Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump at a photo session during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Danang, Vietnam, Nov. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Hau Dinh).

In this week’s editors’ discussion episode of the podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, discuss the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged coordination between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russian agents seeking to influence the outcome of the election. Have we entered a post-Mueller era of the Trump presidency? If so, what are the implications for U.S. foreign policy on Russia, the trans-Atlantic partnership and elsewhere? WPR’s editors look at these and other questions in their discussion of the week’s top news. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and […]

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport, West Palm Beach, Fla., March 24, 2019 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

The vaudeville and at times burlesque spectacle that has dominated U.S. politics for over two years now reached a pivotal climax last week, when special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report on alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia to the Justice Department. The culmination of an investigation that dates back to the early months of Trump’s presidency, Mueller’s report—according to the summary of it released by Trump’s hand-picked attorney general, William Barr—failed to establish evidence of coordination on Russia’s efforts to influence the election.* Mueller also refrained from reaching a conclusion on whether or not evidence […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 28, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

North Korea sanctions were back in the news last week. On Thursday, the United States Treasury Department announced economic penalties on two Chinese shipping companies for breaching United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang. That announcement was seemingly reversed Friday by President Donald Trump, who said on Twitter that he would be rescinding newly announced Treasury Department sanctions against North Korea. After some confusion, the White House explained that Trump was referring to as-yet unannounced U.S. unilateral sanctions, highlighting the administration’s lack of coordination on key messaging with regard to North Korea. Observers could be forgiven for seeing the mix-up as an […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Minister of Energy Alexander Novak during the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, Dec. 6, 2018 (Photo by Maksim Blinov for Sputnik via AP Images).

Five years after the U.S. first imposed sanctions against Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea, Moscow continues to defy Western efforts to rein in its behavior. As the Russia sanctions risk becoming a permanent fixture in U.S.-Russia relations, three principal long-term trends are worth further examination. In March 2014, then-President Barack Obama signed the first tranche of executive orders imposing sanctions against the Russian Federation for its illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea. Five years later, the confrontation between the United States and Russia has come to dominate the national security conversation, driving unprecedented tensions in the trans-Atlantic relationship. […]

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump meet with Caribbean leaders at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., March 22, 2019 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

U.S. President Donald Trump held a meeting last Friday with five Caribbean leaders who have publicly sided with the United States in backing the self-proclaimed presidency of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. In return for their support, the U.S. is promising investment in their economies, a powerful diplomatic tool that may entice other Caribbean countries to break off their longstanding ties with President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas. In an interview with WPR, Robert Looney, a distinguished professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, discusses the mounting support for Guaido in the Caribbean and its implications for the […]

President Donald Trump at a meeting with Caribbean leaders at Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Fla., March 22, 2019 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

The World Trade Organization's influence and capacity are diminishing. But the biggest threat it faces comes from its erstwhile champion, the United States under President Donald Trump, who is less interested in WTO reforms and more interested in bending the organization to his will. The World Trade Organization is in crisis. Member states doubt its capacity to spur economic liberalization, counter China’s market-distorting policies or resolve deepening trade disputes. But the biggest threat it faces comes from its erstwhile champion, the United States. President Donald Trump is determined to weaken, even destroy, the organization. The White House speaks the language […]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 14, 2019 (Pool photo by Andrew Cabellero-Reynolds via AP Images).

For many decades, shared fears of common enemies—from the Soviets to the Iranians, Saddam Hussein and extremist movements like al-Qaida and the Islamic State—pushed America and Saudi Arabia into an uneasy embrace. But today that calculus is no longer enough to sustain their alliance. For the United States, the strategic costs of the Saudi relationship have come to outweigh the benefits, as the tensions and unnaturalness of the partnership make it increasingly intolerable. The U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia can be traced back to the 1930s, when the kingdom first began producing petroleum. By the 1970s, Saudi Arabia was an […]

Activists protesting the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold a candlelight vigil outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Oct. 25, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Saudi Arabia has lately been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It has been widely condemned for a disastrous war in Yemen that has forced over 3 million civilians to flee and left over 15 million people on the brink of famine. The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul—allegedly on orders from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—is a story that refuses to go away. More recently, the Saudi government finds itself responding to alarming allegations regarding the detention, torture and impending trial of many prominent female activists in the kingdom. On March […]

Cybersecurity experts take part in a test at a conference in Lille, France, Jan. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Michel Spingler).

