President Donald Trump addresses troops at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq, Dec. 26, 2018 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Civil-military relations in the United States work smoothly most of the time. Whether senior military leaders personally agree with a president’s decisions and policies or not, they normally support them, at least publicly. In exchange, civilian leaders respect the authority of military leaders within their own professional domain, particularly on things like military discipline and order. There have been times, though, when U.S. civil-military relations have been more troubled. In some cases, senior military leaders publicly disagreed with a president’s positions or policies and were fired for it. President Harry Truman’s sacking of Gen. Douglas MacArthur over U.S. strategy in […]

British Prime Minister Theresa May listens to U.S. President Donald Trump during the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 30, 2018 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

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 look at what to expect from President Donald Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom, Ireland and France next week. The editors also discuss the many diplomatic, economic and security-related issues facing 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 […]

President Donald Trump poses with American farmers in the Oval Office of the White House after announcing $16 billion in aid, Washington, May 23, 2019 (DPA photo by Kevin Dietsch via AP).

President Donald Trump’s policies to “make America great again” often reflect a fondness for an earlier era that was not so great for everyone. Some of his judicial nominees have declined to affirm that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down segregation in public schools, is the settled law of the land. Trump’s immigration policies hark back to a time when there were national quotas that favored some ethnic groups over others. Recent trade developments also suggest a yearning for the golden days of yesteryear. The 1950s are widely remembered as a time of […]

Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Revolutionary Guard commanders in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 18, 2016 (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP Images).

In the high-stakes game between Tehran and Washington, it is often hard to tell who is really bluffing. This week, President Donald Trump threatened that a war would be “the official end of Iran,” responding in part to reports that Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, had urged leaders of Iranian-backed militias across the Middle East to “prepare for proxy war.” For those counting cards, however, Iran may already have tipped its hand. The recent return to Iran of a wave of fighters from Liwa Fatemiyoun, an Iranian-backed militia made up of ethnic […]

President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington, May 16, 2019 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

As a late entrant to the game of high-stakes statecraft, having expanded in size and influence in relative isolation, the United States has always had a peculiar approach to the world. It has been characterized most of all by a pervasive tendency to assume that other nations and other peoples see politics and security the same way that Americans do. But not surprisingly, that leads to a lot of misperceptions. Today, those misperceptions, propelled by the Trump administration’s eccentric approach to statecraft, are becoming increasingly dangerous as America’s margin for error in its foreign policy decreases. If left unchecked, these […]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech at the European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, Sept. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Jean-Francois Badias).

In this week’s editors’ roundtable, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, talk about the European Parliament elections, and the limitations of framing the voting as a battle between liberal reformers and the illiberal far right. They also discuss some of the week’s other top stories, including U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan, the first steps in Washington to repeal the broad post-9/11 law authorizing the use of military force against al-Qaida, and the official results of India’s general elections. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read […]

A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter flies over Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 30, 2007 (AP photo by Marko Drobnjakovic).

Of all the constitutional powers enjoyed by the U.S. president, perhaps none is so vulnerable to abuse as the presidential pardon. As a check against the potential abuse of power by the judicial branch, it serves an important constitutional function. As a public demonstration of clemency and the power of redemption, it contributes symbolically to the health of the republic. But when used improperly, the pardon becomes a poison to the body politic, rather than an antidote to what is ailing it. This is certainly the case when it comes to President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon Michael Behenna, a […]

A voter on his way to a polling station in Los Angeles, California, Nov. 6, 2018 (Photo by Britta Pedersen for dpa via AP Images).

The Trump administration’s foreign policy is deeply unpopular in the United States, even while his “America First” rhetoric resonates with a significant subset of Americans. Most voters do not understand the meaning of traditional foreign policy concepts like “maintaining the liberal international order.” And while Americans are increasingly divided along generational lines about what the U.S. should prioritize in its dealings with the rest of the world, they are united in their desire for investments in infrastructure and social services to make the country more globally competitive. These are just a few takeaways from a new report out this month […]

An American flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem during a welcome ceremony for visiting U.S. President Donald Trump outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. In the past year, U.S. President Donald Trump has launched a damaging trade war with Beijing, as well as an all-out assault against Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei. But tit-for-tat tariffs are hurting consumers and farmers, requiring sacrifices on the part of the American public. With no end in sight to the trade tensions, are American voters prepared to bear the costs of all-out economic war with China? This question could be central to Trump’s political fate, but Democratic candidates […]

