A girl wearing Kurdish colors waits with her mother in a queue at a polling station during a vote for Kurdish independence, in Kirkuk, Sept. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Bram Janssen).

On Nov. 22, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the Confederation of British Industry, a local business organization, in a speech that was intended to focus on the U.K.’s role in the “green industrial revolution”—the global shift to environmentally friendly energies and technologies. Instead, the talk quickly collapsed into incoherent rambling. At one point, Johnson, having lost his place in his notes, even went on a tangent about his love of Peppa Pig World­, a family theme park based on the well-known children’s cartoon.  This was undoubtedly comedic, but as the country reveled in the prime minister’s latest embarrassment, I couldn’t help […]

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, right, speaks as Vice President Kamala Harris listens, during an event at the Treasury Department in Washington, Sept. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

On Oct. 3, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released 11.9 million confidential files, known as the Pandora Papers, that documented how world leaders, oligarchs and business elites park their wealth in offshore jurisdictions. Like the Panama Papers of 2016, this new leak brought shell companies and offshore jurisdictions under intense public scrutiny for their role in helping the rich and powerful evade taxes and ignore the transparency requirements by which their fellow citizens and competitors must abide. What was perhaps most damning was the inclusion of five U.S. states—South Dakota, Florida, Delaware, Texas and Nevada—among the list of favored offshore […]

The United Nations Security Council meets, New York, Nov. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

Editor’s note: Guest columnists Richard Gowan and Pyotr Kurzin are filling in for Stewart Patrick this week. The United Nations Security Council may be about to pass its first-ever resolution on the implications of climate change for peace and security. The council has talked about climate security since 2007, and it has acknowledged that environmental challenges such as droughts and degradation of farming land can fuel conflicts in regions like the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. But it has not laid out a systematic approach to assessing these risks or responding to them. This could be about to change, as Niger […]

China’s Peng Shuai reacts during a first-round singles match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 21, 2020 (AP photo by Andy Brownbill).

Late last week, I found myself at a university podium participating in an unusual event, invited by a conservative group to argue against the proposition that the United States should apply a greatly stepped-up boycott, divest and sanction—or BDS—approach in its relations with China. The person arguing the other side in this debate began by stating that he supported going much further even than BDS. But after this emphatic opening sally, he offered scarce few details of what this might involve or how it would work. Surprised at how little substance I was left to respond to, I began by […]

A virtual high-level meeting of the United Nations Security Council is seen on a computer monitor at U.N. headquarters, New York, Sept. 24, 2020 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

As the world gradually distributes COVID-19 vaccinations and starts to reevaluate coronavirus-related restrictions, many in the international community are pushing for societies to go back to “normal.” Leaders at the helm of the international system want to return to the comfort zone of structured interactions in their New York offices; they are tired of days filled with  back-to-back Zoom meetings and the chaotic distractions of working from home. But should we really welcome “normal” back with open arms?  The pandemic has uprooted everyone’s usual work patterns. This has been traumatic, certainly—but also disruptive in positive ways. Much of what I […]

Milorad Dodik, the president of the Republika Srpska, inspects an honor guard during a parade marking the 26th anniversary of the Republika Srpska in the Bosnian town of Banja Luka, Jan. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Amel Emric).

Bosnia-Herzegovina could be on the brink of a political collapse that triggers a new conflagration in the Balkans. There is a growing consensus among experts that this is the country’s most dangerous moment since the 1995 Dayton Accords, which ended a war that cost 100,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million people. Analysts also say stability in the Balkans has been eroded recently by the disengagement of the European Union and United States. “The prospects for further division and conflict are very real,” the international community’s chief representative in Bosnia, Christian Schmidt, wrote in a report to the United Nations that was […]

John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, speaks with Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 summit, during a stock-taking plenary session at the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 13, 2021 (AP photo Alberto Pezzali).

As former U.S. President Barack Obama once mused, there are times in global diplomacy, as in baseball, when “hitting singles” is adequate. This month’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow was not one of those moments. With the fate of the planet on the line, world leaders should have been swinging for the fences. Instead, they played small ball, chalking up only incremental gains rather than the historic breakthrough the occasion demanded.  Going into the Glasgow summit, the United Nations Environment Program had delivered some blunt news: The world’s emissions reduction pledges before COP26 accounted for only one-seventh of the reduction actually needed to […]

President Joe Biden prepares to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., June 9, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Mel Pavlik is filling in for Candace Rondeaux. The week before Sudan’s military leader, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, arrested his country’s prime minister and seized power in a coup d’etat, U.S. President Joe Biden finalized the invitation list for his upcoming Summit for Democracy. The summit, claimed administration officials, aimed to counterbalance powerful autocracies such as Russia and China, and “galvanize democratic renewal worldwide.”  The world is a far cry from anything resembling democratic renewal. To the contrary, democracy is threatened on multiple fronts: not only by illegal seizures of power by military strongmen, as in Sudan, […]

U.S. President Joe Biden meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Washington, Nov. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

The much-anticipated virtual summit Monday between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, marked the most substantial exchange between the two leaders since Biden took office in January. The meeting, which ran overtime and lasted three and a half hours, followed two phone calls between Biden and Xi, in February and September. But apart from pledges to improve cooperation, the summit yielded no major breakthroughs between the two rivals, which remain at odds over a number of issues, including trade, human rights and a military buildup in the Asia-Pacific region. Sitting among top government officials in the […]

Youth climate activists protest that representatives of the fossil fuel industry have been allowed inside the venue during the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 11, 2021 (AP photo by Alastair Grant).

