Leslie Vinjamuri

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The UN headquarters building in New York City, March 2022. Carlo Allegri / Reuters

The 77th High Level session of the UN General Assembly is the first time the gathering of global leaders has been fully in person since the pandemic began. In the intervening period, the world seems to have slid backward. Global fault lines have deepened. Mistrust between the United States and China has grown as a result of disputes about the origins of COVID-19, China’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, and tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea. China’s decision to indulge Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine has solidified the sense of a world divided into two camps, with NATO and the West on one side and Russia and China and their acolytes on the other.…  Seguir leyendo »

10 Downing Street in London, United Kingdom as seen on 05 September 2022 as Liz Truss was announced as the UK's next prime minister. Photo: Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

It says something of the UK that the incoming prime minister has ordered a rewrite of British foreign policy barely 18 months after the last one was published.

Liz Truss, who has become the fourth prime minister in Downing Street in six turbulent years, is not prone to risk aversion or offering bland reassurances. She made clear during the campaign for the Conservative leadership that she wants the 2021 Integrated Review redrawn with a far greater focus on combating the ‘growing malign influence’ of Russia and China. She has also pledged to increase defence spending from its current 2.1 per cent of GDP, to 2.7 per cent, and then to 3 per cent by 2030, which will include more support for the intelligence services and cyber security, a further £10 billion overall at a time when public finances are in dire straits.…  Seguir leyendo »

US Speaker of the House Of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, poses with Taiwan President, Tsai Ing-wen, in Taipei, Taiwan on 3 August 2022. Photo: Handout/Getty Images.

China’s fading ties with Washington?

Dr Yu Jie

US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi’s, visit to Taiwan has plunged China-US relations into a new low as the reservoir of trust forged between the two sides over the last 40 years appears to be almost exhausted.

However, her move will likely not result in the full-scale crisis across the Taiwan strait that some hawkish voices in both Beijing and Washington believe. Instead, Beijing will most likely offer a combination of military posturing toward the US navy and economic sanctions on Taiwanese agricultural and manufacturing products in order to send a clear bellwether to any future potential visits by high-level Western political figures.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson after signing the Brexit trade deal in London, December 2020. Leon Neal / Reuters

The Tory leadership race, which will determine who becomes the next U.K. prime minister, looks to be a barnburner. Polls show that Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs Liz Truss is leading former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, but it is unclear by how much. The campaigning continues as both candidates aggressively vie for the votes of Conservative Party members, who will determine the winner.

Whoever prevails, however, may find it a Pyrrhic victory. For six years and counting, the United Kingdom has been mired in the politics of Brexit, and many people believe that the country is more divided than it was before the referendum.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Joe Biden holds hands with Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after delivering the 2022 State of the Union address his first State of the Union address. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

As President Joe Biden delivered the State of the Union address, a Russian convoy was approaching the outskirts of Kyiv. Earlier in the day, a TV tower was attacked and missiles had descended on the graves of thousands of Jewish citizens killed by the Nazis. Such brutal attacks not only underscore Putin’s utter contempt for Ukraine’s sovereignty and disregard for civilian immunity, but also his rejection of the European security order and determination Ukraine would not join it.

Biden’s reference to the ‘wall of strength’ Putin encountered when he ‘met the Ukrainian people’ elicited an outburst of approval in the US Congress which harked back to an era of bipartisanship in foreign policy which has since vanished.…  Seguir leyendo »

The skyline of lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center as the sun rises in New York City as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey. Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images.

Creating better global governance is possible

Dr Anne-Marie Slaughter

The Biden administration’s foreign policy achievements can be divided into great power achievements and global achievements. In the great power category, the administration has shored up the military balance of power against China by strengthening the Quad – Japan, India, Australia, and the US – and creating a new military configuration of the US, the UK, and Australia, even as it created a serious rift with France. The Biden team is also pushing back hard against Russia, certainly in the cybersphere, and has reopened negotiations to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protests in Chicago, Illinois during the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, found not guilty of all charges in two fatal shootings and one wounding during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

As Joe Biden approaches the end of his first year in office, his policy record is impressive on paper and in line with his campaign promises. History may one day define him as a leader who transformed Americans’ expectations of government, created structures for reducing persistent, high levels of inequality, and redefined the US role in the world.