Shoppers outside a Huawei store, Beijing, May 20, 2019 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

The tit-for-tat trade war between the United States and China is costly enough, but it could be morphing into something far more serious. A week after raising tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China, the Trump administration took aim at Huawei, the Chinese company leading the global race to create new, faster 5G telecommunications networks. The new regulations would, if fully implemented, restrict Huawei’s ability to access the U.S. market, either for exports of its products or for imports of key technologies. There are reasons to be concerned about Beijing using Huawei’s networks for nefarious purposes, as well as […]

The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft launches carrying a Russian-American crew of three, bound for the International Space Station, Baikonur, Kazakhstan, March 15, 2019 (NASA photo by Bill Ingalls via AP Images).

Fifty years after Apollo 11 astronauts first walked on the moon, the world is entering a new Space Age. Outer space, a domain once reserved for the great powers, is democratizing. New “space-faring” nations and private corporations are entering the final frontier, taking advantage of breakthrough technologies and lower financial barriers. The possibilities for humanity are immense. They include new opportunities for communication, for observing and understanding the Earth’s natural systems, for exploring the solar system and the heavens beyond, for exploiting space-based resources, and for constructing planetary defense systems to protect the planet from catastrophic collisions with near-Earth objects—asteroids, […]

A man watches TV screens showing North Korean weapons systems, top right, in Seoul, South Korea, May 10, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

The long-standing goal of U.S. policy on North Korea has been the “complete, verifiable and irreversible” dismantling of its nuclear weapons program and arsenal. While the Trump administration remains committed to pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, the U.S. should begin to consider its policy options in the event North Korea decides to keep them. Why have the Trump administration’s efforts to convince North Korea to relinquish its nuclear weapons program so far been unsuccessful? To begin with, the normal processes for working these types of international disarmament issues have been lacking. The integration of the U.S. […]

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 1, 2019 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

After almost 18 years of conflict against an array of extremist groups, all in the name of fighting terrorism, Americans have grown frustrated. While al-Qaida, the Islamic State and other groups in the vast network of transnational jihadism have been pummeled by the U.S. military, they continue to regenerate and spread. When weakened in one place, this network shifts to another. America’s partners in this conflict have grown stronger, but they still show no sign of being able to manage the threat of extremism without extensive help. Among the American people, patience is running out. Their frustration has led to […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

In this week’s editors’ roundtable, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, talk about new fears of a war between the U.S. and Iran as tensions continue to rise. They also discuss the future of U.S.-China relations as the trade war rumbles on, and the implications of a new Cold War for a globalized world. 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 […]

A worker sits in front of a billboard at a construction site in Beijing, China, May 16, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

When the trade war between China and the United States began last year, a number of countries expected to emerge as winners. After all, if Beijing and Washington imposed tariffs on each other’s goods, it would open new markets for bystander countries not directly involved in the fray. Now, however, the escalating trade war is making everyone more anxious, even in countries that thought they stood to benefit. The fact is, a trade war of this magnitude inevitably reverberates across much of the world. Even worse, its impact has the potential to reach beyond economics. History, including recent Latin American […]

A Cosco Shipping container ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, May 14, 2019 (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The trade war between China and the United States is heating up again, with no resolution in sight. As promised, U.S. President Donald Trump more than doubled tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods Friday, the same day trade talks in Washington between Chinese and American negotiators ended without a deal. Beijing retaliated Monday by slapping higher tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods. With both sides dug in for a potentially lengthy battle, Beijing’s propaganda apparatus has called […]

President Donald Trump at a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, May 13, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

While campaigning for U.S. president, Donald Trump sold himself as a great negotiator who would get tough and get things done. That image took a big hit after Trump’s capitulation to Congress over his needless government shutdown earlier this year, and his failure to get additional funding for his border wall. It took another hit last week when three of Trump’s foreign policy priorities suffered setbacks: Iran announced that it would stop adhering to some provisions of the international deal curbing its nuclear program; North Korea resumed ballistic missile launches; and Beijing reneged on commitments aimed at resolving the U.S.-China […]

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