While governments around the world have tried to coordinate their efforts to rein in the emissions causing climate change, critics rightfully argue that the targets they have agreed to are too modest. But structural obstacles to the kind of cooperation needed to address the problem make it unlikely that a solution will be reached.
Myanmar’s return to the position of international pariah has created a new opening for Beijing. By moving in where the West, reeling from the junta’s shocking human rights abuses, has been reluctant to step in, Beijing hopes to boost China’s regional influence and secure access to vital natural resources.
In recent years, several European states have sought to project their precious naval assets in the Indo-Pacific region in ways that reflect widely accepted fashions in strategic thinking. But the underlying logic of this thinking now needs to be viewed more critically after the return of interstate war on European soil.
Last week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in Istanbul for what he described as “probably the most important” event of his tenure at the U.N. to date. He visited Turkey for the signing of agreements by Russia and Ukraine that are meant to allow agricultural shipments to resume from Black Sea ports, helping to alleviate a growing global food crisis. While Turkish officials played a major part in these talks, Guterres has been personally involved in the negotiations “every day” since April. This initiative may come to be considered a turning point in his career as the U.N.’s top official. […]
Lately, energy companies have been acting as if U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry are likely to end soon. Last month, two U.S. investment firms—Gramercy Funds Management and Atmos Global Energy—formed a joint venture with the Venezuela-based Inelectra Group to engage in oil and gas exploration. The ownership of Citgo’s refineries in the country were a key point of contention for several years between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his opposition, but the U.S. oil giant’s management has nevertheless said it would accept crude exported from Venezuela if sanctions are indeed lifted. Their apparent belief that sanctions will be lifted is a […]
U.S. President Joe Biden’s “summer of diplomacy” continued last week, this time with stops in the Middle East, where he visited two long-term U.S. regional partners, Israel and Saudi Arabia. But unlike recent stops in the German Alps for the annual G-7 meeting or in Madrid for the NATO leaders’ summit, Biden’s meetings in Riyadh, in particular, generated a great deal of criticism and even opprobrium. Ahead of the trip, critics had warned that visiting Saudi Arabia went directly against Biden’s campaign promise to no longer give the kingdom a “blank check” when it comes to its human rights record. […]
Three days after U.S. President Joe Biden returned to Washington from a controversial visit to Saudi Arabia, Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in Tehran with a complex set of goals of his own. Much like Biden, who aimed to strengthen Washington’s ties in the region, Putin sought to bolster Russia’s relations in the Middle East. The meeting in Iran showcased the awkward relationship between these two dictatorial regimes and their oil-rich nations, both of which have been subjected to Western economic sanctions. By embracing one another, Putin and Iran’s supreme leader aimed to show that they are not pariahs.
Just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as Europe still reeled in shock, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared that it was time for what he called a Zeitenwende, or sea change, in how the country approaches national and collective defense. Announcing huge increases in Germany’s defense budget, Scholz’s speech to the Bundestag—the German Parliament—on Feb. 27 represented an epochal shift in Germany’s strategic priorities. But it also reflected a wider reassessment across the European Union over how to respond to military threats facing Europe’s neighborhood. The dilemmas that rapid rearmament has raised for Germany are vast. Having been worn down through […]
This past weekend a friend from Paris came to visit us in the north of England for an unusual reason. Though we were all happy to spend time together, the main purpose of his stay was to get away from the punishing heat wave that was due to hit Western Europe. We took advantage of the pleasantly warm weather to show him some of the local attractions, including a visit to Hadrian’s Wall, which 2,000 years ago marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. I jokingly referred to him as our first “climate refugee,” a nod to the well-established […]
In May of this year, Costa Rica’s newly elected President Rodrigo Chaves declared, “We are at war.” It was significant considering that Costa Rica is one of the few countries in the world that does not have a military. Also atypical is Costa Rica’s opponent in this war: a nonstate hacking organization based in Russia. The organization, Conti ransomware, had taken significant portions of the Costa Rican government’s computer systems offline, threatening the economy and state operations. While the attack likely took months of preparation and planning, it wasn’t revealed until early 2022, when the Conti ransomware group announced that it had […]
The assassination of Abe Shinzo last week left the world in shock. As Japan’s longest-serving prime minister—having held office from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 until 2020—Abe left an indelible and controversial impact on Japanese politics and policy. This was particularly the case in foreign policy. Though he was never able to successfully revise Japan’s pacifist postwar constitution, he did move Japan along the path toward becoming a “normal country,” that is, one able to pursue its interests through all available means, including military force. But one of Abe’s greatest accomplishments, at least in the realm of international […]
In 2019, the year before the coronavirus pandemic began, a series of popular uprisings erupted in a large number of countries. That included Chile, where public discontent finally boiled over following an increase in public transportation prices. After dozens had been killed in the unrest, the Chilean government took the protesters’ grievances seriously, and then-President Sebastian Pinera agreed to a dramatic course of action: The country would rewrite its constitution. The following year, in the middle of the pandemic, nearly 80 percent of Chilean voters agreed to the plan in a national referendum. The country was jubilant. Now, nearly three years after those initial protests, the proposed new […]
As Boris Johnson announced his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party and departure as British prime minister on a warm Thursday afternoon last week, the frantic world of British politics was already speculating about who his successor might be. Now, with former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and State Minister for Trade Penny Mordaunt looking like the most viable candidates to lead the Tories, a vicious leadership battle has gained momentum. Yet for all this sound and fury, there has been little concrete disagreement on policy among these contenders. At most, the tensions within the Tory […]
As diplomats and international officials head off on their summer vacations, most will want to stop thinking about world affairs for a few weeks. 2022 has been a grueling year, thanks to Russia’s war on Ukraine and a worsening global economic crisis. Foreign policy professionals will want to read nothing more taxing than a frivolous thriller. Nonetheless, the summer break—which will be no break at all if more major crises erupt—is a good moment to delve into books that can cast light on the state of geopolitics. This week, I’ll highlight a big-picture book on warfare, a memoir, a biography […]
In the second round of Colombia’s election last month, voters faced a choice between Gustavo Petro, a far-left former guerrilla, and Rodolfo Hernandez, a candidate regularly described as a “right-wing populist.” Many citizens who define themselves as centrist and wanted to vote for a moderate candidate found themselves struggling to decide which of these extremes was worse. Second-round polarization has become a common theme in Latin American presidential elections. In the past year, presidential candidates from ideological extremes in Chile, Peru and Colombia made it to second-round votes, while more traditional and centrist candidates missed the cut by large margins. […]
In what were hailed as the “two most productive summits in years,” the Group of 7 and NATO held their annual leaders’ meetings last week in Germany and Spain, respectively. The G-7 summit concluded with the leaders emphasizing and enhancing their support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, agreeing on measures to combat climate change and announcing a Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, seen as a direct counter to China’s development program, the Belt and Road Initiative. As for the NATO summit, it witnessed the entry into the alliance of two new members, Finland and Sweden, as well […]
It would be an understatement to say that the 21st century has not been a good one for democracy. As has been well-documented, democracy has been losing ground for years in ways both subtle and blunt. Now comes another growing trend, this one spreading quietly, in a seemingly innocent fashion, whose damage to democracy could be even more intractable, because it brings welcome changes to daily life along with its potential for harm. We’re talking here about the rise of artificial intelligence, or AI. Or, more to the point, we should be. AI is already an important part of daily […]