Lately, leaders of all generations have been referring to the world’s shared obligations toward “future generations.” At the G-20 summit in Rome in late October, for instance, the U.K.’s Prince Charles reminded delegates of their overwhelming responsibility toward “generations yet unborn,” whose health, happiness and prosperity will be determined by the way today’s leaders respond to the climate crisis. More recently, during a Nov. 12 protest in Glasgow, 18-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg called for those attending the nearby COP26 climate summit to listen to the “voices of future generations” that are “drowning” in leaders’ “greenwash and empty words and promises.”  But who […]

Palestinian security forces participate in a drill at the International Police Training Center in al-Muwaqqar, Jordan, a country that receives U.S. support for key counterterrorism training programs, Mar. 17, 2018 (AP photo by Raad Adayleh).

In May of this year, thousands of Colombian citizens took part in weeks of widespread protests against a newly proposed tax reform plan and, more generally, the country's growing economic inequality. The demonstrators included teachers, doctors, students and labor union members, as well as many who were new to protesting. But instead of allowing them to peacefully express their opinions, the Colombian National Police cracked down, killing at least 24 people in clashes that resembled their fights against criminal organizations and insurgents.  Of course, Colombia’s police are not unique in their heavy-handed approach to law enforcement. In 2019, police violence […]

Then-U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and then-Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping inspect a guard of honor during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Aug. 18, 2011 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Editor’s Note: WPR editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein is filling in today for Stewart Patrick, who will be back next week. U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a video summit Monday with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, their first face-to-face encounter since Biden took office in January. The meeting, which is reportedly the culmination of background exploratory talks over the past month, follows several high-profile encounters between top-level officials that veered toward the explosive. Sparks flew in Anchorage, Alaska, when both sides’ senior diplomats met for the first time in March. More recently, Wendy Sherman, deputy secretary of state, faced an acrimonious […]

An Afghan inspects the damage at the Ahmadi family house after a U.S. drone strike killed Zemari Ahmadi and nine other family members on Aug. 29, Kabul, Afghanistan (AP file photo by Bernat Armangue).

Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense released a one-page summary of its findings from an investigation into a drone strike in Kabul that killed a family of 10 during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. U.S. military officials had received intelligence that a specific car had visited a “suspected” Islamic State safehouse and loaded what “appeared to be” explosives into its trunk.  After the vehicle was destroyed with explosives in the driveway of the house, it was determined that the driver was actually Zemari Ahmadi, an electrical engineer who worked for a U.S. aid organization. Ahmadi was killed in the […]

Climate protesters demonstrate outside the local government legislature’s offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

The standard, “flirting with apocalypse” narrative that dominates U.S. media coverage and political debates regarding climate change goes something like this: China, which is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, and India, which is lightly industrialized and still quite substantially poor, currently represent the biggest threats to saving the environment. The supposedly more altruistic West, by contrast, is prepared to make huge investments to forestall disaster. People who cling to this all-too-easy framing correctly say that if the world’s two most-populous countries do not radically constrain their carbon output, nothing the United States or Europe can do, including rapidly attaining net-zero […]

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, left, meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 8, 2021 (National Television of Cambodia photo via AP Images).

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne is finishing up a four-nation tour of Southeast Asia this week, having begun her trip in Malaysia before moving on to Cambodia, Vietnam and finally Indonesia. A main goal of the visit is to conduct follow-up talks after Canberra agreed in late October on a new “comprehensive strategic partnership” with the main regional bloc, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Another prominent item on Payne’s agenda is to seek understanding from ASEAN members for Australia’s three-way defense partnership with the U.S. and the U.K., which was just announced in September. Known as AUKUS, the pact […]

Students protest outside the National Assembly to demand a larger budget for university education, Quito, Ecuador, Sept. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Dolores Ochoa).

On Oct. 27, Rishi Sunak, the U.K.’s chancellor of the exchequer, announced the government’s education budget, including additional spending earmarked to help students overcome the disruptions introduced by the coronavirus pandemic. Though billed as a boost to education expenditures, as Sunak himself admitted, the government’s current plans would only return per pupil spending—which was cut drastically as part of broader budgetary austerity imposed in the aftermath of the global financial crisis—to 2010 levels by 2024. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies director Paul Johnson told the Financial Times, Sunak’s spending plan reflects the “remarkable lack of priority” given to education […]

U.S. President Joe Biden, center, speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a plenary session at a NATO summit in Brussels, June 14, 2021 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

Tensions within NATO over the past two decades have led some to assert that the old military alliances of the 20th century are a thing of the past. Soon, the argument goes, they will give way to looser, ad hoc groupings like the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, comprising Australia, India, Japan and the United States; the AUKUS security pact among Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States; or other “coalitions of the willing” formed to address specific concerns, like those that intervened in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. To be sure, the past 30 years have punched some […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 271 2 Last