2020

North Korean defectors prepare to release helium balloons carrying leaflets near the border in Paju, north of Seoul, on Oct. 4, 2013.

Anti-Balloon Launching Laws Are No Threat to South Korean Democracy

Pundits behave as if only North Korea matters in Seoul’s politics.

Wind turbines tower over a building on a farm in Colorado City, Texas, on Jan. 21, 2016.

The Best Deep Dives of 2020

Essential reads from a Chinese wind farm in Del Rio, Texas, to U.N. headquarters.

Election judge Bonnie Carr looks over ballots as she prepares them to be counted at the Denver Elections Division Building in Denver on Nov 3.

Our Top Arguments of 2020

From the pandemic to Black Lives Matter and the U.S. election, five articles from the year that changed everything.

A man cross an empty highway on Feb. 3 in Wuhan, China.

Our Top Stories of 2020

From human rights abuses in Xinjiang to the coronavirus crisis in the United States, here are the stories that most captivated our readers this year.

A person stands below an Ethiopian flag during a blood donation rally in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Nov. 12.

Is Ethiopia the Next Yugoslavia?

A country that once seemed to hold great promise for peaceful democratization has descended into conflict. Here’s what could happen next.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson’s Year From Hell

Britain’s prime minister promised to take back control. When it comes to the coronavirus, he has lost it.

France's President Emmanuel Macron gives a speech to unveil his strategy to promote French as part of the International Francophonie Day before members of the French Academy (Academie Francaise) and other guests at the French Institute on March 20, 2018 in Paris.

Macron Wants a French Empire Built on Language

Can France’s president redeem a language of colonialism to project global power today?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Council Charles Michel, who were both tuning in via video link from Brussels, during a video linked meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the coronavirus pandemic on September 14, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.

What Merkel Really Thinks About China—and the World

Europe’s year-end investment deal with Beijing is a clear window into the German chancellor’s foreign-policy worldview.

chess board

The Great Game With China Is 3D Chess

Washington’s new rivalry with Beijing isn’t a reprise of the Cold War. It’s much more complicated.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard speaks in Mexico City on Dec. 23.

Checking In on Mexico’s Feminist Foreign Policy

Almost one year in, an ambitious set of norms has had mixed results.

Supporters and employees of Philippine broadcast network ABS-CBN protest against government attacks on press freedom, in Manila on Feb. 21, 2020.

How Press Freedom Came Under Attack in 2020

Citizens hungry for information turned to the media during the pandemic, but governments around the world used the crisis to restrict journalists.

A view from Hong Kong of the skyline of Yantian, a district in the neighboring mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen, on Sept. 19.

Beijing’s Hong Kong Fables Have Unhappy Endings

Old narratives about the city fell apart this year, but new ones can still be born.

People watch a television  showing footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul, on Jan. 1, 2020.

America’s Asian Allies Need Their Own Nukes

Want to cut costs and contain China? Allow friendly nuclear proliferation.

Steven-Luke-Pentagon-Defense-Department-Whistleblower-article2

Foreign Policy News Stories That Packed a Punch in 2020

From the tragedy of whistleblowers to imperiled nuclear talks to the State Department's struggle with diversity, here are some of our articles that had an outsized impact this year.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, arrive at a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017.

Washington Still Wants China to Be a Responsible Stakeholder

Despite heated language, the U.S. goals haven’t changed.

Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) take the stage for the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami, Florida.

The Quiet and Dangerous Way U.S. Politics Is Becoming Europeanized

Americans are aware that Democrats and Republicans have become polarized—but they’ve misunderstood how.

The rooms at the Grand Hotel in Taipei are illuminated to form the word "zero" after Taiwan reported no new coronavirus cases for two consecutive days, on April 17.

East Asia Takes a Cautious Coronavirus Victory Lap

Here are five of our best pieces on how East Asia handled the pandemic.

Medical staff prepare to transfer patients with COVID-19 to a newly built hospital for coronavirus patients in Wuhan, China, on March 3.

How China Fought the Pandemic—and Lied About It

A look back at our best essays on the onset of the coronavirus.

Employees from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the Danish Emergency Management Agency work to cull minks after a new strain of the coronavirus was discovered in mink farms in Gjol, Denmark, on Oct. 8.

Will Virus Mutations Threaten COVID-19 Vaccines?

We don't yet know whether new variants of the coronavirus may impede vaccines’ efficacy. But they shouldn’t change anything about our approach to public health.

This illustration picture taken on Nov. 23, 2020 shows a bottle reading "Vaccine Covid-19" and a syringe next to the Pfizer and Biontech logo.

It’s Time to Use Eminent Domain on the Coronavirus Vaccines

Respecting drug companies’ intellectual property rights during a pandemic doesn’t make medical, or economic, sense.

Members of the Somali military watch as firefighters work to extinguish a blaze after a car bomb exploded in Mogadishu on Jan. 29, 2019.

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2021

The world in 2021 will be haunted by the legacies of 2020: an ongoing pandemic, an economic crisis, Donald Trump’s divisive presidency—and new threats emanating from wars and climate change.

