Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 22, 2018 (Saudi Press Agency photo via AP Images).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Neil Bhatiya is filling in for Judah Grunstein, who will be back next week. Saudi Arabia continues to face unprecedented criticism from the United States, its longstanding regional ally, over the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul four weeks ago. Earlier this month, Congress formally asked the Trump administration to determine whether Khashoggi’s killing exposed Saudi leaders to sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, a law passed two years ago with broad bipartisan support to punish credibly accused violators of human rights around the world. Saudi Arabia is trying […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, speaks with the lawmakers during a parliamentary session, Tehran, Oct. 27, 2018 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

The Trump administration is set to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran next week that target its oil sector, after having reimposed sanctions on other sectors of the Iranian economy in August. But they will target Iran only indirectly. Many of those sanctions will be aimed at firms and financial institutions in Europe, Japan, Turkey and other allied countries, as well as China, India and elsewhere. Unlike the United Nations sanctions that helped bring Iran to the negotiating table and led to the international agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the new U.S. sanctions will be unilateral, extraterritorial—often called “secondary”—and […]

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech for incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, Houston, Texas, Oct. 22, 2018 (Photo by Yomiuri Shimbun for AP Images).

If you want to predict the future of international cooperation, you shouldn’t focus on multilateral hubs like New York and Geneva over the next two weeks. Instead, concentrate on Florida, Texas and Missouri. These are some of the states up for grabs in next week’s U.S. midterm elections. The polls could further reshape American and non-American policymakers’ visions of the future of the global system. The U.S. Congress is one of the most significant players in multilateral affairs, for the simple reason that it signs off on an enormous chunk of international organizations’ budgets. Congress approved roughly $9 billion of […]

A Russian S-400 air defense missile system during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 3, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko). Such systems reduce NATO's ability to counter the Russian threat in Eastern Europe.

As NATO has focused its attention on Russia’s offensive military capabilities in Eastern Europe, an equally significant and, in practice, more problematic issue has been largely ignored: Russia’s preponderance of “anti-access, area-denial” capabilities in the borderlands between the Baltic and Black Seas. Is NATO focusing on the wrong Russian threat in Eastern Europe? This week, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton was in Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss, among other things, the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Announced by President Donald Trump last weekend, the move comes after repeated Russian violations […]

A U.S. military helicopter flies over the site of a suicide bombing targeting a NATO convoy in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Aug. 2, 2017 (AP photo).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Sarah Kreps is filling in for Steven Metz, who will be back next week. In the book that introduced the phrase “Catch-22,” the novelist Joseph Heller outlined a fundamental paradox of a fictional war: To be qualified to fly a bombing mission behind enemy lines, an individual had to be sane. But while no sane individual would expose themselves to that kind of suicide mission, asking to be grounded—because you’re crazy and can’t fly—revealed the mind of a rational individual, so he would have to fly more missions. Modern American wars now have their own Catch-22 […]

People are seen through a banner showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a protest against the nation-state law, Tel Aviv, Israel, July 30, 2018 (AP photo by Oded Balilty).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss political polarization and violence in the United States in the run-up to the congressional midterm elections. For the Report, Shira Rubin talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about Israel’s recently passed nation-state law and why it has outraged the country’s Druze minority in particular. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview […]

John Brennan, Adm. Michael Rogers and James Clapper arrive to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, Washington, May 16, 2018 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

The New York Times reported yesterday that the U.S. is targeting Russian cyber-operatives involved in efforts to disrupt America’s congressional midterm elections in early November. Though there are few details on what measures have been taken, it would seem to amount to the cyber equivalent of a brushback pitch to deter individual actors by making it clear that U.S. Cyber Command has them in its sights. The Times describes the effort as the “first known overseas cyberoperation to protect American elections, including the November midterms.” The Obama administration famously dithered in its response to the initial discovery of Russian interference […]

Large copies of the new 100 and 200 euro notes with new and better security features are unveiled at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 17, 2018 (AP photo by Michael Probst).

