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During his visit to Washington last week, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio suggested the U.S. may be feeling “self-doubt” when it comes to its global leadership role. His remarks point to an underappreciated aspect of global politics: In addition to being willing and able to act, a hegemon must also believe it can get the job done.

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Recent setbacks for two major Chinese projects in Latin America are likely music to U.S. policymakers’ ears and could point to the quiet diplomacy of the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden paying off in key areas of concern. How Beijing reacts to these setbacks will shape its future relations with Latin America.

Ecuadorian police break into the Mexican Embassy.

Latin America should have a regional conversation about how its corrupt politicians abuse the asylum system by seeking refuge in foreign embassies to avoid accountability for their crimes. But that conversation can’t be held against the backdrop of raids against those embassies, which are legally inviolable under international law.

Police patrol a town in Colombia.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s “Total Peace”—an ambitious plan to negotiate directly with the country’s criminal and armed groups—suffered a series of setbacks due to missteps, legislative roadblocks and unforced errors. Now, nearly halfway through his four-year term, Petro is no longer relying exclusively on dialogue.

Argentine President Javier Milei.

The past few weeks have seen the insults fly among Latin American leaders, with Venezuela’s foreign minister labeling Argentina’s ruling party “neo-nazis,” and Argentina’s president calling Colombia’s president a “murdering terrorist.” Unfortunately for the region, there are significant real-world consequences of this petty name-calling.