Issues for Debate in American Foreign Policy: Selections from CQ Researcher


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    Annotated Contents

    The sixteen CQ Researcher reports reprinted in this book have been reproduced essentially as they appeared when first published. In the few cases in which important developments have since occurred, updates are provided in the overviews highlighting the principal issues examined.

    Security Issues
    Attacking Piracy

    After centuries of inactivity, piracy has returned with a vengeance. Maritime marauders now operate across the globe from Peru to the Philippines, but they pose the biggest threat off the coast of Somalia — a failed state in the Horn of Africa. In the first six months of 2009, attacks by Somali pirates jumped sixfold over the same period in the previous year. Piracy costs global shippers $10 billion to $50 billion a year in ransoms, lost cargoes, higher insurance premiums and disrupted shipping schedules — costs that are passed on to consumers. The world's largest navies have sent warships to the Horn of Africa in recent months and have captured more than 100 pirates. But it may be too costly to maintain the naval patrols over the long term. In addition, murky anti-piracy laws and jurisdictional issues are hampering prosecutions. Moreover, some security experts fear pirates may be exposing vulnerabilities that terrorists could exploit to disrupt global trade, raising the stakes in the fight to solve a growing international problem.

    Confronting Rape as a War Crime

    Rape has been a consequence of military defeat for millennia. But in the last 20 years — from Bosnia to Rwanda, from Colombia to the Democratic Republic of Congo — sexual violence against women, and sometimes even against men, has become a strategic military tactic designed to humiliate victims and shatter enemy societies. And increasingly, governments presiding over peaceful countries are using mass rape in deliberate and targeted campaigns to spread terror and humiliation among political dissenters, often during election seasons. The strategic use of rape has been recognized by international courts as an act of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The United Nations is working to change the mindset that wartime rape is inevitable, urging governments to end the violence and prosecute perpetrators. But silence and shame shroud the issue, and some governments that deny wartime rape occurs in their countries have banned international aid groups that treat their citizens who have been victimized. In the spring of 2010, the United Nations' first special representative for sexual violence began a two-year campaign to help curb the crime. But experts say strategic rape won't be easy to eradicate.

    Dangerous War Debris

    Long after the guns of war have gone silent, people around the world are killed or maimed every day by the “silent killers” of warfare — the tens of millions of landmines, cluster bombs and other unexploded ordnance that litter abandoned battlefields, farmland and urban areas. Most of the victims are civilians, and many are children. Besides claiming more than 5,000 victims each year, dangerous war debris also prevents war refugees from returning to their homelands, stifles fragile economies and prevents farmers from planting crops or developers from investing in a nation's future. Many nations and organizations help the victims and work to ban, remove and disarm landmines and other “explosive remnants of war” (ERW). But questions are being asked about how best to help victims and whether enough is being done to destroy ERWs and stockpiles of banned chemical weapons.

    Terrorism and the Internet

    A decade ago, terrorist organizations operated or controlled only about a dozen Web sites. Today there are more than 7,000. Terrorist groups use the Internet for many activities, ranging from raising funds to explaining how to build a suicide bomb. They find the Internet appealing for the same reasons everyone else does: It's cheap, easily accessible, unregulated and reaches a potentially enormous audience. As terrorist content spreads to chat rooms, blogs, user groups, social networking sites and virtual worlds, many experts, politicians and law enforcement officials are debating how government and industry should respond. Some want Internet companies to stop terrorists from using the Web, while others say that is not the role of Internet service providers. As governments enact laws based on the belief that the Internet plays a significant role in promoting terrorism, critics say the new measures often overstep free-speech and privacy rights.

    Drone Warfare

    Unmanned “drone” aircraft controlled from remote video consoles are being used in increasing numbers by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and by the CIA in Pakistan and other places outside of recognized war zones. Some scholars argue the CIA strikes in Pakistan are illegal, while others say they comply with the laws of war. The spread of armed drones, along with resulting civilian deaths, is raising ethical concerns as well as questions about drones’ effectiveness. The U.S. military now possesses some 7,000 drones, and more than 40 nations, including Iran and China, have drone technology. Unmanned aircraft are being used for everything from border control and environmental monitoring to drug interdiction and building inspections. Some policy experts worry that as drones expand worldwide, they not only could make the United States a more potent military force but also put it at greater risk of attack from enemies possessing the technology.

