Then-Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia, June 18, 2014 (AP photo by Javier Galeano).

BOGOTA, Colombia—In his last visit to Colombia as U.S. vice president in December 2016, Joe Biden praised then-President Juan Manuel Santos for the historic peace accord reached that year with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—the country’s largest guerrilla group, better known as the FARC—which ended the longest-running armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere. More than four years later, the Andean nation is at risk of losing most of the security gains from the hard-won peace agreement, with violence escalating to levels last seen before the peace talks. Now that Biden is back in office as president, he must pay […]

A U.S. Army medic fills syringes with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in North Miami, Fla., March 3, 2021 (AP photo by Marta Lavandier).

Every four years, the U.S. intelligence community, led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, publishes its Global Trends report looking ahead 20 years into the future. As efforts to identify far-horizon threats today, the reports usually make for fairly gloomy reading. This year’s “Global Trends 2040” report is no exception. It describes the ongoing pandemic as “the most significant, singular global disruption since World War II, with health, economic, political and security implications that will ripple for years to come.” Worse still, it warns of “more intense and cascading global challenges” ahead. Though he is not cited […]

A section of the Amazon rainforest stands next to soy fields in Belterra, Para state, Brazil, Nov. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

Over the past two years, an extraordinary global campaign has emerged to protect 30 percent of Earth’s total surface from human exploitation by 2030. The members of this so-called 30×30 coalition, which now includes scores of governments, understand that climate change is only one half of the planet’s environmental crisis. The Paris Agreement, while imperative to curb greenhouse gas emissions, will do little by itself to save the planet’s collapsing biodiversity or preserve the massive ecosystems upon which humanity depends—and which we are fast degrading. In April 2019, a group of 19 prominent scientists ignited international interest in the 30×30 […]

U.S. and Kazakh national flags at the scene of a news conference with then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi, in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan (Sputnik photo by Vladislav Vodnev via AP Images).

As President Joe Biden’s foreign policy takes shape, one issue that still needs clarification is the role of Central Asia. Discussions in Washington about the region usually occur not on its own terms, but in the context of broader issues about Russian and Chinese influence, or security concerns around terrorism and the war in Afghanistan. However, Central Asia is important to the U.S. in its own right. For one thing, it is composed of frontier markets that can be attractive to U.S. companies, apart from the energy firms that already operate there. And some governments share the Biden administration’s interest […]

A supporter of the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Movement of Justice, takes part in a rally against the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, in Peshawar, Pakistan, April 23, 2011 (AP photo by Mohammad Sajjad).

When it comes to armed drones, is smaller and more precise necessarily better? The question came to my mind upon seeing the news that the U.S. Air Force just successfully test-launched a new weaponizable drone, the ALTIUS-600, making it the smallest drone in operation. Even more remarkably, this tiny aircraft was launched from the second-smallest-drone, the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie, while the Valkyrie was in flight. There is nothing objectionable about the development of mini-drones. One could even argue they would be improvements, in humanitarian terms, over the use of the much larger Reaper to deliver 500-pound bombs in allegedly “precise” […]

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The White House’s announcement last month that the United States will offer millions of coronavirus vaccines to its two immediate neighbors, Mexico and Canada, is a welcome step toward the reversal of the Trump administration’s “America First” policies. But for humanitarian, economic and strategic reasons, it must be just the first step toward an intentional program of U.S. leadership to vaccinate the Americas. In the global struggle against COVID-19, Latin American and Caribbean countries have fallen behind. Weak health systems, uncertain leadership, high numbers of informal workers and bad luck have created a perfect storm in the region. Even as […]

Matt Duss testifies before the 2016 Democratic Platform Drafting Committee, June 9, 2016 (Screenshot of C-SPAN video).

Over the course of the past five years, a number of figures on the Democratic Party’s left wing, supported by grassroots organizations and advocacy groups, have been expanding the range of discussions about U.S. foreign policy. The progressive agenda that has emerged, although not a formal platform, is beginning to play a more prominent role in policy debates in Washington’s foreign policy establishment, including within the Biden administration. In this week’s Trend Lines interview, Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders, joins WPR’s editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein to discuss what a progressive foreign policy would look like and how […]

Sen. Bernie Sanders, left, and Joe Biden talk before a Democratic presidential primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina, Feb. 25, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Rourke).

Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, a recurring theme among the Washington foreign policy establishment was how to repair the damage he was doing to America’s global standing. For many, particularly the centrist current of the Democratic party, that meant restoring the traditional approach to American foreign policy that Trump consistently undermined during his four years in office. But some figures on the party’s more progressive left wing saw returning to the status quo ante as insufficient. People like Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ro Khanna, as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders, began expanding the range of policy discussions and debates, […]

Chinese People’s Liberation Army cadets take part in bayonet drills at the PLA’s Armored Forces Engineering Academy Base, on the outskirts of Beijing, China, July 22, 2014 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

There is perhaps nothing so difficult or so important as thinking independently in the face of a gathering consensus. Very few people have the courage displayed by Rep. Barbara Lee, who just three days after the attacks of 9/11 cast the sole vote in Congress opposing the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which gave the Bush administration broad discretionary powers to wage war against terrorists. Lee’s opposition was not based on naïveté or ideological purity, both of which can be the source of what otherwise resembles iconoclastic thinking. Rather, she had the prescience and lucidity to see the dangers […]

President Donald Trump meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, second from right, during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, two luminaries of the U.S. foreign policy establishment make a provocative, seductive but ultimately unpersuasive case for creating a new “global concert of major powers” for the 21st century, modeled on the Concert of Europe. The authors are Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan—my boss and my colleague, respectively—at the Council on Foreign Relations. I’ve learned an immense amount from both of them over the years. But in the interest of vigorous debate, let me suggest that their nostalgia for the 19th century is misplaced. The anachronistic mechanism they propose would not cure what […]

A Ukrainian serviceman guards his position near the Line of Contact near Vodiane, 468 miles southeast of Kyiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, March 6, 2021 (AP photo by Evgeniy Maloletka).

For the better part of six years since Russia and Ukraine signed the Minsk II cease-fire accord for the disputed eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass, one question has loomed: How will the U.S. and NATO respond if Russian troops again cross back over the so-called Line of Contact, dividing Ukrainian forces from Russian-backed separatists? With reports now trickling in of a buildup of Russian military forces along the border and in Crimea, Washington and Brussels may need quick answers soon. In response to those reports, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke this week with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, […]

A soldier holds a Taiwanese national flag during a military exercise in Hsinchu County, northern Taiwan, Jan. 19, 2021 (AP photo by Chiang Ying-ying).

The top U.S. military commander for the Asia-Pacific region, Adm. Philip Davidson, raised eyebrows at a recent Senate hearing when he suggested China could invade Taiwan within the next six years. The nominee to replace Davidson at the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. John Aquilino, then went a step further, telling the same committee last week that in his view, “This problem is much closer to us than most think and we have to take this on.” At first glance, such concerns might seem justified. The Chinese Communist Party has always viewed the annexation of Taiwan as a key […]

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