Bharatiya Janata Party activists hold a sign showing an X over the face of Chinese President Xi Jinping during an anti-China protest in Siliguri, India, on June 17.

For Beijing and New Delhi, 2020 Was the Point of No Return

After decades of uneasy ties, China can no longer deny that India is a real threat.

ForeignPolicy__Caste2

The Best of 2020 to Read, Watch, or Listen To

With much of the world in lockdown again, here are some of this year’s highlights to help you pass the time.

China's President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump review the Chinese honor guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017.

How Trump’s Assault on International Organizations Benefits Beijing

The United States was already fighting with China for influence at global organizations, but the pandemic made everything worse.

Franco D’Agostino, 54, returns home to his wife, Gabriella, and his three daughters in Penne, Italy, on April 27 after 42 days in the hospital. He spent 19 days in the intensive care unit for respiratory failure due to COVID-19.

Our Top Visual Stories of 2020

From Afghanistan to Mexico, and from Belarus to Cambodia, here’s the best photojournalism from a year that felt like a decade.

British writer John Le Carre attends a sreeening of "The Night Manager" at the 66th Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin on Feb. 18, 2016.

What Spies Really Think About John le Carré

The British novelist didn’t just write about the world of intelligence. He changed it forever.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron on the terrace, with a view of the television tower in the background during his visit to the chancellor's office on May 15, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

The Deadly Crash of Europe’s Second Wave

The continent thought it had the coronavirus beat—and had its guard down when it mattered most.

Sailors standing on the deck of a warship at a parade during the Turkish International Ceremony at Mehmetcik Abidesi Martyrs Memorial near Seddulbahir Turkey on April 24, 2015.

Turkey’s Year of Living Dangerously

Turkey took its expansionist vision to new heights in 2020—but with a battered economy, growing opposition, and now U.S. sanctions, it’s not clear how long that can continue.

Scenes from Netflix's A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding and The Princess Switch: Switched Again.

The True Meaning of Christmas Movies Is a Cozy American Worldview

In the Christmas movie universe, Europeans are royals, the military is a burden, and home is where the heart is.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses for a selfie with Anas Modamani, a refugee from Syria, after she visited the AWO Refugium Askanierring shelter for migrants and refugees on Sept. 10, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.

The Arab Spring Changed Everything—in Europe

A decade after Arabs started a regional revolution, it’s the neighboring continent that will never be the same.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow’s Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II on June 24.

In 2020, Putin Raised the Stakes at Home and Abroad

Russia started the year with political uncertainty, then cemented Putin’s future, and ended the year by poisoning the main opposition figure—and future relations with the Biden administration.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, then the outgoing vice president, outlines nuclear issues in Washington, DC on Jan. 11, 2017.

What Does the Future of America’s Nuclear Briefcase Look Like?

Biden’s nuclear weapons policies will likely maintain a bipartisan status quo.

A doctor measures the blood pressure of a patient at the Kahdistan health clinic in Herat province, Afghanistan, on Oct. 7. The increasing presence of midwives across the country has started to play a role in improving a mother’s and baby’s chances of survival. Afghanistan’s maternal mortality rate has dropped from 1,300 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2002 to 638 deaths per 100,000 births in 2017.

Looming Aid Cuts Will Harm Afghan Women’s Health

With violence on the rise and the U.S. military drawing down, international donors are pulling back some assistance to Afghanistan. Women in refugee camps stand to suffer.

Supporters and members of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement rally outside the White House to urge the United States to end trade deals with China and take action to stop the oppression of the Uyghur and other Turkic peoples on Aug, 14, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Pompeo Weighs Genocide Designation for China

The outgoing U.S. secretary of state orders a review to determine if China’s repression of Uighurs constitutes genocide.

A woman fills out a Mega Millions lottery ticket on October 19, 2018 in New York City.

America’s History of Luck Is Running Out

The country’s rise was fueled by fortunate circumstances that seem unlikely to last much longer.

A photograph of German-American philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt printed on a silk screen is on display during a press preview of the exhibition "Hannah Arendt and the Twentieth Century" at the German Historical Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum - DHM) in Berlin on May 6, 2020.

What Hannah Arendt Would Do About Trump’s Former Bureaucrats

Why civil servants and other officials deserve to be held responsible for the outgoing administration’s misdeeds.

U.S. President Donald Trump

Iran: Maximum Pressure, Minimum Gain

In 2020, the Trump administration sought to bury the Iran nuclear deal for good. Biden is poised to breathe new life into the pact. 

breach-us-china-surveillane-private-tech-huawei-cold-war-data-zach-dorfman-joe-magee-illustration-foreign-policy

Tech Giants Are Giving China a Vital Edge in Espionage

U.S. officials say private Chinese firms have been enlisted to process stolen data for their country’s spy agencies.

A member of the U.S. Air Force keeps watch over the runway at Kandahar Air Field in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Sept. 9, 2017.

Forever’s Gonna Stop Tonight

Trump pledged to end America’s “forever wars.” He almost managed to—but left carnage behind.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II speaks at the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace in London on April 19, 2018.

