Foreign Policy

Articles from The Atlantic Monthly's archive and related links

Tick, Tick, Tick (October 2004)
Pakistan is a nuclear time bomb—perhaps the greatest threat to American security today. Here's how to defuse it. By Graham Allison

Bush's Lost Year (October 2004)
What Bush's decision to invade Iraq has cost America so far. By James Fallows.

The Long Hunt for Osama (October 2004)
One of the few Western journalists to have met bin Laden asks: How did we let him get away? By Peter Bergen

Ayatollah Democracy (September 2004)
Arrogant, dogmatic, and anti-American, Iraq's Shiite clerics are the last people enlightened Westerners want to see in power. Let's hope they prevail. By Reuel Marc Gerecht

Kerry Faces the World (July/August 2004)
What would a John Kerry foreign policy look like? In some ways a lot like one the current President's father could endorse. By Joshua Micah Marshall

The Pragmatist (July/August 2004)
Lakhdar Brahimi understands that perhaps neither peace nor justice is possible in Iraq—which may make him just the man the country needs. By Laura Secor

Plan of Attack (July/August 2004)
Insurgents in Iraq are forging improbable alliances to fight what some analysts call a "netwar." The United States needs to adapt—and to relearn some old lessons. By Bruce Hoffman

The Tragedy of Tony Blair (June 2004)
When he came to office, the Prime Minister seemed another JFK. Now his mystique is dissipated and his promise shattered. By Geoffrey Wheatcroft

Al-Qaeda's Understudy (June 2004)
Suicide terrorism has come to Pakistan. By Nasra Hassan

Clearer Than the Truth (April 2004)
Duplicity in foreign affairs has sometimes served the national interest. But the case of Iraq is different. By Benjamin Schwarz

Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong (January/February 2004)
How could we have been so far off in our estimates of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs? A leading Iraq expert and intelligence analyst in the Clinton Administration—whose book The Threatening Storm proved deeply influential in the run-up to the war—gives a detailed account of how and why we erred. By Kenneth M. Pollack

Blind Into Baghdad (January/February 2004)
The U.S. occupation of Iraq is a debacle not because the government did no planning but because a vast amount of expert planning was willfully ignored by the people in charge. The inside story of a historic failure. By James Fallows

Nation-Building (January/February 2004)
The chief threats to us and to world order come from weak, collapsed, or failed states. Learning how to fix such states—and building necessary political support at home—will be a defining issue for America in the century ahead. By Francis Fukuyama

America's "Suez Moment" (January/February 2004)
The growing trade deficit threatens U.S. living standards and makes the country dangerously vulnerable to economic extortion. The way out is to make foreigners act more like us. By Sherle R. Schwenninger

How to Kill a Country (December 2003)
Turning a breadbasket into a basket case in ten easy steps—the Robert Mugabe way. By Samantha Power

The Bubble of American Supremacy (December 2003)
A prominent financier argues that the heedless assertion of American power in the world resembles a financial bubble—and the moment of truth may be here. By George Soros

Odious Rulers, Odious Debts (November 2003)
Should the people of Iraq be forced to pay back money borrowed by Saddam? By Joseph Stiglitz

The Dark Art of Interrogation (October 2003)
The most effective way to gather intelligence and thwart terrorism can also be a direct route into morally repugnant terrain. A survey of the landscape of persuasion. By Mark Bowden

Pharaohs-in-Waiting (October 2003)
Who will succeed Egypt's Hosni Mubarak as the ruler of the world's most populous and important Arab country? By Mary Anne Weaver

Supremacy by Stealth (July/August 2003)
It's a cliché these days to observe that the United States now possesses a global empire. It is time to move beyond a statement of the obvious. How should we operate on a tactical level to preserve our imperium? What are the rules and what are the tools? By Robert D. Kaplan

Headlines Over the Horizon (July/August 2003)
Analysts at the RAND Corporation lay out ten international-security developments that aren't getting the attention they deserve.

