U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, right, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speak at a press conference at the Pentagon on April 16, 2015 (Department of Defense photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen).

When the U.S. Department of Defense released its latest cyber strategy last week, it laid more than just another brick in the edifice of cybersecurity that the government has been building for decades. Coming just a few weeks after President Barack Obama’s Executive Order setting out a policy framework for sanctioning malicious cyber actors, the new strategy marks a significant evolution in Washington’s understanding and approach to providing security in the digital age. That’s because it comes with a warning to potential adversaries: The United States will no longer only be reactive in its cyber defenses, as the Pentagon will […]

People watch machinery used to dig in search or survivors at a collapsed illegal gold mine in Santander de Quilichao, southern Colombia, May 1, 2014 (AP Photo/Oswaldo Paez, El Pais).

The head of the United Nations refugee agency in Colombia recently told Reuters that illegal mining and drug-fueled gang violence will continue to displace citizens, even if a peace deal is signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In an email interview, Juan F. Vargas, a professor of economics at the University of Rosario in Bogota, discussed the impacts of illegal mining in Colombia. WPR: How widespread is illegal mining in Colombia, and who are the main groups profiting from it? Juan F. Vargas: Illegal mining is quite widespread in Colombia and is present along the Pacific coast […]

U.S. President Barack Obama talks with National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice aboard Marine One en route to Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England following the NATO Summit in Wales, Sept. 5, 2014 (Official White House photo by Pete Souza).

This past weekend, I had the privilege of taking part in the Harvard Extension School’s Crisis Game, a Cold War-era nuclear simulation involving some 30 graduate students and led by my colleague Tom Nichols. What was fascinating to observe was how even the prospect of a theoretical nuclear exchange was still capable of forcing a high degree of seriousness and focus among the participants, as various courses of action were debated and evaluated. Indeed, some of the participants themselves raised the question of whether U.S. national security policy today lacks the gravitas it appeared to have 30 years ago, particularly […]

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner smiles as she arrives at Vnukovo government airport outside Moscow, Russia, April 21, 2015 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

After a 12-year run, Kirchnerismo is nearing its end in Argentina. The next president, who will assume office in December after general elections in October, will inherit a country ready for a course correction—if not a complete change. There is no easy fix to the many ingrained political, economic and social problems that have befallen Argentina over the course of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s eight years in power, which followed the four-year presidency of her late husband, Nestor Kirchner. Still, great promise is the age-old tale in Argentina, and by putting a few key policies in place, the next […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), U.N. headquarters, New York, April 27, 2015 (U.N. photo by Loey Felipe).

The monthlong 2015 review conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which began yesterday, will put a spotlight on a number of priority issues on the nonproliferation agenda. Of these, the potential deal between Iran and the P5+1—the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany—on Tehran’s nuclear program, which would bring Iran back into compliance with its NPT obligations, is likely to attract the most attention. However, the current arms control stalemate among the U.S., Russia and China, which has endured since the previous NPT review conference in 2010, will also shape the conference’s outcome. This stalemate results from […]

Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters regain control of the northern neighborhoods, after overnight heavy clashes with Islamic State group militants, Ramadi, Iraq, April 23, 2015 (AP photo).

When U.S. President Barack Obama announced his strategy for countering the so-called Islamic State (IS) last September, it was met with an immediate volley of criticism, most of it asserting that the president’s approach was too timid. Incensed by IS’ horrors, the critics called for large-scale American military action. Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, demanded that the Obama administration “destroy” IS within 90 days. When told by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that this was impossible, Cruz issued a press release saying the general was wrong. Now that the 2016 presidential race has kicked off, […]

A Pakistani police officer walks pasts billboards showing pictures of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Islamabad, Pakistan, April 19, 2015 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

When Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Pakistan this week, the reception was something to behold. The welcoming committee greeted him in midair, with eight Pakistani fighter jets in formation solemnly escorting the Chinese leader’s plane from the moment he crossed into Pakistani airspace. It was one more dramatic element underscoring the significance of a visit during which both sides were remarkably unrestrained in their exuberance. Islamabad was dotted with photographs of Xi and signs proclaiming that “Pakistan-China friendship is higher than mountains, deeper than Oceans, sweeter than honey, and stronger than steel.” Xi reciprocated, declaring that he feels as […]

Meeting of NATO defense ministers, NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 5, 2015 (NATO photo).

Whether it was the deaths in the Mediterranean Sea of hundreds of migrants and asylum-seekers desperate to enter European territory or the latest atrocities carried out by the Islamic State in their Libyan enclave, this week’s headlines could not have come at a worse time for the leadership of the North Atlantic alliance. Over the past year, NATO finally seemed on the verge of rediscovering a common purpose after two decades of trying out for different roles—a return to its original task of putting a brake on the westward spread of Russian influence and control from the Eurasian core into […]

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tokyo, April 8, 2015 (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt).

