Former U.S. President Donald Trump, right, meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

With Russian troops now deep inside Ukraine, and with NATO and the United Nations Security Council caught up in a series of emergency sessions in order to respond to the conflict, it may seem a bit glib to fixate on the question of how the Russian invasion will shape domestic politics in the United States. Still, it is important to also acknowledge what this moment in history means for the future trajectory of the U.S., and, in turn, what shifting attitudes in Washington might mean for U.S.-Russia relations. It must be acknowledged upfront: Thousands if not millions of Ukrainians could be […]

Ukrainian soldiers take positions in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 25, 2022 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

Much of what we do at WPR from week to week and year to year is to keep tabs on the many mundane stories around the world so that we can inform you about the trends and developments that gradually and in combination shape history. But on occasion, we find ourselves face to face with moments that make history, suddenly and singly. The war in Ukraine is one of those moments. As I wrote Thursday as the first Russian attacks began, we will look back on it as a “before and after” event, one that will have enormous implications for […]

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, center in chains, is shown to the press at the Police Headquarters in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Feb. 15, 2022 (AP photo by Elmer Martinez).

On Feb. 14, the U.S. Department of Justice requested the extradition of former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on drug trafficking and weapons charges. Hernandez was arrested the following day, just two weeks after he left office and a mere week after Washington had revoked his visa. Hernandez was led away from his home in handcuffs and a bullet-proof vest, and he will likely remain detained in the military headquarters of Honduras’ special forces until his extradition hearing, which is set to take place on March 16.  Hernandez’s arrest and the outcome of the extradition hearing signal a watershed moment […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks via video call during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 17, 2020 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Over the past several weeks, there has been nearly as much speculation about the nature and objectives of the Biden administration’s highly vocal approach to warning about the imminence of a Russian invasion of Ukraine as there has been about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions in the current crisis. The most prominent strain of analysis, by now distilled into broadly held, conventional wisdom, is that by providing detailed, near-daily updates about Russian troop deployments around Ukraine’s borders, including highly specific intelligence and tactical analysis, the Biden administration has been seeking to “get inside Putin’s head,” thereby giving him pause or […]

Ukrainian armed forces conduct exercises in the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine, Feb.4, 2022 (AP photo by Mykola Tymche).

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bellicose speech yesterday, in which he announced that Russia had recognized the independence of two separatist regions of Ukraine and would deploy military forces there as “peacekeepers,” suggests that after months of military posturing and diplomacy, a full-scale invasion may well be at hand. But while it is still impossible to know for sure how the crisis will play out, one consequence of it is already certain: There is no more use in dancing around reality using terms like “strategic competition” or “great power tensions” to describe relations between the West and Russia. We are in […]

Myanmar nationals living in Thailand attend a candlelight vigil for those who died in protests against Myanmar’s military coup, in front of the United Nations building in Bangkok, Thailand, March 4, 2021 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

On the first day of February last year, the world woke up to the news that the generals in Myanmar, also known as Burma, had seen enough of the country’s fledgling experiment in democracy. Military forces had arrested the country’s iconic pro-democracy figure and de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, along with more than a hundred other elected officials. Outraged, the people took to the streets, catching the Tatmadaw, as the military is called, by surprise. Unfortunately for the people of Myanmar—and perhaps by the generals’ design—the timing of the coup made it difficult for international attention to focus […]

A Ukrainian servicemember, seen through a camouflage mesh, stands at a frontline position in the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Jan. 29, 2022 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

The terms “deterrence” and “coercive diplomacy” have figured prominently in debates over how the West should respond to the ongoing crisis over a potential Russian incursion into Ukraine. Much of the focus of those debates, however, has been narrow and episodic—how to prevent a Russian attack, for instance, or get Moscow to pull back its forces from the Russian-Ukraine border. While both concepts are necessary to understand the tensions currently on display in Europe between Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and NATO, those tensions must be seen through a broader and more holistic lens, because the current crisis is the result […]

President Joe Biden speaks about Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, Feb. 15, 2022 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

On Christmas Eve in 2002, I was suddenly dispatched from my base in Tokyo, where I was the New York Times bureau chief at the time, to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, to cover reports that North Korea was about to reactivate a nuclear reactor that had previously been taken out of service as a result of painstaking negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. The United States suspected that if operations resumed at the reactor, which had supposedly been built for research purposes, the North Korean government would soon begin reprocessing its spent nuclear fuel to build up a supply […]

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks in a joint press conference with Fiji’s acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Nadi, Fiji, Feb. 12, 2022 (AP photo by Kevin Lamarque).

With the first visit in four decades by a U.S. secretary of state to Fiji and plans to open an embassy in the Solomon Islands reportedly in the works, Washington officially announced its “return” to the Pacific Islands this past weekend. “It is about building a free and open Indo-Pacific, defending it with democratic institutions, with transparency, with commitment to a rules-based order that we share,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a joint press conference with Acting Fijian Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on Feb. 12. Blinken spoke after a virtual meeting with 18 Pacific Island leaders meant to […]

Child activists join a march through Westminster during a “climate strike” demonstration, part of the global Fridays for Future movement led by Swedish teenage environmentalist Greta Thunberg, in London, Sept. 24, 2021 (AP photo by David Cliff).

