Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses supporters at Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters, New Delhi, India, May 23, 2019 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

The Bharatiya Janata Party owes its dominating win in India’s general election to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is being sworn in for the second time today. The right-wing, Hindu nationalist BJP seemingly sought every vote in his name, as if Modi were running in every electoral district in the country. It worked, as many voters made their decision based on who they wanted as their next prime minister, rather than as their representative in parliament. It helped, too, that the opposition remained divided and undecided on whom to project as its candidate for prime minister. In winning 303 of […]

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, May 17, 2019 (Reuters Pool photo by Thomas Peter via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif traveled to Beijing, where he met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. The visit, part of an Asian tour to promote Iran’s economic engagement with the region amid intense sanctions pressure from the United States, led some to wonder whether China and Iran’s tensions with Washington are pushing them to increase their cooperation. At the beginning of the month, the U.S. ended sanctions waivers for eight countries that import Iranian […]

President Donald Trump poses with American farmers in the Oval Office of the White House after announcing $16 billion in aid, Washington, May 23, 2019 (DPA photo by Kevin Dietsch via AP).

President Donald Trump’s policies to “make America great again” often reflect a fondness for an earlier era that was not so great for everyone. Some of his judicial nominees have declined to affirm that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down segregation in public schools, is the settled law of the land. Trump’s immigration policies hark back to a time when there were national quotas that favored some ethnic groups over others. Recent trade developments also suggest a yearning for the golden days of yesteryear. The 1950s are widely remembered as a time of […]

Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is sworn in as Vietnam’s president, Hanoi, Oct. 23, 2018 (Vietnam News Agency photo by Nguyen Phuong Hoa via AP).

At 76, Nguyen Phu Trong is a man in a hurry, intent on saving Vietnam’s Communist Party from corruption, backsliding and irrelevance. The implications for Vietnam are considerable, since the party’s claim on a monopoly of political power largely rests on its presumed moral superiority. Trong, a Marxist theoretician, is an unlikely leader. For decades, he toiled in obscurity, railing against party members’ loss of Marxist-Leninist virtue and decrying the erosion of the party’s revolutionary legitimacy. Then, three years ago, Trong orchestrated the dismissal of his bete noire, two-term Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Now he’s head of state as […]

Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Revolutionary Guard commanders in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 18, 2016 (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP Images).

In the high-stakes game between Tehran and Washington, it is often hard to tell who is really bluffing. This week, President Donald Trump threatened that a war would be “the official end of Iran,” responding in part to reports that Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, had urged leaders of Iranian-backed militias across the Middle East to “prepare for proxy war.” For those counting cards, however, Iran may already have tipped its hand. The recent return to Iran of a wave of fighters from Liwa Fatemiyoun, an Iranian-backed militia made up of ethnic […]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech at the European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, Sept. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Jean-Francois Badias).

In this week’s editors’ roundtable, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, talk about the European Parliament elections, and the limitations of framing the voting as a battle between liberal reformers and the illiberal far right. They also discuss some of the week’s other top stories, including U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan, the first steps in Washington to repeal the broad post-9/11 law authorizing the use of military force against al-Qaida, and the official results of India’s general elections. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read […]

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, center, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, right, attend a ceremony to destroy a haul of seized cocaine, in Katunayaka, Sri Lanka, Jan. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. In February, job advertisements appeared in Sri Lankan newspapers, soliciting male candidates between 18 and 45 years old. According to The Associated Press, the posting said applicants must be male Sri Lankan citizens of “excellent moral character” who can pass a test certifying their “mental strength.” The position? Hangman. For over four decades, majority-Buddhist Sri Lanka has maintained a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty, even as judges continued to hand down death sentences for murder and drug trafficking […]

An American flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem during a welcome ceremony for visiting U.S. President Donald Trump outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. In the past year, U.S. President Donald Trump has launched a damaging trade war with Beijing, as well as an all-out assault against Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei. But tit-for-tat tariffs are hurting consumers and farmers, requiring sacrifices on the part of the American public. With no end in sight to the trade tensions, are American voters prepared to bear the costs of all-out economic war with China? This question could be central to Trump’s political fate, but Democratic candidates […]

Shoppers outside a Huawei store, Beijing, May 20, 2019 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

The tit-for-tat trade war between the United States and China is costly enough, but it could be morphing into something far more serious. A week after raising tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China, the Trump administration took aim at Huawei, the Chinese company leading the global race to create new, faster 5G telecommunications networks. The new regulations would, if fully implemented, restrict Huawei’s ability to access the U.S. market, either for exports of its products or for imports of key technologies. There are reasons to be concerned about Beijing using Huawei’s networks for nefarious purposes, as well as […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, April 28, 2019 (Pool photo by Madoka Ikegami via AP Images).