A Tale of Two Colonies (April 2003)
Our correspondent travels to Yemen and Eritrea, and finds that the war on terrorism is forcing U.S. involvement with the one country's tribal turbulence and the other's obsessive fear of chaos. By Robert D. Kaplan

The Perils of Partition (March 2003)
Our author examines the political—and literary—legacy of Britain's policy of "divide and quit." By Christopher Hitchens

The Fifty-first State? (November 2002)
Going to war with Iraq would mean shouldering all the responsibilities of an occupying power the moment victory was achieved. By James Fallows

A Post-Saddam Scenario (November 2002)
Iraq could become America's primary staging ground in the Middle East. And the greatest beneficial effect could come next door, in Iran. By Robert D. Kaplan

The End of the West (November 2002)
The next clash of civilizations will not be between the West and the rest but between the United States and Europe—and Americans remain largely oblivious. By Charles A. Kupchan

The Internationals (July/August 2002)
A growing new—but familiar—social order thrives in the world's trouble spots. By Mark Lee.

A Brief History of Yasir Arafat (July/August 2002)
The PLO leader is a terrible administrator but a brilliant image crafter. By David Brooks.

The Culture of Martyrdom (June 2002)
How suicide bombing became not just a means but an end. By David Brooks

"Gag Order" (May 2002)
Why won't South Korea let North Korea's highest-level defector speak out? By Stephen Glain

"Tales of the Tyrant" (May 2002)
What does Saddam Hussein see in himself that no one else in the world seems to see? The answer is perhaps best revealed by the intimate details of the Iraqi leader's daily life. By Mark Bowden

"The World in 2005" (March 2002)
American eyes are focused at the moment mainly on the war against terrorism. But powerful forces continue to shape the world without regard to that war—and will affect how we wage it. By Robert D. Kaplan

"The Unilateralist" (March 2002)
A conversation with Paul Wolfowitz. By James Fallows

"A Modest Proposal from the Brigadier" (March 2002)
What one prominent Pakistani thinks his country should do with its atomic weapons. By Peter Landesman

"The Next Threat to NATO" (February 2002)
The Baltics are knocking at NATO's door. Don't let them in. By Jeffrey Tayler

"A Modest Little War" (February 2002)
An exit strategy isn't a foreign policy. By David Brooks

"A New Grand Strategy" (January 2002)
The United States will be more secure, and the world more stable, if America now chooses to pass the buck and allow other countries to take care of themselves. By Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne

"Putin's Policy of Realpolitik" (December 2001)
In pledging support to the West's fight against terrorism, the Russian leader is advancing the national interest of his country—and hedging his bets. By Jeffrey Tayler

"Looking the World in the Eye" (December 2001)
Samuel Huntington is a mild-mannered man whose sharp opinions—about the collision of Islam and the West, about the role of the military in a liberal society, about what separates countries that work from countries that don't—have proved to be as prescient as they have been controversial. By Robert D. Kaplan

"The Crash of EgyptAir 990" (November 2001)
Two years afterward the U.S. and Egyptian governments are still quarreling over the cause—a clash that grows out of cultural division, not factual uncertainty. By William Langewiesche

"Thanks for Nothing" (October 2001)
A former chief economist at the World Bank offers a case study in how heavy-handed interference can break what doesn't need fixing. By Joseph Stiglitz

"Bystanders to Genocide" (September 2001)
The Clinton Administration knew enough about the Rwandan genocide early on to save countless lives. It passed up every opportunity to do so. Why? By Samantha Power

"All the City's a Stage" (September 2001)
An eccentric mayor with a flair for the dramatic is bringing hope to a notoriously troubled capital. By Mark Schapiro

"The Counterterrorist Myth" (July/August 2001)
A former CIA operative explains why the terrorist Usama bin Ladin has little to fear from American intelligence. By Reuel Marc Gerecht

"Giving 'the Devil' His Due" (June 2001)
Emmanuel Constant, whose savage Haitian militia committed countless atrocities, has been convicted in Haiti of murder. He remains a free man in New York City. Do his ties with U.S. intelligence explain why? By David Grann

"Russia Is Finished" (May 2001)
The tribal lands of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border reveal the future of conflict in the Subcontinent, along with the dark side of globalization. By Jeffrey Tayler

"Ayn Rand Comes to Somalia" (May 2001)
In the absence of government bureaucracy and foreign aid, business is starting to boom. By Peter Maass

"The Lawless Frontier" (September 2000)
The tribal lands of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border reveal the future of conflict in the Subcontinent, along with the dark side of globalization. By Robert D. Kaplan

"After the Wars: Yugoslavia and the World" (April 2000)
Charles Trueheart looks at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Chuck Sudetic explains why the French won't arrest war criminals, and David Rieff returns to Sarajevo for New Year's Eve.

