Archive for Foreign Relations

2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

This newest iteration has just been released and you have the ability to search for a  volume back to 1999 or by a specific country. These reports can be lengthy and very detailed and address a pre-set list of conditions/topics such as labor practices, media freedom, and academic freedom.

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“U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress”

This CRS report should be required reading for all interested in where our country is heading now. The bibliography runs many pages and is current through October 2019; in fact the entire bibliography is composed of 2019 citations. Previous editions of this work, with supporting bibliographies, can be found here.

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Guide To Brexit Abbreviations and Phrases

What is a hard Brexit? The term “alternative agreement”means what? What is “Article 50 TEU”? These and other terms are explained (along with embedded links where necessary) in this Brexit Glossary recently published by the UK Parliament Library.

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Recent Reports on China

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United Nations Digital Library

As of this writing, over 950,000 records are included in this database consisting of speeches, reports, meeting records, documents, resolutions, and all the other bureaucratic paperwork associated with such a vast organization. The material can be filtered by UN body as well as by year; an advanced search screen provides even more options.

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United States – North Korea Relations

This State Department page offers a brief review of this country’s interaction with then-Korea and its present bifurcated state. Basic information on the country itself is found here courtesy of the CIA’s World Factbook; the BBC also provides an excellent country profile. In addition, there are numerous CRS reports on this situation, among them North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation.

Diplomatic and intelligence sources can be found in a number of sites:

The National Security Archive has curated briefing books featuring North Korea, the most recent one entitled The United States and North Korea Nuclear Threat.

The Foreign Relations of the United States series has many volumes of relevant documents – Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, Korea, Volume VII; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1951, Korea and China, Volume VII, Part 1; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1951, Korea and China, Volume VII, Part 2 ; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Korea, Volume XV, Part 1 ; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Korea, Volume XV, Part 2 ; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Korea, Volume XV, Part 1 ; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Korea, Volume XV, Part 2 ; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955–1957, Korea, Volume XXIII, Part 2 ; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958–1960, Japan; Korea, Volume XVIII ; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968, Volume XXIX, Part 1, Korea ;  and Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume XIX, Part 1, Korea, 1969–1972. (Because of the slowness in reviewing and declassifying documents, the FRUS is now woefully behind in adhering to its mandate to publish documents/volumes within a thirty-year timeframe. Come here to review this problem.)

The CIA makes available an historical collection that is appropriate – Baptism By Fire: CIA Analysis of the Korean War – as well as thousands of reports, briefings, analyses, some as recent as 2017.

The Wilson Center has several collections of value: United States-North Korea RelationsConversations with Kim Il Sung; China-North Korea Relations; Inter-Korean Relations (one of several troves so titled); and Japan and the Korean Peninsula. Also, consult its North Korea International Documentation Project.

This is a video worth watching – Primary Sources for Research on North Korea – a 2014 webcast sponsored by the Library of Congress.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: INF Treaty

President Trump has announced that the United States is going to withdraw from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or INF. This agreement eliminated all missiles that had a range of between 300 miles and 3,000 miles, effectively stripping the European Theater of Operations from the threat of missile attack, whether of a conventional or nuclear nature.

There have been some reports that Russia was not abiding by the letter of the law; see Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress from CRS for an overview. Also, this proposed legislation – S.430 – Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty Preservation Act of 2017.

Although of recent historical vintage, there are indeed valuable primary sources of information for those wishing to visit this topic.

Firstly,  read the treaty in its entirety along with its informative narrative.

Secondly, examine the hundreds of documents that have been selected to explain the diplomatic process. These are found in the valuable Foreign Relations of the United States series, especially Soviet Union, October 1986-January 1989, Volume VI , and read the preface to this volume that points to additional relevant volumes in this ongoing documentary project.

Thirdly, consult the National Security Archive for its “briefing book” – The INF Treaty and the Washington Summit: 20 Years Later that contains additional sources, including some from the Soviet side. This wonderful site also has numerous entries on the predecessor negotiations as well.

Fourthly, drop by the Wilson Center’s digital collections that were culled from disparate entities that have an impact on the present topic.

Fifthly, visit Georgetown University’s digital video collection containing then-contemporary interviews of some of the major players/analysts of the time from both the academic and governmental perspectives.

Sixthly, peruse statements, addresses, interviews of President Ronald Reagan (who was a key participant in this treaty) housed at the American Presidency Project.

And lastly (because I can’t bear the thought of writing “seventhly”), watch the various Congressional hearings on the INF courtesy of C-SPAN.

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Full Text of the DOD Summary Report on the Niger Ambush

It is here and a transcript of the press briefing is also available as is a video.

U.S. forces have been deployed in Niger since 2013 as advisers and trainers because Niger is in a region controlled by terrorist organizations ranging from Boko Harum to al-Qaeda. (Why U.S. forces are in Niger from CSIS adds to the discussion.)

These CRS reports provide background information: Niger: Frequently Asked Questions About the October 2017 Attack on U.S. Soldiers and Attack on U.S. Soldiers in Niger: Context and Issues for Congress.

