This photo purports to show volunteers standing near the wreckage of the destroyed vehicle in which Mullah Akhtar Mansour was allegedly traveling, Baluchistan, Pakistan, May 21, 2016 (AP photo by Abdul Malik).

Last weekend, a U.S. military drone killed Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, as he drove home from Iran to Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. This was a bold action, marking the first time an American drone strike had been ordered in the Taliban’s home base, rather than in Pakistan’s tribal areas that border Afghanistan. It may not signal yet another new U.S. strategy for the war in Afghanistan, but it is a significant tactical and political shift, recognition that as the Obama administration winds down, trends in the country are not good. As Dan De Luce and John […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan, Friday, May 27, 2016 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

President Barack Obama visited Hiroshima, Japan, today, the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to the site of the U.S. atomic bombing at the end of World War II. He remembered those lost in that devastating conflict and joined with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in calling for renewed attention to the task of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. The leaders of the U.S. and Japan—the only nation to have used these terrible weapons and the nation against which they were used—stood together to call for an end to nuclear proliferation. The symbolism of Obama’s visit aside, for many, […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith at the ASEAN-Russia summit, Sochi, Russia, May 20, 2016 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

The third ASEAN-Russia summit, held in the Russian city of Sochi, concluded on May 20. In a beehive of diplomatic activity, Russian President Vladimir Putin held bilateral meetings with the leader of every member-state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) over two days. The conclave has been heralded for setting in motion a roadmap to accelerate economic and security cooperation between the states of Southeast Asia and Russia—a new level of interaction that will allow Moscow to move beyond its stalled relationships with the United States and Europe to take advantage of new opportunities in Asia. Even before […]

The leaders of Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Denmark at the White House's Nordic Summit, Washington, May 13, 2016 (AP photo by Cliff Owen).

Earlier this month, the leaders of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland were in Washington to attend a summit at the White House. Together with President Barack Obama, the five Nordic leaders discussed tensions with Russia, security, climate change and trade. Obama didn’t hesitate to heap praise on the Nordics. “So I really do believe that the world would be more secure and more prosperous if we just had more partners like the Nordic countries,” he said. “They consistently punch above their weight.” Obama speaking so highly of the Nordic countries is nothing new. He has lauded them for years, […]

Legionnaires of the 13th DBLE of the French Foreign Legion during a commemoration ceremony, Marseille, France, April 30, 2016 (AP photo by Claude Paris).

In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama campaigned for president promising to extricate the United States from its grinding wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. His administration, Obama hoped, would be known for domestic programs rather than war-fighting. Unfortunately America’s adversaries had different intentions. Obama has now been at war longer than any other U.S. president. A case can be made that America’s ongoing military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere does not constitute “war” in the constitutional and strategic senses of the word. But it is clear that armed strife is the new normal, not an episodic aberration as […]

Guatemalan Defense Minister Gen. Williams Mansilla gives a press conference following the death of a 13-year-old boy in a shooting incident on the Belizean border, Guatemala City, April 23, 2016 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

Border tensions between Belize and Guatemala flared back up this weekend when Belizean soldiers shot and injured a Guatemalan man who allegedly threatened them with a machete after he was found illegally prospecting for gold on Belize’s side of the contested border. In an email interview, Margath Walker, an assistant professor at the University of Louisville, discussed the border dispute between Belize and Guatemala. WPR: What is the history behind the contested border between Belize and Guatemala, and what has caused the recent border tensions? Margath Walker: The territorial dispute between Guatemala and Belize dates back more than 150 years. […]

Hezbollah supporters carry the coffin of slain commander Mustafa Badreddine during his funeral procession, southern Beirut, Lebanon, May 13, 2016 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

For all its current brutality and intractability, the war in Syria, like all wars, will one day come to an end. In pondering over what the Middle East will look like when that day comes, it is worth considering how the war will have changed Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia and political organization. Last week Hezbollah’sMustafa Badreddine was killed in Syria.Badreddine was not just an ordinary fighter for the group. He was responsible for some of Hezbollah’s most spectacular attacks over the years, including the 1983 U.S. Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, along with other hotel, embassy and airline bombings. […]

Soldiers from Australia and Singapore head out on patrol during Exercise Trident, Queensland, Australia, Nov. 8, 2014 (Australian Defense Department photo).

Earlier this month, Singapore and Australia announced a $1.7 billion military cooperation deal, part of a broader strategic partnership between the two countries. In an email interview, Euan Graham, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute and author of “The Lion and the Kangaroo: Australia’s Strategic Partnership With Singapore,” discussed Australia’s defense and security relationship with Singapore. WPR: What has been the nature of Australia-Singapore defense ties, and how has their defense relationship evolved in recent years? Euan Graham: Australia’s defense relationship with Singapore is longstanding, deep and mutual, although for the most part it has been […]

A Syrian Kurdish sniper looks at the rubble, Kobani, Syria, Jan. 30, 2015 (AP photo).

