A U.S. nuclear missileer crew checks systems in the underground control room where they work a 24-hour shift at an ICBM launch control facility near Minot, N.D., June 24, 2014 (AP photo by Charlie Riedel).

To say that the world is closer to the brink of nuclear war today than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 feels less controversial by the day. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently told media representatives that the “prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility.” Certainly, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been signaling a willingness to at least consider the nuclear option. In late February, he raised the readiness level of Russia’s nuclear response force, stating that Western interference in the ongoing war in Ukraine will result in “consequences greater than any you have faced […]

People wave Polisario Front flags while taking part in a demonstration in support of the Polisario Front and a free Western Sahara, Pamplona, Spain, March 23, 2022 (AP photo by Alvaro Barrientos).

In mid-March, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sent a letter to Moroccan King Mohamed VI, supporting Rabat’s plan to grant Western Sahara autonomy over its internal affairs, while remaining under Moroccan sovereignty. The move appeared to be an abrupt departure for Spain, which has maintained a position of careful neutrality over its former colony’s efforts to gain independence from Morocco for nearly 47 years. When the Moroccan Foreign Ministry eventually made Sanchez’s support public, it provoked an uproar in Spain centered around two primary questions. First, Does this really constitute a major policy change for Spain, given that it has never explicitly ruled out the Moroccan autonomy […]

A woman holds a sign with the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the word “Genocida,” or committer of genocide, during a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 6, 2022 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

Lately, elections in Latin America are making people squirm in Washington. For foreign policy old-timers, victories by leftist candidates have conjured images of Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Others are haunted by memories of more recent bogeymen, such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine deepened these anxieties, fueling fears that the region’s ideological pendulum is swinging in President Vladimir Putin’s direction. But more than a month into the war, those fears have proven to be unfounded. Indeed, if anything, Latin America’s response to Putin’s brutality reinforced shared hemispheric values with the United States, suggesting that […]

Customers watch Lt. Col. Henri Sandaogo Damiba address the nation on national television in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 27, 2022 (AP photo by Sophie Garcia).

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso—In 2014, Arouna Loure, a Burkinabe activist, anesthesiologist and leader of the grassroots political group Les Revoltes, took to the streets, risking his life in a popular uprising against the government of then-President Blaise Compaore. Having seized power in a military coup in 1987, Compaore ruled the country in a semi-authoritarian manner for 27 years, before being subsequently driven from power by the popular mobilization in which Loure participated. After a transitional period, Roch Marc Christian Kabore was elected president, becoming the first person to hold the office who did not have ties to the military. He later won […]

Nigerian youths protest in front of the state television station during nationwide strikes against the removal of a fuel subsidy by the government of then-President Goodluck Jonathan, Lagos, Nigeria, Jan. 12, 2012 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed the price of crude oil above $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, global oil prices had been on the rise for several months. After the pandemic-induced slump, the spike in prices is expected to create a boon for oil-producing countries. But for Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and the holder of the 10th-largest proven oil reserves in the world, higher prices will be a mixed blessing at best. In fact, they might not provide a financial windfall at all, due to the country’s diminished oil production capacity, large-scale corruption in […]

A Free Syrian Army fighter holds a rocket-propelled grenade launcher while taking cover after a tank blast in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 26, 2012 (AP photo by Manu Brabo.)

For the community of analysts that have focused on Syria’s civil war over the past decade, the images of bombed out Ukrainian cities, civilian casualties and refugees flooding across the border over the past month are bitterly familiar. As a policy problem, too, the war in Ukraine invites obvious comparisons to the Syrian conflict. Both raise questions about the costs and benefits of U.S. intervention. Both, of course, involve Russia. And in both cases, “realism” has somehow become synonymous with non-interventionism in the U.S. policy discourse.  In fact, those that make a career out of non-interventionism while casting themselves as […]

Russian RS-24 Yars ballistic missiles roll in Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2020 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

From the very start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the risk of it escalating into a nuclear conflict has been a feature of much commentary about the war. From explicit as well as thinly veiled mentions of it by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the warnings of Western observers about the dangers of any direct confrontation between NATO and Russian forces, the nuclear dimension to this war has never been far from the surface. While the risk of Russia using nuclear weapons, even absent NATO’s involvement in Ukraine, does exist, it is in all likelihood minimal. Nevertheless, the war […]

Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during the presidential election campaign in Seoul, South Korea, March 8, 2022 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

On March 9, after a long campaign and an even longer election night, South Korea finally elected a new president: Yoon Suk Yeol, of the conservative People Power Party. The 61-year-old career prosecutor, who won by less than 1 percent of the vote, may not have the strongest electoral mandate to work with. But he is nevertheless expected to make dramatic changes to the country’s foreign policy once he enters office on May 10. Since Yoon is new to politics, it’s hard to know what to expect of him once he takes over. That’s all the more true because public […]

Police detain a journalist with a poster that reads “Journalism is not a crime” in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 21, 2021 (AP photo by Denis Kaminev).

