U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres shakes hands with civilians at the cathedral in Bangassou, Central African Republic, Oct. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Joel Kouam).

He said his visit was to show solidarity with those inside the conflict-torn country, but the U.N. chief was clearly sending a message to the outside world. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrapped up a trip to the Central African Republic last Friday, his first visit to a country hosting a U.N. peacekeeping mission since he assumed his post in January. The choice signaled the severity of the situation in CAR and a determination to highlight the importance of U.N. peacekeeping. Violence has surged and spread in CAR, a near lawless former French colony, bringing a years-long crisis to a boil. Record […]

A man walks past burned-out houses following an attack by Boko Haram in Dalori village, near Maiduguri, Jan. 31, 2016 (AP photo Jossy Ola).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss what the consolidation of power by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 19th Communist Party Congress means for China and the world. For the Report, Hilary Matfess talks with Peter Dörrie about why the U.S. should reconsider its growing security partnership with Nigeria’s military, which has been accused of human rights abuses and counterproductive tactics in its battle against Boko Haram. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work […]

A woman walks past a TV screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump giving his maiden address at the U.N. General Assembly, Tokyo, Japan,  Sept. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

During the past few weeks, the standoff between North Korea and the United States has cooled a bit. Pyongyang has not tested more ballistic missiles or nuclear devices, and U.S. President Donald Trump has not launched more insulting tweets at North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. That is good, but the crisis is no closer to resolution than it was months or years ago; there is not even a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. It remains the world’s most dangerous threat. It is hard to see a path to resolution at this point. In a recent […]

Iran’s army chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, left, looks into binoculars as he visits other senior officers from the Iranian military in the Syrian province of Aleppo, Oct. 20, 2017 (Syrian Central Military Media via AP).

After a few years in which the threats to Israel’s security had eased somewhat, recent events have taken a turn for the worse. To its north, Israel faces a joint Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis that is growing more powerful and confident, as President Bashar al-Assad re-establishes control in Syria backed by a strong Russian presence. Assad, whose regime has waged a brutal six-year civil war that has killed half a million Syrians and displaced some two-thirds of the country’s population, has successfully withstood all internal and external pressures, including American demands that he step down, and is now securely ensconced in power […]

Specialist Michael O'Mara and trader Gregory Rowe work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, New York City, Aug. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

The revolution in shale oil production in the United States has had a major impact on global energy markets, leading to the collapse of energy prices but also limiting their vulnerability to geopolitical instability. In an email interview, Meghan L. O’Sullivan, the Jeane Kirkpatrick professor of the practice of international affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, where she directs the Geopolitics of Energy Project, and the recent author of “Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power,” discusses what a rebalancing of supply and demand will mean for geopolitics going forward, if a supply gap […]

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in New Delhi, India, Oct. 25, 2017 (AP photo Manish Swarup).

Five months after Donald Trump became U.S. president, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi traveled to Washington, hoping to redirect Trump’s attention to the Indian subcontinent. He wanted to remind Trump, who had appeared rather enthralled with China’s leader, of Washington’s pledge to have a deeper relationship with New Delhi, not with India’s rivals or enemies. Since then, though, Trump has praised Pakistan, India’s primary foe, and is now preparing to undertake a major foreign trip, with visits to five Asian countries, including China—but not India. So the job has fallen to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to soothe India’s worries […]

Nicole Castillo, 7, of East Boston, holds a sign while standing with her brother Diego, 4, and mother Elsa, who is originally from El Salvador, during a “Here to Stay” rally, Boston, July 6, 2017 (AP photo by Charles Krupa).

On Oct. 12, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed that America’s asylum process was “subject to rampant abuse and fraud,” that migrants were taking advantage of the system and that “genuinely meritorious” asylum claims were down. He offered no evidence for these sweeping statements beyond the fact that asylum petitions had increased in recent years and his claim that “many”—he didn’t say how many—asylum-seekers who pass “credible fear” interviews, the initial screening process for those seeking asylum at the U.S. border, then “simply disappear and never show up at their immigration hearings” once they are in the country. Sessions’ comments […]

Nigerian soldiers during the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Abuja, May 29, 2015 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba). Buhari has tried to cultivate the image of a military man who can successfully take the fight to Boko Haram.

From arbitrary arrests to extrajudicial killings, reports of abuses committed by Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram are legion. These rough tactics undermine the counterinsurgency effort by alienating civilians. So why does the Trump administration seem intent on continuing bilateral military support? Early one Friday morning this past August, the United Nations compound and guesthouse in Maiduguri, the largest city in northeast Nigeria, was targeted in a raid. For several hours after the armed intruders arrived, they were prevented from crossing the gate of the facility, where officials help coordinate humanitarian assistance programs for populations affected by the ongoing violence carried […]

