In the first week of April, the United States chose to snub a G7 meeting in favour of focusing exclusively on NATO. But while the U.S. has chosen to focus on great power politics, France has begun penetrating the now crowded soft power field in Africa to much success in former colonial possessions Algeria and Rwanda. Given France’s success, perhaps it is time for the Trump administration to re-evaluate the role of soft power in American foreign policy.
Saudi Arabia appointed their first female ambassador in late February. Princess Reema bint Bandar al Saud has been appointed as ambassador to the United States, while the Crown Prince has undergone a series of meetings with leaders throughout Asia. These actions, as a whole, demonstrate an attempted global soft power campaign which the West must now respond to.
Although the first round of the Ukrainian Presidential elections occur Sunday March 31, many people outside of Eastern Europe are unaware of the issues surrounding the elections or who is running. This elections appears to be a referendum on the ‘ultra-nationalist’ policies and ideology Kiev has condoned—most often at the expense of ethnic Russians. The ultimate question, however, may not be the results of the election but whether the international community will be able to understand what is transpiring within Ukraine.
President Biya continues to preside over Cameroon, a key ally in the West’s fight with ISIS. However, recent elections have left Cameroon in a state of unrest and possible civil war as Biya uses American-trained soldiers to violently suppress the English-speaking minority.
While Congress argues over the border wall, President Trump and Kim Jong-Un are beginning to forge a stronger bond in order to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. Despite the gridlock at home Trump proclaims that “This is more than has ever been accomplished with North Korea!”… Is this a new round of false promises or has the President made real headway with the Korean Regime?
On September 7, the citizens of Basra, Iraq, poured into the streets chanting “Iran, out!” while targeting the Iranian consulate with several rockets. These protests have, in fact, been stirring for several months, with this most recent eruption of violence in Basra serving as a microcosm of the issues Iraq, if not the rest of the Middle East, faces as the result of Iranian militarism.
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko announced… a new plan to seek European leadership in war-stricken areas of the nation still in government hands… “establishing a kind of patronage by certain countries over certain cities and towns of Donbass, let Germany take responsibility for Kramatorsk, let Greece for Mariupol, let Great Britain for Volnovaha, let other countries take Severodonetsk, Lisichansk, Avdeevka”
With the ongoing trade war causing highly volatile relations between the United States and China, new evidence is emerging that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) is reevaluating its position in the face of hardening American opposition.
The Iranian rial has seen its value plummet against the dollar this past week amid rumors that the U.S. will impose a new round of economic sanctions in the coming days. Iranians have scrambled to exchange in their rials for dollars in recent months, not knowing what the future may hold for their economy. These transactions, along with the speculation of sanctions, have caused the currency to see a sharp decline in value year to date.
With ISIS largely defeated, Iraq has retreated to the periphery of American attention; America and its allies abroad have left Iraq on its own after over a decade of intense involvement.This lack of engagement leaves a power vacuum open for exploitation by Iran, and yes, even a resurgent ISIS. A policy of complete disengagement is not only to the detriment of American interests, but those of its regional allies. The United States must decide whether it will stand idly by as the modest but appreciable gains made by trillions of dollars and the lives of thousands of US service members are swept away by Islamic extremism, or selectively engage in the region to counterbalance growing Iranian influence.