U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during a Senate hearing on the budget, Washington, May 9, 2018 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

The United States obsesses about its global strategy more than any nation on earth. This fixation is reflected in the fact that Congress requires the executive branch to produce regular reports on its security strategy. A year ago, the Trump administration published its inaugural National Security Strategy. A few months later, the Pentagon released its National Defense Strategy to explain how U.S. military power would be used to implement the National Security Strategy. As it has in the past, Congress then created a bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission to assess the Pentagon’s strategy. This included an august team of top […]

Central Americans riding atop a freight train in Ixtepec, Mexico, in 2012. Since a Mexican government crackdown, scenes like this are rare (Photo by Joseph Sorrentino).

MEXICO CITY—Geovanni Martinez Hernandez fled Honduras after being threatened by one of the most vicious gangs in the Americas: Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. “It was because of my sexual orientation,” said Martinez Hernandez, who is gay. “I just want a place where I can live without being abused, where I can walk without discrimination or fear.” He had hoped to find that in Mexico. But, while traveling alone in late May through Tapachula, a city in far southwestern Mexico bordering Guatemala that is one of the first stops for Central American migrants and asylum-seekers making the trek north […]

Men duck for cover as heavy gunfire erupts in the Miskin district of Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 3, 2014 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

In the span of a year, the Central African Republic has gone from a country on the margins of international attention to a flashpoint. Russia’s expanding military presence and French attempts to retain influence over its former colony have ignited a competition for influence, threatening CAR’s already shaky peace process and its fledgling democratic government, which lacks much authority beyond the capital, Bangui. If Russia and France continue to recklessly prioritize their own interests, then CAR’s fragile security situation will only worsen. In late October, Moscow announced its second arms shipment to CAR and the deployment of 60 additional military […]

Ibrahim Solih speaks after being sworn in as the Maldives’ new president in Male, Nov. 17, 2018 (AP photo by Mohamed Sharuhaan).

The new president of the Maldives, Ibrahim Solih, was sworn in earlier this month, only to find that the state coffers had been “looted” by his autocratic predecessor, Abdulla Yameen. Solih has pledged to rein in corruption and realign the small island nation’s foreign policy, moving away from Yameen’s reliance on China and cultivating closer ties with India. But according to David Brewster, a senior research fellow at the Australian National University’s National Security College, that won’t be easy. In an interview with WPR, he explains why. World Politics Review: What were the factors that propelled Solih to victory in […]

China’s President Xi Jinping, center, U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Thomas Peter).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. As leaders from the Group of 20 begin their summit on Friday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, all eyes will be on President Xi Jinping of China and President Donald Trump of the United States, who have planned a much-anticipated face-to-face meeting over dinner Saturday night. The two leaders are embroiled in a damaging trade war, and the two countries’ broader bilateral relationship has deteriorated as well. Just last month, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence laid out America’s “new approach […]

A girl removes scales from a fish in her home in Belle Anse, Haiti, May 22, 2013 (AP photo by Dieu Nalio Chery).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series on food security around the world. Over the past 30 years, as economies in the region developed and democratic gains were made, Latin America has undeniably seen major progress in the fight against hunger. Since 2000, the number of Latin Americans suffering from undernourishment has dropped from more than 60 million to 39 million. From Mexico to Argentina, leaders have felt optimistic. Compared to Africa and Asia, few places in the developing world were tackling food security and nutrition-related health risks with quite the same rigor and effectiveness. It was […]

Garment workers sew clothes in a factory as they wait for a visit by Prime Minister Hun Sen outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Aug. 30, 2017 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

What price should workers in Cambodia and Myanmar, two of the poorest countries in the world, pay because of their governments’ severe violations of human rights? The European Union is currently grappling with this question. Under its Everything But Arms trade preference program, the EU provides duty-free, quota-free market access for all imports, except weapons, from states designated by the United Nations as “least developed countries.” On paper, eligible countries are supposed to respect democracy and human rights; in practice, many do not. In Cambodia, the government of longtime ruler Hun Sen has squelched democracy, while in Myanmar, the military […]

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, right, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Sept. 2, 2018 (Pool photo by Nicolas Asfouri via AP Images).

Earlier this month, on Nov. 7, the State Department announced what appeared to be a significant step forward in relations between the United States and Sudan. A spokesperson said the U.S. would consider removing Sudan from its State Sponsors of Terrorism list if it helps Washington advance some of its foreign policy priorities in Africa and beyond—including cooperating on counterterrorism, ending Sudan’s internal conflicts and isolating North Korea. The statement also called on Sudan to improve its human rights record, respect religious freedoms and meet legal claims related to its previous support of terrorist attacks against American citizens. Removal of […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wave to the media following a welcome ceremony at Malacanang Palace, Manila, Philippines, Nov. 20, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Chinese President Xi Jinping returned to Beijing on Wednesday following a two-day state visit to the Philippines, the last leg of an Asia-Pacific tour that also included stops in Papua New Guinea and Brunei. Despite decades of mistrust and maritime disputes between Manila and Beijing, the two countries heralded a new “golden period” in relations last year. Ahead of Xi’s visit, Philippine observers wondered what gifts the Chinese president might bear as part of his effort to draw the […]

A man demonstrates operating an electronic voting machine that will be used in Congo’s election, Beni, Congo, Oct 16, 2018 (AP photo by Al-hadji Kudra Maliro).

