U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during a Senate hearing on the budget, Washington, May 9, 2018 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

The United States obsesses about its global strategy more than any nation on earth. This fixation is reflected in the fact that Congress requires the executive branch to produce regular reports on its security strategy. A year ago, the Trump administration published its inaugural National Security Strategy. A few months later, the Pentagon released its National Defense Strategy to explain how U.S. military power would be used to implement the National Security Strategy. As it has in the past, Congress then created a bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission to assess the Pentagon’s strategy. This included an august team of top […]

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, right, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Sept. 2, 2018 (Pool photo by Nicolas Asfouri via AP Images).

Earlier this month, on Nov. 7, the State Department announced what appeared to be a significant step forward in relations between the United States and Sudan. A spokesperson said the U.S. would consider removing Sudan from its State Sponsors of Terrorism list if it helps Washington advance some of its foreign policy priorities in Africa and beyond—including cooperating on counterterrorism, ending Sudan’s internal conflicts and isolating North Korea. The statement also called on Sudan to improve its human rights record, respect religious freedoms and meet legal claims related to its previous support of terrorist attacks against American citizens. Removal of […]

President Donald Trump with first lady Melania Trump, gives “Peas,” one of the National Thanksgiving Turkeys, an absolute pardon during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Nov. 20, 2018 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

In this week’s special Thanksgiving edition of the Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss two stories from the past year they were thankful for: a congressional check on U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive powers and, counterintuitively, the tensions that Trump has introduced into the trans-Atlantic alliance. 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 article every day of the week, plus three […]

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, present details of the new sanctions on Iran, at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, Nov. 5, 2018 (AP photo by 	J. Scott Applewhite).

President Donald Trump is again sending mixed signals on an important policy. Earlier this month, his administration followed through on reimposing oil sanctions against Iran, though the immediate effect is on third parties doing business with Tehran. He then immediately waived the sanctions for six months for eight countries that are Iran’s major oil and gas customers, explaining the waivers by saying he did not want to roil oil markets. The administration did not, however, issue a waiver for the European Union, which played a key role in the United Nations sanctions that forced Iran to come to the negotiating […]

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis waits for Chinese Minister of Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe before an arrival ceremony at the Pentagon, Nov. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Warfare has always been both physical and psychological. As combatants attempt to injure, incapacitate or kill enemy fighters, they also try to weaken the will of their adversaries and anyone who might support them. Throughout history, warriors relied on ferociousness for that, intimidating their enemies by the way they looked or the horrible actions they took. In the modern era, militaries turned to communication technology and psychology. Soldiers were trained to craft and transmit messages and propaganda, while psychological operations became a particular military specialization. Over time, the U.S. military got quite good at this. Psychological operators dealt with adversaries […]

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris as part of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, Nov. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Ludovic Marin).

PARIS—In many ways, Emmanuel Macron is an unconventional French president. Young, independent and a political novice, he entered the Elysee Palace as a disrupter rather than a defender of the status quo. But if there is one thing that puts him in the mainstream of French presidents, it is his defense of the European Union anchored in a liberal multilateral order. And if there is one thing that puts him squarely in the grand tradition of French diplomacy more broadly, it is his love and talent for political theater. Both were on display this weekend, when Macron took advantage of […]

President Donald Trump’s motorcade leaves Capitol Hill after a ceremony for new Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh at the Supreme Court, Washington, Nov. 8, 2018 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

Trade policy had a high profile in the run-up to last week’s midterm elections in the United States. With a blue wave in the House of Representatives and in many states, even as Republicans added to their majority in the Senate, two obvious questions arise. Did the widening trade war with China, and the narrower disputes with Europe and others over steel and aluminum, influence the outcome? And how will Democratic control of the House of Representatives affect U.S. trade policy for at least the next two years? On the first question, it is difficult to detect a clear pattern […]

Central American migrants, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, leave a temporary shelter early in the morning in Queretaro, Mexico, Nov. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).)

Late last week, the Trump administration declared in a proclamation that it would deny asylum applications to anyone who entered the country through illegal ports of entry, even though it has been clear for months that asylum-seekers are being denied access at official ports of entry. It was the latest attempt by the administration to discourage migrants, primarily from Central America, from coming to the United States. In the recent pre-election fervor, President Donald Trump likened the caravan of Central Americans, which is slowly making its way north from Honduras and into southern Mexico, to an invasion. Yet the latest […]

A member of the 53rd Infantry Group undergoes mission readiness training in Ireland in preparation for the unit’s deployment to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, April 19, 2016 (Sipa USA photo by Artur Widak via AP Images).

