Unit 1: Global Issues in the Twenty-First Century: An Overview
Our Global Situation and Prospects for the Future, Jerome C. Glenn, The Futurist, 2014
The Millennium State of the Future Report for 2014 emphasizes that humanity continues to improve in general. People are becoming healthier, wealthier, better educated, and more peaceful. However, the international community needs to reduce income inequality in order to avoid long-term instability. The author concludes with a series of recommendations for improving the human condition based on a global collective intelligence system.
The Geopolitics of Cyberspace after Snowden, Ron Deibert, Current History, 2015
The author discusses the environment in which the Internet functions and the “digital exhaust” emitted by mobile devices which provide vast quantities of metadata about each individual. The effect of Snowden’s revelations has raised the question of a free Internet as opposed to control and censorship by state governments as they seek to restore “technological sovereignty.”
The Return of Geopolitics: The Revenge of the Revisionist Powers, Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs, 2014
The post–Cold War settlement is being challenged by three revisionist powers—Russia, China, and Iran. President Obama’s vision of a world order based on liberal democracy has been undermined by the return of geopolitics. Russia, China, and Iran share in common the desire to curb US power.
Drifting to 2016, Nikolas K. Gvosdev, The National Interest, 2016
The author writes that Clinton’s campaign is designed to distinguish herself from Obama’s foreign policy, while the Republicans argue that Obama has made America less safe and diminished its position in the world. Obama’s foreign policy has resulted in a disengagement from the Middle East, an increase in tension with Russia, and a “pivot” to Asia.
The Once and Future Hegemon, Salvatore Babones, The National Interest, 2015
The author argues that the United States is not a declining hegemon, because history shows that hegemony runs in cycles of hundreds of years rather than decades. The rise of Chinese power as a strategic threat to the United States has been overemphasized. The United States will continue as a hegemon in alliance with other English-speaking states.
The Once and Future Superpower: Why China Won't Overtake the United States, Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth, Foreign Affairs, 2016
China cannot transform its economic power into military power due to the technological gap with the United States. The authors conclude that the United States should not disengage from the world but can continue to pursue its grand strategy as the sole superpower for decades to come.
American Imperium: Untangling Truth and Fiction in an Age of Perpetual War, Andrew J. Bacevich, Harper’s Magazine, 2016
The author presents an alternative narrative of US military history through the prism of four wars: the War for the Hemisphere, the War for Pacific Dominance, the War for Europe, and the War for the Greater Middle East. Bacevich argues that these wars were misguided and resulted in an informal empire.
Our Incoherent China Policy, Clyde Prestowitz, The American Prospect, 2015
The article is extremely critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and US trade statecraft for the geopolitical purpose of containing China. The United States needs a comprehensive strategy to contain China, not a toothless TPP, according to Prestowitz.
The Three Ways We Get China and Its Neighbors Wrong, Dan Blumenthal, Commentary, 2016
Obama’s strategy of pivoting to Asia is based on the erroneous assumption that China is still growing economically and that Asia can construct a regional order based on the model of liberal European order.
The Global Challenge of the Refugee Exodus, Gallya Lahav, Current History, 2016
The author looks at the refugee crisis within the context of globalization and recommends that it be dealt with in a holistic fashion. Efforts to restrict the flow of refugees contradict the basic values of the mobility of free movement, on which the European Union was founded.
The US–Cuba Thaw and Hemispheric Relations, Michael Shifter, Current History, 2016
President Obama’s announcement on December 17, 2014, of the opening of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States marked the end of a failed Cold War policy of isolating Cuba. Steps toward the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba will open trade and investment opportunities for the United States.
The Information Revolution and Power, Joseph S. Nye Jr., Current History, 2014
The author writes that there are two major power shifts in the twenty-first century. A “horizontal transition” from East to West and “a vertical diffusion of power from states to NGOs” which is being brought about by the information revolution.
