President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Washington, Oct. 10, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

President Donald Trump’s presidency has in many ways undermined America’s global standing and its ability to work together with other countries. But on some issues, “His willingness to question long-running common wisdom about U.S. foreign policy has actually been a benefit and an asset to America,” says Emma Ashford, a senior fellow at the New American Engagement Initiative in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. She joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman on the Trend Lines podcast this week to look back on four years of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives and pick out aspects of his legacy that are […]

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One, Washington, Dec. 12, 2020 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

During his four years in office, President Donald Trump has worked methodically to tear up just about any foreign policy initiative or multilateral treaty that had Barack Obama’s fingerprints on it, from the Paris climate accord to the Iran nuclear deal to the policy of so-called “Strategic Patience” with North Korea. While President-elect Joe Biden is understandably promising a completely different approach in some areas, there are some aspects of his presidency that are worth preserving and building on. This week on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by Emma Ashford for a conversation about what to keep and […]

President Donald Trump during a roundtable on Venezuela in Doral, Florida, July 10, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

When President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, he will inherit two types of problems from his predecessor. The first will involve repairing the damage President Donald Trump created through neglect: the alliances, partnerships, multilateral organizations and U.S. government institutions to which Trump paid too little attention the past four years. Though not negligible, these problems will in most cases be relatively straightforward to address through methodical diplomacy—the simple art of showing up. The second category of problems has to do with the damage Trump created by paying too much attention to an issue: most of all, his campaigns […]

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris listen as Katherine Tai, the Biden administration's nominee for U.S. trade representative, speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Dec. 11, 2020 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

“Trade is like any other tool in our domestic or foreign policy,” Katherine Tai, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to be the next U.S. trade representative, said last Friday when her nomination was announced. “It is not an end in itself. It is a means to create more hope and opportunity for people.” Those remarks from the 46-year-old career trade official may seem self-evident. But they hint at what could become a significant change in the direction of trade policy under the new president. Since the era of bilateral and regional trade negotiations began in the mid-1980s, the mission of the […]

President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

SAO PAULO—When Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, went to New York in 2019 to address the United Nations General Assembly, he crossed paths in a hallway with one of his favorite politicians, President Donald Trump. Visibly anxious, the Brazilian leader exclaimed, “I love you,” in heavily accented English. Trump shook his counterpart’s hand, murmured “nice to see you again,” and walked away. While the episode showcases Bolsonaro’s deep personal admiration for Trump, it is also a vivid example of how Brazil’s foreign policy toward the United States over the past two years has been predicated on the Brazilian leader’s efforts […]

1

Early this year, when the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic were beginning to sink in, the governments and monetary authorities of the world’s largest economies were challenged to respond. To prevent the worst from occurring, economic rescue packages needed to meet three key criteria from the time-tested, crisis-fighting playbook: speed, size and sustainability. At the time, the policy responses could only be judged on the first two of those characteristics. On both counts, they scored quite well. Collectively, from the United States to Europe to Japan, policymakers’ efforts to address the economic fallout of the pandemic were impressive and historic […]

A young girl waves a Moroccan and a Palestinian flag during a protest against normalizing relations with Israel, in Rabat, Morocco, Sept. 18, 2020 (AP photo by Mosa’ab Elshamy).

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week. The United Arab Emirates got armed Reaper drones and the coveted F-35, becoming the first Arab county to fly the most advanced U.S. fighter jet, despite Israel’s initial objections. Sudan got much-needed economic aid and the promise of being removed from Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, freeing up billions of dollars in more international […]

The rocket carrying NASA’s new Mars rover lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, July 30, 2020 (AP photo by John Raoux).

President-elect Joe Biden is a down-to-earth guy, but the fate of the heavens may end up being one of his main foreign policy challenges. The United States has long sought to maintain outer space as an open, stable and rules-bound domain. Unfortunately, this cooperative vision is under stress. The emergence of new space-faring nations, an explosion of private commercial activity and a brewing arms race, among other issues, are all leaving outdated international institutions in the space dust. Biden has made a “return to multilateralism” the core theme of his proposed foreign policy. Closing glaring gaps in outer space governance […]

President Donald Trump listens during a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, Dec. 3, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Priced at about $741 billion and thousands of pages long, the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act has a little holiday cheer for everyone inside Washington’s Beltway. There are bold moves on cyber strategy, artificial intelligence, 5G—and even a modest pay raise for members of the military. All that, however, is nothing compared to the biggest change the defense spending bill would bring for the future of national security. If signed into law, the bill, also known as the NDAA, would effectively outlaw anonymous shell companies in the United States. The only problem—surprise, surprise—is President Donald Trump. His parting gift as […]

Then-Vice President Joe Biden during a press conference in Mexico City, Feb. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Ties between the United States and Mexico took a hit in October, when Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, a former Mexican defense minister, was arrested in Los Angeles on federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges. U.S. investigators had allegedly identified him as a high-level collaborator with Mexico’s powerful drug cartels, known to the cartel members as “El Padrino”—The Godfather. Mexico’s government was outraged at Cienfuegos’ arrest, with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador—or AMLO, as he is widely known—decrying it as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, even reportedly threatening to expel U.S. drug enforcement agents from Mexico if the charges weren’t […]

A U.S. Army sniper stands guard during an unloading operation at an unidentified location in Somalia, June 28, 2020 (photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Ruano for Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa via AP Images).

