A woman holds a sign with the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the word “Genocida,” or committer of genocide, during a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 6, 2022 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

Lately, elections in Latin America are making people squirm in Washington. For foreign policy old-timers, victories by leftist candidates have conjured images of Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Others are haunted by memories of more recent bogeymen, such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine deepened these anxieties, fueling fears that the region’s ideological pendulum is swinging in President Vladimir Putin’s direction. But more than a month into the war, those fears have proven to be unfounded. Indeed, if anything, Latin America’s response to Putin’s brutality reinforced shared hemispheric values with the United States, suggesting that […]

A Russian officer stands near a landed Il-76 military cargo plane on Alexandra Land, an island near Nagurskoye, Russia, May 17, 2021 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Since Feb. 24, the eyes of the world have been fixed on Eastern Europe. But the events unfolding in and around Ukraine portend great changes for another region: the Arctic. Commonly viewed as a “territory of dialogue,” the Arctic has over the past three decades won a reputation as a “zone of peace” marked by exceptionally calm and collaborative security dynamics. Indeed, this is what former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev envisioned back in October 1987, when he launched a series of policy initiatives aimed at lowering the level of military confrontation in the Arctic by facilitating cooperation among the eight […]

Then-President Ronald Reagan shakes hands with then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev after the two leaders signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in the White House East Room in Washington, Dec. 8, 1987 (AP photo by Bob Daugherty).

The Cold War was bookended by two signal developments—one scientific and technical, the other political and diplomatic—that opened and seemingly closed a terrible parenthesis in the history of the 20th century, but also of humankind. The first was the invention of nuclear weapons. The second was the process by which the U.S. and Russia gradually but methodically rolled back the threat of nuclear war in Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. When the U.S. reduced Hiroshima and then Nagasaki to rubble with just one atomic bomb apiece in the final days of World War II, military strategists and […]

A Free Syrian Army fighter holds a rocket-propelled grenade launcher while taking cover after a tank blast in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 26, 2012 (AP photo by Manu Brabo.)

For the community of analysts that have focused on Syria’s civil war over the past decade, the images of bombed out Ukrainian cities, civilian casualties and refugees flooding across the border over the past month are bitterly familiar. As a policy problem, too, the war in Ukraine invites obvious comparisons to the Syrian conflict. Both raise questions about the costs and benefits of U.S. intervention. Both, of course, involve Russia. And in both cases, “realism” has somehow become synonymous with non-interventionism in the U.S. policy discourse.  In fact, those that make a career out of non-interventionism while casting themselves as […]

State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi poses with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken following a meeting in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Jan. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Aung Shine Oo).

A civilian population comes under brutal attack by a heavily armed military force. What is the world to do? Amid Russia’s ongoing onslaught against Ukraine, this question has dominated the agendas of policymakers, monopolized headlines and taken over discussions on social media. But when Myanmar’s military, a perennial human rights violator, unleashed a scorched-earth campaign against the country’s Rohingya minority in 2016, the crisis was a secondary matter for most of the world. Now, six years later—and one year after Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, overthrew the country’s incipient democracy—the United States has finally formally designated that 2016-2017 campaign […]

U.S. President Joe Biden meets virtually from the Situation Room at the White House with Chinese President Xi Jinping, March 18, 2022, Washington (White House photo via AP).

A two-hour virtual meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, failed to yield progress on efforts to halt the war in Ukraine, while leaving relations between Washington and Beijing locked in a stalemate. A month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has proven unable to convince Beijing to end its diplomatic tap dance around the conflict. But Beijing views its long-term rivalry with Washington as its chief geopolitical concern, making it unlikely to abandon Moscow, its new strategic partner, over the war. Xi spoke to Biden on Friday at the latter’s request, following a […]

U.S. President Harry S. Truman, standing at podium, addresses a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber in Washington, D.C., March 12, 1947 (AP Photo).

