U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk to participate in a group photo at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

A key arms control treaty that limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons the United States and Russia can deploy is set to expire in February 2021. Without it, the two countries could be locked into a nuclear arms race not seen since the height of the Cold War. Fortunately, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as New START, is popular in both Washington and Moscow, and it can be extended for an additional five years with just the signatures of Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Renewing it should be the easiest foreign policy decision Trump can make. […]

Smoke and steam rise from a coal processing plant in Hejin in central China’s Shanxi Province, Nov. 28, 2019 (AP photo by Sam McNeil).

2020 dawns with the multilateral system in crisis. The next 12 months will determine whether the world is capable of controlling nuclear proliferation, arresting runaway climate change and restoring faith in the United Nations. Some pivotal events will shape success or failure in the coming year. Preserving the Nuclear Regime. Of the several potential catastrophic risks confronting humanity, the specter of nuclear war remains the most terrifying. Since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the world has escaped the horror of nuclear weapons. Much of the credit, beyond deterrence and plain dumb luck, goes to the Treaty on […]

Women and children related to fighters of the Islamic State group wait to board buses and trucks to leave the al-Hol detention camp, Hasakeh province, Syria, June 3, 2019 (AP photo by Baderkhan Ahmad).

ISTANBUL—A German woman suspected of supporting the Islamic State was repatriated from Syria along with her three children last month, in the first case of an adult European ISIS member brought home through official channels. On Nov. 22, the family was released from the overcrowded detention camp in northern Syria where they’d lived for almost a year and transferred to the Iraqi city of Erbil, where they boarded a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. The mother, known only as Laura H., had her passport confiscated upon arrival. She cannot leave Germany, as she is being investigated for belonging to a terrorist […]

A protester flashes the victory sign overlooking a huge anti-government rally in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 31, 2019 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

Just like in 2017 and 2018, many of the most important stories around the world in 2019 were drowned out by the latest tweet, tirade or tantrum from U.S. President Donald Trump. In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Freddy Deknatel and Elliot Waldman talk about some of the big under-covered trends of the year, from the deterioration of U.S. alliances in East Asia to the fate of protest movements that rocked the Middle East. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter […]

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, and his wife Iriana, walk with his new Cabinet ministers and their spouses after the swearing-in ceremony of the new Cabinet at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

Two months into his second term, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, has announced some bold new economic plans. He has vowed to push through major legislation on deregulation—modeled on the Trump administration’s agenda in Washington—and launch a staggering number of new infrastructure projects. It is all part of a push to attract foreign investment, which has provoked backlashes in Indonesia before, but which he said “no one should be allergic to” in a speech after winning reelection. Whether Jokowi can implement this economic agenda remains unclear. He has built a vast, 50-member Cabinet, including vice ministers, from […]

Russian tanks, among 5,000 sent in to crush the Hungarian uprising, stand in a street in Budapest, November 1956 (AP photo).

Like many classic mystery stories, the Povl Bang-Jensen affair involved an agitated dog. The name and breed of the animal are not recorded. But we know that at roughly 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 1959, Paul Carahalios of Bayside, Queens, took his dog for its regular morning walk. Temperature records suggest that it was chilly but tolerable as they made their way as usual through Alley Pond Park, a stretch of reclaimed marshland on the north shore of Long Island where New York City meets the suburbs. Yet it soon became clear that something was amiss. The dog, […]

Forensic officers at the scene of the murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a Georgian asylum-seeker believed killed by Russian agents, Berlin, Germany, Aug. 23, 2019 (Photo by Christoph Soeder for dpa via AP Images).

The German government announced earlier this month that it believed Russian agents were responsible for the killing of a Georgian asylum-seeker who was murdered in Berlin last summer in broad daylight. The incident had all the hallmarks of a Russian state-orchestrated assassination: The target was a known anti-Kremlin rebel, and the prime suspect, who was taken into custody just hours after the murder, was a Russian man with a criminal record who had traveled to Germany on a fake passport less than a week before the killing. Yet despite ample evidence, the German government for months was cautious in publicly […]

A depiction of the Three Magi at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi, Vietnam, Dec. 23, 2017 (DPA photo by Pascal Deloche via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Richard Gowan is filling in for Stewart Patrick this week. Christmas is a time to revisit comforting stories and traditions. And so, this Yuletide, I feel a warmth on returning to World Politics Review to analyze the tale of the Three Magi. Five years ago, while writing a weekly column for WPR, I used a festive piece to make light fun of the Magi—or Three Kings, or Three Wise Men—who feature in the Gospel of Matthew. The Magi famously approached Herod, then king in Jerusalem, to ask directions to a baby “born king of the Jews” […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Qingdao, June 10, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Trade wars, territorial disputes, Donald Trump—those are just a few of the topics that attracted the interests of WPR readers in 2019. Many other stories overshadowed by the biggest international news were also on our radar, as always, and they found a dedicated audience online. In original reporting and analysis, we looked for the trend lines behind the headlines, from palace intrigue in Thailand to political reconciliation in the Horn of Africa. The list below of our most-read articles of the year is based on unique page views. What’s in store for 2020? Keep following and subscribing to WPR. 1. […]

Sudanese people celebrate in the streets of Khartoum after ruling generals and protest leaders announced they have reached an agreement on the disputed issue of a new governing body, July 5, 2019 (AP photo).

