Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a statement at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, June 22, 2021 (AP photo by Paul White).

MADRID—Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made what could very well be the most consequential decision of his time in office last week: pardoning nine leaders from the northeastern region of Catalonia who were serving prison sentences for their roles in organizing an illegal independence referendum in 2017. Speaking a day before the official announcement at the iconic Liceu Opera House in the Catalan capital, Barcelona, Sanchez made an emotional plea for reconciliation to an audience of 300 civic leaders—some of whom erupted into shouts of “independence” as he spoke, while hundreds of pro-separatist demonstrators gathered outside. “We can’t start from […]

President Joe Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva, Switzerland (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

After 18 months of the pandemic disrupting routines and upending our lives, things finally seem to be getting back to normal in some corners of the world. Elton John, for one, has just released extra dates on his latest “final” Farewell Tour. Meanwhile, another septuagenarian, Joe Biden, recently completed his first overseas visit as U.S. president. It is hard to imagine Biden carrying off the feathered headdresses or diamante-encrusted catsuits that make up John’s onstage wardrobe. But his European tour—comprising summits with the leaders of the G-7, NATO and European Union, and culminating in a meeting with his Russian counterpart, […]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar following their talks in New Delhi, India, April 6, 2021 (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service photo via AP Images).

In late April, India and Russia announced the establishment of a “2+2” dialogue between each side’s ministers of defense and foreign affairs. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted at the time that this will “add further momentum to our strategic partnership.” Until recently, India had adopted this format only with Australia, Japan and the United States—the other members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, better known as the Quad—while Russia has an equivalent arrangement with only a few select countries. The announcement comes at a time when geopolitical trends, as well as consequent foreign policy adjustments in both Moscow and New […]

Election campaign posters advertising the regional election in Saint Jean de Luz, France, June 25, 2021 (AP photo by Bob Edme).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. This week I’m bringing you the Weekly Wrap-Up from Paris, where I’m visiting for the first time since February 2020. It’s also the first time I’ve traveled since that trip, and it brought back vivid memories of my arrival 16 months ago at Charles de Gaulle airport, […]

Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, right, and former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attend the inauguration ceremony of the Patriotic Front's Edgar Lungu, in Lusaka, Jan. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Moses Mwape).

When Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s former president and founding father, died last week at the age of 97, what followed in the Western media was a series of entirely predictable and desultory summations of an African leader’s long career in politics and public life. There was mention of his upbringing in the church in a part of Africa then known as Northern Rhodesia, and its lasting effects on Kaunda’s moderating humanism. There were the unfailing descriptions of his affectations, like carrying a white pocket square, which he pulled out to daub his eyes when occasionally shedding tears in public, or his […]

A new border wall stretches along the landscape near Sasabe, Arizona, May 19, 2021 (AP photo by Ross D. Franklin).

Back in 1990, when the Soviet bloc was crumbling into new nations, Kenichi Ohmae, a Japanese organizational theorist and management consultant, had the audacity to suggest that humankind was on the cusp of a new “borderless world,” in a book of the same name. Ohmae’s goal was mainly to sketch out new ways for businesses to adapt and take advantage of a world that he argued would be increasingly globalized, where nation-states and the borders that help define them would become less and less relevant. For more than two decades, the world seemed to be moving in the direction of […]

Christoph Heusgen, Germany's U.N. ambassador and then-president of the Security Council, resets an hourglass between speakers at United Nations headquarters in New York, April 29, 2019 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Richard Gowan is filling in for Stewart Patrick, who will return on July 12. The United Nations diplomatic corps is about to say farewell to one of its best-known members. Christoph Heusgen, Germany’s permanent representative in New York since 2017, departs at the end of June. During his tenure, which included a stint on the Security Council in 2019 and 2020, Heusgen has impressed and sometimes infuriated other diplomats with his plain-speaking, principled brand of diplomacy. He will be missed. Heusgen has always cut an unusual figure among other ambassadors, as he came to the U.N. […]

An Iranian woman casts her vote at a polling station inside the Iranian consulate in Karbala, Iraq, June 18, 2021 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. I gave a preview of U.S. President Joe Biden’s European tour in last week’s newsletter. It’s worth following up briefly, as there were some notable outcomes from his whistle-stop summitry. To begin with, he very clearly succeeded in resetting relations with America’s European allies and putting the […]

U.S. President Joe Biden, right, speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a NATO summit in Brussels, June 14, 2021 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

