A man takes pictures at sunset in Sarajevo, Bosnia, May 6, 2020 (AP photo by Kemal Softic).

Perhaps no activity is more inherently human than the attempt to find meaning, whether in the circumstances of our lives or the broad sweep of history. As Viktor Frankl taught us in his seminal book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” with meaning comes purpose; understanding the “why” often helps us find the “how.” This seemingly hard-wired effort to discern the meaning of the events taking place around us begins with identifying important signposts and determining their significance. For us at WPR, the most obvious one we look for is crisis—whether political, economic or humanitarian; whether caused by social processes, natural phenomena […]

A large crowd wearing masks commutes through Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, Japan, Mar. 3, 2020 (AP photo by Jae C. Hong).

For everyone around the world, in every country and continent, 2020 was dominated by a single story: COVID-19. For all of us, though the date may have varied, there was a definitive before and after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The thirst for thoughtful analysis of such a historic world event—from big picture articles examining the broad sweep of the pandemic’s global impact to more focused pieces detailing its implications for particular countries—is reflected in our list of this year’s most-read stories. Of course, WPR also closely covered the U.S. presidential election, the Black Lives Matter protests that spread […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a meeting of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, in Ankara, Turkey, May 6, 2019 (Presidential Press Service photo via AP Images).

In response to strong bipartisan pressure from Congress, the U.S. State Department imposed sanctions on Turkey earlier this month to punish it for purchasing a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile system from Russia in 2019. The narrowly targeted sanctions include a ban on export licenses for Turkey’s main military procurement agency, as well as asset freezes and visa restrictions on senior officials at the organization. Not surprisingly, Turkey, a major NATO ally, called the move a “grave mistake” and threatened to retaliate. The yearslong fracas over Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 missile defense system, reportedly for around $2.5 billion, will go down […]

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at a joint press conference in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 17, 2020 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

At the end of a tumultuous and disorienting year for the international community, it seems only fair to take stock of where we stand. The answer is clear: We are between storms. COVID-19 and climate change—the first a dramatic gale whipping the globe, the second a far deadlier gathering hurricane—have brought fresh urgency to international cooperation. The first injections of coronavirus vaccines have brought hope that the pandemic can be defeated soon, though we are far from out of the woods. Meanwhile, with the United Nations gearing up to take a bolder leadership role, a new U.S. president pledging a […]

President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, Dec. 22, 2020. (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

As the world watches the chaotic countdown to a new president in Washington, one anticipated policy shift after Joe Biden’s inauguration is causing anxiety in some quarters and optimism in others: the return of human rights to the global agenda. Donald Trump’s open disdain for human rights was one of the earliest signs that his presidency would look like no other in the White House. Defending human rights around the world has always required a complicated balancing act, often—though not always—with a tradeoff between American interests and values. Under Trump, values consistently took a back seat. The only time he […]

Former Google AI researcher Timnit Gebru speaks in San Francisco, California, Sept. 7, 2018 (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch).

Google sparked an uproar earlier this month when it dismissed Timnit Gebru, the co-leader of a team of researchers at the company studying the ethical implications of artificial intelligence. Google maintains that it accepted her “resignation,” but Gebru, who is Black, claims she was fired for drawing unwelcome attention to the lack of diversity in Google’s workforce. She had also been at loggerheads with her supervisors due to their request that she retract a paper she had co-authored on ethical problems associated with certain types of AI models that are central to Google’s business. On the Trend Lines podcast this […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony in the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 5, 2020 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

The waning weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency must feel like victory laps in the Kremlin. As Trump keeps trying to subvert the results of November’s election, with wild calls to impose martial law now coming up in paranoid White House meetings, he is also downplaying a huge cyberattack on America’s most critical computer networks, widely attributed to Russia. Moscow’s greatest nemesis and former arch-rival is laying coat after coat of fresh muck on the once-shiny patina of its international reputation and prestige. They were built on notions that once seemed almost unshakable: universal-seeming values of democracy and the rule of […]

A building at Google’s campus in Mountain View, California, Sept. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Jeff Chiu).

Earlier this month, Timnit Gebru, the co-leader of a team of researchers at Google specializing in the ethical implications of artificial intelligence, was unceremoniously ousted from her position. Some of the circumstances that led to her departure are disputed, but Gebru—a Black woman in a field that is overwhelmingly white and male—claims she was forced out for drawing unwelcome attention to the lack of diversity in Google’s workforce. She also claims she was “silenced” for her refusal to retract a paper that she had co-authored on ethical problems associated with certain types of AI models that are central to Google’s […]

President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He sign “phase one” of a U.S.-China trade agreement, in the White House, Washington, Jan. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Steve Helber).

