President Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens, in Washington, Nov. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

President Joe Biden took office last year during one of the most turbulent times the United States had experienced in decades. Though his administration has tackled important foreign policy issues, it has also faced multiple domestic crises, so the primary focus of this first year has been on the urgent matters at home. In 2022, though, the world is likely to demand more of Biden’s attention, even as the domestic challenges remain far from resolved. Some of the foreign policy issues are expected and already evident. To start, Biden will have to work to help the entire planet, including poor […]

A rehearsal of Vladimir Issaev’s rendition of “The Nutcracker” ballet, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dec. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Brynn Anderson).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Richard Gowan is filling in for Stewart Patrick. The holiday season should be a good time to forget about work and take comfort in classic Christmas stories. Foreign policy analysts, with half an eye on events in Ukraine and Afghanistan, may struggle to relax this year. It’s hard to avoid noting echoes of world events. A few years ago, I rewrote the tale of the Three Wise Men and the baby Jesus as a parable about international negotiations for World Politics Review; a lot of the story revolves around the wise men haggling with Herod about […]

People wearing facemasks to curb the spread of coronavirus walk at the Mayor square in downtown Madrid, Spain, Dec. 21, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced yesterday that theaters and cinemas in the country will close, while stopping short of imposing a  full lockdown, as is now the case in neighboring Netherlands.  Last week’s announcement of the full lockdown by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, just days after he clinched a deal to form a new government, came as a surprise to observers, given that the country generally adopted a more relaxed response in the early phases of the pandemic than its neighbors. Now it is the only country in Europe so far to have locked down in response to concerns over […]

Climate activist Vanessa Nakate, third right, and other activists stage a protest at the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 8, 2021 (AP photo by Alastair Grant).

Though many of us hoped that 2021 would bring some relief after the trials and tribulations of 2020, this year has been a bumpy ride. On Jan. 6, just one week into 2021, supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in Washington—an international beacon of liberal democracy. This seemed to set the tone for the rest of the year. Everywhere, anti-democratic, misogynistic and racist forces made gains; in particular, the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan this summer left many despondent about the country’s future. And all the while, the coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc, especially on the lives of those who are victims of global vaccine inequity. In the middle of all this chaos, though, […]

Several thousand supporters of the party of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili gather to demand his release from prison due to ill health, in Tbilisi, Russia, Oct. 14, 2021 (AP photo by Shakh Aivazov).

TBILISI—On a chilly mid-November evening in Tbilisi, the scene outside of Georgia’s Parliament looked like a bit like rock concert: Huge speakers stood tall on either side of a broad stage; camera crews were lined up and ready to shoot; and spotlights glared out over the thousands of people massing on Rustaveli Avenue. The chants, though, were not for a rock star, but for “Misha”—that is, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who despite living in exile for eight years, was evidently still able to draw a crowd. Saakashvili had returned to Georgia on Oct. 1 and was immediately detained by […]

Annalena Baerbock, Robert Habeck, Olaf Scholz and Christian Lindner, prior to unveiling the coalition government accord between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP, Berlin, Germany, Nov. 24, 2021 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

On Dec. 8, former Chancellor Angela Merkel officially passed the baton to her successor, Olaf Scholz, after 16 years as Germany’s leader. Scholz now heads the three-party coalition between his center-left Social Democrats, or SDP, the pro-environment Greens, and the pro-market Free Democrats, or FDP. Known as the Ampelkoalition—or “traffic light coalition,” in reference to each party’s official colors, which correspond to the color sequence of a traffic light—this heterodox configuration’s “Dare More Progress” coalition agreement offers a roadmap to confront the challenges facing the German people. Domestic issues such as digitalization, the phasing out of coal and increasing the minimum wage […]

Afghans wait in front of a bank as they try to withdraw money in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

As 2021 comes to a close, the international community faces several emerging humanitarian and security catastrophes—even beyond the global pandemic that has gripped the world for two years. Ethiopia is undergoing a complex and multifaceted civil war that has spurred a humanitarian disaster of monumental proportions, with nearly 1 million people now living in conditions approaching famine. Meanwhile, Russia has been building up its military presence on its border with Ukraine, increasing tensions with the West and prompting fears that there will be yet another attack on Ukrainian sovereignty. And in the Taliban’s Afghanistan, more children are expected to die this winter from starvation than […]

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed at the Fontainebleau castle, south of Paris, France, Sept. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

While U.S. President Joe Biden seems determined to reduce the U.S. footprint in the Middle East, finally embracing Washington’s long-discussed  pivot to Asia, French President Emmanuel Macron is headed in the opposite direction. In recent years, Macron has made repeated trips to Lebanon, Iraq and the Gulf states, and launched a series of diplomatic initiatives in a bid to address regional crises. It is hard to think of any Western leader who has been even half as engaged as Macron across the range of high-priority issues confronting the Middle East.  Macron’s recent visit to the Gulf, during which he concluded […]

A group photo of the leaders of EU member states and the Eastern Partnership countries at a summit in Brussels, Dec. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

