Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reviews a military honor guard during a welcome ceremony, in Ankara, Turkey, June 22, 2022 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

U.S. President Joe Biden’s recently announced trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has sparked a great deal of comment and no small amount of controversy. At issue is whether a U.S. president who loudly condemned Riyadh’s human rights record during his 2020 election campaign should be instrumental in helping Saudi Arabia cast off the pariah status it has labored under since its state-sponsored murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Upon taking office, Biden talked about reorienting U.S.-Saudi relations to put greater emphasis on human rights, and he has refused to meet with the kingdom’s de facto […]

Protest outside the Supreme Court after Roe v. Wade is overturned on June 25, 2022 in Washington D.C. (Photo by JT/STAR MAX/IPx 2022).

The threats to the longevity of democracy in the United States keep growing. Last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which for five decades guaranteed the right to abortion, has put the spotlight on that once-revered institution, which is now steadily losing credibility in the eyes of the U.S. public and adding instability to a system in crisis. The ruling came in the midst of dramatic public hearings by a select congressional committee investigating the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The hearings are presenting mountains of evidence indicating that former U.S. President […]

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. President Joe Biden pose with other leaders for a group photo during the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, June 29, 2022 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

NATO leaders gathered this week at a summit in Madrid to adopt a New Strategic Concept, a framework that sets out the alliance’s core priorities for the next decade. But the Madrid gathering was in other ways historic, ushering in further expansion of the alliance after Turkey lifted its veto of Sweden’s and Finland’s membership bids. The U.S. also pledged to deploy more troops, warplanes and naval vessels as part of the alliance’s largest military buildup since the Cold War, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ramifications of the summit will be most obvious on NATO’s eastern flank, with […]

An image of a mock gallows on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol during the attack of Jan. 6, 2021, is shown during the a public hearing of the House select committee investigating the Capitol Riot, Washington, June 9, 2022 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

The belief that the United States is a uniquely youthful society in contrast to an aging and decadent Europe has become so entrenched that it is rarely questioned. Whether out of politeness or genuine belief, Europeans encountering this recurring trope often turn to their own, emphasizing their belief that a European point of view is more mature than that of the supposedly youthful and naive United States. Very rarely is there much consideration about what it means for a society to be “old” or “young.” Sometimes commentators point to the steady birthrates and higher immigration that once sustained a more […]

A pregnant woman looks at her smartphone near a logo marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Communist Party in Beijing, July 8, 2021 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

The U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion since 1973, has brought the question of state involvement in reproductive rights issues on both sides of the Pacific into sharp focus. Abortion is not overtly central to debates about China’s One Child policy, a mass-scale reproductive control infrastructure introduced in 1980 that is now being gradually rolled back. But as in the post-Roe U.S., the Chinese state’s encroachment on individual autonomy and family planning choices nonetheless looms large when it comes to reproductive rights. Forced intrauterine devices, or […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shake hands during a welcome ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, June 22, 2022 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

Many optimists in the Middle East as well as in Washington have argued for some time that governments in the region will find new ways to embrace diplomacy and cooperate among themselves if foreign powers like the United States take a backseat and reduce their footprint in the region. In recent years, the region has seen a sustained round of diplomacy as well as conflict—two major themes that have been a frequent subject of this newsletter. The causes of conflict come from both within and outside the region. Unlike in other parts of the world where the great powers reduced […]

Maya Iribarren participates in an abortion-rights protest at City Hall in San Francisco following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, June 24, 2022 (AP photo by Josie Lepe).

Editor’s note: This will be Aishwarya Machani’s final weekly column for World Politics Review. We’d like to thank her for her forward-thinking coverage of the issues that affect young people around the world. We wish her the best of luck and are excited to continue working with her as a regular contributor.  On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States officially reversed its ruling on the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, thereby eliminating the constitutional right to abortion. It will now be up to individual U.S. states to decide whether abortion should be decriminalized in their jurisdictions. Reactions to this decision […]

U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a meeting with heads of state and government at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, June 10, 2022 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas wrapped up in Los Angeles on June 10 with decidedly mixed results. After a run-up to the summit dominated by discussions over who would attend, the event itself was a flurry of activity by hundreds of government, business and civil society participants. Those who care about outcomes were left to sort through five official accords, a slew of side agreements and several U.S. government announcements. In making sense of the summit’s outcomes, three overarching themes become clear. First, dysfunctional relations between the U.S. and many regional governments continue to hobble U.S. diplomacy in the Americas. […]

Erin Call wears a mask as she shops for groceries at Harmons grocery store, April 3, 2020, in Salt Lake City (AP photo by Rick Bowmer).

