Flags fly in Black Lives Matter Plaza as President Joe Biden is sworn in during the 59th Presidential Inauguration, in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021 (AP photo by Gerald Herbert).

Americans don’t agree on much these days. But polls reveal that a majority of them agree on one thing: There are lessons for humanity to be drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic. For the United States, the biggest lesson may not be a spiritual or religious one, but rather that it urgently needs to rethink its approach to foreign policy and reinvent national security for the next generation. By the time many American children born in 2020 are old enough to run for Congress, the world will be marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War II. But it […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a ceremony marking the start of the judicial year at the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Matias Delacroix).

Throughout former President Donald Trump’s four years in office, he made opposition to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro central to U.S. policy toward Latin America. That “maximum pressure” campaign largely rested on progressively tighter sanctions against the Maduro regime, with the goal of forcing his ouster in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaido, the former head of the National Assembly whom the U.S. and more than 50 other countries recognized as the country’s valid interim president. This hard-line policy toward Venezuela was a rare show of support for democracy by the Trump administration, and it played well among politically important voting […]

China’s Xi Jinping, top left, and European leaders during a video conference at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Dec. 30, 2020 (Pool photo by Johanna Geron via AP Images).

If “European strategic autonomy” were a hashtag, it would be trending. But it’s a phrase that has as many different meanings as there are people using it. At the most basic level, it refers to Europe’s ability to defend and advance its interests in a global arena increasingly characterized by strategic competition among great powers. How and in what areas it should do so, though, and to what ends, are the subject of a high-stakes debate still taking shape. The recently concluded investment agreement between the European Union and China highlights how the concept of European strategic autonomy has moved […]

A rally to celebrate the election of Kim Jong Un as general secretary of the Workers’ Party, in Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party has had a busy start to the year. Earlier this month, the Eighth Party Congress was held in the capital, Pyongyang: Eight days of meetings, including a 9-hour work report read out by leader Kim Jong Un himself. Just a couple days after those sessions wrapped up, Kim oversaw a celebratory military parade, the second one since October, featuring a new missile described by state media as the “world’s most powerful weapon.” New analysis of satellite imagery by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute suggests Pyongyang could be preparing for […]

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While Biden has attempted to repudiate Trump’s approach, which was itself a radical break from U.S. foreign policy traditions, it’s unclear whether a restoration of the United States global role is even possible. This report is just a sampling of our coverage of U.S. foreign policy under Biden. Download your free copy of U.S. Foreign Policy Under Biden to learn more today. President Joe Biden took office with an ambitious U.S. foreign policy agenda summed up by his favorite campaign tagline: “America is back.” In principle, Biden’s agenda is rooted in a repudiation of Trump’s “America First” legacy and the […]

A large video screen shows a government news report about the inauguration of President Joe Biden at a shopping mall in Beijing, Jan. 21, 2021 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Rachel Cheung and Assistant Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week. Beijing timed its parting shot perfectly, not wasting a second to serve its revenge on the outgoing Trump administration, with which it had sparred for the past four years. Less than five minutes after Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20, China’s Foreign Ministry announced sanctions targeting 28 members of Donald Trump’s Cabinet and […]

A man reads a newspaper reacting to the news of Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, in Lagos, Nigeria, Nov. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

President Joe Biden will need to combine prudence with creativity to forge a more productive relationship with Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and its largest economy. Notwithstanding Nigeria’s relative decline as a power within Africa, U.S.-Nigeria ties remain extensive by regional and continental standards. But they’ve been stymied in recent years by tensions over political corruption, Nigeria’s difficulties in managing the threat from the violent extremist group Boko Haram and the human rights record of Nigerian security forces. Nigeria’s importance to U.S. policy considerations lies in its large population, geographic size and economic heft, all of which have historically provided […]

Afghan security personnel inspect the site of a bombing attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

Afghanistan may not rank in the top tier of U.S. President Joe Biden’s policy priorities, given the host of pressing crises in the United States. But Afghanistan’s fate hinges in large part on how the Biden team decides to approach the country’s conflict and its tenuous, still-nascent peace process. Biden will be compelled to make critical decisions on Afghanistan during his first months in office that will affect the country’s conflict—and relationship with the U.S.—for years to come. Over the past year, the outgoing U.S. administration attempted to set a peace process in motion by signing a political agreement with […]

A protester holds a sign that reads, in Spanish, “Hooray for those who fight,” during a demonstration to demand the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Oct. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Elmer Martinez).

