1

While governments around the world have tried to coordinate their efforts to rein in the emissions causing climate change, critics rightfully argue that the targets they have agreed to are too modest. But structural obstacles to the kind of cooperation needed to address the problem make it unlikely that a solution will be reached.

1

The coronavirus pandemic and other global challenges have highlighted the importance of addressing the fractures and failures within the U.S. agencies tasked with implementing the Global Fragility Act. A good place to start is by applying some of the act’s components to the United States’ own institutions and programming.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, left, speaks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, before ministerial meeting on growing food insecurity around the world, May 18, 2022, in U.N. headquarters (AP photo by John Minchillo).

Last week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in Istanbul for what he described as “probably the most important” event of his tenure at the U.N. to date. He visited Turkey for the signing of agreements by Russia and Ukraine that are meant to allow agricultural shipments to resume from Black Sea ports, helping to alleviate a growing global food crisis. While Turkish officials played a major part in these talks, Guterres has been personally involved in the negotiations “every day” since April. This initiative may come to be considered a turning point in his career as the U.N.’s top official. […]

Flames advance during a wildfire in Ferreras de Abajo in northwestern Spain, July 18, 2022 (AP photo by Emilio Fraile).

This past weekend a friend from Paris came to visit us in the north of England for an unusual reason. Though we were all happy to spend time together, the main purpose of his stay was to get away from the punishing heat wave that was due to hit Western Europe. We took advantage of the pleasantly warm weather to show him some of the local attractions, including a visit to Hadrian’s Wall, which 2,000 years ago marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. I jokingly referred to him as our first “climate refugee,” a nod to the well-established […]

A Ukrainian serviceman steps on the barrel of a destroyed tank near the village of Malaya Rohan, Ukraine, April 1, 2022 (AP photo by Andrew Marienko).

In the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many military analysts found that their prewar predictions about the Russian military’s performance were wildly off the mark. Even if many had expressed doubts about Russia’s ability to sustainably achieve its strategic objectives in Ukraine, most experts shared the widespread expectation that the superior firepower and mobility of Russian forces’ combined arms operations would quickly overwhelm the Ukrainian military. In the months since then, endless post-mortems have dissected the particular Russian blunders and Ukrainian successes that determined the course of the war’s first weeks, and why military analysts were unable to […]

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, right, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Advocate (UNSGSA) for Inclusive Finance for Development, looks at a book with the Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines, July 1, 2015 (AP Photo by Aaron Favila).

As diplomats and international officials head off on their summer vacations, most will want to stop thinking about world affairs for a few weeks. 2022 has been a grueling year, thanks to Russia’s war on Ukraine and a worsening global economic crisis. Foreign policy professionals will want to read nothing more taxing than a frivolous thriller. Nonetheless, the summer break—which will be no break at all if more major crises erupt—is a good moment to delve into books that can cast light on the state of geopolitics. This week, I’ll highlight a big-picture book on warfare, a memoir, a biography […]

Participants gather near a screen showing a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a plenary session of the 25th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 17, 2017 (Sputnik photo by Grigory Sysoev).

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, headlines spread claiming that a new iron curtain had fallen across Europe. Russia’s economic and political isolation, they claimed, had come hand-in-hand with digital isolation. As the United States and its allies introduced technological sanctions against Russia, numerous Western tech companies also stopped doing business there, making their products and services unavailable to Russians. At the same time, the Russian state had moved quickly to block any websites that offered information about the war, especially those that criticized the Kremlin’s actions. It is well-known that Russian President Vladimir Putin sees an open and […]

1

The news of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s assassination yesterday was shocking on a number of levels. First, for reasons specific to Japan, given that gun violence is almost nonexistent in the country, and political violence, though it occurs, is exceedingly rare. Second, because of the ways in which national leaders, even in democracies, take on the trappings of divine incarnation, making an assassination akin to deicide. Abe no longer held office, but as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister and in the absence of a convincing successor, he still possessed the aura of leadership. It’s easy to forget, too, that […]

1

It would be an understatement to say that the 21st century has not been a good one for democracy. As has been well-documented, democracy has been losing ground for years in ways both subtle and blunt. Now comes another growing trend, this one spreading quietly, in a seemingly innocent fashion, whose damage to democracy could be even more intractable, because it brings welcome changes to daily life along with its potential for harm. We’re talking here about the rise of artificial intelligence, or AI. Or, more to the point, we should be. AI is already an important part of daily […]

1

Can we predict the future of United Nations peacekeeping by looking back at its Cold War origins? Over the past two decades, the U.N. has prioritized large, complex blue helmet operations in countries like Mali and South Sudan. But these missions seem to be in slow decline. The Security Council last mandated a big blue helmet force in 2014, in the Central African Republic. The U.N.’s largest operation, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is very gradually winding down after more than two decades. In parallel, some experts on peacekeeping are taking a fresh interest in the organization’s longstanding missions […]

1

One of the defining features of the United States is expressed by its Latin motto, e pluribus unum—out of many, one. This historical fact, that the nation was not born a solitary whole, but became one by merging its discrete parts, often hides in plain sight, even in the grammar used to describe the country: Though the states that make it up are plural, the United States is singular. And it is further obscured by an assumption, cooked into the national imaginary, that this resulting whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And yet, when the reality of […]

Abortion rights activists are seen through a hole in an American flag as they protest outside the Supreme Court in Washington, June 25, 2022 (AP photo by Jose Luis Magana).

By a 5-4 vote last week, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling that had established the constitutional right to abortion in 1973. As a result of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, for the first time in almost 50 years, there are no national-level protections in the U.S. for women’s right to choose, with abortion policy now fully relegated to individual states. From Louisiana to Ohio to Texas, many states have already put in place strict restrictions, if not outright bans, on abortions. Because the five votes in the majority decision to overturn Roe v. […]