    Prosecuting Terrorists

    The Obama administration has reluctantly decided to prosecute Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the September 11 attacks, in a military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, instead of in a civilian federal court in the United States. In announcing the decision, Attorney General Eric Holder continued to defend federal court trials for accused terrorists, but bowed to restrictions approved by Congress against bringing any Guantanamo prisoners to U.S. soil. The move focuses renewed attention on the military commission system, which the administration has changed to accord defendants more procedural rights but which civil liberties and human- rights advocates continue to criticize as second-class justice. Despite the reforms, the system has been stalled, but now will be put to use not only for Khalid Sheik Mohammed but also for the trial of a key suspect in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Meanwhile, the government continues to prosecute and win convictions in federal courts of accused terrorists apprehended within the United States.

    Economic Issues
    Future of Globalization

    Global trade has plummeted in recent months by rates not seen since the Great Depression. The World Trade Organization announced that trade tumbled by 12 percent in 2009 alone, the biggest contraction since World War II. While countries so far have avoided the kind of disastrous trade wars that marked the 1930s, protectionist measures and nationalist sentiments are rising across the globe, reflected in the original “Buy American” provision of the U.S. government's economic stimulus package. Clearly, globalization, so recently hailed in books like Thomas Friedman's best-selling The World Is Flat, has stalled. Some economic historians even believe the world is entering an era of “deglobalization”, with nations turning inward economically and culturally, which could lead to a dangerous increase in international tensions. Other analysts say the economic, technological and social ties that bind nations to each other have grown so strong that globalization is an irreversible phenomenon that will help the global economy recover.

    Future of the Euro

    Portugal has become the third eurozone government to seek a bailout loan from the European Union, which is struggling to prevent a debt crisis from crippling its poorest members and spreading to richer euro countries. Historically impoverished nations such as Ireland, Portugal and Greece experienced a surge of wealth in the 1990s after adopting the euro. But in the wake of the worldwide economic crash and recession, that wealth proved to be an illusion based on cheap credit from Germany and other stronger economies. The euro's defenders say the crisis has created a new determination to fix the eurozone's defects, particularly its lack of strong centralized governance. But the rise of nationalist parties in richer countries opposed to bailouts could hamper a solution. And despite years of rhetoric about European unity, critics say individual nations will never give up enough of their sovereignty — especially their right to tax and spend on liberal social programs — to become part of a United States of Europe.

    Climate Change

    Delegates from around the globe arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the U.N. Climate Change Conference in December 2009 hoping to forge a significant agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and temper climate change. But despite years of diplomatic preparation, two weeks of intense negotiations and the clamor for action from thousands of protesters outside the meeting, the conferees adopted no official treaty. Instead, a three-page accord — cobbled together on the final night by President Barack Obama and the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa — established only broad, non-binding goals and postponed tough decisions. Yet defenders of the accord praised it for requiring greater accountability from emerging economies such as China, protecting forests and committing billions in aid to help poorer nations. But the key question remains: Will the accord help U.N. efforts to forge a legally binding climate change treaty for the world's nations?

    Regional Issues
    Sub-Saharan Democracy

    Despite a recent economic renaissance, some say much of sub-Saharan Africa is drifting toward a new age of authoritarianism. After the Cold War — when the superpowers propped up African dictators as proxy pawns in a global ideological chess match — the seeds of democracy rapidly spread across the continent. By 2000, nearly half of sub-Saharan Africa's 48 countries were considered electoral democracies. But democratic progress stalled and even regressed in the 2000s. By one measure, freedom in the region has retreated to about the same level it was in 1992–1993. Human rights are eroding in influential countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast. Experts blame Africa's continuing ethnic tensions and the emergence of China as a major trading partner. Western governments are skittish about pressing for democratic reforms now that they must compete for Africa's natural resources with China, which ignores such issues in its business dealings.

    Europe's Immigration Turmoil

    Recent gains by European right-wing political parties advocating halts in immigration from Muslim countries signal a growing resentment against foreigners as Europe faces an economy with fewer jobs to go around. Anti-immigrant parties have received unprecedented shares of the vote in famously tolerant Sweden and the Netherlands. Mainstream politicians in France, Germany and Britain have vowed to cut immigration, complaining that many immigrants — especially conservative Muslims — fail to integrate into mainstream society. Ironically, anti-immigrant fervor is rising just as the economic downturn is slowing immigration to many countries. Some economists argue that aging Europe needs young immigrants to fill its work force and support its growing pension costs. Other experts say governments need to do more to integrate Muslims, many of whom are native-born. As governments pass laws to ban burqas, headscarves and minarets, many are asking how much cultural conformity Europe can demand in an increasingly globalized world. Immigrant advocates say language requirements and citizenship tests discriminate against Muslim immigrants and, together with immigration caps, send a hostile message to the skilled workers Europe needs to attract from abroad.