Earlier this month, the Duma, Russia’s parliament, passed a law introducing punishments of up to 15 years in prison for disseminating “false information” about the Russian armed forces’ activities in Ukraine. The law requires that the Russian invasion of Ukraine be described as a “special military operation,” and applies to news media, journalists, bloggers and ordinary people alike. Though not technically a law regulating the media, it has already radically changed the country’s media landscape, essentially introducing military censorship in Russia. Shortly after the new law was passed, Roskomnadzor, the Russian federal communications regulator, began blocking independent media outlets en […]

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives for a visit of the German armed forces’ Joint Operations Command in Schwielowsee, Germany, on March 4, 2022 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

On Feb. 27, nothing less than a revolution took place in Germany. In a 30-minute speech to parliament, Chancellor Olaf Scholz overturned all the old certainties that have dominated German security policy for over 30 years. He replaced them with an ambitious agenda that had defense, a topic with which Germany normally only reluctantly engages, at its core. Since the end of the Cold War, Germany has not felt threatened militarily. As a result, Berlin has felt little urgency to invest in its military and was reluctant to engage in the various military operations of the post-Cold War period. Where […]

A woman walks past the World Bank building in Washington, April 5, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In mid-February, the World Bank issued a warning: Many low-income countries hit hardest by the pandemic are now on the brink of serious debt crisis, complicating the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. While worries about the accumulated burden of sovereign debt and the possibility of a debt crisis have been present for years, the pandemic has exacerbated an already precarious situation for many low-income countries, revealing fundamental flaws in the current architecture for sovereign debt restructuring. These flaws are likely to become more evident in 2022, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine contributes to higher global energy and food prices, […]

1

On March 2, the European Union announced that the Russian state-sponsored channels Sputnik and RT would be banned from broadcasting within the union, citing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Kremlin’s “systematic, international campaign of disinformation, information manipulation and distortion of facts.” And British media regulator Ofcom announced today that it was taking RT off the air after an investigation found it was “not fit and proper to hold a license in the UK.” The dangers of the propaganda spouted by RT and Sputnik are considerable. These outlets sow divisions, cleave societies, threaten free and fair elections—and, now, shield […]

Czech volunteer Lukas Saranga cooks soup in a giant pot for refugees fleeing Ukraine at the train station at the border crossing of Medyka, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP photo by Visar Kryeziu).

WARSAW, Poland—Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, war refugees have been flooding across the country’s western border into Poland, greeted by local Poles, international volunteers and a few small NGOs operating in the country. How is this effort going three weeks into Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II? In Poland this week, I asked these questions of journalists, aid workers and Polish citizens. The reality is, almost as unprecedented as the refugee flows is the absence of most of the big NGOs that Americans think of—and are most likely to donate money to—when it comes to a refugee […]

A farmer carries wheat on his farm in a village in the Nile Delta town of Behira, north of Cairo, Egypt, May 14, 2015 (AP photo by Mosa’ab Elshamy).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which pits two of the world’s major wheat and corn producers against one another, has deep implications for several grain-importing countries. Grain prices had already risen steadily over the past year due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and increasing energy prices. The war further pushed these prices to an all-time high in February, seriously rattling an already shaky global food system. While some commentators are calling for trade measures that would facilitate alternate sources of grain exports to make up for the shortfalls, what is really needed is a major rethink of the conventional food security […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive at a BRICS Summit event at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

On the night of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, South African Defense Minister Thandi Modise attended a reception at the Russian Embassy in Pretoria, held in honor of the Russian armed forces. Four days later, officials from the ruling African National Congress, or ANC, celebrated 30 years of Russian-South African friendship over drinks at a reception held at the Russian consulate in Cape Town. Though both episodes are shocking, neither should come as a surprise. South Africa’s foreign policy has been on a long, downward ethical trajectory since the Mandela era, when the promotion of democracy and human rights were […]

A young woman holds a weapon during a basic combat training for civilians organized by Ukraine’s National Guard, Mariupol, Ukraine, Feb. 13, 2022 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, social media feeds have brimmed with portrayals of Ukrainian women’s remarkable spirit of resistance. In one widely shared video, a woman confronts a Russian soldier occupying her city, telling him to put sunflower seeds in his pockets so that when he dies on Ukrainian soil his grave will sprout the national flower. In a similarly widely shared tweet, a female parliamentarian described how her weekend gardening plans were scuttled by the need to learn how to handle a gun. Yet, as women’s contributions to the war effort have gone viral, much of the response, including […]

Members of a Ukrainian far-right group train in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Jan. 29, 2022 (AP photo by Evgeniy Maloletka).

In the 1980s, when Afghanistan was embroiled in a war between Soviet forces propping up a client government in Kabul and the CIA-assisted mujahedeen insurgency, the country became a hotbed of global jihadism, as radical Islamist fighters, most infamously Osama Bin Laden, flocked there to wage armed struggle against the communists. Several billions of dollars worth of covert U.S military assistance went to training and arming the Islamist guerilla fighters, including with Stinger antiaircraft missiles, which greatly hampered Soviet air power. What the U.S government couldn’t know at the time was how the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan would go […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 301 2 Last