A protest against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada, Leipzig, Germany, Sept. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Jens Meyer).

When Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took the stage on Monday night for their first presidential debate, there was one topic on which their positions were not diametrically opposed: trade. That’s not to say they agreed. But in a debate rife with sharp disagreements on just about every issue, the matter of U.S. trade agreements with other countries was one in which they both argued there is room for change. Skepticism about the benefits of free trade is not unique to the United States. Throughout the developed world, the rise of populist politicians has changed the tone of the discussion […]

Protesters march during a demonstration against international trade agreements, Brussels, Sept. 20, 2016 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

From protectionist rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign and the Brexit referendum to worldwide protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), free trade is in a political rut. Concerns about income inequality, job loss and capital flight have deepened the sentiment that globalized trade benefits elites at the expense of everyday citizens. But that’s not necessarily the case. World Politics Review’s 10-article compilation helps to contextualize the debate. The following articles are free for non-subscribers until Oct. 13. The Case For and Against Free Trade Liberalized Trade Is Under Attack. Can It Be Saved? […]

President Barack Obama during a meeting with other leaders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries, Manila, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2015 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

As a U.S. presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama had strong reservations about free trade. Back then, he referred to the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, as “unfair” and pledged to renegotiate the deal. But as president, Obama has adopted the traditional bipartisan orthodoxy in Washington on free trade. What’s more, his administration has aggressively pursued two mega-regional trade initiatives: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 12 Pacific Rim countries and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union. As the Obama administration draws to a close, though, free trade has become a poisonous issue in […]

A soldier during exercise Immediate Response 16, Slunj, Croatia, Sept. 12, 2016 (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Opal Vaughn).

Technology that will have a profound, potentially revolutionary impact on the U.S. military is on the way. Some innovations—like new materials, new fuels, automation, autonomy, new manufacturing methods, 3-D printing and better energy storage—will simply make military machines faster, lighter, smarter, cheaper and more accurate. But other technologies have the potential to change and enhance humans themselves. “We want our warfighters to be made stronger, more aware, more durable, more maneuverable in different environments,” ethicist Patrick Lin wrote in the Atlantic in 2012. Neuroscience, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence and new drugs may pave the way for dramatic human enhancements, […]

Nigerian special forces run past Chadian troops in a U.S.-led hostage rescue exercise, Mao, Chad, March 7, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

In July, Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser officially took over command of the United States Africa Command, known as AFRICOM, from retiring Army Gen. David Rodriguez. Waldhauser inherits an organization that has overcome initial growing pains and turned into an integral player in responding to African security challenges. Although the U.S. maintains only one official base on the continent, as many as 60 smaller facilities sprawl across 34 African nations. These facilities serve as staging areas for a steadily growing array of joint special force operations, military exercises and other security cooperation activities. Under Rodriguez’s three-year tenure, AFRICOM took […]

A demonstrator holds up a Panamanian flag during a protest by the "Cumbre de los Pueblos" or "People's Summit," against U.S. policies in Latin America, Panama City, April 9, 2015 (AP photo by Arnulfo Franco).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss Central America’s “other” migrant crisis, the United States’ expanding military engagement across Africa, and reforming how the World Health Organization is financed. For the Report, Eric Farnsworth joins us to explore the limits of U.S. President Barack Obama’s pragmatic approach to Latin America. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: As New Migrant Streams Look North, Central America’s Crisis Moves South As U.S. Military Assistance in Africa Grows, How Can It Mitigate the Risks? The Pitfalls of the Pentagon Taking the Lead on […]

A convoy of Islamic State militants, Tel Abyad, Syria, May 4, 2015 (AP photo via militant website).

Confusion, mistakes and misfires on the battlefield are hardly unusual. To the contrary, they are a common occurrence in warfare. But last Saturday, after U.S. warplanes launching airstrikes in Syria against the so-called Islamic State struck instead a group of Syrian army forces, what followed was, if not unusual, informative. The aftermath of the incident highlighted the Middle East’s propensity to find murky motives behind easily explainable events, exacerbated by the widespread confusion about the strategic objectives of the war’s combatants, notably the United States. As soon as news emerged of the U.S. airstrikes in Deir el-Zour, which Russian officials […]

Cuban migrants at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua,, Nov. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

Amid the wave of migrants fleeing to the United States from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala—collectively referred to as Central America’s Northern Triangle—another migration crisis is unfolding farther south. The Central American isthmus is increasingly becoming a pressure point for migrants from around the world, whether Cubans attempting to reach the U.S.-Mexico border via a circuitous route that begins in Ecuador, or migrants from Africa and South Asia who have been shut out of Europe and look instead to entry points in South America that lead north. The influx is not only straining the resources of countries in southern Central […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony, Beijing, June 25, 2016 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Two themes will figure prominently for the next American president in managing the challenges to global order and U.S. national security: Applying the lessons learned from America’s experience over the past two decades in dealing with fragile states; and relearning the lessons forgotten from the Cold War about great power rivalry. Both will be enduring aspects of the international order, and navigating them will be complicated by a political landscape, in the U.S. and other countries, that puts limits on what governments can achieve beyond their borders. Fragile states and the risks they pose became a central concern to U.S. […]

