The heated debate in America over migrants and asylum-seekers seeking to cross into the country from Mexico has often overshadowed the origins of the problem: the push factors that drive so many to flee from the so-called Northern Triangle states of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Download your FREE copy of Central America’s Migration Crisis to learn more today. Crime and insecurity coupled with corruption and lack of accountability make life precarious for many of the region’s most vulnerable populations, who are preyed on by criminal gangs and at times the state. U.S. policy has in the past contributed to […]

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for a trip to Vietnam to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, Feb. 25, 2019 (AP Photo by Evan Vucci).

One of the unforeseen beneficial outcomes of the Trump era is the fertile debate it has fueled over America’s foreign policy and global role. As a candidate, Donald Trump questioned many of the pillars of U.S. foreign policy. As president, he has run roughshod over America’s core partnerships and values, to say nothing of the diplomatic protocols he has trampled in the process. After an initial period of shock and outrage, the foreign policy establishment has more recently seemed to recognize the opportunity such a moment offers. In addition to triggering a re-examination of many of the core assumptions of […]

A woman works in a weaving factory in Jinjiang, in southeast China’s Fujian province, Nov. 22, 2018 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

The World Trade Organization now has more than 160 members, ranging from the United States to tiny Burundi, the poorest country in the world, according to the World Bank. Afghanistan and Liberia are the WTO’s newest members, joining in 2016, and they are similarly poor and underdeveloped. Under WTO rules, developing countries receive “special and differential treatment” in recognition of their higher levels of poverty and lower levels of capacity to implement certain trade obligations. Yet the WTO has no objective criteria that define the difference between “developed” and “developing” member states. Rather, countries can “self-declare” as a developing country, […]

Traffic in Hanoi passes in front of a signboard announcing the upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 23, 2019 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

Final preparations are underway in Hanoi, Vietnam, for this week’s summit meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. U.S. officials hope that in addition to providing a venue and facilitating logistics, their Vietnamese hosts will offer a dose of potent symbolism. Near the end of the Cold War, Vietnam, like North Korea today, was an authoritarian one-party state with a military-driven command economy, diplomatically isolated and struggling to feed its population. Since introducing market-oriented reforms in the late 1980s, it has grown into a regional economic powerhouse while maintaining its closed political system. It also […]

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, center, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, right, talk to the press at the Pentagon in Washington, Feb. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Kevin Wolf).

During the first two years of the Trump administration, the Department of Defense has curtailed the release of public information about its spending and operations overseas, as reporters have complained of declining access to senior leaders. In an interview with WPR, Mandy Smithberger, director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project on Government Oversight, explains how increasing secrecy at the Pentagon undermines democratic accountability and impairs national security policy. World Politics Review: How do the Defense Department’s transparency and reporting practices under President Trump compare with those of previous administrations? Mandy Smithberger: Each administration seems to increase secrecy, […]

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, a past proponent of striking Iran, speaks at the United Against Nuclear Iran summit, New York, Sept. 25, 2018 (Photo by Michael Brochstein for Sipa via AP Images).

The idea of a pre-emptive American attack on Iran periodically resurfaces in Washington, despite the absence of any strategic logic. After abating following the 2015 agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program, the war drums are beating again, with the Trump administration ratcheting up the pressure. Is striking Iran an option? Iran is a longstanding and steadfast opponent of the United States. It promotes terrorism, extremism and instability in the Middle East, with brutal allies like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The Iranian regime continues to develop advanced weaponry while repressing internal dissent. There is no question that the […]

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki stands during a military parade after being welcomed by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed upon his arrival at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, Dec. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the signs of a fraying trans-Atlantic partnership that emerged from the Munich Security Conference. For the Report, Tanja Müller talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about what a peace deal with Ethiopia means for life on the ground in Eritrea, and whether the initial economic dividends of thawed relations will be followed by a political opening for Eritreans. 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 […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes U.S. Vice President Mike Pence for a bilateral meeting during the Munich Security Conference, Munich, Germany, Feb. 16, 2019 (AP photo by Matthias Schrader).

The Munich Security Conference, which just wrapped up Monday, is like the Davos of trans-Atlantic security policy, replete with hollow pronouncements, cost-free posturing and, of course, gossip. But every once in a while, amid the conference’s bromides, real news happens. In 2007, for instance, Russian President Vladimir Putin used his speech in Munich to publicly declare the return of Cold War-style geopolitical competition. This year, too, something newsworthy happened at the conference, but newsworthy in the odd sense that something that has been obvious and apparent to everyone was suddenly acknowledged publicly. Like a couple that, after having slowly drifted […]

Chinese navy officers stand on deck upon arrival at Thilawa International Port, Yangon, Myanmar, Sept. 30, 2016 (AP photo by Thein Zaw).

