Donald Trump appears to push his way past Montenegro’s prime minister, Dusko Markovic, during a NATO summit in Brussels, May 25, 2017 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

It is time to start making serious plans to reconstruct U.S. diplomacy once the Trump era ends. The U.S. president has only been in office for six months. If he can shake off the specter of impeachment, Donald Trump will direct American foreign policy until 2021 or 2025. But it is now utterly clear that he will leave the international system, at the very best, in disarray. The only really intriguing question about his remaining time in the White House is whether or not the U.S. will enter into a major war due to his miscalculations. If Trump has followed […]

Belgium Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Netherlands Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen discuss the She Decides initiative, Brussels, March 2, 2017 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

Three days after his inauguration, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a memorandum reinstating the Mexico City Policy, which was first adopted during the Reagan administration to block recipients of U.S. aid from providing abortions or abortion counseling. While family planning experts have consistently noted the harmful effects of the policy, known as the “Global Gag Rule,” they also warned that the Trump administration’s version is much worse, as it applies to a wider range of U.S. global health assistance. Other donors have tried to step up and provide aid that would otherwise be lost as a result of the policy. […]

Cuban President Raul Castro and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos review troops during a welcome ceremony, Havana, Cuba, July 17, 2017 (AP photo by Ramon Espinosa).

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos traveled to Havana this month for a visit that regional outlets described as focused on economic cooperation. In addition, Santos again thanked Cuban President Raul Castro for having hosted the talks that led to a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In an email interview, Adam Isacson, a senior associate for regional security policy at the Washington Office on Latin America, explains how the talks led to warmer ties between Bogota and Havana, and how this could pose trouble for U.S.-Colombia relations given the Trump administration’s Cuba policy. WPR: Historically, what […]

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly speaks during an appearance with Mexican Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong in Mexico City, July 7, 2017 (AP photo by Eduardo Verdugo).

It has been more than 14 years since the U.S. military last fought large formations of conventional enemy troops. Unless the unthinkable happens with North Korea, American forces may not see a large-scale traditional war for many more years to come, if ever. Yet, every day, the military, intelligence community, law enforcement and other government agencies face a plethora of shadow enemies, ranging from complex criminal-terrorist networks to ideologically motivated individuals. While the risk of conventional war or gray-zone aggression from an adversary state is not gone entirely, the 21st-century security environment is dominated by nonstate challenges. This is an […]

President Donald Trump prepares to swing a Marucci bat, from Baton Rouge, La., as Vice President Mike Pence looks on during a "Made in America" product showcase at the White House, Washington, July 17, 2017 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

For many of the United States’ friends and allies, the Trump administration’s foreign policy has been the source of confusion and anxiety. Nowhere is that sentiment more acute than in Eastern Europe, the region that endured decades of Soviet domination and strived since the end of the Cold War to come under the West’s protective umbrella. It is there, in the territories closest to Russia, where President Donald Trump’s efforts to transform Washington’s relationship with Moscow is most worrisome, particularly during a time when Russia is flexing its military muscle beyond its borders with increasing brazenness. In an effort to […]

A Turkish army tank stands in the village of Esme in Aleppo province, Syria, February 22, 2015 (AP photo by Mursel Coban).

Relations between the United States and Turkey are continuing down a turbulent path. In the most recent incident, on July 18, Turkey’s state news agency, Anadolu, published in both Turkish and English sensitive information about the U.S. military footprint in northern Syria. Anadolu’s report included the troop levels and precise locations of 10 American military bases stretching across the Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria. Although the news agency claims the information was discovered through regular reporting by its journalists in Syria, Washington clearly believes the Turkish government was behind the leak. “We would be very concerned if officials from a NATO […]

President Donald Trump and Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., during a working lunch with ambassadors from U.N. Security Council countries and their spouses, Washington, April 24, 2017 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

If you want a catchphrase to summarize the Trump administration’s first six months of dealing with the United Nations, the best option is probably, “It could be a lot worse.” U.S. President Donald Trump has frequently attacked the U.N. since taking office. The president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord at the start of June marked a major escalation in his offensive on multilateralism. Yet Turtle Bay is not in ruins, in part because, on a day-to-day basis, the U.S. is a more flexible player at the U.N. than its leader’s rhetoric suggests. American diplomats have taken […]

Private contractors secure the scene of a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, July 5, 2005 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

After nearly 16 years of military and diplomatic efforts, the U.S. cannot secure Afghanistan from the Taliban. During that time, the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump all wanted to believe that if they could just find the right U.S. troop levels and fine-tune the assistance provided to the government of Afghanistan, things would work out. But it never happened. Victory remains elusive. Now, as the American public and its elected leaders grow impatient with the unending war and realize that doing more of the same will never produce different results, out-of-the-box proposals are on the […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrives for Army Day celebrations in Caracas, June 24, 2017 (AP photo by Fernando Llano).

