SFS in the News

Joseph Sassoon

Sasson praises the Hoover Institute’s Iraq archives

SFS Professor Sassoon notes how difficult it is to research any modern Arab country due to the lack of open archives. During his research on Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, Sassoon was surprised by the “massive information they gathered about so many individuals from high school age to retirement”. He believes that such an archive can help Iraq chart a stronger future course.

Skylar Mastro Explains China’s decision to host Kim jong-un

SFS Professor Skylar Mastro argues that China arranged Kim Jong-un’s visit to “gauge whether or not Kim is ready to talk in good faith” and then relay its impressions to Washington. Skylar Mastro also argues that China is hoping for more influence over North Korea’s domestic policy.

Victor Cha: South Korea may agree to pay more for U.S. troops

Professor Victor Cha, a former White House official, discussed recent trade negotiations between the U.S. and South Korea. The countries are in talks to renew the current cost-sharing agreement of U.S. troops on South Korean soil, which expires at the end of the year. Cha notes that South Korea may agree to take on more of these costs.

Angela Stent

Stent Argues U.S. can expect retaliation from Russia for expulsion of diplomats

SFS Professor Angela Stent argues that the U.S. can expect a tit-for-tat from Moscow in response to Washington’s expulsion of Russian diplomats. Dr. Stent adds that the West has sent a strong message of solidarity through the expulsions, but she does not expect them to have a long-lasting impact on relations with Russia.

Sarah Stewart Johnson on Detecting Life Beyond Earth with Genome Sequencing

Sarah Stewart Johnson, an astrobiologist and professor in the Science, Technology, and International Affairs program, and her team have found a new strategy to detect extraterrestrial life with a genome sequencer. “You could have a completely different biochemistry,” she says. “But you could still see a signal.”

McEldowney Kroenig

McEldowney, Kroenig Discuss Bolton as New National Security Advisor

On Thursday, March 22, President Trump replaced General H.R. McMaster with John Bolton as his new National Security Advisor. Nancy McEldowney, former ambassador and current Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service program, and Matthew Kroenig, associate professor and former military analyst at the CIA and strategist at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, assessed changes Bolton will bring to the job on PBS NewsHour.

McEldowney sees Putin’s unsurprising re-election as bad news for the West

While Putin’s re-election as Russia’s president was “a foregone conclusion”, it does demonstrate that he remains very popular with his people, argues SFS Professor Nancy McEldowney. She expects the re-election to have “troubling implications” for the US, as Putin will feel even more emboldened to continue “flexing his muscles”.


Green expresses skepticism about possibility of successful Trump-Kim summit

SFS Professor Michael Green predicts that the much-discussed Trump-Kim summit is unlikely to take place, and even less likely to succeed in achieving the denuclearization of North Korea if it does take place. He adds that the idea of holding a summit is discouraged by most experts, Republican Congressmen, and probably a significant portion of President Trump’s base too.

SFS On Topic: Secretary of State Transition

On March 13, 2018, President Donald Trump announced his nomination of CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the new Secretary of State on Twitter. Pompeo will replace Rex Tillerson, who was removed by Trump following a year of frequent disagreement between the two. Members of the SFS community share their thoughts on what Tillerson’s replacement means for American foreign policy going forward.

Kupchan Argues Turkey and US should meet each other halfway in Syria

SFS Professor Charles Kupchan argues that the United States and Turkey should both make some concessions in Syria for mutual benefit in Foreign Policy magazine. The U.S. should press its Kurdish allies in Syria to cut their ties with a perceived terrorist organization in Turkey, and Turkey should recognize Washington’s Kurdish allies as a legitimate stakeholder in the postwar Syrian landscape.

Angela Stent

Stent Argues US can learn from UK response to Russian poisoning

SFS Professor Angela Stent calls out the U.S. administration for the perceived lack of solidarity with the U.K. over its sanctions against Russia, following the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in London. “It’s striking the contrast between what the Brits have done and what the U.S. has not done”, says Dr. Stent for the AP.

Skylar Mastro argues that China is often underestimated

The West requires “completely new thinking” on China, argues SFS Professor Oriana Skylar Mastro. At present, China seems unlikely to democratize, and history shows that democratization does not necessarily cause a softer foreign policy anyway. The U.S. should acknowledge that China’s existing use of political and economic coercion abroad might be just as harmful to U.S. interests as its hypothetical use of military methods.

Bruce Hoffman on Al-Qaeda Rebuilding in Egypt’s Western Desert

Terrorist groups are taking advantage of a power vacuum in Libya and Egypt’s Western Desert to build up presence and escalate operations in the region. Former Director of Security Studies Bruce Hoffman highlights that al-Qaeda is consolidating its presence in the region, with around 6,000 fighters being linked to the organization.

Sinan Ciddi on an Increasingly Inward-Looking Turkey

Speaking on Turkey’s decision to not fund the 23rd annual Turkish-German film festival, Institute for Turkish Studies director Sinan Ciddi said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made electoral gains from promoting Islamic culture and vilifying the West.

John Feeley (SFS ’83) on Resigning from the State Department

Georgetown alum and former U.S. ambassador to Panama John D. Feeley (SFS ’83) said to The Washington Post that he decided to resign from the State Department because he no longer felt he could serve an administration whose policies and values he did not agree with. A career diplomat who also served in Mexico, Feeley opposed the Trump administration’s disregard for a “rules-based” and “respectful” diplomatic approach.

Barbara Bodine Weighs In on Rex Tillerson’s Ouster

Institute for the Study of Diplomacy director and retired U.S. ambassador Barbara Bodine said that Rex Tillerson was fired from his position as Secretary of State due to his conflicting stances on North Korea, Iran, and Russia, among other foreign policy issues.

Reverend Desbois Documents ISIS Crimes against Yazidis

After a decade of documenting little-known crimes against Jews in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, SFS Professor Father Patrick Desbois is now doing the same with the methods, timing, and tactics of crimes committed against Jews by ISIS. If you fail to expose such crimes, “you give cart blanche to the mass murderers of tomorrow”, argues Father Desbois.

Angela Stent

Stent Sees Saudi Arabian Turn to Russia as Geopolitical Power Move

Angela Stent, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies, says that Russia has filled a power vacuum in the Middle East. A recent Saudi-Russian oil deal signals a shift from U.S. ties to Russian influence, which Stent attributes to geopolitical power moves between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Victor Cha: What Will Trump Give Up for Peace with North Korea?

In an op-ed in the New York Times, Professor Victor Cha discusses what negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea would entail. “While the unpredictability of a meeting between these two unconventional leaders provides unique opportunities to end the decades-old conflict, its failure could also push the two countries to the brink of war,” Cha writes.