A demonstrator wearing a gas mask and carrying a shield calls for others to join him in confronting Venezuelan National Guardsmen blocking the entry of U.S.-supplied humanitarian aid, La Parada, Colombia, Feb. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

It wasn’t very long ago that Venezuela anchored one side of a left-right divide in Latin America, with the late President Hugo Chavez inspiring a wave of leftist electoral victories across the hemisphere. More recently, the region’s leftward drift has stopped, even reversed, but Venezuela is again the catalyst in the new political alignments. The current crisis in Venezuela has forced governments everywhere, but especially in Latin America, to clarify where they stand on the future of Nicolas Maduro’s presidency. It is no longer possible for Latin American leaders to issue fuzzy statements now that the Venezuelan opposition has declared […]

French President Emmanuel Macron watches a signing ceremony between French and Chinese firms at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Jan. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

From the United States to Australia, countries are tightening restrictions on investment in strategic sectors like energy and defense, with a wary eye toward China. There are mounting concerns globally about the pitfalls associated with Chinese investment and whether it is a Trojan horse for Beijing to gain access to critical technologies, data and infrastructure that it can use for its own military ends. Europe is not immune to these concerns, and late last year, the European Union passed an investment screening mechanism of its own that specifically targeted China. Yet the EU will still have to do more to […]

Colombian President Ivan Duque and Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez, left, take part in a march to repudiate terrorism in Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

In January, after the Colombian guerilla group ELN carried out a car bomb attack against a police academy in Bogota that left 21 cadets dead, the government of President Ivan Duque called on Cuba to extradite ELN leaders—including their top commander—who are in Havana as part of a suspended peace process. Cuba’s refusal to honor the request, which would violate an agreement guaranteeing the ELN negotiators safe return in the event the talks are abandoned, is the latest point of tension between the two governments. In an email interview, Michael Camilleri, director of the Peter D. Bell Rule of Law […]

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for a trip to Vietnam to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, Feb. 25, 2019 (AP Photo by Evan Vucci).

One of the unforeseen beneficial outcomes of the Trump era is the fertile debate it has fueled over America’s foreign policy and global role. As a candidate, Donald Trump questioned many of the pillars of U.S. foreign policy. As president, he has run roughshod over America’s core partnerships and values, to say nothing of the diplomatic protocols he has trampled in the process. After an initial period of shock and outrage, the foreign policy establishment has more recently seemed to recognize the opportunity such a moment offers. In addition to triggering a re-examination of many of the core assumptions of […]

Catalan police officers clash with demonstrators during a general strike in Catalonia, Spain, Feb. 21, 2019 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

MADRID—Catalan pro-independence leaders and the Spanish government have intensified their efforts to take their family feud global as 12 Catalan leaders are being tried before the Supreme Court in Madrid. This fight now goes beyond the October 2017 referendum on Catalonia seceding from Spain, which was declared illegal by the Spanish government, and the subsequent declaration of independence from Catalonia’s regional parliament. In what has become a pitched battle between dueling messaging campaigns, Catalan separatists have upped their rhetoric, casting Spain as a “low-cost democracy” and the trial in Madrid as “an alarming act of state repression.” The Spanish government, […]

A poster for the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei on a high-rise building in Warsaw, Poland, May 23, 2018 (Photo by Natalie Skrzypczak for dpa via AP Images).

The high-profile arrests last month of a former Polish intelligence official and a Huawei executive in Poland have stoked an ongoing policy debate in Warsaw over how to calibrate its relationship with China. The 16+1 framework, which Beijing introduced in 2012 to promote engagement with Central and Eastern Europe, raised expectations among Polish officials for increased Chinese investment and trade ties. But those hopes have been slow to materialize, and in the meantime, national security concerns, primarily over espionage and Beijing’s long-term goals in the region, have grown. In an interview with WPR, Patrycja Pendrakowska, president of the board at […]

Chinese students listen to a speech at Chongqing University, Dec. 20, 2007 (Photo by Andrew Parsons for Press Association via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Two incidents at Canadian universities earlier this month have renewed concerns that Chinese students based overseas are being used as tools in Beijing’s soft-power influence campaign. On Feb. 11, a group of Chinese students at McMaster University in Ontario documented an on-campus presentation about China’s mass internment of Uighurs and reported it to the Chinese Consulate in Toronto. The presentation was given by Uighur-Canadian activist Rukiye Turdush, who later said a Chinese student “ostentatiously recorded the entire presentation” and […]

Benin Bronzes at the British Museum, London, Feb. 15, 2012 (flickr photo by user Son of Groucho).

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here. BENIN CITY, Nigeria—Two years ago, during a trip to Venice, the Nigerian artist Victor Ehikhamenor stepped out on a Sunday to see a sprawling exhibition by the British artist Damien Hirst, which was on view at two museums, the Punta della Dogana and the Palazzo Grassi. Titled “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” the exhibition purported to show objects salvaged from a fictional capsized ship—the Unbelievable—discovered, or so the story went, […]

A woman works in a weaving factory in Jinjiang, in southeast China’s Fujian province, Nov. 22, 2018 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

The World Trade Organization now has more than 160 members, ranging from the United States to tiny Burundi, the poorest country in the world, according to the World Bank. Afghanistan and Liberia are the WTO’s newest members, joining in 2016, and they are similarly poor and underdeveloped. Under WTO rules, developing countries receive “special and differential treatment” in recognition of their higher levels of poverty and lower levels of capacity to implement certain trade obligations. Yet the WTO has no objective criteria that define the difference between “developed” and “developing” member states. Rather, countries can “self-declare” as a developing country, […]

