Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, British Prime Minister Theresa May, U.S. President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting at NATO’s headquarters, Brussels, May 25, 2017 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

What would the United States lose if it lost Europe as a friend, partner and ally? The question is an abstract one for now. But if his inaugural presidential trip abroad last week is any indication, U.S. President Donald Trump seems hell-bent on finding out what the real-life answer would be. Any European leaders watching the first two legs of Trump’s trip would have been understandably encouraged and even optimistic about the prospects for their first meeting with the new American president. Four months in office had already served to soften the iconoclastic declarations he made as a candidate into […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the annual rally on revising Japan's constitution organized by ruling party lawmakers, Tokyo, May 1, 2017 (AP photo by Shizuo Kambayashi).

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe staked his line in the sand on his controversial plans to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution by 2020. The timing of Abe’s announcement, on Japan’s Constitution Day, was no coincidence, as this year marked the 70th anniversary of the country’s charter, which was enacted during the U.S. occupation of Japan after World War II. Abe’s push for constitutional change is divisive in Japan since it focuses on a clause in Article 9 that “renounces war” completely as a means to settle international disputes. Specifically, Abe wants to include a reference to Japan’s military, known […]

Journalists look at arms and ammunition which military commanders say they seized from Islamic fighters, Maiduguri, Nigeria, June 5, 2013 (AP photo by Jon Gambrell)

Crises and upheaval in the Sahel and West Africa have altered the regional security terrain. Challenges that were once disparate and manageable are increasingly becoming intertwined and more pronounced. With the growing mobility of conflicts, the need for a more cooperative regional context has never been as pressing. Each country in the region has a stake in improving stability, and collectively they have the capacity to tackle the threats to peace and security—but first, they each must overcome a host of domestic obstacles. The influence of four countries in particular—Morocco, Algeria, Chad and Nigeria—is a central fact of geopolitics in […]

French soldiers walk over the Mirabeau bridge, Paris, France, May 20, 2017 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series about NATO members’ contributions to and relationships with the alliance. France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, is expected to continue the NATO policy of his predecessor, Francois Hollande. There is support within the French defense establishment to increase defense spending to reach the alliance’s target of 2 percent of GDP, and Macron maintains that France will do so by 2025. Yet despite this consensus, there remains debate within France over what the country gained and lost by reintegrating into the alliance’s chain of command in 2009. In an email interview, […]

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House, Washington, May 12, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the Manchester bombing and U.S. President Donald Trump’s tensions with NATO. For the Report, Jason Dempsey and Amy Schafer talk with Peter Dörrie about a new chapter for civil-military relations in the United States under President Donald Trump. If you’d like to support our free podcast through patron pledges, Patreon is an online service that will allow you to do so. To find out about the benefits you can get through pledging as little as $1 per month, click through to WPR’s Trend Lines […]

Members of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division prepare to unload Abrams tanks after arriving at the Gaiziunai railway station, west of the capital, Vilnius, Lithuania, Feb. 10, 2017 (AP photo by Mindaugas Kulbis).

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are no strangers to dealing with authoritarian figures. Bordering Russia, they have invested heavily in building up their defenses against sophisticated techniques from Moscow that seek to undermine their social cohesion and security. But how do you manage relations with your closest ally across the Atlantic when its president is detached from democratic norms? During their first face-to-face encounter with U.S. President Donald Trump in Brussels today, Baltic politicians have to reconcile a hard-nosed assessment of their national interest—the fact that the United States remains the crucial guarantor of the security of […]

Polish and Hungarian security forces patrol along the temporary border fence on the Hungarian-Serbian border near Roszke, Hungary, Oct. 13, 2016 (AP photo by Zoltan Mathe).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series about NATO members’ contributions to and relationships with the alliance. Since joining NATO nearly two decades ago, Hungary has taken advantage of the collective defense offered by the alliance to reduce the size of its armed forces while improving their capacity. While the country has been a reliable partner in NATO missions, the focus under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who assumed his post in 2010, has shifted toward internal security threats, especially in light of the migration crisis of recent years. In an email interview, Gen. Zoltán Szenes, former […]

An Army Cadet displays a sign for then President-elect Donald Trump during the Army-Navy NCAA college football game, Baltimore, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

As U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration navigates the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, along with ongoing tensions with North Korea, China and Russia, it is doing so with a Cabinet largely composed of active and retired military generals. While the presence of an active-duty general at the helm of the National Security Council is not unprecedented, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, isn’t the sole appointee with a military background; two recently retired Marines, James Mattis and John Kelly, are serving as secretary of defense and director of the Department of Homeland Security, respectively. That Kelly and Mattis […]

Burkina Faso troops provide security following an attack in January 2016 by Islamist extremists, one of several high-profile strikes in West Africa in recent years, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Theo Renaut).

