U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets virtually with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, seen on screen at left, in Washington, April 26, 2021 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

President Joe Biden’s administration is ramping up its diplomatic efforts to address what it calls the “root causes” of Central America’s migration crisis. Early next month, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Guatemala—part of a two-country trip that also includes a stop in Mexico—in hopes of making progress on efforts to address the poverty, violence and corruption that force Central Americans to flee the region. But while the administration’s approach to Central America has some promising elements overall, it faces stiff headwinds in the region. Last week, Congress released a list of 16 current and former Central American […]

A U.S. soldier walks past parked armored vehicles and tanks of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 1st Calvary Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas, as they are unloaded in Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

In late September 2020, the long-simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan boiled over into full-blown war. As Azerbaijani tanks and drones advanced into territory held by Armenian forces, commentators around the world warned of the possibility of regional instability or even a wider conflict between Turkey and Russia, which supported opposite sides in the fighting. The heart of the conflict was the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an obscure province in the South Caucasus that most Americans have never heard of—even fewer can muster an opinion as to which former Soviet republic it should belong to. Its relationship to U.S. security […]

Members of the District of Columbia Army National Guard at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, June 3, 2020 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, numerous reports emerged indicating that a significant number of rioters had connections to the military. A study released in April by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University and the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point found that 43 of the 357 individuals—12 percent—who had been charged at that point in federal court for their role in the Capitol Hill attack had some form of military experience. They included two reservists, two National Guard members and one active-duty Marine Corps officer. (Since then, the number of people charged with crimes […]

President Joe Biden listens during a tour of the Ford Rouge EV Center in Dearborn, Mich., May 18, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In last week’s episode of “America Competing with a Rising China,” the geopolitical equivalent of a TV series, Joe Biden took the wheel of a Ford truck and all but burned rubber as he pulled away from reporters who had come to witness the stunt. Biden’s visit came on the eve of Ford’s announcement of a new, all-electric version of its model F-150, the most popular motor vehicle in the United States, and he used it to enlist the automaker’s innovations in his ongoing campaign to prove not just that “America is Back,” whatever that means, but that the country […]

A man sends brain-computer interface commands to a robotic computer during Science Conference at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17, 2011 (AP photo by Jose Luis Magan).

Technology has blurred all sorts of boundaries we used to take for granted—between work and leisure, between being alone and being with others, between private and public spaces. One boundary we still generally treat as sacrosanct, though, is the one around our own minds, which allows us to think for ourselves and to keep those thoughts private, whether they are rebellious, impolite or simply irrelevant. After all, the power to make up our own minds is an essential part of what makes us individuals. Technology may now be challenging this mental independence, too, and some of its applications could threaten […]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, center, and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 19, 2020 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

As U.S. troops begin what may be their final withdrawal from Afghanistan, no third country will be affected by their departure as much as Pakistan, which shares a long, porous border with Afghanistan, hosts much of the Taliban leadership as well as millions of Afghan refugees, and faces threats from Pakistani militants based there. For Pakistan, America has been both a partner and a strategic competitor in Afghanistan. Notionally, the U.S. exit presents Islamabad with an opportunity to proactively shape Kabul’s political future in its favor. But in reality, a post-withdrawal Afghanistan without an internationally backed, intra-Afghan accord offers far […]

A TV news program showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Joe Biden, at the Suseo Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 26, 2021 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

The Biden administration is using an outdated script to justify doing very little about North Korea. As a consequence, it’s blowing a unique opportunity to avoid a future crisis, stabilize the Korean Peninsula for the long term and rectify one of America’s longest-running foreign policy mistakes. On April 30, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the White House had concluded its months-long policy review on North Korea. There was no official rollout or fanfare, no glossy document with a government logo—just a brief verbal statement to reporters aboard Air Force One. In this case, the low-key reveal was […]

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, sits with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio at the start of a G-7 foreign ministers meeting in London, May 4, 2021 (pool photo by Ben Stansall via AP).

The travails of the rules-based international system have set off a vigorous debate within U.S. foreign policy circles over the most promising institutional foundations for world order in the 21st century. The Washington establishment is united in its repudiation of Donald Trump’s “America First” orientation. But it remains divided on what form of U.S. internationalism is best suited to a historical moment defined by two powerful, countervailing trends: the rise of transnational challenges that can only be resolved through collective action and the resurgence of geopolitical competition that hinders international cooperation. The four distinct models of multilateralism currently vying for […]

Demonstrators at a Stop Asian Hate rally in Chicago, March 20, 2021 (AP photo by Nam Y. Huh).