"China's Blue Collar Blues" (February 2000)
Top-down economic reform in China has triggered protest from its victims—a classic Marxist proletariat. By Trevor Corson

"A Third Way for the Third World" (December 1999)
A review of Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom. By Akash Kapur

"China: A World Power Again" (August 1999)
It is normal for China to be a significant actor on the world stage. The West—the real newcomer—had better get used to it. By Robert D. Kaplan

"The False Promise of Slave Redemption" (July 1999)
The humanitarian effort to buy the freedom of Sudanese slaves has produced indelible images in newspapers and on television. A firsthand report suggests that it has also bolstered the slave trade. By Richard Miniter

"Kissinger, Metternich, and Realism" (June 1999)
What Kissinger has always offered is a grimly persuasive view of the human condition. By Robert D. Kaplan

"Living in Candlestick Park" (April 1999)
In the twenty-first century geopolitics might well take its metaphors from geology, as the state system of international relations gets shaken to its foundations. By John Lewis Gaddis

"Tibet Through Chinese Eyes" (February 1999)
The truth about Tibet is not simple. Chinese repression is real—but even if repression did not exist, Tibet's culture would be threatened by economic forces that neither the Tibetans nor the Chinese can fully control. By Peter Hessler

"America's Maginot Line" (December 1998)
The development of ballistic missiles that any country can obtain threatens to make America's military presence in Asia untenable. By Paul Bracken

"Dirty Hands" (December 1998)
The success of U.S. policy in El Salvador—preventing a guerrilla victory—was based on 40,000 political murders. By Benjamin Schwarz

"Hoods Against Democrats" (December 1998)
In Bulgaria the distinction between the state and organized crime is clear—for now. By Robert D. Kaplan

"The Voice of Economic Nationalism" (July 1998)
Pat Buchanan attacks globalism as a conspiracy of "elites" callously indifferent to the wages and living standards of working families. A review of Buchanan's The Great Betrayal. By Eyal Press

"Our Real China Problem" (November 1997)
The price of China's surging economy is a vast degradation of the environment, with planetary implications. Although the Chinese government knows the environment needs protecting, it fears that doing the right thing could be political suicide. By Mark Hertsgaard

"History Moving North" (February 1997)
Mexico seems to be evolving backward. Has nationhood been merely an interlude? By Robert D. Kaplan

"Cuba's Entrepreneurial Socialism" (January 1997)
Cuba has become a good place to do business—for all but U.S. firms. Our economic embargo hurts not only Cuba but, increasingly, us as well. By Joy Gordon

"Proportionalism" (August 1996)
As it contemplates the most troubled areas of the Third World, America must seek a path between apathy and optimism. By Robert D. Kaplan

"Our Interests in Europe" (August 1995)
For all the talk of a "Pacific century" America's natural partners lie across a different ocean. By Alan Tonelson and Robin Gaster

"The Domestic Core of Foreign Policy" (June 1995)
Our task now is not so heroic as fighting a war, but it may be as important: to recognize our limitations, to reject the vanity of trying to remake the world in our image, and to restore the promise of our neglected society. By Ronald Steel

"Ferocious Differences" (July 1995)
The author, a Mexican intellectual, explores the factors that "have made Mexico mysterious, even to the most trained and sympathetic eye." By Jorge G. Castañeda

"The Diversity Myth" (May 1995)
Faced with outbreaks of ethnic and sectarian strife around the world, Americans— including foreign-policy officials—often wonder why the diverse and fiercely contending partisans can't be as reasonable as ... well, as Americans have always been. The brutal truth, the author contends, is that stability is rarely achieved through reasonableness—as our own bloody history shows. By Benjamin Schwarz

"Reagan and the Russians" (February 1994)
The Cold War ended despite President Reagan's arms buildup, not because of it—or so former President Gorbachev told the authors. By Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein

"The Coming Anarchy" (February 1994)
How scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet. By Robert D. Kaplan

"How the World Works" (December 1993)
Americans persist in thinking that Adam Smith's rules for free trade are the only legitimate ones. But today's fastest-growing economies are using a very different set of rules. Once, we knew them—knew them so well that we played by them, and won. Now we seem to have forgotten. By James Fallows

"The Persian Gulf: Still Mired" (June 1993)
Ever dependent on cheap oil, the United States continues its meddlesome Gulf policy, which is based on an inaccurate picture of tangled Gulf politics. By Alan Tonelson