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit, days before a U.S.-Russia-Jordan-brokered truce for southern Syria came into effect, Hamburg, Germany,  July 7, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The United States has been the pre-eminent external actor in the Middle East since Egyptian President Anwar Sadat expelled his Soviet advisers and benefactors and turned to Washington in the 1970s. But America’s role is contracting, by design and by default. Russia and China insist they do not want to replace the U.S. in the Middle East, but they are still intent on expanding their regional influence. The shifting fortunes among the three global greats—the U.S., Russia and China—are playing out in the Middle East today. The U.S. has indisputably dominated the scene, from its military presence in the Gulf […]

United Nations staff and other demonstrators assemble at U.N. headquarters to show their solidarity with the people of Aleppo, New York, Dec. 15, 2016 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

Who remembers Aleppo? A year ago, the Syrian city appeared tragically central to international diplomacy. Russian and Syrian government forces were in the midst of a brutal final push to drive rebels from eastern Aleppo. This was the last major urban redoubt of opponents of President Bashar al-Assad. It was clear that the city’s looming collapse could be a definitive turning point in his battle to cling onto power. Yet the fate of Aleppo seemed liable to have vastly wider effects. The city was a profound source of friction between the U.S. and Russia before and after the November 2016 […]

Iraqi security forces and volunteers celebrate in front of the Governorate Council Building in Kirkuk, Iraq, Oct. 16, 2017 (AP photo by Emad Matti).

Three months after defeating the self-proclaimed Islamic State in the horrific battle for Mosul, Iraqi security forces backed by Shiite militias and Iranian special forces attacked Iraqi Kurds, retaking control of the vital city of Kirkuk and nearby oil fields from the semiautonomous Kurdish Regional Government. While the offensive was sparked by a Kurdish independence referendum three weeks ago, it may signal a new, dangerous phase in Iraq’s interminable internal conflict. The United States so far has failed to head this off, despite its efforts. Washington opposed the Kurdish independence vote but could not prevent it. Nor could it halt […]

Myeshia Johnson cries over the casket of her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an assault in Niger, Miami, Oct. 17, 2017 (WPLG via AP).

The most common reaction to the deaths of four United States Army Special Forces in Niger earlier this month seems to have been surprise that the U.S. had any kind of military presence in the country in the first place. In the wake of the ambush, which has been blamed on yet-to-be-identified Islamist militants, various media outlets placed it in the context of a broader American “shadow war” carried out in “one of the most remote and chaotic war zones on the planet” despite “little public debate” back home. But for those who track the various military efforts to combat […]

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto poses with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit, Hangzhou, China, Sept. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

With talks to renegotiate NAFTA deadlocked this week over the hard-line positions of the Trump administration, Mexico was again left pondering the fate of its biggest trade relationship. Negotiations over the trade deal will now extend into next year, heightening both the economic uncertainty and Mexico’s desire to branch out, as countries like China look to expand their stake in the Mexican economy. In an email interview, Carin Zissis, editor-in-chief of AS/COA Online, the website of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, discusses the evolving nature of Mexico’s ties with China, how a change in NAFTA could affect them, and […]

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

One of the major concerns among critics of U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy has always been that, in addition to potentially destabilizing the global order, it might end up being a shortcut to an “America alone” world. Trump’s decision last week not to recertify the Iran nuclear deal represented a step in that direction. To reach his decision, Trump disregarded the International Atomic Energy Agency’s repeated declarations that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the agreement. He also ignored the entreaties of France, the U.K. and Germany, America’s allies who are also signatories to the […]

Carlos Ocariz, the opposition candidate for governor of Miranda state, yells out “Let’s go!” as he walks hand-in-hand with his stepdaughter to a polling station, Caracas, Venezuela, Oct. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Fernando Llano).

After months of delays, polling booths finally opened in Venezuela last Sunday for gubernatorial elections in each of the country’s 23 states. Accusations of fraud have already marred the results, as candidates backed by President Nicolas Maduro and his regime won an overwhelming majority of seats despite poor polling numbers that pointed to an opposition victory. Candidates with the opposition coalition have demanded an electoral audit in every state, citing cases of voter intimidation, repeat ballots and nonfunctioning polling booths. The opposition’s failure to turn the tide on the regional level looks like a major political loss, but the situation […]

President Donald Trump arrives to speak about Iran from the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, Washington, Oct. 13, 2017 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

When it comes to the destruction of international institutions and agreements, Donald Trump is more a tease than a terminator. The U.S. president often aims to undercut international cooperation, but dodges taking decisive action against his multilateral targets. Last week, for example, he announced two steps to weaken the United Nations system that were not quite what they first seemed. On Thursday, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), arguing that it is endemically biased against Israel. But this was a largely symbolic move. The Obama administration cut off funding to UNESCO in […]

Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman greets U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, New Delhi, India, Sept. 26, 2017 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

When U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his new strategy for the Afghan war in August, he called on India to become more involved in Afghanistan’s security. Secretary of Defense James Mattis followed up with a visit to India in September to discuss deepening economic and defense ties, raising the possibility of a greater partnership between Washington and New Delhi. In an email interview, Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for a New American Security, explains why closer cooperation between the U.S. and India has failed to fully materialize despite obvious advantages, and what the Trump administration can do to overcome […]

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