President Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens, in Washington, Nov. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

President Joe Biden took office last year during one of the most turbulent times the United States had experienced in decades. Though his administration has tackled important foreign policy issues, it has also faced multiple domestic crises, so the primary focus of this first year has been on the urgent matters at home. In 2022, though, the world is likely to demand more of Biden’s attention, even as the domestic challenges remain far from resolved. Some of the foreign policy issues are expected and already evident. To start, Biden will have to work to help the entire planet, including poor […]

Climate activist Vanessa Nakate, third right, and other activists stage a protest at the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 8, 2021 (AP photo by Alastair Grant).

Though many of us hoped that 2021 would bring some relief after the trials and tribulations of 2020, this year has been a bumpy ride. On Jan. 6, just one week into 2021, supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in Washington—an international beacon of liberal democracy. This seemed to set the tone for the rest of the year. Everywhere, anti-democratic, misogynistic and racist forces made gains; in particular, the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan this summer left many despondent about the country’s future. And all the while, the coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc, especially on the lives of those who are victims of global vaccine inequity. In the middle of all this chaos, though, […]

Scientists from the Puget Sound Restoration Fund hold kelp that naturally grew on a buoy line in Washington state’s Hood Canal, part of an experiment on whether a seaweed farm can help combat ocean acidification, April 8, 2016 (AP Photo by Manuel Valdes).

Could the oceans—where life once evolved—help save the planet and humanity from climate catastrophe? A new report suggests they might. Released on Dec. 8 by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, or NASEM, the study explores tantalizing possibilities for drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and sequestering it in the oceans through a mix of nature-based solutions and technological innovations. Getting these climate interventions to scale will of course be a significant challenge. But another challenge may be just as difficult to solve: reconciling these solutions with international law and state obligations. Notwithstanding incremental progress at last month’s United Nations climate […]

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers closing remarks to the virtual Summit for Democracy, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Washington, Dec. 10, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

More than a week after U.S. President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy, much of the controversy surrounding the lead-up to the event has fizzled toward ambivalence, or even relief.  Many had feared that, given its own highly visible democratic erosion in recent years, the U.S. would lack the legitimacy to lead such a summit and would come across as hypocritical in doing so. But at the virtual gathering, Biden and other U.S. officials forthrightly acknowledged the shortcomings of the United States’ democracy and the significant domestic challenges the country continues to face.  Others had expected the event to be performative, […]

A billboard seeking information on persons involved with the assault at the Capitol is displayed at a bus stop in Washington, Jan. 17, 2021 (AP photo by David Goldman).

As the coronavirus pandemic continued into its second year, its impact on terrorist attacks worldwide was palpable—and positive. In a report on terrorism from July, the United Nations stated that “in non-conflict zones … the threat remains suppressed by limitations on the ability of operatives to travel, meet, fundraise and identify viable targets.”  Nevertheless, though terrorism, like almost every other human activity, has been constrained by the pandemic, it hasn’t stopped evolving in the past year, shaped by several key developments. As more widespread distribution of vaccines allows parts of the world to begin opening up, there is growing concern that counterterrorism practitioners […]

Afghans wait in front of a bank as they try to withdraw money in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

As 2021 comes to a close, the international community faces several emerging humanitarian and security catastrophes—even beyond the global pandemic that has gripped the world for two years. Ethiopia is undergoing a complex and multifaceted civil war that has spurred a humanitarian disaster of monumental proportions, with nearly 1 million people now living in conditions approaching famine. Meanwhile, Russia has been building up its military presence on its border with Ukraine, increasing tensions with the West and prompting fears that there will be yet another attack on Ukrainian sovereignty. And in the Taliban’s Afghanistan, more children are expected to die this winter from starvation than […]

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

As the Biden administration prepares to release its National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, observers are searching for clues on how those reviews will grapple with the framework of “great-power competition” that anchored the previous administration’s high-level policy documents. That framework has achieved substantial bipartisan traction in the intervening four years among government officials, lawmakers and scholars, in part because it is rooted in three judgments with which most analysts would agree, even if they disagree about how those core premises should guide U.S. foreign policy. First, interstate competition, which has been a core aspect of world affairs since the Treaty […]

Then-President Donald Trump speaks during a FOX News Channel town hall, Scranton, Pa., March 5, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In the United States, in the space of little more than one week, the long-time heads of three major television news programs all stepped down, two of them fully of their own accord, and the other because of a political and journalistic scandal involving him and his brother, the recent former governor of New York. The ins and outs of television news programming in the U.S. might seem on the surface to be a strange topic for a column that focuses by design on international affairs. But the case will be made here that the ongoing and worsening crisis in […]

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses a joint session of lawmakers and Cabinet members in the parliament, Tehran, Iran, Dec. 1, 2021 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

More than three years after former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and almost a year after his successor, Joe Biden, took office seeking to revive it, the consequences of the U.S. withdrawal are becoming increasingly clear—and increasingly grim. Even in Israel, one of few countries that supported Trump’s approach to the Middle East, former senior security officials are widely rebuking his decision to renege on the accord. As Gadi Eisenkot, the former Israeli chief of staff, recently declared, the U.S. withdrawal from the deal “was a net negative for Israel: It released Iran from all restrictions, and brought […]

