A Bolivian military policeman watches a tanker enter Brazil’s Petrobras refinery a day after then-President Evo Morales ordered soldiers to occupy Bolivia’s natural gas fields, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, May 2, 2006 (AP photo by Victor R. Caivano).

LA PAZ, Bolivia—In the past 15 years, the Bolivian economy tripled in size and poverty was cut in half, achievements built in large part on state spending fueled by the income from natural gas exports. But since 2013 those exports have dwindled, leaving a hole in Bolivia’s public finances that challenges the sustainability of its economic model. On May 1, 2006, then-President Evo Morales marched troops into Bolivia’s gas fields, declaring, “The plunder has ended.” He had recently led the Movement Toward Socialism, or MAS, to power, campaigning on a platform to wrest control of the country’s resources from foreign interests and to spread the wealth […]

Abortion-rights activists protest outside the Constitutional Court during a proceeding on the decriminalization of abortion in Bogota, Colombia, Feb. 21, 2022 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

BOGOTA, Colombia—This week, thousands of demonstrators clad in green, a color that has become the symbol of South America’s pro-choice movements, celebrated in the streets of Bogota as the Constitutional Court struck down laws criminalizing abortion in Colombia. The verdict was the culmination of a legal battle waged since September 2020 by a collection of over 80 women’s organizations calling themselves the “Just Cause Movement” that slowly wound its way to the nation’s highest court. Colombia joins Mexico and Argentina to become the third country in Latin America to decriminalize or legalize abortion in just over a year. A regional […]

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, center in chains, is shown to the press at the Police Headquarters in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Feb. 15, 2022 (AP photo by Elmer Martinez).

On Feb. 14, the U.S. Department of Justice requested the extradition of former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on drug trafficking and weapons charges. Hernandez was arrested the following day, just two weeks after he left office and a mere week after Washington had revoked his visa. Hernandez was led away from his home in handcuffs and a bullet-proof vest, and he will likely remain detained in the military headquarters of Honduras’ special forces until his extradition hearing, which is set to take place on March 16.  Hernandez’s arrest and the outcome of the extradition hearing signal a watershed moment […]

The Brandenburg Gate is illuminated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag to show solidarity with the country, Berlin, Germany, Feb. 23, 2022 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

The Russian invasion of Ukraine this morning ends several months of doubt and debate over the purpose of Moscow’s military buildup at the two countries’ border. Washington’s repeated warnings of an imminent military operation proved not to be the hysteria that Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed them as. In the end, Putin’s manufactured crisis was not an attempt at coercive diplomacy, or if it was, it was a failed one. War and conflict have rarely been absent from the European continent, even during the past 30 years of ostensible peace and prosperity. But a war of choice and aggression by […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a welcome ceremony ahead of their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 3, 2022 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

As the threat of war between Russia and Ukraine looms ever larger, Turkey finds itself between a rock and a hard place. It does not want to antagonize Russia, with which it shares strategically vital interests, but it also needs to show its support for Ukraine and its NATO allies in the face of the greatest threat to European security in the post-Cold War era. This has forced Turkey to walk a finely calibrated diplomatic tightrope over the past month. During his visit to Kyiv on Feb. 3, Turkish President Recep Tayiip Erdogan proclaimed his support for Ukrainian sovereignty, reiterated […]

Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga arrives at a rally of his supporters to declare his 2022 presidential bid, Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 10, 2021 (Sipa photo by Donwilson Odhiambo via AP Images).

Over the course of the next two and a half years, voters in several of Africa’s largest and most populous countries will be going to the polls, with a lot riding on the outcomes. This year, Kenya and Angola will both elect a president and national legislature to five-year terms. In 2023, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, two of Africa’s four most-populous countries, are scheduled to hold general elections that include keenly anticipated presidential races, as are Zimbabwe and Madagascar. The following year, Egyptians, Rwandans and South Africans will cast ballots in elections that will ostensibly determine the […]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen discusses the EU Chips Act at a press conference, Brussels, Feb. 8, 2022 (AP pool photo by Virginia Mayo).

Brussels is getting in on the microchip action, with a wide-ranging draft regulation known as the European Union Chips Act that promises to transform the bloc into a global player in semiconductor markets, while also supporting EU digital sovereignty, strategic autonomy and democratic values. That’s a lot of baggage to place on such a miniature component. The pandemic has underscored modern societies’ dependence on semiconductor chips, with supply chain disruptions and other factors combining to create a global shortage. But after creating a shock akin to that of a sudden air-raid siren, the shortage has evolved into something more like […]

Barbados’ new President Sandra Mason awards Prince Charles with the Order of Freedom of Barbados during the presidential inauguration ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, Nov. 30, 2021 (AP photo by David McD Crichlow).

To the casual observer, Barbados appears to be the latest country to fall prey to increasing Chinese influence. Two years after signing up for China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2019, the Commonwealth nation declared itself a republic, replacing Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. Connecting these dots, the prestigious Sunday Times of London ran an article titled, “How Barbados went from Little England to Little China.” The piece noted that Barbados was flush with cash from China and implied that dropping the queen as head of state was the condition Beijing had set for further financing. A pharmaceutical salesman in Bridgetown, the […]

A Ukrainian servicemember, seen through a camouflage mesh, stands at a frontline position in the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Jan. 29, 2022 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

The terms “deterrence” and “coercive diplomacy” have figured prominently in debates over how the West should respond to the ongoing crisis over a potential Russian incursion into Ukraine. Much of the focus of those debates, however, has been narrow and episodic—how to prevent a Russian attack, for instance, or get Moscow to pull back its forces from the Russian-Ukraine border. While both concepts are necessary to understand the tensions currently on display in Europe between Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and NATO, those tensions must be seen through a broader and more holistic lens, because the current crisis is the result […]

A protester holds the scales of justice outside the District Court during a hearing in then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial, in Jerusalem, Feb. 8, 2021 (AP photo by Maya Alleruzzo).