But today, the story looks very different and Biden’s approval ratings are hovering at around 40 per cent. The president’s popularity appears impervious to his successes in passing legislation, even for measures with high levels of public support for a long period of time.…  Seguir leyendo »

UK prime minister Boris Johnson visits the Colosseum during the 2021 G20 summit in Rome, Italy. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

Success at Glasgow depends on bridging fault lines

Renata Dwan

The G20 summit’s lack of progress on climate highlights the scale of the challenge – and the stakes – for COP26.  The countries responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions recognized but failed to agree concrete action to limit global warming to 1.5C.

The leaders’ gathering reveals multilateralism’s fault lines. One is the tension between domestic politics and international priorities, reflected in the lack of ambition to reduce coal dependency.  The second is the tension between industrialized and developing states over responsibility for delivering global goods.

The G20 failed to endorse the G7’s pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or to accelerate the mobilization of previously agreed climate financing.…  Seguir leyendo »

US president Joe Biden addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on September 21, 2021 in New York. Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images.

Joe Biden’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was certainly powerful, proclaiming the world is at ‘an inflection point in history’, underscoring the urgency of challenges which ‘hold the keys to our collective future’, stating democracy is ‘everywhere’ and remains the best tool to ‘unleash our full human potential’, and rejecting allegations that the US is seeking a Cold War.

But as he approaches the final quarter of his first year as US president, Biden’s sheer determination to deliver on his own foreign policy priorities is apparent, as are the implications of them for the closest partners of the US.…  Seguir leyendo »

A US soldier stands with a bouquet of flowers among headstones of those killed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images.

Afghanistan goals were laudable but open-ended

Sir Simon Fraser

The outcome in Afghanistan should not have been a surprise, even if the way it happened was a shock. For foreign policy in general, and foreign military interventions in particular, it is essential to be clear about goals and the capacity to deliver. In Afghanistan, the US and its allies have fallen short on both these counts.

This is a serious reversal for the US and its closest allies, but not a strategic disaster. The threat from Islamist terror will increase, but its significance is sometimes exaggerated and, to some extent, can be addressed by other means.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghans queue to board a US military aircraft to leave Afghanistan at the military airport in Kabul after the Taliban's takeover. Photo by SHAKIB RAHMANI/AFP via Getty Images.

The urgent humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan is of the utmost priority, so getting distracted by a blame game risks a dire situation getting worse and further undermines the credibility of the US and European commitment to protecting democracy and human rights.

Since Kabul fell to the Taliban, the ground for political debate has been moving quickly – the ‘first order’ debate about whether the US should have stayed in Afghanistan already feels remote, and now the search is on to understand the US failure to predict the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan.

Claims are widespread that senior State Department officials were warned Kabul could collapse if US troops withdrew and that the CIA provided evidence of the Taliban’s growing strength – all providing fodder to partisan division.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Joe Biden addresses a Joint Session of Congress, with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris behind on the dais. Photo by Melina Mara - Pool/Getty Images.

Memories are short. Just a few months ago, the world watched as Capitol Hill was invaded by Donald Trump loyalists. America’s political landscape felt on the verge of collapse, especially with more than 70 per cent of Republican voters saying they did not believe the recent presidential election was fairly conducted.

On the same day as the attacks, the lethal spread of COVID-19 continued as more than 3,800 Americans died – and similar numbers died each day that week with no end in sight. By the date of Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trump had been impeached for a second time and life beyond America’s borders did not look rosy, with the US on guard in the Middle East as tensions intensified with Iran over the Persian Gulf and Russia’s Solar Winds cyberattacks unfolded.…  Seguir leyendo »

An honour guard ahead of the US-Japan defence ministers bilateral meeting on March 16, 2021 at the Japan Ministry of Defense in Tokyo. Photo by DAVID MAREUIL/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

A week of highly choreographed and carefully sequenced diplomacy in Asia culminated with a meeting of the United States Secretary of State, the US National Security Advisor and their Chinese counterparts in Anchorage, Alaska. Chatham House experts analyse the outcome.

Defining moment in global divide between democracy and autocracy

Dr Leslie Vinjamuri

The Biden administration executed the week with laser precision to draw a circle around Asia’s leading democracies, deepen its alliances, underscore its commitment to democracy and human rights, and mount a defence of the rules-based order.

It has become crystal clear the global divide between democracy and autocracy is going to define America’s relationship with China, as well as underpinning the entirety of its approach to the Indo-Pacific region.…  Seguir leyendo »

Boris Johnson chairs a session of the UN Security Council on climate and security at the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London. Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images.

