Soviet Union Premier Joseph Stalin, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Tehran Conference, Iran, Nov. 28, 1943 (British Official Photo via AP Images).

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Mira Rapp-Hooper and Rebecca Friedman Lissner make a compelling case for a more restrained U.S. foreign policy. The United States, they write, should abandon messianic liberal internationalism for the more realistic goal of an open world. Such a prudent policy has a lot to recommend it. It would also take America back to the future—to the grand strategy that President Franklin D. Roosevelt endorsed during World War II. As I argued in my 2009 book “The Best Laid Plans: The Origins of American Multilateralism and the Dawn of the Cold War,” it was […]

Former U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during a town hall meeting at the European School For Management And Technology, Berlin, Germany, April 6, 2019 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

A decade ago, President Barack Obama came into office promising a different kind of American foreign policy, having been elected on a platform of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, repairing America’s global image, and reviving American diplomacy and even restraint. Americans may have wanted their nation to adjust its global strategy, but for reasons that had more to do with domestic politics than world events, the debate over how to do so devolved into rancor and caricature under Obama. America was headed in the right direction until hyperpartisanship derailed everything, leaving the public convinced that something is wrong […]

A Sri Lankan police officer patrols outside a mosque, Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 24, 2019 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Large-scale terrorist attacks destroy lives, but they also have the power to upend political realities. That, after all, is their goal. The Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka are no exception. Whatever the larger objectives of the perpetrators of the suicide bombings at three churches and three hotels, their actions have sent political shockwaves across Sri Lanka, just as it prepares for presidential elections later this year. The political reverberations of the attacks were almost immediate. As Sri Lankans grappled with the human toll—more than 350 dead and hundreds more injured—revelations that authorities had received detailed warnings about an impending […]

Melton Roy prays amid the graves of Easter Sunday bomb blast victims, Negombo, Sri Lanka, April 23, 2019 (AP photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe).

As Christians around the world were flocking to churches for Easter services Sunday, Sri Lanka was already in mourning. A string of deadly, coordinated explosions early Sunday, which tore through churches and luxury hotels in Colombo and across the island nation, killed over 321 people, including some 38 foreigners, and injured around 500 others. Seven of the eight attacks were suicide bombings. A ninth explosion was prevented late Sunday when security personnel defused an improvised explosive device on the road to Colombo International Airport. Among the churches attacked on Sunday morning was the 18th-century St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. […]

Tunisian police block a street to keep demonstrators from reaching a meeting of Arab leaders, Tunis, Tunisia, March 31, 2019 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

Tunisia is often considered a success story compared to other Arab countries caught up in the popular uprisings of 2011. Unlike Syria and Libya, it has been spared armed conflict. And unlike Egypt, which is descending deeper into authoritarianism, it has implemented impressive democratic reforms. Yet such comparisons risk overlooking the many ways in which Tunisia is still fragile eight years after protests toppled longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. As Francisco Serrano notes in this week’s in-depth report for WPR, the security forces are struggling to counter the threat posed by Islamist extremists based near the border with […]

A man watches a TV news program showing footage of a North Korean missile launch, Seoul, South Korea, March 3, 2016 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

THAAD and other missile defense systems offer clear military advantages for countries that deploy them—but they could alter longstanding and delicate political balances. Missile defense has become an increasingly important focus of security policy around the world. On the Korean Peninsula, North Korea’s provocative missile tests have led Seoul to move toward deploying U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile batteries, despite opposition from China. Proponents argue that THAAD deployment in South Korea is necessary to meet the evolving challenges posed by the North’s arsenal of short- and medium-range missiles. U.S. forces in South Korea face limits with Patriot […]

A woman attends a demonstration to celebrate Tunisia’s independence, Tunis, March 20, 2019 (AP photo by Hassene Dridi).

KASSERINE, Tunisia—The blast that claimed the life of Cherifa Hilali was likely meant for a soldier, not a civilian. One day in May 2016, Hilali, 40, was out picking rosemary on Mount Semmama, an area near the border with Algeria where Islamist extremists routinely battle Tunisian security forces, when a land mine detonated. The explosion killed her and another woman and left a third woman injured. “They were walking through a trail normally used by the military,” Hilali’s husband, Makki Hilali, told me when I met him in February. Rising up from fields of olive trees and cacti, Mount Semmama […]

Demonstrators rally near the military headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, April 15, 2019 (AP photo by Salih Basheer).