With less than two weeks left before Venezuelans vote on a constitution-drafting constituent assembly, the Trump administration jumped into the fray, threatening to impose economic sanctions if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro moves to rewrite the constitution to his liking. With that, Washington took a step down a path filled with landmines. The Trump administration is not wrong to exert pressure on the increasingly undemocratic Venezuelan regime. The Venezuelan people deserve international support. But in seeking to influence events in Venezuela, Washington should maneuver very carefully. The key to successful outside support is preventing Maduro from successfully framing this conflict as […]

Former U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a speech during the Fourth Congress of Indonesian Diaspora, Jakarta, Indonesia, July 1, 2017 (AP photo by Achmad Ibrahim).

Who would you nominate as the most consequential figure in international diplomacy in 2017 so far? There are quite a few credible candidates. Donald “Slayer” Trump has made quite an impact since becoming U.S. president in January. German Chancellor Angela “Status Quo” Merkel still weighs in as the most serious defender of liberal internationalism. Her French counterpart, Emmanuel “Daft Punk” Macron, sure has the makings of a global superstar. Yet there is an argument that the most influential diplomat this year has actually been an old-time favorite who has ostensibly left the geopolitical stage: Barack Obama. Since ceding the White […]

Iraqis celebrate while holding national flags in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory against the Islamic State group in Mosul, July 10, 2017 (AP photo by Karim Kadim).

Earlier this week Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Mosul freed from the forces of the self-styled Islamic State, the result of the longest and most destructive urban battle of the 21st century. Elsewhere in Iraq, the Islamic State is close to losing most of the territory it once controlled. Across the border in Syria, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are driving the group out of its stronghold in Raqqa. Soon it may lose Deir Ezzor, the last urban center it controls. While this is all good news, the Islamic State is far from eradicated. Many of its foreign fighters […]

People gather outside the White House to protest President Donald Trump, Washington, July 11, 2017 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

The challenge of writing about U.S. foreign policy in the Trump era is twofold. First, the United States does not have a foreign policy per se in the Trump era. Rather, it has a disparate collection of poorly coordinated and at times contradictory channels of communication and engagement with the world, some run through the White House, others by Cabinet officials and still others by faceless bureaucrats who are either improvising around the margins or working the clean-up crew. Looming over them all is the tragicomic figure of President Donald Trump himself, whose declarations, we are told, have little bearing […]

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets State Department employees after attending a ceremony at the American Foreign Service Association, Washington, May 5, 2017 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been doing real diplomacy lately, from the G-20 summit to his personal mediation mission to the Persian Gulf. At the same time, there’s progress to report on his ambitious project to transform the State Department into a more focused and efficient institution. After a rocky start that saw him either sidelined by the White House or out of step with it on major issues, Tillerson has been looking more and more like a normal secretary of state in recent days. At the G-20 summit and the high-profile bilateral meetings that took place in […]

Soldiers gather in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, to celebrate the July 4 test launch of North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missile, July 6, 2017 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

Earlier this week North Korea tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile. While Pyongyang already has an extensive arsenal of medium-range missiles, most experts believed it would be several more years before it could field a weapon that could hit the United States. They were wrong. While the missile launch did not alter the essence of the U.S.-North Korea nuclear crisis, it did add urgency. Now Americans must relearn the lexicon of nuclear strategy they largely forgot after the end of the Cold War and use it to understand North Korea’s intentions and objectives. Of the two adversaries, North Korea has […]

Supporters of President Donald Trump sing the Star Spangled Banner at a rally, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, June 21, 2017 (AP photo by Charlie Neibergall).

Yesterday marked the first time in more than a decade that I spent the Fourth of July in the United States. The political climate in the U.S. over the past year makes it a curious time to helicopter back in for such a charged holiday. In a country as diverse and vast as America, the symbolism of national identity, values and pride is contested in the best of times. For obvious reasons, the rise of Donald Trump and his election last year as president have exacerbated the cleavages that can make that symbolism as divisive as it is unifying. In […]