Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Warsaw, April 19, 2018 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

In a special end-of-summer episode this week, we look back at three of our most popular Report interviews so far this year: the veil of secrecy over the U.S. military’s growing presence in West Africa; Bolivia’s controversial coca policy, which has been called both a solution to drug trafficking and part of the problem; and the role historical memory plays in Poland’s contentious politics. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers […]

U.S. President Donald Trump poses with African leaders, including Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, at the Group of Seven summit, Taormina, Italy, May 27, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Medichini).

In his first year in office, U.S. President Donald Trump’s attitude toward Africa was a mix of scorn, neglect and mercantilism. He reportedly called several African nations “shithole countries” and said they were places his friends went “trying to get rich.” When then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his maiden voyage to the continent in March, he went home early and was promptly fired. Africans noticed the snub. But in Trump’s second year, there are indications his administration may be taking a new, more traditional tack, even as Trump himself continues to create crises. Late Wednesday night, Trump tweeted unexpectedly […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa looks on during the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 26, 2018 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. “South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past.” That was the government of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, responding to a surprise provocation from U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday night. After apparently watching an “investigation” by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson into South Africa’s plans for land reform, Trump announced on Twitter that he had ordered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “to closely study the South […]

Former CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 16, 2016 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

In 1992, the U.S. Army War College’s journal Parameters published a provocative article entitled “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012,” which critiqued the state of U.S. civil-military relations by imagining a fictional future military takeover of the government. The premise was that political leaders had essentially provoked the military to intervene in the political system by failing to respect their professionalism. The article caused a stir in part because its author, Charles Dunlap, was a serving U.S. Air Force lawyer, but mostly because the idea of a military intervention in the American political system was so inconceivable. […]

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis reviews Brazilian troops before meeting with his Brazilian counterpart, Joaquim Silva e Luna, Brasilia, Brazil, Aug. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Mateus Bonomi).

America’s foreign policy under President Donald Trump can be confusing. That is true in Latin America just as it is in Russia, Asia or Europe. One moment the president boasts of his great relationship with Russia; days later the U.S. imposes new sanctions. One day Trump heaps praise on North Korea’s leader; days later Pyongyang accuses the U.S. government of behaving like the mafia. The explanation, as I’ve written, is that America today has two foreign policy tracks, often contradictory and at times in conflict with each other. One is Trump’s, the other is the rest of the government’s. That […]

Graffiti showing U.S. President Donald Trump with a footprint on his face and Arabic that reads, "For Jerusalem and the right of return, we resist," Gaza City, May 20, 2018 (AP photo by Khalil Hamra).

Despite repeatedly announcing his intention to present a bold, sweeping plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to keep everyone waiting. If he ever does present his plan, it is set to backfire, for several reasons. For one thing, the Trump administration has been shunned by Palestinians since it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last December. Palestinians were angered by the move, arguing that the U.S. government violated its role as mediator and sponsor of the peace process by adopting Israel’s position on Jerusalem. Palestinian leaders have taken the unprecedented step of halting all […]

Brazilian President Michel Temer, left, greets U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at Planalto Palace, Brasilia, Brazil, June 26, 2018 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

This summer has seen consecutive visits to Brazil by senior U.S. officials, first Vice President Mike Pence in late June and then Defense Secretary James Mattis last week. The visits took place amid domestic political turmoil in Brazil and the ongoing crisis in neighboring Venezuela. According to Riordan Roett, professor and director emeritus of the Latin American Studies Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, these American overtures are unlikely to have any tangible impact on bilateral relations in the coming years. In an email interview, he explains why. World Politics Review: How has the Trump administration […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera, St. Petersburg, Russia, May 23, 2018 (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev for Sputnik via AP Images).

Investigating the Russian government has historically been a dangerous business, and yet the circumstances surrounding the deaths of journalists Alexander Rastorguyev, Kirill Radchenk and Orkhan Dzhemal in the Central African Republic late last month still managed to raise eyebrows. Part of the reason the tragedy has continued to attract international attention weeks later is because it highlights a story that had flown under the radar for months: the unexpected presence of Russian mercenaries in one of the most obscure parts of the world. Russia’s presence in the Central African Republic is a relatively new phenomenon. While Soviet activity there was […]

A truck moves a container from China Shipping at a port in Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province, July 6, 2018 (ChinaTopix photo via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it. A new chapter in the trade war between the United States and China begins today as officials from both sides meet in Washington, though analysts have low expectations for the talks. In light of President Donald Trump’s relentless tariff threats and reported grumblings in China over how Beijing has responded, where does the situation stand 48 days into the trade war? Press reports indicate that Chinese leaders have reframed their outlook on Trump’s tariffs, […]

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte poses for a selfie with Muslim lawmakers following the presentation of the signed Bangsamoro Organic Law at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, Aug. 6, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

On July 26, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law paving the way for the long-awaited creation of a new self-governing region encompassing Muslim-majority areas on the Philippines’ conflict-wracked southern island of Mindanao. Known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law, it had been fiercely debated by lawmakers and rebel leaders amid political wrangling and ongoing violence. It aims to end a bloody separatist conflict that began in the early 1970s and has claimed thousands of civilian lives. The bill’s passage is the culmination of four years of talks between the government and the 30,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been fighting […]

Chinese veterans attend a grand rally to mark the 90th founding anniversary of the People's Liberation Army at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Aug. 1, 2017 (Photo by Ke Wei for Imaginechina via AP Images).

