Entrance to the summit of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, Lisbon, Portugal, July 24, 2008 (AP Photo by Joao Henriques).

Last week, the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) held its 10th Summit of Heads of State and Government in East Timor. The meeting produced several resolutions regarding scientific and cultural topics, as well as a number of political statements linked to Guinea Bissau’s elections and mutual political support in international institutions. But perhaps the most important decision made at the summit was the acceptance of Equatorial Guinea, currently the third-largest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa, as a full member of the CPLP. The four-year process that led to last week’s outcome was far from smooth, as Portugal vetoed Equatorial […]

A student works in the archives of the Army Heritage and Education Center, in Carlisle, PA, April 21, 2005 (AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Recent reports that Sen. David Walsh may have committed plagiarism while a student at the U.S. Army War College brought unaccustomed attention to the military’s senior schools. Discussion of the issue showed that despite the long history of America’s war colleges, they are not widely understood. It also suggested that there is a need for wider debate on how the United States educates its senior military leaders, particularly given the deep changes underway in the armed forces. All of the services use war colleges or an equivalent fellowship as a gate to higher rank—full colonel in the Air Force, Marines […]

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski visits with Sheikh Ali Salman, head of Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, in Manama, Bahrain, July 6, 2014 (AP Photo/Al Wifaq).

The fallout from Bahrain’s expulsion of Tom Malinowski, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, illustrates the continuing political impasse in this deeply polarized U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf. While the danger to the ruling Al Khalifa family posed by the 2011 popular uprising has long passed, positions on all sides have hardened, with little prospect of any political settlement to Bahrain’s deep-rooted inequalities. A fragile stasis has instead developed between a Bahraini government unwilling to make meaningful political concessions and a fragmented opposition unable to mount a serious challenge to the status quo. […]

Missile launchers on the deck of the Chinese destroyer Haikou, U.S. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, July 5, 2014 (Kyodo via AP Images).

On July 23, China conducted its third declared ballistic missile defense (BMD) test in the past four years, with the Defense Ministry announcing afterward that the test had “achieved the desired objectives.” But it would be premature to conclude that Beijing now embraces BMD. China lacks the capabilities to establish an operational missile defense network, even as Chinese officials continue to attack U.S.-sponsored BMD efforts. Instead, the recent tests are designed primarily to overcome adversary missile defenses as well as to develop China’s anti-satellite systems, a capability renounced by the United States as strategically destabilizing, which ironically is the same […]

A backhoe used for mining stands idle in a crater after it was destroyed by the government in April in Huepetuhe in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, May 21, 2014 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

After a run of good years, Peru’s government faces mounting economic challenges. Bolstered by booming commodities demand in China and other emerging markets, the Andean nation’s gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of almost $15 billion over the past decade. Inflows of foreign direct investment nearly doubled between 2009 and 2012. But the economy has cooled since, with annual growth sliding from 8.5 percent in 2010 to 5.8 percent last year. While Peru continues to lead its South American peers in terms of economic expansion, the country’s Central Bank significantly cut its growth forecast from 5.5 percent in […]

President Barack Obama speaks about escalating sanctions against Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine at the White House in Washington, July 16, 2014 (AP photo by Charles Dharapak).

It is axiomatic that almost any foreign policy action taken by President Barack Obama will be reflexively criticized by the Republican opposition. What is striking is how, in recent months, congressional Democrats and former Obama administration officials have been more willing to publicly voice their own critiques of the president’s performance. Even his first-term secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, now positioning herself for a possible 2016 run to succeed him as chief executive, has begun to lay out her differences with Obama on how he has handled the national security portfolio. Most of the critiques follow a common narrative: that […]

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the Indian navy fleet oiler INS Shakti conduct a refueling at sea exercise, Indian Ocean, April 13, 2012 (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Apprentice Andrew K. Haller).

Yesterday India and the United States kicked off the 2014 Malabar naval exercise, the latest in a series of joint exercises going back over two decades, with the Japanese navy participating as well. This serves as an opportunity for the United States to demonstrate its commitment to naval engagement in the region, to reassure nervous allies in the face of an expansionist China and to refocus the U.S.-India relationship, which is widely seen as off track. The exercise will consist of activities on and around Japanese territory. According to a statement from the Indian navy, the exercise will include exchanges […]

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack in the city of Kandahar south of Kabul, Afghanistan, July 9, 2014 (AP photo by Allauddin Khan).

While the world’s attention this week was focused on Gaza and Ukraine, security remained precarious in Iraq and Afghanistan, the two lynchpins of America’s conflict with transnational terrorism. The recent elections in Afghanistan offered a glimmer of optimism, but neither the Taliban’s ability nor its willingness to launch terrorist attacks has abated. There is no sign that the Afghan security forces will someday be able to defeat the movement. Meanwhile, the Iraqi military cannot reverse the advances of ISIS extremists, and there is no sign that a competent, inclusive government will emerge in Baghdad. Iraq and Afghanistan remain stark reminders […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 12, 2014 (AP photo by Eduardo Di Baia).

