Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, at a signing ceremony, New Delhi, India, Dec. 12, 2015 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

During his visit to New Delhi last December, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, pledged to transform India and Japan’s partnership into a “deep, broad-based and action-oriented relationship.” Behind the lofty rhetoric were several major developments, most of all finally reaching a consensus on the text of a bilateral civil nuclear agreement, long in the works, that would allow Japan to directly export nuclear plants to India. It would be signed, Abe and Modi said, once “technical details” were sorted out. In addition to the nuclear deal, they announced that Japan would provide $12 billion […]

A U.S. Air Force captain at a pre-flight check of a F-15E Strike Eagle at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 16, 2011 (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Hughes).

American security strategy often twists and shifts. The White House changes hands; partners come and go; enemies emerge and fade; and threats rise and fall. But throughout all the change, there are constants, and none are more enduring than a preference for indirect applications of military force, particularly airpower. There are good reasons for this. Relying on airpower, rather than direct methods that put U.S. troops in close proximity to enemies, lowers American casualties. Airpower exploits America’s technological superiority. And it’s easier to disengage, should things go badly, if the United States does not have troops on the ground. Aircraft […]

People pan for gold along the Dagua River, Zaragoza, Colombia, July 8, 2009 (AP photo by Christian Escobar Mora).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s Editor-in-Chief Judah Grunstein and host Peter Dörrie discuss ISIS and al-Qaida affiliates, El Salvador’s murder epidemic and the impact of the drop in global commodities prices. For the report, journalist James Bargent joins us to discuss illegal gold mining and violence in Colombia. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: ISIS vs. Al-Qaida: How Do Affiliates Choose?El Salvador’s Murder Epidemic and the Paradox of Peacebuilding SuccessWith Little International Support, Unrecognized States Turn to Each OtherWPR’s Global Insider Series on the Commodities CycleLengthy Oil Slump Could Force Saudi Arabia’s Hand on […]

An Indonesian woman with a poster outside a Starbucks cafe attacked by Islamic State militants, Jakarta, Indonesia, Jan. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Achmad Ibrahim).

Attacks earlier this month in Jakarta by Indonesia’s Islamic State affiliate and a claim of allegiance to the jihadi group from a militant collective in the Philippines seem to show the Islamic State’s ascendency in yet another region outside its core operating base in Syria and Iraq. Confounding efforts to contain its global expansion, the Islamic State appears to have an increasing number of territories, or wilayat, and organizations nominally under its authority, amid an uptick in attacks against Western interests carried out at its behest. On this basis, it’s tempting to conclude that the Islamic State’s reach and successful […]

Supporters of Egyptian President el-Sisi mark Police Day, which falls on the anniversary of the 2011 uprising, Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

The fifth anniversary of Egypt’s failed democratic revolution came and went this week, without mass protests or visible signs of popular upheaval. There was, however, one unmistakable sign that the symbolically charged date was approaching: Security forces had gone into overdrive in the days and weeks leading up to the anniversary, intensifying a crackdown that reveals the one truth that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi would prefer to keep quiet: Although the revolution has been effectively crushed, el-Sisi, it seems, is afraid. Five years after the uprising, the best Egyptians can do is try to find lessons from the tumult that […]

U.S. President Barack Obama with Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, during the 10th East Asia Summit at the 27th ASEAN Summit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Nov. 22, 2015 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

Editor’s note: This is the final article in a WPR series on the South China Sea territorial disputes and the various claimant countries’ approaches to addressing them. The tiny sultanate of Brunei is perhaps the least visible of the six claimants in the South China Sea maritime disputes, in part due to its preferred approach of addressing the issue discreetly. In an email interview, Jatswan Singh, associate professor in the Department of International and Security Studies at the University of Malaya, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, discussed Brunei’s claims in the South China Sea. WPR: What are Brunei’s territorial claims in […]

Demonstrators celebrate the withdrawal of President Otto Perez Molina's immunity from prosecution, Guatemala City, Sep. 1, 2015 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

Transparency International released its 2015 rankings on perceptions of corruption today, revealing that public-sector graft remains pervasive around the world. But the report also cited progress that offers some reasons for optimism. The index’s scores draw on expert analysis of citizen perceptions of government accountability and responsiveness, as well as the presence of bribery or embezzlement in public institutions. The U.S. and U.K. improved their scores, and familiar countries—including New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada, as well as those in Scandinavia—filled the top spots. But many usual suspects from Europe to Latin America scored dismally. Corruption has become an increasingly powerful […]

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Tbilisi, Georgia, Nov. 5, 2015 (AP photo by Shakh Aivazov).

In mid-January, Georgian musicians played a concert in front of hundreds of people in downtown Tbilisi to protest the government’s ongoing negotiations with Russian state energy giant Gazprom to increase imports of natural gas. The protests were only the latest in a string of demonstrations going back to last fall, when news of government talks with Gazprom first came to light. According to the Georgian Energy Ministry, its talks with Russia are part of efforts to boost energy supplies amid growing domestic consumption. The Georgian government’s decision to try and buy more Russian gas has emerged as a full-blown controversy […]

Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a campaign stop, Concord, N.H., Jan. 20, 2016 (AP photo by John Minchillo).

