A Russian instructor trains Syrian soldiers and militia members at a training camp in Aleppo province, Syria, Jan. 25, 2019 (Sputnik photo by Mikhail Voskresenskiy via AP Images).

Is Russia’s lucky streak in Syria and Libya finally running out? The Kremlin has gambled big on proxy warfare in both countries, deploying thousands of private military contractors with the so-called Wagner Group to back its favorite strongmen. But after a recent run of misfortunes for Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and Gen. Khalifa Haftar, the head of the breakaway Libyan National Army, it is starting to look like Russia may not be able to cash in real wins in the Middle East and North Africa anytime soon. The most significant sign that Russia’s support for private paramilitaries in Libya may […]

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel inspect an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Sept. 6, 2019 (pool photo by Roman Pilipey via AP Images).

The European Union has struggled mightily in recent months to assert itself as a strategically autonomous and relevant actor in response to an increasingly aggressive China. In April, the EU drafted a report critical of Chinese disinformation efforts related to the spread of the novel coronavirus in Europe, but it bowed to pressure from China and removed most of the criticism leveled at Beijing that had been included in the initial draft, which leaked to the press. The subsequent public criticism led the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, to receive a tongue-lashing at a hearing of the […]

President Donald Trump listens during a session at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant, which is now manufacturing personal protection and medical equipment, Ypsilanti, Michigan, May 21, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Six months after the emergence of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, and four months after it became a global outbreak, its political and economic fallout continue to take shape. As government policies adapt and evolve in real time to the changing features of the pandemic, so too do the geopolitical implications. So far, three scenarios have been advanced with regard to COVID-19’s potential impact on the international order. They can be broadly characterized as a change at the top, in which a triumphant and capable China replaces the bungling U.S. as the world’s dominant power; a descent into multipolar […]

Flags with the logo of the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei in Bonn, Germany, April 6, 2020 (Photo by Horst Galuschka for dpa via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Edward Alden is filling in for Kimberly Ann Elliott this week. During the Cold War, the United States created and led two quite different international trading systems. The first, and by far the better known, was the open, multilateral trading system. Its aim was to expand free trade and market principles around the world, and it culminated after the Cold War in the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995. What began with just 23 nations in the aftermath of World War II, with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, today includes 164 countries […]

An Avangard intercontinental ballistic missile lifts off from a truck-mounted launcher somewhere in Russia (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP).

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration found itself defending proposed cuts in funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its 2021 budget request to Congress. The cuts, which were the latest in a consistent pattern of reductions in CDC funding over the past 10 years, threaten to further hamper the government’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. But they are part of a much broader trend of gradually deprioritizing critical institutions, one that threatens key government functions meant to provide stability in an unpredictable world. Like the CDC, the State Department […]

French President Emmanuel Macron listens to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a joint video press conference at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, May 18, 2020 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Freddy Deknatel and Prachi Vidwans talk about the abrupt firing of the U.S. State Department’s inspector general by President Donald Trump last week, and the allegations of misconduct by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that have since emerged. They also talk about a potentially game-changing proposal by France and Germany for the European Union to issue collective debt to finance post-pandemic economic recovery plans for its hardest-hit member states. Listen: Download: MP3 Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | Spotify Relevant Articles on WPR:The Future of Trump’s ‘America First’ Agenda […]

Dr. Joseph Ballinger gives Marjorie Hill, a nurse at Montefiore Hospital in New York, the first vaccine for the H2N2 virus to be administered in New York, Aug. 16, 1957 (AP photo).

Months into the coronavirus pandemic, it has become clear that countries that recently dealt with other outbreaks of infectious diseases have been more successful in containing COVID-19. From East Asia and the Pacific to West and Central Africa, authorities have made good use of epidemiological expertise they acquired from tackling outbreaks of SARS, MERS, Swine flu and Ebola to quickly roll out containment measures. Yet even governments lacking such experience should have been able to foresee the destructive potential of COVID-19. President Donald Trump may insist that “there’s never been anything like this in history,” but the history of the […]

A medical staffer looks out from an emergency medical tent in Brescia, northern Italy, March 12, 2020 (AP photo by Luca Bruno).

In early March, Lombardy, Italy’s most prosperous region, was fast becoming the epicenter of a global pandemic. As the number of coronavirus cases spiked above 7,000, with more than 350 deaths, the Italian government moved to quarantine the worst-affected towns in Lombardy and the rest of northern Italy, a move that was almost unthinkable at the time, with police setting up checkpoints to control traffic in and out. Yet as the world focused on Italy’s north, Filippo Anelli, the president of the country’s national federation of doctors, saw another crisis coming. “If Lombardy has been brought to its knees,” he […]

A man fishes near docked oil drilling platforms, in Port Aransas, Texas, May 8, 2020 (AP photo by Eric Gay).

