An anti-narcotics police officer runs toward a helicopter after the destruction of a cocaine lab in Calamar, Guaviare state, Colombia, Aug. 2, 2016 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

In 1821, Gen. Francisco de Paula Santander told a congress full of statesmen, “Guns will give you your independence, but laws will help you keep it.” Santander was addressing representatives of Gran Colombia, the political state that once covered most of northern South America, including what is today Colombia and Venezuela. Ten years later, Gran Colombia split up, and Colombia and Venezuela set off on separate paths. But both countries disregarded Santander’s statement, as their histories have been marked by a string of armed conflicts that eroded laws and justice. Still, after decades spent fighting militias and rebel movements while […]

People share rations of beans at a World Food Program distribution site in Congo’s troubled Kasai region, March 13, 2018 (DPA photo by Kate Bartlett via AP Images).

The United Nations is sounding the alarm over the large-scale and ongoing expulsion of migrants and refugees from Angola, which has triggered a humanitarian crisis along its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. So far this month, nearly 330,000 people have been forcibly deported from Angola into the Congolese border regions of Kasai, Kasai Central and Kwango. On Friday, Michelle Bachelet, the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights, warned that the migrants face an “extremely precarious situation” and raised the prospect of renewed communal violence in an unstable region. Six people have already been confirmed dead, reportedly at the […]

Nigerian soldiers man a checkpoint in Gwoza, Nigeria, April 8, 2018 (AP photo by Lekan Oyekanmi).

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria—Lirfa Dashe, a lieutenant in the Nigerian army, was due to get married this month. Instead he is buried in the cemetery of Mai Malari barracks, alongside other soldiers killed in the seemingly endless conflict against the jihadist insurgency of Boko Haram. At the entrance to the cemetery, located in this city in northeastern Nigeria, is a cenotaph with the names of the fallen inscribed on plaques. There are 1,307 names etched so far, stretching back to 2013. Mai Malari, the home of the army’s Seventh Division, is just one of several sites where soldiers killed in the northeastern […]

A Russian S-400 air defense missile system during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 3, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko). Such systems reduce NATO's ability to counter the Russian threat in Eastern Europe.

As NATO has focused its attention on Russia’s offensive military capabilities in Eastern Europe, an equally significant and, in practice, more problematic issue has been largely ignored: Russia’s preponderance of “anti-access, area-denial” capabilities in the borderlands between the Baltic and Black Seas. Is NATO focusing on the wrong Russian threat in Eastern Europe? This week, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton was in Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss, among other things, the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Announced by President Donald Trump last weekend, the move comes after repeated Russian violations […]

A U.S. military helicopter flies over the site of a suicide bombing targeting a NATO convoy in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Aug. 2, 2017 (AP photo).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Sarah Kreps is filling in for Steven Metz, who will be back next week. In the book that introduced the phrase “Catch-22,” the novelist Joseph Heller outlined a fundamental paradox of a fictional war: To be qualified to fly a bombing mission behind enemy lines, an individual had to be sane. But while no sane individual would expose themselves to that kind of suicide mission, asking to be grounded—because you’re crazy and can’t fly—revealed the mind of a rational individual, so he would have to fly more missions. Modern American wars now have their own Catch-22 […]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center, and Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, second right, attend the Future Investment Initiative conference, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Criticism of Saudi Arabia is easy to come by these days. As the kingdom has struggled to get its story straight on the killing earlier this month of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Riyadh has encountered a chorus of condemnation from Berlin, Brussels, London, Ottawa and many voices in Washington. Even U.S. President Donald Trump seemed to turn on his Saudi allies this week, referring to their shifting statements on the murder as “the worst cover-up ever.” From Africa, however, the […]

A health worker sprays disinfectant on his colleague after working at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, eastern Congo, Sept. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Al-hadji Kudra Maliro).

In many ways, there is no country better prepared to respond to an Ebola outbreak than the Democratic Republic of Congo. Back in 1976, when Mobutu Sese Seko was in power and the country was known as Zaire, the disease was first discovered in the northern village of Yambuku, near the Ebola River, for which it is named. That initial outbreak resulted in 318 cases that killed 280 people—a fatality rate of nearly 90 percent. Since then, Congolese and international health workers have responded to, and eradicated, eight other outbreaks, more than any other country. And they’ve often succeeded in […]

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, second left, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, wave at the crowds in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 15, 2018 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

The leaders of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia gathered in the Eritrean capital of Asmara last month for a surprise three-way meeting. The summit, which took place against the backdrop of a rapid thaw in Ethiopian-Eritrean relations, has raised hopes among observers for more frequent and durable cooperation in the Horn of Africa region. But its implications are uncertain for fractured Somalia. In an interview with WPR, Awet Weldemichael, a professor of African history and politics at Queen’s University in Canada, discusses the potential extent of a trilateral rapprochement between the historically troubled neighbors. World Politics Review: What were the conditions […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton during their meeting in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, Oct. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is in Moscow for meetings with senior Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, as the U.S. prepares to officially withdraw from a key Cold War-era arms reduction pact. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, bans all ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of violating the treaty for years. That, along with concerns over the rising threat from other U.S. rivals who are not bound by the deal’s terms, […]