During his visit last week to northern Mali, Emmanuel Macron, France’s new president, announced that he would attend the next meeting of the G5 Sahel, a grouping of five countries—Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad—focused on mobilizing against extremist militants in the Sahel region. The G5 Sahel was originally created in February 2014, and plans for a multinational military force were announced the following year, at a November 2015 summit meeting in Chad. Since then, however, few details have been made available on the force’s composition and how it will operate. In an email interview, Nicolas Desgrais, a researcher […]

People wave Macedonian flags during a peaceful protest to demand new elections to try and break the country's political deadlock, Skopje, Macedonia, April 28, 2017 (AP photo by Boris Grdanoski).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series about NATO members’ contributions to and relationships with the alliance. The Balkan nation of Macedonia has been waiting for years to join NATO, yet the hurdles to this goal seem only to multiply. In addition to objections and conditions from some NATO members, including Greece, Macedonia is also facing the possibility that its ongoing internal political crisis will prevent the process from moving ahead. In an email interview, Stojan Slaveski, a professor and security expert at the European University of the Republic of Macedonia in Skopje, explains how these […]

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini addresses the media after a meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers, Brussels, May 18, 2017 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

On Thursday, at a meeting of European Union defense ministers in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced that Europe’s first joint military command center could be launched in “a couple of days.” EU states already approved the creation of the new military training headquarters in Brussels, known in EU parlance as the Military Planning and Conduct Capability, or MPCC, back in March, but they have been hashing out the final details this week. Though the MPCC will initially only oversee joint EU military training operations in Africa, speculation has persisted that it could lay the groundwork for an […]

Senegalese soldiers take part in the opening ceremony of Flintlock, an annual military exercise that focuses on counterterrorism training by American and European security forces, Thies, Senegal, Feb. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Jane Hahn).

Islamist extremist groups that were once confined to slivers of territory in the most marginalized areas of West Africa are increasingly expanding their operational footprint in the region. Whether it is Boko Haram, which has rebranded itself as the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s West African affiliate, or the myriad al-Qaida offshoots that occupied northern Mali following a coup in 2012, insurgent operations are no longer confined by these groups’ countries of origin. The Islamic State’s West Africa Province, as Boko Haram now calls itself, has spread beyond its base in northeastern Nigeria into neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, which all have […]

Chadian troops participate in the closing ceremony of Operation Flintlock, N'Djamena, Chad, March 9, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

On the morning of May 5, Boko Haram militants attacked a Chadian military post in the Lake Chad region near the border with northeast Nigeria, where the extremist group is based. Nine soldiers were killed, the latest casualties suffered by Chad’s military as it responds to a crisis that, on Chadian territory alone, has left hundreds dead and displaced more than 100,000. The following day, in the capital, N’Djamena, the Chadian Convention for the Defense of Human Rights reported that Maounde Decladore, one of its activists, had been arrested. Decladore is also a spokesman for the group “It Must Change,” […]

People walk past a caricature picture of U.S. President Donald Trump on sale in a shopping mall in Moscow, Russia, May 17, 2017 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

If there is a prayer on the lips of international affairs columnists these days, it goes something like this: Please let there be something to write about other than Donald Trump this week, and if it has to be Trump, please let me publish it before the next news cycle makes whatever I’ve written irrelevant or obsolete. Having already settled on a Trump topic before the latest self-created crises to buffet the White House broke, suffice it to say I’m typing as fast as I can. As we now know because he himself admitted it, during his Oval Office meeting […]

Gen. Petr Pavel, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and Gen. Milan Maxim, chief of the general staff of the Slovak Armed Forces, inspect an honor guard, Slovakia, April 15, 2016 (NATO photo by Ivan Kelement).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series about NATO members’ contributions to and relationships with the alliance. Anti-NATO voices within Slovakia are becoming more vocal, spurred in part by the public’s susceptibility to pro-Russian propaganda and suspicions of the U.S. Yet Slovakia, a NATO member since 2004, remains a committed member of the alliance, and officials see clear benefits to the security assurance NATO provides as well as training that comes with participating in NATO missions. In an email interview, Dušan Fischer, an alumni scholar at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and […]

Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is escorted to his car by President Donald Trump as he leaves the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Feb. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

U.S. President Donald Trump’s first overseas trip will begin in Saudi Arabia and Israel, two countries whose leaders have vocally welcomed Trump’s shift in approach to the region compared to his predecessor, Barack Obama. But the new president’s unpredictable nature means that neither country can take anything for granted during his visit. The White House has previewed the president’s trip, which will also take him to Italy for the G-7 Summit in Sicily and a meeting with the Pope, and Brussels for the NATO Summit. Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, briefed the press Friday, outlining an ambitious […]

Delegates from the People's Liberation Army Navy arrive at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, March 4, 2017 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the upcoming summit for China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, and how China is positioning itself to take advantage of the United States’ shifting approaches to international trade and global engagement. For the Report, Richard A. Bitzinger talks with Peter Dörrie about China’s naval buildup and global security ambitions. If you’d like to support our free podcast through patron pledges, Patreon is an online service that will allow you to do so. To find out about the benefits you can get through pledging as […]

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