Supporters of President-elect Donald Trump during a campaign rally, Sterling Heights, Michigan, Nov. 6, 2016 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The irony of Fidel Castro’s death is that, in addition to closing the symbolic book on the Cold War, it accentuates the feeling that we are living through the closing moments of the post-Cold War period. While that period has already been declared over at various times over the 15 years since 9/11, it now seems clear that those pronouncements were premature. Certainly America’s unipolar moment has passed, signaling the end of “the end of history.” But though shocking, the attacks of 9/11 and their aftermath—the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the war on terror—as well as the transformational effects […]

Riot police battling protesting teachers who were blocking a federal highway, Oaxaca, Mexico June 19, 2016 (AP Photo by Luis Alberto Cruz Hernandez).

Two years ago, the state of Michoacan on the southwestern coast of Mexico saw the rise of so-called self-defense groups. These were heterogeneous groups comprised of a mix of locals genuinely exasperated with the authorities’ inability to protect them from organized crime and cells of criminal organizations rivaling the state’s predominant drug cartel, the Knights Templar. Much has changed with regard to self-defense groups since then. In early 2014, federal forces took over security of large parts of Michoacan as the state government had become overwhelmed and largely infiltrated by organized crime. After tense negotiations with the federal government, self-defense […]

A Chinese newspaper on a newstand with a photo of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and the headline “Outsider counter attack,” Beijing, Nov. 10, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

No matter who was elected president on Nov. 8, there was going to be a pause in U.S. trade policy. During the campaign, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiated and signed by President Barack Obama. But Trump said he would go much further, threatening to impose new tariffs of up to 45 percent on Chinese imports over Beijing’s currency manipulation and other unfair trade practices, while promising to withdraw from trade agreements that are not renegotiated to his satisfaction. As with other issues, there is uncertainty about what Trump will actually do once in […]

A view of Urmia Lake, Iran, Aug. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on countries’ risk exposure, contribution and response to climate change. Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran, once a popular tourism destination, has become a symbol of the dangers of climate change, having lost 90 percent of its water since the 1970s. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has pledged $5 million for conservation efforts, but it is unclear if the lake can be saved. In an email interview, Gary Lewis, the United Nations resident coordinator in Iran, discussed Iran’s climate change policy. WPR: What is Iran’s risk exposure to climate change, what […]

A missile is displayed next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tehran, Iran, Sept. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

Despite Donald Trump’s tough talk about the Iran nuclear deal during the presidential campaign, there have been some signals since the election that his administration may walk back his threat to cancel the accord. But hostility to Iran seems rampant among Trump’s advisers, meaning the spirit, if not the letter, of the agreement will likely be violated. The costs of reverting to a confrontational approach to Iran would include more regional instability, and doing so would raise serious questions about Trump’s commitment to some international norms and practices. What to do about Iran is one of the prominent foreign policy […]

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum at the Plaza Hotel, New York, Sept. 21, 2016 (AP photo by Drew Angerer).

In late October, the Miners Association of Nigeria held its first Mining Week summit, part of the country’s attempts to jump-start its promising but seriously neglected and underperforming mining sector. The summit hosted local miners, junior and senior mining operators, exploration firms, local and international investors and Nigerian government officials, all focused on re-establishing Nigeria as a global mining hub. Nigeria’s expansive mineral wealth is no secret. During British colonial rule, which ended in 1960, the country ranked among the world’s top producers of tin. Later geological surveys in the 1970s, which were recently updated between 2003 and 2010, helped […]

French soldiers secure the area at the entrance of Gao, Mali, Feb. 10, 2013 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

The deadly terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire in January and March, respectively, show the deep reach of militants affiliated with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and their ability to bounce back from the military drubbing they received as a result of France’s intervention in the Sahel, which began in 2013. The spectacular attacks are part of a long pattern illustrating the enduring resilience of AQIM and its ability to regenerate itself by adjusting strategy and tactics to mounting pressure from both counterterrorism operations and rising jihadi competition in the Sahel and West African region. As alliances […]

Public workers protest outside La Moneda presidential palace, Santiago, Chile, Nov. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Luis Hidalgo).

A nearly month-long strike by Chile’s public sector employees ended earlier this month after workers failed to win a pay increase of 7 percent and instead reluctantly accepted President Michelle Bachelet’s initial proposal of a 3.2 percent raise. In an email interview, Peter M. Siavelis, a professor of politics and international affairs and the director of the Latin American and Latino studies program at Wake Forest University, discusses labor relations in Chile. WPR: What are the public sector’s grievances with President Michelle Bachelet’s administration, and how have they affected relations between the government and public employees? Peter M. Siavelis: The […]

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaking at the Republican Governors Association annual conference, Orlando, Fla., Nov. 15, 2016 (AP photo by John Raoux).

