U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, right, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal in Montreal, Canada, Jan. 29, 2018 (Canadian Press photo by Graham Hughes via AP).

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was elected last year after promising to tackle corruption and inequality and improve conditions for Mexican workers. So it was little surprise that one of his first acts upon taking office in late 2018 was to raise the minimum wage. AMLO, as the president is known, also had his advisers join the team renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement and encourage the acceptance of U.S. demands to embed key labor law reforms in an updated deal. The result was an annex to the labor chapter in the new NAFTA 2.0—which President Donald Trump […]

Soviet Union Premier Joseph Stalin, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Tehran Conference, Iran, Nov. 28, 1943 (British Official Photo via AP Images).

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Mira Rapp-Hooper and Rebecca Friedman Lissner make a compelling case for a more restrained U.S. foreign policy. The United States, they write, should abandon messianic liberal internationalism for the more realistic goal of an open world. Such a prudent policy has a lot to recommend it. It would also take America back to the future—to the grand strategy that President Franklin D. Roosevelt endorsed during World War II. As I argued in my 2009 book “The Best Laid Plans: The Origins of American Multilateralism and the Dawn of the Cold War,” it was […]

Former U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during a town hall meeting at the European School For Management And Technology, Berlin, Germany, April 6, 2019 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

A decade ago, President Barack Obama came into office promising a different kind of American foreign policy, having been elected on a platform of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, repairing America’s global image, and reviving American diplomacy and even restraint. Americans may have wanted their nation to adjust its global strategy, but for reasons that had more to do with domestic politics than world events, the debate over how to do so devolved into rancor and caricature under Obama. America was headed in the right direction until hyperpartisanship derailed everything, leaving the public convinced that something is wrong […]

A Sri Lankan soldier stands guard at the damaged St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 26, 2019 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

In this week’s editors’ discussion episode of the Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein, managing editor Frederick Deknatel and associate editor Elliot Waldman talk about the challenges facing Sri Lanka in the wake of the Easter bombings and what that attack says about the evolving threat of terrorism. In light of the U.S. decision to stop issuing waivers for major importers of Iranian oil this week, the editors also analyze the Trump administration’s arbitrary and ultimately counterproductive use of sanctions against Iran. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can […]

Iranian oil workers at an oil refinery south of Tehran, Iran, Dec. 22, 2014 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

History’s judgment of the Trump administration’s foreign policy is likely to be unkind, with the biggest question for now being whether it is the intended or unintended consequences that will warrant the most severe rebuke. There are plenty of examples of how the administration’s approach risks both catastrophic success and catastrophic failure, but its policy on Iran is particularly illustrative. The latest case in point is the announcement Monday that the U.S. would not extend the waivers it had granted to five major importers of Iranian crude after reimposing unilateral sanctions on Iran’s oil sector last year. The countries—China, India, […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 30, 2018 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

Until Jan. 23, 2017, the United States had a major free trade agreement with Japan and 10 other countries called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But on his first day in office, President Donald Trump withdrew from the TPP, which had been signed just a few months earlier by President Barack Obama as his signature piece of trade policy. Trump was fulfilling one of his first campaign promises, having railed against the deal for years. At the signing of his Executive Order pulling the U.S. out of the TPP, Trump declared that it was a “great thing for the American worker, what […]

A demonstration calling for new climate policies, Rome, Italy, April 19, 2019 (ANSA photo via AP Images).

With each successive Earth Day, the scale of the global environmental crisis becomes more disheartening. So too does the collective failure to respond to the planet’s plight. Over the past year, scientists have issued dire warnings about global warming, mass extinction, the extent of plastic pollution and the death of the world’s oceans. Humanity is now deep in the Anthropocene, a new geologic era defined by the human transformation of the natural world, and the lights are blinking red. In a harrowing report last October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, warned that even a 2 […]

President Donald Trump delivers remarks to ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at the U.S. State Department, in Washington, Feb. 6, 2019 (Photo by Alex Wong for dpa via AP Images).

During his presidential bid, Donald Trump hammered on about the threat posed to America by the self-styled Islamic State, and how he would defeat it. As an issue, it was perfect for him, since the Islamic State’s sociopathic brutality fueled fear and anger among his core supporters—emotions that candidate Trump was able to harness and use to his benefit. Although the Islamic State emerged from the insurgency in Iraq that was unleashed by the American invasion in 2003, the extremist group grew more powerful during President Barack Obama’s administration, so Trump could wield it as a political weapon against Obama […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a one-on-one-meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

In this week’s editors’ discussion episode of the Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein, managing editor Frederick Deknatel and associate editor Elliot Waldman analyze the impact of the Mueller report and how it will affect Trump’s foreign policy agenda. They also discuss why the United States has been unable to mount an effective response to the “active measures” Russia has taken to interfere with U.S. elections. 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. […]

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton during a speech at the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association, Coral Gables, Florida, April 17, 2019 (AP photo by Wilfredo Lee).

