Georgia today is a very different country from what it was four years ago. Owing in large part to its strong regional relationships and geographic location, Georgia has enhanced its partnerships with Europe and the United States, and has also become increasingly relevant to East Asia, largely through trade. It is now time to reflect not only on what we have achieved over the past four years, but on where we want to go in the future.

As Georgians head to the polls for parliamentary elections on October 8, we must decide whether to consolidate our democracy, economy, and role in the world. Georgia must assume responsibility for building its own new democratic traditions.

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In the 2016 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US National Intelligence Community, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper noted: “given the broad distribution, low cost, and accelerated pace of development of this dual-use technology [genome editing], its deliberate or unintentional misuse might lead to far-reaching economic and national security implications.”

The CRISPR-Cas9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) gene-editing technique has enabled low-cost scientific breakthroughs, while simultaneously opening the door for possible misuse by malevolent actors. While advocating the need for strategic planning to account for the threat posed by gene editing, Mathew Burrows, director of the Strategic Foresight Initiative at the Atlantic Council, said, “the speed of these scientific developments…continues to outpace the ability for us to prepare.”

CRISPR-Cas9 has improved the gene editing technology that has been around since 1975. Consequently, “the technique is easy, it’s cheap, and it’s accessible, and if it falls in the wrong hands, like a terrorist group or rogue nations, it is possible for them to use the technique and develop weapons with more ease than twenty years ago,” said Dr. Pierre Noel, director of the blood and marrow transplant program in the division of hematology and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

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Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warns against placing conditions on defense of allies

In a thinly veiled swipe at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former secretary general of NATO, said on September 29 that it is in the United States’ best interests to be the world’s “policeman,” and it would be dangerous to condition the defense of allies on their financial contributions toward security.  

In a debate with his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in New York on September 26, Trump said the United States “cannot be the policeman of the world, we cannot protect countries all over the world, where they’re not paying us what we need.”

Trump supporter and former speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, has also expressed doubt about whether a Trump administration would risk nuclear war with Russia by coming to the defense of Estonia in the event of a Russian attack.

Such comments raise doubts about NATO’s resolve to maintain collective defense, said Rasmussen, noting that Estonia is one of five countries in the twenty-eight-member Alliance that actually spends the required two percent of its GDP on defense.

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“No gravestone stands on Babyn Yar,” wrote the Soviet poet Yevgeniy Yevtushenko in 1961. He was condemning the Soviet regime’s failure to acknowledge the Babyn Yar tragedy twenty-five years after World War II had ended. When a monument was finally erected in 1974 to commemorate the deaths of 100,000 people generically characterized as “Soviet citizens,” no mention was made of the 33,771 Jews who perished there on September 29 and 30, 1941. When the surrounding park was established in 1980, Babyn Yar quickly grew into a popular recreational area rather than a place to remember those who had been killed.

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This article is part two of a two-part series.

From 1973 to 2011, when policy makers in Washington thought about energy, they thought in terms of concerns about peak supply. These apprehensions were triggered by the oil shock in 1973 that roughly coincided with the peak in US domestic conventional oil production and rise in import dependence.

These conditions began to fade in 2011 with the significant rise of US tight oil production. However, an alternative perspective would suggest that the true end of the ‘peak supply’ era came in 2015 with the Obama administration’s decision to lift the ban on crude oil exports. Others would claim that the ethanol and fuel efficiency mandates under the Bush administration signaled the height of US gasoline demand. It could also be argued that the Obama administration’s decision to refuse a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline heralded a new political emphasis on climate change over energy security.

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South Sudan’s First Vice President Taban Deng Gai blames the absence of roads, the presence of criminals, and weak governance structures for the obstruction of UN peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts in his country.

Deng spoke in response to a confidential report from United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the UN Security Council that accuses the government of South Sudan of obstructing relief efforts.

“We believe that by the end of this year it will be a different story, better than it used to be,” Deng said in an interview with the New Atlanticist on September 28. Earlier that day, Deng attended a roundtable discussion hosted by the Council’s Africa Center.

In our interview, Deng criticized an investigation by the Sentry, a Washington-based advocacy group, calling it hastily reported. The investigation documents public corruption in South Sudan, including on the part of President Salva Kiir, and Deng’s predecessor, Riek Machar.

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Two and a half years after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, too many public figures in the United States and Europe still seem unable to decipher Russia’s motives. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently told a Bosnian newspaper that NATO’s readiness to extend membership to Montenegro and welcome Bosnia and Macedonia was not only a mistake but also a provocation. At a recent meeting, a European political figure professed that he could not begin to understand why Lavrov and his government feel this way. Neither is he alone. Far too many people in public life seem unable to grasp the motives driving Russian behavior.

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Any hope of reviving a US- and Russian-backed ceasefire agreement in Syria may have been dashed by the air and ground offensives unleashed by the Syrian regime on the rebel-held parts of the western city of Aleppo.

Backed by Russia, the Syrian military has launched a “ferocious” attack on Aleppo using bunker-busting bombs and outlawed cluster bombs that have killed at least 1,000 people over the past eight days, said Raed al-Saleh, the head of Syrian Civil Defense—popularly known as the White Helmets—a group that was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for saving lives in the war-ravaged nation.

In Aleppo, where 275,000 civilians are living under siege, “there is nowhere that Syrian civilians can hide or take cover,” said al-Saleh. “They are basically all just sitting in their homes waiting to be killed.”

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The Kremlin has turned its disinformation machine on those who are investigating the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine in July of 2014, using state employees, state-run media, and the state-run, though unacknowledged, “troll factory” of fake Internet accounts.

The primary goal of the media attacks has been to undermine the credibility of citizen journalist group Bellingcat, an independent researcher into the crash. [Editor’s note: Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat, is a nonresident senior fellow for Digital Forensic Research Lab with the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe program.] The Dutch Safety Board (DSB), which conducted an official investigation in 2015 and concluded that MH17 was downed by a surface-to-air missile, has also been targeted.

The attacks have followed a pattern that could be termed “vilify and amplify.” They come just before the publication on September 28 of the results of a criminal investigation into the crash by an international team led by the Dutch prosecutor’s office.

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Iran’s missile program should “rank among the highest priorities of US national security concerns,” said Zalmay Khalilzad, a former US ambassador who serves on the Atlantic Council’s board of directors.

In a parade on September 21, Iran’s “military displayed long-range missiles, tanks, and the Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air defense system,” according to a Reuters report.

“It’s not out of the question that over time the Iranian missile program could pose a threat to…the United States itself, and to its allies in Europe,” said Khalilzad, who served as the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration. He is president of Gryphon Partners, a global advisory firm.

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