Weeks before U.S. President Joe Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit, Erdogan vowed that the meeting would be transformative. In a virtual gathering with American investors last month, he predicted that the encounter would “herald a new era.” It was no surprise, then, that after the Monday meeting in Brussels concluded, Erdogan took pains to stretch the truth and describe it as a major success. Whatever happened to the provocateur, the pugnacious politician whose words and actions so frequently put him at odds with his neighbors and his allies? Where did […]

President Joe Biden speaks at the United States-European Union Summit at the European Council in Brussels, June 15, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

What does President Joe Biden’s first foray into international summitry reveal to us about the quality of his vision for America’s place in the world? As might be expected, some of the priorities he pursued in meetings this week with the leaders of the G-7, NATO and the European Union are timely and well-founded. Think reassuring America’s oldest allies after the persistent disruption of the Trump years. Think building consensus around a collective response to increasingly aggressive Russian behavior, whether via cyberattacks emanating from that country or the menace Moscow poses to Ukraine or the Baltic states. In the more […]

President Joe Biden, center, with European Council President Charles Michel, right, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, during the U.S.-EU Summit at the European Council in Brussels, June 15, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

“America is back at the table,” President Joe Biden said at a press conference Sunday in Cornwall following his first G-7 summit. That statement perhaps best encapsulated Biden’s message during his maiden voyage overseas. While he didn’t mention his predecessor by name, the contrast with Donald Trump couldn’t have been clearer. And it certainly came as a relief to the other G-7 leaders, as the summit was mercifully free of temper tantrums and Twitter tirades. The displays of comity and unity continued in Brussels this week, where Biden participated in a NATO summit Monday and a U.S.-EU summit Tuesday. But […]

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a plenary session at the NATO summit in Brussels, June 14, 2021 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Europe’s souring on China has been long in the making, but the unprecedented broadsides from leaders of the G-7 bloc and NATO this week cemented a tougher collective trans-Atlantic stance against Beijing. “China’s stated ambitions and assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international […]

A demonstration in front of a mural of Adama Traore and George Floyd, who both died in police custody, in Stains, north of Paris, June 22, 2020 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

I first met Salim, a 35-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin, about 10 years ago at a cafe near Levallois, the Parisian banlieue—or peri-urban ghetto—where he lived at the time. In the course of our wide-ranging discussion about French history and identity, part of the fieldwork for my doctoral dissertation, he told me that while it is possible for some immigrants to become “French,” that isn’t the case for everyone. “To actually be French, you have to forget yourself a little bit [and] adopt the behaviors that are imposed on us,” he said. “There is a path to follow to […]

President Joe Biden at a news conference after attending the G-7 summit in Cornwall, England, June 13, 2021 (AP photo by Partrick Semansky).

When U.S. President Joe Biden participates in his first summit between the United States and the European Union tomorrow in Brussels, he should keep the focus on the big picture. While easing bilateral irritants would improve the tone of relations in the short term, the real test will be whether the U.S. and the EU can forge a common agenda of trans-Atlantic economic statecraft for the two key global challenges they face: China’s state capitalism and the existential threat of climate change. Failure to do so would not only call into the question the strength of the trans-Atlantic relationship. It […]

President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson look at copies of the Atlantic Charter during a bilateral meeting ahead of the G-7 summit, in Carbis Bay, England, June 10, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

Last week U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a bold bid for history’s mantle. Meeting on the eve of the G-7 summit, they released a “revitalized” Atlantic Charter, rededicating their governments to the defense of an open, rule-bound world. Like the original version, drafted by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in August 1941, during a secret wartime rendezvous off the coast of Newfoundland, the New Atlantic Charter seeks to rally the West at a time of global crisis. Whether it has a similar, enduring influence is likely to depend more on domestic U.S. political developments […]

President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, center, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, right, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, left, at the G-7 summit, Carbis Bay, England, June 11, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Last week, I wrote about the current debate in U.S. foreign policymaking circles over restraint and America’s global role. That debate can seem abstract, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip this week to Europe is a concrete example of what managing America’s global presence, and particularly its […]

Activists stage a protest against a cruise ship docking in Venice, Italy, June 5, 2021 (AP photo by Antonio Calanni).

Before the pandemic, Sam Anthony and her partner, Veren Ferrera, crisscrossed the world full-time as digital nomads, sharing their experiences online under the name Alternative Travelers. As members of a niche but growing community of sustainable travel influencers, who earn a living creating travel-related content online, they focused their social media posts on teaching their 8,500 followers how to travel ethically and mindfully. But when the novel coronavirus arrived in the U.S. in March 2020, Anthony and Ferrera found themselves stuck in Salt Lake City, Utah, looking at a year of cancelled travel plans, as the entire tourism industry ground […]

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