International newspapers on sale at a newsstand in Paris, Oct. 15, 2013 (AP photo by Remy de la Mauviniere).

Editor’s note: This will be Howard French’s final weekly column for World Politics Review. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Howard for the keen insights—born of his rich experience, creative intelligence and interdisciplinary thinking—that he has shared with WPR’s readers for the past three years. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. When I began writing a weekly global affairs column for World Politics Review nearly three years ago, things settled into an almost organic rhythm surprisingly quickly. Some of what goes into writing columns, in fact, I didn’t need to change at all. […]

Timothee Chalamet, left, and director Denis Villeneuve pose for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film “Dune” in London, Oct. 18, 2021 (Invision photo by Joel C Ryan via AP).

This weekend, “Dune,” the highly acclaimed film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science-fiction classic of the same name, capped off a successful box-office run by bagging an impressive six Oscars at the Academy Awards. The movie, directed by French Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, has received particular praise for its stunning cinematography and soundtrack, and for breaking from prior adaptation attempts by “sensibly” tackling only the first part of the 412-page novel. This is why, critics have argued, this version of Dune has been so well-received compared to previous versions. But an alternative—or perhaps complementary—explanation could be that today, there is simply more demand for stories […]

A Russian officer stands near a landed Il-76 military cargo plane on Alexandra Land, an island near Nagurskoye, Russia, May 17, 2021 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Since Feb. 24, the eyes of the world have been fixed on Eastern Europe. But the events unfolding in and around Ukraine portend great changes for another region: the Arctic. Commonly viewed as a “territory of dialogue,” the Arctic has over the past three decades won a reputation as a “zone of peace” marked by exceptionally calm and collaborative security dynamics. Indeed, this is what former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev envisioned back in October 1987, when he launched a series of policy initiatives aimed at lowering the level of military confrontation in the Arctic by facilitating cooperation among the eight […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Nov. 21, 2020 (Sputnik photo by Alexei Nikolsky via AP).

Western outrage over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal war of aggression in Ukraine has prompted calls to eject Russia from apex institutions of global cooperation, most notably the Group of 20 and the United Nations Security Council. While this impulse is tempting, efforts to exclude Russia from both institutions would be imprudent and likely futile, given the diverse membership of the former and U.N. Charter provisions regarding the latter. Rather than tilt at windmills, the United States and its allies should use both forums to shame Moscow for its criminal actions, while sharpening the already punishing sanctions they have deployed […]

Then-President Ronald Reagan shakes hands with then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev after the two leaders signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in the White House East Room in Washington, Dec. 8, 1987 (AP photo by Bob Daugherty).

The Cold War was bookended by two signal developments—one scientific and technical, the other political and diplomatic—that opened and seemingly closed a terrible parenthesis in the history of the 20th century, but also of humankind. The first was the invention of nuclear weapons. The second was the process by which the U.S. and Russia gradually but methodically rolled back the threat of nuclear war in Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. When the U.S. reduced Hiroshima and then Nagasaki to rubble with just one atomic bomb apiece in the final days of World War II, military strategists and […]

A little girl runs past soldier with his weapon drawn, during a surprise operation in the City of God slum of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb. 7, 2018 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

It has now been nearly a month since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Though the shockwaves of this invasion will continue to be felt for years to come, the world has slowly started to process the crisis and to examine the rapid developments in Ukraine more analytically. One clear pattern in particular has emerged from close observation of Russia’s military tactics, Ukraine’s defensive strategies and the international system’s response: The main battlegrounds in this conflict are Ukraine’s cities.  As of March 16, Russian forces were attempting to surround Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, from multiple angles, while simultaneously targeting its second-largest […]

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell appears on a monitor at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, March 17, 2022 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

One of the more concerning things about the virus that causes COVID-19 is the potential for its symptoms to linger long after the initial infection has waned. No one knows exactly what is causing “Long COVID,” as the disease is now known, but we do know that dealing with it will impose costs on societies for years to come. Not dissimilar are the pandemic’s economic and financial impacts. The initial symptoms of the crisis were acutely painful—economic downturns, business closures and supply chain disruptions. But now, as governments reopen their societies, they are realizing that some of the pandemic’s challenges may not […]

A woman walks past the World Bank building in Washington, April 5, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In mid-February, the World Bank issued a warning: Many low-income countries hit hardest by the pandemic are now on the brink of serious debt crisis, complicating the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. While worries about the accumulated burden of sovereign debt and the possibility of a debt crisis have been present for years, the pandemic has exacerbated an already precarious situation for many low-income countries, revealing fundamental flaws in the current architecture for sovereign debt restructuring. These flaws are likely to become more evident in 2022, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine contributes to higher global energy and food prices, […]

Refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring Ukraine arrive at Przemysl, Poland, Feb. 26, 2022 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