One of the great traditions in U.S. trade policy circles is the semiannual gathering of former U.S. trade representatives. Started two decades ago by Sherman Katz at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and carried on by William Reinsch, who holds the Scholl Chair in International Business at CSIS, the meetings bring together many of the former top U.S. trade officials to share insights on current economic issues. It is a unique event that pools the accumulated wisdom of several decades; there are no similar gatherings of former U.S. secretaries of state or defense. This year’s version—held online, of […]

Taliban prisoners peer through a door after an ISIS-claimed attack on a prison in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Aug. 3, 2020 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

On a Tuesday in late October, an Afghan cleric, Sheikh Raheemullah Nangahari, was giving a speech in his madrassa in Peshawar, near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, when a blast ripped through the prayer hall, injuring him and killing eight others. It was the latest attack in a deadly rivalry between the Taliban and the Islamic State’s faction in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which calls itself the Khorasan Province. Raheemullah, a senior Taliban official, is believed to have been targeted by the Islamic State because of his work spreading propaganda against the extremist group. In written tracts and speeches, the sheikh has […]

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi briefs reporters on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Nov. 13, 2020 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

Buried within the annual National Defense Authorization Act that overwhelmingly passed Congress this month is a measure that will strengthen American anti-money laundering and anti-corruption rules. Most notably, the NDAA, as the bill is known, will require the Treasury Department to begin collecting beneficial ownership information on companies registered in the U.S., effectively banning anonymously owned companies, including shell companies that are often used as fronts for dirty money. Assuming Congress overrides President Donald Trump’s threatened veto of the law, as expected, this is a game-changer for global efforts to fight graft. The U.S. has long lagged behind other countries […]

The Dave Johnson coal-fired power plant is silhouetted against the morning sun in Glenrock, Wyo., July 27, 2018 (AP photo by J. David Ake)

Humanity is at war with the living planet, endangering our prosperity and indeed our very survival on Earth. That is the stark message of the 30th Human Development Report, “The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene,” released last week by the United Nations Development Program. For too long, we have pursued an economic model of development based on unsustainable production and consumption, heedless of the impact on the natural world in which we are inextricably embedded. The bill is now coming due. The COVID-19 pandemic, which began as a zoonotic disease, is only the latest example of the pressures […]

Photo by 692 Productions, courtesy of Dambisa Moyo.

“It’s very easy for us to forget that things in the global economy and geopolitically were already somewhat precarious before COVID hit in earnest,” says Dr. Dambisa Moyo. “As we start to think about what a post-pandemic recovery looks like, I think it’s very important to have that context in mind.” This is why, for Dr. Moyo, “COVID is an accelerator to the challenged environment that was already occurring.” Dr. Moyo is a widely acclaimed economist and author of four New York Times bestselling books, most recently, “Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy Is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth—and How to […]

A protester waves the Sahrawi flag during a demonstration in front of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Madrid, Dec. 10, 2020 (Photo by Diego Radames for Sipa via AP Images).

U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise move last week to recognize Morocco’s claim to the disputed region of Western Sahara, in exchange for Morocco normalizing relations with Israel, ushered a long-frozen conflict into a new and more volatile phase. In one sense, it is formal acknowledgement of the reality that Morocco has cemented its de facto control over most of Western Sahara. With U.S. backing, Morocco now has even less incentive to cooperate with the United Nations in its decades-long effort to determine the fate of the coastal desert territory through a referendum on self-determination, promised after the U.N. brokered a […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks via video call during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 17, 2020 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

To call the revelations about Russia’s devastating cyberattack on U.S. government agencies and thousands of American businesses chilling would be a gross understatement. What is even scarier, though, is that despite wave after wave of Russian-sponsored cyberattacks on the United States and its allies for more than a decade now, Washington still apparently lacks the political will to defend against this Russian aggression. It is possible and even probable that this latest attack will provoke a strong response from the U.S. and its allies, as some have suggested. As well it should. After all, the breach of the network monitoring […]

A man passes the New York Stock Exchange, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Lennihan).

In addition to its human toll, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked economic havoc around the world. Entire economies ground to a virtual standstill as governments implemented strict lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus. The impact on individual countries has only been exacerbated by the disruptions to global trade caused by the pandemic, and uncertainty still surrounds the shape of the economic recovery that will come in its aftermath. But even before the pandemic, the developed economies of Western democracies faced structural obstacles to growth that have called into question their models of governance, even as China’s high-growth development […]

1

When President Donald Trump entered office under an “America First” banner, it seemed to herald a new era of U.S. isolationism. As he prepares to leave the White House on Jan. 20, though, the shifts in America’s military engagements during his one-term presidency have been less dramatic than anticipated. Though their numbers are down, U.S. troops are still stationed in Afghanistan—for now. And instead of operating around a clear security strategy, Trump’s tenure was marked by its unpredictability—dramatic reversals, erratic interventions and the fraying of long-standing alliances. Trump’s isolationist instincts came into regular tension with his closest advisers, many of […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 411 2 3 Last