Members of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force aim their rifles towards the sky during a rehearsal ahead of a memorial ceremony commemorating those who died during World War II, as they sail past the Sulu Sea, June 28, 2019 (AP photo by Emily Wang).

In the wake of World War II, the U.S. helped Japan draft a new constitution that forever renounced the use of military force as a means of settling international disputes. Japan has nonetheless maintained a well-equipped military for the purposes of self-defense, even while largely relying on the security umbrella provided by U.S. forces in the region. In a book that came out in April, Sheila Smith, the senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, makes a compelling case that Tokyo is now reevaluating that security posture in response to a militarily ascendant China, a nuclear […]

President Donald Trump during a working session on the global economy, foreign policy and security affairs, at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Aug. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In a provocative new book, three scholars from the libertarian Cato Institute—John Glaser, Christopher A. Preble and A. Trevor Thrall—counsel the United States to abandon the pursuit of global primacy for a policy of prudence and restraint. “Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America’s Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Do Better)” is a scalding indictment not only of the 45th U.S. president, but also of a morally bankrupt national security establishment whose addiction to empire has embroiled the nation in misbegotten military misadventures. American foreign policy professionals may cast the United States as a benevolent hegemon, […]

Explore how U.S.-China relations have evolved in the Trump era. Download your FREE copy of U.S.-China Rivalry in the Trump Era today. Integrating China into the liberal trade order was expected to have a moderating effect on Beijing. Instead, under President Xi Jinping, China has asserted its military control over the South China Sea and cracked down on domestic dissent, all while continuing to use unfair trade practices to boost its economy. Download U.S.-China Rivalry in the Trump Era today to take a deeper look the relationship, the Trump administration’s policy, and a glimpse at what the future may hold. […]

Myanmar military officers march during a parade to mark the 74th Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, March 27, 2019 (AP photo by Aung Shine Oo).

Last week, the United Nations’ independent fact-finding mission on Myanmar released a new report that documents the economic interests of the Myanmar military and the global network of countries and companies that are financing the country’s genocidal “clearance operations” against the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority. The report urged U.N. member states to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar and financial sanctions on the country’s military-owned companies. But according to David Scott Mathieson, a Yangon-based independent analyst who focuses on a range of human rights, conflict and peace issues in Myanmar, the mission’s findings are unlikely to significantly alter […]

Myanmar military officers march during a parade to commemorate the 74th Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, March 27, 2019. (AP photo by Aung Shine Oo)

When the history of Myanmar’s genocide against the Rohingya people is finally written, it may read a lot like the cases of Rwanda and Yugoslavia. The International Criminal Court could eventually prosecute a few of the military officers responsible for killing and torturing thousands of Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority long persecuted in Myanmar. Chances are, though, that justice will be lumbering and uneven. Like others before them, most of the perpetrators will likely evade prosecution altogether. History could turn out differently, however, if calls are heeded from the United Nations independent fact-finding mission in Myanmar to sanction the […]

A man watches a TV showing an image of a North Korean missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 6, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, talk about North Korea’s recent string of short-range ballistic missile tests, the Trump administration’s less-than-forceful response, and what that says about the broader dysfunction plaguing the U.S. intelligence and foreign policy communities. They also discuss the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Algeria, which are now in their 25th week. As Francisco Serrano notes in his in-depth report for WPR this week, the outlook for the country’s protest movement remains unclear, given the risks that Algeria’s military leaders could still revert to form and […]

Thousands of protesters take part in a march against the Algerian regime on the country's Independence Day, Algiers, July 5, 2019 (Photo by Farouk Batiche for dpa via AP).

ALGIERS—The chanting groups of protesters quickly swelled into a massive stream, moving downwards along Rue Didouche Mourad, one of the city’s main boulevards. In the summer heat, they wore Algerian flags as cloaks and carried hats and water bottles. Some walked with children on their shoulders, their young faces painted the green, white and red of the national flag. Homemade protest signs written in Arabic and French appeared to float above the slow-moving crowd. The signs and rallying cries called for a civilian state instead of a military one, and for the liberation of political prisoners. They praised the country’s […]

Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers during an exercise at Stonecutter Island naval base, in Hong Kong, June 30, 2019 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Hong Kong experienced its most widespread antigovernment demonstrations yet Monday, as protests and a citywide strike led to road closures, disruptions to public transit systems and hundreds of flight cancellations. Riot police responded by volleying tear gas at demonstrators and arresting at least 82 people. Amid the chaos, the Chinese government warned “all the criminals to not wrongly judge the situation and take restraint for weakness.” That statement, Beijing’s sharpest denunciation of the protests yet, added to fears that […]

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, April 29, 2019 (pool photo by Madoka Ikegami of Kyodo via AP Images).

Late last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that China and Cambodia had signed a secret agreement allowing the Chinese navy to use a military facility near Ream, along Cambodia’s southern coast. According to a draft of the deal obtained by the Journal, it would reportedly grant China a 30-year lease on the port and permit the stationing of troops and storing of weaponry in an installation that covers 192 acres and includes one pier and other facilities. Images have also shown the construction of a military-grade airport and a development project of dubious commercial viability. The facilities, if managed […]

President Donald Trump reviews the troops during a full honors welcoming ceremony for Secretary of Defense Mark Esper at the Pentagon, in Washington, July 25, 2019 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Depending on which headlines you scanned over your morning coffee last week, World War III seemed to be on the verge of breaking out, either in the skies over the Sea of Japan or on the water in the Strait of Hormuz. Luckily, neither the South Korean air force’s muscular interception of a joint Russian-Chinese air patrol—including the firing of flares and warning shots—nor Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker triggered the next conflagration. Still, all the sensational spin about end-time tripwires is a clear indicator of how a doomsday mindset is clouding our thinking about today’s multipolar world. […]