U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk to participate in a group photo at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

A key arms control treaty that limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons the United States and Russia can deploy is set to expire in February 2021. Without it, the two countries could be locked into a nuclear arms race not seen since the height of the Cold War. Fortunately, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as New START, is popular in both Washington and Moscow, and it can be extended for an additional five years with just the signatures of Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Renewing it should be the easiest foreign policy decision Trump can make. […]

Smoke and steam rise from a coal processing plant in Hejin in central China’s Shanxi Province, Nov. 28, 2019 (AP photo by Sam McNeil).

2020 dawns with the multilateral system in crisis. The next 12 months will determine whether the world is capable of controlling nuclear proliferation, arresting runaway climate change and restoring faith in the United Nations. Some pivotal events will shape success or failure in the coming year. Preserving the Nuclear Regime. Of the several potential catastrophic risks confronting humanity, the specter of nuclear war remains the most terrifying. Since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the world has escaped the horror of nuclear weapons. Much of the credit, beyond deterrence and plain dumb luck, goes to the Treaty on […]

A protester flashes the victory sign overlooking a huge anti-government rally in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 31, 2019 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

Just like in 2017 and 2018, many of the most important stories around the world in 2019 were drowned out by the latest tweet, tirade or tantrum from U.S. President Donald Trump. In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Freddy Deknatel and Elliot Waldman talk about some of the big under-covered trends of the year, from the deterioration of U.S. alliances in East Asia to the fate of protest movements that rocked the Middle East. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter […]

Russian tanks, among 5,000 sent in to crush the Hungarian uprising, stand in a street in Budapest, November 1956 (AP photo).

Like many classic mystery stories, the Povl Bang-Jensen affair involved an agitated dog. The name and breed of the animal are not recorded. But we know that at roughly 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 1959, Paul Carahalios of Bayside, Queens, took his dog for its regular morning walk. Temperature records suggest that it was chilly but tolerable as they made their way as usual through Alley Pond Park, a stretch of reclaimed marshland on the north shore of Long Island where New York City meets the suburbs. Yet it soon became clear that something was amiss. The dog, […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Qingdao, June 10, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Trade wars, territorial disputes, Donald Trump—those are just a few of the topics that attracted the interests of WPR readers in 2019. Many other stories overshadowed by the biggest international news were also on our radar, as always, and they found a dedicated audience online. In original reporting and analysis, we looked for the trend lines behind the headlines, from palace intrigue in Thailand to political reconciliation in the Horn of Africa. The list below of our most-read articles of the year is based on unique page views. What’s in store for 2020? Keep following and subscribing to WPR. 1. […]

U.S. Army soldiers hike past burning rubbish in Kunar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 10, 2011 (AP photo by David Goldman).

If there is one big takeaway from The Washington Post’s publication of thousands of pages of documents detailing the extent of policy failures in Afghanistan, it is the great lengths that it takes to wake the American public up to the costs of pursuing a war without a strategy. As The Post’s examination of interviews produced as part of a wide-ranging and years-long review of U.S. policy by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, known as SIGAR, clearly shows, few officials charged with leading the war effort were willing to openly admit that most of what […]

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech at the COP25 conference in Madrid, Spain, Dec. 12, 2019 (AP photo by Manu Fernandez).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Freddy Deknatel talk about the state of climate change diplomacy after the disappointing COP25 conference in Madrid, and why progress is so difficult to achieve despite widespread popular mobilizations calling for urgent action on climate change. They also discuss reactions to Greta Thunberg and what they reveal about the debate over climate change. 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 […]

COP25 party members talk ahead of the closing plenary in Madrid, Dec. 15, 2019 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

The annual United Nations Climate Change Conference wrapped up Sunday in Madrid, after nearly two weeks of wrangling. Despite a two-day extension that made this the longest round of U.N. climate talks ever, the meeting was a massive failure. Instead of setting more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, negotiators went home mostly empty-handed, having punted the most difficult climate-related questions to next year’s conference in Glasgow, Scotland. “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared in a tweet Sunday. The […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Donald Trump at the NATO summit in London, Dec. 4, 2019 (Photo by Michael Kappeler for dpa via AP Images).

