Food delivery workers near a TV screen showing Chinese leader Xi Jinping attending the closing ceremony of the National People’s Congress, in Beijing, China, May 28, 2020 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Freddy Deknatel talk about China’s latest encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy, and how it might affect U.S.-China relations. They also discuss the Trump administration’s latest move to finish off the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, and the outdated logic guiding the administration’s Iran policy more generally. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | Spotify Relevant Articles on WPR:Why China’s Xi Opted for the ‘Nuclear Option’ in Hong KongChina’s Aggression Amid the Pandemic Has Little to Do With COVID-19Trump’s Iran Strategy Is Still Just an Anti-Obama VendettaThe Trump […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrives for a press conference at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, March 12, 2020 (AP photo by Matias Delacroix).

The U.S. Justice Department’s indictment of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in March did not go over well at Miraflores Palace, the president’s official workplace and residence in Caracas. In remarks just hours after the indictment was announced, Maduro swatted away the allegations of drug trafficking and money laundering, and assailed President Donald Trump as a “racist cowboy” and “New York mafia con artist.” Even many of Maduro’s critics in the United States were quick to question the move. Understandably, they fear the criminal charges undermine negotiations between Maduro and his domestic opponents, including Juan Guaido, the opposition leader who is […]

President Donald Trump listens during a session at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant, which is now manufacturing personal protection and medical equipment, Ypsilanti, Michigan, May 21, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Six months after the emergence of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, and four months after it became a global outbreak, its political and economic fallout continue to take shape. As government policies adapt and evolve in real time to the changing features of the pandemic, so too do the geopolitical implications. So far, three scenarios have been advanced with regard to COVID-19’s potential impact on the international order. They can be broadly characterized as a change at the top, in which a triumphant and capable China replaces the bungling U.S. as the world’s dominant power; a descent into multipolar […]

Peruvian Foreign Minister Gustavo-Meza Cuadra, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, Nov. 29, 2019 (pool photo by Florence Lo via AP).

The coronavirus pandemic has yet to peak across Latin America and the Caribbean, but China is already maneuvering to try and capitalize on the crisis and bolster its position and influence in the region. The heated blame game between Washington and Beijing over the coronavirus’s origins will eventually fade from the headlines, and Chinese leaders are quietly working to ensure that when it does, the strategic ground will have shifted in their favor. At the heart of these efforts is a campaign for ideological supremacy, to show the moral equivalence and even the supposed superiority of the Chinese communist system […]

Flags with the logo of the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei in Bonn, Germany, April 6, 2020 (Photo by Horst Galuschka for dpa via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Edward Alden is filling in for Kimberly Ann Elliott this week. During the Cold War, the United States created and led two quite different international trading systems. The first, and by far the better known, was the open, multilateral trading system. Its aim was to expand free trade and market principles around the world, and it culminated after the Cold War in the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995. What began with just 23 nations in the aftermath of World War II, with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, today includes 164 countries […]

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, April 29, 2020 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Whether the world knows it now or not, how the U.S. Congress handles the White House’s abrupt firing of the State Department’s top watchdog could be more than a make or break moment for the future of “America First” diplomacy. It could also determine the trajectory of American presidential politics for years to come. If Secretary of State Mike Pompeo survives the escalating scandal surrounding President Donald Trump’s decision last week to force out State Department Inspector General Steve Linick—at Pompeo’s request—Pompeo’s much-anticipated run for the presidency in 2024 is all but assured. On Wednesday, Pompeo bluntly stated in a […]

An Avangard intercontinental ballistic missile lifts off from a truck-mounted launcher somewhere in Russia (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP).

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration found itself defending proposed cuts in funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its 2021 budget request to Congress. The cuts, which were the latest in a consistent pattern of reductions in CDC funding over the past 10 years, threaten to further hamper the government’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. But they are part of a much broader trend of gradually deprioritizing critical institutions, one that threatens key government functions meant to provide stability in an unpredictable world. Like the CDC, the State Department […]

French President Emmanuel Macron listens to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a joint video press conference at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, May 18, 2020 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Freddy Deknatel and Prachi Vidwans talk about the abrupt firing of the U.S. State Department’s inspector general by President Donald Trump last week, and the allegations of misconduct by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that have since emerged. They also talk about a potentially game-changing proposal by France and Germany for the European Union to issue collective debt to finance post-pandemic economic recovery plans for its hardest-hit member states. Listen: Download: MP3 Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | Spotify Relevant Articles on WPR:The Future of Trump’s ‘America First’ Agenda […]

President Donald Trump speaks about a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico during an event at the White House, Washington, Jan. 29, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

On the heels of Sen. Josh Hawley’s call in an op-ed to abolish the World Trade Organization, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also took to the opinion pages of The New York Times to declare the end of “the era of offshoring.” President Donald Trump’s aggressively unilateral trade policies, naturally, got most of the credit. As with Hawley’s fuzzy plan for a club of “free nations” aligned against China, it’s not quite clear whether Lighthizer thinks protectionism should still be part of the plan to “Bring the jobs back to America.” But with the United States potentially on the brink […]

A U.S. Marine stands guard as the USNS Comfort hospital ship prepares to leave New York City, April 30, 2020 (Photo by Anthony Behar for Sipa via AP Images).

