A plenary session at the NATO summit in Watford, England, Dec. 4, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The future of European security over the next decade could hinge on the outcome of two separate elections taking place outside the continent in the next few days. One poll, the parliamentary elections in Georgia on Oct. 31, could very well shape whether and when NATO next goes to war. The other, the presidential election in the United States on Nov. 3, will likely determine if NATO’s trans-Atlantic alliance even survives. Whatever the outcome in both cases, it’s a foregone conclusion that come 2021, NATO’s European members are going to have to make some very hard decisions about their collective […]

Supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wave banners near the White House, in Washington, Aug. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

As the U.S. presidential election campaign comes down to its frenetic closing days, the divisions that have wracked the country for the past four years of Donald Trump’s presidency have come into even sharper contrast. The resulting atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion has only magnified what’s at stake in the election, for the U.S. and the world. Whether Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins, they will face a global landscape characterized by great power competition, says Edward Luce, columnist and U.S. national editor for the Financial Times, in which America’s relative power is declining and the appeal of its […]

Supporters of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign rally outside of an early voting location in Hialeah, Fla., Oct. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Lynne Sladky).

Which candidate in America’s presidential race would be better for Latin America? The question is being asked across the hemisphere, further abroad and in the United States, where Washington’s relations with Latin America are a major domestic issue for many voters, with the power to tilt election results. The answer, of course, depends on your personal views. There’s hardly unanimity, but when a Colombian student asked me recently whether President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden would be better for her country, it wasn’t difficult for me to reach a conclusion. Biden has the political philosophy, the background […]

President Donald Trump at a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House, May 13, 2019. Cozying up to dictators like Orban has been a hallmark of U.S. foreign policy under Trump (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

U.S. foreign policy under Trump does not appear to have a consistent logic. Trump has promised to put “America First,” and pursued that end in a variety of ways. At the same time, he has stocked his Cabinet with hawkish interventionists. While adopting a more unilateralist approach, Trump has neglected the institutions that help formulate and execute U.S. foreign policy. As he nears the end of his first term in office, President Donald Trump’s administration still does not appear to have seized on a consistent approach to dealing with the world. Instead, U.S. foreign policy under Trump has become erratic […]

An excavator works on a road construction project in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 10, 2020 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

As the United States prepares for a full withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, potentially as soon as next spring, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over its efforts to promote infrastructure development in Central and South Asia. Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, China has become a major player in the region, especially through the 2013 announcement of its Belt and Road Initiative, a major infrastructure program involving hundreds of billions of dollars in investments throughout Asia and beyond. The rise of Chinese spending and influence has overshadowed America’s efforts, inducing a kind of collective amnesia among many […]

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Oct. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Should Joe Biden win the American presidency on Nov. 3, the world will experience whiplash, as the United States performs a second about-face in its posture toward multilateralism in only four years. Although the U.S. has oscillated through cycles of internationalism and isolationism before, it has never executed such a swift and dramatic double-reverse. A Biden triumph would repudiate the “America First” platform on which Donald Trump won the White House in 2016, and the hyper-nationalist, unilateralist and sovereigntist mindset that undergirds it. Such a stunning shift in America’s global orientation would have major implications for global cooperation on everything […]

President Donald Trump on a phone call with the leaders of Sudan and Israel, announcing their normalization deal, in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Oct. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Editor’s Note: Welcome to WPR’s new weekly newsletter, Middle East Memo. Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best local news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week. When is a peace deal not all it’s chalked up to be, even if it ends a formal state of hostility? The Trump administration’s race to pressure Arab countries to normalize their ties with Israel, goaded by promises of American financial assistance and weapons, isn’t really changing the […]

President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron during a joint press conference at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Aug. 26, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

President Donald Trump likes tariffs, regardless of their target. While China gets most of the attention, he hasn’t hesitated to attack America’s friends and allies as well. His Democratic rival for the presidency, former Vice President Joe Biden, has his own concerns about Chinese trade practices and has been vague about whether he would roll back Trump’s tariffs on China, so trade tensions between Washington and Beijing are likely to remain high no matter who wins in November. The situation is different for European policymakers, since the election could determine whether an escalation in trade tensions is coming, or a […]

A TV screen shows a news program with an image of North Korea’s new ballistic missile, at the Seoul Railway Station, South Korea, Oct. 10, 2020 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

A massive military parade in North Korea last weekend was arguably the most hotly anticipated event in the country this year, but its organizers still managed to take viewers and analysts by surprise. In a departure from previous daytime processions, the parade was conducted in the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 10, while most of the country slept, with an edited version broadcast on state TV in the evening. In typically dramatic fashion, North Korea’s young dictator, Kim Jong Un, kicked things off with an emotional 25-minute speech, as onlookers cheered and wept. The meticulously choreographed affair then featured fireworks, a […]