Sudan has experienced more change in the past week than in the previous three decades under President Omar al-Bashir, who was deposed in a coup d’état on April 11 following four months of mass protests. Many Sudanese, however, have had little time to savor the euphoria of Bashir’s departure. Their most immediate task is to preserve and protect their revolution from the military leaders they fear will subvert it. Protesters have had some initial success, rejecting the self-appointed head of the new transitional military council, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who was considered unacceptably close to the old regime. […]

Indonesian women cheer during a campaign rally for Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a stadium in Jakarta, April 13, 2019 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

Indonesians go to the polls this week to elect their president and a new parliament. It is the first time in Indonesia’s modern history that both elections will be held on the same day. But most of the focus is on the presidential race and incumbent Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, who remains the strong favorite against challenger Prabowo Subianto, a former lieutenant general whom he defeated in a tight election five years ago. Most polls show Jokowi with a wide lead, although Prabowo’s campaign could be picking up steam in its final days. If Jokowi is reelected, he […]

A U.S. soldier sits on an armored vehicle on a road leading to the tense front line with Turkish-backed fighters in Manbij, northern Syria, April 4, 2018 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

The reasons for U.S. involvement in the Middle East are becoming obsolete, but policy and strategy aren’t keeping pace. Find out more with your subscription to World Politics Review (WPR). 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 […]

Members of a SWAT team keep an eye on demonstrators marking the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2018 (AP photo by Steve Helber).

Since 9/11, any mention of violent extremism usually referred to Salafi jihadism and the likes of al-Qaida and, more recently, the self-styled Islamic State. While not the only type of extremism plaguing the world, the sociopathic brutality and morbid self-publicity of these jihadist groups put them in the spotlight. There had never been anything like them, or so it seemed. In the minds of many people, al-Qaida and its offshoots were the paradigm of violent extremism. Jihadism is far from defeated today, even if the Islamic State has been rolled back in Syria and Iraq. From Boko Haram in Nigeria […]

Sudanese demonstrators gather outside the Defense Ministry a day after the military took power and arrested President Omar al-Bashir, Khartoum, Sudan, April 12, 2019 (Photo by Ala Kheir for dpa via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. For a few days this week, the fate of Sudan’s protest movement seemed to hang in the balance. As large crowds continued their sit-in Tuesday morning outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, they were fired upon by paramilitary troops loyal to President Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power for three decades. Yet these troops soon clashed with soldiers who appeared to be sympathetic to the protesters, highlighting how, as the movement to oust Bashir gained unprecedented momentum, at […]

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-45 lifts from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India (Indian Space Research Organization photo via AP Images).

On March 27, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to the airwaves to make a dramatic announcement: India had successfully shot down one of its own satellites in low-Earth orbit with a missile. Only three other countries have demonstrated that capability: Russia, China and the United States. “India stands tall as a space power,” Modi declared, noting that the technology had been developed indigenously. But Modi’s glee at this demonstration of his country’s technological prowess was not shared by many space experts, who caution that the debris created by the missile test poses a threat to other satellites and spacecraft […]

A U.S. Marine fighter jet aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, Sept. 10, 2015 (AP photo by Marko Drobnjakovic).

The Powell Doctrine lays out criteria for using U.S. military force in international conflicts—but in recent years, the wisdom of the Powell Doctrine has been all but forgotten. Discover how an updated version of the Powell Doctrine could benefit the U.S. military—as well as the international community at large—when you subscribe to World Politics Review. Chastened by the failure of U.S. military might to achieve strategic success in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. observers began to re-examine the wisdom of the Powell Doctrine, a set of criteria for the use of U.S. military force abroad that sets a high and prohibitive […]

President Donald Trump holds up a chart documenting land lost by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as he delivers remarks in Lima, Ohio, March 20, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Foreign policy rarely plays a major role in U.S. presidential elections. The United States has always been an insular nation. Particularly for people in the American heartland, the world’s troubles seem far away. The connectivity of the modern world and the globalization of terrorism have challenged that insularity, but even so, national elections seldom pivot on international affairs. 2020 could be different: Debates over American foreign policy and national security could sway enough undecided voters to tip the scales, and the political battle lines are already forming. As Alex Ward pointed out in Vox, President Donald Trump is likely to […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington, March 19, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In a sign of the high value he places on forging closer ties with Washington, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro made the United States his first bilateral trip overseas as president last month. At a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, the two liked-minded leaders agreed to deepen cooperation on a wide range of issues, and Trump announced his administration would designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally. In an interview with WPR, Guilherme Casarões, a professor of comparative politics at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo, explains the ideological origins of Bolsonaro’s charm offensive and why […]

National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Feb. 7, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Loyal followers of U.S. President Donald Trump might enthusiastically proclaim that his “America First” foreign policy has been a success. His apologists more modestly argue that, if you ignore Twitter and focus on Trump’s actions, what little has changed in U.S. foreign policy is for the better. Whether enabled by ideological blinders or driven by partisan hackery, both claims are quite simply wrong. After more than two years of Trump’s amateurish bluster, no amount of posturing and self-declared victories can obscure the damage he has done to America’s interests. His failures are now on prominent display in Iran, North Korea […]

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