Defense Secretary Ash Carter delivers remarks during the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, Calif., Nov. 7, 2015 (DoD photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz).

Because of the entrenched, ossified interests and tribal structures within the Pentagon, major reforms to the Department of Defense and the military often originate in Congress. The gold-standard example of this historical pattern was the 1947 National Security Act, which merged the Department of War and the Department of the Navy to form the Department of Defense, headed by the newly created position of secretary of defense. The act also established the institutions of the National Security Council and Joint Chiefs of Staff. Not far behind was the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act, which reorganized the military’s chain […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a rally at Miraflores presidential palace, Caracas, April 14, 2016 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

A series of crises at home, including a new plan to ration electricity, are not the only issues facing Venezuela. Abroad, the regional coalition forged by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is starting to unravel. The ongoing impeachment saga of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the possible departure of her Worker’s Party from power are the latest in a series of developments that has complicated Venezuela’s international relations for Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro. In November, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s chosen successor lost Argentina’s presidential election, ending more than a decade of Kirchnerism, which found common cause with Venezuela’s leftist […]

Cuban President Raul Castro at the Seventh Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, Havana, April 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ismael Francisco).

The Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba ended Tuesday, April 19 with First Secretary Raul Castro declaring that the “principal tasks” of the party going forward are “the development of the national economy, along with the struggle for peace and ideological firmness.” That neatly summed up the major themes discussed by the 1,000 delegates during the previous three days, and the challenges the party faces on all three fronts as it manages normalizing ties with the United States and opening up its economy while preserving the state’s socialist identity. The economy was the main focus of the conclave, […]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event, Maryland, April 20, 2016 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Despite intense efforts by the Republican establishment to stop Donald Trump from winning that party’s presidential nomination, there is a good chance that he’ll pull it off. Current polling data suggests that if he faces Democratic frontrunner and likely nominee Hillary Clinton in the November election it will be a landslide victory for the Democrats. But strange things can happen in open political systems. While a Trump presidency may be unlikely, it would have far-ranging repercussions, particularly for U.S. defense policy and the American military. While that much is clear, Trump is harder to gauge than any recent presidential candidate. […]

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a campaign event, Hartford, Conn., April 21, 2016 (AP photo by Jessica Hill).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority; the U.K. referendum on European Union membership; and instability in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. For the Report, WPR columnist Michael Cohen joins us to talk about the role of foreign policy in the U.S. presidential election. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: Saudi Arabia’s Shiites Caught in the Crossfire Between Riyadh and Tehran Cameron’s Brexit Referendum Ploy Could Lead to Broader EU Reforms Nigeria’s Amnesty, Handouts Stave Off Wider Unrest in Niger Delta—For Now What Would a Truly […]

An anti-government rally after the lower house of Brazil's Congress voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Sao Paulo, April 17, 2016 (AP photo by Andre Penner).

When Brazil’s lower house voted Sunday in favor of launching impeachment proceedings to unseat President Dilma Rousseff, it loosened one more rock in what has recently seemed like an avalanche of disastrous news for Latin America’s left. There’s no question that the left, which in the not-very-distant past appeared unstoppable, has been on the receiving end of voters’ frustrations with all that ails the region. And yet, observers taking the measure of Latin American politics routinely overlook another part of the picture: Politicians of all stripes are getting battered, beaten and rejected by a restive public. Latin American voters are […]

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally at Penn State University, State College, Pa., April 19, 2016 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

In last week’s Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders said something you don’t often hear in a U.S. presidential campaign. “We are going to have to treat the Palestinian people,” Sanders declared, “with respect and dignity.” Though Sanders prefaced his statement by assuring Democrats that he is “100 percent pro-Israel,” the statement seemed like a breath of fresh air compared to the one-sided tone that usually characterizes campaign rhetoric on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Indeed, it was only four years ago that then-Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggested that Palestinians are an “invented” people, while collectively characterizing them as “terrorists.” Indeed, […]

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at his villa, Baghdad, April 8, 2016 (AP photo by Jonathan Ernst).