U.S. Lt. Col. William Clark, second from left, talks with Gen. Abdul Raziq, a police commander in southern Afghanistan, on the outskirts of Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, Aug. 7, 2009 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

In one fell swoop last Thursday, a gunman eliminated two of the most powerful officials in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province and critically injured a third. The Taliban quickly claimed credit for the attack, which killed Gen. Abdul Raziq, who held the title of provincial police commander but was in reality a prominent 39-year-old warlord in an official uniform. In the past decade, the Taliban’s insurgency has grown to cover all corners of the country, swarming the non-Pashtun northern crescent and pushing to reclaim southern Afghanistan. The Taliban has made gains in Helmand and Uruzgan provinces, with advances more recently into neighboring […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Aug. 18, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

The political space for dialogue between Russia and the West has shrunk severely in recent years. It narrowed even further last week, with potentially disastrous consequences. United Nations officials signaled that the chances of a deal to end the Syrian war are lower than ever. Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that there will be no progress toward ending the Ukrainian conflict until next year at the earliest. And Putin’s American counterpart, Donald Trump, announced that the U.S. will quit a crucial nuclear arms control agreement with Moscow. Any one of these developments would have been worrying in isolation. Combined, they […]

An exhibitor demonstrates a drone flight at CES International, Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan. 5, 2017 (AP photo by Jae C. Hong).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Sarah Kreps is filling in for Steven Metz, who is out this week. In a speech last month on threats to the United States “in an age of disruption,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen outlined the top five areas of concern in the so-called threat landscape. Some were familiar, some new. But one in particular stood out. First, the “home game” and “away game,” as she put it, are no longer distinct. Enemies are not limited by geography in a borderless world, and the U.S. can no longer assume that fighting enemies “over there” means not […]

Angola’s newly inaugurated president, Joao Lourenco, shows his ink-stained finger as he faces the media after casting his vote in the recent election, Luanda, Angola, Aug. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Bruno Fonseca).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. A year ago, when Joao Lourenco took over as Angola’s president, tensions between his country and the Democratic Republic of Congo were already unusually high. In a Q&A with WPR at the time, Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at Chatham House, described how Luanda’s patience with Congolese President Joseph Kabila had been exhausted by Kabila’s handling of Congo’s political crisis. The situation has changed somewhat since then. Today, Congo is much closer to holding long-awaited elections—they are […]

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., greets South Sudanese officials on her arrival in Juba, South Sudan, Oct.25, 2017 (AP photo. )

Will the next American ambassador to the United Nations know anything about Africa? The U.N. is embroiled in crises from the Middle East to North Korea. But roughly half of the Security Council’s resolutions and statements focus on African issues, and 80 percent of U.N. peacekeepers are deployed on the continent. Any ambassador to the U.N. should, therefore, have at least a passing interest in Africa. Both of the Obama administration’s representatives in New York, Susan Rice and Samantha Power, were established authorities on African affairs. Rice devoted a good part of her time at the U.N. to facilitating South […]

Protestors in Addis Ababa demand justice from the Ethiopian government following a spate of ethnic violence, Sept. 17, 2018 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

Violence erupted outside the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa last month, leaving at least 23 dead as ethnic Oromo nationalists targeted members of minority groups. The perpetrators were reportedly emboldened by the return of the previously exiled Oromo Liberation Front, after it was granted amnesty by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The clashes are a setback to Abiy’s new administration, as he charts a conciliatory path in the ethnically divided country. In an interview with WPR, Terrence Lyons, a professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University, discusses last month’s violence and the prospects for Abiy’s reform efforts. World Politics Review: […]

U.S. Army soldiers salute as vehicles carry what are believed to be remains from American servicemen killed during the Korean War, Osan Air Base, Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 27, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

Despite the U.S. military’s superiority, there are several reasons America could lose a future war: An enemy could exploit America's fraying security alliances or its domestic political rifts or develop a militarily decisive technology that the United States lacks. The critical question is how the United States would react. Last week, I argued that while the U.S. military, the Pentagon and most national security experts expect that the United States will always win the wars it is forced to fight, America could in fact lose one if an astute enemy capitalizes on the nation’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I sketched out […]

U.S. Army soldiers during a ceremony marking the end of the U.S. military mission in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 15, 2011 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

The U.S. military doesn’t spend much time thinking about how America could lose a war. Neither do America’s political leaders and security experts. Whether described in operational plans, strategic wargames or even fiction, the pattern mirrors the Civil War or World War II: Things are hairy at first and defeat even seems possible since an aggressor struck first, but then the United States gets serious, turns the tide and fights its way to victory. In the collective American memory, armed conflicts that have not followed this script—Vietnam, Korea—are largely forgotten or attributed to political ineptitude. Victory is still considered the […]

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