For those who are interested in where our military forces are deployed around the world, please consult this CRS report – Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2017. Basic country information can be found in the CIA World Factbook and this BBC Country Profile.

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CRS Reports on the “Iran Deal”

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United States Foreign Policy – Some Sites

“U.S. willingness to lead in the creation and sustainment of the open international order derived from a belief among U.S. policymakers that it reflected U.S. values and served U.S. security, political, and economic interests.”

U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues For Congress (CRS, 2019):6

Below are selected links that will lead you to a plethora of governmental and non-governmental information that will inform your discussion of this country’s relationship with the world:

American Presidency Project contains the Public Papers of the Presidents.

BBC Country Profiles (Snapshots of every country; provides links to media).

Brookings (Best of the best US think tank)

Central Intelligence Agency. FOIA Electronic Reading Room (Thousands of declassified documents. Peruse “Historical Collections”)

Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook (Great source for country-specific information.)

Chatham House (Royal institute of International Affairs)

Congressional Research Service is essentially the think tank for Congress. Thousands of reports are generated each year on diverse topics, many pertaining to foreign policy.

Council on Foreign Relations (Top US think tank)

Country Commercial Guides (Provides US businesses with an inside look into market conditions and events that might impact them)

Country Indictors for Foreign Policy. (Provides risk assessment through the lenses of external and internal stakeholders.)

Country Studies provides monographic treatments on the history and culture of various nations.

Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Vault (declassified documents through FOIA)

Foreign Relations of the United States.(THE definitive record of US diplomatic relations edited for public consumption. More recent volumes are here.)

GovInfo. Foreign Relations. (Provides access to thousands of government reports, hearings, etc)

National Security Archive Briefing Books. (Hundreds of topical reports each with primary source material)

Think Tanks by Region and Topic of Research

US Department of State. Bilateral Fact Sheets. (Brief overview of US interactions with other countries)

United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. Find current hearings here.

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Find current hearings here.

Wilson Center Digital Collections (Document-laden source material)

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The Role of the United States in the 1953 Iran Coup

This volume of long-suppressed documents – Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954, Iran, 1951–1954 – finally acknowledges the covert United States operations that underpinned the 1953 Iranian coup. In conjunction with this 1989 volume – Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954, Volume X  – a fuller and more accurate representation  of the times is presented.

Read the preface of the first volume above to understand the furor that erupted when the 1989 volume was released WITHOUT any documentation of the CIA’s role in the overthrow.

Additional information can be found in this internal CIA history – The Battle for Iran, 1953. And here is a relevant New York Times site – The C.I.A. in Iran; it includes a timeline and selected articles from the paper.

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Is the United States Pulling Back from the World Stage?

With recent pronouncements and actions from Washington signaling the withdrawal of the United States from multinational agreements, this report is especially relevant – U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress. A Pew survey taken last year shows the ambivalence prevalent in this country – Public Uncertain, Divided Over America’s Place in the World.

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Online Primary Sources: “British Documents on the End of Empire”

This massive project was undertaken in light of the following:

“The main purpose of the British Documents on the End of Empire Project (BDEEP) is to publish documents from British official archives on the ending of colonial and associated rule and on the context in which this took place. In 1945, aside from the countries of present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma, Britain had over fifty formal dependencies; by the end of 1965 the total had been almost halved and by 1985 only a handful remained.”

Documents were culled from a vast array of official sources and provide insights into the transfer of power and the establishment of relations with former colonies.

The project was divided into three series: Series A approached this re-alignment thematically; Series B concentrates on specific countries; and Series C acts as an updated guide to the official records housed in various agencies. All the volumes contain hundreds of documents; at times, the tomes take some time to download. But it is worth the wait. In total, eighteen volumes were published between 1992 and 2006.


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Who Are the Rohingya?

They are a minority-Muslim group inside the largely Buddhist country of Myanmar (once known as Burma). According to CIA data, Buddhists comprise 87.9% of the country while Muslims total 4.3% of the population. These people have been in the news largely because of the large mass emigrations into neighboring Bangladesh, supposedly in retaliation for attacks on government offices by a splinter Rohingya group.

Background information on this can be found in many places, especially:

The Rohingya Migrant Crisis (CFR Backgrounder); The Rakine State Danger to Myanmar’s Transition (International Crisis Group); Rohingya (Migration Policy Group); STATEMENT ON ROHINGYA REFUGEES FLEEING BURMA TO BANGLADESH (US State Department); Final Report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State (supplemental material here); Congressional bills, hearings, resolutions on Rohingya; Burma – February 2017 Update (UK House of Commons Library Research Briefing); U.S. Restrictions on Relations with Burma (CRS); There is no simple solution to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar (Brookings); Myanmar’s Problem State (Chatham House); and United Nations reports, documents, and publications.