    Crime in Latin America

    Fed by the drug trade with the United States, crime and corruption threaten Latin America as never before, reaching from the highest levels of government to the most-impoverished slums. Once largely focused on illegal drugs, crime cartels have now expanded into a complex range of activities from money laundering to human trafficking. The crisis is prompting both U.S. and Latino experts and policy makers to ask how governments and citizens can fight criminal groups, reduce social inequality and create new opportunities for unemployed young people tempted by a life of crime. At the same time, the United States, which has long been involved with Colombia's fight against crime and drug trafficking, is increasingly concerned about the lawlessness and horrific violence in Mexico, now threatening to spill over into the U.S. While experts say the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better, there are some bright spots, including criminal justice reforms that have reduced crime and corruption in several Latin American countries.

    Democracy in Southeast Asia

    Indonesia is the world's third-largest democracy and one of its newest. But while Indonesia is consolidating its democratic institutions and slowly making progress against endemic corruption, democracy elsewhere in Southeast Asia is in distress. High-level corruption and politically motivated murders are obstructing democracy in the Philippines. In Thailand, 14 years of turbulent democracy ended with a military coup in 2006. Elections eventually resumed, but after anti-government protesters camped in Bangkok's commercial center for months in the spring of 2010 demanding new elections, the government finally broke up the demonstrations and began shooting and arresting protesters. True democracy is largely a fiction in Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia, and Myanmar (Burma) is run by a brutal authoritarian regime. Against this backdrop, opposition politicians, scholars and human rights activists debate how best to encourage democracy in Southeast Asia.

    Turmoil in the Arab World

    Massive, largely peaceful demonstrations in January and February 2011 forced longtime autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt from power, including Hosni Mubarak, who had dominated Egypt for more than 30 years. Subsequently, protests erupted in at least a dozen other countries across the Arab world, several of which continue. Using social media to organize, young demonstrators have called for the removal of long-entrenched corrupt regimes, greater freedom and more jobs. They have been met with violent government crackdowns in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, while in Libya strongman Moammar Gadhafi is battling a ragtag rebel force backed by NATO. As the region reverberates with calls for change, scholars say some key questions must be answered: Will the region become more democratic or will Islamic fundamentalists take control? And will relations with the West and Israel suffer? Then, a few months later on May 1, al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan. Once, such news might have triggered anti-U.S. protests across the region. Now, it seemed, those bin Laden had tried to radicalize were more interested in jobs and freedom than in bin Laden's dream of a vast, new Muslin caliphate.

    U.S.-China Relations

    Disputes that have bedeviled relations between the United States and China for decades flared up again following President Obama's decision to sell weapons to Taiwan and receive Tibet's revered Dalai Lama. From the U.S. perspective, China's refusal to raise the value of its currency is undermining America's — and Europe's — economic recovery. Beijing also rebuffed Obama's proposal of “a partnership on the big global issues of our time.” In addition, the Chinese insist on tackling their pollution problems in their own way, and have been reluctant to support U.S. diplomatic efforts to impose tough sanctions on nuclear-minded Iran. With the central bank of China holding more than $800 billion of the U.S. national debt in the form of Treasury notes in 2010, and their economy speeding along at a 9 percent growth rate, the Chinese are in no mood to be accommodating.

    Afghanistan Dilemma

    Nearly ten years ago, U.S. forces first entered Afghanistan to pursue the al Qaeda terrorists who plotted the Sept. 11 terror attacks. American troops are still there today, along with thousands of NATO forces. Under a strategy crafted by the Obama administration, military leaders are trying to deny terrorists a permanent foothold in the impoverished Central Asian country and in neighboring, nuclear-armed Pakistan, whose western border region has become a sanctuary for Taliban and al Qaeda forces. The Afghanistan-Pakistan conflict — “Af-Pak” in diplomatic parlance — poses huge challenges ranging from rampant corruption within Afghanistan's police forces to a multibillion-dollar opium economy that funds the insurgency. But those problems pale in comparison with the ultimate nightmare scenario: Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, which foreign-policy experts say has become a real possibility.