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Washington, Nov. 9, 2015 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In the waning months of the Obama administration, the drama of U.S.-Israeli relations driven by personal and policy frictions between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dimmed. The two leaders’ lack of rapport has become irrelevant, as Obama works to demonstrate an unstinting American commitment to Israel’s security. What remains to be seen is to what extent he will emphasize the unfinished business of Palestinian statehood in his remaining time in office. This month, U.S.-Israeli relations have been back in the news, after being largely absent from the national security preoccupations of the presidential candidates and the […]

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the Summit of the Americas, Panama City, April 11, 2015 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

At his first Summit of the Americas, in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009, President Barack Obama laid out a vision for U.S. relations in the hemisphere based on partnership and a commitment to pursuing policies that aligned the United States with the needs and interests of the region’s people, particularly those living in its barrios and favelas. Gone would be the days of overt attempts by Washington to influence Latin America’s political direction or to promote a particular economic course. Countries would decide for themselves which path to pursue, and the United States would cooperate where possible based on mutual […]

Lebanese troops stand guard as weapons from the United States are unloaded at Beirut's port, Aug. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

Burkina Faso, a small West African country that most Americans have never heard of and that saw a popular uprising in 2014 and attempted coup a year later, has received more than $4 million in the past 10 years to help professionalize its military. However, even with consistent U.S. security assistance, the State Department reports significant human rights concerns in Burkina Faso, including extrajudicial killings by security forces and excessive use of force, such as torture, against civilians. Burkina Faso is not the only country receiving U.S. security assistance despite a questionable human rights record. Every year, the United States […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 Summit, Hangzhou, China, Sept. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

China has a growing terrorism problem. For many years Beijing believed it could avoid transnational extremism simply by staying out of the security affairs of other nations. But this no longer works. Just as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan found that leaving extremists alone did not protect them from terrorism, China is reluctantly being drawn into the conflict with global Islamic extremism. Two things are driving this. China’s growing international presence, both governmental and business, has set off an “antibody reaction.” Chinese nationals have become targets of terrorism simply because they are foreigners from a rich great power, rather than because […]

Outside a Donald Trump rally at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Sept. 13, 2016 (AP photo by Paul Sancya).

It’s hard to believe that just 15 months ago, it was the exception, rather than the rule, to read about Donald Trump at all, let alone daily. The Republican nominee for president is the latest iteration of an archetype that has a long tradition in American popular culture: the huckster, the charlatan, the carnie barker, the snake-oil salesman, who rides into town accompanied by a brass band, only to be ultimately chased out by a vengeful mob carrying buckets of tar and feathers. But never has one gotten so close to being elected to the highest office of the land, […]

An employee of Doctors Without Borders stands inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike, Kunduz, Afghanistan, Oct. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Najim Rahim).

Once taboo, the targeting of hospitals and health care providers in wartime has become such a frequent occurrence in today’s conflict zones that Doctors Without Borders, the humanitarian aid organization that goes by its French acronym MSF, now calls it the new normal. Attacks that previously seemed to occur unintentionally or sporadically now appear to be a deliberate strategy of war. This is particularly the case in Syria and Yemen, where hospitals and doctors are targeted so often that medical care now has to be provided in places such as caves and chicken coops in order to avoid detection by […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and Saudi King Salman at Erga Palace, Riyadh, April 20, 2016 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

President Barack Obama has often been more upfront than past American presidents on what he thinks about the nature of ties with Saudi Arabia. Years before he came into office, he referred to Riyadh as one of America’s “so-called allies” in the Middle East. Last year, when asked by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull if the Saudis were America’s friends, Obama reportedly replied, “It’s complicated.” And he does little to hide his frustrations with the kingdom, whether over its export of Wahhabism around the world or its treatment of women at home, in interviews, as was the case with The […]

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a graduation ceremony of Iranian Navy cadets, Noshahr, Iran, Sept. 30, 2015 (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP).

Iran has had the chance to change how it engages with the outside world as a result of the nuclear agreement it signed with world powers a year ago, and also as a key player in the crises that haunt the Middle East. But there’s little sign that Tehran wants to take a new tack in its relations with the West or with its neighbors, and political forces in the U.S. also appear uninterested in prospects for normalization with Iran. Instead, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seems bent on ensuring that the nuclear agreement signed in July 2015 does […]

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