The Trump administration yesterday announced a number of new sanctions and restrictions on dealing with Cuba, including new limits on remittances and nonfamily travel to the island from the United States. In a reversal of more than two decades of U.S. policy, the administration also said it would allow Cuban Americans whose property was seized during the Cuban revolution to sue foreign companies operating on that property. A law passed in 1996 had originally allowed such claims, but that provision in the law had been waived by every president, until now. To understand the implications of this move, WPR spoke […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, during a joint press conference at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

U.S. foreign policy has often been likened to an oil tanker. It can shift course, but major changes in direction happen slowly, if ever. This is understandable, after all. America’s global partnerships have in most cases developed over generations, representing institutional investments and deep-rooted national interests. One prominent exception to this rule, however, is now taking place before our very eyes: the U.S. foreign policy consensus on China, which has shifted rapidly over the course of the past few years and continues to move. This change reflects the degree to which the assumptions that long guided Washington’s approach to China […]

Trucks lined up at the Otay border crossing between Mexico and the United States, Otay, Mexico, April 11, 2019 (DPA photo by Omar Martinez via AP Images).

As part of his ongoing tirade against immigration, President Donald Trump has threatened to shut down the southern border completely. First, he said he would take action if Mexico doesn’t stop the flow of migrants; later, his demand was Mexico ending drug trafficking. Maybe it is both, though neither is feasible. When there was a hue and cry about the extreme disruption that would ensue from closing the border, Trump retreated, saying he would give the Mexican government a year to meet his demands before taking any action. He also downplayed that threat and raised the specter of imposing a […]

Flags of member nations fly outside of the United Nations headquarters in New York, Sept. 18, 2007 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

Bemoaning the death of the “liberal international order” began as a cottage industry under President Barack Obama. It has gone to scale under President Donald Trump. The reason is obvious: The main threat to an open, rule-bound world order no longer comes from outside, but from within. The American foreign policy establishment is in full grief mode as the Trump administration dismantles the handiwork of its predecessors. Before mourning, though, it makes sense to confirm that the deceased was once actually alive. A year ago in Beijing, I encountered a Chinese scholar of revisionist bent. After several Americans lamented the […]

A U.S. soldier sits on an armored vehicle on a road leading to the tense front line with Turkish-backed fighters in Manbij, northern Syria, April 4, 2018 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

The reasons for U.S. involvement in the Middle East are becoming obsolete, but policy and strategy aren’t keeping pace. Find out more with your subscription to World Politics Review (WPR). The security environment in the Middle East may be the most complex on earth, with an intricate, volatile and sometimes shifting mixture of destabilizing forces and hostilities. There are deadly power struggles within and between nations. And behind it all is the Middle East’s massive oil production, on which the global economy depends. The United States first ventured into the Middle East early in the Cold War and has remained […]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a meeting with his aides at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, April 15, 2019 (Photo by Bae Jae-man for Yonhap via AP Images).

In the aftermath of the failed summit meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February, the task of resuscitating talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program has fallen to the man who brokered Trump and Kim’s historic first meeting in June 2018: South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Moon’s willingness to again play the role of mediator is commendable, but he faces an uphill climb. The surprising breakdown of talks in Hanoi revealed nothing if not the extent to which the United States and North Korea misunderstand each other. U.S. negotiators understandably turned […]

Members of a SWAT team keep an eye on demonstrators marking the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2018 (AP photo by Steve Helber).

Since 9/11, any mention of violent extremism usually referred to Salafi jihadism and the likes of al-Qaida and, more recently, the self-styled Islamic State. While not the only type of extremism plaguing the world, the sociopathic brutality and morbid self-publicity of these jihadist groups put them in the spotlight. There had never been anything like them, or so it seemed. In the minds of many people, al-Qaida and its offshoots were the paradigm of violent extremism. Jihadism is far from defeated today, even if the Islamic State has been rolled back in Syria and Iraq. From Boko Haram in Nigeria […]

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at a groundbreaking ceremony for a Chinese-funded expressway project in Kampong Speu province, south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 22, 2019 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—In December, nearly 40 men stepped off a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-chartered plane onto a humid tarmac on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, the capital of their unfamiliar homeland. It was the first time many of them, who were born in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines to parents fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime, and who grew up in the United States, had ever set foot in Cambodia. Others fled the country as children, with their only memories of Cambodia being the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. The overwhelming majority of these Cambodian deportees came to […]

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