U.S. Army soldiers at an opening ceremony for the new headquarters of U.S. Forces Korea at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, June 29, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

Traditionally, the U.S. military considered strategy something its officers should learn only when they had reached what the military considered to be an appropriate stage of their careers. While a tiny handful of officers taught themselves strategy earlier than that through rigorous personal reading, most were introduced to it only as they advanced in rank. Recently, though, the idea that officers should only learn strategy once the services decide they are ready for it has been challenged—not so much because the military itself has changed its position, but because a group of young officers have begun mastering strategy outside the […]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 14, 2019 (Pool photo by Andrew Cabellero-Reynolds via AP Images).

For many decades, shared fears of common enemies—from the Soviets to the Iranians, Saddam Hussein and extremist movements like al-Qaida and the Islamic State—pushed America and Saudi Arabia into an uneasy embrace. But today that calculus is no longer enough to sustain their alliance. For the United States, the strategic costs of the Saudi relationship have come to outweigh the benefits, as the tensions and unnaturalness of the partnership make it increasingly intolerable. The U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia can be traced back to the 1930s, when the kingdom first began producing petroleum. By the 1970s, Saudi Arabia was an […]

Activists protesting the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold a candlelight vigil outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Oct. 25, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Saudi Arabia has lately been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It has been widely condemned for a disastrous war in Yemen that has forced over 3 million civilians to flee and left over 15 million people on the brink of famine. The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul—allegedly on orders from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—is a story that refuses to go away. More recently, the Saudi government finds itself responding to alarming allegations regarding the detention, torture and impending trial of many prominent female activists in the kingdom. On March […]

A soldier stands guard outside a hotel after an attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. The gunmen often arrive on market day, surrounding civilians who gather in northern Burkina Faso to buy and sell goods. After detaining groups of men—up to 14 at a time—they drive off. Within minutes, they execute the men, often on the side of the road, close enough for those back at the market to hear the gunshots. It’s a scenario that has played out at least nine times in Burkina Faso in recent months, according to a report released […]

Syrian authorities distribute bread, vegetables and pasta to residents of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, April 16, 2018 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Ten years ago, the Sri Lankan military carried out a violent final offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a rebel group with a long history of atrocities. The offensive, which ultimately resulted in the end of the war, involved the brutal killings of thousands of civilians—acts that were documented in real time by journalists and United Nations officials. Back in New York, however, the U.N.’s leaders failed to muster a meaningful response to mitigate the bloodshed, and Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general at the time, soon came under heavy criticism. As Richard Gowan writes in this week’s in-depth report, […]

Sri Lankan protesters wave flags and burn an effigy of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outside the U.N. office in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 6, 2010 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Ten years ago this month, senior United Nations officials were hard at work equivocating over a crisis. A cynic might say that the U.N. exists in a constant state of equivocation. But in March 2009, its leaders were mired in an especially grim political mess—and handling it badly. The cause of their troubles lay in northern Sri Lanka. After decades of civil war, the Sri Lankan military was carrying out a final offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a rebel group with a long history of atrocities. As the decisive battle wore on, U.N. officials and journalists in […]

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to their motorcade after attending service at Saint John’s Church in Washington, March 17, 2019 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Tuesday marks the centenary of one of the most extraordinary foreign policy debates in American history, which has renewed resonance today. On March 19, 1919, 3,000 lucky spectators crammed into Boston Symphony Hall to hear Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, square off against A. Lawrence Lowell, the president of Harvard University. Both men were Republicans and Boston Brahmins. But they disagreed on a big political question. Should the United States, having helped win the Great War, join a League of Nations to defend the peace? The Lodge-Lowell debate was the opening salvo in […]

Indian Muslims burn posters of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, center, and Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar, during a protest in Mumbai, India, Feb. 15, 2019 (AP photo by Rajanish Kakade).

Pakistani authorities announced last week that they had arrested 44 people affiliated with violent extremist groups. Among those taken into custody, according to Pakistan’s interior minister, were two relatives of the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed, the terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the attack in Kashmir last month that killed 40 members of India’s security forces. But it is too early to know whether this means Islamabad is finally taking meaningful steps to crack down on the militant organizations it has long harbored, cautions Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program and senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson […]

Turkish troops secure the Bursayah hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, Syria, Jan. 28, 2018 (AP photo).

