On December 13-15, 2022, the White House hosted forty-nine leaders from across the African continent to the second U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. This historic event has only happened once before, in 2014 with former President Barack Obama. The purpose of the summit was several fold: to build trust with the many countries of the African continent, advance the interests of the African Union, to foster new economic activities, and more. This summit is seen as an important step in building better relationships with “a new, more prosperous Africa”, as President Obama said during the first summit. This year’s summit is especially important as it comes amid economic hardship across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a debt crisis for many African countries.
On November 24th 2022 in Urumqi, China, there was a fire that broke out in a residential building that resulted in a total of 10 deaths, many of whom were children. The fire took place in an area that was sanctioned off in quarantine due to the Zero COVID health policy that Xi Jinping has established over China, with regulations and restrictions placed on the building. The firemen that were called onto the site were unable to get into the building to save them due to the many lackdown measures that were in place in the building, which ultimately resulted in many avoidable deaths. This incident resulted in an uprising by the Chinese citizens, with many protests and candlelight vigils held all around China.
Cyber-attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure pose a tremendous threat to the American population and government. For years, the threat has grown in the form of state-sponsored cyber attackers and threats via data mining and malware coming through applications and social media. The current United States infrastructure is not sufficiently prepared or resilient to withstand attacks that can cause damage to critical segments of the medical, financial, power, and governmental sectors. Experts suggest that radical updates to infrastructure and improved security practices are required to prepare adequately for state-sponsored attacks or undermining from near-peer rivals.
The United States has recently renewed its goals to reduce carbon emissions and move towards reliance on renewable energy sources such as solar plants, electric vehicles, and wind farms. This transition from the traditional use of fossil-fuels to renewables for energy production requires an extraordinary amount of mineral extraction. The location of such minerals is condensed in few areas throughout the globe, such as China, Australia, Chile, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The extraction and refining processes of such minerals is currently dominated by China and Chinese firms. Sourcing of minerals in volatile regions also threatens the reliability of access to those necessary for energy production, whether it be due to civil unrest or climate risks. Relying on Chinese mineral production limits the bargaining power of the United States as it becomes increasingly reliant on these energy sources.
With the new year quickly approaching, it is almost time for Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inacio da Silva to take office. In October 2022, president elect Luiz Inacio da Silva, popularly known as “Lula” was announced the winner of Brazil’s 2022 presidential elections. With his victory, there is much to consider for the direction of Brazil’s foreign and domestic policy, as well as what this election means for U.S. Foreign Policy.
U.S. gas prices soared in June of this year to an all-time high of $4.99 per gallon –– a 47% increase from prices at the start of 2022. In response to this raging inflation, President Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia in July, with part of the agenda set to discuss boosting oil production with Saudi OPEC leaders. His proposal was rejected and OPEC retained plans to cut oil production, which will drive up global energy prices further. These cuts have yet to be implemented. At the G20 summit in Egypt this November, world leaders acknowledged Western sanctions against Russia and resultantly high inflation rates that have driven up energy prices worldwide. Despite the energy crisis, G20 leaders reaffirmed their commitments to the Paris Agreement and worldwide efforts toward a clean energy transition.
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