Honduran migrants wait for water being distributed by the Red Cross after hours of walking north in hopes of reaching the United States, in Quezaltepeque, Guatemala, Jan. 17, 2020 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

Refugee advocates have condemned President Donald Trump’s notice to Congress last month that it plans to set a ceiling of 15,000 refugee admissions for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1. Democratic candidate Joe Biden has pledged to raise the limit to at least 125,000 slots if he is elected. On the Trend Lines podcast this week, WPR’s Elliot Waldman was joined by Meredith Owen, interim director of policy and advocacy at Church World Service, to discuss the Trump administration’s cruel and misguided policies toward refugees and how easy it would be for Biden to change them if he […]

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 12, 2020 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Since World Politics Review began publishing 14 years ago, we have refrained from political endorsements. This is in keeping with our mission, which states that we are “unbeholden to any partisan affiliation or party allegiance.” At the same time, nonpartisan does not mean disinterested. Over the past 14 years, we have published articles defending and supporting the foreign policy decisions of Republican and Democratic administrations alike. But in so doing, we have always referred to a certain vision of international politics and global order as our standard for judgment. As our mission statement also puts it, WPR seeks to strike […]

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer checks the documents of migrants who are on their way to apply for asylum in the United States, as they depart Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Sept. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Llano).

Late last month, President Donald Trump told Congress that his administration plans to further slash the ceiling for refugee admissions during the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1, to 15,000 from an already historically low 18,000. The new limit is less than one-seventh the 110,000 slots that former President Barack Obama approved in 2016. As The New York Times put it, Trump has “virtually sealed off a pathway for the persecuted into the country and obliterated the once-robust American reputation as a sanctuary for the oppressed.” This comes as the number of refugees worldwide continues to grow. According to […]

Former Defense Minister Bah N’Daw, right, is sworn in as transitional president, and Col. Assimi Goita, left, head of the junta that staged the August coup, is sworn as transitional vice president, in Bamako, Mali, Sept. 25, 2020 (AP photo).

The United States has mostly avoided in Africa the costly mistakes it made in Afghanistan and Iraq. If that is to continue, a good understanding of internal developments and issues in African countries will be crucial. Until now, the United States’ primary concern in Mali has been the jihadist insurgency in the northern and central parts of the country. A secondary priority was the promotion of democracy, which translated into an emphasis on regular, credible elections. With the military coup this summer—Mali’s second in less than a decade—and with mounting attacks by jihadists, that policy is not working. The current […]

Members of the House of Representatives walk down the steps of Capitol Hill after passing a coronavirus rescue package, Washington, March 27, 2020 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

The global economy is gradually healing from the economic blows dealt by the coronavirus pandemic, but the recovery remains fragile and halting. Reduced trade is more a symptom than a cause of those trends—and what governments do in terms of additional fiscal stimulus will do far more to determine the shape of the recovery in the United States and other countries. Still, trade policy could be a factor, supporting or undermining the nascent recovery. President Donald Trump’s trade wars have already complicated the direct response to COVID-19 infections—by making imports of some critical products more expensive or harder to find—and […]

Sweden’s then-foreign minister, Carl Bildt, at a press briefing in Berlin, Germany, Jan. 8, 2014 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

“On foreign and defense policy, absolutely, there is an ambition to be more united, and that vision is shared by all of the member countries,” says Carl Bildt, former Swedish prime minister and foreign minister, about the European Union. “Then in practice, as you’ve seen, there are divergences, and they are more or less clear in different areas.” Those divergences have frustrated advocates of a more forceful EU that operates on the world stage with “strategic autonomy,” a phrase Mr. Bildt finds “confuses more than it clarifies.” But he adds, as someone who has “been watching these things for a […]

A woman sits overlooking Columbia University’s nearly empty campus, in New York, March 9, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Lennihan).

On university and college campuses, it’s been a back-to-school season like none other. COVID-19 outbreaks have forced entire residence halls and sports teams to quarantine, and, for some institutions, could prompt a premature end to the semester. Other campuses are ghost towns, as instruction has moved completely online. The pandemic has transformed teaching and learning, how research is conducted⎯the very rhythms of campus life. The contagion’s impact on international education has been especially acute. With closed borders, shuttered consulates and airline restrictions, study abroad and foreign exchange programs have been canceled, while the United States is all but off-limits for […]

John Demers, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, announces charges against two British men who joined the Islamic State, at a press conference in Washington, Oct. 7, 2020 (Photo by Jim Watson via AP).

The extradition to the United States this week of two of the Islamic State’s most notorious members on terrorism charges was a poignant reminder of the dark and lingering legacy of the so-called caliphate. As much as the case marks a major milestone in America’s 20-year-long “global war on terror,” it is also a sad testament to how much remains unresolved about the status of thousands of foreign fighters who traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State and are now in detention in various countries, along with the women and children they brought with them. In its […]

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