Russian President Vladimir Putin with U.S. President Barack Obama Hangzhou, China, Sept. 5, 2016. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik via AP).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editors, Maria Savel and Karina Piser, discuss the biggest events of 2016, including the rise of populism, China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, and the election of Donald Trump. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: Donald Trump and the Global Rise of Populism The Danger of Overreacting to Terrorism—and How to Resist It The EU Tries, Tries and Tries Again to Address the Migrant and Refugee Crisis Putin’s Attritional Diplomacy Leaves the West Permanently Off Balance The Economy Is […]

An ICBM launch control facility in the countryside outside Minot, North Dakota, June 24, 2014 (AP photo by Charlie Riedel).

The surprising election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has created countless new questions and concerns about the future of U.S. foreign policy. But perhaps nowhere are these concerns more acute than in Trump’s thoughts about nuclear weapons. While often inchoate and contradictory, Trump’s recent comments about strengthening and expanding U.S. nuclear capabilities, apparently welcoming an arms race with Russia, and possibly encouraging allies to develop their own nuclear deterrent have all caused great concern among defense analysts and foreign policy professionals, not to mention many within the U.S. government. Given the enormous stakes involved, it is […]

A crane rises next to the main tower of the Centenario deepwater drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Veracruz, Mexico, Nov. 22, 2013 (AP photo by Dario Lopez-Mills).

On Dec. 5, Mexico held its first-ever auction for deepwater oil blocks in the Gulf of Mexico. A total of eight out of 10 blocks were awarded to various consortiums of leading international oil companies, such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Total and Statoil. The Mexican government estimates that the offshore fields hold as much as 11 billion barrels of oil and natural gas. The tender brought some much-needed economic relief for Mexico. As 2016 comes to a close, the country faces the most severe crisis originating north of the border in the United States since the 2008 financial meltdown, in […]

President-elect Donald Trump at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis, Dec. 1, 2016 (AP photo by Darron Cummings).

When speculating about President-elect Donald Trump’s likely economic agenda, one must return to the popular view among many American voters that to create jobs and repair an ailing economy, turn to successful businessmen. Only they, not the professional political class, have the practical experience, instincts and strength needed to muster up better economic performance and job creation in areas like manufacturing. Why? Their business successes, according to this view, are easily transferable to solving a wide range of problems in the public sphere. There is an element of truth here. Businessmen like Trump instinctively see the economy from a microeconomic […]

Villagers outside the city of Mokolo in northern Cameroon, April 18, 2016 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

On Dec. 11, three days after four people were reportedly killed in the latest clashes between protesters and security forces in the city of Bamenda in northwestern Cameroon, the government’s communications minister issued a statement suggesting the demonstrators’ main grievance was a nonissue. For more than a month, Cameroonians in the country’s English-speaking regions had been publicly criticizing the use of French in courts and schools and, more broadly, the perceived marginalization of the minority Anglophone population. That issue, which has roots in Cameroon’s colonial history, is a decades-old source of tension. Yet in his statement, the minister, Issa Tchiroma […]

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Palm Beach, Florida, Dec. 21, 2016. (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In last week’s column, I noted that some of the positions taken by President-elect Donald Trump during his bid for the White House, along with those of his key advisers like retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Stephen Bannon, reflect what has been called a “clash of civilizations” perspective. For those who subscribe to this framework, the U.S.-led and predominantly Christian West is under assault from Islam. The terrorism, violence and barbarity of organizations like the so-called Islamic State and al-Qaida are not simply malignancies within Islam but signs of the religion’s inherent incompatibility with Western culture. Many advocates of […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a joint press conference at Abe's official residence, Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Franck Robichon).

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin touched down in Yamaguchi, the home prefecture of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to begin a much-anticipated summit. Abe arranged a personal venue for their meeting: a famous hot spring bath in his hometown of Nagato. Abe has met with Putin more than 15 times since taking office in late 2012, even after high-level diplomatic engagement with Russia came under scrutiny from the international community, especially Tokyo’s ally in Washington, over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and destabilizing activities in eastern Ukraine. Abe had hoped that his dogged approach to appeal to Moscow, along […]

Security officials at the scene of a car bombing in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri, Turkey, Dec. 17, 2016. (IHA via AP).

Last week, Turkey was hit by yet another terrorist attack, a car bombing that killed 13 soldiers and wounded 55 others in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri. Although quickly overshadowed days later by the assassination in Ankara of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, the bombing came just a week after a twin suicide bombing killed 44 policemen and wounded another 150 outside the Besiktas football stadium in Istanbul. While no immediate claim of responsibility has been issued for the Kayseri bombing, solid evidence points to the same perpetrators as the earlier Dec. 10 attack: the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a […]

Teachers hold signs that read "To Fight is to Educate" during a protest demanding better salaries and labor conditions, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 3, 2014 (AP photo by Silvia Izquierdo).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss Turkey’s interests and agenda in the Syrian civil war. For the Report, Ciara Long talks with Peter Dörrie about the impact of austerity on higher education and social mobility in Brazil. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: Russia and Turkey Move Closer, but Can Erdogan Survive Putin’s Embrace? In Colombia, the Long Journey to Implementing Peace With the FARC Begins Does Any Party in South Sudan Have the Will to Prevent Genocide? Brazil’s Cuts to Higher Education Dash Hopes for […]

Students outside a classroom with a map of Africa on its wall, Yei, southern South Suda, Nov. 15, 2016 (AP photo by Justin Lynch).

