An ICBM launch control facility in the countryside outside Minot, North Dakota, June 24, 2014 (AP photo by Charlie Riedel).

The surprising election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has created countless new questions and concerns about the future of U.S. foreign policy. But perhaps nowhere are these concerns more acute than in Trump’s thoughts about nuclear weapons. While often inchoate and contradictory, Trump’s recent comments about strengthening and expanding U.S. nuclear capabilities, apparently welcoming an arms race with Russia, and possibly encouraging allies to develop their own nuclear deterrent have all caused great concern among defense analysts and foreign policy professionals, not to mention many within the U.S. government. Given the enormous stakes involved, it is […]

A crane rises next to the main tower of the Centenario deepwater drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Veracruz, Mexico, Nov. 22, 2013 (AP photo by Dario Lopez-Mills).

On Dec. 5, Mexico held its first-ever auction for deepwater oil blocks in the Gulf of Mexico. A total of eight out of 10 blocks were awarded to various consortiums of leading international oil companies, such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Total and Statoil. The Mexican government estimates that the offshore fields hold as much as 11 billion barrels of oil and natural gas. The tender brought some much-needed economic relief for Mexico. As 2016 comes to a close, the country faces the most severe crisis originating north of the border in the United States since the 2008 financial meltdown, in […]

President-elect Donald Trump at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis, Dec. 1, 2016 (AP photo by Darron Cummings).

When speculating about President-elect Donald Trump’s likely economic agenda, one must return to the popular view among many American voters that to create jobs and repair an ailing economy, turn to successful businessmen. Only they, not the professional political class, have the practical experience, instincts and strength needed to muster up better economic performance and job creation in areas like manufacturing. Why? Their business successes, according to this view, are easily transferable to solving a wide range of problems in the public sphere. There is an element of truth here. Businessmen like Trump instinctively see the economy from a microeconomic […]

Villagers outside the city of Mokolo in northern Cameroon, April 18, 2016 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

On Dec. 11, three days after four people were reportedly killed in the latest clashes between protesters and security forces in the city of Bamenda in northwestern Cameroon, the government’s communications minister issued a statement suggesting the demonstrators’ main grievance was a nonissue. For more than a month, Cameroonians in the country’s English-speaking regions had been publicly criticizing the use of French in courts and schools and, more broadly, the perceived marginalization of the minority Anglophone population. That issue, which has roots in Cameroon’s colonial history, is a decades-old source of tension. Yet in his statement, the minister, Issa Tchiroma […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a joint press conference at Abe's official residence, Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Franck Robichon).

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin touched down in Yamaguchi, the home prefecture of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to begin a much-anticipated summit. Abe arranged a personal venue for their meeting: a famous hot spring bath in his hometown of Nagato. Abe has met with Putin more than 15 times since taking office in late 2012, even after high-level diplomatic engagement with Russia came under scrutiny from the international community, especially Tokyo’s ally in Washington, over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and destabilizing activities in eastern Ukraine. Abe had hoped that his dogged approach to appeal to Moscow, along […]

Security officials at the scene of a car bombing in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri, Turkey, Dec. 17, 2016. (IHA via AP).

Last week, Turkey was hit by yet another terrorist attack, a car bombing that killed 13 soldiers and wounded 55 others in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri. Although quickly overshadowed days later by the assassination in Ankara of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, the bombing came just a week after a twin suicide bombing killed 44 policemen and wounded another 150 outside the Besiktas football stadium in Istanbul. While no immediate claim of responsibility has been issued for the Kayseri bombing, solid evidence points to the same perpetrators as the earlier Dec. 10 attack: the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a […]

European Council President Donald Tusk during a media conference, Brussels, Nov. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

The European Union voted Monday to renew economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea for an additional six months. Sanctions were first put in place in July 2014 and have been extended ever since. Despite token opposition among some member states, the renewal of sanctions has been relatively routine up to this point. But there are signs that Europe’s united front against Russia is beginning to crack. Germany, the U.K., Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been the strongest advocates of a hard line on Russia, while Italy, Greece, Hungary and the Czech Republic have been vocal […]

Students outside a classroom with a map of Africa on its wall, Yei, southern South Suda, Nov. 15, 2016 (AP photo by Justin Lynch).

The third anniversary last week of the start of South Sudan’s ongoing civil war served only to reinforce how intractable that conflict has become. A peace deal is in tatters, along with the country’s economy. With the return of the dry season, the combatants appear to be preparing for another round of fighting. And the United Nations is now warning of possible genocide. South Sudanese are keenly aware that after three years of fighting, the situation can still deteriorate further. Since the end of October, more than 280,000 people have fled the country. According to the U.N.’s refugee agency, that […]

A quay at the Port of Qingdao, in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong, Dec. 8, 2016 (Imaginechina photo via AP).

