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U.S. foreign policy under Trump does not appear to have a consistent logic. Trump has promised to put “America First,” and pursued that end in a variety of ways. At the same time, he has stocked his Cabinet with hawkish interventionists. While adopting a more unilateralist approach, Trump has neglected the institutions that help formulate and execute U.S. foreign policy. As he nears the end of his first term in office, President Donald Trump’s administration still does not appear to have seized on a consistent approach to dealing with the world. Instead, U.S. foreign policy under Trump has become erratic […]

A worker burns cables and other parts of old electrical devices at the Agbogbloshie scrap yard in Accra, Ghana, June 12, 2018 (Photo by Gioia Forster for dpa via AP Images).

In Agbogbloshie, a commercial district in Accra, Ghana, around 10,000 of the poorest people in the country sort through much of the world’s electronic waste. With no other way of making a living, they use crude methods to dismantle electronic devices—burning them or dousing them in acid—which expose them to toxic emissions and substances that often lead to acute and long-term health problems. In 2014, Agbogbloshie was deemed one of the 10 most polluted places on Earth, with lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium found in the air, water and soil at concentrations 100 times higher than safe levels. Agbogbloshie has […]

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Oct. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Should Joe Biden win the American presidency on Nov. 3, the world will experience whiplash, as the United States performs a second about-face in its posture toward multilateralism in only four years. Although the U.S. has oscillated through cycles of internationalism and isolationism before, it has never executed such a swift and dramatic double-reverse. A Biden triumph would repudiate the “America First” platform on which Donald Trump won the White House in 2016, and the hyper-nationalist, unilateralist and sovereigntist mindset that undergirds it. Such a stunning shift in America’s global orientation would have major implications for global cooperation on everything […]

Google CEO Sundar Pichai at the Google I/O conference, in Mountain View, Calif., May 17, 2017 (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

It’s too early to say how the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust lawsuit filed against Google this week will ultimately play out. It will undoubtedly go down in history as the opening salvo in a grinding, yearslong war of attrition between government regulators and Silicon Valley. Yet, as extraordinary as the antitrust case against the search engine giant is, it may do little to answer one of the most urgent questions roiling the global economy today. Can capitalism and democracy survive the lie that a product is free when consumers are compelled to surrender their privacy rights, and sometimes even […]

A firefighter watches the LNU Lightning Complex fires spread through the Berryessa Estates neighborhood of unincorporated Napa County, Calif., Aug. 21, 2020 (AP photo by Noah Berger).

As if COVID-19 were not enough to worry about, the global climate crisis is driving a “staggering rise” in natural disasters, the United Nations detailed last week in a new report, “The Human Cost of Disasters.” According to the U.N.’s Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, known as UNDRR, the number of natural disasters was 75 percent higher between 2000 and 2019 than in the previous 20 years. Unless humanity takes prompt, dramatic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the planet risks becoming “an uninhabitable hell for millions of people,” the report’s authors warn. Unfortunately, the world is not doing nearly […]

Anti-lockdown demonstrators in Huntington Beach, California, June 27, 2020 (AP photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez).

The wave of anti-government protests that roiled global politics over the past decade initially seemed to be an early casualty of COVID-19. Lockdown measures, especially stay-at-home orders and restrictions on mass gatherings, halted protests almost everywhere. Yet as the pandemic has dragged on, the increasingly strained relationship between governments and citizens in many countries has brought demonstrators back into the streets. While many renewed protests reflect anger over familiar issues like corruption, political repression and economic hardship, a striking new trend is afoot: citizens openly challenging the public health measures governments have taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus. […]

A woman sits overlooking Columbia University’s nearly empty campus, in New York, March 9, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Lennihan).

On university and college campuses, it’s been a back-to-school season like none other. COVID-19 outbreaks have forced entire residence halls and sports teams to quarantine, and, for some institutions, could prompt a premature end to the semester. Other campuses are ghost towns, as instruction has moved completely online. The pandemic has transformed teaching and learning, how research is conducted⎯the very rhythms of campus life. The contagion’s impact on international education has been especially acute. With closed borders, shuttered consulates and airline restrictions, study abroad and foreign exchange programs have been canceled, while the United States is all but off-limits for […]

Medical staff and nurses gather during a protest at La Paz hospital in Madrid, Spain, Oct. 5, 2020 (AP photo by Manu Fernandez).

The White House coronavirus cluster underscores a reality that no amount of happy talk can overcome. After more than nine months, 36 million cases and more than 1 million deaths worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging. The infection rate in the United States and Europe is increasing, and a vaccine will not be widely available until well into 2021. It is not too early, however, to begin preparing for the next pandemic—and there will be a next one. Although it has become commonplace to describe COVID-19 as a once-in-a-century event, another pandemic could in fact be imminent. More than […]

World leaders attend a ceremony during the NATO Leaders Meeting in Watford, U.K., Dec. 4, 2019 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

Documenting the demise of the liberal international order has become a growth industry in the foreign policy sector. In a terrific new book, “A World Safe for Democracy,” G. John Ikenberry, the premier analyst of liberal internationalism, contends that reports of its death are greatly exaggerated. The rules-based, international system may be in crisis, but its strategic and normative logic is as compelling as ever. Ikenberry, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, has written extensively on this topic before, but his new book is his most impressive work to date. He refutes the critiques of both […]