Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General-designate, at an informal meeting of the General Assembly, New York, Oct. 19, 2016 (U.N. photo by Manuel Elias).

Does anyone still remember this year’s race to be the next secretary-general of the United Nations? It only ended a few weeks ago, but it already feels like distant history. The victor, former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, is hard at work on his transition plans. Diplomats and U.N. officials are impressed. The new boss, who will take office in January, is consistently articulate and well-informed. It is odd to recall that, as recently as late September, many observers believed that Guterres would run into Russian and Chinese opposition to his candidacy, and that the contest to run the U.N. […]

Spain's newly re-elected prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, after the second and final confidence vote at the Spanish Parliament, Madrid, Spain, Oct. 29, 2016 (AP photo by Daniel Ochoa de Olza).

Mariano Rajoy of the conservative People’s Party was sworn in on Monday for a second term as Spain’s prime minster, bringing an end to 10 months of political deadlock that included two inconclusive elections. On Saturday, Spanish lawmakers voted 170 to 111 in favor of Rajoy, while 68 members of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) abstained. Saturday’s vote came two days before a deadline to avoid a third election in less than a year, which most parties and the public wanted to avoid. In late August, Rajoy brokered a deal with the center-right Ciudadanos party that shored up significant […]

U.S. President Barack Obama delivering a speech at the University of Yangon, Myanmar, Nov. 19, 2012 (AP photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe).

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. America’s traditional role in promoting democracy and human rights abroad has fallen out of favor in a serious way. It has rarely registered a mention during this year’s presidential campaign, and Republican candidate Donald Trump has suggested that the United States lacks the standing to criticize human rights lapses abroad, given social turmoil at home. For all its various legacies, the Obama administration will leave little mark on […]

A remote-controlled weaponized robot on display at the 8th China International Exhibition on Police Equipment, Beijing, China, May 19, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Throughout history there have been times when new technology changed how wars were fought, and the politics of war itself, in ways that its early adapters did not anticipate. When fragile flying machines first appeared over the battlefield, who could have foreseen that one day bombers, drones and missiles could strike with such precision and at such range that they would alter the actual role of geography in warfare? Today, another revolutionary technology is emerging with robots, but its implications remain unclear. With the robotic revolution, America’s futurists, military leaders, strategists and policymakers must work hard to cast a light […]

A march at the start of the 21st World Aids Conference demanding more funding to fight the disease, Durban, South Africa, July 18, 2016 (AP photo).

The ecstatic press releases started even before the conference to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria officially closed last month in Montreal. The fund, which channels donor money to local programs that fight the three diseases in places where they are the most damaging, especially sub-Saharan Africa, had put out a call for $13 billion for its next three years of programming. By the end of the conference, the fund had raised $12.9 billion. The bulletins out of Quebec captured the relief of a public health community that has watched its international financing dwindle, even as […]

Agnes Tembo, a participant in Malawi's Soils, Foods, and Healthy Communities project, tends to her field of pigeon peas, Mzimba District, Malawi, August 2016 (photo by Jonathan W. Rosen).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Karina Piser, discuss how to get India-Pakistan ties back on track, the international outrage over Russia’s actions in Syria, and Tanzania’s troubling authoritarian turn. For the Report, Jonathan Rosen talks with Peter Dörrie about Malawi’s struggle for food security. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: What Will It Take To Get Troubled India-Pakistan Ties Back on Track? International Outrage Won’t Change Russia’s Behavior in Aleppo Magufuli’s Reformist Drive Takes an Autocratic Turn in Tanzania From Drought to Green Revolution? Malawi’s—and Africa’s—Quest for Food […]

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at a press conference, Rome, Italy, Nov. 24, 2014 (AP photo by Alessandra Tarantino).

Earlier this month, Italy cooperated with Libyan military commander Gen. Khalifa Haftar to ensure the delivery of 700,000 barrels of oil from eastern Libya, despite the fact that the Italian government officially supports the United Nations-backed national unity government in Tripoli that Haftar opposes. In an email interview, Silvia Colombo, a senior fellow at the Institute of International Affairs, discusses Italy’s policies in North Africa and the Middle East. WPR: Who are Italy’s main partners in North Africa and the Middle East, and to what extent do hydrocarbons drive relations? Silvia Colombo: Italy’s foreign policy has always had a distinct […]

A protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Caracas, Oct. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

Venezuela’s embattled socialist government is steadily moving the country toward the abyss, and the escalating crisis is taking on more ominous tones. Venezuelans are caught in a fast-spinning economic spiral that has already devastated living standards and created a large-scale humanitarian crisis. But as Venezuelans take to the streets, so far the government has responded with measures that exacerbate tensions and make a peaceful political solution increasingly difficult. President Nicolas Maduro, the heir to the late President Hugo Chavez, was elected by popular vote in 2013. But the Venezuelan system of government can no longer be called a democracy. The […]

People celebrate after the World Health Organization declared Liberia Ebola-free, Monrovia, Liberia, May 11, 2015 (AP photo by Abbas Dulleh).