In the past five days, both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter have visited Iraq. The visits demonstrate the urgency with which Washington views the political crisis in Baghdad, against the backdrop of the Iraqi military’s stalled campaign against the so-called Islamic State. They also underscore how the Obama administration’s early plans to scale back America’s engagement in Iraq have come full circle: More troops and more political attention are now required. There’s no easy path to stability for Iraq, but some decentralization of power might help. The uptick in policy attention to Iraq […]

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet waves from a palace balcony, Quito, Ecuador, Oct. 15, 2015 (AP photo by Dolores Ochoa).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of corruption and various countries’ efforts to combat it. Earlier this month, in response to several corruption scandals among high-level officials that were exposed by reporters and prosecutors, the Chilean Senate passed a bill that would punish anyone for making public any information about ongoing judicial investigations. Chilean journalists called it a “gag law.” In an email interview, Peter M. Siavelis, a professor of politics and international affairs and the director of the Latin American and Latino studies program at Wake Forest University, discussed Chile’s fight […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and Argentine President Mauricio Macri during the State Dinner at the Centro Cultural Kirchner, Buenos Aires, March 23, 2016 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Argentina is the new darling of Latin America. Just over four months into his term, President Mauricio Macri is taking every step to put the welcome mat out for the international community, and the United States in particular. The Obama administration has reciprocated in kind. It’s a new era, and the future is bright for the bilateral relationship, as well as for Macri’s domestic standing. Gone are the days of antagonistic relations. Now, U.S.-Argentine relations are being advanced on multiple fronts—from trade facilitation to climate change and global health. Even before Obama’s state visit in late March, Washington had already […]

President Barack Obama and the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii, Dec. 19, 2015 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The World War I-era French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau once famously declared that war is too important to be left to the generals. The same, it appears, can be said of admirals. Last week, the Navy Times ran a blockbuster story revealing that the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific, Adm. Harry Harris, and the combatant command he leads, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), are not happy with the White House’s approach to dealing with China’s adventurism in the South China Sea. According to the Navy Times, Harris is “arguing behind closed doors for a more confrontational approach to counter […]

Chinese men next to a billboard with the word "Development" in the central business district, Beijing, China, Dec. 11, 2014 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

The rise of a global middle class has been one of globalization’s great victories, but the surge in income and consumption in the developing world may be more of a temporary anomaly than a long-term trajectory. Some developing countries have ridden a commodities super-cycle to middle-class status, but most never made it or were far too late with the investments that might have converted the boon into more sustainable growth paths. Commodities are cyclical, and the global middle class may prove to be so as well. From 2001 to 2011, there was an unprecedented surge in the number of people […]

A protest against presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori and the 1992 coup by her father, former President Alberto Fujimori, Lima, Peru, April 5, 2016 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

On Sunday, Peruvians will head to the polls to elect a new president and 130 members of Congress. But in a campaign season that has been fraught with controversy, few are likely to be satisfied with the results. Peru’s presidential campaign season began with a field of 19 candidates. By last Sunday evening’s debates, it had narrowed to 10. Among them were the daughter of a former president now in jail; two former presidents-one of whom was involved in a drug-trafficking scandal; and a candidate that’s running from a jail cell. Described as “crazy” and “chaotic” by some in the […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the opening of the Army-2015 international military show, Moscow, June 16, 2015 (AP photo by Ivan Sekretarev).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the upcoming elections in Peru and Chad as well as the varying reactions to the Panama Papers around the globe. For the Report, Steven Metz joins us to talk about the concept of “limited war” and the differences in the U.S. and Russian approach to it. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: In Peru’s ‘Chaotic’ Presidential Elections, It’s a Race for Second Place Deby Set to Keep Power in Chad Election, but Discontent Is Growing Reaction to the ‘Panama Papers’ Reveals […]

The Panama City skyline, Panama, April 4, 2016 (AP photo by Arnulfo Franco).

AMSTERDAM—In the hours that followed the explosive revelations known as the Panama Papers, reverberations from the giant data drop were felt around the globe. After all, the 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca, leaked anonymously to International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, implicate rich and powerful people from practically every country on Earth as holders of offshore shell companies that are often used for tax evasion purposes. But while the power from the leaks to discredit prominent individuals extended across practically every nation and every system of government, reaction to the revelations was far from uniform. The differences […]

Colombians march to protest against President Juan Manuel Santos' government and peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Bogota, April 2, 2016 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Colombia is inching closer to a future free of armed guerrilla groups. Talks with the 52-year-old, 7,000-person Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are far along, even though they missed a March 23 deadline for a final accord. Government and FARC negotiators in Havana have reached agreements on most of the negotiating agenda, and they are probably weeks away from a bilateral cease-fire with U.N. verification. The FARC, though, isn’t the only guerrilla organization in Colombia whose origins date back to 1964. The National Liberation Army, or ELN, has about 1,800 fighters plus a larger support network and is […]