Then-Vice President Joe Biden and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a press conference in Singapore, July 26, 2013 (AP photo by Bryan van der Beek).

Although President Donald Trump has not conceded the United States presidential election and is mounting multiple dubious legal challenges to the results, President-elect Joe Biden is moving ahead with the transition. While Biden did not focus on Southeast Asia during his time as vice president from 2009 until 2017, he probably has more extensive foreign policy experience than any incoming president in decades, save perhaps George H. W. Bush. In addition, his policy team includes a deep bench of experts on the Asia-Pacific region. When it comes to Biden’s approach to Southeast Asia, persistent tensions in the U.S. relationship with […]

A protester holds a sign that reads in Spanish, “Wake up Peru,” during a protest to demand social changes and a new constitution from the government of new interim President Francisco Sagasti, in Lima, Peru, Nov. 21, 2020 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

LIMA, Peru—If there was ever a moment when this Andean nation could have used the soothing influence of a wise and binding decision from its Constitutional Court, it was this month, with regard to the legality of the shock ouster of President Martin Vizcarra. The popular, corruption-busting leader’s abrupt removal on Nov. 9 by a scandal-wracked Congress that most Peruvians regard with contempt convulsed the country. The subsequent wave of vibrant and largely peaceful national protests were unlike anything seen here since the fall of the authoritarian regime of Alberto Fujimori two decades ago. One poll taken a few days […]

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa applaud after the signing of agreements between the two countries, in Queluz, Portugal, Dec. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Armando Franca).

Jutting into the Atlantic Ocean 65 miles south of Lisbon, Portugal’s Sines peninsula has long been recognized by foreign powers for its geostrategic importance. The Romans, Visigoths and Moors all established settlements alongside the natural deepwater port. Today, however, plans to redevelop the port have become the latest source of friction between the U.S. and China, suggesting that Portugal’s diplomatic strategy of courting both rivals is running out of runway. Sines is the closest port in mainland Europe to America’s eastern shale basins. U.S. firms want to expand the port’s liquid natural gas terminal in order to increase gas exports […]

Thousands attend a rally for the 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, Oct. 12, 2020 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

When President-elect Joe Biden enters the Oval Office on Jan. 20, he is unlikely to have North Korea at the front of his mind, given the many other urgent crises he will confront. But the Korean Peninsula has a way of forcing American presidents to pay attention. Crucial decisions about how to approach negotiations with Pyongyang over its nuclear program, as well as how to manage the U.S. alliance with South Korea, are now overdue. If Biden chooses wisely, his administration could prove transformational for the Korean Peninsula. If he errs or defers meaningful decisions to his successor, he risks […]

An F-35 arriving back at the British Royal Air Force's Akrotiri base in Cyprus, after flying in operational missions against the Islamic State, June 24, 2019 (Press Association photo by Jacob King via AP).

In a long-anticipated move, the White House recently notified Congress of its intent to sell advanced F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates. The Trump administration was able to overcome Israel’s initial objections to the move, which followed the normalization agreement that the U.S. brokered between the UAE and Israel. If the deal goes through, it will make the UAE only the second Middle Eastern country after Israel to fly the F-35, though Saudi Arabia and Qatar have also expressed interest. Turkey had been a partner in developing the F-35 but was kicked out of the program by the […]

An Indian schoolgirl wears a mask of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to welcome him on the eve of his visit to Chennai, India, Oct. 10, 2019 (AP photo by R. Parthibhan).

The architects of India’s foreign policy have long preferred a multipolar world. They believe that India, with its limited economic and military capabilities, can play a prominent role on the global stage only when it is not dominated by one or two superpowers. That view led New Delhi to champion the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War, and a preference for multipolarity endured in Indian foreign policy thinking after the fall of the Soviet Union. Even while India in the 21st century drew closer to the sole remaining superpower, the United States, its leaders spoke of strategic autonomy, which some […]

A policeman walks past a burning barricade during a protest in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Nov. 3, 2020 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

DAKAR, Senegal—Mohammed Ouattara, an activist from Cote d’Ivoire who lives in exile in Senegal, doesn’t mince words when speaking about his country’s recent presidential elections. “It’s a constitutional coup d’état,” he told me, as we sat in a café along the corniche in Dakar. “He doesn’t have the right to be a candidate,” he said, his eyes wide and intense. “He stole the elections.” Ouattara was referring to Cote d’Ivoire’s president, Alassane Ouattara, who was reelected to a controversial third term last month in a landslide, according to election officials, although his two main opponents had boycotted the vote and […]

Armenian self-propelled artillery units during the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Nov. 18, 2020 (AP photo by Sergei Grits).

Last week’s Russia-brokered agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended 44 days of bloody clashes over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh—the first interstate war fought by conventional forces in recent years. The deal calls for Armenia to give up large swathes of territory in and around the breakaway region, which lies within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called the deal “incredibly painful.” The ostensible Azerbaijani victory, gained at substantial cost in men and materiel, has triggered intensive interest among military analysts about the conflict’s lessons for future warfighting. In particular, the wearing down of Armenian air […]

Members of the United Nations Security Council convene a meeting on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, at U.N. headquarters, Feb. 26, 2020 (AP photo by Bebeto Matthews).