After 9/11, the United States was thrown into a type of conflict that the U.S. military, intelligence community and Department of State all did not expect: large-scale counterinsurgency. The United States, particularly the military, had always been reluctant to take this on. Counterinsurgency is a politically and psychologically complex struggle that doesn’t play to America’s strength: morally unambiguous warfare where victory comes from creating the biggest and most powerful military, then winning battles until the enemy is crushed. Counterinsurgency often takes place in cultures and locations—remote villages, dense city streets—that Americans have a difficult time understanding. Despite the desire to […]

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Labour Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attend a roundtable meeting to discuss gun and knife crimes, London, April 10, 2018 (Photo by Stefan Rousseau for Press Association via AP Images).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the foreign policy implications of the U.S. midterm congressional elections. For the Report, Dan Hancox talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the stark social realities behind London’s drill music scene and why the music’s violent lyrical themes aren’t solely to blame for the city’s recent rash of knife attacks and violent crime. 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 […]

A voter fills out a ballot at a polling place in Pasadena, Maryland, Nov. 6, 2018 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

American voters delivered the House of Representatives to the Democratic Party in yesterday’s midterm congressional elections, issuing a measured rebuke of President Donald Trump’s divisive and inflammatory style of politics. Trump himself had turned the elections into a referendum on his personal brand, putting himself front and center while stumping energetically for Republican candidates nationwide over the last few weeks of the campaign. Despite strong economic growth and historically low unemployment, however, voters in key districts—including many in the usually Republican suburbs—made it clear that the laws of political gravity still exist, and that even Trump cannot violate them indefinitely. […]

Deforestation in the Amazon near the Juruena National Park in Brazil, March 23, 2017 (DPA photo by Isaac Risco-Rodriguez via AP Images).

From 2004 to 2012, the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon dropped more than 80 percent, even as Brazil’s agricultural production continued to grow. But that progress in protecting a fragile and essential ecosystem reversed in recent years, before the outlook got even worse. First, U.S. President Donald Trump launched a trade war with China, shifting more Chinese demand for soybean products from the United States to Brazil, potentially leading to more deforestation to meet the demands of Brazilian agriculture. Then, last month Brazilians elected the far-right Jair Bolsonaro as president, a major supporter of agribusiness who has vowed […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 11, 2018 (DPPA/Sipa USA photo by Mischa Schoemaker via AP Images).

Amid worsening ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkey’s previous tensions with the United States, which only months ago looked intractable, appear to be easing. This upswing reflects Turkey’s longstanding institutional comfort, if not always strategic preference, for its Western ties, and, more immediately, a certain tactical play against its rival in Riyadh. But Turkey’s Western moorings are hardly secure—a position that still looks increasingly out of step for a Turkish government with aspirations for regional and even global leadership. As new details continue to emerge about Khashoggi’s murder in the Saudi […]

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Southern Illinois Airport, Oct. 27, 2018, Murphysboro, Illinois (AP photo by Jeff Roberson).

A resurgent form of populism is attempting to divide the world between an ethnically or racially defined class of non-elites, framed as ethically superior, and a decadent, globalizing elite. The result could be conflicts between countries or even within borders. A powerful wave of populism is sweeping the world, enveloping not only places like Latin America, where it has long held sway, but also Europe, North America and parts of Asia. Few experts saw this coming, and no one knows what its ultimate repercussions will be. But if historical patterns hold, this kind of populism, fueled by strident nationalism, may […]

A woman walks past a mural depicting members of Iran’s Basij paramilitary force, Tehran, Jan. 3, 2018 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

The U.S. Treasury Department recently designated a network of 22 Iranian businesses as supporters of terrorism, including several banks and major commodities companies, imposing sanctions on them for their alleged financial ties to a powerful Iranian militia. The goal was to expose and discredit the paramilitary group they are said to finance, known as the Basij, which is linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and, according to the Treasury Department, has recruited child soldiers sent to fight in Syria to support the Assad regime. Yet like other forms of financial pressure from the Trump administration, these sanctions likely won’t […]