At the heart of the international system lies a seemingly intractable tension between sovereignty and cooperation. The United Nations is a collection of states that, while recognizing the need for collaboration in global governance, still seek to retain their independence. This tension haunts the international community as a whole, but it is the people of the future who will pay the heaviest price. The major challenges facing humanity in the 21st century are borderless and intergenerational. Climate change will wreak havoc in every corner of the world and will only grow worse if we fail to act now. Similarly, lawlessness in […]

Anthony Shadid during a talk at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in Oklahoma City, April 7, 2011 (AP photo by Sue Ogrocki).

The nature of Anthony Shadid’s work is sometimes misunderstood. After his death 10 years ago this week, he was celebrated as one of the greatest journalists of his era, which he most certainly was. On multiple occasions he was recognized as one of the best at his craft, but he was so much more. Better understanding what Anthony did in his lifetime can help those of us who are still endeavoring to make narrative sense of a world in constant flux. Anthony was a brilliant thinker, reporter, writer and storyteller who, during a critical decade of history from 9/11 to […]

A woman holds a weapon during a basic combat training for civilians organized by a special forces unit of Ukraine’s National Guard, in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Feb. 13, 2022 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

KYIV—Oleksandr Biletskyi is standing in a lecture hall on the outskirts of Kyiv laying out the items he considers most necessary to have on hand for emergencies. On the table in front of him, he’s placed a bag containing a compass, a pocketknife, a carabiner and a roll of tape. Gently, he adds three more bags: one with a Kalashnikov, one with a shotgun and one with a pistol. “We have to prepare for anything,” he tells me. Normally, this lecture hall, which belongs to Taras Shevchenko National University, offers continuing education courses in law, economics and psychology. Today, it’s […]

An image from a video provided by the U.S. Department of Defense shows the compound where Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi died during a U.S. raid, in Idlib province, Syria, Feb. 3, 2022 (Department of Defense via AP Images).

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden ordered a team of U.S. special operations forces to carry out a raid in northern Syria that is now stoking legal controversy. The mission targeted a residential compound where Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi had been holed up with his family and civilian neighbors. By the end, al-Qurayshi and a disputed number of civilians were dead. As Washington Post reporter Miriam Berger has explained, since Syria did not consent for U.S. forces to carry out the raid, Biden’s order arguably violated the charter of the United Nations, which limits a state’s ability […]

Iran’s then-President-elect Ebrahim Raisi during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, June 21, 2021 (AP file photo by Vahid Salemi).

Since last April, the U.S. has been engaged in indirect negotiations with Iran on restoring the 2015 deal limiting Tehran's nuclear program known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. If these talks succeed, or should they fail, the impact will reverberate across a range of issues beyond the nonproliferation file over which Washington and Tehran are at odds. When the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, it laid out 12 demands addressing various aspects of Iranian policy it wanted Tehran to change. Of the concerns it identified, three directly dealt with the nuclear program, and […]

People chant slogans during a protest in Khartoum, Sudan, Oct. 30, 2021 (AP photo by Marwan Ali).

When Myanmar’s anti-coup uprising kicked off in February 2021, it had three demands that look quite simple in retrospect. First, the protesters said, the military and its leader, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, must end their takeover of power. Second, they must restore the democratically elected government they had unseated. And third, they must release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National Democratic Union party, which had come out on top in the country’s competitive, albeit flawed election in November 2020. By the time I spoke to Thinzar Shunlei Yi, a leading Myanmar activist, in late September […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron after their talks in Moscow, Feb. 7, 2022 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in Brussels today for a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Their meeting follows a busy diplomatic week full of high-level meetings aimed at preventing the outbreak of war near the European Union’s borders. But with the week drawing to a close, it remains to be seen how much closer to a peaceful resolution of the crisis the parties have come. The diplomatic flurry began Monday, when French President Emmanuel Macron met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow. Even before he sat down with Putin, Macron’s talking points raised […]

A U.S. soldier directs armored vehicles and tanks as they are unloaded at the port of Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

Although the response in Western capitals to Russia’s aggressive military posturing on its border with Ukraine has been couched in clear diplomacy-first terms, military contingency planning has stepped up a notch in recent weeks. The intent of these moves, at least judging from the rhetoric of U.S. and NATO leaders as well as respected commentators, is to strengthen deterrence.  Deterrence, as Nobel Prize-winning U.S. scholar, Thomas Schelling, elaborated in his seminal 1966 book, “Arms and Influence,” is meant to prevent an adversary from taking future actions. Schelling distinguished it from a second strategy of coercion, compellence, which is meant to change an adversary’s existing behavior. Neither is […]

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