With support from nearly half the world’s nations, a new United Nations treaty banning the possession and use of nuclear weapons will take effect early next year. The U.N. confirmed last month that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or TPNW, had been ratified by the required 50 countries. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it “a tribute to the survivors of nuclear explosions and tests, many of whom advocated for this treaty.” Many non-nuclear-armed states, as well as pro-disarmament activists and organizations like the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, have celebrated the agreement, which they […]

People wait to enter a wholesale market in Havana, Cuba, July 31, 2020 (AP photo by Ismael Francisco).

Cuba’s economy was already struggling before the coronavirus pandemic, due to persistently poor domestic productivity, declining oil shipments from Venezuela and the ratcheting up of U.S. sanctions. But now, the closure of the tourist sector due to COVID-19 has thrown Cuba into a full-fledged recession, deeper than anything since the economic crisis of the 1990s that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union—what Cubans know as the “Special Period.” Perhaps paradoxically, the downturn also appears to have broken a logjam of disagreement among Cuba’s senior leaders and accelerated the implementation of economic reforms. Reforms entail risks, President Miguel Diaz-Canel told […]

A woman reads a newspaper showing the results of the previous day’s referendum in favor of rewriting the nation’s constitution, in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 26, 2020 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

SANTIAGO, Chile—It is no exaggeration to suggest that Chile’s constitutional referendum last month was its most important vote since the country transitioned to democracy in 1989. Voters faced two decisions: first, whether a new constitution should be written, and second, if the answer on the first question is affirmative, who should write it. An entirely new body could be elected for that purpose, or a mixed convention could be held, in which half the delegates would be current members of parliament. Ahead of the Oct. 25 referendum, polls showed that a majority of Chileans wanted a new constitution, but nobody […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron meet in Caen, France, June 6, 2019 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

PARIS—Few in France will miss Donald Trump. According to a survey released by the Pew Research Center in January, only 20 percent of the French population have confidence in the U.S. president, compared to 32 percent in the U.K. and 13 percent in Germany. And French President Emmanuel Macron’s high-profile efforts to cultivate his American counterpart on a range of policy issues resulted in some memorable encounters, but also, more often than not, in bitter disappointment. It may come as a surprise, then, that the French government’s enthusiasm regarding the prospects of working with the incoming Democratic administration of President-elect […]

Bolivia’s new president, Luis Arce, raises his fist as he walks with Vice President David Choquehuanca, left, on their inauguration day in La Paz, Bolivia, Nov. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

Luis Arce Catacora was sworn in as Bolivia’s new president last weekend, two weeks after he and his vice president, David Choquehanca Cespedes, won decisively in long-delayed general elections. Their victory marked a return to power for the Movement for Socialism—the political party of former President Evo Morales, known as the MAS—and an end to a year of unrest and political turmoil that followed Morales’ ouster in the wake of disputed elections. Lawmakers—almost all of them wearing face masks—packed into the National Assembly building to hear Arce’s inaugural address, in which he promised to govern for all Bolivians. “We want […]

Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct. 19, 2020 (AP photo by Minh Hoang).

When Abe Shinzo abruptly announced he was stepping down as prime minister this summer due to health concerns, it marked an important turning point for Japan’s position on the world stage. The longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history, Abe began his second term in 2012, guiding the country through a period of global turmoil while maintaining a rigorous travel schedule. He championed multilateralism, free trade and a rules-based order at a time when many other countries were being buffeted by great-power politics and the rise of authoritarian populism. And while Abe’s ambitious foreign policy agenda often missed its mark, he […]

People drive past burnt toll gates showing anti-police slogans, in Lagos, Nigeria, Oct. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Oct. 20 might be remembered as the day Nigeria’s historic uprising against police brutality died. The government’s use of live ammunition against peaceful demonstrators that day reportedly killed at least 12 people and injured dozens more. As President Muhammadu Buhari implicitly threatened to crack down again, the Feminist Coalition, one of the Nigerian organizations spearheading the protest movement, released a statement refusing further donations and calling for Nigerian youth to observe curfews and stay home. The streets of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city and the one-time epicenter of the demonstrations, are now clear of the tens of thousands of people […]

A homeless Venezuelan migrant near the main bus terminal in Bogota, Colombia, June 3, 2020 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

MEDELLIN, Colombia—As 21-year-old Jarvis Sanchez fled Venezuela—walking hours through dangerous informal border crossings, packing into hotel rooms with 20 other people and clinging to the backs of speeding trucks—he could barely even think about the global pandemic playing out around him. “There were things way scarier than COVID,” Sanchez said. “When you’re constantly under threat, when you’re on a truck driving at such fast speeds, and so many other things, you almost forget about it.” Sanchez is part of a new wave of migrants and refugees leaving Venezuela, as nearby countries gradually reopen their economies after months of COVID-19 lockdowns. […]

Gambian President Adama Barrow arrives at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, March 15, 2017 (AP Photo by Thibault Camus).

DAKAR, Senegal—Michael Sang Correa was indicted in federal court in Denver, Colorado, in July, for allegedly torturing multiple people in Gambia in 2006. The indictment is the first for a member of the Junglers, a secretive death squad used by former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh to arrest, torture, disappear and kill scores of his perceived opponents. His trial is expected to begin next year. Correa’s victims and their family members are relieved that he is finally facing justice. However, experts say that Correa’s trial in the U.S., rather than in Gambia, underscores a lack of political will among Gambian leaders […]

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