In recent months, veterans of China’s armed forces have staged large-scale demonstrations to demand financial compensation and other benefits they say they have not been given. The government responded in March by creating a new Ministry for Veterans’ Affairs, but many veterans remain dissatisfied. While the demonstrations have so far not broadly threatened the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy, they pose a unique challenge to President Xi Jinping’s government. To learn more about the historical context and broader significance of the veterans’ protests, WPR spoke via email with Jieren Hu, an associate professor at Tongji University’s School of Law in Shanghai. […]

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis greets an airman as he boards a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster for a trip to the U.S. military base in Djibouti from Doha, Qatar, April 23, 2017 (Pool photo by Jonathan Ernst via AP).

The security environment in the Middle East may be the most complex on earth, with an intricate, volatile and sometimes shifting mixture of destabilizing forces and hostilities. There are deadly power struggles within and between nations. And behind it all is the Middle East’s massive oil production, on which the global economy depends. The United States first ventured into the Middle East early in the Cold War and has remained heavily involved, particularly since the 1970s. Over the decades, America’s policies and partnerships in the region have evolved, but the basic elements of U.S. strategy and its central rationale remained […]

Imran Khan, the presumptive next prime minister of Pakistan, addresses his supporters during a campaign rally in Lahore, Pakistan, July 23, 2018 (AP photo by K.M. Chaudary).

Pakistan’s new government, which takes office on Aug. 18, will confront a raft of pressing challenges at home. They include a looming economic crisis; an unhappy political opposition, led by the previously ruling PMLN party, which could seek to obstruct the government’s legislative measures; and the omnipresent threat of extremism. Foreign policy won’t be the initial focus of presumptive Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration in Islamabad. Still, Khan faces five major foreign policy tests requiring immediate attention. How he responds to them will offer an early read on his government’s thinking on foreign policy. His actions will also help determine […]

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, right, sits with Vice President Constantino Chiwenga during a Heroes’ Day event in Harare, Aug. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

After Zimbabwe’s elections late last month, the first without Robert Mugabe on the ballot, it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite pre-poll speculation that the vote might usher in an era of change and renewal after 38 years under the ruling ZANU-PF party—and two decades of steep political and economic decline—a new dawn stubbornly failed to arrive. Zimbabwe has a largely unchanged political landscape, still dominated by ZANU-PF. Emmerson Mnangagwa retained the presidency with 50.8 percent of the vote over Nelson Chamisa of the opposition MDC Alliance, who got 44.3 percent. ZANU-PF has […]

A statue depicting a New York City firefighter wiping sweat from his forehead stands at a display honoring first responders to the 9/11 attacks, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 10, 2018 (AP photo by Julio Cortez).

A car-ramming attack outside the Parliament building in London yesterday highlights the ways in which terrorism and our reactions to it have radically shifted in the almost 20 years since 9/11. If London police end up confirming that the incident was in fact an act of terror, it will be the latest in a series of banal, low-tech attacks that have barely elicited a collective shrug. Of course, part of that has to do with the fact that no lives were lost and no serious injuries reported. And the fact that many aspiring terrorists are reduced to weaponizing cars, trucks […]

Police officers secure the roads around the Houses of Parliament after a vehicle crashed into security barriers, injuring a number of pedestrians, Aug. 14, 2018, London, England (Photo by Alberto Pezzali for Sipa USA via AP Images).

Police have yet to determine exactly why a 29-year-old British citizen of Sudanese origin, identified as Salih Khater, intentionally swerved his car into cyclists and pedestrians outside the Parliament building in London yesterday. For now, the car-ramming, which resulted in no deaths and three minor injuries, is being investigated as a terrorist attack. If that is confirmed, it will be the latest using vehicles as weapons. In March 2017, a similar attack outside Parliament left five people dead and 50 others injured; the attacker, Khalid Masood, was killed by police at the scene. In July 2016, an attacker drove a […]

Georgians stand guard at a monument to victims of the August 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia, Tbilisi, Aug. 8, 2018 (AP photo by Shakh Aivazov).

With the 10th anniversary of the Global Financial Crisis just around the corner, the media will spend much of the rest of 2018 rehashing the story of the 2008 economic meltdown and its implications for the world today. There will be a surge of opinion pieces pegged to the demise of Lehman Brothers, the pivotal moment in the crisis, in the middle of September. Analysts will chart the near collapse of the global economy and speculate about how this paved the way for the rise of Donald Trump, Brexit and a grab-bag of other global ills. Fewer pundits will emphasize […]

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