According to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Constitution, President Joseph Kabila should have left office two years ago. The end of his second five-year term came and went in December 2016, and his refusal to step down at the time led to violent protests, acrimony—and then two more years in power. Now, he says he’s on his way out. Seventeen years after taking office to replace his assassinated father, and in the face of mounting international condemnation, Kabila has agreed to step aside for elections next month in what could be Congo’s first peaceful and democratic transition of power since […]

A rally organized in support of Saudi Arabia after lawmakers voted to support Riyadh in case of any threat to its territorial integrity, Karachi, Pakistan, May 8, 2015 (AP photo by Fareed Khan).

LAHORE, Pakistan—When Muhammad Afzal awoke one August morning to go to his job at a textile mill in the industrial city of Faisalabad, he expected the day to unfold much like any other. But while he was at work on the factory floor, a man named Mohammad Shah approached him with an unexpected offer: How would he like to travel to Saudi Arabia? It was 2005, and Afzal—then in his early 30s—had never left Pakistan. He was immediately tempted. The son of poor farmers, he had no education, and he knew that his life in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third-largest city, was […]

U.N. peacekeepers from Rwanda patrol the streets of Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 12, 2016 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

What does a small spat in the Security Council over the Central African Republic, or CAR, tell us about the state of major power relations? Last week, the council was unable to agree on the terms of a six-month extension to the 13,000-strong United Nations stabilization mission in CAR, known by its French acronym MINUSCA. The diplomats gave themselves a month to fix their differences over the operation’s mandate. There seem to be three main points of contention. One is Moscow’s insistence that the council endorse a Sudanese-Russian effort to mediate the fragmented country’s conflicts. France, the former colonial power, […]

Tanzanian President John Magufuli, then a candidate, at an election rally in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Oct. 23, 2015 (AP photo by Khalfan Said).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. In the three years since John Magufuli became Tanzania’s president, he has shown little interest in responding to criticism, no matter its source. This is perhaps unsurprising for a man known as “The Bulldozer,” a nickname that dates back to his tenure as a hard-charging minister of public works. Magufuli’s administration has become notorious for restricting press freedom, creating an unsafe climate for opposition politicians and promoting regressive policies on women’s rights. He has also pursued populist economic policies […]

A soldier stands guard at the state funeral of Mozambique’s opposition leader, Alfonso Dhlakama, in Beira, Mozambique, May 9, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

In early October, a court in Mozambique began trying 189 people accused of carrying out a spate of grisly attacks, some involving beheadings, in Cabo Delgado province, in the north of the country. The trial, the first of its kind, represents a rare opportunity to gather information on a security threat that continues to confound experts and government officials alike. Though the violence in Cabo Delgado, which has killed more than 100 people, first began getting serious attention more than a year ago, details about what’s driving it remain elusive. It has been attributed to a group commonly referred to […]

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, fifth from left, poses for a group photo with ASEAN leaders prior to the start of the ASEAN Plus China Summit in the ongoing 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, Singapore, Nov. 14, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Leaders from across the Asia-Pacific region are in Singapore this week to kick off a series of summit meetings. In the absence of any major breakthroughs on trade or security, the focus is on the competition for influence between the United States and China—a narrative driven by dueling op-eds from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. “Our nation’s security and prosperity depend on this vital region, and the United States will continue to ensure that […]

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the opening session of the Paris Peace Forum at the Villette Conference Hall in Paris, France, Nov. 11, 2018 (SIPA photo by Eliot Blondet via AP Images).

Peace is complicated. That is the overriding, if unintended, message of this week’s Paris Peace Forum, a new multilateral conclave initiated by the French government to commemorate the end of World War I. The organizers claim that the event is based on the “simple idea” that “international cooperation is key to tackling global challenges and ensuring durable peace.” That is pretty much where the simplicity ends, however. Over 100 groups from around the world are in Paris to present their ideas about peace to 2,500 participants. Their approaches to the issue are, to put it mildly, eclectic. One organization hopes […]

Workers at the site of a Chinese-backed infrastructure project in Haripur, Pakistan, Dec. 22, 2017 (AP photo by Aqeel Ahmed).

At the opening of a huge new trade show in Shanghai on Monday, the inaugural China International Import Expo, Chinese President Xi Jinping sought to convince increasingly skeptical observers that China wants to “help friends from around the world to seize opportunities.” Xi is aiming to boost China’s trade involvement across the globe, even as the United States under President Donald Trump retreats into protectionism. Yet the notion that Beijing is a force for global prosperity is running into a wall of doubt as Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative—a trillion-dollar global infrastructure behemoth that launched in 2013 as “One […]

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