"Clinton's World" (February 1993)
This nation must put its domestic necessities at the core of its relations with the world. This, the author argues, is a counsel not of isolationism—a shibboleth used to suppress fresh thought—but of realism. By Alan Tonelson

"The Last Front of the Cold War" (November 1993)
You think the Cold War is over? Think again. Russian and American forces are still challenging each other in the Arctic. By Jon Bowermaster

"The Conceptual Poverty of U.S. Foreign Policy" (September 1993)
We have heard it now from two Administrations, two parties, in a row: yes, the Cold War is over, but the world is more dangerous, because less predictable, than it was while the Cold War was still on. The world is indeed dangerous, the author argues, but not more dangerous to the United States. By Jonathan Clarke

"Jihad vs. McWorld" (March 1992)
The two axial principles of our age—tribalism and globalism—clash at every point except one: they may both be threatening to democracy. By Benjamin R. Barber

"The Border" (May 1992)
The management of our relations with Mexico now looms as one of the most pressing foreign-policy challenges facing the United States. The problems confronting the two countries are great, and nowhere are they as starkly apparent as they are along the U.S.-Mexican border, a region that is by turns desolate and congested, dirt poor and thriving, lawless and a police state. By William Langewiesche

"Another Great Victory of Ideology Over Prosperity" (October 1991)
What the Bush Administration should learn from the instructive failure of the "Uruguay round" of trade talks. By Robert Kuttner

"Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War" (August 1990)
The conditions that have made for decades of peace in the West are fast disappearing, as Europe prepares to return to the multi-polar system that, between 1648 and 1945, bred one destructive conflict after another. By John J. Mearsheimer

"What Should We Do in the World?" (October 1989)
The dominant foreign-policy goals of the United States were long essentially reactive; they were defined By the Cold War with the Soviet Union. In the World of Mikhail Gorbachev's devising, however, that will no longer do. We have to confront the new time with a new question. By Stanley Hoffman

"Do We Need To Be No. 1?" (April 1986)
"Strategies that pursue international primacy not only are economically unreliable but also pose a political threat to democracy at home and peace abroad. We should begin instead to work toward greater independence from the world economy, seeking self-sufficiency not so much for its own sake but, as Keynes concluded, in order to provide wider domestic room for political maneuver—opening the space for efforts to forge greater security, democracy, and equality at home." By David M. Gordon

"How to Avert a New 'Cold War'" (June 1980)
The Senator from South Dakota and 1972 Democratic candidate for President examines the so-called Carter Doctrine, finds it seriously wanting, and proposes a different road to security and survival in the nuclear age. By George McGovern

"The Road Back to Internationalism" (May 1969)
"Withdrawal and anti-commitment cannot be our 'thing.' Our problem is not to decide whether we will be involved, but how. Our capacity to act comes in a package with the obligation to choose a course of action." By Harlan Cleveland

"Foreign Policy and the Crisis Mentality" (January 1967)
"I believe that, in fact, we are in danger of seeing the isolationists of the 1920s and 1930s replaced by the neo-imperialists, who somehow imagine that the United States has a mandate to impose an American solution the world around. Those who see the United States in this role not only want U.S. police action in each trouble spot, but with decisive speed. The old isolationists and the new imperialists may be cut from the same cloth in that both look with disdain on the claims of the international community in contrast with the American way." By George McGovern

"Foreign Policy and Christian Conscience" (May 1959)
Speaking as a Presbyterian in the series of lectures arranged by President Mackay of the Princeton Theological Seminary, speaking also as a diplomat who has served this country in responsible posts in Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Riga, Lisbon, Moscow, and Washington, George F. Kennan in these pages addresses himself to the Christian responsibility in international life. By George F. Kennan

"The New Isolationism" (May 1952)
"Today we face a New Isolationism, bent upon what promises to be a fundamental attack on the foreign policy to which the United States and the free world are presently committed." By Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

"Growth of Our Foreign Policy" (March 1900)
"This evolution of the United States as one of the great Powers among the nations has, however, been accompanied by another departure radical in character and far-reaching in consequences. The United States has come out of its shell and ceased to be a hermit among the nations, naturally and properly. What was not necessary and is certainly of the most doubtful expediency is that it should at the same time become a colonizing Power on an immense scale." By Richard Olney

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