In Which Path to Persia? a group of experts with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings lays out the courses of action available to the United States. What are the benefits and drawbacks of airstrikes? Can engagement be successful? Is regime change possible? In answering such questions, the authors do not argue for one approach over another. Instead, they present the details of the policies so that readers can understand the complexity of the challenge and decide for themselves which course the United States should take.
Kenneth M. Pollack is director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. His books include A Path out of the Desert: A Grand Strategy for America in the Middle East (Random House). Daniel L. Byman is a senior fellow at the Saban Center, director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, and author of The Five Front War: The Better Way to Fight Global Jihad (Wiley). Martin Indyk is director of the Saban Center, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, and the author of Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East (Simon & Schuster). Suzanne Maloney is a senior fellow at the Saban Center. She has worked on the State Department's Policy Planning Staff where she provided analysis of Middle East issues. Michael E. O'Hanlon is a senior fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at Brookings and author of Budgeting for Hard Power (Brookings).
Saban Center Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel served as chairman of President Obama's Strategic Review of U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan and is the author of The Search for al Qaeda (Brookings).
The first portion of The Arab Awakening offers broad lessons by analyzing key aspects of the Mideast turmoil, such as public opinion trends within the "Arab Street"; the role of social media and technology; socioeconomic and demographic conditions; the influence of Islamists; and the impact of the new political order on the Arab-Israeli peace process.
The next section looks at the countries themselves, finding commonalties and grouping them according to the political evolutions that have (or have not) occurred in each country. The section offers insight into the current situation, and possible trajectory of each group of countries, followed by individual nation studies.
The Arab Awakening brings the full resources of Brookings to bear on making sense of what may turn out to be the most significant geopolitical movement of this generation. It is essential reading for anyone looking to understand these developments and their consequences.
In Bending History, Martin Indyk, Kenneth Lieberthal, and Michael O'Hanlon measure Obama not only against the record of his predecessors and the immediate challenges of the day, but also against his own soaring rhetoric and inspiring goals. Bending History assesses the considerable accomplishments as well as the failures and seeks to explain what has happened.
Obama's best work has been on major and pressing foreign policy challenges—counterterrorism policy, including the daring raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden; the "reset" with Russia; managing the increasingly significant relationship with China; and handling the rogue states of Iran and North Korea. Policy on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, has reflected serious flaws in both strategy and execution. Afghanistan policy has been plagued by inconsistent messaging and teamwork. On important "softer" security issues—from energy and climate policy to problems in Africa and Mexico—the record is mixed. As for his early aspiration to reshape the international order, according greater roles and responsibilities to rising powers, Obama's efforts have been well-conceived but of limited effectiveness.
On issues of secondary importance, Obama has been disciplined in avoiding fruitless disputes (as with Chavez in Venezuela and Castro in Cuba) and insisting that others take the lead (as with Qaddafi in Libya). Notwithstanding several missteps, he has generally managed well the complex challenges of the Arab awakenings, striving to strike the right balance between U.S. values and interests.
The authors see Obama's foreign policy to date as a triumph of discipline and realism over ideology. He has been neither the transformative beacon his devotees have wanted, nor the weak apologist for America that his critics allege. They conclude that his grand strategy for promoting American interests in a tumultuous world may only now be emerging, and may yet be curtailed by conflict with Iran. Most of all, they argue that he or his successor will have to embrace U.S. economic renewal as the core foreign policy and national security challenge of the future.
Saudi Arabia and the United States have been partners since 1943, when President Roosevelt met with two future Saudi monarchs. Subsequent U.S. presidents have had direct relationships with those kings and their successors—setting the tone for a special partnership between an absolute monarchy with a unique Islamic identity and the world's most powerful democracy.
Although based in large part on economic interests, the U.S.-Saudi relationship has rarely been smooth. Differences over Israel have caused friction since the early days, and ambiguities about Saudi involvement—or lack of it—in the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States continue to haunt the relationship. Now, both countries have new, still-to be-tested leaders in President Trump and King Salman.
Bruce Riedel for decades has followed these kings and presidents during his career at the CIA, the White House, and Brookings. This book offers an insider's account of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, with unique insights. Using declassified documents, memoirs by both Saudis and Americans, and eyewitness accounts, this book takes the reader inside the royal palaces, the holy cities, and the White House to gain an understanding of this complex partnership.
What are the biggest issues facing the country as Donald Trump and the GOP-led 115th Congress take office?
Any new administration faces a myriad of issues and problems it must take on as it ascends to power. In this volume, Brookings scholars and others offer their solutions, from Ben Bernanke and Richard Bush to Richard Reeves and Dayna Matthew, from Bob Reischauer and Alice Rivlin to Robert Kagan and Elaine Kamarck, to Belle Sawhill, Doug Elmendorf, David Wessel, Bill Galston, and Carol Graham, as well as many others.
These powerful essays engage and inform readers on a variety of timely, crucial issues that affect the present and the future of the United States. Much of the focus is on the threatened middle-class dream in America. On the domestic front, Brookings scholars tackle topics ranging from health care and jobs to economic opportunity and trade policy, to criminal justice and infrastructure. The alliance system, relationships with China and Mexico, nuclear weapons, terrorism, and the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq are among the foreign policies issues addressed.
The new security architecture would require that Russia, like NATO, commit to help uphold the security of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and other states in the region. Russia would have to withdraw its troops from those countries in a verifiable manner; after that, corresponding sanctions on Russia would be lifted. The neutral countries would retain their rights to participate in multilateral security operations on a scale comparable to what has been the case in the past, including even those operations that might be led by NATO. They could think of and describe themselves as Western states (or anything else, for that matter). If the European Union and they so wished in the future, they could join the EU. They would have complete sovereignty and self-determination in every sense of the word. But NATO would decide not to invite them into the alliance as members. Ideally, these nations would endorse and promote this concept themselves as a more practical way to ensure their security than the current situation or any other plausible alternative.
The U.S.-China relationship has not always been smooth, but since Richard Nixon’s opening in the early 1970s, the two countries have evolved a relationship that has been generally beneficial to both parties. Economic engagement and a diplomatic partnership together with robust trade and investment relations, among other activities, have meant a peaceful context for reform and China’s rise, helping to lift millions of Chinese out of poverty and giving the PRC incentive to work within the U.S.-led global order.
The logic of the relationship, however, is now open to serious debate on both sides of the Pacific. After a period of American preoccupation with the Middle East, President Obama attempted a rebalancing of U.S. interests toward the Asia-Pacific region. With the Trump administration in office, the U.S.-China relationship appears to be at a crossroads: does it continue to focus on constructive engagement and managing differences, or prepare for a new era of rivalry and conflict?
Here, following up on their 2014 book, Strategic Reassurance and Resolve, the authors provide a more balanced assessment of the current state of relations and suggest measures that could help stabilize the security relationship, without minimizing the very real problems that both Beijing and Washington must address. The authors are hopeful, but are also under no illusions about the significance of the challenges now posed to the bilateral relationship, as well as regional order, by the rise of China and the responses of America together with its allies.