Annual migrant apprehensions at the U.S. southwestern border have surpassed 2 million, breaking previous fiscal year records. The flows (which include large numbers of repeat crossers) have grown increasingly multinational in recent years, including Haitians trying to escape their country’s violence and poverty, along with Cubans, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans fleeing a combination of economic misery and political repression. Mexicans seeking better paid work in the United States also continue to cross the border in large numbers, as they have for generations.
Beijing’s strong reaction to U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s August visit to Taiwan highlights how the island has become ground zero in major power competition, with U.S.-China relations at their lowest point in decades. Indeed, the Taiwan Strait is now the most plausible locale for a military confrontation between the United States and China. Most alarmingly, Beijing and Washington are prone to misread the signals of the other, especially where Taiwan is concerned. Misinterpreting rhetoric or actions can be extremely dangerous because it can trigger action-reaction cycles that can spiral into unintended escalation and unwanted conflict.
Upon entering office, the Biden administration was faced with a hemisphere in tumult. The COVID-19 pandemic had wrought havoc on health care systems and economies throughout the Americas — instigating new crises and aggravating others that have long plagued the region.
Ahead of the International Day of Peace on September 21, USIP’s Joseph Sany says the occasion is “an opportunity to celebrate, reflect and demonstrate our commitment” to building peace in our communities — as well as a chance to connect with millions of others through the Peace Day Challenge.
Around the world, Beijing is investing heavily in diplomatic, security, cultural, and economic ties in a bid to increase its global influence, strengthen its ability to protect and advance its national interests, attract support in multilateral fora and international institutions, and fracture the global consensus on key issues it views as unfavorable to its geopolitical ambitions. The Pacific Islands region—defined as the vast stretch of Pacific Ocean between Asian littoral waters in the west, Guam in the north and Hawaii in the northeast, and Australia and New Zealand in the south and southwest—has been no exception.
In recent weeks, two Ukrainian counteroffensives — one in the south near Kherson and another in the east near Kharkiv — have pushed back Russian forces after months of grueling deadlock across the front lines. The eastern Kharkiv attack has been particularly successful, as Ukrainian forces continue to reclaim vast swaths of territory from a seemingly stunned Russian military. USIP’s Mary Glantz examines the resilience of Ukrainian forces thus far, how Ukraine managed to catch the Russian military off-guard outside Kharkiv and Russia’s reaction to what may be a major inflection point in the ongoing conflict.
Even before assuming office in May 2022, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol made clear his desire for smoother formal relations between Seoul and Tokyo. Locked in a number of interwoven and protracted disputes, South Korea and Japan have been at a diplomatic standstill since well before COVID-19 restrictions shut down everything. Recent peacebuilding efforts are encouraging, with Japan and the United States publicly welcoming South Korea’s overtures as pivotal to plans for regional alignment in the face of North Korea’s provocations and China’s aggressive behavior.
William Ruto’s emergence as Kenya’s fifth president represents a paradigm shift in the country’s politics. Ruto’s campaign was comprised of a mass movement of workers, the jobless, peasants and other “hustlers” and sought to distance itself from the dynasties that have long run Kenya’s politics. While Ruto was born in a small rural village in the Rift Valley, his opponent, Raila Odinga, is a former prime minister and the son of the country’s first vice president. Marginalized Kenyans see Ruto as the personification of a transformational agenda that centers their plight, defining a contest between hustlers and dynasties. While Kenya faces a dire economic situation, Ruto’s biggest challenge may be overcoming the country’s legacy of ethnic politics and building national cohesion.
For much of the last 75 years, the Pacific region and in particular the Freely Associated States of the northern Pacific (FAS) — the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands — were not regarded as U.S. national security priorities.
More than two years into the pandemic, Arab states continue to struggle with the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. Meanwhile, climate change is devastating the region — and its governments are ill-equipped to address massive problems like water scarcity and scorching temperatures. Even before COVID, much of the region was wracked by conflict, embroiled in social tension, suffering from lagging economies and witnessing growing disquiet over the unrealized aspirations of the Arab uprisings. These challenges are detailed in the U.N. Development Programme’s recently released 2022 Arab Human Development Report, which also lays out a path for an “inclusive and resilient recovery.”