Unit 2: Population, Natural Resources, and Climate Change
The New Population Bomb: The Four Megatrends That Will Change the World, Jack A. Goldstone, Foreign Affairs, 2010
Over the next 40 years, the relative demographic weight of the world’s developed countries will significantly drop as their workforce ages and numerically declines. Most of the world’s population growth will be concentrated in the poorest countries. At the same time most of the world’s population will become urbanized. These four trends have significant political and economic consequences.
Fighting Water Wars: Regional Environmental Cooperation as a Roadmap for Peace, Leonardo Orlando, The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, 2015
Increased water scarcity has not yet led to more interstate wars. As a case study of Lake Victoria indicates, regional institutions and civil society lead to more transboundary water cooperation than conflict.
Welcome to the Revolution: Why Shale Is the Next Shale, Edward L. Morse, Foreign Affairs, 2014
The author predicts that the use of shale oil by the United States will make it the world’s largest oil producer with profound geopolitical implications.
Think Again: Climate Treaties, David Shorr, Foreign Policy, 2014
Idealized multilateralism via climate treaty does not work because countries should not be allowed to override environmental imperatives.
The Clean Energy Revolution: Fighting Climate Change with Innovation, Varun Sivaram and Teryn Norris, Foreign Affairs, 2016
The world, led by the United States, needs to develop clean energy innovative technology, such as solar, nuclear, wind, and hydroelectric to reduce its carbon emissions to 80 percent by the middle of this century to avoid a climate catastrophe. The key is more government investment in public/private partnerships in applied research and development both in the United States and internationally.
Unit 3: The Global Political Economy
Trade, Development, and Inequality, Uri Dadush, Current History, 2015
Skill-based technological change, not trade is the driving force behind increased inequality. The Obama administration pursued mega-regional trade deals in the Trans-Pacific region as well as between the United States and the European Union.
The Truth about Trade: What Critics Get Wrong about the Global Economy, Douglas A. Irwin, Foreign Affairs, 2016
Trade is not the most important factor behind the loss of US jobs. Automation and technology are the major reasons for the decline in US jobs, not free trade agreements. Workers without a college education who have not recovered from the Great Recession constitute the major opposition to free trade agreements.
Inequality and Globalization, François Bourguignon, Foreign Affairs, 2016
Global inequality among states has decreased while income inequality within states has increased. To counter this trend, states need to end ethnic, gender, and social discrimination and promote the transparency of the international financial system.
Inequality and Modernization, Ronald Inglehart, Foreign Affairs, 2016
The author states that the continued rise of inequality is pushing economic issues back to the top of the political agenda. The essence of modernization is the linkages between economic, social, ideational, and political issues.
As Objects Go Online: The Promise (and Pitfalls) of the Internet of Things, Neil Gershenfeld and J. P. Vasseur, Foreign Affairs, 2014
There will be profound implications for linking the digital and physical worlds, where the Internet will transmit actual things.
The Return of Europe’s Nation-States: The Upside to the EU’s Crisis, Jakub Grygiel, Foreign Affairs, 2016
Writing in the aftermath of the British decision to leave the European Union, the author concludes that a return to nation-states in Europe does not have to end in tragedy. Europe can only meet its security challenges when it abandons its fantasy of continental unity and embraces its geopolitical pluralism.
Is Africa’s Land Up for Grabs? Roy Laishley, Africa Renewal Online, 2014
Large-scale land acquisitions by foreign governments and multinationals in Africa represent a new form of neocolonialism. Land grabs can have negative effects on the ability of African governments to increase food production. Land acquisitions need to be subject to “win–win” agreements between the host government and foreign investors.
The Blood Cries Out, Jillian Keenan, Foreign Policy, 2015
The situation in Burundi bears careful watching as the central African landlocked country may be on the verge of a civil war. There is insufficient land for its burgeoning population which relies heavily on farming for its subsistence. Burundi is one of the most densely populated and poor countries in the world.
