An anti-narcotics police officer runs toward a helicopter after the destruction of a cocaine lab in Calamar, Guaviare state, Colombia, Aug. 2, 2016 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

In 1821, Gen. Francisco de Paula Santander told a congress full of statesmen, “Guns will give you your independence, but laws will help you keep it.” Santander was addressing representatives of Gran Colombia, the political state that once covered most of northern South America, including what is today Colombia and Venezuela. Ten years later, Gran Colombia split up, and Colombia and Venezuela set off on separate paths. But both countries disregarded Santander’s statement, as their histories have been marked by a string of armed conflicts that eroded laws and justice. Still, after decades spent fighting militias and rebel movements while […]

Nigerian soldiers man a checkpoint in Gwoza, Nigeria, April 8, 2018 (AP photo by Lekan Oyekanmi).

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria—Lirfa Dashe, a lieutenant in the Nigerian army, was due to get married this month. Instead he is buried in the cemetery of Mai Malari barracks, alongside other soldiers killed in the seemingly endless conflict against the jihadist insurgency of Boko Haram. At the entrance to the cemetery, located in this city in northeastern Nigeria, is a cenotaph with the names of the fallen inscribed on plaques. There are 1,307 names etched so far, stretching back to 2013. Mai Malari, the home of the army’s Seventh Division, is just one of several sites where soldiers killed in the northeastern […]

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, center, arrives at Government House for a Cabinet meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

On a visit to Japan earlier this month, Thailand’s prime minister and the leader of the junta in power since 2014, Prayuth Chan-ocha, confirmed that elections would indeed be held early next year, by May 2019 at the latest. According to a readout of a meeting between Prayuth and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Prayuth said that elections could be held as early as February. They would be the first elections since February 2014, which were subsequently invalidated by Thailand’s Constitutional Court, precipitating the military coup that deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government. Although the junta has repeatedly […]

A Russian S-400 air defense missile system during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 3, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko). Such systems reduce NATO's ability to counter the Russian threat in Eastern Europe.

As NATO has focused its attention on Russia’s offensive military capabilities in Eastern Europe, an equally significant and, in practice, more problematic issue has been largely ignored: Russia’s preponderance of “anti-access, area-denial” capabilities in the borderlands between the Baltic and Black Seas. Is NATO focusing on the wrong Russian threat in Eastern Europe? This week, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton was in Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss, among other things, the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Announced by President Donald Trump last weekend, the move comes after repeated Russian violations […]

John Brennan, Adm. Michael Rogers and James Clapper arrive to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, Washington, May 16, 2018 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

The New York Times reported yesterday that the U.S. is targeting Russian cyber-operatives involved in efforts to disrupt America’s congressional midterm elections in early November. Though there are few details on what measures have been taken, it would seem to amount to the cyber equivalent of a brushback pitch to deter individual actors by making it clear that U.S. Cyber Command has them in its sights. The Times describes the effort as the “first known overseas cyberoperation to protect American elections, including the November midterms.” The Obama administration famously dithered in its response to the initial discovery of Russian interference […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the official opening of the China-Zhuhai-Macau-Hong Kong Bridge, in Zhuhai in south China’s Guangdong province, Oct. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

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. For the second time since coming to power in 2012, President Xi Jinping visited Guangdong province in southern China this week, completing a three-day tour of the manufacturing hub. Timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the beginning of China’s “reform and opening up” process, his itinerary essentially re-traced the steps of Deng Xiaoping’s legendary 1992 Southern Tour, in which the reformist leader, then 88 and retired from politics, publicly reiterated the importance […]

Members of the Druze minority rally against Israel’s nation-state law, Tel Aviv, Israel, Aug. 4, 2018 (AP photo by Sebastian Scheiner).

YARKA, Israel—When soldiers from this small community in Israel’s lush Galilee region are killed in combat, Walid Mula turns up with advice and guidance. The affable 49-year-old is the director of a support group for bereaved families, and it falls to him to make hours-long house calls. Over sweet tea and snacks, he talks grieving relatives through the logistics of burying the dead, including the role of the Israeli state in financing funerals and memorial ceremonies. Yarka is a community made up of around 1,000 members of the Arab-Israeli Druze minority. The Druze in Israel total 140,000, or around 2 […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton during their meeting in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, Oct. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is in Moscow for meetings with senior Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, as the U.S. prepares to officially withdraw from a key Cold War-era arms reduction pact. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, bans all ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of violating the treaty for years. That, along with concerns over the rising threat from other U.S. rivals who are not bound by the deal’s terms, […]

U.S. Lt. Col. William Clark, second from left, talks with Gen. Abdul Raziq, a police commander in southern Afghanistan, on the outskirts of Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, Aug. 7, 2009 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