Earlier this month, Ashton Carter concluded his first visit to the Asia-Pacific region since becoming U.S. secretary of defense. In Japan and South Korea, Carter delivered several speeches underscoring the region’s importance and explaining the logic of U.S. President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia. Carter will return to visit Singapore and India in a few weeks, a sign of how pivotal a player he has quickly become in the administration’s policy of “rebalancing” America’s strategic priorities toward the region. Carter’s recent trip, which began April 7 and ended April 12, aimed to reassure the two countries he visited, Japan and […]

Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division gather their equipment before boarding a CH-47F Chinook, Nawa Valley, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, May 25, 2014 (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston).

For American defense professionals, the 1990s now seem like a distant dream. The United States was fresh off a stunning military victory over Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s forces in Kuwait. The Soviet Union, long Washington’s bête noire, had crumbled. The American economy was robust, churning out important technological innovations one after another. In these halcyon times, U.S. military leaders and defense officials predicted that they would master what they called the “revolution in military affairs,” thereby attaining battlefield superiority over every possible enemy. Since the U.S. would be able to impose its will on opponents, there was little need to […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping at a signing ceremony in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China, March 31, 2015 (AP photo by Feng Li).

This year’s annual gathering of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will be unlike any other in the two institutions’ history. As representatives of hundreds of countries converge in Washington this week, the event will prove historic and remarkable—not for what goes on in the official meetings, but for the intrigue, anguish and anticipation that will unfold on the sidelines. As the official speeches and parties take place, top officials in the hallways and private meeting rooms will come under pressure from both the United States and China. The reason: The fledgling but already formidable Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure […]

South Korean President Park Geun-hye delivers a speech at Gyeryongdae, South Korea’s main military compound, Gyeryong, South Korea, March 12, 2015 (AP photo by Chung Sung-Jun).

South Korean President Park Geun-hye left Thursday for Colombia, the first stop on her weeklong tour of Latin America, which includes stops in Peru, Chile and Brazil. In an email interview, Juan Felipe Lopez Aymes, a researcher at the Regional Center for Multidisciplinary Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, discussed South Korea’s ties with Latin America. WPR: Who are South Korea’s main partners in Latin America, and what are the main areas of cooperation and investment? Juan Felipe Lopez Aymes: Trade and investment between South Korea and Latin America has increased in the past decade. Mexico is the […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shake hands at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, April 11, 2015 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

One of the most salient criticisms of U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent overtures to Iran and Cuba is that neither country, as a condition for engagement, has agreed to undertake fundamental reforms of their internal political systems or alter the general direction of their foreign policies. Indeed, the leaders of both countries have claimed victory in defying those types of demands. In theory, this need not be a setback. When Richard Nixon traveled to China in 1972, Mao Zedong did not repudiate his ideology, release any political prisoners or make any commitment to pursuing liberal political or economic reforms. Nixon, […]

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini observes a minute of silence at Jose Marti Memorial, Havana, Cuba, March 24, 2015 (EU Commission photo).

Last month, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced that the EU and Cuba had agreed to accelerate talks on establishing a cooperation agreement to normalize ties, which would hopefully be signed by the end of the year. Mogherini was in Havana for the third round of talks between the EU and Cuba since negotiations started up again in April 2014. The EU has tried several times in the past to negotiate a cooperation agreement with Cuba, first in 1995 and again in 2000, but talks have always failed. On the Cuban side, one of the biggest factors preventing […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller during their bilateral meeting at the Jamaica House, April 9, 2015, Kingston, Jamaica (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement of $20 million in financing for private investment in Caribbean clean energy projects at a meeting yesterday with the region’s leaders in Kingston, Jamaica, comes at a good time: After a lost decade, during which easy access to cheap Venezuelan oil undermined incentives to seek alternative sources, the Caribbean now faces long-deferred decisions on how it sources and uses energy. The slump in global oil prices has hit Venezuela’s economy hard, threatening its Petrocaribe trade program, established by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2005 to sell subsidized oil and diesel to the group’s […]

U.S. President Barack Obama walks out to speak in the Rose Garden of the White House about the breakthrough in the Iranian nuclear talks, April 2, 2015 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled a diplomatic framework designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Opposition to the negotiations in Washington, which was intense all along, exploded, soon collapsing into near-hysteria. Critics compared the framework to the 1938 Munich agreement—the widely accepted gold standard for weakness and appeasement. Opposition to the Iran framework agreement has many sources. One of the most important is that, after several decades with no major arms control agreements, the American public and its elected representatives no longer understand the complex and often counterintuitive logic of arms control. Paradoxically, the more hostile and […]

A worker gives the finishing touches as he cleans a wall announcing the upcoming Summit of the Americas outside of the Atlapa Convention Center in Panama City, April 6, 2015 (AP photo by Arnulfo Franco).

The Summit of the Americas, opening in Panama on Friday, was where U.S. President Barack Obama planned to mark a turning point in U.S. relations with Latin America, highlighting a tangible example of his foreign policy legacy. Obama had hoped to bask in the triumph of his new Cuba policy. Instead, the event is likely to prove much more diplomatically ambiguous and challenging, both for the United States and the almost three-dozen hemispheric leaders attending the forum. Undoubtedly, the main event, the one garnering the most headlines and the most indelible images, will be the one that brings together Obama […]

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