A Cure for the Brexit Trade Blues

After it leaves the European Union for good, the U.K. will need a new trade bloc. The Commonwealth can help.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The End of the Road for Bibi?

Another Israeli election and a rebellion in the ruling Likud party spell trouble for Netanyahu.

A sign instructing people to wash their hands—featuring a portrait of chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the face of the Sweden’s response to the pandemic—hangs at an entrance to a restaurant in Stockholm on May 10. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

The Inside Story of How Sweden Botched Its Coronavirus Response

Stockholm denies pursuing herd immunity. But internal emails show Swedish officials were resigned to mass infections all along.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on Dec. 19.

Why Biden Needs to Confront Corruption

If the U.S. president-elect is serious about restoring the rule of law and democracy, he needs to first tackle the global menace of graft.

BRITAIN-CHRISTMAS-BORIS

Boris Johnson’s Christmas Coronavirus Nightmare

The British government squandered the chance to contain the virus in hopes of economic recovery.

An Israeli man wears a hat supporting U.S. President Donald Trump while holding the Israeli flag in the settlement of Givat Hamatos on Nov. 16, 2020 near Jerusalem.

If Biden Wants Israeli-Palestinian Peace, He Must Break With the Past

The new administration should not simply undo Trump’s toxic legacy and return to the dead-end Oslo peace process. It must pressure Israel to accept the Arab Peace Initiative.

A member of the hacking group Red Hacker Alliance uses a website that monitors global cyberattacks on his computer at their office in Dongguan, China.

NATO, We Want to Go to War With You

Wargames can provide essential cybersecurity training for soldiers. But they won’t succeed unless the players confront real, independent hackers.

breach-us-china-xi-jinping-cold-war-data-zach-dorfman-joe-magee-illustration-foreign-policy

Beijing Ransacked Data as U.S. Sources Went Dark in China

As Xi consolidated power, U.S. officials struggled to read China’s new ruler.

A fighter in Yemen walks past a burning oil tanker.

In Yemen, No End in Sight to the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis

Five articles from the past year that explain how the quagmire in Yemen sparked fierce political battles in Washington as millions teeter on the brink of starvation.

Vice-President Joe Biden looks on during a bilateral meeting between President Obama and President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine in the Oval Office of the White House September 18, 2014 in Washington.

An Unprecedented Presidential Transition

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden swiftly named his cabinet despite continued resistance from the defeated Donald Trump. Where he’ll go from here is another question.

President Donald Trump and then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden

Post-Trump America Needs the Courts, Not Truth and Reconciliation

The conditions that demanded healing elsewhere don’t apply in the United States.

A woman walks past a mural of iron ore miners in Algrange, France, on Feb. 14, 2017.

How to (Finally) Defeat Populism

Rust Belts exist around the world, and integrating them into the larger trans-Atlantic community is key to political stability.

A handout picture provided by the Iranian Army's official website on Sept. 11, 2020, shows an Iranian Ghader missile being fired during a military exercise near the strategic strait of Hormuz in southern Iran.

How Biden Can Stop Iran’s Conservatives From Undermining the Nuclear Deal

Insisting that Iran must abandon its missile program could fall into the hardliners’ trap and make a new agreement impossible.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas delivers a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Jan. 28, 2020.

Palestinians Place Their Bets on Biden Undoing Trump’s Snubs

The shifting ground in the Middle East is creating new options for breaking the stalemate.

An airplane from Israel's El Al airline arrives in Abu Dhabi

How Arab Ties With Israel Became the Middle East’s New Normal

Though Israel remains opposed to Palestinian independence, 2020 marked the year of its acceptance in the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia meet at the Al-Yamamah Royal Palace in Riyadh on Oct. 14, 2019.

The New Geopolitics of Energy

Foreign Policy’s five best reads on the dramatic shift in energy policy in 2020.

A pharmacy technician holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado, on Dec. 15.

The Vaccine Has a Serious Side Effect—A Positive One

It could make 2021 the year Americans rediscover science.

China-US-CIA-operative-spy-blown-cover-data-collection-Joe-Magee-illustration-foreign-policy

China Used Stolen Data to Expose CIA Operatives in Africa and Europe

The discovery of U.S. spy networks in China fueled a decadelong global war over data between Beijing and Washington.

A near-empty square in Stockholm

Our Top Weekend Reads

Swedes can’t figure out their government’s coronavirus approach, a progressive push on U.S. foreign policy, and an honest assessment of the Arab Spring’s fallout.

A tribesman stands in front of a Moroccan flag near the border in Western Sahara near Mauritania on Nov. 26.

How the Western Sahara Became the Key to North Africa

And why Morocco’s apparent victory there will change regional politics.

Farmers shout as they block a highway during a protest at the Singhu border near New Delhi on Dec. 18.

Why India’s Farmers Won’t Stop Protesting

Agriculture’s importance for the labor market cannot be underestimated—especially amid a historic pandemic.

A participant takes part on the first day of the 36C3 Chaos Communication Congress on Dec. 27, 2019 in Leipzig, Germany. The four-day event under the topic "Resource Exhaustion" brings together about 17,000 hackers, artists, researchers, and technology fans.