Is there any current world leader who faces a more imposing set of challenges than Sudan’s prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok? Four months after taking charge of a transitional government that was formed in the wake of Sudan’s popular revolution, Hamdok—a veteran diplomat with a doctorate in economics—has the unenviable task of repairing a divided, unstable and economically ravaged country with both hands tied behind his back. He is constrained by everyone from partners in the security forces who are resistant to change, to former regime hard-liners, to an expectant Sudanese public, as well as an international community that has offered […]

U.S. Army soldiers hike past burning rubbish in Kunar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 10, 2011 (AP photo by David Goldman).

If there is one big takeaway from The Washington Post’s publication of thousands of pages of documents detailing the extent of policy failures in Afghanistan, it is the great lengths that it takes to wake the American public up to the costs of pursuing a war without a strategy. As The Post’s examination of interviews produced as part of a wide-ranging and years-long review of U.S. policy by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, known as SIGAR, clearly shows, few officials charged with leading the war effort were willing to openly admit that most of what […]

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech at the COP25 conference in Madrid, Spain, Dec. 12, 2019 (AP photo by Manu Fernandez).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Freddy Deknatel talk about the state of climate change diplomacy after the disappointing COP25 conference in Madrid, and why progress is so difficult to achieve despite widespread popular mobilizations calling for urgent action on climate change. They also discuss reactions to Greta Thunberg and what they reveal about the debate over climate change. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter […]

Gambian President Adama Barrow greets a crowd after arriving at Banjul airport in Gambia, Jan. 26, 2017 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Gambians are not going to let President Adama Barrow forget his promise. When Barrow, then largely a political unknown, challenged longtime autocrat Yahya Jammeh in the 2016 presidential race, he pledged that, if he won, he would run a three-year provisional government before calling new elections. But backing off that promise, Barrow recently said he will serve a full five-year term until 2021, sparking protests. Gambians took to the streets of the capital, Banjul, this week in outrage over his decision. Though […]

COP25 party members talk ahead of the closing plenary in Madrid, Dec. 15, 2019 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

The annual United Nations Climate Change Conference wrapped up Sunday in Madrid, after nearly two weeks of wrangling. Despite a two-day extension that made this the longest round of U.N. climate talks ever, the meeting was a massive failure. Instead of setting more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, negotiators went home mostly empty-handed, having punted the most difficult climate-related questions to next year’s conference in Glasgow, Scotland. “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared in a tweet Sunday. The […]

The mayors of Prague, Budapest, Bratislava and Warsaw pose after signing the Pact of Free Cities at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, Dec. 16, 2019 (MTI photo by Szilard Koszticsak via AP Images).

One region of the world embodies the global drift toward autocracy more than any other: Eastern Europe. The erosion of liberal democracy in countries that emerged from behind the Iron Curtain 30 years ago has seemed nearly unstoppable, and particularly disheartening given the heartfelt enthusiasm with which populations embraced the collapse of communist dictatorships. But now, after watching demagogues rise to power, liberal democrats are joining forces, ready to counterattack. In the process, they are offering a way for their frustrated backers in the European Union to support them. Earlier this week, the mayors of Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and Bratislava […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, left, shakes hands with Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group, in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang province, China, Sept. 5, 2018 (Imaginechina photo via AP Images).

By his own account, Jack Ma, the founder of the hugely successful Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, only visited Africa for the first time in 2017, when he went to Kenya and Rwanda. And yet there he was earlier this month in the Opinion pages of The New York Times, full of supposed wisdom about how the continent can leap into the future by cultivating his own brand of entrepreneurialism. “If we all work together to support entrepreneurs,” Ma gushed, “then Africa will become a hub of innovation and growth, the global leader we know it can be.” It is worth […]

A worker loads imported goods on a truck at a distribution company outside the container port in Qingdao, China, Oct. 14, 2019 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

President Donald Trump’s trade policy made a lot of headlines in 2019, particularly his trade war with China and his constant threats to impose tariffs on close U.S. partners and allies. But while America under Trump heads in a protectionist direction, 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific are putting the finishing touches on the world’s largest free trade area, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. RCEP, as the deal is known, is just one sign that the U.S. is increasingly “on the outside looking in” when it comes to multilateral trade agreements, according to former U.S. trade negotiator Wendy Cutler. […]

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