WPR Articles Dec. 19 — Dec. 23
The peace accord between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas cleared one of its last formal hurdles last week when the Constitutional Court granted “fast-track” authority to pass the laws associated with the deal. But implementing the accord will mean addressing many challenges at once.
Bill English was chosen to be New Zealand’s new prime minister after Prime Minister John Key, who had led the National Party to three election victories since 2008, surprised the country by stepping down. In an email interview, Victoria University’s Jon Johansson discusses New Zealand politics.
The third anniversary last week of the start of South Sudan’s ongoing civil war only reinforced how intractable that conflict has become. A peace deal is in tatters, along with the country’s economy. With the combatants preparing for another round of fighting, the U.N. is now warning of possible genocide.
The European Union voted Monday to renew its economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea for an additional six months. While the renewal of sanctions has been routine up to this point, there are signs that Europe’s united front against Russia is beginning to crack.
Two recent bombings in Turkey suspected to be carried out by an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were a grim reminder that the PKK is far from broken. In fact, it appears that the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has made a bad situation even worse for the PKK.
The defeated parties in many conflicts frequently turn to the U.N. in the last resort to defend what remains of their positions. The conflict in Syria is far from finished, but the West wants out. The U.S. and its allies may have to turn to the U.N. to offer them a face-saving diplomatic way to do so.
Last week’s bombing of a church in Cairo by the Islamic State, which killed at least 26 people, was the latest sign that President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is failing to protect Egyptians. For the country’s Coptic Christians, it also reflected a growing trend of religious discrimination under el-Sissi.
Representatives from South Korea, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Panama concluded negotiations for a free trade deal last month, with the final agreement expected to be signed in June. In an email interview, Won-Ho Kim discusses South Korea’s trade ties with Central America.
Despite all the noise about cyberwar, cybersecurity in the U.S. has gotten worse. Current U.S. strategies are inadequate to respond to, much less succeed against, threats from Russia and others. This status quo needs to change if Washington is to defend not only American democracy, but that of its allies.
Brazil’s universities have been hit hard by the country’s ongoing economic crisis and the austerity measures that it has entailed. Diminished access to public education disproportionately affects impoverished minorities, deepening inequality and undermining social mobility and economic prosperity.
Decoding the national security consequences of Donald Trump’s proposed Cabinet is tricky. Consensus reigns on climate change. But on Russia, China and other issues, expect policy battles within the Trump camp. That does not seem to trouble the president-elect, who thrives on keeping others guessing.
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 has generated outrage on the left and exaltation on the right—in both the United States and Israel.
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 the United States. In an email interview, Yang Razali Kassim discusses Malaysia’s ties with China.
Last week, China brought formal legal challenges against the U.S. and the EU for their failures to recognize it as a “market economy” according to WTO rules. At first blush, China triggering a WTO dispute is actually a good sign, for two reasons. But longer term, the squabble is just the tip of the iceberg.
The narrative of President Barack Obama’s weakness in foreign policy is superficially compelling, but it does not stand up to scrutiny. Obama’s aversion to conflict escalation and his ponderous decision-making do come with risks of their own, especially if they are perceived, however unfairly, as weakness.
All signs suggest that the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey will bring the two countries closer together, at least in the short term. And yet, a set of ideological and domestic realities could spell trouble for the painstakingly constructed new relationship between the two countries.
This week brought further evidence that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is open to the clash of civilizations idea, even if not fully committed to it. If Trump does embrace the approach, the results would lead to the most far-reaching transformation of U.S. strategy since the outset of the Cold War.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had hoped that his dogged approach to engage with Russia might help reach a long elusive deal on the disputed Southern Kurile Islands. Abe’s optimism seemed misplaced, as Russian President Vladimir Putin poured cold water on the idea of a breakthrough at their recent summit.
In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss Turkey’s 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.