The breakdown of the Syrian state has been a political boon for Kurdish groups. Failed governance, civil war, jihadi threats and external support have enabled the Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD)—an affiliate of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)—to advance its leftist-nationalist agenda. Since 2011, the PYD has created new facts on the ground in Syria by expanding territories, assuming de facto control over oil fields, creating three autonomous cantons, and declaring a so-called federal Kurdish region. The PYD has also benefitted from both U.S. and Russian backing in the campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS), support that has bolstered […]

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meet at NATO headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, May 19, 2016 (NATO photo).

Decision-makers rarely solve international tensions once and for all. They cobble together temporary fixes and leave future generations to iron out all the glitches later. Europe’s leaders are currently paying the price for their forebears’ failure to establish a durable order in Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the 1990s, the U.S. and its allies appeared to have a unique opening to forge a lasting settlement to the continent’s security problems. There was no lack of ideas about to how to do this. Some argued that NATO should expand to cover the old Warsaw Pact, perhaps including […]

U.S. President Barack Obama during a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, April 5, 2016 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

There has been a distinct pattern to America’s time as a global power: Whenever the United States becomes involved in a conflict, it quickly draws lessons that set the trajectory for the next conflict or problem. American strategy truly is iterative, with the recent past paving the way for future action. This means that getting the lessons right, or at least as right as possible, is a vital part of strategy-making. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, for instance, the lessons of Vietnam haunted policymakers and framed public debate over America’s role in the world. This led the U.S. military to […]

Cuban dissident Miguel Alberto Ulloa holding his prison release document, Havana, Cuba, Jan. 9, 2015 (AP photo by Ramon Espinosa).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the challenges facing NATO, South Sudan’s unstable peace, and Kim Jong Un cementing his power at North Korea’s party congress. For the Report, Ted Henken, joins us to explain what normalization with the U.S. and reforms mean for Cuba’s economy and political opposition. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: From Russia to Refugee Crisis, NATO Faces Biggest Test Since the Cold War Machar’s Return Only the First Step in Bringing South Sudan Back Together North Korea Party Congress Shows Kim’s Power—and […]

A member of the Moroccan special anti-terror unit at the headquarters of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations, Rabat, Morocco, April 20, 2015 (AP photo by Abdeljalil Bounhar).

Last week, the Long War Journal reported that the “self-proclaimed head of the Islamic State’s arm in the Sahara has reportedly threatened to attack Morocco,” according to an audio statement sent to Al Jazeera. The message’s authenticity has not been verified, and there has been no official media release of the tape. But it drew attention to the potential terror threats facing Morocco, which has for years taken pride in its domestic anti-radicalization programs and has emerged as an important counterterrorism partner for European countries, including France and Belgium. In 2014, the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS), Abu Bakr […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend a Victory Day parade, Red Square, Moscow, May 9, 2016 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his campaign to prevent Ukraine from drawing closer to the European Union in 2014, his strategic objectives went beyond that Eastern European country’s borders. To be sure, Russia was concerned about Ukraine’s political and economic drift toward the West. But Moscow’s warnings to Kiev, which were followed by military action, were also meant as a signal to other countries that might have contemplated following in Ukraine’s steps. The message was aimed at what used to be a clearly demarcated sphere of influence, serving as a threat to any country that was once part of […]

Portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at the Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Pyongyang, May 9, 2016 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

The Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the first such meeting in 36 years, ended Monday with much pageantry and fanfare in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, but with little evidence that North Korea has changed its policy line in any substantive way. Kim Jong Un received the new title “party chairman”—his late father remains “eternal party secretary” and his grandfather “eternal president.” A new economic plan was also announced, while top positions in the party were reshuffled. Other than Kim appearing for the first time in a Western-style suit to deliver his speeches, the party congress was […]

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, right, at a military parade to mark Pakistan's Republic Day, Islamabad, March 23, 2016 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

The fallout of the so-called Panama Papers, along with rising civil unrest, security challenges, and the expanding role of the military in civilian affairs, have resulted in the most challenging period for Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, since he took office in 2013. Yet Sharif is likely to survive the current difficulties, given the weak position of the opposition and the military’s lack of interest to force a change in government. However, Sharif’s longer-term political prospects are less clear. They could be hampered by additional repercussions from investigations into Sharif’s family shielding their money in offshore bank accounts and shell […]

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jets on the tarmac at the Siauliai airbase, Lithuania, April 27, 2016 (AP photo by Mindaugas Kulbis).

The next NATO summit, set for July in Warsaw, is arguably one of the most important meetings of the alliance’s heads of state in the post-Cold War era. European security is at its worst since the end of the Cold War, while Europe finds itself facing a range of serious internal challenges, including continued slow economic growth, the influx of migrants and refugees and the rise of extremist parties. The United States, on the other hand, is distracted by its own poisoned domestic politics and must contend with security challenges in not only Europe, but also the Middle East and […]

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