Archive for Foreign Relations

The South China Sea Decision

The Permanent Court of Arbitration has issued its “award” concerning China’s encroachment into the South China Sea, a move that was contested by the Philippines. The ruling is a clear rebuke of China’s claims. Rather than read the 500-page verdict, this press release succinctly lays out the decision and its total refutation of China’s claims. Why is this so important? For many reasons: China’s violation of other nations’ maritime rights, its systematic and widespread damage to the local ecologies, the fact that this area contains a great deal of natural gas under the water, almost $5 trillion worth of shipping goes through the disputed area, and China’s militarization of the islands in the sea, some of them actually created by China. Here is China’s response. 

For additional information, please look at: China Maritime Studies (U.S. Naval War College); China’s Maritime Disputes and South China Seas Tension (Council of Foreign Relations); What Does the South China Sea Ruling Mean, and What’s Next? (Brookings); South China Sea (U.S. Energy Information Administration); The South China Sea dispute: July 2016 update (UK House of Commons Library); Chinese Land Reclamation in the South ChinaSea: Implications and Policy Options, Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress, and Maritime Territorial Disputes in East Asia: Issues for Congress (all CRS); China (International Crisis Group); and Why does China care so much about the South China Sea? Here are 5 reasons (Washington Post).




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What is “Foreign Aid”?

This informative overview from CRS is arranged along an FAQ model and should answer many questions: Foreign Aid: An Introduction to U.S. Programs and Policies. You can also peruse A Primer on Foreign Aid from the Center for Foreign Development.


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Cybersecurity and International Relations

The crossroads of information technology and international affairs is highlighted in a new site – Net Politics from the Council on Foreign Relations. A recurring feature is Cyber Week in Review (here is the April 15, 2015 iteration) that is replete with links embedded within stories having both national and international connotations. A larger CFR cybersecurity section has additional reports, but not necessarily a weekly round-up of events.

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2015 “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” Released

Issued annually by the State Department, this report allows one to explore by country or topically across countries. The quite lengthy reports detail all manner of violations. Access to previous reports are also available. Compare this with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

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Documents of United States Relations With Cuba

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U.S. to Re-Establish Diplomatic Relations With Cuba

Within the past hour, President Obama has announced that the United States will start lifting decades-old sanctions against Cuba with the ultimate goal of restoring full diplomatic relations. Read the White House Fact Sheet: Charting a new course on Cuba as well as this informative New York Times article and this Times Topics section on Cuba. In addition, relevant documents concerning our turbulent relations with this island nation are available online. This Department of State page on Cuba provides additional links and more worthwhile information is found in this CRS report Cuba: Policies and Issues for the 113th Congress.

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25 Years Ago: The Fall of the Berlin Wall

In 1961, practically overnight, the western portion of Berlin was encircled by a wall surmounted with barbed wire, ditches and watch towers. For years it was the symbol of the tension between the West and the East (Russia). And as quickly as it was erected, it came down on November 9, 1989. A City Torn Apart: The Building of the Berlin Wall provides an informative overview through essays, maps, and selected documents. Hundreds of declassified CIA documents from the early 1960s are available online as are numerous diplomatic texts found in:

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958–1960, Berlin Crisis, 1958–1959, Volume VIII
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958–1960, Berlin Crisis, 1959–1960, Germany, Austria, Volume IX
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XIV, Berlin Crisis, 1961–1962
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XV, Berlin Crisis, 1962–1963.                                                                                                                      The fall of the wall has been chronicled widely: The Wall (PBS); On This Day: The Wall Comes Down (BBC); Fall of the Berlin Wall (numerous videos, C-SPAN); The Berlin Wall (with numerous links, Times Topics); The Fall of the Berlin Wall (The Washington Post); The Berlin Wall, 25 Years After the Wall (photoessay, The Atlantic); The Berlin Wall (The Guardian); and Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall (Wilson Center).                                                                                                                         ‘”There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – Ronald Reagan, Speech at the Brandenburg Gate, West Berlin, June 12, 1987

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