Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speak at a press conference, Canberra, Nov. 17, 2014 (AP photo by Rick Rycroft).

Last month, Australia signed a free trade agreement with China, though it has yet to be implemented. Its ninth free trade deal with its neighbors came amid Australia’s active participation in ongoing negotiations over two major trade deals in the Asia-Pacific region, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). How does all this trade-related bustle fit together? And how much is politics, as much economics, involved? The current activity reflects a shift in global trade regimes. Australia used to be a strong supporter of multilateral trade, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the center of […]

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, Kabul, Afghanistan, March, 9, 2015 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

Afghan officials were expected to enter into a second round of Pakistani-brokered talks with Taliban representatives this week, a highly contentious initiative upon which President Ashraf Ghani has staked his presidency. But that peace process became more uncertain with the announcement Wednesday by the Afghan government of the death of Mullah Omar, the militant movement’s reclusive leader, which prompted a Taliban spokesman to disavow talks and Pakistan to declare their postponement. Dealing with the Taliban insurgency, however, is far from the only domestic challenge facing the Ghani administration. Unresolved domestic rivalries and newly institutionalized tensions created by last year’s power-sharing […]

A Chinese investor sits near a displays of stock information in a brokerage house, Beijing,, July 10, 2015 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Extreme volatility in China’s financial markets has forced emergency interventions by financial regulators and thrown up major new challenges to Chinese policymakers. Following what amounted to a complete suspension of both onshore stock exchanges three weeks ago, market operations have begun to normalize, but confidence remains fragile. With emergency policies still in place, the broader institutional fallout is unclear, but potentially huge. The seeds of the stock market collapse were sown almost exactly a year ago. Following an 8-year bear market, a major slowdown in the real economy and increasing corporate debt-repayment obligations, it suited policymakers both politically and economically […]

President Barack Obama answers questions about the Iran nuclear deal during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Washington, July 15, 2015 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

In trying to make sense of the recent nuclear deal with Iran and what it says about U.S. policy in the Middle East, the penultimate scene in “The Godfather” comes to mind. In it, the new godfather, Michael Corleone, wipes out his criminal rivals, the heads of New York’s five Mafia families and casino magnate Moe Greene. In recounting the day’s bloodletting, Michael subsequently says, “Today I settled all family business,” as he prepares to move the Corleone family to Nevada. This, minus the gangland shootings, is largely what the United States is trying to do with the Iran deal. […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing, Nov. 9, 2014 (AP photo/RIA Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev).

Ties between Russia and Japan are slowly picking up steam again after a 16-month chill following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Earlier this month, Shotaro Yachi, Japan’s national security adviser, traveled to Moscow and met with his Russian counterpart to discuss President Vladimir Putin’s plans to visit Japan later this year. And despite ongoing tensions over Ukraine, there are also signs that Japan’s foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, may travel to Russia in the coming months to prepare for a potential Putin visit. Japan-Russia cooperation is also continuing on the security front with bilateral maritime security drills, focused primarily […]

Indian army mobile autonomous launchers with BrahMos cruise missiles, Feb. 7, 2014 (photo by Wikimedia user anir1uph licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).

Last month, India formally applied to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and it hopes to become a full member of the group by the end of this year. In an email interview, Dinshaw Mistry, professor of political science and Asian studies at the University of Cincinnati, discussed the impact of MTCR membership on India’s missile program. WPR: What impact will joining the Missile Technology Control Regime have on India’s missile programs, in terms of any changes and limitations New Delhi has had or will have to implement? Dinshaw Mistry: The MTCR requires its members to control the transfer—to […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the Akorda President's Palace, Astana, Kazakhstan, July 8, 2015 (Photo from the Indian Prime Minister's office).

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s whirlwind tour this month of the five Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkeminstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, with a stop in the middle in Russia, was a move to breathe life into the “Connect Central Asia” strategy launched under Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh, in 2012. Modi’s renewed seriousness about an Indian foreign policy that looks north is underscored by India’s investment in the Iranian port of Chahbahar. The port forms the southern end of the International North-South Corridor (INSTC), a multination rail, road and shipping network connecting India with Russia via Central Asia. But this […]

Independence Monument, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 17, 2015 (photo by Flickr user phalinn licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Cambodia’s July 2013 national elections were a watershed moment in the country’s recent political history. Amid charges of electoral fraud, long-ruling Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) was declared the winner of the polls by the National Election Committee. Despite the irregularities, the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) still saw its support surge, winning 55 out of the 123 seats in parliament. The result represented an unprecedented loss of 22 seats for the CPP and prevented it from wielding the two-thirds majority necessary to amend Cambodia’s constitution. Following the announcement of the results, anti-government demonstrations in the […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the European Union foreign affairs chief and the foreign ministers of the other P5+1 countries, Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2015 (State Department photo).

