A vigil for the victims of last week’s attack outside Britain’s Parliament, London, U.K., March 29, 2017 (Rex Features via AP Images).

Last week, Khalid Masood, a British-born convert to Islam with a long criminal record, plowed a vehicle into a crowd of pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge and then stabbed a policeman before being killed by other police. Unsurprisingly, the self-styled Islamic State claimed responsibility. Whether the group actually had any involvement with Masood was irrelevant, since his religious-tinged violence fit its narrative. As usual the America media was flooded with commentators asserting that the London attack once again demonstrated that violent jihadism is not a distortion of Islam but its true essence. The Westminster attack, they claimed, was just one […]

A protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Caracas, Venezuela, Oct. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the formal triggering of the two-year Brexit process. For the Report, R. Evan Ellis and Román D. Ortiz talk with Peter Dörrie about an array of near-term security challenges across Latin America that could bedevil the Trump administration, and how events in the region will be shaped by U.S. policy. If you’d like to support our free podcast through patron pledges, Patreon is an online service that will allow you to do so. To find out about the benefits you can get through pledging […]

U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn T. Davies addresses troops participating in the Cobra Gold military exercises, Sattahip, Thailand, Feb. 14, 2017 (AP photo by Dake Kang).

When the head of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, made a rare visit last month to Thailand for this year’s Cobra Gold military exercises—Asia’s largest multinational drill—some saw it as the start of a thaw in an alliance that had frozen since a bloodless coup in Bangkok in May 2014. In fact, the visit of the highest-ranking U.S. official since the coup was part of an already ongoing effort by both Washington and the junta to improve bilateral ties, despite enduring political and strategic realities that continue to pose challenges for the relationship. Coups are not new to U.S.-Thailand […]

Relatives and friends carry the body of a man killed by a sniper while trying to flee fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, Mosul, Iraq, March 23, 2017 (AP photo by Felipe Dana).

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Washington last week, and the Trump administration greeted him by approving more troops for the fight to retake Mosul and defeat the so-called Islamic State. The Iraqi government, for all its flaws, is taking the needed risks to regain control of its territory, and its leaders know that political reconciliation is vital. The Trump administration, for its part, is focused on winning the war. What remains to be seen is whether Washington will devote the necessary resources to winning the peace, and whether the Iraqis have a plan for doing so that the U.S. […]

A giant puppet depicting U.S. President Donald Trump paraded at Carnival celebrations in Olinda, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Feb. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Diego Herculano).

Other than a wall at the border with Mexico, Donald Trump promised little to address drug trafficking in the Americas during last year’s U.S. presidential campaign. Two months into his presidency, it is clear that the Trump administration’s disengaged and military-first approach to the drug trade could bring more volatility to the region. On March 13, the White House released “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” which raises more questions and concerns than solutions on many issues, including the drug trade. It notably recommends a $54 billion increase in military spending, proposes reduced funding to the […]

Security personnel guard the Unasur building during the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Quito, Ecuador, Jan. 27, 2016 (AP photo by Dolores Ochoa).

Latin America and the Caribbean are dotted with potential crises and the worsening of any single challenge could have a destabilizing effect on the others. With U.S. security and prosperity tied closely to the region, policymakers in the United States need to be drafting policies that help improve economic and political stability from Mexico to Venezuela. Although not always reflected in the attention of U.S. national security policymakers, no region other than Latin America and the Caribbean more directly affects the prosperity and security of the United States. As U.S. President Donald Trump and his team begin their work, mutually […]

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi during a press conference, Cairo, March 2, 2017 (AP photo by Nariman El-Mofty).

Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, is coming to Washington next week, and he can expect a warm welcome. After all, President Donald Trump praised him during last year’s election campaign as a “fantastic guy.” Following a meeting with el-Sisi in New York during the United Nations General Assembly in September, then-candidate Trump promised that under his administration, the United States “will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on in the days and years ahead.” Unlike German Chancellor Angela Merkel, el-Sisi—who has thrown tens of thousands of dissidents into Egypt’s jails—will almost certainly get a handshake […]

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signs the Golden Book of the city during the G20 finance ministers meeting, Baden-Baden, Germany, March 17, 2017 (German Press Agency photo by Christoph Schmidt via AP).