Nikki Haley may find that representing the United States at the United Nations is a bit of a letdown. President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Haley as his ambassador to the U.N. has been one of his better-received choices. In her current position as governor of South Carolina, she has made some decisions that pleased liberals, most notably removing the Confederate flag from the state house. U.N. officials who feared that Trump would send a unilateralist firebrand to speak for him in New York hope Haley is someone that they can do business with. There has, however, been a good […]

A protest against U.S. President-elect Donald Trump near the Eiffel Tower, Paris, Nov. 19, 2016  (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

The surprise election of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president has upset long-standing assumptions about America’s role in the world. It also calls into question the country’s future trajectory as the guarantor and administrator of the international order, a position that has been so carefully built and nurtured by Washington since the end of World War II. America’s European friends and allies are among those most worried about the future U.S. role in Europe, at a time when the continent is surrounded by instability and faces an increasingly aggressive Russia to its east. This unease is understandable if one considers […]

View of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Puntaneras, Costa Rica, April 30, 2016 (photo by Flickr user Ramon, CC BY-NC 2.0).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on countries’ risk exposure, contribution and response to climate change. Last month, the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change. After the vote, Environment Minister Edgar Gutierrez said that, despite being a small country, “Costa Rica showed the world that it has the courage to take bold and timely decisions to work for a sustainable development.” In an email interview, Mariel Yglesias, an environmental consultant, discusses Costa Rica’s climate change policy. WPR: What is Costa Rica’s risk exposure to climate change, what effects of climate […]

South African President Jacob Zuma at a press conference at State House in Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 11, 2016 (AP photo by Khalil Senosi).

Even by the standards of his scandal-ridden and largely disgraced presidency, the past month in South Africa has represented a nadir for Jacob Zuma. He was humiliated twice in the space of three days, first on Oct. 31 when the National Prosecuting Authority dropped spurious charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who Zuma wanted to remove. Then, on Nov. 2, the outgoing public protector, Thuli Madonsela, published her report on the scale of so-called state capture by Zuma’s friends and business associates, the Gupta family, after Zuma dropped his legal objections to its release. South Africa’s government watchdog recommended a […]

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China, Oct. 20, 2016 (Pool photo by Wu Hong via AP).

Since an international tribunal in The Hague ruled in July that China’s claims to the South China Sea had no legal basis and thus violated the Philippines’ maritime rights, claimants to the waters have focused on lowering the temperature on the ongoing disputes. Though this is a welcome respite from years of tensions and has yielded some progress, formidable challenges remain in translating these gains into sustainable solutions for the complex disagreements between China and five other claimant countries—Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Before the tribunal’s verdict, many observers had worried that a lopsided legal outcome for either […]

Women laborers take a break at an agriculture market, Ahmadabad, India, Nov. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Ajit Solanki).

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. India’s minister for women, Maneka Gandhi, recently declared that the country’s rape problem was exaggerated, and that the Indian media’s overemphasis on rape was negatively affecting tourism. In an email interview, Nandita Bhatla, a senior technical specialist at the International Center for Research on Women, discussed women’s rights in India. WPR: What is the current status of women’s rights and gender equality in India? Nandita Bhatla: Achieving women’s rights and gender equality continues to […]

A protest against President-elect Donald Trump, St. Louis, Nov. 13, 2016 (AP photo by Jeff Roberson).

The Brexit referendum and the U.S. presidential election have offered clear examples of how emotion and affect increasingly drive political behavior. In both cases, resentment and anger over unaddressed grievances, combined with fear and anxiety over radical disruptions to the economy and national identity, won out over reasoned arguments in favor of the status quo. But emotion and affect don’t disappear with the counting of the ballots. Election victories always create euphoria among the winners and despair among the losers. The nature of President-elect Donald Trump’s insurgent candidacy and his upset victory magnify both reactions. The election outcome calls into […]

Guards at a checkpoint near burning oil fields in Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 22, 2016 (AP photo by Felipe Dana).

Earlier this month, on Nov. 5, militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State killed 26 civilians with a roadside bomb as they fled Hawija, a predominantly Sunni Arab town about 40 miles southwest of Kirkuk. With international attention focused on the battle for Mosul, the attack was just the latest sign of the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis on a forgotten battlefield in another part of northern Iraq. Hawija’s approximately 200,000 civilians have lived under Islamic State control since June 2014. The town represents a strategically significant objective in the fight to secure northern Iraq and reintegrate liberated communities into the […]

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, left, meeting with his Serbian counterpart, Tomislav Nikolic, right, Belgrade, Serbia, Oct. 28, 2016 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

On Dec. 11, when Macedonians go to the polls in early parliamentary elections, foreign policy should weigh heavily on their minds. The government in power—a coalition of the predominantly Macedonian party known as VMRO-DPMNE and the Democratic Union for Integration, or DUI, the country’s largest ethnic Albanian party—has declared that its foreign policy and diplomacy over the past decade has been largely successful. But from relations with its neighbors, to progress toward membership in NATO and the EU, to Macedonia’s international reputation, how true is that? Any evaluation has to start with Macedonia’s fraught position in the Balkans. Serbia, to […]

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