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to South America earlier this month was overshadowed by events in Ukraine and the Middle East, it did garner considerable attention in the South American and Russian media. Even in Washington, commentators saw Putin as seeking to circumvent the Western opposition to his policies in Ukraine as well as retaliate for U.S. involvement in Moscow’s neighboring states with a tit-for-tat display of influence in Washington’s strategic backyard. Putin began his visit in Cuba on July 11, where he finalized plans to eliminate 90 percent of Cuba’s Cold War-era debt to Russia—more than $30 billion […]

Embalse nuclear power plant, Argentina, Mar. 15, 2007 (photo by Wikimedia user Mrcukilo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license).

Argentina signed a nuclear energy deal with Russia last week, the latest step in Argentina’s push to expand its nuclear industry. Irma Arguello, chair of the NPSGlobal Foundation, discussed Argentina’s nuclear energy policy in an email interview. WPR: How much of Argentina’s energy do the country’s nuclear plants currently produce? Irma Arguello: Argentina’s two fully operational nuclear power plants—Atucha I and Embalse—jointly produce 930 megawatts of electricity, or about 4.7 percent of the country’s total electricity output. A third power plant, Atucha II, which came online this year, will be capable of producing 692 MW once it becomes fully operational. […]

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks after closed-door nuclear talks, Vienna, Austria, July 15, 2014 (AP photo by Ronald Zak).

The original July 20 deadline for the P5+1 countries to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran has come and gone. The negotiating parties have given themselves four more months to address what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday called “very real gaps in some areas.” The extension includes allowing Iran to access $2.8 billion of its restricted assets. Kerry, however, stressed that “the vast majority of its frozen oil revenues will remain inaccessible” and the United States will “continue to vigorously enforce the sanctions that remain in place.” That has many in Washington debating the effect of […]

Flor Garcia, 19, of Honduras, holding her one-year-old daughter, turned themselves over to Customs and Border Protection Services agents after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico near McAllen, Texas, July 3, 2014 (AP photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez).

The United States, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are frantically trying to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding on both the U.S. border and in Central America’s Northern Triangle. Children and families have been fleeing from that region to the United States in record numbers since 2009, although the numbers have spiked dramatically in the past two years. Approximately 60,000 unaccompanied minors—children under 18 traveling without an adult—have been apprehended at the U.S. border since Oct. 1, overwhelming an immigration system designed to handle 6,000 to 7,000 in that time. Another 39,000 families, mostly women and children, have been taken into […]

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the World Cup soccer match between Ghana and the United States, Natal, Brazil, June 16, 2014 (AP photo by Julio Cortez).

The United States missed out on a rare geopolitical opportunity this past week. Vice President Joe Biden, who has emerged in Barack Obama’s second term as more of an alter ego for the president on both the domestic and international stages, should have taken a short trip to Brazil for the World Cup final. Sure, the U.S. team had already been eliminated, but as the fabled “reassurer” who travels to different parts of the globe to shore up American commitments, Biden still had a plausible excuse to drop in at the close of the tournament: to congratulate Brazil on a […]

A woman walks at the site of the crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, eastern Ukraine, July 18, 2014 (AP photo by Dmitry Lovetsky).

Yesterday’s downing of Malaysian commercial airliner MH17 near Donetsk, killing 298 civilian passengers and crewmen, marks a shocking turn in the ongoing conflict over eastern Ukraine. New information is still coming out, but as of this writing we know that some of the passengers were researchers and activists heading to an international AIDS conference in Melbourne.* At least nine nationalities were represented on board, ranging from the Netherlands to the Philippines, and possibly, though the State Department has yet to confirm, some number of Americans. While nothing has been conclusively proven, all signs point to a surface-to-air missile launched by […]

Flor Garcia, 19, of Honduras, holding her one-year-old daughter, turned themselves over to Customs and Border Protection Services agents after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico near McAllen, Texas, July 3, 2014 (AP photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez).

The rapid influx of migrants from Central America, many of them children, into the United States from Mexico has created political and logistical turmoil in Washington over how to respond. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and others have pushed for the United States to treat at least some of these children as refugees, given that many are fleeing violence and deprivation back home. In a statement last week, the UNHCR called on the United States to provide access to “asylum determination procedures” as part of a comprehensive solution. That could have a major impact on U.S. immigration […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping at Seoul National University, South Korea, July 4, 2014 (photo from the website of the Republic of Korea licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license).

SEOUL, South Korea—Washington’s plan to shift its attention toward Asia, the famed “pivot,” has been postponed or at least slowed by the rash of crises in the Middle East over the past three years. But East Asia, as it turns out, is not waiting for the U.S. Major countries in the region, including America’s key allies and its top emerging rival, are actively jockeying for influence, assertively reassessing relations with their neighbors and generally stirring for what could become a significant realignment of power in the world’s fastest-growing region. America’s strategic and diplomatic position on the eastern shores of Asia […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping (Defense Department photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo).

On July 14, Xi Jinping began his second official visit to Latin America as president of China. The trip touches off with Xi’s participation in the sixth BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, which begins today. After this meeting of emerging market leaders, Xi will attend a Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) meeting in Brasilia, followed by visits to Argentina and Venezuela, where China maintains substantial energy-related interests. Xi’s Latin America tour will conclude on July 23 after a stop in Cuba. Xi’s trip is largely consistent with China’s previous state visits to Latin America. Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela […]

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