Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally, Everett, Tuesday, Wash., Aug. 30, 2016 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Is the world going crazy? Or alternatively, are insane people at the helm, driving major global events? Whether discussing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or so-called lone-wolf terrorists, the question of mental sanity has increasingly crept into public discourse on global affairs. Besides the obvious impossibility of diagnosing a stranger’s psychiatric health from a distance, this trend of leveling charges of mental illness against political or ideological adversaries has another disadvantage: It labels them and anything they say as not worth listening to, essentially cutting off any possible line of communication. And in the case of Trump and his supporters, […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin after talks in the Konstantin palace outside St. Petersburg, Aug. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Turkey and Russia are patching up their troubled relationship. In early August, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in St. Petersburg, in the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders in 10 bitter months since Turkey shot down a Russian jet that was briefly in its airspace last November. But after some symbolic handshakes and photo-ops, what can be expected in concrete terms moving forward between Ankara and Moscow? Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit. It’s a safe bet that state-controlled media in Russia will no longer portray Erdogan and his close entourage with […]

An image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken when the ESA's Rosetta space probe was 88 miles from its nucleus, Nov. 17, 2015 (ESA photo).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on a range of countries’ space priorities and programs. The European Space Agency (ESA) expects that its Schiaparelli module will land on Mars on Oct. 19 for a brief mission to study what causes dust storms on the planet. In an email interview, Thomas Hoerber, a professor at the ESSCA School of Management, discusses the ESA’s mission and its relationship to the European Union. WPR: What are the European Space Agency’s space capabilities and who are its major international partners, in terms of space diplomacy and commercial ties? Thomas […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefs the media after a visit to Germany's Joint Terrorism Defense Center GATZ, Berlin, April 26, 2016 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

Terrorist attacks and other violence this summer have put Germany on edge and worsened political tensions over Berlin’s handling of the refugee crisis. One week in July saw four attacks in multiple German cities, killing a total of 10 people; three were committed by men who had entered the country as asylum-seekers. Even before this violence, public sentiment toward refugees and migrants had soured after reports of widespread sexual assaults and other crimes that took place on New Year’s Eve in the German city of Cologne, perceived as being linked to the influx of refugees. In early August, the government […]

Farmers march to demand the government pardon their debts and protest a new sales tax, Asuncion, Paraguay, April 13, 2016 (AP photo Jorge Saenz).

Earlier this month, hundreds of people marched in Asuncion, demanding the resignation of Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes and denouncing widespread government corruption. In an email interview, Mercedes Hoffay, a program manager at Global Americans and Christopher Sabatini, a lecturer of international and public policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the executive director of Global Americans, discuss Cartes’ leadership and politics in Paraguay. WPR: How successful has Cartes been at following through on his 2013 election promises, namely growing the economy and reducing crime? Mercedes Hoffay and Christopher Sabatini: Cartes’ follow-through on his campaign promises has […]

In this June 10, 2005 file photo, Ethiopian soldiers patrol the streets of Addis Ababa, after clashes with protesters (AP photo by Karel Prinsloo).

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—In Ethiopia’s two most populous ethnic regions, anti-government rallies turned into a bloodbath in early August as security forces again used live ammunition against protesters. In the western part of Oromia, the largest of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based states, the town of Nekempte looked like a “war zone,” according to a protester. An opposition party said almost 100 people were killed and thousands arrested after demonstrations across the sprawling Oromia region, which encircles the capital, Addis Ababa, and borders Kenya in the south and South Sudan in the west. A day later in Bahir Dar, the capital of […]

Turkish troops check their tanks near the Syrian border, Karkamis, Turkey, Aug. 26, 2016 (Ismail Coskun, IHA via AP).

Syria’s horrific crisis is now generating new insights into the fault lines and even falsehoods of international cooperation. Diplomatic efforts to find some minimal common ground to tamp down the war have repeatedly fallen short, as the external actors care more about preventing each other’s gains than saving Syria. It reminds us that old-fashioned, formal alliances have more meaning than ad hoc coalitions. The Syrian conflict may be an outlier with its endlessly tragic dimensions. As The New York Times’ Max Fisher explained this week, Syria defies all the theories about civil wars, offering little hope for the conflict winding […]

Muslims pray during morning prayer for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 6, 2016 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

During my last visit to Malaysia in February, I met the famed film director Chiu Keng Guan to discuss his fourth and latest movie, “Ola Bola.” It had just come out in local cinemas and was already proving to be such a sensation that one newspaper asked if there was an “Ola Bola overload.” A little misty-eyed perhaps, the film is a fictionalized account of the Malaysian national football team’s qualification for the 1980 Olympic Games, arguably one of the country’s finest sporting milestones, made all the more memorable by the fact that it was achieved by a multiracial, multireligious […]

Riot police at a weekly protest by Nicaragua's opposition near the Supreme Electoral Council, Managua, Aug. 5, 2015 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