Can a Post-Crisis Country Survive in the Time of Ebola? Jordan Ryan, Harvard International Review, 2015
The author discusses his personal experiences in Liberia during the Ebola epidemic. Liberia already was a fragile, post-conflict society emerging from a violent civil war. The author concludes with the lessons learned on how to promote development in a post-conflict society that has experienced an epidemic.
The Mobile-Finance Revolution: How Cell Phones Can Spur Development, Jake Kendall and Rodger Voorhies, Foreign Affairs, 2014
Mobile cell phones have spread to 90 percent of the world’s poor and can help to eliminate poverty via the extension of microcredit and banking services and the promotion of entrepreneurial activity.
Unit 4: Terrorism
ISIS Is Not a Terrorist Group: Why Counterterrorism Won’t Stop the Latest Jihadist Threat, Audrey Kurth Cronin, Foreign Affairs, 2015
ISIS is not a terrorist organization but rather a pseudostate which controls territory to establish a caliphate in the Middle East. The United States should pursue a policy of containment toward ISIS.
ISIS and the Third Wave of Jihadism, Fawaz A. Gerges, Current History, 2014
ISIS emerged as an offshoot of the branch of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. It emerged as a result of the grievances of the Sunnis’ repression by the Shia regime of former Prime Minister Maliki as well as the failure of state institutions in Iraq. ISIS continues to focus on sectarian war as its priority in waging war with extreme brutality and violence.
Strategic Amnesia and ISIS, David V. Gioe, The National Interest, 2016
In attempting to degrade and destroy ISIS, the United States has enjoyed tactical victories, but the author argues that a strategic victory has eluded it. The United States needs to apply the lessons learned from military history, ranging from the American Revolutionary War to the Vietnam conflict.
Obama and Terrorism: Like It or Not, the War Goes On, Jessica Stern, Foreign Affairs, 2015
The author writes that Obama has continued the war against terrorism and violent extremism with targeted killings, aid to allied and indigenous forces, and intensive electronic surveillance. Obama has relied heavily on armed drones to a much greater extent than the Bush administration.
Fixing Fragile States, Dennis Blair et al., The National Interest, 2014
Since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has waged major postwar reconstruction campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and smaller programs in other countries that harbor Al-Qaeda affiliates. Much of the threat stems from fragile states with weak institutions, higher rates of poverty, and deep ethnic, religious, or tribal divisions.
Unit 5: Conflict and Peace
The Growing Threat of Maritime Conflict, Michael T. Klare, Current History, 2013
Prospects for conflict over disputed borders have declined, but conflict over maritime boundaries is growing. A major reason for these conflicts is energy consumers are increasingly reliant on offshore oil and gas deposits.
Afghanistan’s Arduous Search for Stability, Thomas Barfield, Current History, 2016
The Bush administration supported the Karzai regime, but the Obama administration was critical of the corrupt nature of the regime. Relations between the United States and Afghanistan soured with the advent of the Obama administration, resulting in Karzai’s replacement by the dual executive regime of Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani which was plagued by disunity, as the reduction of US forces resulted in the resurgence of the Taliban.
Water Wars: A Surprisingly Rare Source of Conflict, Gregory Dunn, Harvard International Review, 2013
Competition for access to the increasingly scarce resource of freshwater has surprisingly been mostly resolved through peaceful means via negotiated treaties.
Taiwan’s Dire Straits, John J. Mearsheimer, The National Interest, 2014
The rise of China in the international system will upset the balance of power in Beijing’s favor, with profound implications for Taiwan. China will attempt to dominate Asia as a regional hegemon.
Why 1914 Still Matters, Norman Friedman, The US Naval Institute Proceedings, 2014
There is a similarity in the outbreak of war between the United Kingdom and Germany in 1914 and the possibility of war between the United States and China given that both cases involved a naval arms race that challenged the trading hegemon.
