U.S. President Barack Obama and Argentine President Mauricio Macri at the government house, Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 23, 2016 (AP photo by David Fernandez).

During his recent visit to Buenos Aires, President Barack Obama enthusiastically embraced Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, who took office last December promising to overhaul the country’s economy, politics and foreign policy, including its endemic anti-Americanism. Obama appeared eager to endorse Macri’s new approach, and while thousands protested the visit, Obama made a statement that expressed surprisingly lofty ambitions for the new administration in Buenos Aires. “Argentina,” Obama declared, “is re-assuming its traditional leadership role in the region and around the world.” The notion of Argentina becoming a regional leader will strike some as awkward. Latin Americans frequently decry what […]

Parts of a natural gas pipeline station in the village of Primda, western Czech Republic, Jan. 14, 2013 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

The uneasy mutual dependence between Russia and the European Union’s energy sector is well documented. With some EU member states relying on Russia for up to 90 percent of their energy needs, Brussels has long wanted to remedy the situation by diversifying the sources of oil and gas shipped into EU borders. These efforts intensified after Russia spooked the continent in 2006 and 2009 by cutting off natural gas supplies to Ukraine over a pricing dispute, leading to gas shortages in parts of Europe during the dead of winter. Since then the EU has invested in infrastructure to link so-called […]

New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, at the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Auckland, New Zealand, Feb. 4, 2016 (David Rowland/SNPA via AP).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the potential impact on members’ economies. New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington on Wednesday about the need for the United States to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In an email interview, Timothy Hazledine, a professor of economics at the University of Auckland, discussed the benefits and drawbacks of New Zealand’s membership in the TPP. WPR: What are the expected economic benefits and potential downsides for New Zealand from the TPP, and who are the expected […]

Supporters of Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and allies of the Houthis at a rally against the Saudi-led intervention, Sanaa, Yemen, March 26, 2016 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

Good news has been in desperately short supply in Yemen over the past year. So reports of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire and peace talks aimed at bringing an end to a civil war that has devastated what was already the Arab world’s poorest country should have been well received. Instead, they were met with skepticism, and with good reason. After a year of brutal war, Yemen is hardly ripe for peace. Last week in New York, the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced that the “parties to the conflict” had agreed to a countrywide cease-fire, due to […]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally, Janesville, Wis., March 29, 2016 (The Janesville Gazette photo by Anthony Wahl via AP).

When it comes to foreign policy and the U.S. presidential campaign, everything seems to have turned upside down this year. Neoconservative, Republican hawks, from Max Boot to Bill Kristol, are apoplectic over the rise of Donald Trump, particularly his lack of ardor for military intervention, his supposed opposition to the Iraq War, and his calls for the U.S to pull back from its global security responsibilities. Some, like Boot, have gone so far as to say they won’t vote for the GOP frontrunner, while others have suggested that Trump’s focus on burden-sharing and having U.S. allies take on more global […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a tour of Pha Tha Luang, Vientiane, Laos, Jan. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

When Barack Obama traveled to Cuba in March, he became the first U.S. president in almost 90 years to set foot on the island nation. But during the final year of his presidency, he will become the first-ever sitting U.S. president to visit another communist-ruled former foe: Laos. In September, Obama will go to its capital, Vientiane, for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Given Cuba’s proximity to Florida and the huge Cuban-American community in the United States, it is hardly surprising that Obama’s visit to Havana has attracted much more attention than his upcoming trip […]

The start of a plenary session at the Nuclear Security Summit, Seoul, South Korea, March, 27, 2012 (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

This week, President Barack Obama and 50 world leaders will convene for the fourth and final time to discuss how to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. This last gathering of the biannual Nuclear Security Summits comes at a particularly poignant moment, given what we know now about the Brussels terrorists’ interest in targeting nuclear facilities. For better or worse, the summits represent a more ad hoc approach to securing nuclear materials in particular, and advancing global cooperation on transnational threats in general. Since 2010, the Obama administration has organized four summits on nuclear security. Driven […]

A soldier outside the Splendid Hotel, which was attacked by extremists, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 18 , 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso—In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack in Burkina Faso’s capital in January, followed by a raid on a military armory by dissident Burkinabe soldiers, the country’s newly elected government is ramping up security. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore promises to continue reinforcing democratic freedoms, but already some of his government’s reactions have been heavy-handed or inept, raising concerns about how liberties can be preserved in an atmosphere of uncertainty and tension. In February, for example, the independent newspaper in Ouagadougou, L’Evenement, published an article on the armory attack, which was carried out by recalcitrant members of […]