Is the Cyberattack Big News—or Just a Footnote In a Year Like No Other?

Will 2021 be full of foreign-policy crises and domestic drama or dull compared to 2020?

The Swiss National Bank presents the new 1,000-franc note to the press in Zurich on March 5, 2019.

Trump Leaves Biden Administration a Parting Gift in Currency Wars

The Treasury’s decision to label both Switzerland and Vietnam currency manipulators was unusual—and leaves the Biden administration with some tough choices to make.

A nurse wearing personal protective equipment in a tent at the Sophiahemmet private hospital performs tests on a patient to look for symptoms of COVID-19 in Stockholm on April 22.

Sweden’s Second Wave Is a Failure of Government—and Guidance

The country’s contrarian approach to the COVID-19 pandemic was meant to prove that trust in authorities could avert lockdowns. Instead, mixed messaging and political squabbles have led to an exploding epidemic.

A computer monitor displaying a map available on the fitness application Strava

Your Digital Footprint Is Worryingly Easy to Match to Reality

Here’s how to stop bleeding information about yourself online.

A member of the airport personnel moves a trolley as they unload 60 tons of humanitarian supplies from USAID from a plane at the airport in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on September 2, 2014.

Personnel Cuts Leave USAID With Skeleton Crew to Monitor Nearly $1 Billion of Aid Programs in Iraq

After a drawdown of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this year, the Trump administration ordered another cut in response to threats from Iran.

Demonstrators in Shaheen Bagh, Delhi

One Year After Mass Protests, India’s Muslims Still Live in Fear

Modi’s party is expected to further polarize state electorates along religious lines in 2021.

A poster showing six wanted Russian military intelligence officers is displayed as John Demers, aAssistant attorney general for the National Security Division, takes the podium to speak at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington on Oct. 19.

Washington Needs a Cybersecurity Overhaul

When they enter office, Biden and Harris must make up for lost ground.

People walk below a giant screen showing news coverage of Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech

China Is Gnawing at Democracy’s Roots Worldwide

The Communist Party is putting ideological battles first.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden gives a thumbs-up as he leaves Pennsylvania Hospital after a follow up appointment at the radiology department December 12 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Progressives Try to Sway Biden on Top Foreign-Policy Jobs

A gaggle of progressive groups are trying to line up candidates for top foreign-policy roles in the incoming administration.

Anti-war activists protest in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on Jan. 4, 2020.

Biden Shouldn’t Rush to Restore the Iran Nuclear Deal

Moving quickly to resurrect the JCPOA, as Biden seems set to do, would start his presidency with a hugely divisive controversy.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on June 14, 2019.

China Won’t Rescue Iran

Despite reports of a major Chinese-Iranian trade deal, Beijing won’t jeopardize the possibility of better relations with Washington in order to cozy up to Tehran.

A young man pushes a cart in front of Tigrayan flags at Martyrs Square in the city of Mekelle, on Sept. 9, 2020.

The War in Tigray Is a Fight Over Ethiopia’s Past—and Future

The current conflict is the latest battle in a long-running war over the country’s identity as a unitary or federal state. The United States can restore its credibility as an honest broker by helping resolve it.

A mock offer of "Novichok Tea" is seen in front of an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the Russian embassy in Berlin during a protest on September 23, 2020. (Odd Anderson/AFP/ Getty Images)

Bellingcat Can Say What U.S. Intelligence Can’t

Open-source investigations enable officials and lawmakers to discuss Russian skullduggery without exposing sources and methods of U.S. intelligence

Tunisians wave national flags to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2011 revolution on Jan. 14, 2016.

Tunisia’s Decade of Democracy

Ten years after the Arab Spring, Tunisians are discovering that political reform alone isn’t enough.

A demonstration in Tunis in December 2010

The Arab Spring Let the People Shout, Not Whisper

I was a teenage protester, then a prisoner, now a refugee. We won’t go back to silence.

A Kurdish refugee mother and son from the Syrian town of Kobani walk beside their tent in a camp in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc on the Turkish-Syrian border on Oct. 19, 2014.

Refugees Can’t Live in Limbo Forever

Governments and aid organizations think of displaced populations as temporary. But it is time to face reality.

A woman cries in Tahrir Square after it is announced that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was giving up power Feb. 11, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt.

Arab Dignity Is Real. So Is Arab Failure.

Ten years after the start of the Arab Spring, it’s time to accept that the revolution may never return.

Activists burn the U.S. flag during a protest against U.S. drone attacks in Multan, Pakistan on March 14, 2012.

Obama’s Brutal Drone Legacy Will Haunt the Biden Administration

In his memoirs, the former U.S. president seems uninterested in a critical appraisal of his drone policies. Considering the human suffering caused by America’s drone wars, Joe Biden should not make the same mistake.

First Nations activists and allies blocked an intersection in Toronto on Oct. 23, calling on the Canadian government to uphold treaty rights, respect Indigenous sovereignty across the nation, and protect Indigenous land defenders.

2020 Was the Year of Indigenous Activism in Canada

It’s time for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to become a more ardent defender of Indigenous interests.