The recent NATO summit in London underscored how Turkey’s relations with its allies are becoming increasingly confrontational. In the run-up to the meeting, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to veto the alliance’s defense plan for Poland and the Baltic states unless key Western powers became more attentive to Turkish interests in Syria. Although Erdogan eventually signed on to the summit’s final communique, the Turks are continuing to stonewall approval of the plan until the West agrees to designate the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish militia, as a terrorist group. Turkey has been vocally complaining about Western support for the YPG […]

A worker loads imported goods on a truck at a distribution company outside the container port in Qingdao, China, Oct. 14, 2019 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

President Donald Trump’s trade policy made a lot of headlines in 2019, particularly his trade war with China and his constant threats to impose tariffs on close U.S. partners and allies. But while America under Trump heads in a protectionist direction, 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific are putting the finishing touches on the world’s largest free trade area, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. RCEP, as the deal is known, is just one sign that the U.S. is increasingly “on the outside looking in” when it comes to multilateral trade agreements, according to former U.S. trade negotiator Wendy Cutler. […]

A computer screen shows images of Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump, Seoul, South Korea, Sept. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The U.S. and China agreed to a long-anticipated “phase one” trade deal last Friday, pausing for now a trade war that has weighed down the global economy for more than a year. The agreement offers relief to both sides, but solutions to the deeper economic grievances that U.S. officials and businesses have long harbored toward China seem as far off as ever. Under the deal, which won’t be signed until January, the U.S. will reduce its tariffs on Chinese […]

Trucks load containers at the automated container dockyard in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, Nov. 28, 2019 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

It was another roller coaster ride in Washington last week—and that was before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives voted Friday morning to approve two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Despite impeachment getting closer to a full vote on the House floor, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced early in the week that the House would also vote on Trump’s top trade priority: replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement with the renegotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. By the end of the week, Washington and Beijing had filled in enough details on the “phase-one” deal to avoid Sunday’s […]

A man walks past a poster showing a U.S. dollar outside an exchange office in Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

It didn’t come as much of a surprise to most observers when, at a press conference on the sidelines of a BRICS summit in July 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin took a moment to criticize the United States’ decision a few months before to further tighten financial sanctions on Moscow. Putin explained that the move, which came in retaliation for Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, was “a big strategic mistake,” because it “undermines confidence in the dollar.” Later that summer, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed his boss, insinuating that Washington’s increasing use of financial sanctions would […]

From left, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a joint news conference in Paris, Dec. 9, 2019 (pool photo by Charles Platiau of Reuters via AP).

More than five years after Russia annexed Crimea, with the war in eastern Ukraine grinding on, is a détente between Moscow and Kyiv finally within reach? It might have been tempting to think so with the summit this week in Paris between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was only a few months ago, after all, that Putin and Zelensky had their first phone call, which led to Russia and Ukraine swapping dozens of prisoners and agreeing to consider reopening talks over the political future of the breakaway Donbas region. Yet despite some progress in Paris, […]

A man uses his smartphone as he stands near a billboard for Chinese technology firm Huawei at the PT Expo in Beijing, Oct. 31, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The Financial Times reported this week that China has ordered “all government offices and public institutions to remove foreign computer equipment and software within three years.” The move, part of China’s broader push to reduce its reliance on U.S. technology, is a significant step toward the decoupling of the world’s two largest economies. The Communist Party directive was issued earlier this year. It is “the first publicly known instruction with specific targets given to Chinese buyers to switch to […]

U.S. President Donald Trump at a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a NATO leaders' summit outside London, Dec. 3, 2019 (The Canadian Press photo by Sean Kilpatrick via AP).

It came in a predawn tweet, like so many things from President Donald Trump: The announcement of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina. It was just the start of another wild week in Trump’s trade wars. He then threatened to retaliate against France for its new tax on American technology companies with tariffs on French exports of wine, cheese and handbags. Later in the week, Trump said he might prefer to wait until after the election to reach the “phase-one” trade deal with China he announced as all-but done back in October. The comments raised […]

The new director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, addresses the media during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, Dec. 2, 2019 (AP photo by Ronald Zak).

Rafael Grossi, a veteran Argentine diplomat, took the helm of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Dec. 3, promising to bring renewed vigor and a higher profile to the world’s nuclear watchdog after the illness and death of his predecessor, Yukiya Amano of Japan. Grossi, who has previously served as Argentina’s permanent representative to the IAEA and the agency’s effective chief of staff, most recently has been heading preparations for next year’s review conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In a fall contest that stretched over several rounds, Grossi bested Romanian diplomat Cornel Feruta and two other competitors to win […]

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