No matter how deft the backflips or how swift the skaters, Korean unity will likely grab the spotlight (and news headlines) at the 2018 Winter Olympics which open in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on February 9.

That is because athletes from North and South Korea will march together under a unified flag at the opening ceremony and field a joint women’s ice hockey team. [The South Korean hockey team is not exactly thrilled about the latter.]

Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence, who will lead the official US government delegation to the opening ceremony at Pyeongchang, has left open the possibility of a meeting with North Korean officials. Pence has also vowed that the United States will soon impose the "toughest and most aggressive sanctions" on North Korea.

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US President Donald J. Trump wants a military parade—a grand military parade.

Trump, reportedly inspired by the Bastille Day parade he witnessed in Paris last summer, has asked the Pentagon to organize a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington that [wait for it] tops the French.

The reaction to Trump’s plan has ranged from skepticism to criticism. [Here, here, and here, for example.]

The last major military parade in the United States marked victory in the Gulf War in 1991. George H.W. Bush was president at the time. According to the Washington Post, opinion was sharply divided over the parade.

Other countries hold military parades—ostentatious displays of military might, all intended to send a clear message of nationalist pride.

We take a look at some of these parades.

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Open-ended questions surrounding US relations with its European allies have direct implications for the ratcheting up of tensions and “managed competition” between the United States and Russia, according to Christine Wormuth, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience.

Russia represents a nexus between challenges facing US policy at home and abroad, as US President Donald J. Trump’s position on Russia remains often unclear. Kristen Silverberg, managing director at the Institute of International Finance, said: “The administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth on Russia.”

This could present a challenge for cooperation with the European Union (EU) on shared security issues and sanctions. Silverberg cautioned that “it is going to be hard to hold on to Russia sanctions in Europe…if we can’t spell out where we think this should head.”

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US Rep. Will Hurd [R-TX] has a strategy to check Russian meddling in the midterm elections later this year and the US Department of Homeland Security would have a pivotal role in that plan.

“We have a model that we should be thinking about when countering disinformation, and that’s CVE: Countering Violent Extremism,” said Hurd, adding: “The Department of Homeland Security is the entity designed to do that.”

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US stocks saw another volatile day on February 6 as ripples spread to global markets.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 4 percent—a nearly 1,200-point decline—on February 5. The declines for the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were the biggest single-day percentage drops since August 2011. The Dow closed 567 points higher on February 6.

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US President Donald J. Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) calls for enhanced deterrence and a larger nuclear arsenal.

The administration released the new review on February 2. Outlined in the strategy is Trump’s decision to pursue a path toward augmenting nuclear capabilities against the backdrop of increasing tensions with North Korea—as it moves ever closer to its own nuclear weapons—as well as nuclear-armed adversaries such as Russia. He has advocated for increasing the number of low-yield nuclear weapons to bolster US deterrent capabilities. 

Read the full review here

We asked our analysts their thoughts on the new nuclear strategy. Here is their take:

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The US arms embargo on South Sudan not only sends a strong signal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, but ultimately “weakens his ability to hold on to power by force,” according to the Atlantic Council’s J. Peter Pham.

On February 2, the US Department of State announced the imposition of a new embargo on the sale of defense articles and services to South Sudan. While the United States government has little in the way of arms trade with Juba, the embargo “cuts off several US individuals and businesses that have been involved in supplying security and defense services of various types to the Salva Kiir regime,” said Pham, vice president for regional initiatives and director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

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On February 1 Poland’s Senate passed a controversial bill that would make it illegal to blame Poles for crimes committed by Nazi Germany. Violations would be punished by fines or prison sentences up to three years.

Polish President Andrzej Duda has previously said that he will consider signing the measure into law. That would risk a rupture in Poland’s ties with Israel and the United States.

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Touted as a speech of unity, US President Donald J. Trump’s first State of the Union address is likely to do little to mend the divisions and gridlock in Washington.

The speech on January 30 did reflect the maturation of Trump in the role of president along with that of his administration. It was a more even, sophisticated, and coherent speech than the one he gave as a political rookie to a joint session of Congress last year. This was a reflection of the firm hand of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly as well as the departure of some of the polarizing and divisive personalities that had previously occupied the White House. But it also contained a fierce and combative restatement by the president of many campaign themes that sets clear battle lines for the year ahead.

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