President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, July 25, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

While recognizing that it could be undone at any time by a single presidential tweet, there appears to be a truce on at least one front in Donald Trump’s trade war. During a visit to the White House last week, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pledged along with Trump to refrain from further escalation of the trans-Atlantic trade dispute and try to work things out. Their joint statement was vague, and the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, and the EU’s retaliatory tariffs, remain in place for now. Trump imposed those duties on supposed national security grounds, […]

Syrian refugees prepare to cross into Syria from Arsal, Lebanon, June 28, 2018 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

What should international peacemakers read this summer? There are lots of new studies of conflict out there, but I would start with the classic folk story, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Most readers will be familiar with the tale, in which the young girl Goldilocks stumbles into a bear’s house while the bears are out and finds three bowls of porridge on the breakfast table. One is too hot, and another too cold. But the third is “just right,” so she eats it. This leaves the bears quite miffed upon their return. Academics often refer to a “Goldilocks Principle” to […]

U.S. President Donald Trump at the end of the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018 (Photo by Bernd von Jutrczenka for DPA via AP Images).

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Donald Trump said that if elected, he might withdraw the United States from NATO largely because, in his words, the other member states “aren’t paying their bills.” At the time, this didn’t receive as much attention as Trump’s other statements on the campaign trail. Candidate Trump said so many peculiar, often offensive things that this one got lost in the shuffle, and few people at the time thought that he stood a chance of winning the election anyway. Even his supporters assumed that if he did, he would temper his more extreme positions once […]

Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro speaks to supporters during the Social Liberal Party’s convention where he accepted the presidential nomination, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 22, 2018 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

With barely 10 weeks left until Brazil’s general elections, voters in Latin America’s largest country are seething with anger, frustration and disappointment. Many, perhaps most, have lost faith in democracy, in politicians, and in traditional governing parties. Prominent figures are warning of revolution; talk of a military coup is even in the air. Uncertainty leads the polls. Brazil is caught in what may just be the world’s biggest ever corruption scandal, while the economy is struggling to pull out of a deep recession and its most popular politician, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is in prison. In the […]

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, right, looks on as French President Emmanuel Macron kisses France’s Kylian Mbappe after France won the World Cup, Moscow, Russia, July 15, 2018 (AP photo by Martin Meissner).

PARIS—If, as the old saw has it, the United States and the United Kingdom are two countries separated by a common language, the United States and France are surely two countries separated by common ideals. But good intentions on both sides of the Atlantic often get lost in translation, with the latest example being the high-profile dispute between late-night comedy show host Trevor Noah and France’s ambassador to the U.S., Gerard Araud, over the identity of the World Cup champion French national soccer team. (Noah is South African, but his show is produced in the U.S. for an American audience.) […]

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at a press conference during a meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bankers, Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 22, 2018 (AP photo by Gustavo Garello).

Officials from the European Union are headed to Washington this week for trade talks with the Trump administration, but nobody is optimistic. If the talks don’t go well, President Donald Trump has already said he is prepared to follow through on his threat of imposing further tariffs, as high as 25 percent, on cars and car parts imported from the EU. “If we don’t negotiate something fair, then we have tremendous retribution, which we don’t want to use, but we have tremendous powers,” Trump told reporters at the White House last week. “Including cars—cars is the big one.” However the […]

A woman holds hands with her daughter at the Zamzam camp for internally displaced people in North Darfur, Sudan, June 11, 2014 (Photo by Albert Gonzalez Farran for UNAMID via AP).

Ten years ago, stories about endemic violence in the Darfur region of Sudan often made headlines in the West. The conflict there continues sporadically but is all but forgotten today. This month, the Security Council agreed to slash the number of peacekeepers in the joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, or UNAMID, by almost half, with a view to closing the mission entirely in 2020. The decision created barely a ripple beyond the council. Nonetheless, the drawdown of UNAMID potentially marks a turning point for U.N. peacekeeping operations. As I have previously noted, the mission is one of five […]

A woman holds a sign depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest outside the White House, Washington, July 17, 2018 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Everyone other than President Donald Trump’s most ardent loyalists considered his performance at—and after—this week’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin a disaster. Standing beside one of America’s most skilled adversaries, Trump blasted his own domestic political opponents, while again adopting the language of dictators by calling the nonpartisan media “an enemy of the people.” He once again accepted Putin’s denial of Russian meddling in America’s 2016 election despite the U.S. intelligence community’s conviction that it happened. Instead of highlighting the deep policy differences between the United States and Russia, Trump adopted the Russian positions on what caused the deterioration […]

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the NATO summit, Brussels, July 12, 2018 (Photo by Alexey Vitvitsky for Sputnik via AP Images).