Elizabeth Warren, one of the 13 candidates in an already crowded field of Democrats running for U.S. president in 2020, wants to break up tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Twitter by legally designating them as “platform utilities,” she said recently, in order to “keep that marketplace competitive and not let a giant who has an incredible competitive advantage snuff that out.” Amy Klobuchar, another senator seeking the Democratic nomination, says flatly that she doesn’t trust tech companies. She doesn’t want to break them up, but instead has proposed new regulations in the form of antitrust laws, new […]

Syrian authorities distribute bread, vegetables and pasta to residents of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, April 16, 2018 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Ten years ago, the Sri Lankan military carried out a violent final offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a rebel group with a long history of atrocities. The offensive, which ultimately resulted in the end of the war, involved the brutal killings of thousands of civilians—acts that were documented in real time by journalists and United Nations officials. Back in New York, however, the U.N.’s leaders failed to muster a meaningful response to mitigate the bloodshed, and Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general at the time, soon came under heavy criticism. As Richard Gowan writes in this week’s in-depth report, […]

Sri Lankan protesters wave flags and burn an effigy of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outside the U.N. office in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 6, 2010 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Ten years ago this month, senior United Nations officials were hard at work equivocating over a crisis. A cynic might say that the U.N. exists in a constant state of equivocation. But in March 2009, its leaders were mired in an especially grim political mess—and handling it badly. The cause of their troubles lay in northern Sri Lanka. After decades of civil war, the Sri Lankan military was carrying out a final offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a rebel group with a long history of atrocities. As the decisive battle wore on, U.N. officials and journalists in […]

A woman walks in front of a police cordon in front of the police headquarters in Belgrade, Serbia, March 17, 2019 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

Serbia’s protests have been hard to miss even if you don’t follow news and politics out of the Balkans. For more than three months, thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Belgrade and other Serbian cities to demand free and fair elections, an end to violent attacks against politicians and journalists and investigations into them, and more independent and unbiased reporting in the country. Why is that last demand so central to protesters? Serbia’s media environment has been suffering from several long-standing problems, but things took a turn for the worse after President Aleksandar Vucic and his Serbian […]

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to their motorcade after attending service at Saint John’s Church in Washington, March 17, 2019 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Tuesday marks the centenary of one of the most extraordinary foreign policy debates in American history, which has renewed resonance today. On March 19, 1919, 3,000 lucky spectators crammed into Boston Symphony Hall to hear Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, square off against A. Lawrence Lowell, the president of Harvard University. Both men were Republicans and Boston Brahmins. But they disagreed on a big political question. Should the United States, having helped win the Great War, join a League of Nations to defend the peace? The Lodge-Lowell debate was the opening salvo in […]

Anti-Brexit campaigners’ placards outside Parliament, London, Jan. 28, 2019 (Photo by Kirsty O’Connor for EMPPL PA Wire via AP Images).

In this week’s editors’ discussion episode of Trend Lines, WPR’s editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein, managing editor Frederick Deknatel and associate editor Elliot Waldman look at British Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest Brexit setback, the Trump administration’s latest policy shift on Israel, and the United Nations Security Council’s latest report on North Korea sanctions noncompliance. 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 inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview article every day of the week, plus three […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 1, 2018 (Photo by Ralf Hirschberger for dpa via AP Images).

One thing the Cold War taught the United States was how important it is, whenever possible, to address security threats without using force. American leaders knew that almost any military action risked confrontation with the Soviet Union and potential escalation to nuclear war. So armed conflicts had to be kept limited, and the two superpowers instead sought to use nonmilitary means to deal with adversaries. The United States learned during the Cold War to rely on economic and political power, reserving military action for deterrence and for addressing serious threats that could not be handled any other way. American leaders […]

A signage of artificial intelligence at the stand of Xiaomi during the 2018 China Mobile Global Partner Conference in Guangzhou city, China, Dec. 7, 2018 (Photo by Li Zhihao for Imaginechina via AP Images).

Great-power competition is back. But for all the focus on countries like the United States and China building up their militaries, consolidating resources and leveraging industrial productivity, science and technology to boost their influence, another area of competition is emerging: artificial intelligence. Is China already outpacing the United States there? Artificial intelligence carries enormous promise, both economically and militarily. For already developed economies, including America’s, artificial intelligence could lead to the likes of automated supply chains and increased worker productivity through automating routine business tasks. Similar impacts are predicted for the military—with new levels of intelligence and automation in everything […]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrives at Phnom Penh International Airport, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 14, 2019 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

When President Donald Trump stunned the world last year by agreeing to hold a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un—the first-ever meeting between an American president and a North Korean head of state—it felt like a punch in the gut to South Korean conservatives. Hard-liners on North Korea, they were already roiling from corruption scandals that had brought down President Park Geun-hye with massive protests in 2016 and led to the election of President Moon Jae-in. Now, after Trump’s abrupt decision late last month to walk out of talks with North Korea during his second summit with Kim, he […]

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