A Pakistani man shouts anti-American slogans during a rally in Torkham, a border town along the Afghanistan border, Aug. 28, 2017 (AP photo by Muhammad Sajjad).

U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy in Afghanistan, unveiled last month, emphasizes a “new” regional approach that his administration claims will finally produce better results in America’s longest war. Unfortunately, it is unclear how new such a regional approach really is, whether the administration means to follow through on it, and if it is prepared to grapple with the potential ramifications. In his visit to the United States last week for the United Nations General Assembly, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani praised Trump’s approach, especially “the Pakistan component of it.” But the Trump administration has been short on details. The regional vision […]

China International Search and Rescue team members carry a supposed survivor during a simulated rescue training, Beijing, Feb. 26, 2010 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

For the past decade, China’s involvement in international humanitarian relief has steadily risen as it has sent its people, supplies and support to nations around the world. While these humanitarian efforts have often been framed as a tool of Chinese foreign policy, China has also increasingly integrated itself into the international humanitarian relief system. In an email interview, Miwa Hirono, a Japanese scholar who has written extensively on Chinese humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, explains how Beijing’s approach to disaster relief has evolved and how China continues to balance its policy of noninterference with its desire to provide assistance abroad. WPR: […]

Kem Sokha, a Cambodian opposition leader who was arrested earlier this month, shows his inked finger after voting in local elections on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 4, 2017 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

A chill has settled over U.S.-Cambodia relations. Since the start of the year, Cambodia’s pugnacious prime minister, Hun Sen, has canceled a planned bilateral military exercise, kicked out a U.S. naval engineering battalion working on charity projects, and assailed Washington for refusing to cancel a $500 million war debt from the early 1970s. This ominous trajectory dipped further with the Sept. 2 arrest of Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha on charges of treason. He is accused of conspiring with the United States to foment a “color revolution” aimed at overthrowing Hun Sen’s government, which has ruled Cambodia since 1979. Sokha, […]

North Koreans attend a mass rally against the U.S., bearing signs that read "decisive revenge" and "death to the American imperialists," Pyongyang, North Korea, Sept. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

The opening of the United Nations General Assembly has historically been a chance for world leaders to trade platitudes about peace. This year’s edition of the U.N. jamboree may have increased the risks of a major conflict in Asia. U.S. President Donald Trump told the assembly that he would “have no choice but to totally destroy” North Korea if the U.S. is “forced to defend itself or its allies” from Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. In the days that followed, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, threatened to punish the “dotard” Trump, and its foreign minister told the General Assembly […]

A man walks past a TV news screen showing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump, while reporting North Korea's a possible nuclear test, Tokyo, Sept. 3, 2017 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

The chances of a major war involving the United States are higher today than at any time since early 2003. Seldom a week goes by without a new missile or nuclear test by North Korea. President Donald Trump and his top advisers have stated categorically that they will not allow North Korea to develop the capability to attack the American homeland, preventing it by force if necessary. In a speech this week to the United Nations General Assembly, Trump vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatens the United States or its allies. These shocking words demonstrate how dangerous […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Guinean President Alpha Conde on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, Xiamen, China, Sept. 5, 2017 (Pool photo via AP).

China signed an extraordinary $20 billion loan agreement with Guinea earlier this month, providing the West African country with much-needed financial resources over the next two decades in exchange for concessions and access to its abundant deposits of bauxite, an industrial aluminum ore that is in high demand. The first phase of the deal involves three separate Chinese mining infrastructure projects in the northwestern town of Boffa: a planned alumina refinery and two bauxite extraction operations. China is currently a top global consumer of bauxite, an industrial ore that is first refined into alumina, also known as aluminum oxide, and […]

Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi gather outside Yangon’s City Hall for her speech on the Rohingya crisis, Yangon, Myanmar, Sept. 19, 2017 (Photo by Eli Meixler).

YANGON, Myanmar—The crowd waiting for Aung San Suu Kyi’s highly anticipated address on the ongoing crisis in Rakhine, in western Myanmar, looked prepared for a pep rally, rather than a requiem on a conflict labeled “textbook ethnic cleansing.” On Tuesday morning, hundreds of people gathered in front of Yangon’s City Hall to watch a live broadcast of the first speech that Myanmar’s de facto leader has given since the military’s bloody counterinsurgency began in response to attacks from Rohingya militants last month. Yet the crowd’s euphoria all but eclipsed the somber topic at hand. Observers in shirts emblazoned with Aung […]

Supporters of Thailand’s former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, outside the Supreme Court after she failed to show up for a verdict, Bangkok, Thailand, Aug. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Wason Wanichakorn).

