Archive for Foreign Relations

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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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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