In one fell swoop last Thursday, a gunman eliminated two of the most powerful officials in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province and critically injured a third. The Taliban quickly claimed credit for the attack, which killed Gen. Abdul Raziq, who held the title of provincial police commander but was in reality a prominent 39-year-old warlord in an official uniform. In the past decade, the Taliban’s insurgency has grown to cover all corners of the country, swarming the non-Pashtun northern crescent and pushing to reclaim southern Afghanistan. The Taliban has made gains in Helmand and Uruzgan provinces, with advances more recently into neighboring […]

An exhibitor demonstrates a drone flight at CES International, Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan. 5, 2017 (AP photo by Jae C. Hong).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Sarah Kreps is filling in for Steven Metz, who is out this week. In a speech last month on threats to the United States “in an age of disruption,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen outlined the top five areas of concern in the so-called threat landscape. Some were familiar, some new. But one in particular stood out. First, the “home game” and “away game,” as she put it, are no longer distinct. Enemies are not limited by geography in a borderless world, and the U.S. can no longer assume that fighting enemies “over there” means not […]

A family bathes in one of the irrigation ditches at a hideout in a banana plantation on the island of Mindanao, Philippines (Lindsay Fendt).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the implications of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder for Saudi Arabia’s international partnerships and the Middle East. For the Report, Lindsay Fendt talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the Philippines’ other campaign of extrajudicial killings, this one targeting anti-mining activists in Mindanao’s Compostela Valley. Lindsay’s two-part series of in-depth articles is the second to be funded by WPR’s International Reporting Fellowship. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter […]

Angola’s newly inaugurated president, Joao Lourenco, shows his ink-stained finger as he faces the media after casting his vote in the recent election, Luanda, Angola, Aug. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Bruno Fonseca).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. A year ago, when Joao Lourenco took over as Angola’s president, tensions between his country and the Democratic Republic of Congo were already unusually high. In a Q&A with WPR at the time, Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at Chatham House, described how Luanda’s patience with Congolese President Joseph Kabila had been exhausted by Kabila’s handling of Congo’s political crisis. The situation has changed somewhat since then. Today, Congo is much closer to holding long-awaited elections—they are […]

A farmer surveys his crops at a hideout in a banana plantation on the island of Mindanao, Philippines (Lindsay Fendt).

Editor’s Note: In July 2019, this story won the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market from the Society of Environmental Journalists. This is the second installment of a two-part series on killings of environmental activists in the Philippines, funded by WPR’s International Reporting Fellowship. The first installment can be found here. MINDANAO, Philippines—On a secluded banana plantation on the Philippine island of Mindanao, nearly 400 people pass each night in tents, huts and makeshift dormitories. They bathe in the plantation’s irrigation ditches, surrounded by blue bags of pesticides that have fallen from the banana plants. The entire […]

A new Japan Airlines Boeing 787 airplane with the GE Aviation GEnx engine on it, is shown following a delivery ceremony, March 26, 2012, Everett, Washington (AP photo by Ted S. Warren).

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. The United States Department of Justice announced the extradition of a Chinese intelligence official to the U.S. on economic espionage charges last Wednesday. It is the first time a Chinese government spy has been extradited to the U.S., according to The Washington Post. Yanjun Xu, a deputy division director in the Ministry of State Security, China’s main spy agency, traveled to Belgium last spring, believing he was set to receive “proprietary information about jet […]

A young protester holds a placard during an anti-mining rally in the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines, April 23, 2007 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Editor’s Note: In July 2019, this story won the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market from the Society of Environmental Journalists. This is the first installment of a two-part series on killings of environmental activists in the Philippines, funded by WPR’s International Reporting Fellowship. The second installment ran Oct. 18. COMPOSTELA VALLEY, MINDANAO, Philippines—It was just after dawn on the southern island of Mindanao, but police officers already had a call to respond to. Winding their way through the scenic green mountains of the Compostela Valley, they approached the scene of the crime, a patch of dirt […]

U.S. Army soldiers salute as vehicles carry what are believed to be remains from American servicemen killed during the Korean War, Osan Air Base, Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 27, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

Despite the U.S. military’s superiority, there are several reasons America could lose a future war: An enemy could exploit America's fraying security alliances or its domestic political rifts or develop a militarily decisive technology that the United States lacks. The critical question is how the United States would react. Last week, I argued that while the U.S. military, the Pentagon and most national security experts expect that the United States will always win the wars it is forced to fight, America could in fact lose one if an astute enemy capitalizes on the nation’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I sketched out […]

A woman walks past empty bread shelves in a shop in Harare, Zimbabwe, Oct. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. When he became Zimbabwe’s interim president following Robert Mugabe’s ouster last year, Emmerson Mnangagwa immediately tried to focus the world’s attention on his ambitious economic agenda. He repeatedly declared that, following years of isolation under Mugabe, the new Zimbabwe would be “open for business.” After being named the winner of July’s presidential election, he spent part of his inauguration address urging citizens “to unite as a nation and grow our economy,” offering a vision of Zimbabwe as a middle-income […]

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