Guest columnist Nikolas Gvosdev is filling in for Steven Metz this week. As the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump enters its third month in office, it is quite striking how conventional its approach to geopolitics has been in practice. Overblown fears that Trump, after his inauguration, would summon his Russian and Chinese counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, to a secret conclave at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, roll out a map of the world, and start negotiating spheres of influence have not materialized. Instead, the United States has continued with its mission to reinforce the eastern flank of […]

President Donald Trump greets Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, March 17, 2017 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

It’s no secret that President Donald Trump, like all of his recent predecessors, thinks America’s NATO allies have been free-riding on Washington’s largesse and should contribute more to their own security. In the familiar terms of NATO alliance management, that is understood to mean meeting the target of budgeting 2 percent of GDP for national defense. Set in 2006, that benchmark is currently met by only four other alliance members—one of them being tiny Estonia—with a fifth, France, falling just short. But last week, at a news conference following his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump went further than […]

The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency at CIA headquarters, Langley, Virginia, April 13, 2016 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Intelligence controversies moved center stage in the lead-up to Donald Trump’s presidency and through its first months in office. As both president-elect and president, Trump accused the U.S. intelligence community, and the CIA in particular, of politicizing intelligence by leaking reports about investigations of contacts between his campaign advisers and Russian officials. Yet, Trump’s first appointment was a politician to head the Central Intelligence Agency—Mike Pompeo, a Republican congressman. Pompeo was clearly brainy enough for the job, having graduated first in his class at West Point and earned a law degree from Harvard University. Critics wondered, though, whether Pompeo, a […]

Representatives from member countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership met to discuss a possible new regional trade deal, Vina del Mar, Chile, March 15, 2017 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

While much about U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade policy remains uncertain, his official 2017 “trade policy agenda,” released on March 1, clearly stated the preference for bilateral over multilateral negotiations. Echoing what he said during the election campaign, the trade agenda also emphasized national sovereignty and the enforcement of U.S. trade laws. Trump’s focus on bilateralism, however, comes with real costs. Bilateral negotiations are time-consuming and entail significant negotiating resources. Even when “successful” in narrow market access terms, firms can incur significant transaction costs from having to navigate the resulting tangle of inconsistent or conflicting rules. Multilateral trade rules—such as […]

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley at a Security Council debate on trafficking, New York, March 15, 2017 (EuropaNewswire photo by Luiz Rampelotto via AP).

If you want to write about the United Nations these days, you need a thick skin. The Trump administration’s decision to cut funding to the U.N. in its first proposed federal budget, announced last week, has unleashed a vitriolic argument in the U.S. about the organization and its values. This is not new. The American left and right have long debated the U.N. in heated terms, often with little reference to what it really does. This debate last peaked a decade ago, after the Security Council refused to endorse the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The darker corners of American bookstores […]

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se at a press conference in Seoul, March 17, 2017 (Pool photo by Jung Yeon-Je via AP).

The threat from North Korea to the United States, the Asia-Pacific region, and the global economy is growing rapidly. For decades the dynasty of Kim family dictators has used military provocation to fend off external pressure. Over the past decade, this took a particularly ominous turn as Pyongyang added a nuclear capability to its massive conventional military force. Today the erratic aggression of Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s current dictator, is pushing the danger to ever greater heights, backed by a growing nuclear arsenal and ballistic missile capability. When North Korea first tested an atomic device in 2006, the United […]

Protests against U.S. President Donald Trump and the far-right Alternative for Germany party, Berlin, Jan. 20, 2017 (SIPA photo by Omer Messinger).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives today in Washington, where she will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump for the first time. The trip was initially scheduled for earlier in the week, but was delayed by a snowstorm that hit the East Coast. It was perhaps a fitting prelude to their first encounter. After all, when Trump was elected president of the United States, Merkel sent him a congratulatory message that seemed, in no uncertain terms, to be a rebuke to his behavior and rhetoric during the campaign. She suggested that Germany would only cooperate with the United States if it […]

U.S. President Donald Trump meeting with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Feb. 24, 2017 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

As President Donald Trump contemplates a new trade order, one that puts “America first,” he may be surprised to find he is pushing on an open door. From both a top-down geo-economic level and a bottom-up corporate level, 21st-century trade is in urgent need of a new vision. If he is serious about offering one, Trump should consider a global growth model based on what could be termed the tripolar world, in which deepening ties within three main regions—the Americas, Asia and Europe—become the next catalyst for economic growth. Globalization as it has existed since the end of the Cold […]

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the Oval Office at the White House, Washington, Jan. 28, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

U.S. President Donald Trump indicated what he really thinks about democracy in his address to a joint session of Congress late last month, and he did so without ever uttering the actual word. As his administration leaked details about his budget, including plans to raise defense spending by 10 percent and slash funding for the State Department and foreign aid, Trump pronounced that “Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people—and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to […]

Ballistic missiles on display during a massive military parade to mark the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party, Pyongyang, North Korea, Oct. 10, 2010 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

Last week, The New York Times reported that the United States had secretly stepped up cyber attacks against North Korea’s missile program during President Barack Obama’s second term. The attacks were initially a success, according to the Times. “Soon a large number of the North’s military rockets began to explode, veer off course, disintegrate in midair and plunge into the sea.” Whether or not a series of test failures in recent years were the direct result of U.S. cyber interference, as the Times suggested, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is a prominent target for U.S. cyber warfare—and President Donald Trump […]

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