    Can Western-style democracy take root in Arab countries? Do drone strikes comply with international law? Is the Eurozone a workable idea? These questions— and many more—are at the heart of American foreign policy. Students must first understand the facts and contexts of these and other foreign policy issues if they are to analyze and articulate well-reasoned positions.

    The second edition of Issues for Debate in American Foreign Policy includes sixteen up-to-date reports by CQ Researcher, an award-winning weekly policy brief that explains difficult concepts and provides balanced coverage of competing perspectives. Each article analyzes past, present and possible political maneuvering and is designed to promote in-depth discussion and further research to help readers formulate their own positions on crucial international issues.

    This collection is organized into three subject areas—security issues, economic issues and regional issues—to cover a range of topics found in most American foreign policy courses. Citizens, journalists and business and government leaders also can turn to the collected articles to become better informed on key issues, actors and policy positions.

    CQ Researcher

    CQ Researcher was founded in 1923 as Editorial Research Reports and was sold primarily to newspapers as a research tool. The magazine was renamed and redesigned in 1991 as CQ Researcher. Today, students are its primary audience. While still used by hundreds of journalists and newspapers, many of which reprint portions of the reports, Researcher's main subscribers are now high school, college and public libraries. In 2002, Researcher won the American Bar Association's coveted Silver Gavel Award for magazine excellence for a series of nine reports on civil liberties and other legal issues.

    Researcher staff writers — all highly experienced journalists — sometimes compare the experience of writing a Researcher report to drafting a college term paper. Indeed, there are many similarities. Each report is as long as many term papers — about 11,000 words — and is written by one person without any significant outside help. One of the key differences is that the writers interview leading experts, scholars and government officials for each issue.

    Like students, staff writers begin the creative process by choosing a topic. Working with Researcher's editors, the writer identifies a controversial subject that has important public policy implications. After a topic is selected, the writer embarks on one to two weeks of intense research. Newspaper and magazine articles are clipped or downloaded, books are ordered and information is gathered from a wide variety of sources, including interest groups, universities and the government. Once the writers are well informed, they develop a detailed outline and begin the interview process. Each report requires a minimum of ten to fifteen interviews with academics, officials, lobbyists and people working in the field. Only after all interviews are completed does the writing begin.

    Chapter Format

    Each issue of CQ Researcher, and therefore each selection in this book, is structured in the same way. A selection begins with an introductory overview, which is briefly explored in greater detail in the rest of the report.

    The second section chronicles the most important and current debates in the field. It is structured around a number of key issues questions, such as “Can Singapore and Malaysia become liberal democracies?” and “Is enough being done to destroy banned toxic weapons?” This section is the core of each selection. The questions raised are often highly controversial and usually the object of much argument among scholars and practitioners. Hence, the answers provided are never conclusive, but rather detail the range of opinion within the field.

    Following those issue questions is the “Background” section, which provides a history of the issue being examined. This retrospective includes important legislative and executive actions and court decisions to inform readers on how current policy evolved.

    Next, the “Current Situation” section examines important contemporary policy issues, legislation under consideration and action being taken. Each selection ends with an “Outlook” section that gives a sense of what new regulations, court rulings and possible policy initiatives might be put into place in the next five to ten years.

    Each report contains features that augment the main text: sidebars that examine issues related to the topic, a pro/con debate by two outside experts, a chronology of key dates and events and an annotated bibliography that details the major sources used by the writer.

    Custom Options

    Interested in building your ideal CQ Press Issues book, customized to your personal teaching needs and interests? Browse by course or date, or search for specific topics or issues from our online catalog of CQ Researcher issues at


    We wish to thank many people for helping to make this collection a reality. Thomas J. Billitteri, managing editor of CQ Researcher, gave us his enthusiastic support and cooperation as we developed this edition. He and his talented staff of editors and writers have amassed a first-class collection of Researcher articles, and we are fortunate to have access to this rich cache. We also thankfully acknowledge the advice and feedback from current readers and are gratified by their satisfaction with the book.

    Some readers may be learning about CQ Researcher for the first time. We expect that many readers will want regular access to this excellent weekly research tool. For subscription information or a no-obligation free trial of Researcher, please contact CQ Press at or toll-free at 1-866-4CQ-PRESS (1-866-427-7737).