On March 16, a 21-year-old white man allegedly went on a violent rampage at three spas in the Atlanta area, fatally shooting eight people—six of them Asian women. Law enforcement officials and some news outlets initially said the motive was “uncertain,” but the Asian American community in Georgia immediately recognized the vicious crime as part of a disturbing spike in violence against people of Asian heritage across the country. Prosecutors confirmed as much when they announced earlier this month that they would bring hate crime charges against the suspected shooter. In a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April, one-third […]

An employee works on the production of AstraZeneca vaccines for COVID-19 at the Fiocruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Bruna Prado).

Leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies are meeting virtually at the G-20 Global Health Summit on Friday, co-hosted by Italy and the European Commission. There is much that participants agree on: More coronavirus vaccine supplies are urgently needed, and the world must boost manufacturing capacity in order to produce them. But the G-20 countries may disagree on how to build that increased capacity and where it should go. This week, U.S. President Joe Biden promised to share at least 80 million surplus vaccine doses for global use by the end of June and to launch a multilateral effort to […]

Joe Biden arrives to participate in a town hall during the 2020 presidential election campaign, Philadelphia, Oct. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

At a virtual panel discussion last week, Thomas Carothers, an expert on democratization at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, pointed to a global trend that he said should inform democracy assistance programs going forward: the “equalization of the political terrain.” “The old idea that there’s a set of countries called ‘established democracies’ that largely have solved their democratic problems and are working on the details, and then a set of countries, ‘new or struggling democracies,’ that are grappling with fundamental challenges—that old division is gone,” Carothers explained at the event, hosted by the Parliamentary Centre, a think tank in […]

A demonstrator takes part in a protest in support of Palestinians, in Los Angeles, May 15, 2021 (AP photo by Ringo H.W. Chiu).

As an American, watching the violence explode between Israel and Palestinians over the past two weeks has felt like awakening from a heavy narcotic sleep. The drug, in this instance, has been the willful and persistent denial embraced by American politicians and media alike about the grave crisis that, though less visible recently, has been ticking like a time bomb in this part of the Middle East for years. As the situation between Israel and Palestinians has grown steadily more dangerous, the doses of denial needed to ignore it, too, have like a narcotic become constantly bigger. It is easy […]

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi addresses the United Nations Security Council, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 26, 2019 (AP photo by Craig Ruttle).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Under fire for staying silent on the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas, U.S. President Joe Biden finally expressed support for a cease-fire in a statement Tuesday. He followed that up today by telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “he expected a significant […]

A sign marking the location of the Colonial Pipeline in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 11, 2021 (AP photo by Chris Carlson).

Last week brought the news that Colonial Pipeline made a $5 million ransom payment to an organized criminal gang to recover data held hostage in a ransomware attack. Separately, Ireland’s health care system was brought down, also by a ransomware attack. It feels like the good guys are losing the fight against international cybercrime. Action is urgently needed at the domestic and international levels to improve the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure—and to bring the criminal gangs responsible for these attacks to justice. The problem is that there are seemingly irreconcilable conflicts between the pressures felt by the individual organizations targeted […]

A nurse during a night shift at a field hospital set up to handle a surge of COVID-19 patients, in Cranston, Rhode Island, Feb. 10, 2021 (AP photo by David Goldman).

Can the international community pay attention to multiple health crises at the same time? The coronavirus pandemic is putting this question to the test, and the experience of the past year suggests that the answer is a qualified no. If that is indeed the case, it means that the world will likely be living with the after-effects of COVID-19 for years to come. At the same time, the pandemic has spurred some changes in the world of public health that may create additional chances for improving access to health care in the long term. COVID-19 itself has already had devastating […]

A doctor checks on COVID-19 patients at Llavallol Dr. Norberto Raúl Piacentini Hospital in Lomas de Zamora, Argentina, May 8, 2021 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

Last week, the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response released its long-awaited final report, “COVID-19: Make It the Last Pandemic.” Co-chaired by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, the 13-member panel was established in September 2020 at the behest of the World Health Assembly to examine the global response to the coronavirus pandemic and propose improvements based on the lessons learned. Its final report offers several useful recommendations designed to create “a new system that is coordinated, connected, fast-moving, accountable, just and equitable.” What is missing is a strategy to achieve these […]

A gas station that ran out of gas to sell following a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, in Atlanta, Georgia, May 11, 2021 (AP photo by Ben Margot).

The internet today is on the brink of reaching a state of entropy, as anyone who tried to fill up the gas tank of their car anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States this week knows. Nearly a week after a crafty network of cybercriminals penetrated the databases of the company that operates the massive Colonial fuel pipeline, which runs nearly the entire length of the East Coast, the United States is still reeling from the crippling cyberattack. The ransomware attack forced the Colonial Pipeline company to close down a sizable portion of its 5,500-mile-long fuel conduit for […]

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