Trump has appeared to switch positions on North Korea, Russia, NATO, the Iran treaty, NAFTA, the climate change accord, Syria and dealing with dictators. Former Bush White House official and Deputy Secretary of State contender, Elliott Abrams, tells Jim Zirin that unpredictability in foreign policy is no vice, but inconsistency is no virtue.
Even before the election, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass, in a provocative new bestselling book, saw an unstable world in disarray. He tells Jim that since November 8, Trump’s unpredictable approach suggesting a trade war with China, a hard line on immigration, tilting towards Putin in a dramatic revision of long standing U.S. foreign policies may have indeed made matters worse.
Trump said he wants to ramp up our nuclear arsenal as he bids for a better relationship with Putin. Meanwhile, North Korea says its ICBM launch has reached the final stage. Council on Foreign Relations nuclear policy expert Rebecca Lissner tells that we urgently need a “grand strategy” to deal with an alarming threat.
Obama thought he would “reset” relations with the Russians; yet they deteriorated to the lowest level since the Cold War. Can the U.S. salvage the relationship? Is the election hack an insuperable barrier? Tom Graham of Kissinger Associates, former Senior Director for Russia on the National Security Council of President George W. Bush, who may well be Trump’s choice as ambassador to Russia, tells Jim that our way forward with Putin should be a multi-pronged approach.
When Ban Ki-moon leaves office on December 31, he will have been the longest-serving Secretary General of the UN in the peacekeeping organization’s 71 year history. He tells Jim of his notable achievements during his decade-long run, such as reducing global warming and improving the plight of abused women and girls, reflects on the world leader’s he has known, and talks of his future in public life, perhaps even a run for President of Korea.
During the campaign, President-elect Trump evoked a seething anger among working class Americans, claiming that China had stolen American jobs, and had cheated on trade in the global economy. His answer, which would surely invite retaliation, was to impose a 45% tariff on China-made goods imported into the United States, . Former Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth Robert Hormats tells Jim that our economic relations are so intertwined that a China trade war would be only counter-productive.
North Korea armed to the teeth, and brandishing long range missiles with nuclear warheads, a delicate Iran peace treaty, and a humanitarian disaster in Syria, major global challenges face the new administration. Veteran diplomat Frank Wisner goes round the world with Jim, and argues that we must start on our own doorstep, and speak as one people, before we can be an influential world leader.
A possible wall on our border with Mexico, the future of NAFTA in question, a peace treaty with the rebels (later overturned by the voters) for which Colombia’s President Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize, an impeachment in Brazil, Argentina again open for business, and Venezuela in turmoil, Latin America continues to mystify us. Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Shannon O’Neil takes the long view, and tells Jim that political upheaval aside, there is great cause for optimism in the hemisphere.
With Iran fighting ISIS on our side in Iraq and Syria, and a nuclear deal concluded, traditional allies in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia and Israel are worried whether there has been a tectonic shift in U.S. attitudes toward Iran. Vali Nasr, Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, tells Jim there is much work to be done to build trust, and engage Iran in new security arrangements designed to achieve stability in a war-torn, region.
With the shocking revelations of the “Panama Papers,” we have seen an apparently corrupt Prime Minister resign in Iceland, corrupt governments weakened in Brazil and Argentina, and anti-corruption candidates winning out
in India and Indonesia. Veteran risk analyst Michael Moran tells Jim of heightened political risk arising out of a new tendency towards zero tolerance for corruption everywhere in the world.
An unraveling Middle East, a seemingly out-of control North Korea, an increasingly assertive China, a stalled Asia trade agreement, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass tours the globe to review the challenges confronting the next President, and tells Jim he sees a “world in disarray.”
For most of the past 15 years, veteran diplomat Frank Wisner has been part of a secret back channel, negotiating the Iran nuclear deal on a second tier with high-level Iranians, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. He tells Jim why the deal, despite imperfections, is in the national interest.
Jim Lindsay focuses on the relationship between foreign policy and domestic political considerations at the Council on Foreign Relations. He surveys the candidates, considers the domestic political fall-out from Obama’s Iran deal and the failed policies in Syria, and tells Jim it is early days to predict whether these factors will affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
A country divided for 75 years, Korea has been called the “last outpost of the Cold War.” Its President, Park Geun-hye, has made reunification a priority before she leaves office in 2018. Air Force Colonel Clint Hinote, Commander of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, tells Jim that if reunification is to be accomplished, it must happen soon.
