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Navigating the Navigator

This is the 100th issue of the Navigator, which the Center for Global Policy (CGP) has been publishing on a weekly basis for almost two years now.  It is a good moment to reflect on CGP’s mission, best encapsulated in the Navigator (internally referred to as the Nav). Therefore, we are taking a break from the usual foreign policy assessments that we have been producing to do just that. I have been curating and managing the Navigator since its genesis, and thus it falls to me to narrate the story of our Nav. 

It launched in late June 2017 – a little over a year after CGP’s launch. As the team began to grow, one of our priorities was to produce content more frequently than we had been. We knew we had embarked upon a commitment that entailed a continuous high-octane process. Each week, the operational cycle begins by deciding on the most important issue of the week in CGP’s focus area and commissioning an author followed by peer-reviewing of drafts, managing revisions, editing, and finally publishing the latest issue.

But perhaps the most pressing challenge in producing the Nav is working with diverse experts with various sub-specialties to ensure that CGP consistently produces the highest quality product. We firmly believe that expertise exists across the political spectrum; the key is to help our authors showcase it without indulging in partisan discussions. Our authors focus on the how, why and (most importantly) the what next, because our audience is already very familiar with the who, what, where, and when of the subjects we tackle. 

CGP’s view is that in order for the Navigator to be an extremely high-quality assessment, each paragraph has to be rich in insight. We expect our authors to make recommendations that emerge logically from their analyses and forecasts. Our authors are expected to examine issues bearing in mind the imperatives of the actors involved and the constraints and latitudes they face. In this way, the Navigator can identify for U.S. policymakers the narrow range of options to choose from in order to deal with the issue in question. 

All recommendations must advance policy options for U.S. national security and international stability and should diligently steer clear of any form of ideologically motivated policy advocacy. Looking back at previous Navigators, we are proud to have had some of the top names in their fields, from both sides of the partisan divide, writing for us. We aim to make each issue something that cannot be found elsewhere – at least not in open sources. The Navigator is unlike any product presented by any think tank in Washington, D.C., because it provides insights in ways that allow a policy maker, an analyst, and a non-specialist to appreciate the complex geopolitical nuances.

It responds to a current issue but it is neither a report nor an op-ed. It provides analysis but it is not uninvested because CGP authors need to keep in mind that the policy maker is the primary reader. Finally, the Navigator is not just political analysis. Beneath its rationale and evidence-based rhetoric is a universal values-based approach to geopolitics that prefers order over chaos, peace over conflict, and privileges good governance, human rights, and the active participation of civil society members in the destiny of their own society without retribution. 

When we started the Navigator, we were responsible for ensuring that it lives up to expectations. I see my role as ensuring that our flagship publication meets the highest standards of analytical excellence. While I lead this effort I could not do it without the support of my colleagues. Producing this document has been a team effort from the leadership, scholars, and the staff. I would like to especially recognize our editor, Robin Blackburn, whose role has been critical to our ability to publish every week. 

We have received considerable positive feedback on the Nav from our readers, including policy makers and academics. As we enter our third year of publication, we look forward to continuing to enhance the quality of this document and expanding our readership base. We remain deeply committed to ensuring that the Navigator continues to serve the purpose for which it was established: support policymakers as they navigate some of the most difficult geopolitical terrains that affect our national security interests and global stability. In the choppy waters of geopolitics, the Navigator is a must read for all those who value ideology-free, effective policy analysis and relevant recommendations.  

Dr. Kamran Bokhari is a Founding Director at the Center for Global Policy (CGP) where he heads the Governance in Muslim-Majority States thematic program. Bokhari also teaches courses on Global Studies and Central Asia at the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute and is a Non-Resident Scholar at the Arabia Foundation. He tweets at @KamranBokhari.