The third anniversary last week of the start of South Sudan’s ongoing civil war served only to reinforce how intractable that conflict has become. A peace deal is in tatters, along with the country’s economy. With the return of the dry season, the combatants appear to be preparing for another round of fighting. And the United Nations is now warning of possible genocide. South Sudanese are keenly aware that after three years of fighting, the situation can still deteriorate further. Since the end of October, more than 280,000 people have fled the country. According to the U.N.’s refugee agency, that […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Russian President Vladimir Putin at the World Energy Congress, Istanbul, Oct. 10, 2016 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

For a few hours after a Turkish policeman walked into an art gallery in Ankara and shot dead Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, it was unclear how the event would affect ties between the two countries. Ambassador Andrey Karlov had come to the gallery to celebrate the opening of an exhibit of Turkish photographers, “Russia Through Turks’ Eyes,” that was intended to highlight Turkey and Russia’s strengthening relationship. The assassination turned the exhibit into a scene of carnage, but there was no immediate sign that it would harm bilateral ties. In fact, all signs suggest that it will do the opposite, […]

European Council President Donald Tusk during a media conference, Brussels, Nov. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

The European Union voted Monday to renew economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea for an additional six months. Sanctions were first put in place in July 2014 and have been extended ever since. Despite token opposition among some member states, the renewal of sanctions has been relatively routine up to this point. But there are signs that Europe’s united front against Russia is beginning to crack. Germany, the U.K., Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been the strongest advocates of a hard line on Russia, while Italy, Greece, Hungary and the Czech Republic have been vocal […]

A quay at the Port of Qingdao, in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong, Dec. 8, 2016 (Imaginechina photo via AP).

Last week, China brought formal legal challenges against the United States and the European Union for their failures to recognize the Asian giant as a “market economy” according to World Trade Organization rules. China’s current “nonmarket economy” designation allows Washington and Brussels to use a special tariff formula to stem the flow of low-priced imports in anti-dumping cases. Contrary to initial media reports of a trade war, Beijing’s WTO actions sent a positive signal for otherwise bleak trade relations between these major powers—at least in the near term. But longer term, the squabble over China’s market economy status is just […]

President Barack Obama at a news conference at the White House in Washington, Dec. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Yesterday China returned the U.S. Navy underwater drone it had seized last Friday in international waters in the South China Sea. The incident has been portrayed by critics of President Barack Obama as the latest illustration of how his purported weakness has emboldened America’s rivals and adversaries. But the seizure of the drone and the prompt resolution of the standoff through diplomatic channels actually illustrated the complexity of escalation when the costs of conflict are great and the threshold for acts of war murky. The narrative of Obama’s weakness has its roots in the early days of his presidency. His […]

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Diaoyutai state guesthouse, Beijing, Nov. 3, 2016 (AP photo by Jason Lee).

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visited China last month, where he signed a series of deals, including a significant defense agreement, raising concerns that Malaysia could be “separating” from its partnership with the United States. In an email interview, Yang Razali Kassim, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, discusses Malaysia’s ties with China. WPR: What is the nature and extent of economic and military ties between Malaysia and China, how have ties evolved in recent years, and what impact has the South China Sea disputes had on them? Yang Razali Kassim: Economic ties […]

Then-Finance Minister Bill English, right, with then-Prime Minister John Key, left, Wellington, New Zealand, May 21, 2015 (AP photo by Mark Mitchell).

Bill English was chosen on Dec. 12 to be New Zealand’s new prime minister after John Key, who had led the National Party to three election victories since 2008, surprised the country by stepping down. In an email interview, Jon Johansson, a senior lecturer at Victoria University, discusses New Zealand politics. WPR: What have been John Key’s major domestic and foreign policy accomplishments, and where has his record been less successful? Jon Johansson: Key’s major domestic legacy achievements include his crisis leadership following the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011; his government’s progress in advancing historical Treaty of Waitangi claims […]

Israelis wave flags and hold signs reading "Trump, the Israeli interest" during a rally, Jerusalem, Oct. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Tsafrir Abayov).

U.S. policy on Israel almost always manages to divide and stoke controversy, and President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel is no exception. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer with no diplomatic experience and a strong supporter of expanding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, has generated outrage on the left and exaltation on the right—in both the United States and Israel. Friedman has overtly rejected any prospects for a two-state solution and demonized American Jews critical of Israeli policy. He once called members of J Street—a self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” progressive lobbying group—“worse than kapos,” the term […]

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