We live in a chaotic world. Will Europe implode? Will ISIS proliferate its venomous brand to North Africa, Yemen or Bahrain? Will there be, as Leon Panetta has suggested, a terrorist attack on the United States? Is our government dysfunctional, particularly our foreign policy? Risk analyst Michael Moran gives Jim his assessment of what’s in store in 2015.
The world seems plagued by instability, and American foreign policy doesn’t seem to know how to deal with it. Obama failed to show up in Paris. Europe is besieged with rising nationalism and anti-Semitism. The Middle East is chaotic. Russia continues its moves on Ukraine. Nuclear talks with Iran face domestic opposition in both countries. China’s leader is ruthless as he cracks down on dissidents.Foreign Affairs Editor Emeritus Jim Hoge tells Jim we are hanging in there, but our grip is loosening.
A huge oil shock, the ruble in free fall, horror in Pakistan, the failure to reach agreement with Iran on nuclear weapons,and a cyber attack from North Korea all make for an earthshaking disorder. In a sobering interview, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass tells Jim that he forecasts 30 years of continuing global unrest.
Since World War Two, Japan has relied almost exclusively on the United States for its security framework to counteract China’s attempt at hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. Today, right wing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes mutual security arrangements with India, Australia and Indonesia as he refuses to acknowledge the horror of Japan’s militaristic past. Sheila Smith tells Jim that the US must craft a new policy to manage the Japan relationship.
Beheadings and air strikes in Syria, a 50-day war in Gaza with a debatable outcome, a continuing armed conflict with Islamic militants, we all wonder where American interests are headed in the Middle East. Former Bush Administration adviser and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Elliott Abrams tells Jim he sees little change ahead as events unfold.
In 1941 Cairo was a boiling cauldron with Nazi spies, agitators, Muslim Brothers, refugee Jews, Brits and Americans all swimming around in a stew of intrigue. Egyptian expat, Juliana Maio tells Jim about her bestselling novel “City of the Sun” and what her research informs us about today’s Egypt.
The “Arab Spring” began in December 2010 with the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor, who felt humiliated by the arbitrary conduct of local officials. The act touched off uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria, which transformed the political landscape of the Mid-East. Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman surveys the landscape and tells Jim how things stack up in those countries three years later.
Obama said he wanted to “pivot” US foreign policy toward Asia, implying that we would have a lighter footprint in the Mid-East and give up one interest for another. Vali Nasr, Dean of the Nitze School at Johns Hopkins and author of the best-selling book The Dispensable Nation tells Jim that we cannot turn our backs on the region and hope to exert any influence on China, Korea or Japan.
Was it in US interests to make an interim deal with Iran even if they didn’t totally agree to stop enriching? Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Les Gelb tells Jim that any slowdown in Iran’s nuclear program is meaningful, and what we are giving them in return in relaxation of sanctions costs us very little.
As we embark on our first bilateral negotiations with Iran in 35 years, the question arises whether Tehran is sincere about a deal or is merely playing for time while its military arm perfects nuclear weapons. Former State Department Legal Adviser Abraham Sofaer tells Jim we must employ the same policy that worked with the former Soviet Union—engage Iran diplomatically, while we forcefully confront Iranian attempts to project power beyond their borders.
With 93,000 dead in two years, the G-8 seeks Syrian peace talks. Obama reluctantly wants to supply the rebels with light arms and anti-tank artillery. But is this enough to withstand the murderous forces of Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah? Syrian expert Ed Husain tells Jim of a “regional approach” to stop the bloodbath.
Russia had been dismissed as a third rate country–a “Burundi with missiles.” Now, having struck a deal with the US on Syrian chemicals, Russia has emerged as a major player on the international stage. Kissinger Associate”s Russian expert Tom Graham tells Jim that there are grounds for optimism we can work with the Russians on Iran and other Middle Eastern issues.
Foreign affairs experts are worried that our Russian deal on Syria, the Snowden affair, Internet balkanization, and the government shutdown have combined to undermine international perceptions of US leadership. Jim Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations tells Jim Zirin that we will need to do much to regain our position of global primacy.
When charismatic China politician Bo Xilai stepped on too many toes during a power change, the government ousted him from his top party posts, charged his wife with murder and shut down the websites that supported him. As Israel weighs its options to throttle Iran’s nuclear threat, Israelis launch an Israel Loves Iran website to bypass their leaders and connect directly with the Iranian people. James Hoge tells of digital power in a dangerous world.