A poster showing six wanted Russian military intelligence officers is displayed during news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington on Oct. 19.

Cyberattacks Are on the Decline

But as the Russian hack of the U.S. government shows, they are getting worse.

Lloyd Austin  prepares to hold a media briefing on Operation Inherent Resolve, the international military effort against ISIS on Oct. 17, 2014 at the Pentagon in Washington.

Lloyd Austin Isn’t Who You Think He Is

The “silent general” has never been very quiet on policy. That’s exactly why Biden picked him as defense secretary—and why Washington’s foreign-policy establishment is wary.

Arctic Competition Power Map Part 2

Arctic Competition – Part Two

FP Analytics’ two-part Arctic Competition Power Map provides Insiders with an in-depth breakdown of how melting sea ice is enabling increased commercial activity and geopolitical competition over resources, shipping routes, and territory in the Arctic.

An activist speaks at a Trans+ Pride rally in London

A High Court Decision in Britain Puts Trans People Everywhere at Risk

The so-called gender critical movement is illogical, anti-feminist, and cruel.

An admirer of Colombian crime boss Pablo Escobar places flowers on his grave on the anniversary of his death, at the Montesacro cemetery in Itagüí, near Medellín,  Colombia on Dec. 2.

Drug Cartels Are All Over Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok

Latin American criminal gangs have embraced social media and messaging platforms to spread narco culture and sell drugs.

The U.S. and Moroccan and flags beside a State Department-authorized map of Morocco, including disputed Western Sahara, in Rabat on Dec. 12.

Biden Must Reverse Course on Western Sahara

Trump’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty dangerously undermines decades of carefully crafted U.S. policy.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks as prime minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks on during a luncheon at the State Department in Washington, DC on May 16, 2013

It Is Time to Let Turkey Go

It might be the best way to repair ties in the long run.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken takes part in a naturalization ceremony on World Refugee Day in Washington, DC on June 20, 2016.

Blinken Is Good Enough

What it takes to make a truly great secretary of state—and why the United States may not need one now.

Members of the Iraqi security forces wearing protective masks and gloves stand guard in the capital Baghdad's Tahrir square on May 5.

Iraq’s Economic Collapse Could Be Biden’s First Foreign-Policy Headache

If the Iraqi government fails to pay state workers’ salaries in January, it could lead to widespread instability and violence. The United States and the international community must shore up Baghdad’s finances before it’s too late.

Belarusian police guard a government building during a protest rally against police violence in central Minsk on Aug. 14.

Cracks Appear Among Lukashenko’s Security Forces

Signs that the Belarusian dictator’s days in power might be numbered have emerged in his security apparatus.

Workers producing LED chips at a factory in Huaian, in China's eastern Jiangsu province, on June 16.

China’s Drive to Make Semiconductor Chips Is Failing

The stunning success of U.S. efforts to hobble Huawei shows the fragility of Beijing’s highly centralized tech sector.

Migrants, many from Cameroon, listen to names being called in Tijuana, Mexico

The United States Has Failed Cameroonian Asylum-Seekers

Fleeing a civil war shaped by the West, Cameroonians have been met on American shores with hostility, high-risk conditions, and now unconscionable deportation.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 25.

Our Top Weekend Reads

Why Biden could lose the left, the peril of persuasion in the Big Tech age, and old rivals join forces in Kashmir.

Members of the Guerrero Community Police

Legalization Advocates Hope to End Mexico’s Drug War

Threats, violence, and clampdowns have failed. Can decriminalization work?

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after Brexit talks at EU headquarters in Brussels on Dec. 9.

Why the World Should Root for the EU in Brexit Talks

If Brussels folds, it will mark the end of the last, best hope for stopping a race to the bottom.

An intensive care unit nurse during the coronavirus pandemic

Numbers Aren’t Reality, but You Can’t Govern Without Them

Picking the right statistics has been critical to handling—or botching—the coronavirus pandemic.

A view of a building damaged by the August 4 blast in Beirut on Nov. 5.

Lebanon’s Concrete Cartel

How business interests prevent Lebanon from rebuilding its infrastructure, government, and economy.

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes

Trump Ally Nunes Seeks to Derail Key Bill Funding Intelligence Community

The spy agencies will still get money, but Trump’s House allies are trying to hobble much-needed reforms.

A graphic artist paints a mural ad for smartphone manufacturer Apple in Berlin on Oct 1.

The Peril of Persuasion in the Big Tech Age

Persuasion is essential to society and democracy, but we need new rules governing how companies can harness it.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden

Where Is Biden’s Cabinet Heading?

The incoming U.S. president’s team doesn’t point in any clear direction, and progressives are worried.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to board his plane at the Old Doha International airport in the Qatari capital Doha, on Nov. 21, 2020.

The Pitiful Endgame of Saudi Arabia’s Qatar Blockade

As the Trump administration winds down, Riyadh is trying—and failing—to cut its losses on a failed regional policy.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden walks off stage in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 16.

Why Biden Will Lose the Left—and How That Could Help Him

The Democratic coalition is already fracturing. But losing his erstwhile allies could actually make it easier to govern—and boost his standing.

