U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron at the G-7, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 7, 2015. (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

This month represented another stepping stone in the long diplomatic march toward a prospective international climate change agreement in Paris in December. In the Bavarian Alps on June 7-8, the G-7 countries agreed on a communiqué reiterating their support for the goal of limiting climate change to below 2 degrees Celsius—compared to pre-industrial baseline levels—and pledging complete decarbonization of the global economy by 2100. The G-7 countries also restated their commitment to a promise that they have been making repeatedly since the Copenhagen climate accord talks in December 2009. Developed nations pledged billions of dollars a year in financial assistance […]

A Russia-backed rebel rests after fighting, near Donetsk airport, eastern Ukraine, June 12, 2015 (AP photo by Mstyslav Chernov).

In a speech at last week’s annual conference of the Center for a New American Security, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken described Russia and China as presenting a common challenge to the U.S.-backed “global order,” a characterization that echoes that of various Western think tanks and scholars in recent months. Elaborating, Blinken said, “In both eastern Ukraine and the South China Sea, we’re witnessing efforts to unilaterally and coercively change the status quo . . .” The United States, he said, would counter by “seizing America’s unique capacity to mobilize against common threats and lead the international community to […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits across from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other advisers, Vienna, Austria, June 27, 2015 (State Department photo).

Welcome to what could turn out to be the most important, and potentially the most destructive, week in international diplomacy since the end of the Cold War. In the next seven days, we are meant to reach three major turning points in global affairs. On Tuesday, major powers are meant to conclude an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. On the same day, Greece is supposed to make a 1.6 billion euro payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but may fail to do so. And on Sunday, Greek voters will vote in a referendum on the latest bailout […]

An operator controlled robot is run through an obstacle course in a "robot rodeo" at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, NY, June 24, 2015 (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Harley Jelis).

The U.S. Navy and Air Force have begun preliminary work on developing a sixth-generation unmanned fighter. In an email interview, Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and co-author of “Ghost Fleet,” discussed the next generation in U.S. military technology. WPR: What are some of the already operational next-generation U.S. military technologies that emerged from, or were accelerated by, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Peter Singer: In some ways you can think of Iraq and Afghanistan as akin to World War I, where a number of science fiction-like technologies made their bones. Back then it […]

Protesters hold a sign during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Columbia, S.C., June 23, 2015 (AP photo by Rainier Ehrhardt).

Even though the United States was founded on the idea that all people have inalienable rights, applying that principle to all Americans has been a long, still-incomplete struggle played out in multiple arenas, including the U.S. military. Over the past 75 years, the armed forces have been used to advance this cause several times. Presidents found the military a valuable tool in the expansion of rights and the construction of a more unified society because it could be ordered to accept change to an extent that the rest of society could not. The military also tended to judge its members […]

People stand outside as parishioners leave the Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Charleston, S.C., June 21, 2015 (AP photo by Stephen B. Morton).

There are so many depressing realities underscored by the tragic shooting deaths of nine African-American parishioners in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, it’s hard to know where to begin: from the seeming permanence of America’s glaring racial divide to the country’s inability to stanch the unceasing carnage of gun violence that is unlike that of any other country in the world. But here’s one that will be self-evident to most foreign policy observers: If the gunman in Charleston had been not white, but Arab, and if he had yelled “Allahu akbar,” rather than uttering racist statements, we wouldn’t be […]

Screenshot of a YouTube video of an alleged Islamic State boot camp graduation, taken on Oct. 13, 2014 (photo from Flickr user hinkelstone licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

A recent memorandum by Undersecretary of State Richard Stengel painted an ominous picture of America’s failure to counter propaganda from the so-called Islamic State (IS). Across the board, the U.S. narrative is, as Stengel put it, “being trumped.” To a great extent this competition of narratives takes place on the Internet, particularly in social media. The Islamic State has made mistakes in that venue, but a number of indicators—its continued flow of recruits, the number of other extremist movements seeking to affiliate with it and its ability to inspire attacks in the West—demonstrate that the United States is losing on […]

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale looks through binoculars during a live-fire demonstration of advanced TOW-II missile, Taybeh, Lebanon, June 10, 2015 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

Last week, the Lebanese army tested advanced TOW-II missiles, its newest weapon supplied by the United States. The live-fire demonstration took place at an army base in the Baalbek region, not far from the Syrian border. In late May, the U.S. agreed to provide more than 200 of the anti-tank guided missiles and dozens of launchers, at a cost of over $10 million, to help guard Lebanon’s border from Islamist militants and the threat of spillover from Syria’s civil war. Lebanese soldiers have come under attack by militants near the Syrian border in the past two years, including from the […]

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the "Hillary For America" official campaign launch event at Four Freedoms Park, New York, June 13, 2015 (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP).

Sometimes what a politician says matters less than what he or she doesn’t say. Case in point: Hillary Clinton’s big presidential announcement speech this past weekend. Clinton had a lot to say about income inequality and the need to rebalance an economy in which a privileged few accrue enormous benefits, while the many make do with meager crumbs. She had detailed policy proposals on early childhood education, infrastructure, voting rights and strengthening the social safety net. But in a more than 4,000-word speech, she spent all of 325 words on foreign policy. While she went into full wonk mode on […]

Estonian army scouts practice defensive maneuvers during Exercise Steadfast Javelin, May 11, 2015 (NATO photo).

Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that the United States is seriously considering stationing hundreds of American troops, along with heavy weaponry, in the three Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Baltics, all of which are former Soviet republics bordering Russia as well as members of the European Union and NATO, have found themselves in an increasingly vulnerable position since Russia began intervening militarily in Ukraine last year. All three are home to large Russian-speaking minorities, whose controversial status could serve as justification for a Russian attack. In recent months, NATO and Russia have been staging military drills […]

Iraqi army soldiers deploy in front of a court run by the Islamic State group after a military operation to regain control of the town of Sadiyah in Diyala province, north of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov. 24, 2014 (AP photo).

Editor’s note: World Politics Review partnered with the Global Dispatches podcast and its host, Mark Leon Goldberg, to present an interview with WPR columnist Steven Metz on the evolving U.S. strategy against the so-called Islamic State. Critics claim that U.S. President Barack Obama is not “aiming for decisive victory” against the so-called Islamic State (IS), but simply trying to contain the conflict and turn it over to his successor. This charge may be true, but the widespread assumption that it is an error says more about the condition of America’s discourse on global security than about the wisdom of Obama’s […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as they arrive at a meeting room in Geneva, Switzerland, May 30, 2015 (State Department Photo).

In the weeks since the Lausanne talks that set a late June goal for a formal agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear activities, the media coverage and political discourse in the United States have resembled a roller-coaster ride, with some shrieks, thrills and stomach lurches. After an initial bounce of broad approval, with even some important Republican voices and Democratic hawks praising the Lausanne framework deal for securing a more substantial set of commitments from Iran than most had expected, the public conversation has become more volatile now. The alleged sticking points vary from week to week: Is Iran in compliance with […]

U.S. soldier congratulates Iraqi army trainees on their graduation from a six-week training course at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 13, 2015 (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire).

This week marks one year since the so-called Islamic State (IS) took control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The fall of Mosul forced Iraq back onto U.S. President Barack Obama’s agenda and prompted a re-examination of the U.S. policy toward IS. Just yesterday, the White House announced that up to 450 additional U.S. troops will be deployed to train Iraqi forces and help in the fight against the group. World Politics Review partnered with the Global Dispatches podcast to present this interview with WPR columnist Steven Metz on the evolving U.S. strategy against IS. Speaking with host Mark […]

Edward Snowden remotely addresses the Nordic Media Days conference, Bergen, Norway, May 8, 2015 (Nordic Media Days photo).

Last week, the U.S. Congress passed the first major revisions to the National Security Agency’s surveillance capabilities since revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden brought its domestic data-gathering operations to light in June 2013. Snowden, who has been indicted for leaking the classified information, quickly took to the opinion pages of The New York Times for a victory lap. Calling Congress’s actions “a historic victory for the rights of every citizen,” Snowden declared that the end to the bulk collection of phone records by the NSA “is only the latest product of a change in global awareness” about mass […]

A man plays an accordion in front of the “lovelocks” left by tourists on the Pont des Artes, Paris, Sept. 6, 2013 (photo by Flickr user Ben Francis, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic).

Tourism and travel are usually seen as what people do when taking time off from real life. An industry built on beach resorts and ski chalets, bus tours of the Eiffel Tower and African safaris doesn’t seem to rise to the same level of concern as burst oil pipelines or illegal logging in the Amazon. Yet considered as an industry, global travel and tourism is the world’s largest employer; would rank as the fifth-largest carbon emitter if it were a country; is second only to energy as the favored strategy for developing nations trying to rise out of poverty; is […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg shake hands at the White House, Washington, May 26, 2015 (NATO photo).

The Russian government’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty has recently risen in prominence as a concern in Washington and European capitals. What was originally an arms control issue for the United States has escalated into a major defense and security problem for all of NATO. Russia’s strategic modernization, nuclear saber-rattling and aggressive bomber patrols throughout the trans-Atlantic region have compounded the alarm over Moscow’s violation of the treaty as well as Russia’s continuing aggression against Ukraine. Moscow’s disregard for long-standing laws, borders and agreements demands a major re-evaluation of Russian goals and strategy. The U.S. and […]

Sen. Rand Paul talks with a reporter as he leaves the Capitol following his address to the Senate, Washington, May 31, 2015 (AP photo by Cliff Owen).

An epidemic of hysteria swept through Washington earlier this week, and politicians from across the political spectrum were all showing symptoms. Not surprisingly, the subject was domestic surveillance and the National Security Agency (NSA), a topic for which over-the-top rhetoric has practically become derigueur in the two years since NSA contractor Edward Snowden absconded with digital reams of highly classified NSA materials and turned them over to reporters. On one side of this week’s histrionics were the usual threat-mongers, hand-wringers and scare merchants: Republican homeland security hawks like Sens. Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. With the […]

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