An anti-coup protester displays defaced images of commander-in-chief Gen. Min Aung Hlaing in Mandalay, Myanmar, March 3, 2021 (AP Photo).

Sanctions are in the air everywhere these days. Just this week, there was a ratcheting up of sanctions, travel bans and asset freezes against the military juntas in Myanmar and Mali, almost certainly to be followed by sanctions against military leaders in Burkina Faso, who overthrew that country’s democratically elected government last week. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress moved one step closer to passing a raft of new sanctions on the Sudanese military for its October coup. Then, of course, there are the very serious threats by the U.S. and its NATO allies to impose wider sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin or on the Russian economy if Russia invades Ukraine.  […]

A worker at a Ukrainian gas station in Volovets, Ukraine, Oct. 7, 2015 (AP file photo by Pavlo Palamarchuk).

The current crisis between Russia and Ukraine has put the United States and its European allies on high alert over the possibility of the first major interstate military conflict in Europe since World War II. Although efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis continue, the room for a mutually acceptable outcome has narrowed now that the U.S. and NATO have rejected Russia's demands that no additional NATO troops be deployed to Eastern Europe, while continuing to provide arms and other aid to Ukraine. Apart from the concerns the crisis has raised over European security and Russian revanchism, Europe […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with President Joe Biden at the Villa la Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

In the weeks since Russia began its military buildup on Ukraine’s border, the U.S. and its allies have scrambled to respond quickly and forcefully. According to U.S. intelligence officials, the more than 100,000 Russian troops amassed so far would be capable of launching a full-scale invasion. And with NATO gathering troops of its own in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, it is clear that escalation is a real possibility.  And yet, Russia’s strategic decisions from the past decade—in Ukraine but also worldwide—have made it very difficult to successfully respond to its aggression. The recent buildup is the clearest expression of Russian military ambitions […]

A new type 094A Jin-class nuclear submarine of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy participates in a naval parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China’s PLA Navy, in the sea near Qingdao, Shandong province, April 23, 2019 (AP

Mock amphibious assaults, regular intrusions into Taiwan’s air defense zone and the militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea are just some of the headlines that China’s military buildup has generated in recent years. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has combined advances in electronic warfare with state-of-the-art military hardware like ballistic anti-ship missiles, stealth aircraft and aircraft carriers, with the ambitious goal of militarily dominating the South and East China Seas. This strategy is squarely aimed at undermining the U.S. military’s preeminence in the region, which until now has served as a counterweight to China’s […]

President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, Jan. 31, 2022 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Just before U.S. President Joe Biden met with Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in the Oval Office on Tuesday, the White House shared a post on Twitter listing the visit’s agenda, which included “security and prosperity in the Middle East, global energy supplies, Afghanistan and more.” It was clear Sheikh Tamim’s visit was not just symbolic. Sheikh Tamim is the first regional leader to meet with Biden since he became president, a sign that Washington views Doha as an important element in confronting urgent U.S. priorities. And as if to underscore that point, Biden announced this week that he had designated […]

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels, June 14, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

For several months now, much of the U.S. and European foreign and security policy community’s attention has been riveted to the Russia-Ukraine border, where more than 100,000 Russian troops remain massed and equipped for a potential invasion. Most of the internal debates in the West during this time have focused on variables that are simply unknowable: What are Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions? What are his objectives? And will the U.S. and its NATO allies be able to deter him from starting a war that would radically alter the geopolitical landscape of Europe, but also the world? Only time will […]

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi attends a traditional year-end press conference, Rome, Italy, Dec. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Domenico Stinellis).

Two stories out of Italy have attracted international attention this week: The country’s chaotic election of its president, and a controversial video conference between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian business leaders. Both highlighted the ways in which Italy, which could play an important role in the European Union on the standoff between the West and Russia over Ukraine, has instead remained a silent bystander. This silence is particularly notable given the expectations surrounding Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi: An economic mastermind credited with saving the euro, Draghi’s year in office has featured a strongly pro-EU platform and a tougher posture toward both […]

A man walks past destruction resulting from airstrikes on the town of Ariha, in Idlib province, Syria, Jan. 30, 2020 (AP photo by Ghaith Alsayed).

Normalization of diplomatic ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad raises troubling questions for humanists who are also realists. When an evil regime wins a bloody war that allows it stay in power, how can a liberal-democratic state express solidarity for victims of that regime's brutality without engaging in fantasy politics? By fantasy politics, I mean pursuing policies that continue a lost war through punitive acts that do little to limit the targeted regime’s capabilities, while hurting the innocent civilians those penalties are ostensibly intended to help; or pretending that the losing side of a conflict has leverage to pursue its […]

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