Joe Biden announces the members of his health team, including his pick for secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, at the Queen Theater December 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden Sees the A-Team. I See the Blob.

There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical of the president-elect’s national-security choices—but here’s hoping he proves history wrong.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti (L) gestures while talking with Jammu and Kashmir National Conference President Farooq Abdullah (C) along with his son and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah (R) after a meeting in Srinagar on Oct. 15.

Old Rivals in Kashmir Are Joining Forces Against Modi

India’s attack on Kashmiri autonomy has united two parties that were once sworn enemies. The newly formed Gupkar Alliance could reshape the disputed region’s politics and cause problems for the BJP.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump

U.S. Set to Finally Sanction Turkey for Buying Russian Arms

Trump has long refused to penalize Ankara for acquiring advanced Russian air defense systems, but Congress is forcing his hand.

Cargo truck drivers line up to cross into the United States in Tijuana, Mexico, on June 6, 2019.

2021 Could Be the Year of Free Trade

The Free Trade Area of the Americas has spent years on the back burner, but Biden could revive it when he takes office.

Pro-China activists in Australia

Biden’s First Foreign-Policy Crisis Is Already Here

China’s threats against Australia cannot go unanswered by the United States.

A Sudanese asylum-seeker talks during an interview in the southern part of Tel Aviv where thousands of them live, on Oct. 25.

The Kafkaesque World of Sudanese Refugees in Israel

Aid organizations fear that Israel is about to deport thousands of asylum-seekers to Sudan now that the two countries have made peace.

Winemaker Adrian Brayne handles wine stock in the processing building at Obsession Wines on Nov. 24, 2020 in Tumbarumba, Australia.

The United States Needs More Wine to Stand Up to Chinese Bullying

Strategic economic reserves can allow Washington to bolster smaller countries like Australia.

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks on relations with the United States during a plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels on Nov. 11, 2020.

How to Kick-Start a New Trans-Atlantic Era

The European Union’s foreign minister explains his vision for a new U.S.-Europe partnership for the next four years.

A U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone, the type of drone that could be sold to the United Arab Emirates, is seen at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico on April 25, 2013.

Senate Effort to Stop Trump Arms Sales to UAE Fails

But the vote laid down a marker for the incoming Biden administration on Democrats’ opposition to Middle Eastern arms sales and U.S. involvement in the conflict in Yemen.

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Lloyd Austin

Biden Defends Choice of Austin for Defense Secretary

Some lawmakers and many national security experts are wary of another general atop the Pentagon, but Lloyd Austin has the president-elect’s ear—and backing.

Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

India’s Congress Party Needs to Ditch the Nehru-Gandhi Family

Once an asset, the clan has become an electoral liability.

A municipal police officer wearing a face mask controls pedestrian traffic on Via dei Condotti in downtown Rome on Nov. 14. The Italian government imposed tighter restrictions on another five regions on Nov. 10.

Italy’s Economy Is Under Pressure as Pandemic Continues

The government is walking on a tightrope as the coronavirus crisis grinds on.

A vehicle of the U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara drives on the Moroccan side of the border crossing between Morocco and Mauritania in Guerguerat, Western Sahara on Nov. 25.

The East Timor Model Offers a Way out for Western Sahara and Morocco

Western Sahara’s fate lies in the hands of the U.N. Security Council.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Democracies Need a United Strategy Against China

“America first” doesn’t work against a global opponent.

An elderly woman waves to a volunteer during Christian Orthodox Easter celebration in Bucharest, Romania, on April 18.

Western Europe Is Losing Its Immigrants

Eastern Europeans are returning home in droves. Here’s what that means for Eastern Europe’s economies—and the European Union.

A Yemeni boy walks past a mural depicting a U.S. drone on Dec. 13, 2013 in the capital Sanaa.

Germany Could Have Delivered Justice for Civilian Drone Strike Victims. It Failed.

Missiles remotely fired with the assistance of a U.S. base on German soil killed my family in Yemen, but neither German nor U.S. courts are willing to hold anyone accountable.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden holds a virtual meeting

The Virtual Transition

Biden’s landing teams are steering clear of an administration that has often served as a COVID-19 superspreader event.

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen gives a statement on the New Pact for Migration and Asylum at the European Commission in Brussels, on September 23, 2020.

What Is Europe’s ‘Once-in-a-Generation’ Offer to America?

The EU vows to seize the opportunity posed by the new U.S. administration—but muddled strategy still stands in the way.

Street art on a section of the former Berlin Wall shows U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, on April 26 in Berlin.

The Trump State Department’s Swan Song? A Strange, Flawed China Paper.

The U.S.-China conflict may be the defining 21st-century challenge, but the recommendations stand out by what they fail to address.

Gen. Lloyd Austin

Biden to Name Former General as Defense Secretary

Lloyd Austin would be the first Black person to serve in the job.

Smoke spews from the stacks of a nickel plant in Monchegorsk, Russia

Document of the Week: Aid Donors Blast UNDP for Resisting Appeals to Fight Corruption

A dozen wealthy donor states press the United Nations Development Program to investigate allegations that funds were misappropriated from a Russia climate program it managed.