Almost exactly 75 years ago, on March 12, 1947, then-President Harry S. Truman, alarmed by Soviet aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean and its efforts to undermine war-ravaged democracies in Western Europe, announced a dramatic reorientation of the United States’ national security policy. Addressing a joint session of Congress, he committed the U.S. to a new global mission to contain the Soviet Union by “support[ing] free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures.” The speech set off a 15-week frenzy of diplomatic activity that culminated on June 5 with the proposal of the Marshall Plan. This new grand strategy—now known as […]

Messages protesting against the war in Ukraine chalked on the wall surrounding the Russian Embassy in London, March 11, 2022 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

With the war in Ukraine having entered its third week, the initial euphoric triumphalism that I warned against last week over the West’s surprisingly cohesive and robust response to the Russian invasion seems to be giving way to a grim resignation. Despite the Russian military’s initial ineptness, it seems to have regrouped, with its inexorable advance now marked by the indiscriminate targeting of Ukraine’s civilian population. And although Europe and the U.S. have mobilized to impose punishing economic sanctions on Russia and deliver military assistance to Ukraine, they have drawn a clear line against participating directly in the conflict. War […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a press conference after the signing ceremony for India’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems in New Delhi, India, Oct. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, India—which is currently a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council—has drawn scrutiny for having abstained multiple times on votes in the Security Council, U.N. General Assembly and U.N. Human Rights Council on resolutions criticizing the Russian aggression. Instead, the Indian Mission at the United Nations issued a nuanced statement calling for an “immediate cessation of violence” in Ukraine, without publicly condemning Russia’s actions—a move that pleased neither its Western partners nor Russia. The Russian-Ukraine war puts India in a difficult position. On the one hand, India wants to avoid antagonizing the U.S., a long-time […]

People watch a TV showing a file image of a North Korean missile launch, Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 20, 2022 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

Just three months into 2022, North Korea has already engaged in an intensive series of missile tests, including two more last week, that have advanced the country’s development of hypersonic glide vehicles, a rail-based missile regiment, cruise missiles and even missile technology claimed to be related to reconnaissance satellite development. This pace of testing, reminiscent of 2017, raises questions about the country’s motivations and messaging. Some observers have suggested that North Korea simply wants attention or is attempting to raise the stakes ahead of a new “charm offensive” toward the United States. But the broader security context in which this […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan attend an official welcome ceremony in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 15, 2019 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought some clarity to regional realignments and strategic partnerships in the Middle East, with the changing relationship between the United States and the oil-producing members of the Gulf Cooperation Council in particular coming into sharp focus. War has a tendency to cause states to pay closer attention to and accelerate policy decisions on issues that they might otherwise prefer to defer action on or to leave ambiguous or unresolved. But after more than a week of fighting in Ukraine, one thing has become clear: Washington’s partners in the Middle East are increasingly confident about […]

Women look at a screen displaying exchange rates at a currency exchange office in St. Petersburg, Russia, March 1, 2022 (AP photo by Dmitri Lovetsky).

Just over a week since it began, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine resembles a tale of two wars. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the past week can hardly have been reassuring. Between the poor performance of the Russian military on the ground and the existential shock of Western sanctions on the Russian economy, it seems to be proof that he suffered from a severe case of war optimism. For the West, the story is quite the reverse. Despite the outrage over Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilian targets, the surprisingly tenacious fight put up by Ukraine’s outgunned military has become a cause […]

People chant slogans during a protest to denounce the October 2021 military coup, Khartoum, Sudan, Jan. 2, 2022 (AP photo by Marwan Ali).

The United States is currently faced with multiple international crises that are occupying much of Washington’s attention, but it should not lose sight of events in Sudan. Since last October’s military coup, millions of people across the country have taken to the streets week after week to show their determination to get Sudan back on the path toward democracy. The U.S. reacted swiftly after the military takeover with words of support for a return to civilian rule and blocks on bilateral aid to the coup regime. But these necessary steps have not changed the calculations of Sudan’s military leaders, and the country […]

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro attend a signing ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 16, 2022.

Almost 6,500 miles separate Caracas from Kyiv, but the protracted political crisis in Venezuela, with its attendant humanitarian emergency, is not immune to spillover from the war in Ukraine. As if Venezuela’s challenges were not already sufficiently hard to resolve, the progressive build-up of geopolitical tensions over recent years has produced a fresh layer of complexity, highlighted as never before by Moscow’s threat to expand its presence in the Americas in retaliation for NATO moves in Europe. But can foreign powers, despite their deepening adversarial stance elsewhere, somehow harness their efforts to facilitate a solution in Venezuela? In January, as […]

U.S. Army soldiers search one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces damaged after a bombing, in Baghdad, April 7, 2003 (AP photo by John Moore).

Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine last week, comparisons to the United States’ 2003 invasion of Iraq have inevitably and understandably emerged. After all, at transformative moments in world history like the one we’re currently witnessing, analysts naturally draw historical analogies to make sense of contemporary events, mining the past in search of patterns and causal connections that bear some resemblance to what is unfolding today. And while no two situations are ever exactly alike, the comparison to Iraq in 2003 is particularly important, since it has considerable bearing on whether and how the United […]