Thais waited anxiously throughout the summer for the conclusion of the trial of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was removed by a military coup in May 2014. The charges Yingluck faced—mismanaging a rice subsidy scheme that wound up losing some $8 billion—were somewhat unusual, since she was not personally accused of corruption in the program. In some ways, she was being charged with making bad decisions in government. But a central objective of the junta since it took power has been to eradicate the influence of the Shinawatra family in Thai politics by breaking the bond between them and […]

Visitors look at the Hanteng X7 on display at the Auto Shanghai 2017 show, Shanghai, China, April 20, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

As a candidate, President Donald Trump vowed to revitalize America’s infrastructure and promised $1 billion for transportation projects. But while Washington only tepidly contemplates such spending, China is rapidly moving ahead to transform transportation on its terms. China’s leadership is codifying the next generation of transportation technologies into an ambitious national strategy and matching policy with billions for innovation and deployment. Recognizing that the sector is shifting toward low carbon options worldwide, Beijing is planning to uproot America’s competitive edge in the global market. Unless it is willing to cede the remaking of the transportation industry to China, the United […]

Bangladeshi students display their handwriting on their blackboards at an Islamic education school, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sept. 9, 2014 (AP photo by A.M. Ahad).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about education policy in various countries around the world. Since independence in 1971, Bangladesh has made several attempts to reform its education system. Despite some false starts, it has made important strides. Yet obstacles to reform have proved challenging, especially the bifurcated Islamic madrasa system that leaves millions of students unprepared for life outside of religious institutions. In an email interview, Md Shahnawaz Khan Chandan, an education activist and feature writer at The Daily Star in Dhaka, examines the short history of education reform in Bangladesh, its myriad successes and […]

A young boy watches over his goats in Khovd province, Mongolia, June 14, 2011 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

A leading pollster called it “the worst election in Mongolian history.” Last June, Mongolian voters went to the polls to choose a new president, though many of them were likely just looking forward to getting the process over with. During several weeks of campaigning, the three candidates had deployed appalling smear tactics, accusing each other of money laundering and graft based on scant evidence. On voting day, only 60.9 percent of the electorate turned out in a country that was once accustomed to over 90 percent participation. Almost 100,000 voters, or slightly more than 8 percent of the electorate, submitted […]

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., listens during the Security Council’s nonproliferation meeting on North Korea at U.N. headquarters, New York, Sept. 4, 2017 (AP photo by Bebeto Matthews).

Russia is flexing its diplomatic muscles at the United Nations again. Moscow appears intent on using the U.N. to complicate American efforts to put pressure on North Korea and sow confusion over its own intentions toward Ukraine. Western diplomats should be alert, because Russia is a fine player of the U.N. game. World leaders gather in New York next week for the new U.N. General Assembly session. All eyes will be on U.S. President Donald Trump. His Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will be absent. But Moscow knows how to make its presence felt in New York. Just days after Putin […]

Contractors from the U.S. security firm Blackwater give instructions to Afghan anti-narcotics forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 15, 2005 (AP photo by Musadeq Sadeq).

Frustration with the stalemate in Afghanistan has broadened the domestic debate over U.S. strategy there. For the time being, President Donald Trump remains committed to the general approach taken by the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. But options that seemed unthinkable a few years ago, like outright disengagement, are now on the table. As this unfolds, one out-of-the-box proposal in particular has sparked intense discussion among security experts: a plan to replace American troops with contractors. The most prominent proponent of this idea, Erik Prince, is a former U.S. Navy SEAL with connections in the Trump administration. Prince is […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Sept. 7, 2017 (AP photo).

Earlier this summer, Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe reshuffled his Cabinet in an attempt to repair the image of his suddenly beleaguered government, which has been hit by a series of corruption scandals. After four years of soaring, and seemingly unassailable, approval ratings, Abe has finally seen chinks in his armor, as questions even rise about his ability to serve out a third term as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP. If Abe loses the grip on his own party, his goal of staying as prime minister through the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo—and becoming Japan’s longest-serving […]

Soldiers in tanks move through Kim Il Sung square during a military parade, Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

North Korea’s successful nuclear test this weekend caps off a startling progression over the past 11 years from buffoonish nuclear aspirant to serious nuclear threat. Combined with successful intercontinental ballistic missile launches over the past year, the latest test effectively pushed Pyongyang over the threshold of being able to credibly target the continental U.S. with a nuclear attack. For North Korea watchers and nonproliferation experts, the development was neither shocking nor surprising. It is Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test, each building steadily toward the stated goal of a thermonuclear device. It follows a series of successful long-range missile tests that demonstrated […]

A projector screen shows footage of U.S. President Donald Trump during an event promoting EB-5 investment in a Kushner Companies development at a hotel in Shanghai, China, May 7, 2017 (AP photo).

From the start of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump had a clear and consistent culprit for many of America’s problems: China. As he pronounced from the lobby of Trump Tower when declaring his candidacy in 2015, the American dream was dead and China, a currency manipulator and intellectual property poacher, had killed it. It was a strange location for that statement, perhaps, since Trump Tower’s biggest office tenant is a major state-controlled Chinese bank. But then again, perhaps the irony suits. Despite overtures of collaboration with Beijing to counter North Korea, Trump has reinvigorated his China critique as president. Announcing […]

Villagers travel by boat in floodwaters in Assam state, northeast India, Aug. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Anupam Nath).

Americans have been riveted to the tales of tragedy and human suffering caused by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. Half a world away, monsoon season flooding at even more epic levels has resulted in great loss of life, property damage and health challenges for communities in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The economics and cultural dimensions of the two cases are profoundly different, but the acute policy and governance demands related to climate and resilience are not that dissimilar. Monsoons in South Asia often produce heart-wrenching images of water-engulfed villages and desperate families seeking shelter and food. […]

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