When Hurricanes Eta and Iota crashed through Central America in November, they caused massive devastation and destruction, leaving around 200 people dead and thousands displaced. Economists believe that in some parts of the region, the economic toll of these disasters could be greater than the damage inflicted in Honduras and Nicaragua by Hurricane Mitch in 1998—the deadliest hurricane in Central American history. Honduras was the worst hit by Eta and Iota. More than 4 million people were affected, around 95,000 of whom were forced to take refuge in shelters, and may not have homes to return to; 85,000 homes were […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a news conference with then-U.S. President Donald Trump in New Delhi, India, Feb. 25, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

President Joe Biden faces a slew of important foreign policy challenges. But with India, he has a historic opportunity to forge a strategic alliance to help build a stable balance of power in Asia and the wider Indo-Pacific region. India has been a bright spot in U.S. foreign policy over the past two decades. Continuing a process set in motion by President Bill Clinton during the 1990s and accelerated by every succeeding administration, U.S.-India relations thrived during Donald Trump’s presidency. Not surprisingly, there is strong bipartisan support in both Washington and New Delhi for a closer partnership under Biden. The […]

Health officials inspect bats to be confiscated and culled in the wake of coronavirus outbreak at a live animal market in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia, March 14, 2020 (AP photo).

The growing prevalence of zoonotic diseases, underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing loss of biodiversity around the world make tackling the illicit trade in wild animals imperative, since it threatens global public health and the extinction of endangered species. Fortunately, a practical approach is there for the taking. The Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime has launched a campaign to fill gaping holes in two international treaties: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known as CITES, and the U.N. Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, or UNTOC. The new Biden administration should […]

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni attends the state funeral of former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, in Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 11, 2020 (AP photo by John Muchucha).

On the afternoon of Jan. 18, U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Natalie Brown tried to pay a visit to the home of opposition leader Bobi Wine, in a suburb of the capital, Kampala. She had planned to check on Wine’s health and safety, but was turned back by security forces at the gate of his residential compound. The pop star-turned-presidential candidate, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has been under house arrest since casting his vote in the Jan. 14 general elections. The government claims the soldiers guarding Wine’s home are there for his own protection. They may not be there […]

Flags line the National Mall toward the Capitol Building ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Washington, Jan. 20, 2021 (AP photo by Julio Cortez).

America’s longest winter is not yet over. But the inauguration this week of President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President Kamala D. Harris should reassure the country and the world that though the promise of American reinvention seems distant, it will come again. We have arrived at this moment violently, as usual. With baseball bats and long guns cradled in our arms, some of us Americans pulled on battle fatigues, convinced that the war for the soul of a nation could be won with just a little more menace—not just on TV or on Facebook, but in Washington and […]

Masks depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, left of Putin, at a street souvenir shop in St. Petersburg, Russia, Jan. 17, 2021 (AP photo by Dmitri Lovetsky).

U.S. President Joe Biden’s first opportunity to pivot away from Donald Trump’s often cozy approach to Russia came just days before he took office. The Kremlin’s swift detention of President Vladimir Putin’s chief critic, Alexei Navalny, when he returned to Moscow on Sunday—five months after surviving a failed assassination attempt—presents Biden with perhaps unwelcome pressure to respond quickly. But it also gives his administration the chance to accelerate its goal of reversing four years of silence on Russia from the White House and simultaneously restarting diplomatic coordination with much-neglected European allies. Navalny’s decision to return to Russia was either foolish […]

Members of the Oath Keepers attend a rally in support of Donald Trump, Washington, Jan. 5, 2021 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

After security forces beat back the pro-Trump extremists that had occupied the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, shaken lawmakers returned to continue the work they had started that afternoon: certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. “They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed,” Mitch McConnell, then the Senate majority leader, proclaimed triumphantly. But the would-be insurrectionists “don’t look at this as a failure,” says Colin Clarke, an expert on domestic and transnational terrorism at the Soufan Group. “They look at this as an overwhelming and resounding success … a rallying cry for the far right.” Earlier this […]

Steel fencing and barbed wire surround the Capitol building ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Washington, Jan. 19, 2021 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

In 1962, in the immediate aftermath of the most devastating famine and worst man-made disaster of the modern era, senior officials in the Chinese Communist Party sought to initiate a review of state policies that had just killed between 30 million and 40 million people in China. China’s ruler at the time, Mao Zedong, objected to any major change of course or even a frank assessment of the situation, and especially to anything that might tarnish his reputation or threaten his future legacy. But as the regime’s No. 2, Liu Shaoqi, warned, “If we fundamentally refuse to acknowledge that there […]

Armed demonstrators outside the locked gates of the Texas State Capitol, Austin, Texas, Jan. 17, 2021 (AP photo by Eric Gay).

The storming of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., by pro-Trump insurrectionists earlier this month was both shocking and utterly unsurprising. After all, for anyone paying attention to the rioters’ social media posts in the days and weeks leading up to the event, they made their intentions clear. A subset of the participants appeared to have technical training, and had laid meticulous plans well in advance of Jan. 6. The attack on the Capitol, then, was a culmination—not just of the insurrectionists’ efforts to train and arm themselves for a violent revolt, but also of years of recruitment and radicalization by […]

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