The twin global emergencies of COVID-19 and climate change are forcing the U.S. foreign policy establishment to reassess its traditional conceptions of national security. According to a still dominant paradigm, the gravest dangers the United States faces emanate from adversaries with sufficient military capabilities to attack the nation and its allies or, at a minimum, thwart its political and economic objectives. These threat perceptions expanded dramatically following 9/11. After a handful of jihadists armed with boxcutters inflicted a grievous wound on the U.S. homeland, transnational terrorists joined geopolitical rivals and rogue states in the pantheon of security threats. But the […]

People wear face masks to protect against the coronavirus on a street in Taipei, Taiwan, March 30, 2020 (AP photo by Chiang Ying-ying).

When members of the World Health Organization convene via video conference next week for the 73rd annual World Health Assembly, they will largely focus on the unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. But despite earning plaudits for its success in containing its COVID-19 outbreak, Taiwan will not be dialing in. China has long pressured other states to exclude Taiwan from the WHO, along with other United Nations bodies, because it considers Taiwan to be a rebellious province of China rather than a sovereign nation. Beijing did allow Taiwan to attend the World Health Assembly as an observer during a […]

President Donald Trump arrives to speak about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, May 11, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

What happens when a superpower is not so super anymore? If you accept the premise that in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating economic impact, most Americans on both the left and the right will come to view U.S. global leadership as “a luxury rather than a necessity,” as Steven Metz put it last week, then what would the post-Pax Americana world order look like? Most observers think America will step back after COVID-19, and that sounds about right—although it is far from clear whether that would be a few years on the bench, until the U.S. […]

Veterans watch President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participate in a World War II commemoration in Washington, May 8, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

On the several occasions that I’ve stayed in the town of Boulouris, on the Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Nice, I would take my morning run along a road that overlooks the beaches where Allied forces landed in August 1944 to liberate southern France. At the garage that marked the midpoint of my run, where I would turn and head back home, the road’s name changes from the Route de la Corniche to the Boulevard de la 36eme Division du Texas, a tribute to the U.S. Army division that took part in the landings. Every time I saw the street […]

Sen. Josh Hawley during President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, Washington, Jan. 21, 2020 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

In an op-ed last week, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, called for the abolition of the World Trade Organization and the restoration of “America’s economic sovereignty.” A few days later, the Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate had surged to almost 15 percent since the coronavirus pandemic hit—the highest level since the Great Depression. The timing of Hawley’s article could not help but bring to mind the Tariff Act of 1930, also known as the Hawley-Smoot tariff after its sponsors Rep. Willis Hawley of Oregon (no relation to the senator) and Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah. […]

President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, March 2, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Since reports of a novel coronavirus outbreak in China emerged around the new year, the lion’s share of attention has focused on immediate efforts to contain and respond to the pathogen that has now infected millions around the world and killed nearly 300,000 people, according to official counts. As the initial wave crests in many countries, observers are debating how the pandemic might reshape the world order, including prospects for international cooperation. Some anticipate accelerated U.S. decline and the advent of a more multipolar world. Others predict a deepening authoritarian turn worldwide, with an emboldened China atop the global standings. […]

People watch a TV showing images of North Korean missiles during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 9, 2020 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

When North Korean leader Kim Jong Un mysteriously disappeared from public view for three weeks last month, triggering widespread rumors about his health, many international observers speculated about what could come next. His possible demise might lead to a contested succession that sparked domestic instability and the proliferation of North Korea’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons and fissile material. Kim’s reemergence on May 2, at the opening of a fertilizer plant in the city of Sunchon, has taken succession concerns off the table for now. But it is time to worry once again about North Korea’s development of its nuclear and […]

President Donald Trump during an event in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, May 6, 2020 (AP Photo by Evan Vucci).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Steven Metz is filling in for Candace Rondeaux this week. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, the United States could have decided that its great fight against totalitarianism was finally over. America could have downsized its involvement in all but the most vital parts of the world, lessened its dependence on imported energy supplies, demilitarized its global strategy and abandoned the quest for primacy. But it did not. By then, Americans had become addicted to primacy, convinced that a militarized form of global leadership was both vital and sustainable. All of this no […]

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