A protester dressed as as “Lady Justice” poses during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, Oct. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

If you ask young people what they want, the word that comes up most often is justice. Across the world, at all levels of governance, young people are fighting for social, economic and environmental justice—not just in the abstract sense of achieving equity, but also in seeking justice as an everyday, essential government service. But too often, these advocates have been let down by the police, courts and other institutions whose roles in society are to ensure and promote this justice. In part, this is a story of neglect. In every country, justice systems are not equipped to deliver justice […]

A Moroccan U.N. peacekeeper patrols Bangassou, Central African Republic, Feb. 14, 2021 (AP photo by Adrienne Surprenant).

2021 has been a dispiriting year for advocates of multilateral conflict management. The ignominious end of the international intervention in Afghanistan was an embarrassment not only for the U.S., but also for those institutions, including NATO and the United Nations, that had supported it. The U.N. Security Council has bickered fruitlessly over how to deal with crises ranging from the coup in Myanmar to the war in Ethiopia. Regional bodies such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and the African Union have done little better at handling conflicts on their doorsteps. As if that weren’t enough, as […]

A U.S. soldier walks past armored vehicles and tanks as they are unloaded at the port of Antwerp, Belgium, on their way to take part in military exercises in Eastern Europe, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

Russia’s ongoing military buildup along its border with Ukraine has cast into sharp relief the debate about how the United States, and its allies, can most effectively ensure security in the no man’s land lying beyond NATO’s eastern perimeter. Meanwhile, China’s mounting campaign of military pressure and intimidation against Taiwan is leading some observers to question the strength of U.S. commitments to the island. Though coordination between Russia and China on these efforts is likely limited at best, their attempts to bully Ukraine and Taiwan raise a common dilemma for Washington, one liable to become more pronounced and widespread in […]

An Afghan man walks at the Afghanistan-Iran border crossing of Islam Qala, Nov. 24, 2021 (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

More than 22 million Afghans, many of them children, are at risk of starvation and exposure to cold this winter, The New York Times reported this week. Afghanistan was already experiencing food insecurity prior to the United States’ withdrawal, due to drought and harvest failure, but now, according to the United Nations Development Program, more than 8 million are facing famine.  Poor governance by the Taliban and their restrictions on women have contributed to general insecurity. But the country’s dire economic situation—which saw millions of dollars of foreign aid, constituting 43 percent of its gross domestic product, disappear overnight—has also dramatically worsened due to three […]

President Joe Biden speaks from the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex for the opening of the Summit for Democracy, Washington, Dec. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Hi, everybody. I’m Judah Grunstein, WPR’s editor-in-chief, and this is our Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, recapping the highlights from our coverage this week and previewing what we have planned for next week. Two major stories dominated the news this week, both putting U.S. President Joe Biden in the spotlight. The first is his Summit for Democracy, a two-day virtual gathering of leaders from 100 countries that began Thursday and will focus on promoting human rights, resisting authoritarianism and fighting corruption. The second is the heightened tensions in Eastern Europe due to a Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine amid […]

Supporters hold up signs during an abortion rights rally outside Federal Plaza in Chicago, Dec. 1, 2021 (AP photo by Nam Y. Huh).

Just as the U.S. Supreme Court prepared last week to hear one of the most contentious abortion cases since Roe v. Wade, which legalized the procedure in 1973, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a scathing verdict on an abortion case in El Salvador. In its ruling, it held the Salvadoran government responsible for the death of a 33-year-old woman, identified only as “Manuela,” who died in prison in 2010 while serving a 30-year sentence for the “aggravated homicide” of a fetus through a miscarriage. El Salvador strictly enforces one of the world’s most draconian anti-abortion laws. At a […]

A Tornado jet returns to the German air force base of Schleswig near Jagel, Germany, March 13, 2007 (AP file photo by Heribert Proepper).

Observers in Washington and European capitals who were worried about NATO’s nuclear deterrent breathed a sigh of relief in late November, when the new German governing coalition signaled it would continue Germany’s role in the alliance’s nuclear-sharing agreement. But their reaction was tempered by the uncertainty that still surrounds U.S. President Joe Biden’s upcoming Nuclear Posture Review, which will also have major implications for NATO. Both the United States and Germany have been under strong pressure from other allies, concerned about how Washington’s and Berlin’s choices will affect their security and domestic politics. For now, however, it’s still one down, […]

A U.S. soldier directs armored vehicles and tanks of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 1st Calvary Division as they are unloaded at the port of Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

There are any number of ways to measure one of the great secular transformations of our time: the decline of the United States’ power relative not only to a rising rival like China, but to the rest of the world generally. From 1960 to the present, the American share of global economic output has declined from 40 percent to less than a quarter in recent years. And compared even to the fairly recent past, say during the presidency of Barack Obama, the influence and prestige of the American political model has withered under the corrosive effects of Trumpism as well as […]

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