    We hope that you will be pleased by the second edition of Issues for Debate in American Foreign Policy. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for future editions. Please direct comments to Elise Frasier, Acquisitions Editor for International Relations and Comparative Politics, College Publishing Group, CQ Press, 2300 N Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20037; or send e-mail to

    The Editors of CQ Press


    Eliza Barclay is a web producer/reporter for the science desk at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., who was based in Mexico City for three years. She has reported from Latin America, Africa and Asia, and her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications. She has received fellowships from the International Reporting Project and the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting. She graduated with a B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley and is working on an M.A. in science writing from Johns Hopkins University.

    Thomas J. Billitteri is managing editor of the CQ Researcher. He has more than 30 years’ experience covering business, nonprofit institutions and public policy for newspapers and other publications. He holds a BA in English and an MA in journalism from Indiana University.

    Roland Flamini is a Washington-based correspondent who writes on foreign-affairs for The New Republic and other publications. Fluent in six languages, he served as Time bureau chief in Rome, Bonn, Beirut, Jerusalem and the European Common Market and later served as international editor at United Press International. His previous reports for CQ Researcher were on Afghanistan, NATO, Latin America, Nuclear Proliferation and U.S.-Russia Relations. His most recent reporting trip to China was in November-December 2009.

    Sarah Glazer, a London-based freelancer, is a regular contributor to CQ Global Researcher. Her articles on health, education and social-policy issues also have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Her recent CQ Global Researcher reports include “Radical Islam in Europe” and “Social Welfare in Europe.” She graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in American history.

    Alan Greenblatt covers foreign affairs for National Public Radio. He was previously a staff writer at Governing magazine and CQ Weekly, where he won the National Press Club's Sandy Hume Award for political journalism. He graduated from San Francisco State University in 1986 and received a master's degree in English literature from the University of Virginia in 1988. For the CQ Researcher, his reports include “Confronting Warming”, “Future of the GOP” and “Immigration Debate.” His most recent CQ Global Researcher reports were “Attacking Piracy” and “Rewriting History.”

    Associate Editor Kenneth Jost graduated from Harvard College and Georgetown University Law Center. He is the author of the Supreme Court Yearbook and editor of The Supreme Court from A to Z (both CQ Press). He was a member of the CQ Researcher team that won the American Bar Association's 2002 Silver Gavel Award. His previous reports include “States and Federalism” and “Campaign Finance Debates.” He is also author of the blog Jost on Justice (

    Reed Karaim, a freelance writer living in Tucson, Arizona, has written for The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Smithsonian, American Scholar, USA Weekend and other publications. He is the author of the novel, If Men Were Angels, which was selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers series. He is also the winner of the Robin Goldstein Award for Outstanding Regional Reporting and other journalism awards. Karaim is a graduate of North Dakota State University in Fargo.

    Robert Kiener is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in the London Sunday Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, Reader's Digest, Time Life Books, Asia Inc., and other publications. For more than two decades he lived and worked as an editor and correspondent in Guam, Hong Kong and England and is now based in the United States. He frequently travels to Asia and Europe to report on international issues. He holds an M.A. in Asian Studies from Hong Kong University and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University.

    Alex Kingsbury has written about national security and the intelligence community for U.S. News & World Report. He made several trips to Iraq in 2007 and 2008 to cover the Iraq War. He holds a B.A. in history from George Washington University and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.

    Barbara Mantel is a freelance writer in New York City whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology and Mamm Magazine. She is a former correspondent and senior producer for National Public Radio and has won several journalism awards, including the National Press Club's Best Consumer Journalism Award and the Front Page Award from the Newswomen's Club of New York for her April 18, 2008, CQ Researcher report “Public Defenders.” She holds a B.A. in history and economics from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in economics from Northwestern University.

    Jason McLure has been an Africa correspondent since 2007, reporting for publications including Bloomberg News, Newsweek and The New York Times. Currently based in Ghana, he previously worked for Legal Times in Washington, D.C., and in Newsweek's Boston bureau. His writing has appeared in The Economist, Business Week, the British Journalism Review and National Law Journal. His last CQ Global Researcher was “The Troubled Horn of Africa.” His work has been honored by the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists, the Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Press Association and the Overseas Press Club of America Foundation.

    Jina Moore is a multimedia journalist who covers science, human rights and foreign affairs from the United States and Africa. Her work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, The Boston Globe, Foreign Policy and Best American Science Writing, among others. She was a 2009 Ochberg Fellow with the Dart Society for Journalism and Trauma. Her May 2010 story for the CQ Global Researcher, “Confronting Rape as a War Crime”, won honorable mention in the 2011 American Society of Journalists and Authors awards, in the Reporting on a Significant Topic category.

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