Foreign Affairs is an influential American journal on international relations published by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) six times annually. The CFR is a private-sector group established in New York City in 1921, with the mission of promoting understanding of foreign policy and America’s role in the world.
The Council named Professor Archibald Cary Coolidge of Harvard University as the journal's first editor. As Coolidge was unwilling to move from Boston to New York, Hamilton Fish Armstrong a Princeton alumnus and a European correspondent of the New York Evening Post (now known as the New York Post) was appointed as a co-editor and was sent to work in New York to handle the mechanical work of publishing the journal. Armstrong chose the light blue color to be the cover of the journal and had his two sisters, Margeret and Helen, design the logo (the man on the horse on the upper left hand side of each cover - now in the middle) and the lettering respectively.
The journal Foreign Affairs continued the Journal of International Relations (which ran from 1910 to 1922), which in turn continued the Journal of Race Development (which ran from 1911 to 1919) (Weber).
Foreign Affairs published a series of articles in 1925 by prominent African American intellectual W.E.B. DuBois. DuBois, a personal friend of Armstrong, wrote mainly about race issues and imperialism. Although in the early days of publication the journal did not have many female authors, in the late 1930s American journalist for Time Magazine Dorothy Thompson would contribute articles.
The journal rose to its greatest prominence after World War II when foreign relations became central to United States politics, and the United States became a powerful actor on the global scene. Several extremely important articles were published in Foreign Affairs, including the reworking of George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram", which first publicized the doctrine of containment that would form the basis of American Cold War policy.
Louis Halle, a member of the U.S. Policy Planning Staff, also wrote an influential article in “Foreign Affairs” in 1950. His article, “On a Certain Impatience with Latin America”, created the anticommunist intellectual framework that justified U.S. policy towards Latin America in the Cold War era. Halle’s article described that the encouragement of democracy in postwar Latin America had ended. He demonstrated disgust over Latin America’s inability to assume autonomy and to become democratic. His rationalization towards Latin America was later used to justify U.S. efforts to overthrow the Communist Guatemalan government.
In the November/December 2003 issue of Foreign Affairs, Kenneth Maxwell wrote a review of Peter Kornbluh's book The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, which gave rise to a controversy about Henry Kissinger's relationship to the regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and to Operation Condor. Maxwell claims that key Council on Foreign Relations members, acting at Kissinger's behest, put pressure on Foreign Affairs editor, James Hoge, to give the last word in a subsequent exchange about the review to William D. Rogers, a close associate of Kissinger's, rather than to Maxwell; this went against established Foreign Affairs policy.
Then-opposition leader and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko caused a stir by publishing an article entitled "Containing Russia" in the May-June 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs accusing Russia under Vladimir Putin of expansionism and urging the rest of Europe to stand against him; Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov wrote an article in response, but he withdrew it, citing "censorship" from the Foreign Affairs editorial board. Tymoshenko's party went on to win the 2007 elections and became Prime Minister once again.
The immediate past managing editor of Foreign Affairs was Fareed Zakaria, now the editor of Newsweek International. The current managing editor is Gideon Rose, an expert on international conflict and the Middle East.
By the late 1930s, the review section had been broken down into several subsections. In the magazine's current incarnation (as of April 2006), a few longer reviews, usually written by well-known figures in the field of foreign policy, begin the section, followed by a subsection titled "Recent Books on International Relations" with shorter half-page-long reviews written by eminent academics. The section's final page shows the top fifteen best selling books on U.S. foreign policy and international affairs according to Barnes and Noble's online book sales.