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.
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.
SFS Professor Green describes Kim Jong-Un’s visit to China as a “propaganda coup”. Green is skeptical of the impact of this visit on the prospects of North Korea’s denuclearization. “When the North Koreans say denuclearization of the peninsula, they mean after the United States stops protecting South Korea and Japan,” adds Green.
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.
A few weeks ago, President Donald Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but North Korea has since remained silent on this potentially historic meeting. “One would think that the North would have a comment,” professor and former U.S. Ambassador Robert Gallucci told CNBC.
Professor Shareen Joshi wrote an op-ed in the Hindu BusinessLine analyzing political and other barriers to reducing pollution in the Ganges River. Despite the Ganga’s great importance, it remains one of the most polluted rivers in the world.
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.
In the aftermath of the expulsions of a number of Russian diplomats worldwide, SFS Professor Angela Stent argues for Bloomberg that “there is a huge degree of mutual suspicion between the intelligence services that never went away”.
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.”
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.
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”.
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.
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.
Alix Lawson (MAGES’16) describes Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” in a New York Times review as “a lesson in being a strong woman, getting things done, without sacrificing your professionalism.” “[Sandberg] makes it more than just O.K. for women to be ambitious,” Lawson said.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SFS graduate student Schrader argues that Chinese opinion is divided on the indefinite extension of President Xi Jinping’s rule. For the West, the extension will mean a Chinese president emboldened to keep up his assertive foreign policy.
President Trump has nominated Latin American Studies alumnus Kimberly Breier (MALAS ’97) to be Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs. Breier previously served as the Director of the U.S.-Mexico Futures Initiative, Deputy Director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In the wake of the poisoning of two Russians in London, Professor Mark Jacobson noted there has been little U.S. pressure to counter Russia’s suspected activities. “During the Cold War the Soviets were constrained by the threat of a US reaction,” Jacobson said. “Today there is no threat of action by this White House.”
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.
Oriana Skylar Mastro commented on Beijing’s past involvement in North Korean negotiations, as well as their likely reaction to being left out of the most recent set of talks agreed upon by President Trump and Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
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.
On NPR’s All Things Considered, Ambassador Robert Gallucci, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, spoke about North Korea’s invitation to President Trump to meet, drawing from his own experience of negotiating with North Korea.
Professor Dennis Wilder appeared on Fox News to discuss President Trump’s potential meeting with North Korea and why Kim Jong Un has finally agreed to meet. Wilder believes that economic pressure from China has forced North Korea to the negotiating table.