A masked Somali pirate near a Taiwanese fishing vessel that washed up on shore, Hobyo, Somalia, Sept. 23, 2012 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) decided to widen its definition of official development assistance to include certain security and defense costs, including measures to prevent violent extremism and provide limited military training. The redefinition of aid expanded the relationship between security and development. Several leading international development players, like Sweden, balk at the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee’s change and view it as the militarization of aid. Helen Clark, the United Nations’ development chief, has suggested that this redefinition could undermine fragile states, since any aid channeled to security and peacekeeping programs would reduce the amount […]

The United Nations Security Council during a meeting on North Korea, New York, March 24, 2016 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Jim Della-Giacoma is filling in for Richard Gowan, who is on leave until early April. The first time I heard the German word “zwangsoptimist” was in a meeting to discuss ways to improve how the international system functions. Meaning “someone who feels compelled to be an optimist,” the word not only succinctly sums up my work for and alongside the U.N. over the past 27 years, but could also be a one-word job description for the organization’s next secretary-general. Not everyone sees the world, or the U.N., this way. In his recent op-ed in The New […]

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari during his inauguration, Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

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. Last week, Nigeria’s Senate passed President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposed 2016 budget, which projected a deficit of $15 billion due to falling oil prices. In an email interview, Matthew Page, an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed the impact of falling oil prices on Nigeria’s economy and politics. WPR: How realistic is President Buhari’s latest proposed budget, and what are the implications of the budget’s $15 billion deficit? Matthew Page: Stubbornly low crude oil […]

People watch a TV screen showing footage of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, Seoul, South Korea, March 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

This week, all eyes are focused on the twin bombings in Brussels linked to the self-declared Islamic State. But despite the death toll there, and in the Paris attacks last November, a bigger risk to the world’s stability lurks in East Asia. The Islamic State may no longer be the ‘junior varsity’ of terrorism, as President Barack Obama once referred to the group, but it remains the junior varsity of global threats. North Korea is the varsity, and the danger it poses far exceeds the sociopathic but small-scale killing that the Islamic State can pull off or inspire. Now under […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of local administrators at his palace, Ankara, Turkey, March 16, 2016 (Pool photo by Murat Cetinmuhurdar).

The cease-fire brokered by Russia and the U.S. in Syria late last month could not have come at better time for Turkey. A few months before the cease-fire took effect, the momentum of the Syrian civil war had dramatically shifted in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s favor. The Syrian army and its allies on the ground, supported by Russian air power, were making significant gains across the country. Rebels were on their heels: Their defensive lines were gradually collapsing; their supply routes were thinning out; and they found themselves outflanked on multiple fronts. Even worse for Turkey, the United States has […]

Indonesian protesters during a rally against Israeli attacks on Gaza, Jakarta, Indonesia, July 13, 2014 (AP photo by Achmad Ibrahim).

Last weekend, Israel prevented Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi from entering the West Bank to attend the inauguration of the Indonesian Honorary Consul to Palestine in Ramallah, after she refused to pay an official visit to Jerusalem. In an email interview, Emanuel Shahaf, CEO of Technology Asia Consulting and vice chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, discusses Israeli-Indonesian political and economic ties. WPR: What are the extent of Israel’s trade and political ties with Indonesia, and how institutionalized are current informal ties? Emanuel Shahaf: Bilateral trade is nominally valued at around $200 million, with roughly 80 percent made up […]

Ugandans queue to cast their votes, Kampala, Uganda Feb. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the United Nation’s road-trip diplomacy, efforts to save cultural heritage during conflicts, and the growing threat against human rights activists in Latin America. For the Report, Peter talks about the recent elections in Uganda and shifting views of longtime President Yoweri Museveni. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: U.N. Security Council Should Make Better Use of ‘Road-Trip Diplomacy’ The Next Monuments Men? How Militaries Could Protect Culture in Conflict Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Times of War Activists’ Murders Show Human Rights Under […]

Recovered antiquities displayed at the Iraqi National Museum, Baghdad, Iraq, July 8, 2015 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

Last month, the government of Italy and UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, signed two agreements that aim to protect cultural heritage in conflict areas. One of these agreements will lead to the creation of a training center in Turin. The other agreement formalized the Italian government’s intent to create a task force, supported by UNESCO, for dealing with and safeguarding cultural property and heritage during times of crisis. According to UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova, this so-called United for Heritage task force would bring together cultural heritage experts and members of Italy’s national police, the Carabinieri, which have a long […]

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika meeting with French President Francois Hollande, Algiers, Algeria, June 15, 2015 (Algerian Press Service via AP).

The day before Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, a European Union representative visiting Algiers told Algerian officials that their country is “pivotal” in the fight against terrorism. He also praised Algeria for political changes that he called “an improvement of the situation.” The former is undoubtedly true. The latter was probably just a diplomatic nicety. The “situation” in Algeria remains as murky as ever. An al-Qaida terrorist attack against a gas facility last week prompted foreign firms to pull expatriate workers. Almost simultaneously, a police raid in Brussels targeted an Algerian citizen and member of the so-called Islamic State, in […]

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