A cutout board of Uncle Sam is posted outside an information center for tourists near Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 1, 2012 (AP photo by Junji Kurokawa).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss the collective expulsion of Russian diplomats from Europe and the United States, as well as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s secret visit to China. For the Report, Daniel Hurst talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s mixed success in translating a personal rapport with U.S. President Donald Trump into tangible gains for Japan. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up […]

Thousands of protesting farmers listen to their leader at the end of a six-day march on foot, Mumbai, India, March 12, 2018 (AP photo by Rajanish Kakade).

On March 12, thousands of farmers in the Indian state of Maharashtra marched 112 miles to the state capital, Mumbai, demanding government action to address concerns ranging from land transfers to loans. India’s agricultural sector is the country’s largest source of employment, but it is inefficient and largely reliant on dated equipment and technology, and most farmers struggle to make a living. India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which is facing mounting pressure from farmers, has been promising to address their concerns for years; Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to double farmers’ income. In an email interview, Surupa […]

Dust envelops the skyscrapers in the central business district in Beijing, China, March 28, 2018 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

As part of the same 13th National People’s Congress that abolished his term limits, Chinese President Xi Jinping oversaw a significant Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month. The State Council, the chief executive body of the Chinese government, now includes a Ministry of Ecology and Environment, which early press reports, from both the Chinese and international media, rendered as the Ministry of Ecological Environment. The ministry will be led by Li Ganjie, who has since June 2017 served as the minister for environmental protection. Its broad portfolio includes what had been under the purview of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, as […]

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addresses delegates during an emerging leaders roundtable at the ASEAN special summit, Sydney, Australia, March 16, 2018 (AP photo by Rick Rycroft).

Earlier this month, Australia hosted its first special summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the 10-member regional bloc known as ASEAN. While it is not a member, Australia has developed a close working relationship with the group. Amid discussions in Sydney focused on regional security and trade issues, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed ASEAN as a “strategic convener.” The two sides also unveiled a joint infrastructure initiative that looks to provide a potential alternative to China’s huge Belt and Road Initiative. In an email interview, Evan Laksmana, a senior researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International […]

U.S. President Donald Trump pours the remainder of his fish food into a koi pond at the Akasaka Palace as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks on, Tokyo, Nov. 6, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

TOKYO, Japan—Just when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believed he had put the relationship with his unpredictable American counterpart on a solid footing, U.S. President Donald Trump threw two curveballs into the mix. The first was Trump’s snap decision to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, after months of holding to a hard-line approach backed by Japan. The second was the administration’s announcement that it would impose steep tariffs on metal imports, a measure that was notionally targeted at China but could also harm several allies, including Japan, unless they are able to win exemptions. So far, Japan […]

Indian workers install solar panels at the Gujarat Solar Park at Charanka, Patan district, India, April 14, 2012 (AP photo by Ajit Solanki).

On March 11, India and France co-hosted some 40 heads of state in New Delhi at the inaugural meeting of the International Solar Alliance, a treaty-based, intergovernmental organization facilitating solar energy advancement in developing countries in the tropics. The alliance, which was established at the Paris climate summit in November 2015, is aiming to raise $1 trillion in solar investments by 2030. France pledged roughly $860 million at the meeting in New Delhi. As part of the Paris climate pact, India has set its own ambitious green energy target of generating 40 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030. […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May at a working dinner during a NATO summit, Brussels, May 25, 2017 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s lengthy visit to the United States and Washington’s relationship with Riyadh under President Donald Trump. For the Report, Salvatore Babones talks with Peter Dörrie about how U.S. alliances in Northeast Asia could serve as a useful model for reconfiguring the NATO alliance in Europe. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives for the 2018 Winter Olympics at Yangyang International Airport, Yangyang, South Korea, Feb. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has defied the usual short-term trajectory of Japanese administrations. Indeed, if Abe is able to serve out a third term as leader of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, with leadership elections slated for September, and maintain power in Japan’s parliament, the Diet, he would become Japan’s longest-serving modern-day leader. But before he has a chance to get there, he’ll have to weather the kind of unexpected political instability that he has largely avoided in Tokyo. The largest point of contention right now for Abe is a re-emergent scandal over potential graft in the sale of […]

Gen. Joseph Dunford, right, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, his South Korean counterpart, salute during an honor guard ceremony, Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

It is the world’s most successful, most powerful and most popular security alliance. Considering the number of countries waiting to get in, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization seems to have even more admirers than it can handle. But it also has an unexpectedly prominent and powerful critic: the president of the United States. As he has scolded NATO members over their defense spending and cast the alliance as a protection racket, Donald Trump has seemingly undermined an organization whose purpose and unity have rarely been questioned—and never before by an American president—since it was founded in 1949 as a bulwark […]

Workers at a project site that forms part of China’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” Haripur, Pakistan, Dec. 22, 2017 (AP photo by Aqeel Ahmed).

