As the immediate sense of crisis fades on the Korean Peninsula, the longer-term cycle of provocation and response remains in place. North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile capabilities continue to grow, and South Korea is feeling the pressure to respond by building its own capabilities. Meanwhile, there are signs that China's resolve to back the North may be wavering. And while the U.S. response to North Korea seems to have worked in the short run, Washington needs to stay prepared for all contingencies. more
Whoever succeeds Hugo Chavez as Venezuela's president will inherit a country deeply marked by the late leader's populist politics. At home, Chavez leaves behind a powerful political movement but many weakened government institutions. Regionally, the durability of the alliances he built on a foundation of cheap energy is uncertain. Meanwhile, the U.S. should seek opportunities to reframe its Venezuela policy for the post-Chavez era.
Given domestic economic weaknesses, security competition with India and an antagonistic relationship with Afghanistan, Pakistan has traditionally sought external alliances with strong powers and pursued an offensive security policy. Nevertheless, there has been a dawning realization in Islamabad that a new approach is necessary, and as a result, Pakistan’s foreign and defense policies are undergoing important transformations. more
Whether the U.S. defense budget is cut through sequestration or more thoughtfully planned measures, U.S. strategy and America's defense posture will be dramatically impacted over the coming decade by reduced spending on defense and national security. Whether in rebalancing America's strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region; realigning the force structure of the armed forces, especially the U.S. Army; pursuing counterterrorism and other security priorities; and seeking contributions from allies and partners, American policymakers can no longer ignore cost and budgetary constraints when it comes to shaping U.S. strategy and rightsizing America's global security role. more
As the U.S. looks to the end of one phase of the war on terror, with military operations having ended in Iraq and currently winding down in Afghanistan, a new one is well underway, characterized by drone strikes and covert missions by special operations forces. In Africa, Kenya and Nigeria are battling serious challenges from Islamist terrorist groups. Meanwhile, in the Sahel, al-Qaida's affiliates are carrying on the group's ideology even as its central organization falters, with implications for the U.S. and Europe. This WPR Special Report examines the new fronts in the war on terror. more
France's sudden military intervention in Mali has put the country's twin crises at the top of the international agenda. A loose coalition of Tuareg nationalists, Islamic militias and transnational criminal networks has split the country in half, with a military-led coup government in Bamako seemingly incapable of crafting a decisive response. Meanwhile, the spillover is increasingly threatening regional stability. Updated to include new developments, this WPR special report reviews the conflict in Mali and the crisis in the Sahel.
Vietnam is fast emerging as an important middle power in Southeast Asia. It possesses substantial diplomatic, economic and defense resources that can make significant contributions to the goal of creating an ASEAN Community by 2015. At the same time, Vietnam faces formidable challenges and will have its work cut out for it in balancing relations between China and the U.S. Failure on any front could lead to a devaluing of Vietnam’s strategic role in regional affairs. more
2012 was a year of critical leadership transitions. Familiar faces who stayed on or returned to the scene -- as in the U.S., Russia and Japan -- were joined by new leaders in China, South Korea, France and Mexico. Elsewhere, transitions are incomplete, with question marks hanging over countries such as Venezuela and Ethiopia. This World Politics Review special report examines the world's new and returning leaders through articles published in the past year. more
Since the Obama administration announced a strategic "pivot" to Asia in October 2011, since recharacterized as a "rebalancing," U.S. policy in the region, and the world, has been seen through the prism of the much-anticipated Asian Century. With an eye to China's rising influence, Washington has been strengthening its ties with regional allies and partners. At the same time, China's neighbors have been shoring up relations and creating new partnerships among themselves to respond to the shifting landscape. This WPR Special Report reviews the strategic shift to Asia. more
Nigeria is a diplomatic force within West Africa, a major participant in continental African politics and an important international actor. As the world’s seventh-most-populous country, its 14th-largest oil producer and home to Africa’s fifth-largest military, Nigeria possesses tremendous resources. Yet Nigeria’s internal security challenges and political dysfunction constrain its role on the regional, continental and world stages. more
China's aggressive approach to territorial disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea has raised regional tensions in recent weeks, highlighting the volatile potential of conflicts over territory and border demarcation. But though border disagreements can at times lead to open violence, as between Thailand and Cambodia, they can also be resolved through slow and steady negotiations, as between Cuba and the Bahamas. This WPR Special Report examines approaches to territorial disputes through articles published in the past two years. more