In the Syrian civil war, combatants are not always divided along clear lines, making it more difficult than ever for conventional forces like the U.S. military to combat pockets of insurgency. Find out more with your subscription to World Politics Review. Week by week, month by month, the horrific war in Syria grinds on, killing Syrian civil war combatants from many countries and, most tragic of all, Syrian civilians—the unintended or, in many cases, intended victims of the warring parties. It’s easy to look at the Syrian war as uniquely horrible, the catastrophic result of geography, Bashar al-Assad’s craven brutality, […]

U.N. peacekeepers stand near people queuing to enter a mosque during the visit of Pope Francis, Bangui, Central African Republic, Nov. 30, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Are U.N. peacekeeping missions no longer relevant to today’s conflicts? Or do we just need to change the goals? Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). There were understandably mixed feelings at the United Nations in June, when the organization marked the 70th anniversary of modern U.N. peacekeeping missions. The Security Council sent military observers to the Middle East in 1948 to supervise the end of the first Arab-Israeli war, marking the first of over 70 U.N. missions that have become the organization’s trademark. U.N. officials used this year’s anniversary to honor the efforts of today’s […]

Relatives and comrades pray as they surround the Hezbollah flag-draped coffins of Shiite fighters who were killed in Syria, Nabatiyeh, Lebanon, Oct. 27, 2015 (AP photo by Mohammed Zaatari).

Hezbollah has taken risks in fighting for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, but those risks are paying off. Israel, however, is on the losing end of this gamble. Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). With the Syrian civil war entering its final phase, the conditions are in place for a conflict between Hezbollah and Israel that neither side wants. As Hezbollah fighters begin making their way home after a costly but apparently successful effort to help save the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, there are growing signs that the status quo is about to change. The […]

Seleka rebels drive through Bangui, Central African Republic, Jan. 27, 2014 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Just a month ago, officials in and beyond the Central African Republic were celebrating the signing of a peace deal between the government and 14 armed groups. Though the talks that led to the deal were hardly the first attempt at ending a conflict that dates back to 2012, Marcel Plichta noted in a recent briefing for WPR that the text included “significant concessions made on all sides” and was the first “to emerge from direct dialogue among all […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, flanked by top officials, attends a military parade during Russia’s Navy Day celebration, St. Petersburg, Russia, July 30, 2017 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

As Russia seeks to expand its influence in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the threat of a U.S.-Russia war has never been higher since the Cold War. Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). In its efforts to re-establish itself as a great power, Russia has adopted a three-dimensional strategy designed to strengthen the country politically, enrich it economically and allow it to punch above its weight in a rapidly changing global security environment. This strategy has already raised tensions with Washington, raising fears of a U.S.–Russia war. The first dimension of Russia’s strategy is […]

Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard outside a closed market, Srinagar, India, March 5, 2019 (AP photo by Mukhtar Khan).

It is far from the first flare-up between India and Pakistan in recent years along the Line of Control, the de facto border in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. But the still-unfolding crisis there, which was sparked by a suicide bombing last month that killed 40 Indian soldiers in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, points to troubling new trend lines in how future conflicts could unfold between these nuclear-armed neighbors. Every recent crisis—from the Kargil War in 1999 and the so-called Twin Peaks incident in 2001 to the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai and India’s 2016 “surgical strikes” […]

Torn posters of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

LAGOS, Nigeria—The last time a leader of an opposition party in Nigeria rejected the results of the country’s presidential election, nearly eight years ago, hundreds of people were killed and tens of thousands displaced in the ensuing violence. Now there are fears of a similar scenario unfolding as Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president long tainted by corruption allegations, heads to court to challenge the outcome of the Feb. 23 election that President Muhammadu Buhari easily won. Atiku, as Abubakar is widely known in Nigeria, lost by nearly 4 million votes, with 11,262,978 against Buhari’s 15,191,847. He and his supporters […]

Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett arrives for the weekly Cabinet meeting at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, Nov. 18, 2018 (AP photo by Abir Sultan).

ARIEL, West Bank—Itzik Ashkenazi first came to this settlement in the West Bank 20 years ago, drawn by the cheap housing and mountain views. On clear days, he can see the Mediterranean and the Israeli city of Tel Aviv in one direction, and the Palestinian city of Nablus in the other. The 50-year-old Ashkenazi, who works as an aide for senior citizens, often whiles away the afternoon with friends, chain-smoking, drinking beer and talking politics at a wobbly aluminum table next to a kiosk that sells snacks, cigarettes and alcohol. This unremarkable lifestyle, Ashkenazi says, is the most potent antidote […]

U.N. peacekeepers raise the flags of their countries during a ceremony to mark the transfer of authority between the outgoing and newly appointed heads of the UNIFIL mission, Naqoura, Lebanon, Aug. 7, 2018 (Photo by Bilal Hussein).

It is time to say some goodbyes. Next week will mark the conclusion of this column, roughly 250 editions and a quarter of a million words after I launched it in January 2013. Professional obligations mean that I must move on. I will keep writing about international affairs, but I am sad to bid farewell to this weekly perch. It has been a fruitful but frustrating time to comment on crisis management and multilateral affairs. When I kicked off “Diplomatic Fallout,” a political resolution to the Syrian civil war still seemed possible and Russia had not yet seized Crimea. I […]

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