norms and practices of transparency that increased confidence that the other side was adhering to its promises. Today, however, the arms control regime is crumbling, and with it the remaining barriers to .One reason for this...

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Joe Skipper / Reuters
Aug 5
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Beware the Guns of August—in Asia

Beware the Guns of August—in Asia

Registration on ForeignAffairs.com is free and unlocks articles, special offers, and our weekly newsletter.Loading...In-depth analysis delivered weeklySign UpThis site uses cookies to improve your user experience.  to learn more.

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Li Gang Xinhua / eyevine / Redux
Aug 3
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Hollywood Is Running Out of Villains

Hollywood Is Running Out of Villains

Registration on ForeignAffairs.com is free and unlocks articles, special offers, and our weekly newsletter.Todaof Extinction “a splendidly patriotic film, if you happen to be Chinese.”Aand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping on Chinese social media.The mosabout distributing its movies in the Soviet Union. The same isn’t true of China today.The promise of content that might displease their benefactors.Hollywood never cared much about distributing its movies in the Soviet Union. The same isn’t true of China today.B come to those who provoke certain foreign leaders or regimes.R might...

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Tyrone Siu / Reuters
Aug 4
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To Protect and to Serve

To Protect and to Serve

Create a Foreign Affairs account now to get 1 free article a month, weekly editors' picks, & special offers straight to you.Public outcry over the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd earlier this year has ignited mass demonstrations against structural racism and police violence in the United States. The protests have reached every American state and spread to countries around the world; they arguably constitute the most broad-based civil rights movement in American history. Protests against the brutalization of communities of color by the U.S. criminal justice system...

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Mark Peterson / Redux
Jul 30
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