Opposing corruption is not “easy” nor is doing so a “convenient distraction” from addressing “the world’s most persistent ills and injustices,” as Gabriella Cook Francis and Christopher Sabatini argued in a recent World Politics Review article titled, “The Corruption Obsession is a Convenient Distraction.” To the contrary, we insist that the “ills and injustices” to which the authors refer will never be properly addressed while endemic serious corruption, kleptocracy and state capture are allowed to persist in modern states. Our interest in the topic and our desire to correct what we consider to be the misconceptions in their article stem from our […]

Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi at the Elysee Palace, Paris, April 27, 2021 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

Last week, the United Nations’ top court ordered Uganda to pay the sum of $325 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo for the East African country’s role in the brutal war there at the turn of the century. The International Court of Justice, or ICJ, ruled on Feb. 9 that Uganda had violated international norms as an occupying force between 1998 and 2003, and was responsible for the deaths of up to 15,000 people in Congo’s eastern Ituri region. Ugandan troops were also found to have looted precious gold, diamonds and timber from Congo. The case is both an […]

The family portrait at a joint African Union and European Union ministerial meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, Oct. 26, 2021 (Belga/Sipa photo by Hatim Kaghat via AP Images).

The sixth leaders’ summit between the African Union and European Union will finally take place this week in Brussels, following several postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally occurring every three years, the summit was initially scheduled for 2020. The AU-EU summit is often touted as the ideal venue for European and African elites to discuss issues of mutual concern. But this one is particularly significant, as it provides the opportunity for both sides to unpack the new EU strategy directed toward Africa, which was launched in 2020. Beyond the strategy, however, the EU also just launched the 300 billion euro Global Gateway initiative […]

Maryory Vega checks her name on a voting roster during general elections, at a voting center at the Liceo de Moravia school in San Jose, Costa Rica, Feb. 6, 2022 (AP photo by Carlos Gonzalez).

Costa Ricans went to the polls Feb. 6 for the first round of the country’s presidential election, as well as its congressional elections. But with none of the 25 presidential candidates able to reach the 40 percent of votes required to win the contest outright, the country will hold the runoff round in April to decide whether first-place finisher Jose Maria Figueres Olsen or runner-up Rodrigo Chaves will become its next leader. One of the most stable democracies in Latin America, Costa Rica’s electoral integrity standards are considered to be among the most transparent and fair in the world. But a […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds up a placard displaying maps of historical Palestine during a speech at the parliament, Ankara, Turkey, Feb. 5, 2020 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

Recent signs of a thaw in ties between Israel and Turkey after a decade of frosty relations are yet another reflection of how the Middle East’s changing regional order is not only leading to the emergence of new relationships, but also to adjustments in old ones. The thaw is in part the result of a regional realignment that has left Ankara more isolated, but it is also being driven by Israel’s shifting priorities and Turkey’s urgent economic and political challenges. While Israel and Turkey are publicly moving in the right direction, the new reality—which has made this relationship more important to Turkey […]

Iran’s then-President-elect Ebrahim Raisi during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, June 21, 2021 (AP file photo by Vahid Salemi).

Since last April, the U.S. has been engaged in indirect negotiations with Iran on restoring the 2015 deal limiting Tehran's nuclear program known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. If these talks succeed, or should they fail, the impact will reverberate across a range of issues beyond the nonproliferation file over which Washington and Tehran are at odds. When the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, it laid out 12 demands addressing various aspects of Iranian policy it wanted Tehran to change. Of the concerns it identified, three directly dealt with the nuclear program, and […]

People chant slogans during a protest in Khartoum, Sudan, Oct. 30, 2021 (AP photo by Marwan Ali).

When Myanmar’s anti-coup uprising kicked off in February 2021, it had three demands that look quite simple in retrospect. First, the protesters said, the military and its leader, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, must end their takeover of power. Second, they must restore the democratically elected government they had unseated. And third, they must release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National Democratic Union party, which had come out on top in the country’s competitive, albeit flawed election in November 2020. By the time I spoke to Thinzar Shunlei Yi, a leading Myanmar activist, in late September […]

A U.S. soldier directs armored vehicles and tanks as they are unloaded at the port of Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

Although the response in Western capitals to Russia’s aggressive military posturing on its border with Ukraine has been couched in clear diplomacy-first terms, military contingency planning has stepped up a notch in recent weeks. The intent of these moves, at least judging from the rhetoric of U.S. and NATO leaders as well as respected commentators, is to strengthen deterrence.  Deterrence, as Nobel Prize-winning U.S. scholar, Thomas Schelling, elaborated in his seminal 1966 book, “Arms and Influence,” is meant to prevent an adversary from taking future actions. Schelling distinguished it from a second strategy of coercion, compellence, which is meant to change an adversary’s existing behavior. Neither is […]

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