Year in Review: Most-Read Articles of 2017

News | December 21, 2017

Below are some of the most popular news and think pieces published on the EastWest Institute website over the course of 2017. Their popularity reflects on the various security and geopolitical events that took place during the past year, such as the military defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS), volatile U.S.-China relations, and nation building in Afghanistan. Cybersecurity and Middle East concerns also grabbed attention and will continue to be daunting challenges for nations in the coming year.

Jordan and the ISIS Threat

Time and again, the Islamic State has shown an ability and willingness to adapt its ideology and carry out its plans through independent or loosely connected groups and cells while still fulfilling the Caliphate’s agenda. Jordan is not immune from these mushrooming, semi-independents groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

“Alternative” Strategic Perceptions in U.S.-China Relations

The issues currently on the U.S.-China agenda share several commonalities: they are top-tier issues that garner presidential attention in both the United States and China; they are contentious, in the U.S.-China context, to the point of raising the prospect of direct conflict (e.g., a hot war or a “trade war”) between the United States and China; and they represent enduring, and seemingly intractable, challenges. These issues also share another less obvious commonality: they are issues where the U.S.-China perceptual divide is as much a part of the problem as the actual interests or policies in question.

Afghan Narcotrafficking: Illicit Financial Flows

“Drug-related financial flows bear serious consequences for Afghanistan, which include funding terrorism, nurturing corruption, undermining the rule of law and depriving the state of desperately needed revenue and resources,” according to Dr. Nikos Passas, co-director of the Institute for Security and Public Policy at Northeastern University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and co-author of the report.

Launch of Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace

The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC) is a global body formed to convene key global stakeholders to develop proposals for norms and policy initiatives to improve the stability and security of cyberspace. Principal supporters of this initiative include the Internet Society (ISOC) and Microsoft. Based in The Hague, it will be comprised of over two dozen prominent independent commissioners, from over 15 countries, with the expertise and legitimacy to speak on different aspects of cyberspace. The Commission will develop proposals for norms and policies to enhance the stability of cyberspace.

Post-ISIS Iraq: Defeating Terrorism Through Real Reforms

The only way to defeat ISIS entirely is by addressing these root causes in a comprehensive manner. On a macro and conceptual level this begins with a thorough understanding of the factors that lead to radicalization. On a policy level, there is a need for developing the right strategy that should support true and real reforms in Iraq.

Clouds Gather on the Horizon of Germany's New Political Landscape

Germany's new political landscape is one in which the vital center has shrunk and Merkel's ability to lead in what will certainly be her last term in office has diminished. This is hardly good news for one of the world's staunchest supporters of democracy, prosperity and stability.

U.S.-Iran 2017: Engagement or Confrontation?

This coming year offers a possibility to build upon this tenuous framework of engagement or once again—as done under the Bush administration and that of Ahmadinejad’s—ruin the foundations of what could be a promising bridge toward peace and stability for the United States, Iran and the wider region.

Japan and France Slowly but Surely Moving Forward on Security Cooperation

Tokyo is indeed looking for political support to face what it sees as attempts by Beijing to dominate its neighborhood and reshape the global order. Paris is generally sharing Tokyo’s line and in their Joint Statement, both countries expressed their ”strong opposition to unilateral actions that increase tensions, such as reclamation or building of outposts” in the South China Sea.

Afghanistan: The Unwelcome Obligation

To inject fresh impetus into current stabilization efforts, the political and security interests of other major stakeholders and regional powers should be given serious consideration. Important regional players such as Russia, Iran and India are currently excluded from the formal peace process (such as the U.S.-China led Quadrilateral Coordination Group of Afghanistan as well as the emerging possibility of additional Saudi-hosted talks).

Russia’s Naval Policy in the Mediterranean and the War in Syria

The traditional responsibility of the Russian Navy has been to provide a marine-based defense. It is not to serve as a Mahan style world ranging commerce protector. It has been, and continues to be, an extension of the land-based defense force.


Photo: "World travel and communications recorded" (CC BY 2.0) by Eric Fischer