Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) will arrive in Washington on March 19 for a visit to the United States that includes stops in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and Houston. 

In Washington, the crown prince will meet US President Donald J. Trump at the White House on March 20. He will also meet members of Trump’s Cabinet, members of the US Congress, and private sector representatives.

US-Saudi relations, which had become strained under former US President Barack Obama, have warmed under Trump.
Newly former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his replacement, former Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, do not necessarily see eye to eye on every major foreign policy issue. Their divergent views raise serious questions as to how the shake-up in leadership at Foggy Bottom will alter the course of US foreign policy around the world.

In particular, Pompeo has a history of disparaging the Iran nuclear deal and remains supportive of US President Donald J. Trump’s harsh rhetoric on North Korea. As the White House prepares for Trump to sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sometime this spring and threatens to withdraw from the Iran deal, Pompeo could tip the policy scales and pivot away from the work done by Tillerson’s State Department.
Last summer, US President Donald J. Trump threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it endangered the United States. A few months later, he derided North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “Little Rocket Man” and said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was wasting his time attempting to negotiate with the regime in Pyongyang. Kim in turn threatened the United States noting in his new year’s day speech that he has a “nuclear button” on his desk and is ready to use it. Trump shot off a provocative tweet about the size of his own nuclear button, which he said was “much bigger and more powerful” than Kim’s.

In the backdrop of this war of words, North Korea conducted a series of missile tests, and even one nuclear test, while the United States led the international community in imposing unprecedented comprehensive sanctions on Kim’s regime. These sanctions aim to choke off the financing and fuel that have kept Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions alive.

All this led to the surprise announcement on March 8 that Trump has accepted an invitation to meet Kim in May.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has, in a surprise move, reportedly agreed to suspend nuclear and missile tests and start talks with the United States on dismantling his nuclear weapons. Both were prerequisites set by US President Donald J. Trump’s administration before it would agree to an initial, exploratory meeting.

US President Donald J. Trump promptly tweeted that the rare opportunity to defuse the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, while a sign of “possible progress,” could also be “false hope.”

“There’s only one way to know if it is false hope and that is to test it by sitting down for talks with the North Koreans,” said Robert A. Manning, a senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.

“The North Koreans have said everything he has wanted them to say,” Manning said. “The ball is now in Trump’s court.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 1 boasted that Russia has developed “invincible” nuclear-capable missiles that can render existing missile defense systems “completely useless.”

Putin used his annual state of the nation speech—delivered just weeks before the March 18 presidential election that he is guaranteed to win—to tout Russia’s military might.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was nine years old when his father, a prominent communist revolutionary and vice premier of China, had a falling out with Mao Zedong.

The year was 1962. Xi Zhongxun was accused of supporting a novel that Mao opposed. For this crime he was stripped of his titles, demoted, and sent to work in a factory. His wife, Qi Xin, was forced to do hard labor on a farm.

Six years later, the younger Xi was among the millions of “intellectual youth” who were sent to the countryside for “re-education” during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, which sought to purge the “impure” elements of Chinese society and preserve a communist ideology.
US President Donald J. Trump on February 23 announced that his administration has imposed what he described as the "largest-ever" set of new sanctions on North Korea.

The US Treasury Department later announced measures to cut off sources of revenue and fuel that have helped North Korea advance its nuclear program. Treasury said the action was "the largest North Korea-related sanctions tranche to date, aimed at disrupting North Korean shipping and trading companies and vessels to further isolate the regime and advance the US maximum pressure campaign."
Supply teachers are not to be envied. While they may be highly qualified in a particular subject, they re often sent in to teach classes they are not familiar with and doing so without the necessary training.

Over the past several years, similar scenes have been repeating themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Western troops have been training local armed forces. While competent in combat, the military instructors have essentially been functioning like supply teachers: teaching without the necessary educational background, and only for a limited period of time.

Now the United States and the United Kingdom are addressing the issue: both countries are pioneering Teacher Corps. Other countries should follow their example.
North Korean Gen. Kim Yong-chol is believed to have orchestrated a deadly attack on a South Korean warship, the bombardment of a South Korean island, and, possibly, the cyberattack on Sony Pictures.

Now, the former North Korean spy chief is on a different mission. Kim Yong-chol will lead his country’s delegation to the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on February 25. There he is expected to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in to pave the way for a peace summit proposed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The diplomatic thaw between North and South Korea follows several months of missile and nuclear tests by Pyongyang and is playing out in the high-wattage arena afforded by the Winter Olympics.

The order is holding for now, but the trends are worrisome

The state of the global order one year into Donald Trump’s presidency will be at the top of the agenda when global security experts meet in Munich from February 16-18.

The  outlook was bleak even before the 2016 US election. The rules-based, democratic order, led by the United States and its allies for the past seven decades, seemed daunted by hard challenges. The great power autocracies—China and Russia—were pushing back against its core principles, and US allies were losing confidence in America’s willingness to lead.  With his populist, anti-globalist campaign, Trump’s election magnified these concerns. While the democratic order appears to be holding—for now—the trend lines suggest a  difficult road ahead.