Stefano Stefanini

Middle East
The Syrian conundrum

In Syria, where everyone is fighting against everyone else, Russia and the US could cooperate against their common enemy and help end the war. But the danger may be too great to risk a confrontation.

A tale of two agreements

Two major international agreements involving laborious negotiations were signed in July. One of them looks like a change for the better, while the other hopes to keep things together lest they spin out of control.

Middle East
The Middle East black hole

Crises in the Middle East don’t just follow one after another, they pile on top of each other. While there are no easy solutions for all the problems, half-hearted engagement is a surefire recipe for disaster.

Time to talk

Washington and Moscow are on speaking terms again.
It might be too early to call it cooperation, especially with respect to Ukraine, but they are off to a good start on what promises to be a rough road.

Still a steep climb

Should the P5+1 sign the Iran nuclear deal or not? This is the wrong question until we actually know what the deal is. Thus far, certain substantial issues remain in the air. And no one wants to be blamed for a bad deal.

Staring at the big break up

Europe’s enlargement was already a monumental achievement. But the specter of impending exits and the travails of heading them off are so huge that no one wants to imagine the repercussions.

Europe’s perfect storm

A convergence of crises combined with Europe’s reluctance to face any of them head on may seriously damage the foundations of the European project. Any solution must in some way revive a seemingly lost political will.

Europe’s perfect storm

A convergence of crises combined with Europe’s reluctance to face any of them head on may seriously damage the foundations of the European project. Any solution must in some way revive a seemingly lost political will.

Euro Sisyphus faces jihad
Dealing with the enemy within

Europe is at war, whether it likes to call it that or prefers another name. But since the enemy is homegrown Islamist terrorism, it must wage the war in an entirely different manner from its historical fights. 

Survival in a tough neighborhood

As NATO pulls most of its forces out of Afghanistan, it again faces a moment of truth, in which the war-ravaged country must survive more or less on its own. This time, however, the neighbors will be watching more closely. 

Waiting for the foreign policy president

Down but not out at home, in his presidency’s final stretch Barack Obama still has the option of looking out at the world beyond the United States – and at a time of great need for leadership. Will he take it?

The EU’s foreign policy challenges

EU High Representative Federica Mogherini takes her new post with a lot on her agenda. From the tension with Russia to a war in Syria, the neighborhood risks going up in flames. Her ability to work with her counterparts will be crucial.

Longing for the Captain

Obama’s original plan was to end the wars, focus on strengthening America’s economy, and rebuild broken consensus abroad. Those plans, however, have been overturned by a whorl of dramatic events.

A new world disorder

The upcoming NATO Summit must deal with a growing constellation of global disarray, from Ukraine on its eastern edge to Syria and Iraq on the southern border. Otherwise NATO will fade into irrelevance.

The Euro to come
Europe’s difficult choices, Italy’s chance

The European project finds itself at a perilous crossroads exactly when Italy is set to take over the rotating presidency. If the Union is to thrive, then complacency and muddling through are simply not an option.

World war
Do-or-die time

As the rest of the world pulls ahead, Europe seems to be taking for granted that its position in the international system is safe. But are Europeans turning a blind eye to an unpalatable reality?

Afghanistan afterthought: Was it worth it?

Now that NATO forces are preparing to pull out of Afghanistan, everyone is reckoning whether the country is better or worse off than before Western forces arrived. Whatever the case, the elected government might not be equipped to survive.

Full throttle Putin
The watershed

What may seem like a bold and brilliant tactical move on Putin’s part, will likely come back to haunt him. In an interdependent world, isolation is tantamount to self-abnegation.

Iran's game
Iran, America, the Middle East: What if?

Every geopolitical deal, especially one as important as what is currently being negotiated between the US and Iran, is rife with hurdles. But the possibilities of benefits on both sides are significant.

A single man, a national divide, the international fallout

Is Edward Snowden a traitor or a whistle-blower? However he is viewed, it is now clear that his actions will have a lasting impact on how the US conducts its intelligence gathering from now on.

The year of Europe
Fighting a good, clean fight

The Old Continent has many hurdles to overcome if it is to thrive in the manner it is accustomed to. But unless these challenges are met, the pall of stagnation will choke its inherent dynamism.

Global security
Jazzing up the steadfast Alliance

As it pulls out of Afghanistan, NATO finds its international role growing in complexity, yet as relevant as ever. The need to adapt to unpredictable events has pushed the Alliance into a veritable transatlantic renaissance.

Why Italy matters

It’s not just a matter of showing up to the table, but also of delivering something for others. Italy is realizing that it has always been better off when it works with others.

Sweating the deal
Season’s end shake-up

Just when the entire Middle East looked to be on the brink of a conflagration, diplomacy took over. If the Russians and Americans continue to cooperate on Syria, it could eventually lead to a reconfiguration of the international order.

Back to square one
Endgame for the Arab Springs?

The nascent democracies in the Arab world are having a difficult time. What happens to Egypt now that President Morsi has been deposed will affect the entire region along with our very notion of a democratic government.

Afghanistan: what’s next

The NATO forces that have been engaged in Afghanistan for over a decade are now preparing to leave. With negotiations set, it is imperative that the country not fall into another cycle of ruinous civil war.

Falling on deaf ears
The battle for Syria


As the factions on the ground grow hungrier for forces and weapons from neighboring countries, the international community is coming to the conclusion that it must step in to impose a political solution.

Politics and the lessons of terror

We have come to accept that terrorism is a fact of our times. What the most recent attack in Boston has shown is that the way to negate its impact is to stand united in combating it and to carry on.

Iraq’s uneasy ride
Ten years after

Operation Iraqi Freedom was supposed to change the Middle East. And it did. But not the way its planners had anticipated. As the desire for freedom and democracy increases, so does the instability of the entire region. The old balance of power has been irrevocably skewed.

The failed state syndrome

The pivot into Africa of jihadist movements has changed the geopolitics of a fragile region, where failed states open opportunities for Islamic extremists. Europe has to rise to the challenge – or pay a heavy price for inaction. Security in the western Mediterranean is at stake.

Laying out a legacy
Fable of the bees

Reelected presidents’ second terms can be disappointing. Will Obama be the exception to the rule? In spite of the mixed reviews his foreign policy has received, America today is in better shape internationally than in 2008. Caution and realism have been his trademark – but also decisiveness.