New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, at the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Auckland, New Zealand, Feb. 4, 2016 (David Rowland/SNPA via AP).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the potential impact on members’ economies. New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington on Wednesday about the need for the United States to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In an email interview, Timothy Hazledine, a professor of economics at the University of Auckland, discussed the benefits and drawbacks of New Zealand’s membership in the TPP. WPR: What are the expected economic benefits and potential downsides for New Zealand from the TPP, and who are the expected […]

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser Susan Rice during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Nuclear Security Summit, Washington, March 31, 2016 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

On March 30, President Barack Obama hosted the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, where global leaders convene in an effort to secure nuclear materials and prevent nuclear terrorism. Along with Obama’s vision articulated in a 2009 speech in Prague of a world without nuclear weapons, the summits provide an important marker for assessing Obama’s record on reducing the security risks posed by nuclear weapons and material. The following articles are free to nonsubscribers until April 14. A Mixed Record on Nonproliferation Why Obama’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Commitments Fell ShortIt appears that with the exception of the Iran nuclear deal, President […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a tour of Pha Tha Luang, Vientiane, Laos, Jan. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

When Barack Obama traveled to Cuba in March, he became the first U.S. president in almost 90 years to set foot on the island nation. But during the final year of his presidency, he will become the first-ever sitting U.S. president to visit another communist-ruled former foe: Laos. In September, Obama will go to its capital, Vientiane, for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Given Cuba’s proximity to Florida and the huge Cuban-American community in the United States, it is hardly surprising that Obama’s visit to Havana has attracted much more attention than his upcoming trip […]

People watch a TV screen showing footage of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, Seoul, South Korea, March 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

This week, all eyes are focused on the twin bombings in Brussels linked to the self-declared Islamic State. But despite the death toll there, and in the Paris attacks last November, a bigger risk to the world’s stability lurks in East Asia. The Islamic State may no longer be the ‘junior varsity’ of terrorism, as President Barack Obama once referred to the group, but it remains the junior varsity of global threats. North Korea is the varsity, and the danger it poses far exceeds the sociopathic but small-scale killing that the Islamic State can pull off or inspire. Now under […]

Indonesian protesters during a rally against Israeli attacks on Gaza, Jakarta, Indonesia, July 13, 2014 (AP photo by Achmad Ibrahim).

Last weekend, Israel prevented Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi from entering the West Bank to attend the inauguration of the Indonesian Honorary Consul to Palestine in Ramallah, after she refused to pay an official visit to Jerusalem. In an email interview, Emanuel Shahaf, CEO of Technology Asia Consulting and vice chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, discusses Israeli-Indonesian political and economic ties. WPR: What are the extent of Israel’s trade and political ties with Indonesia, and how institutionalized are current informal ties? Emanuel Shahaf: Bilateral trade is nominally valued at around $200 million, with roughly 80 percent made up […]

Indonesian President Joko Widodo gives the keynote address at the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, San Francisco, Feb. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Jeff Chiu).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the South China Sea territorial disputes and the various claimant countries’ approaches to addressing them. Last weekend, a Chinese coast guard vessel intervened to free a Chinese fishing boat being towed by Indonesian maritime authorities. It had been caught fishing illegally in waters claimed by Indonesia as part of its exclusive economic zone surrounding the Natuna Islands. In an email interview, Brian Harding, director for East and Southeast Asia at the Center for American Progress, discusses Indonesia’s role in the South China Sea disputes. WPR: How have Jakarta […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen as Type 99A2 Chinese battle tanks roll across during a military parade, Sept. 3, 2015 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, South Africa’s rapprochement with Nigeria and U.S.-Cuba ties. For the Report, Richard Weitz of the Hudson Institute joins us to talk about China’s ongoing military reforms. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: Punitive Saudi Moves in Lebanon Isolate Sunnis, Benefiting Hezbollah Middle East’s Sectarian Tensions Play Out in Sudan-Iran Relations Limited Détente: The Challenges to Repairing South Africa-Nigeria Ties Down Havana Way: The Promise of Obama’s Cuba Visit PLA Military Reforms: Defense Power With Chinese Characteristics […]

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Beijing, Feb. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Wu Hong).