The Council on Foreign Relations President elaborates a new foreign policy doctrine he has devised for the 21st Century called “Restoration.” He explains how Restoration informs our decision whether to strike Iran, give aid to the Syrian opposition; and, above all, rebuild fiscal and economic stability at home.
The CFR Japan expert defines what is meant by the “pivot” and compares Japanese Internet freedom with China’s crackdown on free expression. She tells Jim of Japan’s recovery from the March 11 “triple disasters”, Prime Minister Noda’s dramatic December trips to Beijing and Delhi, how Japan will manage its security concerns with North Korea, and what this all means to United States interests in the region.
When Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, people wondered whether it was an al Qaeda hit or the lawless action of an enraged mob. Some in Congress called for an end to foreign aid to Libya and Egypt. Former Ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner surveys the Middle East and tells Jim why we are there to stay.
China has almost 500 million citizens using the Net. Yet, the government blocks or filters many sites and keywords. The Council on Foreign Relations China hand has just returned from Beijing where she saw a more humbled and fearful China. She tells Jim that its bloggers will survive the censor.
Obama wants to “pivot” toward Asia. But has he forgotten Iran? Elliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Adviser in the Bush administration, discusses the sobering possibility of a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear plants. How would such a strike be carried out? From the air? A covert operation? Or a Stuxnet cyber attack. He tells Jim there really is a military option.
He answers some key questions about the Middle East: Did Obama really throw Israel under the bus? Is it dangerous to prosecute Mubarak? Can we break the stalemate in Libya? What’s going on in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi, which are far more vital to U.S. interests than Libya? The CFR expert tells how the Twitter Revolution will play out in a post bin Laden world where the boxscore currently stands at Autocrats: Six, Protesters: Two.
Brazil, long disparaged as the “country of the future,” has become the world’s seventh largest economy with an astonishing growth rate of 7.5%; its first female President, Dilma Rousseff, is talking turkey with Obama and Hu Jintao; and its free press and social media have turned it into a vibrant democracy. Julia tells Jim Zirin what has happened to Brazil…and why.
Confronted with a rising death toll in Syria, documented by YouTube video clips, that shocked the conscience of the international community, Kofi Annan elaborated a six-point plan to avert a further bloodbath. But will it work? Mid-east expert and blogger Ed Husain gives Jim Zirin his view of the way forward.
The redoubtable Council on Foreign Relations president considers whether it is the surging price of oil, the implosion of the Japanese reactors, revolutions in the Middle-East, Iran, North Korea, China or al Qaeda. Then, he gives an answer that will surprise you.
David created a blog, Cyberdissidents.org, to support dissident pro-democracy bloggers in Iran and throughout the Arab world. He tells how his work impacted a revolution.
Hillary Clinton says that the cornerstone of American statecraft is the “freedom to connect.” Chinas Internet usage is soaring. Will the Net really lead China to a more open society? Ian tells Jim Zirin where the US-China relation is really headed.
The Mid-East expert just returned from Egypt where she waded through mobs of protesters, interviewed autocrats, and drew some stark conclusions as to what Mubarak’s toppling means for the foreign relations of the United States.
Only the eighth man to hold the post, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon struggles to make his voice count for peace in a cacophonous world. He tells of the challenges and successes of the office FDR called the “world’s moderator.”
The Russian expert from Kissinger Associates tells how much U.S.-Russian relations have been damaged by the WikiLeaks cables, and whether ratification of the START treaty will help “re-set” the relationship.
Who will Lose the battle in Iran, Khamenei or the Internet? Iran was so terrified of Twitter, it jammed the Net for a day and named Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as co-conspirators in political trials.
Stephen Biddle, Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, recently returned from Kabul where he helped McChrystal with the assessment. Now it’s all up to Petraeus.
The CFR President, who advised both Presidents Bush, tells Zirin about his fascinating new memoir “War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars,” and how his alarms in 2003 fell on deaf ears.
The Latin America expert and blogger uses her blog latintelligence.com to reposition United States foreign policy in Latin America.
With the Yuan pegged low, China has the largest economic growth rate in the world, but is at the same time plagued by seemingly insurmountable domestic problems, including environmental protection, political dissidence and a closed Net.
I will go to my grave “not knowing the answer” as to why we went to war in Iraq, says the former Bush administration insider. President of Council on Foreign Relations Haass explains how the Internet can rationalize US foreign policy.
The former Ambassador to Egypt and India answers tough questions, such as “Can America really democratize the Middle East? Do we have the technology to deal with the challenges of a global economy?”
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