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Online Primary Sources: “Documents on German Foreign Relations”

As World War II was coming to a close, literally tons of documents from the German Foreign Ministry were seized. A joint commission comprised of scholars and editors from the United States, the United Kingdom, and France was formed with the object of evaluating what documents were important enough to be published as a record of  Germany’s foreign policy from the late 19th century until WWII. That was too daunting a process so the revised focus was on documents illustrating the run-up to hostilities, primarily around the years 1939 to 1941. This was undertaken and over the course of the years, 1949-1964, “Series D” was published in thirteen volumes. (Read the prefaces to the individual volumes for a more complete history of this project.)

Here are the volumes currently available online:

1 (From Neurath to Ribbentrop, September 1937 – September 1938)

2 (Germany and Czechoslovakia, 1937-1938)

3 (Germany and the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939)

4 (The Aftermath of Munich, October 1938 – March 1939)

5 (Poland, Balkans, Latin America, June 1937 – March 1939)

6 (The Last Months of Peace, March – August, 1939)

7 (The Last Days of Peace, August 9 – September 3, 1939)

8 (The War Years, September 4 – March 3, 1940)

9 (The War Years, March 18 – June 22, 1940)

10 (The War Years, June 23 – August 31, 1940)

11 (The War Years, September 1940 – January 31, 1941. Analytical index only.)

12 (The War Years, February 1 – June 22, 1941)

13 (The War Years, June 23 – December 11, 1941)


“Series C” that deals with the years 1933-1937 started producing volumes in 1957; there are six volumes in total. Online versions are:

1 (The Third Reich: First Phase, January 30 – October 14, 1933)

3 (The Third Reich: First Phase, June 14, 1934 – March 31, 1935)

4 (The Third Reich: First Phase, April 1, 1935 – March 4, 1936)

6 (The Third Reich: First Phase, November 11, 1936 – November 14, 1937)




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China’s Economy

Here are some recent reports on the world’s second largest economy: Economic Survey of China (OECD); China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States (CRS); Moody’s Downgrades China Over Worries About Its Growing Debt The New York Times); China (IMF); China (World Bank);8 things you need to know about China’s economy (World Economic Forum); China (Council on Foreign Relations); China (Center for Strategic and International Studies); and China’s domestic politics and foreign policy (UK Parliament library).

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Reports on Brexit From European Sources

While Brexit will certainly affect the United States, it will have a major impact in Europe in so many sectors, among them trade, travel, work, and borders. Because of this, this posting will be limited to works emanating from various European think tanks. (A U.S. perspective can be read here: Economic Implications of a United Kingdom Exit from the European Union).

Bruegel examines Brexit from an economic perspective.

Carnegie Europe (Brussels) features Brexit-related works.

The Centre for European Policy Studies has a section on “Britain and the EU“.

The Centre for European Reform has “Britain & the EU“.

Chatham House contains “After Brexit: Britain’s Future”. 

The European Parliamentary Research Service hosts “What Think Tanks Are Thinking” – a guide to European institutional research. The latest edition on Brexit was posted on February 17, 2017); previous studies can also be accessed.

The European Council on Foreign Relations discusses European reactions in Brexit:Responses.

The European Policy Centre has issued dozens of reports on Brexit.

The UK Parliament Library issued Brexit: a reading list of post-EU Referendum publications by Parliament and the Devolved Assemblies [definition of purpose of devolved assemblies] on March 29, 2017. This document lists hundreds of linked reports generated from the House of Lords, the House of Commons, and select committees






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U. S. Treaties

A treaty is basically an agreement between/among nations over a certain topic or concern. The United States as a sovereign power has been entering into treaties since its inception. This 13-volume series contains the texts of all treaties up to and including 1949. Beginning in 1950, United States Treaties and Other International Agreements presents the full text of agreements on an annual basis. through 1983/84. Individual treaty texts from 1996 to the present are also online. (Yes, the full texts of treaties from 1985 to 1995 are not freely available as far as we can surmise. Something is very wrong with this.)

To find out what treaties are still in effect, please consult the annual Treaties in Force; for post-2013 compilations please go to this State Department site for information. For information on how the U.S. Senate is involved in approving treaties, please come here.

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English-language Diplomatic Editions

We have mentioned the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) many times in this blog, but other countries have similar series of diplomatic editions as well. (N.B. All these series, due to declassification procedures, have at least 30-year lags in the coverage.) We are limiting ourselves  to those available in English and online: Documents on Australian Foreign Policy now number over thirty volumes beginning with 1937, including monographic titles; Documents on Canadian External Relations have the first two volumes covering events from 1909 through 1919 at this site while this site contains volume 12(1946) onward; and Documents on Irish Foreign Policy begins with 1919. Sadly, the Documents on British Foreign Policy have very few volumes online.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: Early Diplomatic Correspondence

Before the United States was the United States, it operated under the Continental Congress and the Articles of Confederation, a less than effective central government. However, it still needed to have relations with foreign powers if only to secure needed military supplies and other forms of aid. Representatives were dispatched to Europe, among them Benjamin Franklin, to engage in diplomatic negotiations. Their various writings and other documents are collected in The revolutionary diplomatic correspondence of the U.S. under direction of Congress (6 volumes, 1889) and The Emerging nation: a documentary history of the foreign relations of the United States under the Articles of Confederation, 1780-1789 (3 volumes, 1996).


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