Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomes North Korea’s special envoy Choe Ryong Hae during a meeting in Moscow, Russia,  Nov. 20, 2014 (AP photo by Ivan Sekretarev).

Imagine that somewhere in the world, the leaders of a nation or an extremist organization are meeting to plot ways to confront America. The more astute thinkers among them would have carefully studied U.S. strategy over the past 75 years, looking for America’s strengths and weaknesses and drawing lessons. One lesson they might draw is that trying to intimidate the United States by direct attacks on American soil doesn’t work. The Japanese found this out after Pearl Harbor, as did al-Qaida after 9/11. But striking U.S. military forces deployed to places with limited American national interests can shift U.S. policy—think […]

Rebel fighters move through the deserted streets of downtown Monrovia, Liberia, May 18, 1996 (AP photo by David Guttenfelder).

Since his arrival in the U.S. nearly two decades ago, Mohammed Jabbateh has dutifully cultivated the image of a hardworking immigrant, building up a container-shipping business in Philadelphia and supporting his family, including five children. But it is another image that helps explain why the Liberian will stand trial next week in federal court. A photograph taken during the West African nation’s 14-year-long period of civil conflict, and submitted as evidence by prosecutors, shows Jabbateh as an unsmiling young man in dark sunglasses surrounded by combatants. Known to Liberians as “Jungle Jabbah,” Jabbateh served as a commander in the United […]

People affected by Hurricane Maria wait in line to receive supplies from the National Guard, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 24, 2017 (AP photo by Carlos Giusti).

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has taken a heavy toll on the United States. After Hurricane Harvey first struck the Gulf coast in late August, Irma whirled over the Caribbean and Florida a few days later and, just last week, Maria left Puerto Rico absolutely devastated. In addition to the human suffering, the storms have strained U.S. energy infrastructure, raising serious questions about President Donald Trump’s energy policy and priorities. Hurricane Harvey hit the heart of the U.S. energy industry as a Category 4 hurricane, making landfall near Houston, Texas, on Aug. 26. That stirred memories of Hurricane Katrina in […]

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, middle, and teammate Eli Harold, left, kneel during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game, Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 18, 2016 (AP photo by John Bazemore).

A week ago, U.S. President Donald Trump stunned the world with his bellicose speech before the United Nations General Assembly. Days later, with the fallout from his remarks still hanging in the air over New York, Pyongyang and Tehran, he abruptly changed the subject. In a stump speech in Alabama on Friday and later on Twitter, Trump called out professional football players who have been kneeling during the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality against black Americans. The storm of controversy he set off has puzzled foreign observers unfamiliar with the arcana of America’s culture wars, and […]

A man walks past a TV news screen showing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump, while reporting North Korea's a possible nuclear test, Tokyo, Sept. 3, 2017 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

The chances of a major war involving the United States are higher today than at any time since early 2003. Seldom a week goes by without a new missile or nuclear test by North Korea. President Donald Trump and his top advisers have stated categorically that they will not allow North Korea to develop the capability to attack the American homeland, preventing it by force if necessary. In a speech this week to the United Nations General Assembly, Trump vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatens the United States or its allies. These shocking words demonstrate how dangerous […]

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump before a meeting during the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, New York, Sept. 18, 2017 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

When U.S. President Donald Trump delivered his fiery first speech at the United Nations General Assembly this week, one person in the audience watched with particular interest, bracing herself for what would come next. After all, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, knew it would be her job to deal with the fallout of her boss’s words, which, predictably, kicked up a storm of controversy. In a surprising twist during a presidency filled with surprises, Haley has become the face of American diplomacy in the age of Trump. It is Haley who has to take Trump’s coarse ideas […]

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry introduces Randy Berry as the first-ever special envoy for LGBT rights, Washington, Feb. 27, 2015 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

A year ago this month, efforts to use high-profile diplomacy in the service of global LGBT rights appeared to be gaining considerable momentum. At the United Nations, the Human Rights Council had selected Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand to serve as the first independent expert tracking violence and discrimination based on gender and sexual identity. And in Washington, Randy Berry was well into his second year as the State Department’s first special envoy for the human rights of LGBTI persons. To mark the completion of Berry’s first year in that position, the Human Rights Campaign praised him as “a game changer […]

A Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, Nov. 8, 2011 (AP photo by Eric Gay).

In the war against terrorism, U.S. diplomacy, defense and intelligence all work together, in what can be an impressive integration of capabilities across the national security enterprise. But balance is key, and recent reports that the CIA wants to expand its combat role, with greater authority to conduct drone strikes, raise questions about who should lead the fight against terrorism and how to navigate among competing players and institutions. To date, the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State has provided ample evidence of how the big national security machine can work across its various disciplines and agencies. Sure, there are […]

French President Emmanuel Macron visits soldiers participating in Operation Barkhane, Gao, Mali, May 19, 2017 (Pool photo via AP).