In a nod to his campaign promise to end U.S. participation in conflicts abroad, outgoing President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of American troops from Somalia last week. The announcement came a week after Trump’s acting defense secretary, Christopher Miller, capped a whirlwind Middle East tour on Nov. 27 with a three-hour stop in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. Under the Pentagon’s new reduction plan, nearly all of the 700 special operations forces currently deployed in Somalia are expected to leave on Jan. 15—just five days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration—with many of them redeploying to Kenya. The withdrawal complicates Somalia’s efforts […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks at a closing campaign rally for the upcoming National Assembly elections, in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 3, 2020 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

Venezuelan opposition leaders and the governments that back them just saw their strategy for dislodging the increasingly tyrannical regime of President Nicolas Maduro culminate in failure. Last Sunday, in farcical elections for a new legislature, Maduro’s supporters took control of the last remaining bastion of the opposition, the National Assembly. The legislature had served as the tip of the spear for a coordinated international campaign to remove Maduro, which was promoted by the Trump administration and supported by European and Latin American democracies. That plan, which launched two years ago, had tried to capitalize on the opposition’s control of the […]

Then-Vice President Joe Biden, left, with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was a candidate in Mexico’s presidential election at the time, Mexico City, March 5, 2012 (AP photo by Alexandre Meneghini).

In contrast with Donald Trump’s single-minded focus on immigration, President-elect Joe Biden has promised a return to a more conventional, multidimensional approach to the United States’ relations with Mexico. But if President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s reluctance to congratulate Biden on his victory is any indication, a return to normalcy may not be what Mexico wants. This week on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by Duncan Wood, the director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, to discuss the challenges ahead for U.S.-Mexico ties and how Biden might be able to use some […]

Chinese naval cadets march in formation at Tiananmen Square, in Beijing, Sept. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

In 1998, during a year at the University of Hawaii on a language fellowship as I prepared for a career shift from West Africa to East Asia, I sat in a darkened room one afternoon to take in a briefing about big, looming changes in the western Pacific. The scholar who made the presentation used a projector to dramatic effect as he argued that in the decades ahead, it was almost certain that China—then very far from a peer competitor with the United States, whether in military or economic terms—would eventually make it impossible for American aircraft carriers to operate […]

Then-Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Carlos Raul Morales, Guatemala’s foreign minister at the time, in Guatemala City, Jan. 14, 2016 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

President Donald Trump has mostly ignored Central America save for his attempts to bully the region’s leaders into helping him slash the number of immigrants entering the United States, but President-elect Joe Biden is promising a radically different approach. With extensive foreign policy experience and a genuine interest in Central America stemming from his time as vice president, when he served as former President Barack Obama’s chief regional emissary, Biden has vowed to directly address the brutal conditions that are at the heart of the migration crisis in Central America. Biden has also pledged to “immediately do away with” President […]

President Trump speaks at Dana Incorporated about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade, in Warren, Mich.,  Jan. 30, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Daniel McDowell is filling in this week. When Joe Biden is inaugurated as America’s next president on Jan. 20, he is expected to take quick action to reverse many of Donald Trump’s policies. The incoming administration has spent months laying the legal groundwork for a flurry of swift, bold executive actions on issues like climate policy, immigration, transgender rights and nuclear weapons. Conspicuously absent from this list, however, is trade. Biden could undo many of the Trump administration’s most significant trade moves, like its tariffs on imports from both China and U.S. allies, with the stroke […]

Refugees and migrants wait to get on a bus after their arrival at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, May 4, 2020 (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

COVID-19 is a global menace, but its impact falls heaviest on the most vulnerable. In the world’s poorest states, the pandemic-induced recession threatens to throw decades of development into reverse and place hundreds of millions in desperate circumstances. Last week, the United Nations released its Global Humanitarian Overview, outlining the additional devastation in store if the multilateral system fails to close the yawning gap between urgent humanitarian needs and funds available to meet them. In other words, the list of global challenges the incoming Biden administration will face just got longer. For the world’s poorest nations, the main threat is […]

Showing 18 - 34 of 41First 1 2 3 Last