Last week, China brought formal legal challenges against the United States and the European Union for their failures to recognize the Asian giant as a “market economy” according to World Trade Organization rules. China’s current “nonmarket economy” designation allows Washington and Brussels to use a special tariff formula to stem the flow of low-priced imports in anti-dumping cases. Contrary to initial media reports of a trade war, Beijing’s WTO actions sent a positive signal for otherwise bleak trade relations between these major powers—at least in the near term. But longer term, the squabble over China’s market economy status is just […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the opening session of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Lima, Peru, Nov. 20, 2016 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series inviting authors to identify the biggest priority—whether a threat, risk, opportunity or challenge—facing the international order and U.S. foreign policy today. Despite all the noise and attention on the threats of cyberwar, cybersecurity in the United States has gotten worse, not better. As the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and interference in the U.S. election showed, leaks and other disruptions online have become new tools of state power, reflecting larger conflicts between the U.S. and its rivals. Current U.S. strategies are inadequate to respond to, much less […]

Israelis wave flags and hold signs reading "Trump, the Israeli interest" during a rally, Jerusalem, Oct. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Tsafrir Abayov).

U.S. policy on Israel almost always manages to divide and stoke controversy, and President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel is no exception. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer with no diplomatic experience and a strong supporter of expanding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, has generated outrage on the left and exaltation on the right—in both the United States and Israel. Friedman has overtly rejected any prospects for a two-state solution and demonized American Jews critical of Israeli policy. He once called members of J Street—a self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” progressive lobbying group—“worse than kapos,” the term […]

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos shakes hands with FARC leader Rodrigo Londono at the signing ceremony for a revised peace pact, Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 24, 2016 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Leaders of Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, wearing sport jackets and khakis against the high-altitude chill, attended meetings in Bogota last week, a city they hadn’t seen in decades, if ever. In Colombia, unlike anywhere else in the world in 2016, a once-intractable conflict has ended. The peace accord between the government and the FARC guerrillas, which puts an end to 52 years of fighting, cleared one of its last formal hurdles on Dec. 13. Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled that laws needed to implement the accord’s commitments could be passed in a matter of weeks using a […]

Aymara women and activists during a march against gender violence, La Paz, Bolivia, Oct. 19, 2016 (AP photo by Juan Karita). Bolivia is the most violent country in Latin America for women.

It is the most violent country in Latin America for women. As lawmakers and activists struggle against a culture of machismo and a legal system unequipped to enforce laws designed to protect women, there are calls for the government to declare a national emergency. Ninety-three women have been murdered in Bolivia this year by their partners or spouses, 32 more than last year. That spike drove thousands of Bolivians into the streets of six cities late last month, on Nov. 25, the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Marchers demanded that the government declare the […]

Rwanda President Paul Kagame during the opening ceremony of the African Union Summit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 30, 2016 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

The race to lead the African Union is entering a critical stage, as candidates to succeed outgoing AU Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma make their final pitches and struggle to overcome regional divisions that stalled the election process five months ago. On Dec. 9, the five contenders made their most public appeals yet, in a first-ever televised debate broadcast from the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that marked an overt effort to popularize the organization across the continent. Traditional divides along regional and linguistic lines forced a six-month delay of the election in July, when heads of state failed to […]

Tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts in several Yemeni cities, Sanaa, Yemen, Nov. 10, 2016 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

“While parties bicker,” outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in June 2015, “Yemen burns.” Some 18 months later, with war dragging on between Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition seeking to oust them, little has changed. As aid agencies once again raise the specter of famine in the Arab world’s poorest country, the prospects for a U.N.-brokered peace deal remain distant. The internationally recognized government, which was pushed out of the capital, Sanaa, by the Houthis in 2014, has flatly rejected the U.N.’s latest proposal, while the rebels late last month announced the formation of a new government. Amid this […]

A Nigerian Naval officer walks past a U.S. high-speed vessel, Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 9, 2011 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Piracy in Africa brings up images of Somalia and its neighbors in the Horn of Africa, where maritime security has been an issue for years. On the other side of the continent, West African countries enjoy far more developed governmental structures and security tools and should, in theory, be able to keep piracy at bay. Yet piracy is significantly decreasing in Somalia, while it is growing in the Gulf of Guinea. According to the International Maritime Bureau, there was just one attempted attack in Somalia in the first nine months of 2016, whereas 31 incidents of piracy were reported off […]

Argentine President Mauricio Macri during a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Buenos Aires, Nov. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

Mauricio Macri assumed the presidency of Argentina a little over a year ago, on Dec. 10, 2015, intent on correcting years of mistakes by his predecessors and eager to cement his place as a leader of significance. While he has largely succeeded in the first goal, the second remains stubbornly out of reach, and efforts to build an enduring legacy will only grow more complicated in the years to come. Macri’s surprising victory in the 2015 election—polls initially showed him likely to lose outright in October’s first round of voting—ended 12 years of rule by Nestor Kirchner and his wife, […]

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