Malawian President Peter Mutharika, left, is presented with the Sword of Command by the Malawi Defense Force Commander General Griffin Phiri, right, during an inauguration ceremony in Blantyre, Malawi, May 31, 2019 (AP photo by Thoko Chikondi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Incumbent President Peter Mutharika squeaked out a victory in Malawi’s presidential election last week, taking 38.5 percent of the vote in a seven-way race. With about 35.4 percent, opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera fell just short in an election that required only a simple plurality to win. In his acceptance speech Tuesday, Mutharika declared, “It is time to move on and develop the country,” according to The Associated Press. Easier said than done. Chakwera followed Mutharika’s speech by vowing to challenge the results […]

President Donald Trump addresses troops at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq, Dec. 26, 2018 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Civil-military relations in the United States work smoothly most of the time. Whether senior military leaders personally agree with a president’s decisions and policies or not, they normally support them, at least publicly. In exchange, civilian leaders respect the authority of military leaders within their own professional domain, particularly on things like military discipline and order. There have been times, though, when U.S. civil-military relations have been more troubled. In some cases, senior military leaders publicly disagreed with a president’s positions or policies and were fired for it. President Harry Truman’s sacking of Gen. Douglas MacArthur over U.S. strategy in […]

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister and interior minister, at a press conference after the European Parliament elections, Milan, May 27, 2019 (ANSA photo by Daniel Dal Zennaro via AP).

Last week’s European Parliament elections were expected to propel the far right to new heights, auguring a shiny future for a populist agenda that sends fears across much of the continent. But although far-right nationalists did score their best performance to date, the election results fell far short of expectations. Just as importantly, there are major internal contradictions in the nationalists’ plans to take over the European Union from within, suggesting that the road ahead will bring mostly headaches and disappointment for them and their supporters. The results revealed troubling polarization and the steadily eroding power of centrist parties, the […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses supporters at Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters, New Delhi, India, May 23, 2019 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

The Bharatiya Janata Party owes its dominating win in India’s general election to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is being sworn in for the second time today. The right-wing, Hindu nationalist BJP seemingly sought every vote in his name, as if Modi were running in every electoral district in the country. It worked, as many voters made their decision based on who they wanted as their next prime minister, rather than as their representative in parliament. It helped, too, that the opposition remained divided and undecided on whom to project as its candidate for prime minister. In winning 303 of […]

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, May 17, 2019 (Reuters Pool photo by Thomas Peter via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif traveled to Beijing, where he met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. The visit, part of an Asian tour to promote Iran’s economic engagement with the region amid intense sanctions pressure from the United States, led some to wonder whether China and Iran’s tensions with Washington are pushing them to increase their cooperation. At the beginning of the month, the U.S. ended sanctions waivers for eight countries that import Iranian […]

The funeral service of murdered journalist Lyra McKee at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 24, 2019 (Press Association photo by Liam McBurney via AP Images).

Last month, journalist Lyra McKee was fatally shot during a riot in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. A group calling itself the New Irish Republican Army took responsibility for the killing, a troubling reminder of the three decades of political violence known as the Troubles. That conflict, in which Catholic republicans seeking a united Ireland fought with Protestant unionists who wanted to remain a part of the United Kingdom, was brought to an end by the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. But now, the looming specter of Brexit threatens to reverse many of the gains made in the peace process. In an […]

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido addresses supporters at a rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 3, 2019 (Sputnik photo by Leo Alvarez via AP Images).

One month after the failed uprising of April 30 in Venezuela, which opposition leader Juan Guaido had proclaimed as “the final phase” of an effort to oust President Nicolas Maduro, the two sides remain mired in deadlock. The opposition finds itself in a difficult position, riven by internal divisions even as negotiations continue in Norway with government representatives. In the United States, senior Trump administration officials have toned down their rhetoric, even while hawks like Sen. Lindsey Graham openly call for the United States to intervene militarily in Venezuela. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation for Venezuelans continues to worsen. In this […]

Presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez, left, and his running mate, former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, greet supporters during their kick-off campaign rally, Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 25, 2019 (AP photo by Gustavo Garello).

It sounds like the most improbable political script. Everyone is waiting for the candidate, a hardened political veteran backed by an army of loyal supporters, to declare her run for president. Opinion polls already place her ahead in the race. But then, unexpectedly and on an otherwise quiet Saturday morning, she announces it is actually the vice presidency, not the presidency, that she will seek. She announces a hand-picked nominee for president, someone who has been out of the limelight for nearly a decade. He quickly accepts. Her supporters seem a little startled but unfazed. Then, on the following Tuesday, […]

French President Emmanuel Macron arrives for an EU summit in Brussels, May 28, 2019 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

