Vietnam’s trade minister, Tran Tuan Anh, left, and Japan’s minister of economic revitalization, Toshimitsu Motegi, shake hands at a press conference, Danang, Vietnam, Nov. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

On the sidelines of the leaders’ summit for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, or APEC, earlier this month in Vietnam, the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—the mega-regional free trade pact that includes Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei—agreed on most elements of a deal to salvage it in the form of a new, so-called TPP-11. In late January, in one of the first moves after taking office as U.S. president, Donald Trump followed through on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from what had been Barack Obama’s signature economic achievement […]

People cheer as they watch a news broadcast announcing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's order to test-fire a newly developed inter-continental ballistic missile, Pyongyang, North Korea, Nov. 29, 2017 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

After a two-month lull in activity, North Korea on Tuesday successfully tested its largest and most powerful missile to date, which it claims puts the entire U.S. mainland in range. Washington responded by calling for all countries to sever diplomatic and economic ties with Pyongyang, and vowed to further ramp up sanctions. Amid fears that the U.S. and North Korea are inching closer to war, WPR has collected 10 articles examining what options remain on the table—and if any can lead to a way out of the crisis. Purchase this special report as a Kindle e-book. Kim Builds an Arsenal […]

Rubble clutters a traffic roundabout in Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 18, 2017 (AP photo by Asmaa Waguih).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. The only sound in the video from Raqqa is the howl of the wind and the hum of a pickup truck passing through block after obliterated city block. “Drive around Raqqa for hours and all you will see is destruction,” the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville wrote on Twitter, where he posted the video. “The pictures say enough.” The buildings that weren’t flattened by airstrikes don’t have many of their walls or any windows left. […]

Soccer fans in Saudi Arabia cheer as they hold up pictures of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a 2018 World Cup qualifying match in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 5, 2017 (AP photo).

The drama surrounding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues to captivate policy communities around the world. Is MBS, as the upstart royal is known, a genuine reformer or a reckless and ambitious young leader who has more power than he has wisdom? He is strongly identified with Saudi Arabia’s costly war in neighboring Yemen, the nearly six-month diplomatic standoff with Qatar and the geopolitical struggle with Iran. At home, he has spearheaded ambitious plans to open up social space, reinvent the political system and adapt the kingdom’s economic strategies for a changing world energy landscape. The rise of MBS […]

A U.S. Marine major walks past a line of soldiers from the Uganda People’s Defense Force as they engage in weapons training at the Singo facility in Kakola, Uganda, April 30, 2012 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

The United States has always been a reluctant superpower. While most political leaders and observers have believed that promoting security around the world benefits the United States, the public has to be sold on the idea of global activism. Among other things, this makes it important to control the costs of involvement in distant places without direct ties to the United States, particularly U.S. military casualties. This has been done in two ways: by relying on security partners to bear the brunt of deterring and fighting adversaries, and by sustaining an advanced U.S. military to overmatch enemies when it does […]

An Iranian holds a poster showing caricatures of U.S. President Donald Trump,  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia's King Salman, Tehran, Iran, June 23, 2017 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

U.S. President Donald Trump’s team of neophyte Middle East peacemakers is reportedly shifting to “a new phase” in its effort to solve one of the world’s most intractable disputes, by starting to draft a peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s lawyer and Middle East envoy, was quoted by The New York Times as saying the team is “not going to put an artificial timeline on the development or presentation of any specific ideas and will also never impose a deal.” Instead, he said, the goal “is to facilitate, not dictate, a lasting peace agreement to improve the […]

A Russian military policeman, left, rests in the lobby of a hospital in the city of Deir el-Zour, Syria, Sept. 15, 2017 (AP photo).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. In Syria, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, was always treated as a problem with an essentially military solution. At least for the U.S.-led international coalition, there was no positive end state or program of political change that could be joined to the military campaign against the jihadi group. The general repulsiveness of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad meant that, unlike in neighboring Iraq, Washington and its allies could not simply invest […]

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at an ASEAN summit dinner at the SMX Convention Center, Nov. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

During his marathon visit to Asia, the longest by a U.S. president in over 25 years, Donald Trump at least demonstrated to American allies and partners that he is not going to ignore the region. Following up on the Obama administration’s promise to regularly send high-level U.S. officials to major Asian summits to demonstrate Washington’s regional commitment, Trump attended the summits of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But he cut short his trip at the last minute and skipped the East Asia Summit’s plenary session, which he had added to his itinerary earlier. […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping after attending a business event at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

I suspect I speak for many close observers of international affairs when I express my frustration with the sheer repetitiveness of trying to decipher signal from noise amid the chaos and uncertainty that surrounds U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump’s lengthy jaunt through Asia is the latest case in point. On the one hand, he managed to reassure many observers by staying “on-script” through much of the trip, although defining success as avoiding any public displays of pique—rather than securing any concrete deliverables—is a sign of how low the bar has now been set for Trump. On the other, he did […]

