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The Most Underreported News Stories of 2014

Every year there are major events around the world that fly under the mainstream media’s radar despite their seminal impact. Four Wilson Center scholars who are also leading journalists from some of the world’s largest media organizations tell us what they consider to be the most underreported news stories of 2014.

The playlist above features video excerpts from each of the panelists:

Obama’s 3 Must-Do Issues in Mideast in 2015

President Barack Obama may be entering the lame-duck phase on domestic policy, but 2015 could be a defining year for his foreign policy. He faces several urgent tasks, notably three in the Middle East.

1. A nuclear deal with Iran.

A deal would end 36 years of tension between Washington and Tehran that has played out across the Middle East, contributing to setbacks in U.S. policies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and beyond, as well as with the Palestinian Authority.

Underplayed Conflicts of 2014

I have spent my life covering wars, revolutions, and uprisings—more than forty years’ worth of them now. As I looked through annual rundowns of the Big Stories of 2014, I found three types of conflicts that were not on many lists but should be. Each, for different reasons, represents a trend worth paying attention to.

1. The Soft Conflicts.

The Optimist's Year

Tired of hearing about the Broken, Angry, Dysfunctional (BAD) Middle East? Exhausted by annoyingly negative analyses and news coverage generating the same old, same old, or worse? Persuaded that things can’t and won’t change for the better?

I can see why. The Carnegie Endowment recently asked its experts what region of the world would be home to the most “headline-making crises” in 2015? The answer? Seventy-five percent of those polled said the Middle East.

As Cuba and U.S. mend ties will Venezuela follow their lead?


Cuba alone gets 100,000 barrels a day from Venezuela — a vital lifeline for the Cuban regime which pays for the fuel in kind by sending doctors and military advisers to Venezuela. Venezuela’s economic collapse was likely on Cuba’s mind as it pursued talks with the U.S., analysts said.

“Given the economic disaster in Venezuela today any rational person dependent on Venezuelan financial support would have to be looking at other options,” said Cynthia Arnson, the director of the Latin American program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.


Japan’s Relations with the Korean Peninsula, 1975

Click the image to be redirected to the Wilson Center's Digital Archive to view additional documents on Japan-Korea relations.

Iran: Diplomacy Infinitum

The headline across the top half of Iran’s conservative newspaper Vatan Emrooz summed up a year of arduous diplomacy: “Nothing!” Iran and the world’s six major powers conceded on Monday that they had failed to meet a second deadline on terms to insure that Tehran’s advanced nuclear capacity cannot produce a bomb. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced in Vienna that all parties—Iran, along with the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia—had agreed, at the last minute, to an extension.

4 Big Reasons the Iranian Nuclear Deal Didn't Happen

So what went wrong? How come the champagne corks aren’t popping in Vienna? After all the hype, drama, and suspense, why is it that all we have to show is a close-but-no-cigar seven-month extension?

All is not lost. With a deadline pushed until next summer, the negotiations are already set to resume in December. And though critics of the deal will shout from the rooftops that this extension will only give Iran more leverage, it’s still possible that a way could be found to reach a comprehensive agreement.

Iran’s Nuclear Politics and Missed Opportunities

Already, the extension of nuclear talks announced Monday is being portrayed in Iran as a victory for its negotiating team. In a televised interview Monday night, President Hasan Rouhani made clear that Iran would not stop its centrifuges or give up its technology. What’s been agreed to is, indeed, a bonus for Tehran as its government continues to access about $700 million a month from its frozen assets.