GREAT DECISIONS 2015
Putin’s pushback against European expansionism has the West wondering: If Putin’s Russia isn’t afraid to take an aggressive stance against Ukraine’s pivot to the West, what does that mean for the rest of Russia’s neighbors?
The idea of “privacy” has undergone significant changes in the digital age, as has the idea of privacy “harm.” Concerns about what some see as a U.S. “dragnet” and unwarranted privacy intrusions have compelled other countries to revamp their own privacy protections. Legislation, both at home and abroad, hasn’t kept pace with technological developments, leaving some wondering if privacy as we know it is long dead.
From the crisis in Iraq and Syria to the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the struggle between Sunni and Shi‘i groups for dominance is tearing apart the region and shows no signs of abating. How does sectarianism fit into a larger narrative of the Middle East? How have governments manipulated sectarian differences? And finally, what is the U.S. doing about it?
Inspired by its “top-down” model for growth, the world’s largest democracy has started taking its cues from China, one of America’s economic rivals. It’s a mindset that led to Modi’s election in 2014, and has signaled the developing economy’s desire for real change. Now, it’s up to the U.S. to determine how to best secure its interests as India asserts itself on the world stage.
Africa is in the midst of an unprecedented transformation. The continent is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and it’s become a draw for foreign investors from across the globe. After the “Obamamania” of 2008 died down, though, the realization that Obama wasn’t going to overturn, or even prioritize, U.S. Africa policy kicked in. How can U.S. policy live up to its promise and values while securing its interests in the region?
Syrians have for a century welcomed over a million refugees from Armenia, Palestine, Iraq and other countries around the region. Now, thanks to a multiyear civil war, they are on track to become the source of the world’s largest refugee population in a matter of months. As Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and other neighbors strive to accommodate the millions of Syrians, the risk of allowing Syrians to become dependent on emergency aid and forming a “lost generation” remains.
Human trafficking represents over $30 billion in international trade per annum and continues to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries. The U.S. and the international community have adopted various treaties and laws to prevent trafficking, but to truly understand and combat the issue, they must find the root causes enabling smugglers to commit millions into slavery.
Brazil — it’s the “B” in the acronym BRICS, five emerging economies once seen as soon-to-be superpowers. After economic troubles in the 1990s, Brazil has risen to new global prominence — it’s drawing in more investment, working on global issues ranging from climate change to peacekeeping, and even hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. But some of Brazil’s trickiest problems — staggering income inequality, weak civic institutions, poor regional leadership — have held it back.
GREAT DECISIONS 2014
For the first time in decades, the U.S. is tightening its belt on defense spending. While traditional threats like nuclear and great power conflicts do remain. The post 9/11 challenges of terrorism and counterinsurgency have led to a paradigm shift in the way we think about our national security. Emerging threats like cybersecurity and biowarfare also require new thinking. Do 21st century challenges now pose a greater threat to U.S. national security than traditional threats like nuclear war, naval supremacy and ability to fight ground wars? Defense in an age of economic uncertainty.
- David Ignatius, Columnist, The Washington Post
- General James Jones, Former National Security Advisor
- Donald Rumsfeld, Former Secretary of Defense
- Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe
- Chuck Hagel, Former U.S. Senator
The U.S. has enjoyed 30 years of relatively stable relations with both Israel and Egypt, thanks in large part to the peace plan outlined by the historic Camp David Accords. The harmony between the two rivals has provided a key element of stability in an otherwise turbulent Middle East. But Egypt’s bumpy transition from the autocratic rule of President Hosni Mubarak to its post Arab Spring reality – has put many on edge. What challenges does the new Egypt post for American policymakers and U.S. allies in the region?
- Jimmy Carter, Former U.S. President
- Jonathan Tepperman, Managing Editor, Foreign Affairs
- Bruce Rutherford, Author, Egypt After Mubarak
- Thanassis Cambanis, The Atlantic
- Michael Wahid Hanna, The Century Foundation
African economies are booming like never before, thanks in large part to China. The global giant is investing in infrastructure projects to help it tap into the continent’s resources – oil, minerals, and its huge agricultural potential. Critics charge China with cozying up to dictators and ignoring issues of human rights and transparency. Others fear that U.S. is being left behind and its influence in Africa waning. China in Africa.
- Governor Jon Huntsman, Former U.S. Ambassador to China and Singapore
- Dambisa Moyo, Author, Winner Take All
- Rosa Whitaker, President and CEO, The Whitaker Group
- Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group
- John Campbell, Council on Foreign Relations
After World War Two, the leaders of Europe established greater economic ties to help prevent future continental conflict. Now, more than half a century later, the EU faces the biggest financial crisis in its history – and the future of the Eurozone itself is under question. What’s preventing the world’s second largest economy — and America’s largest trading partner — from pulling itself out of recession?
- Nouriel Roubini, New York University
- Matthew Bishop, New York Bureau Chief, The Economist
- Zvolt Darvis, Bruegel
- Matina Stevis, The Wall Street Journal, Brussels
- Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Chair, Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on European Affairs
For nearly a decade, Iran’s quest for nuclear capabilities has topped global security concerns in Washington, Brussels and Tel Aviv. Why is a nuclear armed Iran considered so dangerous to U.S. and Israeli interests, and what’s prevented Iran from reaching a deal year after year?
- Yukiya Amano, Director General, IAEA
- Trita Parsi, Founder and President, National Iranian American Council
- Cliff Kupchan, Eurasia Foundation
- Irshad Manji, New York University
- Robin Wright, Author, Rock the Casbah
The U.S., for better or worse, is often seen as the world’s policeman. But the question of when to intervene in other nations’ affairs with military force has long stymied American policymakers, from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria. Why do we intervene in some conflicts and stand on the sidelines in others?
- Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University
- General James Jones, Former National Security Advisor
- Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard
- Max Boot, Council on Foreign Relations
- General Richard Meyers, Former Head of Joint Chiefs of Staff
Controlled by a military junta, the nation of Burma, or Myanmar, has long been isolated as an international pariah state. But a flicker of hope for many Burmese has been Aung San Suu Kyi, who’s spent decades defying military leaders in her quest for democracy. Now, the generals have started to implement a series of democratic and economic reforms – which the U.S. and other Western powers have welcomed overwhelmingly. But are Myanmar’s military leaders serious about reform? And is Aung San Suu Kyi the one to lead Burma through what could be a rocky transition from international outcast to Asian “tiger?”
- Derek Mitchell, U.S. Ambassador to Burma
- Maureen Aung-Thwin, Open Society Foundations
- Suzanne DiMaggio, The Asia Society
- Louise Arbour, International Crisis Group
- David Steinberg, Georgetown University
NATO enjoyed a surge in popularity following the quick success of its air campaign in Libya. The much needed boost in morale comes as NATO moves into its twelfth year in Afghanistan, fighting a war that many see as destined to fail. Can the NATO alliance – forged during the Cold War – ensure global stability in the 21st Century? And should the U.S. continue to foot most of the bill?