A protester covered by an EU flag takes part in a demonstration to call on the European Union to stop buying Russian oil and gas, outside EU headquarters in Brussels, April 29, 2022 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

Editor’s note: This will be Candace Rondeaux’s final weekly column for World Politics Review. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Candace for her sharp analysis, compelling prose and passionate commitment to putting people at the heart of international security commentary. It’s been a pleasure offering her work to WPR’s readers for the past three years. We wish her the best of luck in her multiple endeavors moving forward. Russia’s move this week to cut off natural gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria, combined with growing fears that Moldova could be drawn into President Vladimir Putin’s militaristic machinations, invites a thought experiment: What […]

Mark Zuckerberg—then the CEO of Facebook, which has since been renamed Meta—delivers a speech about the metaverse during a virtual event, Oct. 28, 2021 (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

“Society cannot exist without Law,” the 19th-century U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Bradley famously declared. Aristotle similarly remarked, “Law is order, and good law is good order.” Both men would have been horrified at the prospect of a new, virtual society that potentially lies outside the scope of any system of law, save for contractual provisions imposed by its commercially motivated, all-seeing creator. Nonetheless, in a recent survey, only 36 percent of Americans said that government-enacted regulations would be an important factor in their decision over whether or not to use the metaverse. Life in a virtual reality or augmented […]

A logo adorns a wall on a branch of the Israeli NSO Group company,
near the southern Israeli town of Sapir, Aug. 24, 2021 (AP Photo/Sebastian
Scheiner).

The international trade in digital surveillance tools has long been controversial, particularly their sale to repressive governments that have allegedly used them to target dissidents and journalists. That controversy reached a new level last year, when a handful of Israeli cyber firms were accused of selling highly sophisticated spyware to authoritarian regimes. One firm, in particular, the NSO Group, became the focus of an international investigative consortium, composed of 17 leading media organizations, including the Washington Post, the Guardian, Le Monde and Haaretz, as well as Amnesty International and a media nonprofit. The consortium’s dozens of articles detailing its investigation were further amplified […]

An anti-government protester waves a Lebanese flag in front of a burning barricade on a road leading to the parliament building, Beirut, Lebanon, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

The events of recent years have made it increasingly clear that the assault on human rights and democracy in the West and the Middle East are not merely parallel phenomena—they are directly connected. As both regions experience an intense surge of authoritarianism as well as the resulting popular resistance to it, it’s imperative for sound analysis and policymaking to identify the dynamics linking today’s crises across national borders and geographic regions. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the problems with exceptionalism and the limitations of regional frameworks, after decades of writing about the Middle East and U.S. policy there. And […]

A sun halo is seen in the skies above Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Whether April is truly the cruelest month, as T.S. Elliott wrote, is up for debate. What is undeniable is the poignancy of springtime in the age of global warming, when each year, the planet bursts forth with life, oblivious to what is in store. As the latest Earth Month draws to a close, it seems natural to take stock of where humanity is now in its struggle against climate change and, just maybe, take solace in a possible lifeline. The latest assessment reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, make clear what we are up against. The […]

Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, introduces the SpaceX Dragon V2 spaceship at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. (AP photo by Jae C. Hong).

The first space race, between the United States and the Soviet Union, was a geopolitical and ideological struggle between superpowers. Now five decades in the past, it pushed the limits of technology to extremes and realized some long-held dreams of humanity, like putting a human on the moon. But after the enormous gains of the 1950s and 60s, space exploration advanced more gradually. More countries developed space programs, but between 1961 and 2000, only the Soviet Union, the United States and China put humans into space. After the U.S.’s Apollo program came to an end, humans never returned to the […]

Amanda Darrow, director of youth, family and education programs at the Utah Pride Center, poses with books that have been the subject of complaints from parents in recent weeks on Dec. 16, 2021, in Salt Lake City (AP photo by Rick Bowmer).

Earlier this month, the American Library Association released a list of the “top 10 banned books” of 2021 to mark an unprecedented surge in attempts to drop books from school curricula in the United States. The list included best-selling titles such as “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson and “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, which have been criticized for, respectively, “providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content” and for promoting an “anti-police message.” Book banning is not a new phenomenon. Adam Laats, a historian of American education, told Vox that when it comes to book banning, “history repeats itself.” Since the early […]

A man walks past a wall with posters depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Warsaw, Poland, March 24, 2022 (AP Photo by Petr David Josek).