It is revealing of current American political obsessions that a recent book about the Marshall Plan’s relationship to the Cold War might be seen first and foremost as having lessons for today’s troubled ties between the United States and Russia. In that book, Benn Steil, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that with the Marshall Plan’s launch in 1947, the U.S. and the Soviet Union “became irrevocably committed to securing their respective spheres of influence.” Yet despite widespread concern about Russia, the most consequential great power struggle today is the one between the U.S. and China. […]

Muslims from Marawi and other Filipinos march to protest the city’s siege and the martial law imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte in the southern Mindanao region, Manila, Aug. 31, 2017 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about religious minorities in various countries around the world. In late January, the Department of Tourism in the Philippines announced plans to make the country a significant “religious pilgrimage destination,” especially for Catholic communities in Asia, by restoring old churches and historical shrines. Yet efforts to capitalize on its status as the largest Catholic-majority country in Asia and draw in more tourists could create problems in the Philippines, which has sizeable non-Catholic Christian communities and a Muslim population that has long felt marginalized by a state heavily linked to the […]

Supporters of Pakistan’s ousted prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, attend a rally in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 22, 2018 (AP photo by Fareed Khan).

On Feb. 21, Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from leading the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or PMLN, party. Sharif’s brother Shahbaz, another senior PMLN leader, is expected to replace him as party president. The move marked Sharif’s second disqualification in seven months. Last July, the same court disqualified him from office, obliging him to resign as prime minister. These developments represent just the latest blows for the PMLN, which has led the government after winning a landslide election in 2013—but has seemingly been on the defensive ever since then. In 2014, the political opposition, led by […]

President Donald Trump holds up a proclamation on steel and aluminum imports during an event at the White House, Washington, March 8, 2018 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an order imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The tariffs, which will go into effect in 15 days, exempt Canada and Mexico for now, with the possibility of other states to be exempted as well. Combined with the resignation earlier this week of Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser who had been seen as a check on Trump’s protectionist instincts during his tenure as director of the National Economic Council, they signal that Trump is ready to make good on campaign promises of getting tough on trade—and in particular with China. […]

A Sri Lankan Muslim boy looks through a broken window of a vandalized mosque, Diana, Sri Lanka, March 9, 2018 (AP photo by Tharaka Basnayaka).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about religious minorities in various countries around the world. On March 6, Sri Lanka’s government declared a nationwide 10-day state of emergency as mob attacks targeted the country’s Muslim minorities. Tensions have been rising over the past year between Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority, who are mainly Buddhist, and Muslims, leading to attacks on businesses, homes and places of worship. In an email interview, Neil DeVotta, a professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and an expert on ethnic conflict in South Asia, explains what […]

A TV screen at the Seoul Railway Station shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, Seoul, South Korea, March 9, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

The Korean Peninsula has long been a very dangerous place. Over the past several years, it became even more so as the North Korean regime began testing nuclear weapons and—most recently—ballistic missiles that could threaten the United States. Alarmed at this, the administration of President Donald Trump has pushed back hard and repeatedly stated that it will do anything necessary to counter this threat, including the preventative use of military force. For the past year, the heightened tensions and belligerent rhetoric on both sides have raised fears of a catastrophic conflict. But in a stunning turnabout earlier this week, North […]

Members of various affiliated groups of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and Communist Party of the Philippines attend a rally in Quezon City, Philippines, March 27, 2017 (Sipa photo by Gregorio B. Dantes via AP).

In mid-February, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he would pay government forces a bounty of nearly $500 for each communist rebel they killed, according to The Associated Press, suggesting this would be a cost-effective way to combat a decades-long insurgency. His remarks, which were widely denounced as inflammatory, came amid an uptick in violence between government forces and the rebels and increasingly bleak prospects for peace talks, which broke down last year. In an email interview, Renato DeCastro, a professor of international studies at De La Salle University in Manila, explains why the peace process has stalled, what progress has […]

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Egyptian Central Military Zone Commander Gen. Ayman Abdel Hamid Amer stand for the U.S. national anthem, Cairo, Egypt, April 20, 2017 (Pool photo by Jonathan Ernst).

Security assistance is a longstanding American tool to build up cooperation with key countries, including regional heavyweights like Egypt, Nigeria and Pakistan, where security deficits have consequences for the United States. But security cooperation often requires bureaucratic agility and a true convergence of interests between the sender and receiver. Both elements have been in short supply recently, and new efforts to reform the enterprise seem unlikely to transform these difficult partnerships. In the past few weeks, Trump administration officials have engaged in several public dialogues about efforts to improve the suite of government-funded programs called security sector assistance. As with […]

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