U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during a Senate hearing on the budget, Washington, May 9, 2018 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

The United States obsesses about its global strategy more than any nation on earth. This fixation is reflected in the fact that Congress requires the executive branch to produce regular reports on its security strategy. A year ago, the Trump administration published its inaugural National Security Strategy. A few months later, the Pentagon released its National Defense Strategy to explain how U.S. military power would be used to implement the National Security Strategy. As it has in the past, Congress then created a bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission to assess the Pentagon’s strategy. This included an august team of top […]

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari waves to the crowd during Independence Day celebrations, Abuja, Nigeria, Oct. 1, 2018 (AP photo by Olamikan Gbemiga).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. For much of this year, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has tried to treat the Boko Haram insurgency and his upcoming re-election bid as two separate stories. As Obi Anyadike noted in an in-depth report for WPR last month, Buhari seemed to take his eye off the war in northeastern Nigeria, despite significant military setbacks, focusing instead on political jockeying in Abuja and elsewhere. One security analyst told Anyadike that the government’s priority was “regime security, not national security.” In […]

Men duck for cover as heavy gunfire erupts in the Miskin district of Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 3, 2014 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

In the span of a year, the Central African Republic has gone from a country on the margins of international attention to a flashpoint. Russia’s expanding military presence and French attempts to retain influence over its former colony have ignited a competition for influence, threatening CAR’s already shaky peace process and its fledgling democratic government, which lacks much authority beyond the capital, Bangui. If Russia and France continue to recklessly prioritize their own interests, then CAR’s fragile security situation will only worsen. In late October, Moscow announced its second arms shipment to CAR and the deployment of 60 additional military […]

A supporter of former FARC rebel Jesus Santrich holds a sign that reads in Spanish “Respect the freedom agreements” during a protest against his arrest in Bogota, Colombia, April, 9, 2018 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Signs of strain are emerging over Colombia’s landmark 2016 peace accord that ended a 50-year war with the country’s largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Key aspects of the agreement still haven’t been implemented, while its transitional justice system, arguably the most important element of the reconciliation process, suffers from mistrust and a lack of buy-in on both sides. In an interview with WPR, Mathew Charles, a journalist and academic in Colombia, discusses the impediments to peace and how to overcome them. World Politics Review: What are the principal points of contention between the Colombian […]

A man demonstrates operating an electronic voting machine that will be used in Congo’s election, Beni, Congo, Oct 16, 2018 (AP photo by Al-hadji Kudra Maliro).

According to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Constitution, President Joseph Kabila should have left office two years ago. The end of his second five-year term came and went in December 2016, and his refusal to step down at the time led to violent protests, acrimony—and then two more years in power. Now, he says he’s on his way out. Seventeen years after taking office to replace his assassinated father, and in the face of mounting international condemnation, Kabila has agreed to step aside for elections next month in what could be Congo’s first peaceful and democratic transition of power since […]

A masked protester stands next to a banner depicting thousands of victims of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs during a protest rally in Quezon city, the Philippines, July 23, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

The slaying earlier this month of a prominent human rights lawyer in the Philippines who worked on behalf of poor suspects accused of drug-related crimes has sparked a renewed outcry over President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs. The lawyer, Benjamin Ramos, was gunned down by two unidentified assailants on Nov. 6—the 34th lawyer to be killed since Duterte took office in 2016. In an interview with WPR, Imelda Deinla, a research fellow at the Australian National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance, explains why Philippine lawyers are being targeted and how this wave of violence is affecting the […]

U.N. peacekeepers from Rwanda patrol the streets of Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 12, 2016 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

What does a small spat in the Security Council over the Central African Republic, or CAR, tell us about the state of major power relations? Last week, the council was unable to agree on the terms of a six-month extension to the 13,000-strong United Nations stabilization mission in CAR, known by its French acronym MINUSCA. The diplomats gave themselves a month to fix their differences over the operation’s mandate. There seem to be three main points of contention. One is Moscow’s insistence that the council endorse a Sudanese-Russian effort to mediate the fragmented country’s conflicts. France, the former colonial power, […]

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis waits for Chinese Minister of Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe before an arrival ceremony at the Pentagon, Nov. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Warfare has always been both physical and psychological. As combatants attempt to injure, incapacitate or kill enemy fighters, they also try to weaken the will of their adversaries and anyone who might support them. Throughout history, warriors relied on ferociousness for that, intimidating their enemies by the way they looked or the horrible actions they took. In the modern era, militaries turned to communication technology and psychology. Soldiers were trained to craft and transmit messages and propaganda, while psychological operations became a particular military specialization. Over time, the U.S. military got quite good at this. Psychological operators dealt with adversaries […]

Tanzanian President John Magufuli, then a candidate, at an election rally in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Oct. 23, 2015 (AP photo by Khalfan Said).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. In the three years since John Magufuli became Tanzania’s president, he has shown little interest in responding to criticism, no matter its source. This is perhaps unsurprising for a man known as “The Bulldozer,” a nickname that dates back to his tenure as a hard-charging minister of public works. Magufuli’s administration has become notorious for restricting press freedom, creating an unsafe climate for opposition politicians and promoting regressive policies on women’s rights. He has also pursued populist economic policies […]