QUETTA, Pakistan—In the early hours of April 18, a group of militants in southwestern Pakistan blocked the coastal highway that connects the port of Gwadar, near the Iranian border, to Karachi farther east. The militants stopped six buses near a mountain pass and checked the identity cards of all the passengers. They singled out 14 members of Pakistan’s armed forces, and then executed them all. People across Pakistan woke up to the disturbing news the next morning. Hours later, a coalition of three Baloch separatist groups, known as Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar, or BRAS, claimed responsibility for the attack. A […]

A man watches TV screens showing North Korean weapons systems, top right, in Seoul, South Korea, May 10, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

The long-standing goal of U.S. policy on North Korea has been the “complete, verifiable and irreversible” dismantling of its nuclear weapons program and arsenal. While the Trump administration remains committed to pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, the U.S. should begin to consider its policy options in the event North Korea decides to keep them. Why have the Trump administration’s efforts to convince North Korea to relinquish its nuclear weapons program so far been unsuccessful? To begin with, the normal processes for working these types of international disarmament issues have been lacking. The integration of the U.S. […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

In this week’s editors’ roundtable, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, talk about new fears of a war between the U.S. and Iran as tensions continue to rise. They also discuss the future of U.S.-China relations as the trade war rumbles on, and the implications of a new Cold War for a globalized world. 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 straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview […]

A worker sits in front of a billboard at a construction site in Beijing, China, May 16, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

When the trade war between China and the United States began last year, a number of countries expected to emerge as winners. After all, if Beijing and Washington imposed tariffs on each other’s goods, it would open new markets for bystander countries not directly involved in the fray. Now, however, the escalating trade war is making everyone more anxious, even in countries that thought they stood to benefit. The fact is, a trade war of this magnitude inevitably reverberates across much of the world. Even worse, its impact has the potential to reach beyond economics. History, including recent Latin American […]

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, arrives for a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 25, 2019 (Photo by Kenzaburo Fukuhara for Kyodo via AP Images).

Although divisive internationally, President Rodrigo Duterte has remained popular at home in the Philippines despite a deeply illiberal streak. And with this week’s midterm elections, he has amassed even more political power—probably more than any Philippine leader since dictator Ferdinand Marcos. After pro-Duterte candidates dominated elections for the Senate—the only real remaining source of resistance to Duterte’s agenda—his allies control both chambers of the Philippine Congress. There will now be even fewer constraints on Duterte, who has already been working to weaken the checks on his powers, including by reshaping the Supreme Court. By the end of the year, he […]

A Cosco Shipping container ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, May 14, 2019 (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The trade war between China and the United States is heating up again, with no resolution in sight. As promised, U.S. President Donald Trump more than doubled tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods Friday, the same day trade talks in Washington between Chinese and American negotiators ended without a deal. Beijing retaliated Monday by slapping higher tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods. With both sides dug in for a potentially lengthy battle, Beijing’s propaganda apparatus has called […]

President Donald Trump at a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, May 13, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

While campaigning for U.S. president, Donald Trump sold himself as a great negotiator who would get tough and get things done. That image took a big hit after Trump’s capitulation to Congress over his needless government shutdown earlier this year, and his failure to get additional funding for his border wall. It took another hit last week when three of Trump’s foreign policy priorities suffered setbacks: Iran announced that it would stop adhering to some provisions of the international deal curbing its nuclear program; North Korea resumed ballistic missile launches; and Beijing reneged on commitments aimed at resolving the U.S.-China […]

Sailors stand on the deck of the new Type 055-class destroyer known as Nanchang during a parade marking the Chinese navy’s 70th anniversary, Qingdao, China, April 23, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

In late March, China held an international fleet review to mark the Chinese navy’s 70th anniversary. In addition to the large Chinese contingent, 13 countries sent warships to the port city of Qingdao, on the coast of the Yellow Sea, while some 60 countries sent delegations to participate in the commemorations. The fleet review provided an opportunity to showcase the various advances in the Chinese navy and served as another public display of China’s growing military might. At the same time, though, it also exposed some of the Chinese navy’s enduring shortcomings. The fleet review, which involved 32 Chinese naval […]

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