British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with performers dressed as lions as he welcomes members of the British Chinese community for Lunar New Year celebrations in London, Jan. 24, 2020 (AP Photo by Matt Dunham).

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, delivered a speech in Parliament setting out measures to ensure that British businesses do not profit from what he called the “industrial scale” forced labor of minority Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region. However, Raab’s remarks made no mention of imposing widely expected sanctions on Chinese Communist Party officials allegedly involved in human rights abuses. The omission generated confusion among journalists and some lawmakers, as the government’s prior press guidance had indicated the speech would include an announcement of sanctions under a law modeled on the Global Magnitsky Act in […]

Trucks line up on the approach to the port of Dover, England, Dec. 11, 2020 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

The United Kingdom’s delayed departure from the European Union and the implementation of a hard-fought, post-Brexit trade agreement on Jan. 1 have led to the most significant rise in barriers between any major trading partners in recent memory. With trade volumes between the U.K. and the rest of the EU having grown significantly since the 1990s, particularly through the establishment of regional or global value chains, there is no meaningful precedent to draw on when projecting what comes next, other than the general experience that higher trade barriers mean less trade and more economic loss. It is early days, but […]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a press conference at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul,  Jan. 18, 2021 (pool photo by Jeon Heon-kyun via AP Images).

South Korean President Moon Jae-in began the year in dire need of a pick-me-up. His approval rating dropped to a record-low 37 percent last month as voters faulted him for failing to contain a third wave of COVID-19 and moving too slowly on vaccinating the population. Soaring housing prices and a damaging scandal at the Justice Ministry added to his government’s woes. Seeking a turnaround, Moon used the occasion of his New Year’s address to the nation on Jan. 11 to outline an ambitious, forward-looking agenda. He announced a phased rollout of free vaccinations for all South Koreans starting next […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a ceremony marking the start of the judicial year at the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Matias Delacroix).

Throughout former President Donald Trump’s four years in office, he made opposition to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro central to U.S. policy toward Latin America. That “maximum pressure” campaign largely rested on progressively tighter sanctions against the Maduro regime, with the goal of forcing his ouster in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaido, the former head of the National Assembly whom the U.S. and more than 50 other countries recognized as the country’s valid interim president. This hard-line policy toward Venezuela was a rare show of support for democracy by the Trump administration, and it played well among politically important voting […]

Afghan security personnel inspect the site of a bombing attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

Afghanistan may not rank in the top tier of U.S. President Joe Biden’s policy priorities, given the host of pressing crises in the United States. But Afghanistan’s fate hinges in large part on how the Biden team decides to approach the country’s conflict and its tenuous, still-nascent peace process. Biden will be compelled to make critical decisions on Afghanistan during his first months in office that will affect the country’s conflict—and relationship with the U.S.—for years to come. Over the past year, the outgoing U.S. administration attempted to set a peace process in motion by signing a political agreement with […]

A man reads a newspaper reacting to the news of Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, in Lagos, Nigeria, Nov. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

President Joe Biden will need to combine prudence with creativity to forge a more productive relationship with Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and its largest economy. Notwithstanding Nigeria’s relative decline as a power within Africa, U.S.-Nigeria ties remain extensive by regional and continental standards. But they’ve been stymied in recent years by tensions over political corruption, Nigeria’s difficulties in managing the threat from the violent extremist group Boko Haram and the human rights record of Nigerian security forces. Nigeria’s importance to U.S. policy considerations lies in its large population, geographic size and economic heft, all of which have historically provided […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a news conference with then-U.S. President Donald Trump in New Delhi, India, Feb. 25, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

President Joe Biden faces a slew of important foreign policy challenges. But with India, he has a historic opportunity to forge a strategic alliance to help build a stable balance of power in Asia and the wider Indo-Pacific region. India has been a bright spot in U.S. foreign policy over the past two decades. Continuing a process set in motion by President Bill Clinton during the 1990s and accelerated by every succeeding administration, U.S.-India relations thrived during Donald Trump’s presidency. Not surprisingly, there is strong bipartisan support in both Washington and New Delhi for a closer partnership under Biden. The […]

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni attends the state funeral of former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, in Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 11, 2020 (AP photo by John Muchucha).

On the afternoon of Jan. 18, U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Natalie Brown tried to pay a visit to the home of opposition leader Bobi Wine, in a suburb of the capital, Kampala. She had planned to check on Wine’s health and safety, but was turned back by security forces at the gate of his residential compound. The pop star-turned-presidential candidate, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has been under house arrest since casting his vote in the Jan. 14 general elections. The government claims the soldiers guarding Wine’s home are there for his own protection. They may not be there […]

Oil rigs and ships in Claxton Bay, Trinidad and Tobago, Jan. 3, 2015 (Flickr photo by Leslie-Ann Boisselle).

For decades, the Caribbean twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago has relied on oil and natural gas production to guarantee its energy security and provide a measure of fiscal stability for the government.* Even as oil and gas revenues have steadily declined since hitting a peak in the late 1970s, the country’s economy remains highly reliant on the energy sector, which accounts for around 75 percent of exports and 40 percent of GDP. However, the crash of global energy markets amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing threat of climate change are providing an impetus for a reevaluation of Trinidad […]

Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Armin Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, in Duesseldorf, Germany, Aug. 18, 2020 (AP photo by Martin Meissner).