While the ostensible purpose of European Parliament elections, which took place this weekend, is to determine the makeup of the European Union’s deliberative body, the results often have implications for domestic politics across the member states. This is certainly the case for French President Emmanuel Macron, who positioned himself prominently in this year’s election campaign. But it’s still unclear exactly what impact the vote will have on the future of European or French politics. Macron portrayed the vote as a battle between his progressive, reformist vision for the EU and the illiberal, nationalist policies championed by the bloc’s far-right populist […]

A farmer picks his maize, in Qunu, South Africa, June 12, 2013 (AP photo by Schalk van Zuydam).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series on food security around the world. African countries have long maintained some of the strictest regulations on genetically modified agriculture, with only four out of 47 countries across the continent allowing the planting of any genetically modified crops. Some countries, including Kenya and Nigeria, are mulling looser restrictions on imports and cultivation of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, but those moves will have limited significance for food security, says Robert Paarlberg, an adjunct professor of public policy at Harvard University who specializes in global food and agricultural policy. In an […]

A protester amid smoke from tear gas during clashes at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, Sept. 8, 2018 (AP photo by Dimitris Tosidis).

ATHENS—Last September, a story consumed Greek media outlets. A fatal altercation had taken place near Omonoia Square, a neglected plaza in downtown Athens known primarily for its small shops, markets and Middle Eastern restaurants. According to initial reports, a knife-wielding drug user had attempted to rob a jewelry store, only to be apprehended by the owner and killed during the fight that ensued. Within hours, the story became a sensation, a fact that had less to do with its details, which were scant, than with Greece’s current political climate. It presented a prime opportunity for New Democracy, the center-right opposition […]

Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is sworn in as Vietnam’s president, Hanoi, Oct. 23, 2018 (Vietnam News Agency photo by Nguyen Phuong Hoa via AP).

At 76, Nguyen Phu Trong is a man in a hurry, intent on saving Vietnam’s Communist Party from corruption, backsliding and irrelevance. The implications for Vietnam are considerable, since the party’s claim on a monopoly of political power largely rests on its presumed moral superiority. Trong, a Marxist theoretician, is an unlikely leader. For decades, he toiled in obscurity, railing against party members’ loss of Marxist-Leninist virtue and decrying the erosion of the party’s revolutionary legitimacy. Then, three years ago, Trong orchestrated the dismissal of his bete noire, two-term Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Now he’s head of state as […]

President Donald Trump poses with American farmers in the Oval Office of the White House after announcing $16 billion in aid, Washington, May 23, 2019 (DPA photo by Kevin Dietsch via AP).

President Donald Trump’s policies to “make America great again” often reflect a fondness for an earlier era that was not so great for everyone. Some of his judicial nominees have declined to affirm that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down segregation in public schools, is the settled law of the land. Trump’s immigration policies hark back to a time when there were national quotas that favored some ethnic groups over others. Recent trade developments also suggest a yearning for the golden days of yesteryear. The 1950s are widely remembered as a time of […]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech at the European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, Sept. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Jean-Francois Badias).

In this week’s editors’ roundtable, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, talk about the European Parliament elections, and the limitations of framing the voting as a battle between liberal reformers and the illiberal far right. They also discuss some of the week’s other top stories, including U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan, the first steps in Washington to repeal the broad post-9/11 law authorizing the use of military force against al-Qaida, and the official results of India’s general elections. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read […]

President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington, May 16, 2019 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

As a late entrant to the game of high-stakes statecraft, having expanded in size and influence in relative isolation, the United States has always had a peculiar approach to the world. It has been characterized most of all by a pervasive tendency to assume that other nations and other peoples see politics and security the same way that Americans do. But not surprisingly, that leads to a lot of misperceptions. Today, those misperceptions, propelled by the Trump administration’s eccentric approach to statecraft, are becoming increasingly dangerous as America’s margin for error in its foreign policy decreases. If left unchecked, these […]

Gabon’s president, Ali Bongo, leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Sept. 14, 2015 (Photo by Liewig Christian for Sipa via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. For months, Gabon’s government has been ensnared in “kevazingogate”—a scandal over the smuggling of protected timber. This week, the scandal appears to have cost the vice president and the forestry minister their jobs. The drama began earlier this year when nearly 5,000 cubic meters of kevazingo wood was discovered in the country’s Libreville port ready to be shipped to China. The problem is that President Ali Bongo’s government banned the export of kevazingo last year in a bid to protect the country’s […]

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, center, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, right, attend a ceremony to destroy a haul of seized cocaine, in Katunayaka, Sri Lanka, Jan. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. In February, job advertisements appeared in Sri Lankan newspapers, soliciting male candidates between 18 and 45 years old. According to The Associated Press, the posting said applicants must be male Sri Lankan citizens of “excellent moral character” who can pass a test certifying their “mental strength.” The position? Hangman. For over four decades, majority-Buddhist Sri Lanka has maintained a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty, even as judges continued to hand down death sentences for murder and drug trafficking […]

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