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In the fall of 1989, the British economist John Williamson prepared a background paper for an upcoming conference at the Peterson Institute of International Economics in Washington, the aim of which was to examine recent shifts in economic policies and attitudes in Latin America. By his own account, his aim with the paper was to identify a list of 10 policies “about whose proper deployment Washington can muster a reasonable degree of consensus.” Little did he know at the time that his so-called Washington Consensus would come to take on a life of its own. Thirty years later, it remains […]

President Hassan Rouhani at a ceremony to inaugurate the Azadi Innovation Factory, where he announced that Iran will begin injecting uranium gas into 1,044 centrifuges, Pardis, Iran, Nov. 5, 2019 (Office of the Iranian Presidency photo via AP).

When President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal last year and reimposed economic sanctions on Tehran, he justified it on the basis that the agreement did not go far enough to keep Iran from permanently acquiring nuclear weapons. Yet rather than give in to Trump’s pressure, Iran is responding by restarting nuclear activities that the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, had successfully frozen. Trump and others in his administration haven’t just focused on Iran’s nuclear program, though, pointing to other issues of concern with Tehran, including its missile tests, support […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrive at a press conference, Berlin, Nov. 7, 2019 (dpa photo by Bernd von Jutrczenka via AP Images).

When NATO leaders meet next week in London, one phrase will be on everybody’s lips: European strategic autonomy. While the ambiguous concept is open to competing interpretations, its general thrust is clear. It connotes a growing aspiration among many countries in Europe to set their own global priorities and act independently in security and foreign policy, and to possess sufficient material and institutional capabilities to implement these decisions, with partners of their own choosing. The notion is at the heart of President Emmanuel Macron’s vision of a “sovereign” Europe, and of the ambitions of the incoming president of the European […]

Workers peel shrimps at factory of Thai Union, a major seafood supplier, in Samut Sakhon, Thailand, Aug. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

In late October, the Trump administration announced the suspension of more than $1 billion in trade preferences for Thailand’s fishing industry due to rampant violations of human rights, particularly among migrant laborers who work in the sector. Thailand is one of the world’s largest seafood exporters, but its fishing industry has long been dogged by reports of slave labor, trafficking and other human rights abuses. While Thailand has made some progress in addressing these issues, it still has not implemented necessary reforms, says Steve Trent, founder and executive director of the Environmental Justice Foundation, a British watchdog organization. In an […]

Smoke rises during a protest after authorities raised gasoline prices, in the central city of Isfahan, Iran, Nov. 16, 2019 (AP photo).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Frederick Deknatel talk about the widespread popular protests in Iran, and what the regime’s violent crackdown on demonstrators reveals. They also discuss U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s visit to South Korea, where he pressed Seoul to massively increase its share of covering the costs of U.S. troops based in the country, and what the visit says about U.S. policy in Asia. 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 […]

A protest against overfishing organized by the World Wildlife Fund, Brussels, Belgium, May 13, 2013 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Since 2001, member states of the World Trade Organization have held on-and-off negotiations on an agreement to end harmful subsidies to fisheries that are contributing to the depletion of fish stocks around the world. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that in 2015, only two-thirds of the world’s fish stocks were being harvested at sustainable levels, down from 90 percent in 1974. Although the WTO is close to an agreement, it won’t meet a year-end deadline proposed by the U.N. In an email interview with WPR, Daniel Skerritt, a postdoctoral research fellow with the Fisheries Economics Research Unit […]

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo hold a joint press conference at the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 15, 2019 (pool photo by Jung Yeon-je of AFP).

The Trump administration’s pandering to North Korea is finally reaching its limits, with implications beyond the Korean Peninsula. At a press briefing Sunday in Seoul with his South Korean counterpart, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that the U.S. and South Korea were postponing a major and long-scheduled air exercise as “an act of good will” toward the North for the “advancement of peace.” This wasn’t the first time the Trump administration had cancelled or postponed readiness drills in South Korea, where the United States has long maintained a large military presence, recently estimated at 28,500 troops. But a pattern is […]

President Donald Trump meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, Oct. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

If all had gone as planned this past weekend, President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping might have signed the “phase one” trade agreement that Trump billed as “the greatest and biggest deal ever made for our Great Patriot Farmers in the history of our Country.” The two leaders had been scheduled to meet and discuss the deal in Santiago, Chile, during the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. But with street protests over economic policy and inequality rocking Chile, President Sebastian Pinera canceled the summit late last month, citing the “difficult circumstances” in the country and the priority of […]