When Joe Biden was elected as US president, many observers thought the UK would struggle to establish a close relationship with him, and that British diplomats feared being sidelined by the new administration – especially as Biden had referred to British prime minister Boris Johnson as a ‘physical and emotional clone’ of Donald Trump.

The UK’s main priority was to secure a free trade deal with the United States, but the Biden team had made it clear this would not be a priority for them. However, just over one month into the Biden administration, there has been a remarkable alignment between the UK and US.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jogging by the Hudson River during sunrise in New York, United States. Photo by Islam Dogru/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

After four years watching and wondering whether America had permanently vacated its role as a global leader, the rest of the world has witnessed an almost dizzying number of steps taken early on by the Biden administration to restore its international standing.

In the first month of his presidency, Joe Biden has taken the US back into the Paris climate accords and the World Health Organization (WHO), rejoined the United Nations Human Rights Council – albeit with a downgraded status to that of observer until the next election – and ended the travel ban placed on several Muslim-majority countries.

The US is now processing asylum claims and allowing asylum seekers to cross the southern border into the US, while Biden has also pledged $2 billion in support for COVAX, the global plan to ensure equitable distribution of a vaccine, followed by another $2 billion over two years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Capitol police stand to attention for a motorcade carrying the body of fellow officer Brian Sicknick after lying in honour at the Rotunda in Washington. Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

The Senate trial of Donald Trump less than three weeks after the inauguration of President Joe Biden has ignited controversy across the US. Many say the trial will do more harm than good, further dividing an electorate and a political establishment already deeply polarized. But intense division in the face of calls to prosecute a head of state, sitting or former, is not uncommon.

Democracy in the US has undoubtedly been under assault but it is strong enough to withstand these challenges and the benefits of accountability far outweigh the costs. So it is a good thing that, as a first step, the Senate trial is proceeding even if the practical benefit may seem difficult to discern given that democracy in America worked – Donald Trump was defeated at the ballot box and has left office.…  Seguir leyendo »

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are briefed by expert members of their national security and foreign policy agency review teams in December 2020. Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images.

Democracy Must Work at Home First

Dr Leslie Vinjamuri

US democracy has been vividly on display and scrutinized by the world for the entirety of Trump’s presidency. In the years ahead, the global balance of democratic and authoritarian values will be shaped not only by US leadership abroad but especially by the ability of the Biden administration to fix America’s democracy.

Today, the US is wracked by internal division and the distribution of economic opportunities and benefits across society is radically unequal. Confidence in the leadership, the electoral system, and the capacity of the state to deliver has taken a serious hit.…  Seguir leyendo »

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris addresses the media on November 10, 2020 at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

1. Resistance to Biden is likely

Hans Kundnani

The result of the election made it clear America has not rejected ‘Trumpism’ and remains deeply polarized. Donald Trump remains an important figure within the Republican Party, and perhaps even its leader.

Some senior figures in the party support his efforts to convey the impression the election was ‘stolen’ from them, and analysts such as Max Boot and Timothy Snyder are even comparing this to the Dolchstosslegende (myth of a stab in the back) in Germany after World War I.

Assuming Joe Biden does take over as president on 20 January, the question is what form any ‘resistance’ to his administration takes.…  Seguir leyendo »

The authors of this collection consider the most pressing foreign policy challenges for the next US president, and examine how the outcome of the 2020 election will affect these.

The president will determine how the US’s diplomatic, economic and military resources are invested, and what value the administration will attach to existing alliances and multilateral institutions.

Whoever sits in the White House will shape the trajectory of the US–China relationship and the global economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as international cooperation on climate action, international trade and technology policy, and health.


  • The last four years have confirmed that the choices the US makes are highly consequential for international politics.
…  Seguir leyendo »

Experts across Chatham House shared their views on Trump and Biden’s performance and their key takeaways from the last debate. More than 47 million Americans have already cast their vote and few voters are undecided, but the debates still provide a good lens into these two very different candidates.

Throughout the presidential race, there have been concerns regarding foreign interference in the election. How did candidates respond to this threat?

Leslie Vinjamuri: The candidates deflected the question, but it could not have been more timely. Only two days ago, John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, and Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director, announced that Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration data and used this to send threatening emails to voters.…  Seguir leyendo »