BERLIN—German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s preferred successor, Armin Laschet, might have won the leadership of her center-right Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, but he still faces an uphill battle to lead the country’s most powerful political force into a general election in September—the first of the post-Merkel era. Though it was billed as a tight race, Laschet comfortably won Saturday’s intra-party election to succeed fellow Merkel ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as leader of the CDU. After a close first round earlier in the day eliminated reformist candidate Norbert Rottgen, Laschet rallied to win a runoff against Friedrich Merz, a right-leaning businessman and […]

Supporters of a splinter group in the governing Nepal Communist Party gather to  demand the ouster of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and the reinstatement of Parliament, in Kathmandu, Nepal, Dec. 29, 2020 (AP photo by Niranjan Shrestha).

The aftershocks of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s decision last month to dissolve the lower house of Nepal’s Parliament and call for early elections are still being felt throughout the country. Oli’s controversial move, designed to thwart growing demands for him to leave office, has been widely criticized—including within his own Nepal Communist Party, or NCP—for contravening Nepal’s 2015 constitution. His insistence on maintaining power marks a potentially dangerous juncture along Oli’s drift toward authoritarianism, and could reverse democratic gains Nepal has made since its 10-year civil war ended in 2006. The latest episode in Nepal’s roiling politics was entirely […]

Posters of veteran politician Gideon Saar at a voting center in the northern Israeli city of Hadera, Dec. 26, 2019 (AP photo by Ariel Schalit).

Following a one-year respite, Israeli voters will head back to the polls on March 23 for their fourth election in two years. While trying to break Israel’s political gridlock is by now well-trodden ground, the upcoming contest will differ in one key way from the three that took place between April 2019 and March 2020. In those elections, the main alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party was the newly formed Blue and White, a party led by former military chief Benny Gantz that did not have a clear ideological agenda or makeup. This time, however, […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then-Vice President Joe Biden at the chancellery in Berlin, Feb. 1, 2013 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

Joe Biden’s election as U.S. president was greeted with deep relief in Berlin, as it was in most other European capitals. After Donald Trump’s presidency—which was characterized by animosity toward Germany and repeated attempts to sow division among European countries—German policymakers hope that some immediate sources of tension can now be resolved, such as Trump’s tariffs on European steel and aluminum imports or the long-running trans-Atlantic dispute over aerospace subsidies. There are also multiple opportunities for Germany to collaborate on key strategic challenges with Biden, a committed multilateralist and Atlanticist, who has repeatedly underlined the value of a strong and […]

Security forces examine the wreckage of vehicles after a bomb attack near the presidential palace, in Mogadishu, Somalia, Jan. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

In November, as the Ethiopian government escalated its military campaign against the northern Tigray region, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed quietly ordered a drawdown of Ethiopian peacekeepers from neighboring Somalia. The scale of the move is still unconfirmed, but as many as 3,000 Ethiopian troops were reportedly redeployed to fight against the regional ruling party in Tigray, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF. Around 200 to 300 ethnic Tigrayan soldiers in Somalia were also disarmed, and some may have even been purged from the ranks. The Ethiopian troops’ departure injects additional uncertainty into Somalia’s already precarious security situation, as it […]

Member states’ flags outside the United Nations headquarters, Sept. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

It is tempting to think that Joe Biden’s imminent inauguration will end the crisis of multilateralism. Yet while the new administration will undoubtedly change the way the United States engages with the world for the better, Donald Trump’s perceived withdrawal from global leadership is not the main reason for the current dysfunctional state of global affairs. Nor, for that matter, does it come down to the waxing great-power rivalry between China and the U.S., or the resurgence of Russia as a thorn in the side of the liberal international order. Larger forces are at work. The world has entered a […]

Trump supporters at a rally near the White House, prior to the storming of the Capitol, in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021 (AP photo by John Minchillo).

The shocking visuals of last week’s mob assault on the U.S. Capitol building, incited by President Donald Trump, stunned viewers around the world. But the more insidious assault on American democracy has been led by the faction of the Republican Party that perpetuated Trump’s lies about election fraud, voted against the certification Joe Biden’s election victory in Congress and duped millions of Americans. In my recent study of democratic erosion around the world, my co-author, Murat Somer, and I identified a common template for the gradual undermining of democratic institutions: A polarizing leader attempts to consolidate power by changing enough […]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Dec. 10, 2020 (AFP pool photo by John Thys via AP Images).

Despite prevailing early sentiment that the coronavirus pandemic and the anxieties associated with it could further fracture the European Union as a tumultuous Brexit process wound to a close, the bloc now finds itself more integrated and united than it has been in years. As COVID-19 spread across the continent last year, mainstream EU leaders overcame their differences and found compromises on politically sensitive issues, ranging from pandemic recovery to climate change to the rule of law—and even a last-minute post-Brexit trade agreement with the United Kingdom. The many populist and euroskeptic parties that enjoyed surging support in the aftermath […]

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