In last week’s Wrap-Up, I noted that the war in Ukraine was entering a new phase, one in which the human costs of Russia’s brutal siege tactics will become more evident, even as whatever political objectives Russian President Vladimir Putin initially sought to accomplish through the invasion become increasingly unachievable. The course of the fighting in the week since then has only reinforced that conclusion. While both sides are engaged in negotiations to end the war, the prospects for a compromise agreement seem dim, and even if some deal is reached, it’s hard to see how it could be durable […]

A farmer carries wheat on his farm in a village in the Nile Delta town of Behira, north of Cairo, Egypt, May 14, 2015 (AP photo by Mosa’ab Elshamy).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which pits two of the world’s major wheat and corn producers against one another, has deep implications for several grain-importing countries. Grain prices had already risen steadily over the past year due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and increasing energy prices. The war further pushed these prices to an all-time high in February, seriously rattling an already shaky global food system. While some commentators are calling for trade measures that would facilitate alternate sources of grain exports to make up for the shortfalls, what is really needed is a major rethink of the conventional food security […]

Demonstrators take part in an Extinction Rebellion climate change protest in Parliament Square, London, Sept 1, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

Last month, Kirstie Allsopp—who hosts the popular British reality TV show, “Location, Location, Location”—sparked debate when she claimed that many more young people would be able to afford to buy a house if they made financial sacrifices, like foregoing Netflix, store-bought coffees or even a university degree. Allsopp insisted that “we’ve fallen into a trap of saying it’s impossible” to own property at a young age, “but there are loads of people who can do it and don’t.” Some people agreed, arguing that they, like Allsopp, had indeed been able to buy a house, in part by making “enormous sacrifices” to do […]

Messages protesting against the war in Ukraine chalked on the wall surrounding the Russian Embassy in London, March 11, 2022 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

With the war in Ukraine having entered its third week, the initial euphoric triumphalism that I warned against last week over the West’s surprisingly cohesive and robust response to the Russian invasion seems to be giving way to a grim resignation. Despite the Russian military’s initial ineptness, it seems to have regrouped, with its inexorable advance now marked by the indiscriminate targeting of Ukraine’s civilian population. And although Europe and the U.S. have mobilized to impose punishing economic sanctions on Russia and deliver military assistance to Ukraine, they have drawn a clear line against participating directly in the conflict. War […]

Dr. Paul Farmer gestures during the inauguration of the national referral and teaching hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, Jan. 10, 2012 (AP photo by Dieu Nalio Chery).

One of my greatest regrets in life is that I never got to meet Paul Farmer. The closest I came was in 2015, when Grinnell College, my alma mater in Iowa, invited me to participate in a symposium on global health at which Farmer was to be the keynote speaker. Unfortunately, my presentation was scheduled a week before Farmer’s, and as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t wait for a week among the cornfields to see him. A physician and anthropologist who co-founded the global health and social justice organization Partners in Health, or PIH, Farmer died unexpectedly on Feb. 21 in Butaro, Rwanda. He […]

A woman hugs a child as refugees, mostly women with children, arrive from Ukraine at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, March 6, 2022 (AP photo by Visar Kryeziu).

In an article titled “Putin’s War in Ukraine Will Not Stay in Ukraine,” published on the morning of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, WPR editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein argued that the ramifications of this conflict would ricochet throughout Europe. Some sort of curtain, he wrote, “seems destined to descend” across the continent. But in addition to this spatial dimension of the fallout from this war, we should also be thinking about the generational aspects of its effects. Time and time again, we have seen that conflict exacerbates intergenerational injustice. When war breaks out, children and young people inherit tensions that they did […]

United Nations members vote on a resolution concerning the war in Ukraine during an emergency meeting of the General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, March 2, 2022 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

While the world remains fixated on the horrific human and political consequences of the conflict in Ukraine, there has been an undercurrent of discourse comparing the extreme attention to this conflict to the intermittent and waning interest over the past few years in civilian suffering and acts of aggression in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia or Somalia. More could and should have been done in those other conflicts. But there are significant reasons for acute attention to the Ukraine crisis, which might be seen as a war within a larger war—and one that is sure to have ripple effects […]

A man is seen through a bullet hole of a machine-gunned bus that Ukrainian authorities say was ambushed on Feb. 26 by Russian “saboteurs,” Kyiv, Ukraine, March 4, 2022 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

Just over a week into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the shock has begun to fade, while the outrage continues to mount. The tenacious resistance of Ukraine’s military, its president and its people in the face of what have become increasingly indiscriminate attacks by Russian forces has created a rising tide of support and solidarity across Europe and the world. That has translated into stepped-up deliveries of military aid by European countries, mass rallies in capitals across the continent and an open-door policy for the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees now fleeing the war. While the Russian military continues to […]

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, listens during the U.N. Security Council meeting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the U.N. headquarters in New York, Feb. 25, 2022 (AP photo by John Minchillo).

“We the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war … do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.” These words, from the preamble of the United Nations’ founding charter, capture the ambition, far-sightedness and optimism of the leaders who founded the organization in 1945. But today, they ring a little hollow. On Feb. 24, after years of tension and months of anxiety, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. With social media users sharing an almost blow-by-blow account of the conflict online, the world has looked on in horror as […]