China’s military modernization is expanding to the open ocean, and the U.S. Navy is worried. Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). While the United States Navy struggles to figure out if, how and when it can expand the size of its combat fleet by 47 ships—a 15 percent increase—China’s military modernization efforts are cranking out around a dozen new large warships a year. Recently, the busy shipyard in the port city Dalian put to sea China’s second aircraft carrier, following up on that milestone two months later by simultaneously launching two Type 055-class cruisers. With […]

A poster of Fidel Castro and Raul Castro in Havana, Cuba, April 18, 2018 (AP photo by Ramon Espinosa).

After a return of tension to U.S.-Cuba relations, will a new Cuban leader be able to revive the brief thaw? Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). Just three months after Miguel Diaz-Canel took over the presidency of Cuba from Raul Castro, his government unveiled the draft of a new constitution and sweeping new regulations on the island’s emergent private sector. While the changes announced represent continuity with the basic reform program Raul Castro laid out during his tenure, they are nevertheless significant milestones along the road to a more market-oriented socialist system. For the economy, […]

U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the USMCA signing ceremony in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 30, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Trade negotiators typically prefer to discuss the details of agreements in secret while negotiations are ongoing, only revealing their handiwork when they are done. Even then, however, the length and legal density of trade agreements mean that only trade lawyers and industry specialists can readily figure out how a particular deal will affect ordinary citizens. For example, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as the revised NAFTA is known, has 34 chapters and is roughly 1,000 pages long, to say nothing of its hundreds of additional pages of specific tariff commitments, annexes and side letters. In the United States, the law governing ratification […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks as Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei listens during a meeting with members of the Iranian government, Tehran, May 23, 2018 (Sipa photo via AP).

Leaving the Iran nuclear deal is meant to put pressure on the Iranian government. But so far, most of the pressure is being felt by Iran’s citizens. Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). Iran’s steeply depreciating currency has plunged the country into a potentially explosive economic crisis, with several waves of public protests since December. The situation was exacerbated by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to violate the terms of the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions. The Trump administration believes that by exerting “maximum pressure,” Iran will inevitably return to the negotiating table, or […]

Iranians wave national flags during a ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, at the Azadi, in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

As Iran celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, the United States’ confrontational policy toward Tehran under President Donald Trump presents a real challenge for the Iranian political elite, particularly the moderates among them. Trump’s policy of reimposing economic sanctions aims to impose “maximum pressure” on Iran in order to provoke a change of behavior in Iranian regional policy. Far from accomplishing its goals, the U.S. approach is more likely to strengthen conservative factions within Iran and give the moderates, including President Hassan Rouhani, an excuse for not working toward their electoral promises of granting greater freedoms and pursuing […]

An AH-64 Apache attack helicopter provides security from above while CH-47 Chinooks drop off supplies to U.S. soldiers at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan, June 10, 2017 (Photo by Sgt. Justin Updegraff for U.S. Marine Corps via AP Images).

“Great nations do not fight endless wars,” President Donald Trump said in his recent State of the Union address—one of the few lines that may have appealed to both ends of the political spectrum. Debate is raging in the United States over how quickly to disengage from Syria and Afghanistan, as frustration with these seemingly interminable conflicts has grown on the political right and left. Trump grasps this frustration and seems inclined to pull American forces out of both places. But every time Trump mentions military withdrawal, security experts, political leaders and military commanders push back. Trump’s statement about not […]

President Donald Trump meets with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, July 25, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Through most of the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency, there have been competing prisms through which to view the current state of trans-Atlantic relations. Is the glass half-full, or half-empty? Both perspectives still present a fairly grim picture of dysfunction and confusion between the United States and Europe, largely fueled by Trump—featuring interpersonal friction, provocative rhetoric and U.S. policy choices that have upended the established liberal international order. With the early start of a lengthy U.S. presidential election season, and the possibility of a hard Brexit in March and European parliamentary elections in May that could cause additional […]

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at a conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland, Feb. 14, 2019 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss why the Trump administration’s hard-line Iran policy risks isolating the United States more than Tehran, and what the confrontation between Rep. Ilhan Omar and Elliott Abrams, Trump’s special envoy to Venezuela, reveals about the U.S. foreign policy community and accountability in Washington. 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 […]

U.S. soldiers leave Al Faw palace at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 1, 2011 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

The culture of speaking truth to power is alive and well in the United States, despite the toxic environment in which analysts and other truth-tellers in the federal government operate these days. That is the main lesson of an important new history of the Iraq War released last month by the U.S. Army. The study takes on some of the established narratives about the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and its violent aftermath, while offering refreshingly honest assessments of the performances of both civilian and military leaders. America’s tragic engagement in Iraq is well-trodden terrain, with formidable and critical […]

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