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Three recent stories about U.S. intelligence offer insights into how the massive effort to collect and interpret data about threats to the United States has performed over the past few years, and how that effort must increasingly deal with challenges from technology, bad actors and even from political leaders. The first story is about the planned release of old U.S. intelligence documents, which are straightforward enough. The second is the publicly acknowledged damage done to American signals intelligence from hacking or leaking. The third, and perhaps most troubling, is President Donald Trump’s startling statement while overseas in Asia that he […]

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, right, poses with U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders during the ASEAN-U.S. Summit, Manila, Philippines, Nov. 13, 2017 (Photo by Manan Vatsyayana via AP).

Even as Donald Trump wraps up his first trip to Asia as U.S. president this week, deep uncertainty remains over what the broad contours of his administration’s Asia policy will actually end up being. Though U.S.-Singapore ties themselves are already on a solid footing and the city-state remains a key U.S. strategic partner, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s visit to Washington last month, ahead of Trump’s Asia tour, reinforced the point that this important relationship is not immune to that uncertainty, with both sides trying to manage their relations in the context of their domestic and foreign policies. Both […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking at the plenary session of the annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club, Sochi, Russia, Oct. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

When World War II ended in 1945, the United States hoped that wartime cooperation with the Soviet Union would continue. The dream of then-President Franklin Roosevelt was for an enduring partnership of the victorious great powers acting together to prevent future world wars. But this was not to be. Whether ideological differences between the Soviet Union and the United States doomed postwar cooperation from the start, or the idea was deliberately sabotaged by Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, Washington and Moscow were soon locked in the Cold War. The United States—new to great power statecraft and global leadership—did not know initially […]

Children wave U.S. and Chinese flags as President Donald Trump arrives at the airport in Beijing, China, Nov. 8, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

A year ago today, Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election stunned observers in the U.S. and around the world. During the campaign, Trump had repeatedly violated the norms of acceptable behavior by a mainstream political candidate, with no apparent cost. He also questioned the conventional wisdom and broad bipartisan consensus that had underpinned U.S. foreign policy since as far back as the start of the Cold War, particularly with regard to America’s global role and alliances. In the immediate aftermath of the surprise result, Trump’s election raised several questions. Coming on the heels of the Brexit referendum and […]

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a joint news conference at the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 7, 2017 (AP photo Andrew Harnik).

North Korea looms large on U.S. President Donald Trump’s agenda during his nearly two weeks in Asia. Compared to discussions on trade and economics, and Trump’s handling of his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and a now-likely one with Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats have the gravest consequence for regional and global security. With Trump, the North Korea crisis appears to be playing out on several, sometimes-contradictory levels. His national security officials hold out proposals for diplomatic contact, or military options short of full-scale war, while the president opts for brash messages to intimidate […]

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump react as they watch the election results during Trump's election night rally in New York, Nov. 8, 2016 (AP photo by John Locher).

Anyone who comments on politics should take time off in the coming days to reflect on their mistakes and imperfections. This week marks the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, an event that highlighted the weaknesses of the commenting classes. Prior to election night, almost all observers believed Trump could not win. After he did so, analysts and editorialists churned out confused, panicked and lame pieces about what he would do in power. While pundits claim to forecast the political future, they often perform poorly in the face of unexpected twists. Scott Malcolmson, an editor […]

A drone model at a protest encampment near Creech Air Force Base outside Las Vegas, where people were demonstrating against remotely piloted armed drone missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, March 6, 2015 (AP photo by Steve Marcus).

America's wars will change as the enemies of tomorrow, whether extremist networks or hostile nations, acquire the ability to strike more directly at the United States. The way Americans think about armed conflict must evolve to incorporate this profound change to the nature of security. After the devastating Thirty Years War of the 17th century, the great powers of Europe narrowed their notion of what was acceptable in war. While seldom applying their new standards during often-brutal colonial conquests, the European powers—at least in wars among themselves—deemed it acceptable to kill enemy combatants but not civilians, to destroy enemy war […]

People gather to remember the victims of the recent truck attack during a candle light walk near the crime scene along the Hudson River, New York City, Nov. 2, 2017 (AP photo by Andres Kudacki).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss the threat and evolution of transnational terrorism in the wake of the latest attack in New York City. As the self-proclaimed Islamic State loses more territory in Syria and Iraq, will it lash out elsewhere, and what about al-Qaida? How are nations responding to the prospect of Islamic State recruits returning from Syria and Iraq, and how permanent are new security measures designed to protect against lone-wolf terrorism and domestic radicalization? If you like what you hear on Trend […]

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