U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend an event for business leaders in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend an event for business leaders in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

5 Top Reads

Our Best Weekend Reads

From China’s #MeToo movement to advice for a new incoming class of the U.S. Congress.

As the U.S. government’s partial shutdown enters a fourth week, Americans have reckoned with just how many workers live paycheck to paycheck—even as the State Department gets ready to host a major conference next week for 188 U.S. chiefs of mission and ambassadors abroad. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army began to remove equipment from Syria even as officials said the number of troops on the ground may increase before a final withdrawal takes place. And on Tuesday, the indictment of a Russian lawyer who held a meeting in Trump Tower in 2016 revealed her close ties to the Kremlin. In addition, the arrest of a former U.S. Marine in Moscow on suspicion of espionage has left tensions between the United States and Russia running high.

Below are five essential essays from Foreign Policy that encapsulate the biggest headlines of the week.


U.S. Navy ships attached to the Ronald Reagan and John C. Stennis carrier strike groups transit the Philippine Sea during dual carrier operations on Nov. 18, 2018. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters/U.S. Navy)

1. Dear Pentagon: It’s Not How Big Your Budget Is. It’s How You Use It.

Pegging defense spending to either the size of the economy as a whole or the size of the federal budget is logically incoherent, Susanna V. Blume writes. Arguments about defense spending, therefore, should focus on foreign policy and what the military actually wants to do.


Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) during member-elect briefings on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 15, 2018. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

2. Welcome to Congress. Here’s How to Run the World.

FP’s Stephen M. Walt lays down a few tips for the new incoming class of the U.S. Congress, who are entering their positions under a government shutdown. On his list? Learn about China and look for foreign-policy issues where bipartisan agreement can be achieved.


Chinese sailors march during the opening ceremony of the ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise at a military port in Zhanjiang, in China’s southern Guangdong province, on Oct. 22, 2018. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

3. A New Cold War Has Begun

The United States and China will be locked in a contest for decades to come, Robert D. Kaplan writes. If Washington wants to win, it will have to stay more patient than Beijing.


Hanna Barczyk illustration for Foreign Policy

4. China’s #MeToo Activists Have Transformed a Generation

A small group of Chinese #MeToo activists has shifted attitudes, despite the government’s best efforts. While pushback from the Chinese Communist Party has been harsh, those inside the movement have soldiered on, Simina Mistreanu writes.


A picture taken on November 8, 2016 shows Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaking during an interview in Moscow. (Yury Martyanov/AFP/Getty Images)

5. Why the Indictment of the Lawyer at the Trump Tower Meeting Matters

Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who attended a meeting in Trump Tower in 2016, was charged with obstruction of justice Tuesday in relation to a separate money laundering scheme. The case took place when Veselnitskaya worked for Prevezon Holdings, which was accused of using proceeds from a massive Russian tax fraud plot to buy property in New York City. FP’s Amy Mackinnon spoke with Jaimie Nawaday, a partner at the Kelley Drye & Warren law firm who worked on the Prevezon case as an assistant U.S. attorney, about the significance of the charge against Veselnitskaya.

Adrienne Shih is the social media and engagement editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @adrienneshih