“The future Australian Defence Force will be more capable of operations to deter and defeat threats to Australia,” declares the 2016 Defense White Paper, released in late February. The ambitious strategic document backs up this assertion with extravagant promises to raise defense spending to 2 percent of GDP in just a few years; to double the size of Australia’s submarine fleet from 6 to 12; and to develop a maritime force with formidable anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The paper boasts that it “sets out the most ambitious plan to regenerate the Royal Australian Navy since the Second World War.” And yet, […]

Royal Saudi Land Forces and units of Special Forces of the Pakistani army during a joint military exercise, Shamrakh field, north of Baha region, Saudi Arabia, March 30, 2015 (AP photo/Saudi Press Agency).

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif visited Saudi Arabia last week for the closing ceremonies of a multinational military exercise, following recent tensions in relations. In an email interview, Shehzad H. Qazi, managing director at CBB International and a geopolitical analyst specializing in emerging and frontier markets, discussed Pakistan’s relations with Middle East nations. WPR: Who are Pakistan’s main partners in the Middle East, and what are their main areas of cooperation? Shehzad Qazi: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey are three of Pakistan’s main partners in the Middle East. Pakistan and […]

Chinese soldiers during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II, Beijing, Sept. 3, 2015 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

At China’s annual military parade last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced plans to make large troop cuts and significant structural changes to China’s armed forces, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Indeed, over the past year, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) has launched major reforms to the PLA’s size, structure and missions. Though many details remain undecided or unknown, reform measures have included the creation of a new PLA headquarters, as well as realignments of its operational theaters and support functions. The reforms in some respects resemble those adopted by other major military powers, such as Russia and […]

Muslims pray outside the newly restored Moscow Cathedral Mosque during celebrations of Eid al-Adha, Moscow, Russia, Sept. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the elections in Iran, South Korea’s missile defense program and the Colombian government’s peace talks with the FARC. For the report, Robert Crews, the director of the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University, joins us to explain how Russia’s Muslim population fits into President Vladimir Putin’s domestic and foreign policy agenda. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: Iran’s Election Results Show Pendulum Swinging Away From Hard-Liners North Korea’s Provocations Revive U.S. Missile Shield in South Korea Santos […]

A man watches a TV news program showing footage of a North Korean missile launch, Seoul, South Korea, March 3, 2016 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

North Korea’s recent provocations—a nuclear test in January and a missile test, under the guise of a peaceful satellite launch, a month later—have pressed the United States, along with its key regional allies, South Korea and Japan, into recalibrating Washington’s failed policy of so-called strategic patience with Pyongyang. Concerns about North Korea’s aggressive behavior coupled with ineffective responses thus far have prompted Washington, Seoul and Tokyo to stress that there can be no more maintenance of the status-quo when it comes to deterrence. In addition to seeking new and more-robust sanctions at the United Nations Security Council, one of the […]

U.S. President Barack Obama during an event with Young South Asian Youth Leaders at Yangon University, Myanmar, Nov. 14, 2014 (AP photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe).

Over the past year, the Obama administration has rapidly repaired diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba. Last month, in the latest of many agreements, Washington and Havana signed a deal restoring commercial flights between the two countries for the first time in more than 50 years, just as the White House approved construction of the first U.S. factory in Cuba since the 1960 embargo. The outreach is an attempt, according to President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, to ensure that the U.S.-Cuba rapprochement is nearly irreversible by the time Obama leaves office. To further cement ties, Obama […]

Chinese Navy Yiyang 548 frigate and Qiandaohu 886 supply vessel are moored in the navy port, Gdynia, Poland, Oct. 7, 2015 (AP photo by Andrzej J. Gojke).

Last week, Chinese engineers broke ground on what press accounts styled “China’s first overseas naval base” in Djibouti. That is a big deal. Djibouti lies in East Africa along the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the waterway that connects the western Indian Ocean with the Red Sea. It also adjoins the patrol grounds for the Gulf of Aden counterpiracy mission, in which China’s navy has taken part since 2009. In short, it occupies strategic real estate. China, however, will not be the lone occupant of the seaport. Djibouti is also home to other foreign logistics hubs: The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force operates […]