Nicaragua moved closer to one-party rule late last month, when the country’s Supreme Electoral Council unseated 28 opposition lawmakers and substitute lawmakers in the National Assembly, effectively handing full control of the legislature to President Daniel Ortega’s party, the Sandinista Front of National Liberation, or FSLN. The council dismissed the lawmakers from the Independent Liberal Party for their refusal to recognize their new official party leader, Pedro Reyes, an Ortega ally who had been granted the position in a contentious ruling in June by the Supreme Court of Justice that removed the previous opposition leader, Eduardo Montealegre. Unfortunately, these types […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a rally of his supporters after the country’s abortive July 15 coup, Istanbul, Aug. 7, 2016 (Presidential Press Service photo by Kayhan Ozer via AP).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series inviting authors to identify the biggest priority—whether a threat, risk, opportunity or challenge—facing the international order and U.S. foreign policy today. Just 25 years after winning the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, the United States is facing a very different world than the one many had expected. Instead of a world of relative peace, with no proxy wars in developing countries and no major global geostrategic opponents, there is violence and terrorism around the globe, much of it […]

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos gives Senate President Mauricio Lizcano the peace deal with FARC rebels, Bogota, Colombia, Aug. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Felipe Caicedo).

Here is a moral dilemma: Would you be happy to live in a world in which 80 percent of the population enjoys more or less peaceful conditions, but the remaining 20 percent are condemned to live with a worsening spiral of war and suffering? This is a useful question, because it is a rough description of the actual world we live in. Most of the planet is pretty stable these days. Last week, the cognitive scientist Stephen Pinker and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos underscored this point in an opinion piece celebrating Colombia’s peace deal with the leftist Revolutionary Armed […]

A group of women take part in a demonstration to protest violence against women, Milan, Italy, Nov. 23, 2009 (AP photo Antonio Calanni).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the status of women’s rights and gender equality in various countries around the globe. An economic downturn might unexpectedly be improving gender equality in Italy, though many key issues are still not being addressed. After several women were murdered earlier this month in Italy, the government has allocated $13 million for a plan to combat violence against women and an additional $14 million to fight human trafficking. In an email interview, Annalisa Rosselli, a professor at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, discusses women’s rights in Italy. [marketing]blockbuster[/marketing] […]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, and chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, left, at the NATO summit, Warsaw, Poland, July 9, 2016 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

With the two-year anniversary of Afghanistan’s national unity government approaching in September, long-simmering tensions between President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, have broken out into the open. In mid-August remarks to his supporters, Abdullah made his most public and direct complaints to date, calling Ghani unfit for the presidency. He said that his counsel was being ignored by Ghani, his position within the government was being marginalized, and his demands for reforms were going unmet. Although the two leaders have since met one-on-one and attended Afghanistan’s Independence Day celebrations together on Aug. 17, the complicated power-sharing […]

A Russian long-range Tu-22M3 bomber during an airstrike over Aleppo, in frame grab provided by Russian Defence Ministry, Aug. 16, 2016 (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service photo via AP).

When the Russian Defense Ministry announced last week that it had started launching bombing raids into Syria from a base inside Iran, the news produced a remarkable reaction, simultaneously angering both the United States and much of Iran. U.S. officials were caught unprepared and were deeply displeased by the news that Tehran and Moscow had decided to intensify their military cooperation. But it wasn’t just the Americans who were angered by the developments. In Iran, many members of parliament were furious to learn that the Russian military machine had positioned some war assets on Iranian soil. It took less than […]

Gabon's president, Ali Bongo, at the Elysee Palace, Paris, France, Sept. 14, 2015 (SIPA photo by Christian Liewig via AP).

Gabon, a small but oil-rich country on the Atlantic coast of Central Africa that is home to around 1.7 million people, will vote for president on Aug. 27. The main candidates are incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba and former African Union Chairman Jean Ping. A victory for Bongo, whose father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, was president of Gabon for more than 40 years, would reinforce patterns of dynastic succession in small African countries that are ostensibly democracies, but in reality autocracies. Omar Bongo ruled Gabon from 1967 upon the death of his predecessor, Leon M’ba, the country’s first president after its […]

Nepal's newly-appointed prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Kathmandu, Nepal, Aug. 3, 2016 (AP photo by Bikram Rai).

Pushpa Kamal Dahal is the prime minister of Nepal again, after its parliament voted earlier this month to elect the former Maoist guerrilla leader, better known by his nom de guerre, Prachanda—“the fierce one.” He first held the country’s top job in 2008, but quit nine months later after a rocky tenure. Dahal is Nepal’s ninth prime minister in eight years, and 25th since 1990, when a pro-democracy movement ended the country’s absolute monarchy and established a parliamentary government. He succeeds K.P. Oli, who, faced with a no-confidence motion, resigned in late July from the office he’d occupied for nine […]

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greets Hillary Clinton at a U.N. Women event, U.N. headquarters, March 7, 2014 (U.N. photo by JC McIlwaine).

If Hillary Clinton is elected president of the United States in November, fixing the failings of United Nations peacekeeping operations is unlikely to be one of her foreign policy priorities. Putting Russia in its place and balancing China in the Pacific will loom much larger on her to-do list. But the next administration is likely to find that crises involving blue helmets have a habit of creeping up its agenda. Clinton is presumably painfully aware of this. Her husband’s presidency was punctuated by peacekeeping failures from Somalia to Srebrenica, and the failure to give U.N. personnel effective back-up during the […]

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