Three men head north toward Algeria after crossing the Assamaka border post in northern Niger, June 3, 2018 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the implications of renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran and a new round of tariffs against Chinese imports. For the Report, Leila Beratto talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about Algeria’s campaign of mass expulsions targeting migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and why it has rights activists and neighboring countries up in arms. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your […]

President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, April 3, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

“Over whatever number of years we have put about $80 billion into Egypt. Most of the time, this is the kind of government they had—almost all of the time. And the reality is, no matter how much I wish it was different, it ain’t going to be different tomorrow.” These words, spoken by former Secretary of State John Kerry to The New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick, are unfortunately all too accurate. Egypt is in the depths of a resurgent authoritarianism that has thoroughly crushed any possibility for political opening or reform, no matter how incremental. Kerry was correct in his […]

Oleg Deripaska, the founder of Rusal, attends a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian business leaders, Moscow, Dec. 19, 2016 (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin for Sputnik via AP Images).

While the Trump administration follows through with reimposing sanctions on Tehran after it withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement, the rhetoric over American sanctions on Russia is seriously overheating. Debate centers on the Treasury Department’s potential removal of the Russian aluminum firm Rusal from its blacklist of sanctioned Russian entities. This dispute risks obscuring how a desire to hit back against Russia over its election interference, rather than punish Rusal’s oligarch founder, Oleg Deripaska, invites severe unintended consequences. While the political value of keeping Rusal on the Treasury blacklist may seem high, it comes with wider economic costs […]

An American soldier stands in front of a military vehicle, Augustdorf, Germany, May 29, 2018 (Photo by Friso Gentsch for DPA via AP Images).

Last week, I was invited to take part in a survey of foreign policy experts sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Texas National Security Network. The survey consisted of a series of generic U.S. foreign policy positions with which respondents were asked to agree or disagree. The experience was eye-opening, as I came away from the short 10-minute questionnaire dissatisfied with the answers I had given, but not necessarily reassured by the available alternatives. That was in part because there was no way to explain one’s answers, put them into context or suggest preferable alternatives to […]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo greets North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho as they prepare for a group photo at the 25th ASEAN Regional Forum Retreat, Singapore, Aug. 4, 2018 (AP photo by Joseph Nair).

Ending wars means working with bad people. You cannot forge a cease-fire or hammer out a peace deal without talking to leaders who are directly responsible for death and brutality. Some of these leaders may be genuinely honorable individuals. A lot won’t be. This is a hard truth that professional peacemakers admit in private but tend to avoid mentioning in public. Analysts and officials working on conflict resolution have developed a blandly bloodless technical vocabulary for discussing their field. Political agreements should be “locally owned.” Peace should be “sustainable.” Peace operations should be “people-centered,” and so on. Every profession has […]

President Donald Trump after signing a presidential memorandum on the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Washington, May 8, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In May, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the international nuclear deal with Iran, which was negotiated and signed by both countries along with France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and China. The agreement, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, had imposed strict controls and oversight on Iran’s domestic nuclear program, in return for the easing of multilateral sanctions and the suspension of U.S. unilateral sanctions on Iran. In withdrawing from the deal, Trump promised to reimpose sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry, as well as so-called third-party sanctions on any companies that did business […]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, June 14, 2018 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

As the United States became a superpower in the 20th century, its grand strategy relied on qualitative military strength, economic power and, in the information realm, an appealing narrative about American national interests and foreign policy. This combination—what security experts call the “elements of national power”—was immensely successful, underpinning American hegemony and projecting U.S. influence around the world. But today, America’s preponderance seems in decline. In the military and economic realms, this is relative, largely the result of what Fareed Zakaria calls “the rise of the rest.” America’s diminishing ability to wage information warfare is harder to explain. Leaders in […]

An opposition party supporter throws a rock aimed at a campaign poster for Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 1, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Ahead of this week’s elections in Zimbabwe, Simon Allison noted in an in-depth report for WPR that the ruling party, ZANU-PF, has been “pitching itself as the party of change” despite having run the country since it attained independence in 1980. In the immediate aftermath of the vote, it appears the world will get to see what exactly the party means by “change,” though the events of recent days offer several reasons to be pessimistic. On Friday morning, officials […]

A group of protesters outside the Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran, June 25, 2018 (ILNA photo via AP Images).

A few years after Iran’s 1979 revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini disregarded an aide who was worried about inflation by declaring that “this revolution was not about the price of watermelons.” His successors may not have the luxury of assuming that the Islamic Republic’s religious essence is more important to most Iranians than their economic situation. Indeed, the proverbial price of watermelons has now plunged Iran into a potentially explosive economic crisis, with waves of public protests. The situation has been exacerbated by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in May to violate the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran and […]

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, speaks during an event at the Pentagon, Washington, Jan. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

For the past 18 months, foreign policy pundits have debated whether or not U.S. President Donald Trump will have a temporary or lasting impact on global politics, and in particular whether he will fatally undermine the liberal international order—the network of multilateral institutions and security guarantees the U.S. has helped build and backstop since the end of World War II. More recently, though, that debate has shifted to whether the liberal international order ever really existed, or if it was instead rhetorical window dressing used to soften the rough edges of what amounted to U.S. hegemony. In some ways, the […]

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