A banner showing Chinese leader Xi Jinping with a group of Uyghur elders at the Unity New Village in Hotan, in western China’s Xinjiang region, Sept. 20, 2018 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. If the Chinese leadership hoped this week’s grandiose celebrations marking the Chinese Communist Party’s centennial would deflect international attention from China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, they’ll be sorely disappointed. To begin with, the United States introduced fresh sanctions on Chinese silicon over allegations of […]

Students and migrant workers walk near a construction site at Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications, in Chongqing, China (AP photo by Alexander F. Yuan).

In July 1971, one month after the publication of the Pentagon Papers and a year before the Watergate break-in that would eventually cause his downfall, Richard Nixon gave one of the most interesting, and in retrospect, important, speeches of his political career. Still relatively unblemished by scandal, Nixon was cruising toward what would become a gigantic reelection win. He had his eyes fixed firmly on the future and on his long-standing penchant, if not obsession, with international affairs. In a speech to Midwestern media executives that even now remains underappreciated, Nixon said that because of the all-consuming effect of the […]

President Joe Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva, Switzerland (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

After 18 months of the pandemic disrupting routines and upending our lives, things finally seem to be getting back to normal in some corners of the world. Elton John, for one, has just released extra dates on his latest “final” Farewell Tour. Meanwhile, another septuagenarian, Joe Biden, recently completed his first overseas visit as U.S. president. It is hard to imagine Biden carrying off the feathered headdresses or diamante-encrusted catsuits that make up John’s onstage wardrobe. But his European tour—comprising summits with the leaders of the G-7, NATO and European Union, and culminating in a meeting with his Russian counterpart, […]

A U.S. soldier stands guard at the K1 Air Base near Kirkuk in northern Iraq, March 29, 2020 (Photo by Ameer Al Mohammedaw for dpa via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Middle East Memo, which takes a look at what’s happening, what’s being said and what’s on the horizon in the Middle East. Subscribe to receive it by email every Monday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it. Sunday’s overnight air strikes by the U.S. on militia targets in Iraq and Syria immediately rekindled an important debate about deterrence and sovereignty, but also the frustrating persistence of America’s “forever wars.” How should America handle militia attacks on its forces in Iraq, a country where […]

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi at the Heliopolis Presidential Palace, in Cairo, May 26, 2021 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

During his first four months in office, U.S. President Joe Biden did not speak with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi—a notable departure from precedent given the history of close security ties between the two countries. But after months of silence, Biden spoke with Sisi twice over the course of five days in May, extending his “sincere gratitude” to Egypt “for its successful diplomacy” in securing a cease-fire that ended 11 days of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian faction that runs the Gaza Strip. Two days later, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Egypt and Jordan as […]

Ebrahim Raisi, a candidate in Iran’s presidential elections, waves to the media after casting his vote at a polling station in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2021 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

As the regime-anointed candidate in Iran’s presidential election charade last Friday, Ebrahim Raisi’s victory was thoroughly expected. Even so, it managed to be jarring. It’s not every day a country chooses a man accused of crimes against humanity for such a powerful post, with all signs pointing to Raisi acquiring even greater, unrivaled power in the near future. For the Iranian people, Raisi’s presidency, followed by his projected ascension to the post of supreme leader once the ailing 83-year-old Ali Khamenei dies, promises to bring even more repression. For Iran’s neighbors, Western powers—particularly the United States—and the rest of the […]

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, right, and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd during a meeting in Taipei, April 15, 2021 (Taiwan Presidential Office photo via AP Images).

Ever since Taiwan’s first direct presidential election in 1996, American and Taiwanese presidential terms have neatly overlapped. The first democratically elected Taiwanese leader, Lee Teng-hui, shared his term with Bill Clinton. Lee’s successor, Chen Shui-bian, served concurrently with George W. Bush, while Ma Ying-jeou’s presidency coincided with Barack Obama’s. Relations in the Lee/Clinton and Chen/Bush years were bumpy, but both sides were content with a low-key relationship. The pattern broke when American voters rejected Donald Trump’s bid for a second term, making Tsai Ing-wen the first elected Taiwanese president to overlap with two different U.S. presidents, Trump and Joe Biden. […]

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Jan. 21, 2018 (AP photo by J. David Ake).

