Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 3, 2021 (AP photo by Wali Sabawoon).

A month ago, when all eyes were on the war in Ukraine, the Taliban quietly reneged on their promise to put school-age girls back in classrooms. This followed a six-month period in which women faced crippling restrictions on their employment, freedom of movement, dress, access to healthcare and participation in sports, plus gender-based violence, torture and arrest if they protested. But the international community’s initial response—to pull humanitarian aid, for instance—threatens to make matters even worse. Since the U.S. withdrawal in August 2021, U.S. government agencies and representatives, like the wider international donor community, have been struggling to determine how best to support women’s human rights in […]

Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, introduces the SpaceX Dragon V2 spaceship at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. (AP photo by Jae C. Hong).

The first space race, between the United States and the Soviet Union, was a geopolitical and ideological struggle between superpowers. Now five decades in the past, it pushed the limits of technology to extremes and realized some long-held dreams of humanity, like putting a human on the moon. But after the enormous gains of the 1950s and 60s, space exploration advanced more gradually. More countries developed space programs, but between 1961 and 2000, only the Soviet Union, the United States and China put humans into space. After the U.S.’s Apollo program came to an end, humans never returned to the […]

A man walks past a wall with posters depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Warsaw, Poland, March 24, 2022 (AP Photo by Petr David Josek).

Today’s standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine can be traced back to 2004, a little more than a decade after the end of the Cold War. At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was just embarking on his second term, and he began nurturing a cult of personality, voicing grievances about perceived threats on Russia’s security perimeter, and positioning himself as the defender of Russia’s great power status. By some accounts, Putin’s sense that Russia is under threat goes back to historic invasions of Russia: Batu Khan’s in the 13th century, Karl the XII’s in the 18th, Napoleon’s […]

Afghan men sit in a bus ahead of a 300-mile trip south to Nimrooz near the Iranian border, Herat, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

If you have ever wondered what hell might feel like, ask an Afghan refugee. While you may not personally know any, there is a good chance that if you live near a major urban center in Europe, Canada or the United States, you’ve unknowingly passed someone on the street or stood in line behind someone at the grocery store who has recently fled Afghanistan. In Washington, where I live and work, it is not uncommon to run into an Afghan immigrant who just a few months ago had a house, a car and a salaried job in Kabul that would […]

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Though North Korea’s nuclearization efforts have faded from the headlines, the country has continued to improve its capabilities and can now plausibly reach any location in the continental United States with a nuclear weapon. In the absence of a deal to curb its nuclear and missile programs, North Korea’s arsenal will only grow more lethal.

President Joe Biden and then-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga leave after a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington, April 16, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In January, U.S. President Joe Biden held a virtual summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in which both leaders largely agreed to maintain the direction bilateral relations have taken in the 15 months since Biden took office. But if the meeting signaled both sides’ desire for continuity, there are still numerous unanswered questions regarding the future of the alliance. With Biden’s inauguration as U.S. president, the U.S.-Japan relationship—and U.S. policy on Asia more broadly—appeared set to return to where things stood at the end of the Obama administration. As a candidate, Biden repeatedly stressed that it was urgent to […]

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who says he was tortured for weeks while in detention, appears before a court in a failed bid to have his passport returned so he could seek medical treatment abroad, Feb. 1, 2022 (AP photo by Hajarah Nalwadda).

Editor’s Note: This article contains descriptions of police abuse, abduction and torture. The soldiers arrived at the Kampala home of Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, the award-winning Ugandan novelist, on a mid-afternoon in late December. Armed with machine guns and sledgehammers, they beat him and dragged him out, shoving him into the backseat of an unmarked car. The writer, desperate, attempted to call a lawyer, but his phone was swiftly confiscated by his captors. Rukirabashaija spent the next two weeks in the bowels of a detention facility, where he was tortured daily. He emerged 26 pounds lighter and unable to walk on his own, […]

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, third from left, and top military officials attend a military parade to mark Pakistan National Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2022 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

Addressing a security forum in Islamabad on Saturday, Pakistan’s army chief of staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine in no uncertain terms, describing it as an “invasion” and “aggression against a smaller country that cannot be condoned.” These statements would be uncontroversial had they not contradicted the official position of Pakistan’s civilian government, which is in the midst of a political crisis that also involves the army. Indeed, Pakistan’s ongoing political turmoil—which has seen Prime Minister Imran Khan avoid a vote of no confidence through questionable parliamentary maneuvers, as his coalition and party fracture amid pressure […]