French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference on the situation in Lebanon, in Paris, Sept. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Lewis Joly).

It’s been a busy few months for Emmanuel Macron. The French president has taken the lead in seeking to resolve a range of crises and conflicts within Europe and on its borders and periphery. That has put Macron where he clearly likes to be: center stage and in the spotlight. But in so doing, he has once again created opposition and resentment within Europe, while underlining the limits to his ability to achieve his desired outcomes. Macron’s diplomatic hot streak began at the European Union summit in late July, when he helped push through the EU’s groundbreaking collective debt mechanism […]

A portrait of Vaclav Havel next to candles at Wenceslas square in Prague, Czech Republic, Dec. 21, 2011 (AP photo by Marko Drobnjakovic).

PRAGUE—A recently released biopic about the life of Vaclav Havel, the famed anti-communist dissident who became the Czech Republic’s first president, wasn’t well-received by local critics. The overwhelming consensus was that “Havel” simplifies history and focuses too much on its subject’s personal foibles, chiefly his notorious womanizing. Such criticisms aside, the film couldn’t have arrived in cinemas at a more fitting time. A revival of Havel’s legacy is underway among the Czech political class, as a signpost for what the country’s political ideals should be and why they have gone astray. When the president of the Senate, Milos Vystrcil, who […]

Refugees and migrants flee a fire burning at the Moria camp on Lesbos island, Greece, Sept. 9, 2020 (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

Until a couple weeks ago, Moria was the largest refugee camp in Europe. Situated on the Greek island of Lesbos, it housed roughly 13,000 people in facilities that were designed to hold 3,000. But starting on the evening of Sept. 8, a series of fires swept through Moria, reducing it to a smoldering ruin by the end of the week. Greek authorities have charged four young Afghan migrants with arson in connection with the fires. With nowhere else to go, thousands of Moria’s residents were left homeless, without access to basic services. Their plight casts a harsh and damning light […]

American astronaut Christopher Cassidy, left, and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner appear before their trip to the International Space Station, in Star City, Russia, March 12, 2020 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

In mid-July, a Russian satellite moved uncommonly close to a U.S. government satellite in low-Earth orbit, before quickly rendezvousing with another Russian satellite nearby. The Kremlin initially insisted that this satellite was part of a routine program to monitor its own assets in space. But a week later, U.S. Space Command, which oversees American military operations in space, deemed Russia’s maneuver a non-destructive test of an anti-satellite weapon—a sophisticated counterspace tool that could threaten U.S. space assets and national security. U.S. officials had raised similar concerns twice before, earlier this year and in 2018, about abnormal Russian satellite behavior in […]

The National Security Administration campus, where the U.S. Cyber Command is located, in Fort Meade, Md., June 6, 2013 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

The United States gets a lot right about its strategic approach to cyberspace, but the steady stream of reporting on the relentless wave of adversarial cyber campaigns waged by Russia, China and Iran against the U.S. show that it also still gets plenty of things wrong. Some in Washington may be comforted by the idea that the Pentagon will act as a “backstop” against foreign cyber campaigns aimed at influencing the upcoming elections. The fact that a militarized response seems to be the only arrow in America’s quiver, though, is seriously troubling. More than half a century after the Pentagon’s […]

Boris Johnson, then serving as the U.K.’s foreign secretary, meets with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir at the G20 summit of foreign ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 21, 2018 (Press Association photo by Stefan Rousseau via AP).

Since the 2016 Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom has been trying hard to figure out its new position on the global stage. Not without a certain degree of nostalgia, the ruling Conservative Party has put forward the idea of “global Britain,” reviving old imperial networks and repositioning London at their center. Arguably, nowhere are the contradictions of this idea more evident than in the U.K.’s ties with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. There, London is struggling—and often failing—to find an advantageous balance between projecting the gravity befitting a global power and retaining the favor of its autocratic partners […]

A clerk waits on a customer at a convenience store that sells lottery tickets in Methuen, Mass., June 24, 2020 (AP photo by Charles Krupa).

In late April, Luca Esposito was reflecting, like many of us, on how the coronavirus pandemic had upended his family’s life. Esposito wrote in a blog post that his elderly father in southern Italy had turned to WhatsApp to order groceries, because he could no longer visit the store in person; that his children’s school had struggled to adapt to the demands of online learning; and how remote working, once a privilege of senior managers, in his view could become the norm. As the executive director of the World Lottery Association, or WLA, a lobby group that represents national, state […]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks to his office on Downing Street after a Cabinet meeting in London, Sept. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

Four years after Britons voted narrowly to leave the European Union, the Brexit drama continues. The United Kingdom formally left the EU in January, but trade and other arrangements remain the same while negotiators try to reach a final agreement by the end of the year on the terms of the post-Brexit trade relationship. So far, however, the deadline is looming with no agreement in sight. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week raised the stakes by threatening to stop talking if there is no agreement by Oct. 15. His government further complicated things by releasing draft legislation that Johnson’s […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron at a news conference in Istanbul, Oct. 27, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

French President Emmanuel Macron has clearly decided to up the ante in a standoff with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, where France is backing Greece and Cyprus in their dispute with Ankara over natural gas reserves and maritime boundaries. First, Macron ordered a temporary reinforcement of French aerial and naval assets to the Eastern Mediterranean in mid-August, in response to Turkish ships resuming controversial gas exploration activities south of Cyprus. Then, he went as far as to frame his actions as a “red line policy” in order to show President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he meant business. Although France’s military […]

Security officials stand guard outside the Great Hall of the People before an event to honor some of those involved in China’s fight against COVID-19, in Beijing, Sept. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

When al-Qaida targeted the centers of American financial and military power on 9/11, it believed that most of the world would welcome seeing the United States knocked down from its perch of power. Whether by accident or by design, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida’s leader and founder, had formulated his strategy based on an interpretation of classical realist theory, predicting that countries seeking to balance against American hegemony would be disinclined to get involved in any conflict that followed the attacks. Instead, while the ruins of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon still smoldered, leaders around the world pledged their […]

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a meeting at Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, Sept. 4, 2020 (pool photo by Louisa Gouliamaki via AP Images).

When Kyriakos Mitsotakis came to power as prime minister in July last year, he had a familiar pitch to Greeks. In opposition to the populist, left-wing government under the Syriza party, he offered an economically liberal and technocratic program that would attract foreign investment and do away with many of the ailments that have plagued Greece’s state machinery for decades. A year later, though, things are not where Mitsotakis hoped they would be. The COVID-19 pandemic derailed not just his economic plans, but the global economy as a whole. He now faces some all-too familiar economic and political problems in […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, bottom center, accompanied by officials during the launch of a new Turkish Navy ship, in Tuzla, Turkey, July 3, 2017 (Presidency Press Service photo via AP).

On July 24, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined thousands of worshippers in the streets around the historic Hagia Sophia in Istanbul for a doubly symbolic moment. Surrounded by a swarm of politicians, soldiers, security forces and imams, the Turkish leader made his way into the giant, former Byzantine cathedral through doors once hammered open by conquering Ottoman soldiers in 1453. Inside, he read out the namaz, or Muslim prayer, formally turning the 1,500-year-old building back into a mosque. In doing so, Erdogan was turning the page on nine decades of recent history, during which this extraordinary structure and UNESCO […]