After 20 months of negotiations, which came down to the wire over 18 straight days in Vienna, Iran and six world powers, led by the United States, reached a deal Tuesday to curb Iran’s nuclear program for more than a decade in exchange for lifting sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. All U.S. and European Union nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after international inspectors have verified that Iran is abiding by its commitments. According to The New York Times, “the United States preserved—and in some cases extended—the nuclear restrictions it sketched out with Iran in early April in Lausanne, […]

Leaders attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, Ufa, Russia, July 10, 2015 (RIA Novosti photo via AP).

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which held its leaders summit in the Russian city of Ufa last week, remains a puzzle. Despite its potential, the organization has yet to have a major impact on world affairs. The decision at the summit to admit India and Pakistan as new members, which could occur as soon as 2016, should breathe new life into the organization. But the group’s future relevance will be determined by its ability to effectively address the continuing economic and security problems of neighboring Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been an area of collective interest for the SCO—which comprises China, Russia, […]

A crowd listens to Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the Turkish pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), speak at a campaign rally, Paris, France, May 2, 2015 (Photo by Aurore Belot/NurPhoto via AP).

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here. In London, a group of Americans meet at a fundraiser in a private home in support of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Across the Atlantic, in Maryland, the construction of a $100 million mosque complex is funded by Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs, or Diyanet. In Canada, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress lobbies the government to strengthen its official aid to Ukraine, while urging individuals to directly support the Ukrainian army by donating for […]

Leaders of the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Council (SCO) member states, Ufa, Russia, July 9, 2015 (AP photo by Ivan Sekretarev).

Who wants to live in a world designed by Vladimir Putin? The number of people who answer “yes” to that question may be rather higher than American and European officials might like to imagine. The Russian president has crafted a narrative about his nation’s revitalization as a global power that many of his countrymen clearly appreciate. Chauvinist nationalist leaders elsewhere, such as Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s National Front party, admire his success. But Western policymakers typically comfort themselves that Putin’s mainstream appeal remains limited. Moscow has not been able to offer a positive vision of a new […]

An official wearing a mask as a precaution against the MERS virus works at the Dongdaemun District Office, Seoul, South Korea, June 18, 2015 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

On Friday, South Korea announced the 36th death from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), though no new cases have been reported in five days. In an email interview, Myoungsoon You, an assistant professor of public health at Seoul National University, discussed South Korea’s public health system and its response to the MERS outbreak. WPR: How robust is South Korea’s public health system, and what measures are in place to contain outbreaks such as MERS? Myoungsoon You: The MERS outbreak has exposed great weaknesses in South Korea’s public health system. Lack of necessary services such as negative room pressure systems […]

Chinese investors monitor stock prices at a brokerage house, Beijing, China, July 9, 2015 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

When it comes to the power of arcane financial matters to capture global attention, nothing in recent weeks compares to the drama surrounding Greece’s debt. But there is another simmering crisis with potential to do far more damage to the world economy. Consider that as depositors in Greece lined up at ATMs to withdraw pocket change from their bank accounts, investors in China were bleeding assets at an unprecedented rate. And these days, even a small financial tremor in China can be felt around the world. The Chinese stock market has endured its sharpest drop in more than 20 years. […]

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and Defense Secretary Ash Carter brief the press at the Pentagon, July 1, 2015 (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Hinton).

On June 30, the Pentagon issued the latest iteration of the National Military Strategy (NMS) of the United States. The new version, the first update to the strategy since 2011, depicts today’s international security environment as being more challenging for the United States due to the unprecedented reach of globalization, the diffusion of military technologies and the rise of revisionist great powers. The NMS establishes U.S. military objectives and explains how the Pentagon will achieve them. It describes the overall global security environment in which the U.S. military operates as well as the threats and opportunities that affect U.S. national […]

Indian air force Garud commandos during a drill, Ahmedabad, India, Jan. 17 2015 (photo by DeshGujarat).

Last month, Indian special operations forces conducted a brief raid into Myanmar looking for militants. In an email interview, Iskander Rehman, a nonresident fellow at the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, discussed India’s special operations forces. WPR: How developed are India’s special operations forces, and what are their principal capabilities? Iskander Rehman: That’s a difficult question to answer, in part because some of India’s special operations forces (SOF) units may bear a closer resemblance to what Western military analysts would consider to be elite and/or specialized infantry than to special operators. Within the Indian army, for example, there […]

Pensioners line up as they wait to be allowed into a bank to withdraw a maximum of 120 euros for the week, July 2, 2015 (AP photo by Daniel Ochoa de Olza).

It seems a little odd that the final countdown to a Greek default saw the clock run out on what was in reality a puny payment. Greece was due to pay the International Monetary Fund a mere 1.55 billion euros Tuesday, by itself a rather inconsequential sum in the global credit markets. Athens’ inability to pay that small amount set off the chain of events that put global markets on high alert and continues to threaten the decades-old project of European integration. While Greece has held testy exchanges with creditors from the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central […]

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