Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff issued a blunt challenge to President Barack Obama when he arrived in Brazil to kick off his first visit to Latin America this past week: no more “empty rhetoric” about partnership between her country and the United States. Whether Washington can meet this standard, however, remains to be seen. Certainly, during this visit, no major initiatives were unveiled; no dramatic vision of a future U.S.-Brazilian entente was presented; and no grand gesture — such as a compromise on the thorny trade issues that continue to hamper commercial ties between the two countries — was magnanimously offered […]

As an Army brat who grew up traveling the world, I’ve witnessed first-hand both the power and sense of hope that the United States projects around the globe. These qualities stem from both the might of our military as well as the less tangible characteristics of our diplomatic and compassionate efforts. In decades past, the roles of the State Department and Defense Department were often considered to be parallel and discrete. State negotiated treaties and engaged in diplomatic and aid missions around the globe, whereas Defense was brought to bear when words failed to suffice. Despite being complementary, these elements […]

The opening acts of the 21st century have fundamentally challenged long-held notions of military power. The past decade has unveiled not only the disruptive power of terrorist groups with global reach, but also the ability of low-budget insurgent groups to directly confront the best military forces of the West — with surprising success. Moreover, recent revolutionary events across the Arab world have demonstrated the limits of military power when facing mass popular uprisings. Disorder, chaos and violent extremism seem on course to replace state-on-state violence as the most common forms of conflict in the new century. Given this new security […]

For many years, the United States has been the world’s most powerful nation. It remains the undisputed global leader in military power and still possesses vast economic and cultural influence. And while Washington’s ability to combine both hard and soft power to influence world events — what Joseph Nye calls “smart power” — has diminished somewhat, it is still in a far superior position relative to any other country. U.S. primacy, however, comes with opportunity costs. An alternate path might have delivered a comparable level of security at far less expense and risk. Even many who unabashedly celebrate our 20-year […]

One of the most revealing features of today’s international system is that only two nations, America and China, possess sufficient power to truly disrupt it — either directly, through the application of military force, or indirectly, by unleashing an uncontainable economic crisis. In fact, to truly derail globalization in its current trajectory, the two would need to act in concert, either by fighting each other directly or experiencing simultaneous economic collapses. Short of those two scenarios, modern globalization remains highly resilient to shocks of all sorts. That resilience is the only power that really matters in this world. It defines […]

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Next week the United States will mark the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq — widely considered one of the worst foreign policy disasters in American history. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 U.S. troops remain mired in Afghanistan, nine years after the Taliban were toppled from power. Both conflicts are daily reminders that the use of U.S. military force can have unforeseen and often unpredictable consequences. For that reason, force should be considered only in the most pressing of national security circumstances. Unfortunately, if the response to the uprising in Libya is any indication, it seems many members of the […]

The story reads like a spy novel. The setting is Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. government pays billions of dollars to a mysterious American businessman known to the public only as the owner of a burger-and-beer joint. His mission: grease the right wheels in order to purchase and transport large volumes of fuel for the U.S. military. Accusations that the Kyrgyz government took kickbacks from these shady deals lead to the toppling of its leader. The Russians, as top fuel suppliers in the region, get involved, followed by the Chinese. Relations among governments grow strained. Meanwhile, dogged journalists find that the mysterious […]

With Indian newspapers still carrying obituaries of the country’s strategic doyen, K. Subhramanyam, who passed away in February after almost a half-century at the forefront of New Delhi’s strategic debates, it is worth considering the object of Subhramanyam’s concern during his final days: the implications for India of a proposed U.S.-China grand strategy agreement hammered out by a group of policy experts in Washington and Beijing. The document proposed a series of strategic compromises between China and the U.S., including a massive Chinese investment in the U.S. economy in return for an informal nonaggression pact, particularly with regard to the […]

With the aftershocks of the global financial crisis continuing to rumble, leaders of the world’s major economies have struggled to define a meaningful role for the G-20. Meanwhile, the European Union has been pushed to the limit in efforts to address a gathering debt crisis among members of the eurozone. And the threat of a currency war has strained relations and tested the role of the dollar as global reserve currency. In this special report, World Politics Review considers global finance through articles published in the past year. Below are links to each article in this special report, which subscribers […]