Oil demand has fallen precipitously in recent months due to lockdowns and other measures that governments around the world have undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Energy Agency reckons that oil demand will fall by a record 9.3 million barrels per day in 2020, erasing nearly a decade of growth. With the crisis having rattled oil markets that were already struggling to adapt to structural challenges on both the demand and supply side, the world should brace for the geopolitical impacts of historically low demand for oil. It will take years before demand returns to pre-coronavirus levels […]

President Donald Trump arrives to speak about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, May 11, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

What happens when a superpower is not so super anymore? If you accept the premise that in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating economic impact, most Americans on both the left and the right will come to view U.S. global leadership as “a luxury rather than a necessity,” as Steven Metz put it last week, then what would the post-Pax Americana world order look like? Most observers think America will step back after COVID-19, and that sounds about right—although it is far from clear whether that would be a few years on the bench, until the U.S. […]

Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, at a coronavirus press conference in Stockholm, May 4, 2020 (Photo by Jessica Gow for TT News Agency via AP Images).

When economies around the world started grinding to a halt in an effort to stop the carnage inflicted by the coronavirus, Sweden stood out with an approach that appeared to defy the prescription of most experts. Instead of shutting down, the Swedish government opted for much milder measures. The idea looked appealing. It suggested the possibility of containing the pandemic at a much lower economic cost. The final judgment on Sweden’s unorthodox approach cannot be rendered until the crisis moves into the history books. So far, however, the statistics suggest that the Swedish model is more disaster than panacea. If […]

A billboard at a municipal office building showing Serbian and Chinese flags reading: “Iron friends, together in good and evil!” in Belgrade, Serbia, April 13, 2020 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

China has made concerted attempts recently to rewrite the global narrative about the coronavirus pandemic, especially its own lack of transparency about the early outbreak in Wuhan, in order to project an image of itself as a responsible global power. It has shipped medical supplies to help countries around the world contain the virus’s spread, and has launched a far-reaching disinformation campaign about the origins of the contagion and China’s response to it. Europe has been at the heart of these efforts. Chinese state media outlets have insinuated that Italy was the source of the novel coronavirus, while Beijing has […]

A worker sprays disinfectant to sanitize Duomo square in Milan, Italy, March 31, 2020 (AP photo by Luca Bruno).

When the coronavirus hit Italy with a fury early along its path around the world, few politicians seemed better positioned to benefit from the crisis than Matteo Salvini. The populist leader of Italy’s far-right League party, who stood at the top of the polls, immediately pounced on the opportunity to promote his core nationalist ideas while disparaging the government, hoping to trigger the elections that he hoped would make him prime minister. But in an unexpected twist, Salvini’s dream of capitalizing on COVID-19 is being thwarted. It’s early yet, but Salvini could turn into one of the most prominent political […]

A man walks his dog past graffiti calling for people to wash their hands in Belfast, Northern Ireland, March 30, 2020 (AP photo by Peter Morrison).

DUBLIN—On the first Saturday in March, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, could be found standing among an 81,000-strong crowd at a stadium in Twickenham, just west of London. There, they watched England play Wales at rugby, shook many an unwashed hand and joined heartily in celebrations as England narrowly bested its rival. But here in Dublin, Ireland’s normally bustling capital, the rugby field was empty that day. That was because the government had cancelled Ireland’s scheduled match with Italy as one of its first precautions against the spread of the novel coronavirus. Days later, the […]

A man jogs on an empty street along the Seine river in Paris, France, April 4, 2020 (AP photo by Christophe Ena).

After months of living under strict lockdowns, many people have grown accustomed to scenes that once would have been utterly surreal, like normally busy highways and thoroughfares suddenly emptied of vehicles. Photographers around the world have documented how wild animals are reclaiming national parks in the absence of human visitors. Atmospheric researchers have documented dramatic declines in air pollution. All of this will simply be a temporary salve for the environment if the economy comes roaring back, business as usual, once the public health threat recedes. But it could also be the beginning of a new normal, a transition point […]

A woman is told to go home by a police officer on a motorbike to stop the spread of the coronavirus, on Primrose Hill, London, April 5, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

For as long as there have been governments, pandemics have been occasions for the exercise of greater muscle by the state. In the case of COVID-19, that muscle has predominantly been the police. From the initial outbreak and first mass quarantine in the central Chinese city of Wuhan to the lockdowns around the globe today, national leaders and local officials alike have called on their police to play a new set of roles and enforce a new set of rules. What’s gone well and what’s gone badly? What’s been learned? And what’s next? Before examining any actual policing, it is […]

Electronic boards show possible ransomware cyberattacks at the Korea Internet and Security Agency in Seoul, South Korea, May 15, 2017 (Photo by Yun Dong-jin for Yonhap via AP Images).

Cybercriminals are notorious opportunists. Much of their trade relies on creating timely “lures” or “bait” to entice their victims to click on fake websites or download files that contain malware. For years, they’ve leveraged crises for financial gain, taking advantage of disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. For these hackers, the COVID-19 pandemic has delivered potent new material, as coronavirus-related attacks are intensifying. Proofpoint, a California-based cybersecurity firm, told WPR in an email that it tracked 75 million coronavirus-themed malicious messages during one week in April. Amid global panic and frustration, people are more likely to click without thinking about […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 181 2 Last