Today’s standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine can be traced back to 2004, a little more than a decade after the end of the Cold War. At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was just embarking on his second term, and he began nurturing a cult of personality, voicing grievances about perceived threats on Russia’s security perimeter, and positioning himself as the defender of Russia’s great power status. By some accounts, Putin’s sense that Russia is under threat goes back to historic invasions of Russia: Batu Khan’s in the 13th century, Karl the XII’s in the 18th, Napoleon’s […]

Afghan men sit in a bus ahead of a 300-mile trip south to Nimrooz near the Iranian border, Herat, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

If you have ever wondered what hell might feel like, ask an Afghan refugee. While you may not personally know any, there is a good chance that if you live near a major urban center in Europe, Canada or the United States, you’ve unknowingly passed someone on the street or stood in line behind someone at the grocery store who has recently fled Afghanistan. In Washington, where I live and work, it is not uncommon to run into an Afghan immigrant who just a few months ago had a house, a car and a salaried job in Kabul that would […]

President Joe Biden and then-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga leave after a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington, April 16, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In January, U.S. President Joe Biden held a virtual summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in which both leaders largely agreed to maintain the direction bilateral relations have taken in the 15 months since Biden took office. But if the meeting signaled both sides’ desire for continuity, there are still numerous unanswered questions regarding the future of the alliance. With Biden’s inauguration as U.S. president, the U.S.-Japan relationship—and U.S. policy on Asia more broadly—appeared set to return to where things stood at the end of the Obama administration. As a candidate, Biden repeatedly stressed that it was urgent to […]

Matumelo Manosa works in a garment factory in Maseru, Lesotho, Feb. 24, 2022 (AP photo by Neo Ntsoma).

In the second quarter of 2022, economic forecasts are looking positive, and analysts are especially hopeful about new power dynamics emerging in Western economies and job markets. According to Forbes, for instance, 2022 has encouraged a “buyers market” in which “employees are demanding better work-life balance and companies are taking note.” There is much evidence to support this claim. With the ball in their court, workers are now demanding more flexible work schedules, as well as better pay and benefits, and companies seem to be responding positively. Many have extended work-from-home policies implemented at the onset of the pandemic, while a […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks via remote feed during a meeting of the UN Security Council at United Nations headquarters, April 5, 2022 (AP photo by John Minchillo).

Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an impassioned rebuke to the United Nations Security Council for its failure to prevent Russia’s invasion of his country. “Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee?” he demanded. “It’s not there.” Rather than taking forceful action to arrest or even condemn Russia’s behavior, he said, the body had devolved into a venue for “conversation.” It was obvious to all that “the goals set in San Francisco in 1945 for the creation of a global security organization have not been achieved,” Zelenskyy concluded. Zelenskyy’s indictment, which cited evidence of horrific atrocities committed by Russian forces, […]

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian refugees during a visit to PGE Narodowy Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, March 26, 2022 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Two weeks ago, the White House announced that the United States would open its doors to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. To many observers, this was the very least the U.S. could do to protect civilians from a war characterized by displacement, atrocity and siege, and on which the West has largely decided to sit it out. But there are several enormous problems with Biden’s refugee relief plan. The first is that there is no actual plan. The announcement was made in a fact-sheet that has not yet been backed by an Executive Order. In fact, the homepage of the U.S. Embassy in Hungary […]

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, third from left, and top military officials attend a military parade to mark Pakistan National Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2022 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

Addressing a security forum in Islamabad on Saturday, Pakistan’s army chief of staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine in no uncertain terms, describing it as an “invasion” and “aggression against a smaller country that cannot be condoned.” These statements would be uncontroversial had they not contradicted the official position of Pakistan’s civilian government, which is in the midst of a political crisis that also involves the army. Indeed, Pakistan’s ongoing political turmoil—which has seen Prime Minister Imran Khan avoid a vote of no confidence through questionable parliamentary maneuvers, as his coalition and party fracture amid pressure […]

A screens displays the results of a vote on a resolution regarding the war in Ukraine at United Nations headquarters, March 24, 2022 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

When a state abstains on a vote concerning a crisis at the United Nations, it may look like it is avoiding hard choices about the problem at hand. But U.N. diplomacy is rarely that simple. When diplomats cast an abstention in the Security Council or General Assembly, they are often sending subtler signals about their interests and priorities. In recent weeks, U.N. members from China to Burkina Faso have abstained on a series of votes in U.N. forums on the war in Ukraine, or just not voted on them. What do such ambiguous votes and nonvotes mean? To see how […]

Workers work at Lusail Stadium, one of the 2022 World Cup stadiums, in Lusail, Qatar, Dec. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Last week, the draw for the 2022 FIFA World Cup stoked the excitement of football fans worldwide. But it also reignited debates about the appropriateness of the event’s host, Qatar, which has frequently come under fire for human rights abuses. Gareth Southgate, the manager of the English national football team, reportedly hosted meetings with his current squad in order to discuss how the team could show its opposition to Qatar’s human rights abuses. Unsurprisingly, news of this meeting was poorly received by the CEO of the Qatari partnership that is organizing the tournament, Nasser al-Khater, who urged Southgate to “pick his words carefully.” Full disclosure: I […]

Ukrainian soldiers inspecting the wreckage of a destroyed Russian armored column on a road in Bucha, a suburb just north of the Capital, Kyiv (SIPA photo by Matthew Hatcher via AP Images).

Last week, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned that Russia may have committed war crimes in Ukraine, pointing to credible evidence that it had used cluster munitions in populated areas as well as other indiscriminate attacks. Her warning took on even more resonance over the weekend, when reports emerged of Russian forces having committed summary executions of civilian men in the Ukrainian town of Bucha. Bachelet’s denunciation, combined with the outpouring of outrage over Bucha, is likely to renew enthusiasm for a future war crimes tribunal to hold Russia accountable. But apart from inspiring dreams of a far-off and for now […]