Public teachers shout slogans against Peruvian President Pedro Castillo to demand better labor conditions in Lima, Peru, Nov. 23, 2021 (AP photo by Guadalupe Pardo).

LIMA, Peru—Peruvian President Pedro Castillo may or may not be a socialist, but there is no denying that his political branding is rooted almost exclusively in his identification with Peru’s most marginalized citizens. His campaign slogan for the June presidential election, “No more poor people in a rich country,” was the least of it. What carried real weight with voters was his personal background as a campesino—a rural inhabitant usually with Indigenous heritage and ties to the land. For many, that made Castillo the living antithesis to the largely white Lima elites who have overseen a booming economy in a […]

Gabriel Boric talks during his closing campaign rally ahead of the presidential run-off election in Santiago, Chile, Dec. 16, 2021 (AP photo by Matias Delacroix).

In winning Chile’s presidential election on Dec. 19, Gabriel Boric set two new records. First, at the age of 36, he will become the youngest president in Chile’s history. Second, his tally of 4.5 million votes is the most ever for a Chilean presidential candidate.  These two new records are intimately related. Boric and his team represent a new generation of leadership, and as such, they were able to mobilize sectors of the electorate that had previously remained uninvolved in electoral politics. Since Chile’s transition to democracy in 1989, the country’s politics has been characterized by declining turnout levels. However, the […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media after meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Pretoria, South Africa, Nov. 23, 2021 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

If anyone was hoping for a post-pandemic renewal of international cooperation in a world still feeling the aftershocks from Brexit, Donald Trump’s presidency, trade wars and global supply chain disruptions, they would likely be disappointed today. International relations in 2020 were driven primarily by the politics of aid and mask diplomacy. The second year of the coronavirus pandemic has been all about vaccines, geopolitical competition and travel restrictions.  In a July edition of my Africa Watch newsletter, I noted that the rhetoric of renewed multilateralism heard at global summits and other international fora at the onset of the pandemic ultimately […]

Seiji Osaka, Junya Ogawa, Kenta Izumi and Chinami Nishimura attend a leadership debate of the Constitutional Democratic Party, Tokyo, Nov. 22, 2021 (photo by the Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images).

On Nov. 30, the center-left Constitutional Democratic Party, or CDP, Japan’s leading opposition party, elected 47-year-old Kenta Izumi to succeed CDP founder Yukio Edano as party leader. Izumi inherits a party reeling from an unexpectedly large defeat in Japan’s Oct. 31 general election, in which the CDP won fewer than 100 of the lower house’s 465 seats. Right up until the final days of the campaign, polls suggested that a united opposition bloc led by the CDP could flip dozens of seats held by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito coalition. But the coalition limited its losses to only a dozen […]

Illegally cut logs lay on the bank of the Putaya River between the Ashaninka Indigenous communities of Saweto and Puerto Putaya, Peru, March 17, 2015 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

Peru’s portion of the Amazon jungle accounts for more than half the country’s land area and, at 13 percent of the Amazon’s total territory, the second-largest share of the rainforest after Brazil. While the rate of deforestation of Peru’s Amazon forests lags that of Brazil’s, it is the country’s primary source of greenhouse gas emissions. Growing concerns over both deforestation’s contribution to climate change and its impact on the region’s Indigenous peoples have now led the Peruvian government to increase its focus on combatting the phenomenon.   Though Peru is not a significant producer of greenhouse gases, it is likely to suffer immensely from climate change and has already […]

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, Dec. 11, 2021 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

What is the U.S. up to in the Middle East? How does the granular reality of developments as seen from the region square with Washington’s strategic assessment? Last week, a senior Biden administration official offered some answers to those questions in a briefing for journalists on the White House’s plan for a realistic, downsized Middle East policy. (Though the official remained anonymous, it sounds an awful lot like Brett McGurk ). Whether or not this plan will work—and I’m not so sure that it will—the administration’s description of its own approach sounds accurate, and that’s a welcome change. It does away […]

Annalena Baerbock, Robert Habeck, Olaf Scholz and Christian Lindner, prior to unveiling the coalition government accord between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP, Berlin, Germany, Nov. 24, 2021 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

On Dec. 8, former Chancellor Angela Merkel officially passed the baton to her successor, Olaf Scholz, after 16 years as Germany’s leader. Scholz now heads the three-party coalition between his center-left Social Democrats, or SDP, the pro-environment Greens, and the pro-market Free Democrats, or FDP. Known as the Ampelkoalition—or “traffic light coalition,” in reference to each party’s official colors, which correspond to the color sequence of a traffic light—this heterodox configuration’s “Dare More Progress” coalition agreement offers a roadmap to confront the challenges facing the German people. Domestic issues such as digitalization, the phasing out of coal and increasing the minimum wage […]

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers closing remarks to the virtual Summit for Democracy, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Washington, Dec. 10, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

More than a week after U.S. President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy, much of the controversy surrounding the lead-up to the event has fizzled toward ambivalence, or even relief.  Many had feared that, given its own highly visible democratic erosion in recent years, the U.S. would lack the legitimacy to lead such a summit and would come across as hypocritical in doing so. But at the virtual gathering, Biden and other U.S. officials forthrightly acknowledged the shortcomings of the United States’ democracy and the significant domestic challenges the country continues to face.  Others had expected the event to be performative, […]

A billboard seeking information on persons involved with the assault at the Capitol is displayed at a bus stop in Washington, Jan. 17, 2021 (AP photo by David Goldman).

