Farmers carry a banner that reads in Spanish "For national sovereignty, no to NAFTA!" during a march protesting the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico City, July 26, 2017 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

More than two decades after it came into effect, the North American Free Trade Agreement is being renegotiated. NAFTA’s boosters say it has brought greater wealth to Canada, the United States and Mexico through economic integration, but some politicians—chief among them President Donald Trump—say it has cost millions of jobs. The current talks are being billed as a chance to reassess the agreement’s shortcomings and revamp it for the requirements of the 21st century. WPR has compiled 10 articles detailing what’s at stake for all parties involved. Purchase this special report as a Kindle e-book. Trump’s Gambit Trump Should Look […]

Kimg Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea, meets with then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, July 26, 2007 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Even before he became president of the United States, Donald Trump had reserved some of his most lavish praise for Egypt’s strongman, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. That’s why it came as no small surprise when news emerged last week that the U.S. had decided to withhold almost $300 million in aid for Egypt. The principal reason for the move, according to Trump administration officials, was Cairo’s continuing crackdown on human rights. But another issue also surfaced as a point of friction: Egypt’s ties to North Korea. Given what we know about the current U.S. administration, it seems likely that North Korea […]

Stephen Bannon, the then-chief White House strategist to President Donald Trump, walks from Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, May 13, 2017 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

The ouster of Stephen Bannon as White House senior strategist has removed the most visible link between President Donald Trump and his populist base. But the nationalist worldview that candidate Trump ran on and Bannon promoted is alive and well. And the core of that agenda is the defense and promotion of U.S. national sovereignty, which Trump’s followers believe is under assault from relentless globalization, encroaching international organizations and uncontrolled immigration. American sovereigntists, led by the president himself, are determined to defend U.S. independence and reassert control over the nation’s destiny, in their minds, by rejecting “globalism” and placing “America […]

An Iranian oil worker rides his bicycle at the Tehran oil refinery south of Tehran, Iran, Dec. 22, 2014 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

When Iran signed the international agreement in 2015 to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani’s administration believed the deal would usher in badly needed foreign direct investment to relieve Iran’s economic woes. Two years on, the promise of an economic renaissance has not fully panned out. In an email interview, Sanam Vakil, professorial lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Europe in Bologna and associate fellow at Chatham House in London, discusses what Iran has achieved since the sanctions were lifted, the ongoing political wrangling between reformers and hard-liners, and whether or […]

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses an audience of soldiers about his new Afghanistan policy, Fort Meyers, Virginia, Aug. 21, 2017 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editors, Robbie Corey-Boulet and Omar Rahman, discuss the new U.S. strategy for the war in Afghanistan announced by President Donald Trump and what it reveals about Trump’s foreign policy agenda so far. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work by subscribing. We’re currently offering a 25 percent discount on the first year of an annual subscription to our podcast listeners. To take advantage of it, just enter the word “PODCAST” in […]

U.S. President Donald Trump meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull aboard the USS Intrepid in New York, May 4, 2017 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

To understand the state of Australia’s relations with its closest ally, the United States, seven months into Donald Trump’s presidency, begin by putting aside the most dramatic and well-publicized event so far: the infamous January phone call between Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. It was an uncomfortable moment, and the awkwardness only deepened when the full transcript of the call leaked in early August. But Trump and Turnbull later made up at a one-on-one meeting in New York, and the U.S. and Australia have agreed on the refugee resettlement deal that the two leaders argued about, so the phone […]

Chadian and Nigerian troops along with a U.S. special forces soldier participate in a hostage rescue exercise, Mao, Chad, March 7, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Last week, the Trump administration sent a high-level delegation to sub-Saharan Africa for the first time. U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer and other senior officials traveled to Togo, in West Africa, for an annual forum on the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA. Enacted in 2000, the initiative is described by Washington as the “centerpiece” of its trade relations with the region. AGOA is a trade preference program that enhances access to the U.S. market for eligible countries. Various assessments indicate that the pact has led to increases in African exports and U.S. foreign investment on the continent. […]

White House chief of staff John Kelly watches as President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, New York, Aug. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

We’ve now reached the “reductio ad absurdum” stage of Donald Trump’s presidency, where all the various factors that have made his short time in office so shambolic converge to dispel any remaining semblance of credibility. That this coincides with what I recently argued was the most dangerous period of his presidency, when U.S. rivals and adversaries begin to openly call Trump’s bluffs, means that the comedy of errors on display could easily lead to great tragedy. Two weeks ago, after a spike in dysfunction took the level of chaos higher than seemed imaginable, John Kelly was appointed White House chief […]

Protesters shout as they hold umbrellas during a rally demanding peace on the Korean peninsula, Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

The current tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs have become a U.S.-North Korea bilateral story, as the two countries’ leaders spar in public. In addition, coordinating with the South Korean government is tricky when the political philosophies in Washington and Seoul diverge. Comparing this current crisis to regional stresses in Europe over Russia and in the Arab world over Iran shows how the immediate neighbors of an adversarial state often have different interests than Washington. And even when threat perceptions converge, policy preferences may not. The current alignment of politics and policies in Washington and Seoul is not optimal […]

Afghan soldiers stand guard following weeks of heavy clashes to recapture territory from Taliban militants in Baghlan province, March 15, 2016 (AP photo by Massoud Hossaini).

Washington remains consumed by America’s long military involvement in Afghanistan. Many policy experts, members of Congress and government officials favor continuing the existing approach, while others—including President Donald Trump himself—are unconvinced. Whichever side prevails this time, one thing is certain: This is not an isolated debate. Rather, it is the beginning of a deeper reconsideration of the role that counterinsurgency should play in U.S. security strategy. The United States first took on counterinsurgency, known by its military acronym COIN, in the 1960s out of fear that the Soviet Union was exploiting nationalist and leftist insurgencies to weaken the West. The […]

President Donald Trump meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G-20 Summit, Hamburg, July 7, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

President Donald Trump’s desire to be true to his domestic political base while offering some concessions to policy experts is settling into a pattern. On climate change, relations with Mexico, the Iran nuclear agreement and Cuba, the president has so far been willing to make tactical shifts while keeping some superficial semblance of his campaign promises. It is not a serious or sustainable way to make national security policy. This past week, the transcripts of Trump’s early exchanges with the leaders of Mexico and Australia were released—and the foreign policy community gasped. The leaked conversations provided unexpected insights into the […]

Security forces leave after responding to an attack on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 31, 2017 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

While not as dangerous as Iran and North Korea, Afghanistan remains one of America’s thorniest and most frustrating security challenges. Since the George W. Bush administration intervened in that country after the attacks of 9/11, the United States has tried to create an Afghan government and train security forces that could stabilize the country and eradicate extremist organizations like al-Qaida that had been given sanctuary there under Taliban rule. The idea was that after some period of international help, the government and security forces of Afghanistan would be able to stand on their own. Unfortunately this has not worked. While […]

President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House, Washington, June 30, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

We are used to thinking and speaking about a nation state in the global arena as an actor with a coherent agenda, voice and infrastructure for pursuing its policy preferences. Six months into the Trump administration, it has become clear that “the United States” no longer exists in the sense of this usage. The implications are alarming, as it coincides with an emerging awareness, both domestically and abroad, that the new U.S. president is a weak leader who is not at all prepared to follow up on his policy improvisations and bluffs. As a result, we have now entered a […]