Just weeks before the Trump administration reimposes sanctions against Iran in November, a growing gulf has emerged between the United States and Europe. Denouncing Washington’s ability to dictate with whom they can trade, European politicians have declared their desire to build alternate institutions to bolster Europe’s financial autonomy. However, Europe will find few meaningful options to insulate itself from a largely U.S.-run global financial and trading system. So far, the discussions about European economic autonomy have proposed action along two lines of attack. To begin with, European leaders, including European Commission officials as well as ministers from member states, have […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton during their meeting in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, Oct. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is in Moscow for meetings with senior Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, as the U.S. prepares to officially withdraw from a key Cold War-era arms reduction pact. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, bans all ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of violating the treaty for years. That, along with concerns over the rising threat from other U.S. rivals who are not bound by the deal’s terms, […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Aug. 18, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

The political space for dialogue between Russia and the West has shrunk severely in recent years. It narrowed even further last week, with potentially disastrous consequences. United Nations officials signaled that the chances of a deal to end the Syrian war are lower than ever. Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that there will be no progress toward ending the Ukrainian conflict until next year at the earliest. And Putin’s American counterpart, Donald Trump, announced that the U.S. will quit a crucial nuclear arms control agreement with Moscow. Any one of these developments would have been worrying in isolation. Combined, they […]

An exhibitor demonstrates a drone flight at CES International, Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan. 5, 2017 (AP photo by Jae C. Hong).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Sarah Kreps is filling in for Steven Metz, who is out this week. In a speech last month on threats to the United States “in an age of disruption,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen outlined the top five areas of concern in the so-called threat landscape. Some were familiar, some new. But one in particular stood out. First, the “home game” and “away game,” as she put it, are no longer distinct. Enemies are not limited by geography in a borderless world, and the U.S. can no longer assume that fighting enemies “over there” means not […]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 16, 2018 (AP photo by Leah Mills).

The details of just how Jamal Khashoggi met his death in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul are still shrouded in mystery. Given the interests of all sides in covering up what really happened, those shadows are likely to linger even after an official story is concocted and a scapegoat sacrificed. But Khashoggi’s death has already shed light on the level of corruption and rot at the heart of Washington’s ties with the Gulf Arab states. In many ways, this corruption is an old story. The outrage theater currently on display in Washington and corporate boardrooms across the U.S. is as […]

Roberto Azevedo, the director general of the World Trade Organization, during a press briefing about the WTO’s World Trade Report, Geneva, Switzerland, April 12, 2018 (Keystone photo by Martial Trezzini via AP).

The World Trade Organization’s woes began long before Donald Trump was inaugurated as America’s president, and many countries are to blame. The latest round of global trade negotiations has been stalled for a decade and there is still no clear way out of the impasse. India insists on resolving long-standing problems, such as trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, before the WTO can begin to negotiate any new issues. China has no interest in taking a leading role on many pressing issues, such as regulations on state-owned enterprises, which might impinge on its industrial policies. Both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump undermined […]

U.S. Army soldiers salute as vehicles carry what are believed to be remains from American servicemen killed during the Korean War, Osan Air Base, Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 27, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

Despite the U.S. military’s superiority, there are several reasons America could lose a future war: An enemy could exploit America's fraying security alliances or its domestic political rifts or develop a militarily decisive technology that the United States lacks. The critical question is how the United States would react. Last week, I argued that while the U.S. military, the Pentagon and most national security experts expect that the United States will always win the wars it is forced to fight, America could in fact lose one if an astute enemy capitalizes on the nation’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I sketched out […]

Police officer Jorge Alberto Canizalez watches the streets from the back of a pickup during a nighttime patrol in San Salvador, El Salvador, Aug. 21, 2018 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the implications for U.S.-Saudi ties. For the Report, Anna-Catherine Brigida talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the dangers facing Salvadorans deported by the U.S., many of whom are returning to a country they barely know. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview […]

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Hudson Institute in Washington, Oct. 4, 2018 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

In a speech last week that seemed as much an effort to catch up to recent events as a formal declaration of policy, Vice President Mike Pence put Beijing on notice that “the United States of America has adopted a new approach to China.” The address, delivered at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington, for the most part covered familiar ground in terms of American grievances with the bilateral relationship. Having spent the past 20 years seeking to invite China into the international order as a “responsible stakeholder,” the U.S. has now run out of patience over Beijing’s unfair […]

U.S. President Donald Trump announces a revamped North American free trade deal in the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington, Oct. 1, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

“It’s not NAFTA redone. It’s a brand new deal,” U.S. President Donald Trump declared triumphantly at the White House last week, announcing the revised free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Don’t tell Trump, but his brand new deal is really just the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a few tweaks, and many fewer countries than the 12 that signed on before Trump withdrew. American negotiators won concessions in a few areas that were important to them, and made concessions in a few that were important to Mexico and Canada. But the new NAFTA, which Trump clumsily renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, […]

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