South Korean Lee Chun-sik, center, a 94-year-old victim of forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula before the end of World War II, arrives at the Supreme Court in Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 30, 2018 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

Japan’s relations with its neighbors have long been haunted by residual acrimony over atrocities and human rights abuses committed by the Empire of Japan during World War II. Politicians in China and South Korea maintain that Japan never properly atoned for its imperial transgressions, rankling Japanese officials. Those historical issues returned to center stage in recent weeks, due to a long-running case before the South Korean Supreme Court in which four Korean men sought damages from a major Japanese steelmaker that forced them to work without pay during World War II. On Oct. 30, the court ruled that the defendant, […]

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the opening session of the Paris Peace Forum at the Villette Conference Hall in Paris, France, Nov. 11, 2018 (SIPA photo by Eliot Blondet via AP Images).

Peace is complicated. That is the overriding, if unintended, message of this week’s Paris Peace Forum, a new multilateral conclave initiated by the French government to commemorate the end of World War I. The organizers claim that the event is based on the “simple idea” that “international cooperation is key to tackling global challenges and ensuring durable peace.” That is pretty much where the simplicity ends, however. Over 100 groups from around the world are in Paris to present their ideas about peace to 2,500 participants. Their approaches to the issue are, to put it mildly, eclectic. One organization hopes […]

A member of the 53rd Infantry Group undergoes mission readiness training in Ireland in preparation for the unit’s deployment to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, April 19, 2016 (Sipa USA photo by Artur Widak via AP Images).

After 9/11, the United States was thrown into a type of conflict that the U.S. military, intelligence community and Department of State all did not expect: large-scale counterinsurgency. The United States, particularly the military, had always been reluctant to take this on. Counterinsurgency is a politically and psychologically complex struggle that doesn’t play to America’s strength: morally unambiguous warfare where victory comes from creating the biggest and most powerful military, then winning battles until the enemy is crushed. Counterinsurgency often takes place in cultures and locations—remote villages, dense city streets—that Americans have a difficult time understanding. Despite the desire to […]

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, left, French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army, right, at a conference in France, July 25, 2017 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. For at least the past six months, France has been pushing for elections to be held in Libya by the end of this year. At a conference in Paris in May, representatives of various Libyan factions settled on a date: Dec. 10. Yet there have always been questions about whether this was even remotely realistic. Seven years after former dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled and killed, Libya remains highly unstable, its politics organized around the rivalry between the United […]

Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, center, oversees the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Kuwait City, Dec. 5, 2017 (AP photo by Jon Gambrell).

The Arab countries of the Persian Gulf are in a period of unusual turbulence. It’s not their declared enemy, Iran, that is causing the trouble, but the secondary effects of overly ambitious and high-risk policy choices by a new generation of leaders from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi. Their major security partners, including the United States, are worried that regional coordination and cooperation have become harder, with each Gulf state distracted by local crises, while Russia and Iran are benefiting from the disarray. It raises longer-term concerns about the future of their regional bloc, the Gulf Cooperation Council, which has never […]

The sluice of three gorges dam opened to discharge the flood in Yichang,Hubei, China on 17 July 2018.(Photo by TPG/CNS) (TopPhoto via AP Images)

The threat of new water wars grows across the globe. Can we resolve the causes of water conflicts before it’s too late? Although alarmist headlines often announce imminent water wars over scarce resources, the truth is that cooperation over shared waterways, particularly rivers, is historically more common than conflict. In fact, even among bitter enemies, the historical record shows that water conflicts around the world do get resolved, even to the point that international cooperation often increases during droughts. However, common causes of water conflicts remain a concern. Unilateral actions to construct a dam or river diversion in the absence […]

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Southern Illinois Airport, Oct. 27, 2018, Murphysboro, Illinois (AP photo by Jeff Roberson).

A resurgent form of populism is attempting to divide the world between an ethnically or racially defined class of non-elites, framed as ethically superior, and a decadent, globalizing elite. The result could be conflicts between countries or even within borders. A powerful wave of populism is sweeping the world, enveloping not only places like Latin America, where it has long held sway, but also Europe, North America and parts of Asia. Few experts saw this coming, and no one knows what its ultimate repercussions will be. But if historical patterns hold, this kind of populism, fueled by strident nationalism, may […]

A group of men identified by Nigerian police as Boko Haram extremist fighters and leaders are presented to the media, Maiduguri, Nigeria, July 18, 2018 (AP photo by Jossy Ola).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, discuss why Asia’s two main economic rivals, China and Japan, are now trying to improve their ties. For the Report, Obi Anyadike talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about his reporting from Nigeria, where in the past six months, an estimated 600 Nigerian soldiers have been killed in the fight against Boko Haram. Soldiers are poorly equipped and overstretched, and their morale is dangerously low. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign […]

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