U.S. President Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Republican senators meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

Last week’s White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan included plenty of compliments and praise—mostly one way, from Trump to Erdogan—but it failed to resolve the most serious issues hampering U.S.-Turkey ties. Trump, as usual, created some theater by inviting five Republican senators who take a much tougher view on Turkey to press Erdogan about the recent Turkish invasion of northern Syria and attacks on Kurdish forces allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State, until Trump abandoned them. Erdogan reportedly responded by showing the senators an anti-Kurdish propaganda video on […]

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting of the Economic Club of New York, in New York, Nov. 12, 2019 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Neil Bhatiya is filling in for Candace Rondeaux this week. President Donald Trump this week laid out his most direct case yet for staying the course in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In a speech to the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday, he boasted that his “America First” policies had delivered stronger-than-expected economic growth and new jobs for millions of Americans, despite the disruption caused not only by his trade war with China, but also by the tariffs he has imposed on close U.S. allies in Europe. While most coverage of […]

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales waves as he gets out of a Mexican Air Force plane in Mexico City (Photo by Jair Cabrera Torres for dpa via AP Images).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Frederick Deknatel talk about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the White House, and Donald Trump’s “worst of both worlds” approach to Turkey. They also discuss the fall of Bolivian President Evo Morales and why the events there are too complicated to easily categorize as either a coup or a revolution. 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 […]

President Donald Trump meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

One of the most startling revelations from the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is just how recklessly his administration has been running America’s foreign policy. The new information—about a shadow foreign policy designed to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens, in exchange for military assistance that was being withheld by the White House—hardly comes as a complete surprise, but it confirms the worst fears of many observers. The Ukraine debacle shows how the U.S. foreign policy apparatus, made up of career diplomats and other nonpartisan staffers, has been unable to prevent the president’s worst instincts from […]

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The quickly unfolding impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump has already ensnared many other people, while raising more and more questions. From the extent of Trump’s involvement in pressuring Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rivals to the culpability of prominent officials in and outside his administration in that scheme, the public hearings that started this week have set the stage for an impeachment vote that could be among the most pivotal political moments in recent American history. One of the questions swirling around this scandal is what the revelations about Trump will mean for future U.S. policy toward […]

Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Shinsuke Sugiyama and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer applaud with President Donald Trump after signing a trade agreement at the White House, Washington, Oct. 7, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump can point to a handful of trade deals he has concluded since coming to office. What he cannot claim, though, is that he has made things better. New agreements with Canada, Mexico and Japan do not come close to offsetting the market access that was lost when Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Americans also continue to pay higher tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in imports from China, the European Union and a range other countries, while U.S. exporters are facing retaliatory tariffs in major markets. A “phase one” agreement with China is […]

A protest outside the White House against President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, Washington, June 1, 2017 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Almost a century after the U.S. Senate rejected the Covenant of the League of Nations, President Donald Trump last week formally announced that the United States would begin quitting the Paris climate agreement, the most important multilateral convention of the 21st century. Future historians may well look back on these twin abdications as bookends to the “American century,” underscoring enduring U.S. ambivalence toward globalism and defensiveness regarding national sovereignty. The tale of these two Paris treaties reveals both how much the global agenda has changed and how little the U.S. has learned since 1919. From its founding until World War […]

A bottle of fentanyl pharmaceuticals in Anyang city, central China’s Henan province, Nov. 12, 2018 (Photo by Chang Zhongzheng for Imaginechina via AP Images).

If someone had mentioned fentanyl to you 5 or 10 years ago, you might have scratched your head. But today, this synthetic opioid has become a household word in the worst sense imaginable. It’s cheap and easy to manufacture, while being 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. And it’s the most commonly identified drug in fatal overdoses in the United States. For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by Ben Westhoff, a journalist who spent the past few years chronicling the rise of fentanyl for a new book, […]

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he leaves the White House in Washington for a trip to New York City, Nov. 2, 2019 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

For just the third time in modern American history, the U.S. House of Representatives is investigating whether a president should be removed from office. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has so far kept the impeachment inquiry narrowly focused on President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political opponents. But even as the House approved a resolution last week setting out the next steps in that inquiry, there have been reports of other instances in which Trump appears to be manipulating U.S. policy—in this case involving trade—to serve his narrow political interests, rather […]

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