An anti-government protester holds a banner that reads “We want a European Romania” outside the Romanian Athenaeum concert hall, Bucharest, Jan. 10, 2019 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

It seems that everywhere you look today, people are taking to the streets. Recent mass protests have exploded in a dizzyingly diverse range of countries, including France, Hungary, Romania, Zimbabwe, Thailand, Sudan, Venezuela, Greece, as well as Gaza, and most recently Algeria. Does this surge of citizen activism and anger, which is just the most recent swell in what has been a decade-long tide of large-scale protests, offer some broader lessons about the state of democracy? Some protests may look like a sign of democratic decay amid a rise of populism and alienation with the political status quo—for example, in […]

Demonstrators participate in a rally against terrorism in Bolivar Square, Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Last month, a man linked to the National Liberation Army, or ELN, rammed a truck laden with explosives into a school in Bogota where cadets were training for the Colombian National Police. The blast, which killed at least 21 people and injured 68 more, jolted Colombian society and brought back memories of similar attacks in the early 1990s. Hundreds of thousands of Colombians took to the streets to condemn terrorism. After the ELN claimed responsibility for the attack, President Ivan Duque suspended peace talks with the guerilla group indefinitely. Many observers worried about the prospect of a return to widespread […]

Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party in traditional attire shout slogans during a rally addressed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the outskirts of Guwahati, India, Feb. 9, 2019 (AP photo by Anupam Nath).

A year ago, there were premature predictions that the populist wave would soon crest around the world. Yet sure enough, populists then won elections in Brazil, Italy and Mexico. Now, some political observers are again arguing that populism has already peaked, even though populist leaders like the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte maintain extraordinarily high popularity, with one recent poll showing Duterte’s approval rating at 81 percent. Populism “faces its darkest hour” in 2019, Gideon Rachman recently predicted in the Financial Times. Max Fisher claimed in The New York Times that populism had a “rocky” time in the West last year, citing, […]

Peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan in Bentiu, South Sudan, June 18, 2017 (AP photo by Sam Mednick).

Did the U.N. Security Council squander a chance to strengthen peacekeeping in December? 2018 was meant to be a big year for intergovernmental talks on how to improve U.N. operations. Yet Russia and the U.S. joined forces to torpedo a council resolution on potential reforms as the year ended. Why? Technical issues like reforming peace operations might already appear less pressing, given the council’s torrid start in 2019. Its permanent members are split over how to respond to the escalating crisis in Venezuela. Headaches from Iran to North Korea are likely to dominate the agenda this year. Nonetheless, a new […]

Traffic in Hanoi passes in front of a signboard announcing the upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 23, 2019 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

Final preparations are underway in Hanoi, Vietnam, for this week’s summit meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. U.S. officials hope that in addition to providing a venue and facilitating logistics, their Vietnamese hosts will offer a dose of potent symbolism. Near the end of the Cold War, Vietnam, like North Korea today, was an authoritarian one-party state with a military-driven command economy, diplomatically isolated and struggling to feed its population. Since introducing market-oriented reforms in the late 1980s, it has grown into a regional economic powerhouse while maintaining its closed political system. It also […]

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, center, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, right, talk to the press at the Pentagon in Washington, Feb. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Kevin Wolf).

During the first two years of the Trump administration, the Department of Defense has curtailed the release of public information about its spending and operations overseas, as reporters have complained of declining access to senior leaders. In an interview with WPR, Mandy Smithberger, director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project on Government Oversight, explains how increasing secrecy at the Pentagon undermines democratic accountability and impairs national security policy. World Politics Review: How do the Defense Department’s transparency and reporting practices under President Trump compare with those of previous administrations? Mandy Smithberger: Each administration seems to increase secrecy, […]

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, a past proponent of striking Iran, speaks at the United Against Nuclear Iran summit, New York, Sept. 25, 2018 (Photo by Michael Brochstein for Sipa via AP Images).

The idea of a pre-emptive American attack on Iran periodically resurfaces in Washington, despite the absence of any strategic logic. After abating following the 2015 agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program, the war drums are beating again, with the Trump administration ratcheting up the pressure. Is striking Iran an option? Iran is a longstanding and steadfast opponent of the United States. It promotes terrorism, extremism and instability in the Middle East, with brutal allies like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The Iranian regime continues to develop advanced weaponry while repressing internal dissent. There is no question that the […]

Builders gather around a campaign poster of Senegalese President Macky Sall, who is running for re-election, in Ngor village, near the capital, Dakar, Feb. 20, 2019 (Photo by Anna Pujol-Mazzini).

DAKAR, Senegal—President Macky Sall’s face is ubiquitous along the Corniche, Dakar’s main seaside road. “Votez Macky,” billboards declare in capital letters between ads for Chinese-manufactured tea and energy drinks. With each poster comes a different reason to give the incumbent a second term in Sunday’s election: Because he started building a $1 billion high-speed train project from the capital to the newly built city of Diamniadio; because he is responsible for “rice self-sufficiency,” after Senegal’s rice production more than doubled to reach some 1.1 million tons during his presidency; because he built a modern Senegal. Further along the Corniche, one […]

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