The dramatic rise of fuel prices worldwide, triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has set alarm bells ringing. With millions of people struggling to afford “record-high” prices of gasoline and diesel, many governments are now looking into introducing subsidies or tax discounts to alleviate the financial burden placed on their citizens. These initiatives are much needed. They could offer valuable relief to the poor, who have been hit hardest by the price hikes, and could prevent anger over cost-of-living increases from congealing into domestic political crises. However, they also showcase how short-sighted and reactive most governments of today are, considering policies like […]

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Al Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 24, 2019 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

U.S. President Joe Biden’s “reset” of Washington’s approach to the Middle East increasingly looks like a continuation of the policies of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, with an added measure of piety and evasion about what’s really driving the administration’s decision-making process. But an unwitting admission might have come last week when a White House reporter asked Biden why he changed his mind about meeting Saudi Arabia’s once-blacklisted de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, known as MBS. “The commitments from the Saudis don’t relate to anything having to do with energy,” Biden responded, despite the fact that […]

Protesters shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest condemning President Joe Biden's decision on frozen Afghan assets in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 15, 2022 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

On Feb. 11, U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order that proposed a plan for the $7 billion of frozen Afghan reserves that have been locked up in U.S. financial institutions since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August. Half was to be placed in a trust that would benefit the Afghan people, with the rest remaining frozen until a U.S. court rules as to whether it could be used to settle the Taliban’s legal debts with the families of 9/11 victims. The president did not determine whether that latter portion could in fact be used for 9/11 reparations—but […]

Just before the White House launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, in Tokyo last month, Taro Kono, the former Japanese foreign and defense minister, offered a blunt recommendation: Deriding the IPEF as the “Indo-Pacific Economic whatever,” Kono urged the U.S. to “forget” it and rejoin the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. During his press conference with U.S. President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida welcomed the IPEF but echoed Kono’s advice, stressing the strategic significance of a U.S. return to the CPTPP, which is essentially the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact that then-President Barack Obama effectively […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the U.S. Congress by video to plead for support, March 16, 2022.

On the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, amid the cacophony of war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he heard the “sound of a new Iron Curtain” falling across Europe. That message resounded loudly in Washington and across Europe, where ever since the West has framed the war in ideological terms: Autocratic Russia, they explain, is waging a brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine, because the latter aspired to follow the Western model of liberal democracy. As such, the world must help Ukraine to defend itself—or risk imperiling the entire “free world.” This strategic narrative has been very effective in mobilizing the United […]

Students at the China Executive Leadership Academy listen to a classroom lecture in Jinggangshan, Jiangxi province, April 9, 2021.

Discussions in Washington and Beijing about U.S.-China decoupling, both potential and actual, often focus on diplomacy, technology and trade. But while the growing tensions between the two strategic rivals are most visible in these areas, decoupling is also taking place in other, often-overlooked dimensions of the relationship, including in the academic and intellectual realm. In late May, China’s Ministry of Education and the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda Department jointly released an action plan to develop a distinctly Chinese approach to the academic disciplines of philosophy and the social sciences in China’s higher education. A report in the state-run People’s Daily newspaper explained that the plan […]

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou speaks during a press conference at the Executive Tower in Montevideo, Uruguay, April 7, 2021 (AP photo by Matilde Campodonico).

In the run-up to the troubled ninth Summit of the Americas taking place this week in Los Angeles, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou, whose center-right government has been one of the most consistently aligned with U.S. policies in the region, strongly criticized the Biden administration, asserting that it lacks a vision for Latin America and mistakenly sees the hemisphere’s diverse countries as all having the same problems and needs. Lacalle Pou’s candid remarks demonstrate the principled consistency of a government that is often overlooked by, but increasingly important to Washington, at a time when Latin American governments are increasingly turning to partners that are […]

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Akasaka Palace, in Tokyo, May 23, 2022 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In an age of rapid news cycles, when controversies often emerge and fade away in hours, if not days, U.S. President Joe Biden’s declaration in late May that the United States would defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China might seem like ancient history. But given the weightiness of the topic, recent calls for creating a “Pacific NATO” and the heightened focus in recent months on a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan similar to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the remarks, which caused quite a stir at the time, warrant a second look. At a joint press conference with Japanese […]

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks as part of a visit of the Joint Operations Command of the German armed forces, in Schwielowsee near Berlin, Germany, March 4, 2022 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

Last week, Germany’s lower legislative chamber, the Bundestag, held a historic vote to amend the country’s constitution to allow for a massive expansion of its military forces. The vote tally—567 to 96, with 20 abstentions—was one more sign that when Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, he upended not only the architecture of global security, but also, in some cases, fundamental, long-established beliefs about national defense. In the case of Germany, one of the most significant effects of Russian aggression has been the blow it dealt to the notion of pacifism that has guided the country’s defense policies since World War […]

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