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This Week: Obama's Legacy, What Makes Putin Tick, and More

Engaging with China to promote good governance, Biden on nuclear security, and Trump's misguided approach to China.
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January 20, 2017

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Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a video link, dedicated to the start of natural gas supplying from mainland Russia to Crimea, in Moscow, Russia, December 27, 2016. Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTX2WLJF
U.S. President Barack Obama attends a meeting with the National Security Council at the State Department in Washington February 25, 2016. Obama on Thursday expressed confidence that the United States would prevail in its fight against the Islamic State, but said that an end to the conflict in Syria would be key to dismantling the group.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX28MXZ
President Xi Jinping (2nd row, 5th L), Premier Li Keqiang (2nd row, 6th L) and other Chinese leaders sing China's national anthem during the closing ceremony of National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj - RTSAMOJ

Featured Quote

 A central element in U.S. strategy must be to deny North Korea the means to exploit perceived or actual capabilities for coercive advantage.”

January 13, 2017 | Jonathan D. Pollack, Order from Chaos


US Foreign Policy

Congress, Russia, and sanctions. Support is growing on Capitol Hill for enacting sanctions on Russia, driven in part by the president-elect’s skepticism about their efficacy, writes Steven Pifer. He recommends that Congress tailor new measures to strengthen the prospects of persuading Moscow to change its policies.

Tillerson's confirmation hearing. Last week, the world heard from the president-elect’s choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. Strobe Talbott observes that while Tillerson’s performance was deft and somewhat encouraging, he equivocated ominously on one issue: the future of U.S. sanctions on Russia.

Biden and nuclear security. Vice President Biden offered his take on President Obama’s nuclear legacy and gave the incoming administration some subtle recommendations in an address at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on January 11. Steven Pifer and Alicia Sanders-Zakre provide key takeaways from Biden's speech.

Asia and the Pacific

How Asians view America (and China). The Trump administration will soon face the challenge of formulating and conducting policy towards Asia, write Richard Bush and Maeve Whelan-Wuest, and any successful approach will require an understanding of Asia perspectives. They analyze the implications of a recent survey of public opinion across Asia for the new administration.

Trump's misguided brinkmanship on China. Donald Trump's remarks reported in the Wall Street Journal that, “Everything is under negotiation” on U.S. policy toward China signal a dangerous brinkmanship, explains Richard Bush. He argues that questioning core assumptions of the bilateral relationship is a flawed approach from the start.

How Pakistan may test the Trump administration. Pakistan has been at the root of crisis for the last several administrations, writes Bruce Riedel, and the next administration should prepare to be tested early.

India's foreign policy. In the latest episode of the Brookings Cafeteria Podcast, Shivshankar Menon shares his experiences behind the scenes of some of India's most critical foreign policy decisions.

Middle East and North Africa

Libyans haven't forgotten history. Last week, Italy reopened its embassy in Tripoli, the first to do so after the majority of embassies in Libya closed in 2015. A number of Libyans exploited the news with a media war and talk of neo-colonialism. Federica Saini Fasanotti argues that they couldn't be more wrong, but the Italians were wrong in their timing too.

Upcoming Event

US-China relations in transition: The Trump administration and the 19th Party Congress
Tuesday, January 24 at 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM EST

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