Last month, a warlord turned senator in Liberia named Prince Johnson kicked off his candidacy for next year’s presidential election with a sharp denunciation of sexual minorities and those who defend them. “A government under our watch will never, ever accept gay rights,” said Johnson, who is best known for his role in wartime atrocities, including the torture and killing of President Samuel Doe in 1990. “Liberia is not Sodom and Gomorrah.” The statement, and the attention it received from local journalists, was consistent with a campaign in which the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Liberians have taken […]

Machinery and cranes tower over the construction site of the Panama Canal's expansion project, Cocoli, Panama City, Feb. 5, 2014 (AP photo by Arnulfo Franco).

The $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal, which officially opened in late June, tripling the size of vessels the canal can accommodate, is about more than just bigger ships. Unlike in 1914 when the opening of the canal made unimaginable trade routes possible, boosting the economies of the United States and many others, the expanded canal may have the biggest impact on Panama’s own economy. But the potential rewards also come with major risks. The canal’s ability to handle much larger ships will greatly facilitate shipping between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Among other things, U.S. grain exports from […]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during the state commemoration ceremony of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, Budapest, Hungary, Oct. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Szilard Koszticsak).

Thousands of Hungarians took to the streets of Budapest to protest government corruption and the erosion of press freedoms earlier this month. The protest follows the closure of Hungary’s leading opposition newspaper, Nepszabadsag. The paper’s parent company cited falling readership as the reason for the closure, though many believe populist, right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban had a role to play in its shuttering. Miklos Hargitai, a Nepszabadsag journalist, told the AP that Orban’s government “doesn’t tolerate any control or criticism, not even questions.” Orban hadn’t given an interview to Nepszabadsag in 10 years. The newspaper’s closure is only the latest […]

View of the Joint Defense Facility at Pine Gap, central Australia (Photo by Kristian Laemmle-Ruff, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on a range of countries’ space priorities and programs. Engineers from the University of New South Wales Canberra and the Defense Science and Technology Group announced last week that a new miniature cube satellite called Buccaneer, which will look at ways to better predict the orbits of space objects, is ready to be launched. In an email interview, Brett Biddington, the founder of Biddington Research, a space and cyber policy consulting firm, discusses Australia’s space policy. WPR: What are Australia’s space capabilities, in terms of its domestic public and […]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigning at a recycling facility, Monessen, Pa., June 28, 2016 (AP photo by Keith Srakocic).

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. For the past decade, globalization and anti-globalization perplexingly fell out of favor in the analytical narratives of most commentators on international affairs. The winners and losers of globalization, which defined the major debates about economic policies during the 1990s and early 2000s, simply ceased to be discussed. Perhaps it was because this particular framing was closely tied to debates about the World Trade Organization, protests against it, and […]

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a rally at St. Anselm College, Manchester, N.H., Oct. 24, 2016 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In 2006, Time Magazine famously named “you”—the producers of user-generated internet content—as its collective person of the year. The following year’s choice was more orthodox: a head of state, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The stark contrast between the historical implications of each selection might not have been fully appreciated at the time, but they stand out more clearly now. The first represents the anarchic diffusion of power from the state to the individual made possible by the advances in information and communications technologies. The second represents the major countervailing trend in global politics today, namely the return of authoritarian leaders concentrating […]

Escorted by bodyguards, Omani Sultan Qaboos arrives for an official welcoming ceremony, Tehran, Iran, Aug. 4, 2009 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

Oman rarely draws international attention in a region overshadowed by the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia and, since last year, the war in Yemen. But the country has emerged as an important element of U.S. policy in the Gulf and wider Middle East, serving as an interlocutor between Riyadh and Tehran. Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said—the Middle East’s longest-reigning monarch, having held power since 1970—has maintained Oman’s relative neutrality in regional conflicts, making the country a hub for delicate negotiations. For many years, Oman has enjoyed the best relations with Iran of any member of the Gulf Cooperation […]

Iraqi counterterrorism forces prepare to attack Islamic State positions in Tob Zawa, outside Mosul, Oct. 24, 2016 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

As the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State proceeds, the stakes for Iraq’s neighbors vary. Although victory is still a ways off, the outcome in Mosul will more likely entrench existing regional dynamics than change them. Last week, I looked at the possible upside for Iraq should it successfully recapture Mosul, as expected. There will be humanitarian costs and concerns about blowback from the Islamic State in and outside Iraq, but the Iraqi state and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will be the main winners. That is, if Baghdad keeps the Shiite militias that are helping retake the city […]

Indian paramilitary soldiers and policemen during clashes with protesters, Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Oct. 7, 2016 (AP photo by Dar Yasin).

Not long ago, India and Pakistan appeared to be on a war footing. On Sept. 18, terrorists besieged an Indian army base in India-administered Kashmir, killing 19 soldiers in one of the worst single attacks on the Indian military in decades. New Delhi accused Pakistani militants of orchestrating the assault—the same allegation they made after an attack on an Indian air force base in Punjab earlier this year. After months of shrill rhetoric and saber-rattling, the subcontinent was aflame with war fever. India’s notoriously bellicose media called on the country to take up arms against Pakistan. Politicians from Prime Minister […]

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