Among the European countries that watched with great concern when President Donald Trump failed to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, and when he lambasted NATO and the European Union earlier in his trip to the continent, was Macedonia. The Balkan nation of 2 million people has been trying for years to gain entrance into NATO, to the great irritation of Russia. One could excuse the Macedonians for feeling a sense of confusion about what the future holds. The country has had much to celebrate in recent weeks, but also a great deal to worry about. During […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

President Donald Trump’s summit in Helsinki with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, will almost certainly be a watershed moment in his presidency. Trump’s refusal to publicly hold Putin and Russia accountable for the unraveling of bilateral ties since 2014—most prominently, his equivocating response to a question about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election—has generated widespread public outrage, even among Trump’s most vocal supporters in the media and political classes. What remains to be seen is how that backlash affects his domestic base of political support. Will the Helsinki summit prove to be Trump’s “emperor has no clothes” moment, when […]

President Donald Trump speaks before signing a memorandum imposing tariffs and investment restrictions on China, Washington, March 22, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

For decades American presidents pursued multilateral trade agreements and supported international institutions that bolstered liberal trade policies around the world because they believed it was in the United States’ interest to do so. Yes, multilateral trade rules and institutions are relatively more beneficial for smaller, less powerful countries that cannot take on the United States or European Union on their own. And, yes, the rules under the World Trade Organization, or WTO, constrain the United States’ freedom of action, as did the predecessor arrangement, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT. Yet U.S. presidents going back to Harry […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a one-on-one-meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

The Finnish government took a significant gamble when it agreed to host today’s Helsinki summit between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. The Russian president’s meeting with his American counterpart threw U.S. and European analysts into a panic. Even relatively optimistic commentators predicted that the event would be a waste of time. Pessimists feared Putin would use it to extract major concessions from Trump on Syria or Ukraine. Finland has risked being associated with a debacle over which, despite being a good host, it has no substantive control. Why has it done so? Many observers have assumed that the Finns simply […]

President Donald Trump is flanked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and John Bolton, the national security adviser, during a press conference at NATO headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

It is as difficult as ever to understand the foreign and national security policy of U.S. President Donald Trump. While there are consistent themes and patterns, Trump’s approach to the world seems bereft of an overarching logic. In a very real sense, it is the first American strategy for decades not shaped by a discernible vision for world order. Strategic vision first became important when the United States entered the fray of great power politics a century ago. Since Americans did not have a long tradition of involvement in global security affairs or natural enemies to guide them, strategic vision—a […]

A gas station is closed after running out of gas in Caracas, Venezuela, March 23, 2017 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

Venezuela should be benefiting from the global rise in oil prices. Instead, the country is seeing its oil income continue to plummet, along with the rest of its economy. The country's oil operations are in a state of collapse, output is falling and other challenges Venezuela is facing are also weighing down the oil industry. When oil prices started their collapse in 2014, plummeting from well above $100 a barrel to just over $29 by early 2016, the market drama sent shockwaves across the global economy, producing winners and losers. Oil importers benefited from sharply lower import costs, while producers’ […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during their bilateral breakfast ahead of the NATO summit, Brussels, July 11, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

As Hastings Ismay, NATO’s first secretary-general, famously put it, the alliance’s purpose in Europe was to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down. By all indications, U.S. President Donald Trump, who arrived in Brussels yesterday for his second NATO summit, is dead set on reversing all three elements of Ismay’s formula. Having already proposed that Russia be invited back into the Group of Seven forum of advanced economies, it would surprise no one at this point if Trump suggests that Russia play a greater role in European security when he meets President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017 (AP photo by Saul Loeb).

America’s trade war with China is back on. But where it is headed, no one knows. Just after midnight on July 6, the United States began collecting 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in imports from China. Beijing immediately retaliated with similar duties on U.S. exports. President Donald Trump has already ordered tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese exports for later this summer, after the comment period on the American list closes, and China will retaliate again. Assuming that happens as planned, the Trump administration will have levied tariffs on over $100 billion in imports into the United States. […]

Ambassadors to the U.N. including Nikki Haley of the U.S. and Vassily Nebenzia of Russia and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pose for a World Cup-themed photo, U.N. headquarters, New York, June 14, 2018 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

Can big ideas, big data and even bigger academic books save the global system? It is now conventional wisdom that international institutions are facing an almost existential crisis. The U.S. president regularly disparages multilateral mechanisms. China and Russia want to roll back many liberal norms. This is a bleak scenario for academics and pundits who believe in international cooperation. Under the circumstances, bright scholars of foreign policy would seem well advised to study realpolitik and interstate war, not how countries can get along better. Yet counterintuitively, the current political crisis in global cooperation is coinciding with a small surge in […]

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