Last week I spent two days in New Hampshire attending campaign events for five different presidential candidates: GOP hopefuls Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. John Kasich and Gov. Chris Christie, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination. At various points the meetings I attended were inspiring, amusing, frustrating, stupefying and boring. But it wasn’t until I traveled to Pittsfield, New Hampshire, that it became enraging. The event was a town hall meeting where Christie spoke to employees of a small manufacturing company. The topics ranged from drugs and immigration to the federal budget and the […]

Soldiers guard a corner in a gang-controlled neighborhood in Ilopango, El Salvador, Aug. 31, 2015 (AP photo by Salvador Melendez).

On Jan. 16, El Salvador commemorated the 24th anniversary of the peace accords that ended the country’s 12-year civil war between the government and the then-rebel Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). But despite a quarter-century of peacebuilding, El Salvador continues to face the scourge of widespread violence: In 2015, the country’s homicide rate hit 104 per 100,000 people, a dramatic increase from 61.8 in 2014 and the worst in the world. To put the magnitude of that proportion in context, the World Health Organization classifies a rate of 10 per 100,000 people as an epidemic. El Salvador’s murder rate […]

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates addresses the Boy Scouts of America’s annual meeting, Nashville, Tenn., May 23, 2014 (AP photo by Mark Zaleski).

Robert Gates’ new book on leadership has powerful lessons for how American institutions, both public and private, are inspired and managed. At a time when U.S. citizens despair of ever fixing the country’s political system, he conveys some hope that positive change in political and bureaucratic behavior is possible. And beyond the U.S., Gates’ approach to leadership could also be applied to how Washington engages with democratizing countries struggling to build new social contracts between their leaders and citizens. Gates’ third book since leaving public office, “A Passion for Leadership,” draws from his 50 years of public service under eight […]

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Ibrahim Naimi at the 10th Arab Energy Conference, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 21, 2014 (AP photo by Kamran Jebreili).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. In a recent interview with The Economist, Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, talked about the kingdom’s plans to roll out avalue-added tax, as well as the possibility of privatizing Aramco, the state oil company, as ways to increase non-oil revenues in the face of the drop in global energy prices. In an email interview, Robert Looney, distinguished professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, discusses the economic and […]

Women pan for gold along the Dagua River, Zaragoza, Colombia, July 8, 2009 (AP photo by Christian Escobar Mora).

The threats arrived in October by Whatsapp messages and pamphlets that were circulated around the northern Colombian town of Segovia. They placed a death sentence on every one of the 1,600 workers of Grupo Damasa, the business that operates the town’s richest gold mines, if the mining company did not pay a gold “tax.” “Stop working or we will stop you. We’re not playing,” they read. Within two months, four of the company’s miners were dead; two more had been shot; and one of its processing mills was attacked with a grenade. But still, Grupo Damasa’s owner would not pay […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, Dec. 15, 2015 (AP photo by Sergei Karpukhin).

“You’ve got to fake it till you make it!” Long the refrain of aspiring actors and entrepreneurs who have to pretend to be famous or rich well before they are either, this might also be a good motto for international peacemakers grappling with the Syrian war. This week, diplomats and United Nations officials are supposed to gather in Geneva for talks between the Syrian government and a cluster of opposition groups. It is still not absolutely clear when the conclave will begin. It was meant to start today. Now it looks like it might be Wednesday or later. The meeting […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tehran, Iran (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader photo via AP).

Earlier this month, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released its first-ever Arab Policy Paper, which coincided with President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran last week. Xi’s trip was the first visit to the region by a Chinese head of state since former President Hu Jintao went to Saudi Arabia in 2009. Five years before that visit, Hu established the China-Arab Cooperation Forum (CACF), a multilateral platform to institutionalize the relationship between Beijing and the 22 members of the Arab League. Since its formation, the CACF has largely fulfilled its mission, with the forum meeting 12 times […]

Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, at a meeting of the Eastern Partnership, Prague, Czech Republic, April 24, 2014 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. In mid-January, protests in Azerbaijan against price hikes and a collapse in the country’s currency were broken up forcefully by security forces, resulting in the arrest of 55 people. In an email interview, Richard D. Kauzlarich, the co-director of the Center for Energy Science and Policy at George Mason University who also served as the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan from 1994 to 1997, explains the impact of the collapse of global energy prices on Azerbaijan’s economy. WPR: […]

Republican presidential candidates during the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate, North Charleston, S.C., Jan. 14, 2016, (AP photo by Chuck Burton).

As the Republican candidates in the presidential race work to define themselves and stand out from the crowded competition for the party nomination, many claim to be the heir of GOP icon Ronald Reagan. This makes sense given Reagan’s enduring popularity. This is particularly true for national security policy, where Reagan is considered a great success who revived American influence and paved the way for the end of the Cold War. But while claiming Reagan’s mantle, none of the candidates seem interested in actually emulating his strategy. One of the keys to Reagan’s success was lavishing resources on the U.S. […]

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