The European Union’s 27 national leaders are meeting in Brussels for a European Council summit to discuss a coordinated response to Russia’s provocations along its border with Ukraine as well as the new omicron variant of the coronavirus rapidly spreading across Europe. But it appears that internal divisions could hamper both efforts. Ahead of the summit yesterday, the EU leaders met with their five counterparts from the Eastern Partnership countries—Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan—in a show of solidarity with Kyiv. Speaking after the meeting last night, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said there was a “shared concern […]

U.S. President Joe Biden listens as he meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Nov. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

As the Biden administration prepares to release its National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, observers are searching for clues on how those reviews will grapple with the framework of “great-power competition” that anchored the previous administration’s high-level policy documents. That framework has achieved substantial bipartisan traction in the intervening four years among government officials, lawmakers and scholars, in part because it is rooted in three judgments with which most analysts would agree, even if they disagree about how those core premises should guide U.S. foreign policy. First, interstate competition, which has been a core aspect of world affairs since the Treaty […]

Supporters of Spain’s far-right Vox party attend a closing election campaign event in Madrid, Spain, Nov. 8, 2019 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

In September, several senators belonging to Mexico’s National Action Party, or PAN, met with a visiting delegation from Vox, a rising political party from Spain. As the latest far-right party to gain traction in Europe, Vox seemed like a strange bedfellow for the PAN, a center-right party that has produced two of Mexico’s last four presidents. The meeting was a political gift for leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who seized on it to brand his opponents in the PAN as “almost fascist.” The PAN’s own leadership hastened to assert that the senators had met with Vox in a purely […]

A Moroccan U.N. peacekeeper patrols Bangassou, Central African Republic, Feb. 14, 2021 (AP photo by Adrienne Surprenant).

2021 has been a dispiriting year for advocates of multilateral conflict management. The ignominious end of the international intervention in Afghanistan was an embarrassment not only for the U.S., but also for those institutions, including NATO and the United Nations, that had supported it. The U.N. Security Council has bickered fruitlessly over how to deal with crises ranging from the coup in Myanmar to the war in Ethiopia. Regional bodies such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and the African Union have done little better at handling conflicts on their doorsteps. As if that weren’t enough, as […]

A U.S. soldier walks past armored vehicles and tanks as they are unloaded at the port of Antwerp, Belgium, on their way to take part in military exercises in Eastern Europe, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

Russia’s ongoing military buildup along its border with Ukraine has cast into sharp relief the debate about how the United States, and its allies, can most effectively ensure security in the no man’s land lying beyond NATO’s eastern perimeter. Meanwhile, China’s mounting campaign of military pressure and intimidation against Taiwan is leading some observers to question the strength of U.S. commitments to the island. Though coordination between Russia and China on these efforts is likely limited at best, their attempts to bully Ukraine and Taiwan raise a common dilemma for Washington, one liable to become more pronounced and widespread in […]

President Joe Biden speaks from the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex for the opening of the Summit for Democracy, Washington, Dec. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Hi, everybody. I’m Judah Grunstein, WPR’s editor-in-chief, and this is our Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, recapping the highlights from our coverage this week and previewing what we have planned for next week. Two major stories dominated the news this week, both putting U.S. President Joe Biden in the spotlight. The first is his Summit for Democracy, a two-day virtual gathering of leaders from 100 countries that began Thursday and will focus on promoting human rights, resisting authoritarianism and fighting corruption. The second is the heightened tensions in Eastern Europe due to a Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine amid […]

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his ministers pose for a photo after the first Cabinet meeting of the new German government at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 8, 2021 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

Olaf Scholz of the center-left Social Democratic Party, or SPD, was sworn in yesterday as Germany’s ninth chancellor, ending the 16-year tenure of Angela Merkel and her center-right Christian Democratic Union, or CDU. But while in other countries a swing from the right to the left might herald significant change politically, this is unlikely to be the case in Germany, which is known for its preference for pragmatic, consensus-oriented political leadership. A key point to note is that Scholz was a member of the previous government, serving as vice chancellor and finance minister in Merkel’s fourth and final Cabinet, as […]

A Tornado jet returns to the German air force base of Schleswig near Jagel, Germany, March 13, 2007 (AP file photo by Heribert Proepper).

Observers in Washington and European capitals who were worried about NATO’s nuclear deterrent breathed a sigh of relief in late November, when the new German governing coalition signaled it would continue Germany’s role in the alliance’s nuclear-sharing agreement. But their reaction was tempered by the uncertainty that still surrounds U.S. President Joe Biden’s upcoming Nuclear Posture Review, which will also have major implications for NATO. Both the United States and Germany have been under strong pressure from other allies, concerned about how Washington’s and Berlin’s choices will affect their security and domestic politics. For now, however, it’s still one down, […]

A U.S. soldier directs armored vehicles and tanks of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 1st Calvary Division as they are unloaded at the port of Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

There are any number of ways to measure one of the great secular transformations of our time: the decline of the United States’ power relative not only to a rising rival like China, but to the rest of the world generally. From 1960 to the present, the American share of global economic output has declined from 40 percent to less than a quarter in recent years. And compared even to the fairly recent past, say during the presidency of Barack Obama, the influence and prestige of the American political model has withered under the corrosive effects of Trumpism as well as […]

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