The Utility of Cyberpower, Kevin L. Parker, Military Review, 2014
The focus is on the relationship between cyberpower and cyberspace as the military seeks to defend the national security of the United States against cyberattacks.
Turkey at a Tipping Point, Jenny White, Current History, 2014
Turkey is no longer the pliant US ally that it was during the Cold War. Then it was controlled by the military. President Erdoğan has established civilian control over the military. Turkey is now a prosperous post-Ottoman state with a global presence and reactive foreign policy.
The New Russian Chill in the Baltic, Mark Kramer, Current History, 2015
Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and intervention in Eastern Ukraine has raised concerns about NATO’s commitment under article 5 of its Charter to defend the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The year 2014 has seen an increase in the quantity and intensity of Russian military provocations against the Baltic States, which has also raised concerns in Poland, Finland, and Sweden. In reaction, Finland and Sweden are considering joining NATO.
Putin’s Foreign Policy: The Quest to Restore Russia’s Rightful Place, Fyodor Lukyanov, Foreign Affairs, 2016
Russia, especially Putin, believes that the West created a post–Cold War international order which threatens the core interests of Russia. Putin’s policy is designed to revise the post–Cold War order regionally and globally on terms more favorable to Russian interests.
How to Prevent an Iranian Bomb: The Case for Deterrence, Michael Mandelbaum, Foreign Affairs, 2015
Critics of the nuclear deal with Iran point out that it will not prevent from developing the bomb. The international verification regime is not effective. The United States should update the Cold War policy of deterrence to ensure that Iran does not violate the agreement.
Getting What We Need with North Korea, Leon V. Sigal, Arms Control Today, 2016
North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile tests are partly driven by internal Korean politics, as Kim Jong Un pursues a strategy which seeks to develop the economy simultaneously with the construction of a nuclear capability. North Korea seeks a peace treaty before meeting the US preconditions of democratization, and will not be brought to the bargaining table by sanctions.
A New Era for Nuclear Security, Martin B. Malin and Nickolas Roth, Arms Control Today, 2016
The last Nuclear Summit that met in Washington, DC in 2016 covered a range of areas such as insider threats, transport security, the minimization of the use of highly enriched uranium and cybersecurity. The summit focused on the problem of protecting usable nuclear materials such as plutonium from falling into the hands of terrorists and thieves.
Unit 6: Ethics and Values
Xi’s Corruption Crackdown: How Bribery and Graft Threaten the Chinese Dream, James Leung, Foreign Affairs, 2015
Chinese President Xi Jinping has cast corruption as an existential threat. Corruption can lead to the collapse of the Chinese Communist party and the downfall of the state. Corruption is a deeply rooted cultural phenomenon.
Latin Americans Stand Up to Corruption, Jorge G. Castañeda, Foreign Affairs, 2016
Latin American states, such as Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Argentina, are fighting corruption and kleptocracy, due to a growing middle class, democratization, and foreign involvement, and a decline in economic growth.
The G-Word: The Armenian Massacre and the Politics of Genocide, Thomas de Waal, Foreign Affairs, 2015
Year 2015 marks 100 years since the Armenian community in Ottoman Turkey faced efforts on the part of the Turkish government to destroy it. Over one million Armenians perished in the genocide. For strategic reasons, because Turkey is a major US ally, Washington refuses to use the G-word to describe the great catastrophe which befell the Armenians.
Race in the Modern World: The Problem of the Color Line, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Foreign Affairs, 2015
The author discusses various efforts that have been made over the years to define race, with a great deal of emphasis placed on the work of W. E. B. Du Bois. Du Bois discussed race as a transnational phenomenon as illustrated by demonstrations in Nigeria protesting the shooting by a police officer of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri.
Democracy and Its Discontents, John Shattuck, The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, 2016
Illiberal democracy, which places more emphasis on national identity and centralization of power in the state, marks a regression from the values of pluralism of liberal democracy. East European states such as Poland and Hungary have rejected the values of liberal democracy as represented by the European Union.