While the U.S. remains the world's strongest military and economic power, its place and role on the international stage is shifting. There are potentially dramatic implications for international peace and security from a U.S. foreign policy that is increasingly inward-looking, less predictable, less multilateral, and more reliant on the threat or use of military force to achieve its objectives. In 2017, Crisis Group established its first program dedicated to analysing U.S. policy, understanding who makes and shapes it, and offering recommendations to help guide its trajectory.
Washington’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 11 September spells an end to the U.S. military deployment but not peace. Crisis Group expert Andrew Watkins anticipates that negotiations will likely stall and Afghans will fear an intensified civil war as the U.S. role evolves.
At the advent of President Joe Biden’s tenure, the U.S. confronts numerous foreign policy problems old and new. His administration should discard failed approaches, such as over-reliance on coercion, as it works to craft policies in service of a more peaceful world.
The 2015 nuclear deal enters 2021 clinging to life, having survived the Trump administration’s withdrawal and Iran’s breaches of its commitments. When the Biden administration takes office, Washington and Tehran should move quickly and in parallel to revive the agreement on its original terms.
Peace talks in Afghanistan have only inched forward even as the pace of conflict has picked up. As the Afghan government and Taliban await clearer policy signals from the incoming U.S. administration, their primary goal should be to keep the vital negotiations going.
The 2020 U.S. presidential election presents risks not seen in recent history. It is conceivable that violence could erupt during voting or protracted ballot counts. Officials should take extra precautions; media and foreign leaders should avoid projecting a winner until the outcome is certain.
The Trump administration continues its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, now with an attempt to restore pre-2015 UN sanctions, a right reserved for signatories to the nuclear deal it abandoned. Other UN Security Council members should disregard this gambit and urge Tehran not to overreact.
Naval incidents in the Gulf have spotlighted the danger that a U.S.-Iranian skirmish could blow up into war. The two sides have little ability to communicate at present. They should hasten to design a military-to-military channel to lower the chances of inadvertent conflagration.
The [recent] U.S. [air strikes in Syria were] aimed at a relatively insignificant target in an area where Iran's hands are somewhat tied.
It’s very strange indeed to have the president of the United States say something out loud and then have all the rest of us wondering if it really means anything.
Frankly, there’s a degree of exhaustion with this administration (the Trump Administration) in the Security Council.
[When the U.S. military] is out there laying down so-called ‘nonpersistent smart mines’ that will time out after 30 days, there’s still a field of mines out there.
The outpouring of grief for Qassim Suleimani is the country’s first act of retaliation.
Netanyahu fears this incident lacks a broader U.S. strategy and would either merely escalate dynamics without restraining Iran’s nuclear program and regional activities.
Originally published in Arms Control Association
The U.S. has designated two armed groups in the DRC and in Mozambique as terrorist organisations, claiming they are affiliated with the Islamic State, and creating potential legal peril for peacemakers who may deal with them. Crisis Group analyses the implications.
Washington’s latest idea of a transitional government would be worse than the dysfunctional status quo.
Originally published in Foreign Policy
Iranian and U.S. leaders face domestic pressure to further harden their positions in negotiations to revive the faltering 2015 nuclear accord. Both parties should start a three-phase synchronised process to bring them back into compliance with their nuclear deal obligations before Iran’s June presidential elections.
Will the U.S. offer to roll back Trump-era sanctions in exchange for Iran complying with the JCPOA’s nuclear restrictions, and use the existing agreement as a foundation for follow-up negotiations?
Originally published in World Politics Review