As the coronavirus pandemic continued into its second year, its impact on terrorist attacks worldwide was palpable—and positive. In a report on terrorism from July, the United Nations stated that “in non-conflict zones … the threat remains suppressed by limitations on the ability of operatives to travel, meet, fundraise and identify viable targets.”  Nevertheless, though terrorism, like almost every other human activity, has been constrained by the pandemic, it hasn’t stopped evolving in the past year, shaped by several key developments. As more widespread distribution of vaccines allows parts of the world to begin opening up, there is growing concern that counterterrorism practitioners […]

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed at the Fontainebleau castle, south of Paris, France, Sept. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

While U.S. President Joe Biden seems determined to reduce the U.S. footprint in the Middle East, finally embracing Washington’s long-discussed  pivot to Asia, French President Emmanuel Macron is headed in the opposite direction. In recent years, Macron has made repeated trips to Lebanon, Iraq and the Gulf states, and launched a series of diplomatic initiatives in a bid to address regional crises. It is hard to think of any Western leader who has been even half as engaged as Macron across the range of high-priority issues confronting the Middle East.  Macron’s recent visit to the Gulf, during which he concluded […]

U.S. President Joe Biden listens as he meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Nov. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

As the Biden administration prepares to release its National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, observers are searching for clues on how those reviews will grapple with the framework of “great-power competition” that anchored the previous administration’s high-level policy documents. That framework has achieved substantial bipartisan traction in the intervening four years among government officials, lawmakers and scholars, in part because it is rooted in three judgments with which most analysts would agree, even if they disagree about how those core premises should guide U.S. foreign policy. First, interstate competition, which has been a core aspect of world affairs since the Treaty […]

Workers advertise their skills while looking for work outside a hardware store in a Johannesburg suburb, Feb. 26, 2020 (AP photo by Denis Farrell).

As 2021 comes to a close, a wide range of commentators—including international financial organizations, regional development banks, credit agencies, consulting firms and media organizations—have begun rolling out their forecasts for the coming year’s global economic outlook. Figuring centrally in all these projections is how the global economy will recover from the stop-and-start effects of the coronavirus pandemic over the past two years.  But for the approximately 1.4 billion people in Africa’s 54 countries, the overwhelming majority of whom remain unvaccinated, the question isn’t just how to build back better from a pandemic that plunged the continent into its first recession […]

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses a joint session of lawmakers and Cabinet members in the parliament, Tehran, Iran, Dec. 1, 2021 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

More than three years after former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and almost a year after his successor, Joe Biden, took office seeking to revive it, the consequences of the U.S. withdrawal are becoming increasingly clear—and increasingly grim. Even in Israel, one of few countries that supported Trump’s approach to the Middle East, former senior security officials are widely rebuking his decision to renege on the accord. As Gadi Eisenkot, the former Israeli chief of staff, recently declared, the U.S. withdrawal from the deal “was a net negative for Israel: It released Iran from all restrictions, and brought […]

A soldier walks past a poster of Thomas Sankara outside a bar that was attacked by al-Qaida-linked extremists in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

OUAGADOUDOU, Burkina Faso—Dressed in green leopard-patterned fatigues, Gen. Gilbert Diendere was ready for battle in early November as he stood in the witness dock of a converted court room in Ouagadougou. Lawyers fired questions from all directions about his involvement in the assassination of Burkina Faso’s revolutionary president, Capt. Thomas Sankara, as well as eight of his bodyguards and four civilians on Oct. 15, 1987.  Diendere, who has been accused of complicity in the killings, seemed to have an answer for all of them. He heard gunshots and saw Sankara’s dead body, he claimed, but didn’t see the shooter, echoing […]

A U.S. soldier walks past armored vehicles and tanks as they are unloaded at the port of Antwerp, Belgium, on their way to take part in military exercises in Eastern Europe, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

Russia’s ongoing military buildup along its border with Ukraine has cast into sharp relief the debate about how the United States, and its allies, can most effectively ensure security in the no man’s land lying beyond NATO’s eastern perimeter. Meanwhile, China’s mounting campaign of military pressure and intimidation against Taiwan is leading some observers to question the strength of U.S. commitments to the island. Though coordination between Russia and China on these efforts is likely limited at best, their attempts to bully Ukraine and Taiwan raise a common dilemma for Washington, one liable to become more pronounced and widespread in […]

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the White House during the opening of the Democracy Summit, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, looks on, Washington, Dec. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Leaders from government, civil society, journalism and the private sector in 17 African countries have been invited by U.S. President Joe Biden to join their counterparts from nearly 100 other nations at a two-day virtual summit on democracy. While campaigning for his party’s presidential nomination, Biden made the defense and promotion of democracy at home and abroad a cornerstone of his agenda. In particular, Biden pledged to host a summit for democracy in his first year in office, a promise this gathering fulfills.  Biden administration officials described the summit as offering an “affirmative agenda for democratic renewal” focused on three […]

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, left, is welcomed by Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, right, in Rabat, Morocco, Nov. 24, 2021 (AP photo by Mosa’ab Elshamy).

In late November, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited Morocco to formalize military cooperation between both countries with the signing of a memorandum of understanding. Gantz’s trip came a year after Morocco normalized its diplomatic relations with Israel and follows a previous visit by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to Rabat in August.  The existence of military ties between Israel and Morocco is not new, but their acknowledgement of them is. The very public presence of Gantz in Rabat demonstrated Morocco’s desire not only to recognize Israel but to use the rapprochement to balance Algeria in the context of heightened tensions with its […]

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