Military guests in Beijing

China Is Both Weak and Dangerous

“The China Nightmare” lays out the risks of a surprisingly fragile state.

A picture taken on June 6, 2018, shows a fish farm in the Sorvagsfjorour fjord on Vagar island, one of the Faroe Islands.

Forget Greenland, There’s a New Strategic Gateway to the Arctic

The Faroe Islands have a history of trading with everyone who will buy their fish. With growing tensions in the Arctic region, the islands are now receiving more attention from superpowers.

Joe Biden attends a business leader breakfast at the The St. Regis Beijing hotel on Dec. 5, 2013 in Beijing.

Biden Thinks He’s Tough on China. He’s Just Complacent.

The United States—from a combination of arrogance and ignorance—is preparing to tie its own hands on China policy.

National Security Advisor nominee Jake Sullivan speaks after being introduced by President-elect Joe Biden at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 24.

Report Sheds Light on How Biden’s Future NSC Chief Wants to Reshape U.S. Foreign Policy

Jake Sullivan spent several years working on a less ambitious approach to U.S. global interests that could disappoint both internationalists and progressives.

Then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and then-Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Oct. 27, 2011.

Biden Can’t Ostracize Riyadh

Branding Saudi Arabia a pariah state would be counterproductive to regional stability.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana in 2015.

U.S. Diplomats and Spies Likely Targeted by Radio Frequency Energy, Long-Withheld Report Determines

A scientific study that was long kept under wraps by the State Department finally provides some—though not all—of the answers to mysterious health problems of American officials.

Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking of the future U.S. Diplomacy Center at the State Department's Harry S. Truman Building Sept. 3, 2014 in Washington.

America’s Diplomats Should Look Like America

The country can no longer afford a State Department that is “pale, male, and Yale.”

A Swiss customs officer

Our Top Weekend Reads

EU member states find commonality in crisis, Afghans accuse donor countries of hypocrisy on corruption, and how Biden’s climate plans could shape energy markets.

Then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

Why Liberal Internationalism Is Still Indispensable—and Fixable

G. John Ikenberry’s new book traces what went wrong. And Biden is listening.

Pakistani laborers work on a building in Lahore on Jan. 21, 2014.

Pakistan Has Its Problems, but It Won’t Perish

A new book offers riveting and memorable reporting, though it falls back on outdated narratives of a country that has moved on.

An oil pumpjack operates near Los Angeles, California on April 21.

How Biden’s Climate Plans Will Shake Up Global Energy Markets

The new administration will use foreign policy tools to promote climate goals, boost clean energy, and punish carbon-intensive production.

Rep. Gregory Meeks speaks during a press conference in Havana, Cuba.

Meeks Makes History as First Black Lawmaker to Chair House Foreign Affairs Committee

The New York congressman fended off a progressive challenge in an unusually public race.

President-elect Joe Biden departs after delivering a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre on Nov. 25 in Wilmington, Delaware. 

Will Biden’s National Security Team Include Members of the Democratic Party’s Progressive Wing?

The president-elect’s picks have deep experience in the Washington establishment. It’s unclear whether the party’s left can make its voice heard in the new administration.

A group of young intellectuals and artists protest in Cuba

Pandemic Crisis Drives Cubans to Rare, Risky Protest

Economic devastation and tightened censorship have made for a bleak 2020.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leads a conversation on free expression at Georgetown University on Oct. 17, 2019 in Washington.

How to Judge Facebook’s New Judges

The social media company’s search for consistent rules has been long, winding, and entirely self-defeating.

A Swiss customs officer

Europe Needed Borders. The Coronavirus Built Them.

The pandemic has the continent increasingly discussing its common boundaries—and common identity.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Pompeo Plans Parties Flouting COVID-19 Guidelines as Death Toll Mounts

The U.S. secretary of state plans massive holiday gatherings, while department catering and event staff mostly lack employer health insurance.

Riot police in Bangkok

Thailand’s Military Is Getting Ready for Another Crackdown

The Biden administration must prepare to stand up for protesters.

Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in Dabancheng in Xinjiang, China, on Sept. 4, 2018.

In Rare Unanimity, Biden Could Double Down on Trump’s Uighur Sanctions

A bipartisan crackdown on Chinese forced labor has put Western corporations on notice—and could pave the way for Washington to finally support the International Criminal Court.

U.S. President Barack Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba shake hands during a bilateral meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Sept. 29, 2015.

Biden Shouldn’t Backtrack on Cuba

The lesson of the past four years is clear: Don’t let policy toward the island dominate the U.S. agenda on Latin America.

A sign in a shop in London advertises 5G mobile technology on Jan. 28.

How China Is Buying Up the West’s High-Tech Sector

Chinese acquisitions of Western firms are only part of the problem. Secret venture capital is handing power to Beijing under the radar.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks at an event in Las Vegas.

Kamala Harris Taps Ex-Diplomat to Be Her National Security Advisor

Nancy McEldowney is one of several former senior foreign service officers expected to join the senior ranks of the new U.S. administration.

Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken speaks after being introduced by President-elect Joe Biden at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware on Nov. 24.

The Ghost of Blinken Past

In 1987, Biden’s pick for secretary of state offered a warning. He should heed it today.

People attend a job fair in Wuhan, China

Don’t Count on China’s Help With a Coronavirus Inquiry

Beijing’s COVID-19 response has been a success story, and the Communist Party wants to keep it that way.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden

Biden Expected to Put the World’s Kleptocrats on Notice

The U.S. president-elect and his top advisors have made the fight against dirty money one of their early priorities.

Assistants await patients at a check-in counter for vaccinations against COVID-19 at the converted Merkur-Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany on Dec. 1.

Where Do Things Stand With the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout?

The U.K.’s quick approval of the Pfizer vaccine means some Britons will get shots starting next week—but in the rest of the world, it’s going to take a while for regular people to get inoculated.

Ghana's then-President John Dramani Mahama (L) talks with former President of Ghana Jerry Rawlings (R) at the Baba Yara stadium in Kumasi on Aug. 30, 2012.

Jerry Rawlings Is Dead, but He Still Looms Large in Ghanaian Politics

The former leader’s blend of anti-corruption rhetoric and strongman rule still holds great appeal for a generation disappointed by contemporary politicians.

Workers move iron girders from a crane at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba, Ethiopia, on Dec. 26, 2019.

Ethiopia Needs the United States to Act as an Honest Broker in the Nile Dam Dispute

As East Africa faces a triple crisis from COVID-19, floods, and locusts, cutting U.S. aid to the Ethiopian government is not the solution. Neutral mediation to resolve the GERD dispute can result in a win-win situation.

An Iranian man checks a display board at a currency exchange shop in Tehran, on Sept. 29.

Biden Needs to Move Fast if He Wants a New Deal With Iran

Moderates will lose the June 2021 presidential election in Iran unless there is a new agreement and sanctions relief—and the United States can forget diplomacy if hardliners win.

U.S. President Donald Trump

Why Is Trump Threatening America’s Defense Budget?

The president is pushing against a law that digital rights groups say protect social media firms.

Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto

Afghans, Under Fire for Corruption, Accuse Donors of Hypocrisy

Much of the donor money to Afghanistan is lost to fraud and abuse, in part by Western companies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and alternative Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz

Election Déjà Vu for Israelis

A move to dissolve parliament could mean a fourth ballot in less than two years.

People walk along a street in Planeta, in the municipality of La Lima, Honduras after the passage of Hurricane Eta on Nov. 9.

Honduras and Nicaragua Have Been Hit By Some of the Worst Natural Disasters in Decades

If Biden gets the response right, he could put the region on better footing for years to come.

A woman carrying a child waits at a makeshift clinic at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp of al-Hol in al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria on February 7, 2019.

Assad’s Syria Is Starting to Starve Like Saddam’s Iraq

How sanctions against the Syrian regime are forcing the country into famine.

People wave Syrian national flags and pictures of President Bashar al-Assad

U.S. Fears Syria’s Assad Meddling in Fragile Lebanon

A State Department assessment warned the Syrian regime is worsening Lebanon’s economic collapse.

House Foreign Affairs Committee member Joaquin Castro speaks at a hearing.

Showdown in House Foreign Affairs Chair Race Reflects Rifts in Democratic Party

The battle between centrists and progressives over U.S. foreign policy that is dogging Biden’s transition is also playing out in a crucial committee.

A protester gestures toward the media as he marches with a demonstration calling for the end of police violence in Nigeria, on Oct. 21, 2020 in London, England.

Foreign Governments Are Aiding Nigeria’s Violence Against Protesters

The suppression of protests against police brutality wouldn’t have been possible without arms and training from abroad.

A beggar who said he lost his leg from a mine injury is seen in traffic on Sept. 21, 2019 in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Needs Truth Before It Can Have Reconciliation

Politicians and warlords have benefited from decades of violence. The victims of the country’s endless wars could provide the key to a lasting peace.

Supporters of Ersin Tatar celebrate his win in the presidential election in the northern part of Nicosia, the capital of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Biden Faces Troubled Eastern Mediterranean Waters

Greeks and Greek Cypriots are hoping for stronger U.S. support in their disputes with Turkey. But that may not be the president-elect’s greatest priority.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) summit in Bangkok on Nov. 4, 2019.

Cutting Through the Hype on Asia’s New Trade Deal

The RCEP truly is a China-style trade agreement: platitudinous and ineffective.

A resident reads the news about the U.S. elections in Tehran on Nov. 9.

What Iran’s Leaders Really Think About Biden

The killing of a top nuclear scientist has unsettled Tehran, but it’s still talking about a new deal with the United States.

A demonstrator supporting ousted President Martín Vizcarra holds a Peruvian flag during a protest against the government of then-interim President Manuel Merino in Lima on Nov. 14.

Peru Needs a New Constitution

The country went through three presidents in a week in November—and it might soon have another if it doesn’t pursue a constitutional referendum like neighboring Chile.

Load 10 More Articles