Stories by Richard Haass

Expert Voices

Hong Kong protests assert the freedoms China seeks to constrain

protestors create a barricade of luggage carts at the airport
Pro-democracy protestors at Hong Kong's international airport. Photo: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

Intensifying protests in Hong Kong — continuing weeks after the shelving of a controversial extradition law — have fueled a broader struggle over the city's character and future.

Why it matters: Hong Kong remains an important financial gateway from China to the world, although Shanghai and other mainland cities have taken on part of that role. Above all, the central government in Beijing wants to avoid the precedent of a popular political movement successfully challenging President Xi and the authority of the Communist Party.

Expert Voices

Trump's Mideast diplomacy in the age of Twitter

Mike Pompeo and the Israeli prime minister shake hands in front of a row of Israel and American flags, standing behind two podiums.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his official residence in Jerusalem yesterday. Photo: Amir Cohen/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

It was another day of diplomacy in the age of Twitter, with @realDonaldTrump tweeting: "After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!"

Why it matters: The president’s tweet calls for a change in U.S. policy toward the Golan Heights but does not actually declare it. There are many reasons for the president not to turn his tweet into policy.  It would all but eliminate what little chance exists for peace between Israel and either the Palestinians or Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia. 

Expert Voices

Mattis exit further destabilizes Trump administration's foreign policy

Secretary Mattis at a lectern
Defense Secretary Mattis at the Pentagon on Nov. 28, 2018. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced Thursday that he will step down, after two difficult years in which he and President Trump were often not on the same page. Mattis underscored their differences in his resignation letter, telling Trump he had the right to a defense secretary with more closely aligned views.

Why it matters: Mattis was a traditionalist who believed in an international order led by the United States, in respecting and supporting its allies, and in keeping its commitments. His departure leaves the administration without an experienced, centrist foreign policy hand.