On Sept. 5, France announced it would arm the six Reaper drones that until now it has used almost exclusively for surveillance in counterterrorism operations in Africa’s Sahel region. The announcement marks a logical step in France’s increasing reliance on unmanned drones. But what does it mean for drone policy in France and the United States, and for the norms of drone proliferation? That France would eventually aim to arm its drones should come as no surprise; France has had an interest in unmanned aircraft technology for years. But the European consortium responsible for pooling member country resources and developing […]

Debris flies into the air as foreign fishing boats are blown up by Indonesia’s navy off Batam Island, Indonesia, Feb. 22, 2016 (AP photo by M. Urip).

This summer, the USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of three new aircraft carriers replacing the aging Nimitz-class supercarriers from the Cold War, was delivered to the United States Navy. This 100,000-ton behemoth—expected to serve the country for more than 50 years—stands ready to fight America’s wars, deter foreign aggression and maintain freedom of navigation at sea. Recent developments in global affairs suggest that the new aircraft carriers and the broader U.S. Navy will face a more comprehensive mission, one that is also pivotal to U.S. and global security: fighting those who are stealing natural resources from the world’s oceans. […]

Visitors look at the Hanteng X7 on display at the Auto Shanghai 2017 show, Shanghai, China, April 20, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

As a candidate, President Donald Trump vowed to revitalize America’s infrastructure and promised $1 billion for transportation projects. But while Washington only tepidly contemplates such spending, China is rapidly moving ahead to transform transportation on its terms. China’s leadership is codifying the next generation of transportation technologies into an ambitious national strategy and matching policy with billions for innovation and deployment. Recognizing that the sector is shifting toward low carbon options worldwide, Beijing is planning to uproot America’s competitive edge in the global market. Unless it is willing to cede the remaking of the transportation industry to China, the United […]

President Donald Trump, accompanied by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, speaks during a security briefing, Bedminster, N.J., Aug. 10, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

It is always better to deter an adversary than to fight, but doing so can be a tricky thing. For deterrence to work, adversaries must believe that if they cross some line, they will fail or be punished. In the broad sense, deterrence demands the tangible capability to punish a transgression, along with credibility and clear communication that some specified action will be punished. That may seem simple, but it is not, at least for the United States. The American political system can make it hard to communicate resolve to an adversary. A president may say one thing while other […]

World Politics Review founder Hampton Stephens, March 25, 2015 (Photo by World Politics Review).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, draw back the curtain on WPR’s editorial process to give an idea of how we select and develop the stories we cover. For the Report, Judah talks with WPR’s publisher, Hampton Stephens, about WPR’s evolution and how our business model is driven by our values and mission. 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 […]

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback during a news conference following his nomination to be ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Topeka, Kan., July 27, 2017 (AP photo by Charlie Riedel).

Religious freedom occupies a complicated place in the halls of U.S. diplomacy. Congress imposed the Office of International Religious Freedom on the State Department in 1998 due to concerns that the Clinton administration was failing to adequately address the plight of religious communities around the world, specifically Christian communities. Because of constitutional restrictions, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom must walk a fine line between being a forceful advocate for religious groups, while being careful not to support one particular religion over any others. In late July, President Donald Trump selected Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a staunch social conservative, […]

U.S. President Donald Trump along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley at Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, N.J., Aug. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

These are difficult days for U.S. diplomacy. In the two biggest global challenges, North Korea and Syria, the United States hasn’t had any easy successes lately. When President Donald Trump has decided to lead, as on the smaller, intra-Arab showdown in the Gulf, the parties paid only the briefest respect for his effort and then resumed their feud. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s attempts to reform the State Department—some of them credible and desirable—could reduce its capacity to represent American leadership around the world. If there was any doubt about America’s reduced global standing, the North Korean crisis provides […]

Contractors from the U.S. security firm Blackwater give instructions to Afghan anti-narcotics forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 15, 2005 (AP photo by Musadeq Sadeq).

Frustration with the stalemate in Afghanistan has broadened the domestic debate over U.S. strategy there. For the time being, President Donald Trump remains committed to the general approach taken by the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. But options that seemed unthinkable a few years ago, like outright disengagement, are now on the table. As this unfolds, one out-of-the-box proposal in particular has sparked intense discussion among security experts: a plan to replace American troops with contractors. The most prominent proponent of this idea, Erik Prince, is a former U.S. Navy SEAL with connections in the Trump administration. Prince is […]

A projector screen shows footage of U.S. President Donald Trump during an event promoting EB-5 investment in a Kushner Companies development at a hotel in Shanghai, China, May 7, 2017 (AP photo).

From the start of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump had a clear and consistent culprit for many of America’s problems: China. As he pronounced from the lobby of Trump Tower when declaring his candidacy in 2015, the American dream was dead and China, a currency manipulator and intellectual property poacher, had killed it. It was a strange location for that statement, perhaps, since Trump Tower’s biggest office tenant is a major state-controlled Chinese bank. But then again, perhaps the irony suits. Despite overtures of collaboration with Beijing to counter North Korea, Trump has reinvigorated his China critique as president. Announcing […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 211 2 Last