Over the past year, the implications of the war in Ukraine have been the subject of much analysis and debate. It has been a war between two armed forces, but also between two diametrically opposed systems of values. It has been an economic war and a war of competing narratives. But above all, it has been a war of contradictions.
This week, with the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaching, major players on the global stage took the opportunity to articulate their view of Europe’s first interstate war since World War II, as well as how they want their role in the epicenter of the world’s principal geopolitical conflict to be perceived.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s recent meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden was framed as a reaffirmation of the two countries’ recently battered democracies. But if Lula seems like a good fit for Biden’s narrative of a global battle between democracy and autocracy, he also underscores the limitations of this narrative.
Amid competition and trade tensions, U.S.-China relations are at a low point. The path forward is treacherous, and how Washington chooses to navigate it will shape not only current events, but possibly the century ahead. The U.S. has three options for how it approaches Beijing going forward: It can oppose China, embrace it or ignore it.
Hunger in the U.S. is spiking again, because many pandemic-era policies that expanded access to food are expiring just as prices are rising. This provides both a challenge and an opportunity for advocates working to end hunger to reframe food as a public good rather than a form of charity and a human right rather than a commodity.
Last week, after China flew a spy balloon over at least three Latin American countries, the region responded with uncharacteristic silence. For a region that is often obsessed with perceived violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the unwillingness to speak out against China’s airspace incursion is striking.
EU leaders gathered in Brussels today, hoping to devise a response to protectionist subsidies included in the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, a topic that is becoming increasingly important to trans-Atlantic relations. Instead, they found themselves occupied with a surprise guest: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The problem with debates over the effectiveness of sanctions on Russia is that commentators often refer to other countries targeted by Western sanctions, as if these cases hold universal lessons that might be applicable to Russia. But Russia is an entirely different beast, and it presents a unique test case for Western sanctions.
Last month, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang continued a decades-long tradition of Chinese foreign ministers starting the year with a trip to Africa. The visit comes at a time of ramped up engagement between African states and the U.S., highlighting the U.S. tendency to characterize Africa’s relations with China in patronizing terms.
Attempts to construct narratives of a golden age of U.S. support for free trade reflect anxieties that Washington’s current focus on subsidies and buy-American clauses could undermine the U.S.-led liberal international order. But this yearning for a golden age of free trade glosses over a much more complex reality.
Washington has recently stepped up engagement with Africa, focusing on areas such as investment, climate adaptation and health. But good governance is necessary for progress to be made on these other important issues. That should be reflected in the language U.S. officials use to discuss them, but so far it has been absent.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. has made alliance-management its top priority in Europe, and the extent of Western cohesion over the past year has underscored the degree to which those efforts have paid off. Yet after one year of war, U.S. leadership has encountered a paradox: It is too successful for its own good.
Since succeeding Donald Trump, Joe Biden has sought to repair the damage Trump did to a wide range of traditional U.S. foreign policy objectives, particularly when it came to reassuring U.S. allies and partners around the world. But Biden has left one thing he inherited form Trump relatively untouched: trade policy.
Over the past year, numerous countries, led by the U.S. and EU, have leveled an unprecedented package of economic sanctions on Russia. These sanctions are both comprehensive, targeting the Russian economy in general, and specific, aimed at key Russian oligarchs who support Putin. Now, a natural question arises: Are they working?