Do Americans want the U.S. government to spend more or spend less on foreign aid? The correct—if perhaps surprising—answer is more, by a lot. Most Americans say aid should be 10 percent of the entire federal budget, almost 10 times more than the roughly 1 percent of the budget that currently goes to foreign aid. But here’s a paradox: When asked whether the U.S. should increase or decrease aid spending, most Americans also say that the government should spend less on aid, not more. What explains this consistently inconsistent polling result? The problem, as NPR explains, is that Americans massively […]

An Iranian woman casts her vote at a polling station inside the Iranian consulate in Karbala, Iraq, June 18, 2021 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. I gave a preview of U.S. President Joe Biden’s European tour in last week’s newsletter. It’s worth following up briefly, as there were some notable outcomes from his whistle-stop summitry. To begin with, he very clearly succeeded in resetting relations with America’s European allies and putting the […]

U.S. President Joe Biden, right, speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a NATO summit in Brussels, June 14, 2021 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

Weeks before U.S. President Joe Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit, Erdogan vowed that the meeting would be transformative. In a virtual gathering with American investors last month, he predicted that the encounter would “herald a new era.” It was no surprise, then, that after the Monday meeting in Brussels concluded, Erdogan took pains to stretch the truth and describe it as a major success. Whatever happened to the provocateur, the pugnacious politician whose words and actions so frequently put him at odds with his neighbors and his allies? Where did […]

President Joe Biden speaks at the United States-European Union Summit at the European Council in Brussels, June 15, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

What does President Joe Biden’s first foray into international summitry reveal to us about the quality of his vision for America’s place in the world? As might be expected, some of the priorities he pursued in meetings this week with the leaders of the G-7, NATO and the European Union are timely and well-founded. Think reassuring America’s oldest allies after the persistent disruption of the Trump years. Think building consensus around a collective response to increasingly aggressive Russian behavior, whether via cyberattacks emanating from that country or the menace Moscow poses to Ukraine or the Baltic states. In the more […]

President Joe Biden, center, with European Council President Charles Michel, right, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, during the U.S.-EU Summit at the European Council in Brussels, June 15, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

“America is back at the table,” President Joe Biden said at a press conference Sunday in Cornwall following his first G-7 summit. That statement perhaps best encapsulated Biden’s message during his maiden voyage overseas. While he didn’t mention his predecessor by name, the contrast with Donald Trump couldn’t have been clearer. And it certainly came as a relief to the other G-7 leaders, as the summit was mercifully free of temper tantrums and Twitter tirades. The displays of comity and unity continued in Brussels this week, where Biden participated in a NATO summit Monday and a U.S.-EU summit Tuesday. But […]

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a plenary session at the NATO summit in Brussels, June 14, 2021 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Europe’s souring on China has been long in the making, but the unprecedented broadsides from leaders of the G-7 bloc and NATO this week cemented a tougher collective trans-Atlantic stance against Beijing. “China’s stated ambitions and assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international […]

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, meets with his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, right, in Tehran, Feb. 3, 2021 (Iranian Foreign Ministry photo via AP).

Dialogue seems to be in vogue in today’s Middle East. Iranian and American negotiators are in Vienna to find a way to restore the 2015 nuclear deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018. Iranian and Saudi security officials recently held meetings in Baghdad to mend their relations. and United Nations-led efforts to deescalate and end the war in Yemen are picking up steam. While these processes remain fragile, they present an important opportunity to establish a broader regional dialogue that aims to lessen tensions by opening new channels of communication, the time for which is ripe. Part of […]

President Joe Biden at a news conference after attending the G-7 summit in Cornwall, England, June 13, 2021 (AP photo by Partrick Semansky).

When U.S. President Joe Biden participates in his first summit between the United States and the European Union tomorrow in Brussels, he should keep the focus on the big picture. While easing bilateral irritants would improve the tone of relations in the short term, the real test will be whether the U.S. and the EU can forge a common agenda of trans-Atlantic economic statecraft for the two key global challenges they face: China’s state capitalism and the existential threat of climate change. Failure to do so would not only call into the question the strength of the trans-Atlantic relationship. It […]

President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson look at copies of the Atlantic Charter during a bilateral meeting ahead of the G-7 summit, in Carbis Bay, England, June 10, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

Last week U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a bold bid for history’s mantle. Meeting on the eve of the G-7 summit, they released a “revitalized” Atlantic Charter, rededicating their governments to the defense of an open, rule-bound world. Like the original version, drafted by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in August 1941, during a secret wartime rendezvous off the coast of Newfoundland, the New Atlantic Charter seeks to rally the West at a time of global crisis. Whether it has a similar, enduring influence is likely to depend more on domestic U.S. political developments […]

President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, center, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, right, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, left, at the G-7 summit, Carbis Bay, England, June 11, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Last week, I wrote about the current debate in U.S. foreign policymaking circles over restraint and America’s global role. That debate can seem abstract, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip this week to Europe is a concrete example of what managing America’s global presence, and particularly its […]

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