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In the midst of NAFTA renegotiations, the United States, Canada, and Mexico are discussing changes that could impact millions of jobs, investments, and North America’s stance in the global stage. As negotiators work at breakneck speed, new Atlantic Council findings show what the United States would lose if NAFTA were not in place.What if NAFTA Ended? The Imperative of a Successful Renegotiations,launched by the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, quantifies the gains and the wide-ranging implications of successful renegotiations.

 

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The balance in Eurasia is shifting. China’s President Xi Jinping has ambitious visions for Asia, while the rest of the world reshuffles to find its place in the rapidly changing global order. Each nation guesses at the United States’ new role in the world, while China broadcasts its own role across the globe, ready to challenge those who stand in opposition to its vision. China’s impact is global: reaching from the perils of the Korean peninsula; stretching across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa; and influencing regimes along the way. During this historic moment, the importance of Asia to US interests grows all the greater.

 

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“Ukraine’s displaced persons can and should play a role in a sustained peace process, and many are already building bridges and fostering local reconciliation,” write authors Lauren Van Metre, Steven E. Steiner, and Melinda Haring, in "Ukraine’s Internally Displaced Persons Hold a Key to Peace," a new issue brief by the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and the United States Institute of Peace. After four years of ongoing conflict, Ukraine is home to the world’s ninth-largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs), with nearly 1.6 million Ukrainians officially registered as IDPs. One third of the displaced Ukrainian population plans to integrate into local communities rather than return to their original home, creating a unique model of local support and integration during conflict. This issue brief examines Ukraine as a possible model for an “enlightened” resettlement process that promotes social cohesion, democratic development, and a constituency for peace.

 
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Understanding what drives Iran’s regional policies is crucial to confronting its challenges. In her new paper, entitled "The Roots and Evolution of Iran’s Regional Strategy," Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of foreign policy and senior fellow for Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution, explores how the Islamic Republic operates throughout the Middle East, and the ideological and strategic underpinnings of its actions. The issue brief concludes that, in addition to core realpolitik, Iran’s policies are driven by its view of itself as an inheritor of the Persian empire’s legacy, Shia ideology, anti-imperialist beliefs, domestic politics, and paranoia for the regime’s security.

 

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In “The New Russia Sanctions Law–What It Does and How to Make It Work,” authors Ambassador Daniel Fried, distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council and former coordinator for sanctions policy at the US State Department, and Brian O’Toole, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, explain that Congress primarily adopted the law to block a unilateral lifting of sanctions, which was under consideration in the early days of the Trump administration. Fried and O’Toole add that, by passing the act, Congress was able to demonstrate its determination to resist Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere and to penalize Russia for hacking the 2016 US presidential election. This paper includes an analysis of the law’s key sanctions provisions, suggestions to the administration about how to implement them, and key areas for the business community to watch, from two former US government officials who helped design and run US sanctions on Russia until earlier this year.

 

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As German Chancellor Angela Merkel enters her fourth term in office, the US-German relationship will need to overcome trade and policy disagreements in order to thrive in today’s uncertain political climate. The administrations in Berlin and Washington, DC should seek new opportunities for closer cooperation, particularly related to security around NATO, policy toward Russia, bilateral trade, and the energy sector. The shared interests of the United States and Germany should drive both administrations to pursue these areas of cooperation in order to strengthen the alliance on which they will continue to depend as the world grows more insecure and the challenges more complex.

 
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Emerging artificial intelligence (AI) tools will provide propagandists radically enhanced capabilities to manipulate human minds. Human cognition is a complex system, and AI tools are very good at decoding complex systems. Interactions on social media, browsing the Internet, and even grocery shopping provide thousands of data points from which technologists can build psychological profiles on nearly every citizen. When provided rich databases of information about us, machines will know our personalities, wants, needs, annoyances, and fears better than we know them ourselves. Over the next few years, MADCOMs—the integration of AI systems into machine-driven communications tools for use in computational propaganda—will gain enhanced ability to influence people, tailoring persuasive, distracting, or intimidating messaging toward individuals based on their unique personalities and backgrounds, a form of highly personalized propaganda.

 

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“Revelations around Russian efforts to shape the 2016 US presidential election through the use of disinformation, bots, and hacking have thrust the problems of “fake news” and social media manipulation into the public spotlight,” writes Tim Hwang, director of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, in "Digital Disinformation: A Primer," a new publication from the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. 
The aim of the piece is to provide a concise handbook of key terms, major actors, and policy recommendations to address current and emerging threats, including trolling campaigns, cyber-attacks, and artificial intelligence (AI). Disinformation threats are only likely to grow as both nation-state and non-state actors exploit technological advancements in hacking, AI and machine learning, and metadata. “Funding should be put toward the creation of collaborative online platforms for fact-checking digital media, enabling journalists and citizens to more quickly work together to reject or authenticate disinformation circulating through the web,” advises Mr. Hwang who calls for a number of proactive steps to be taken by US congressional members.

 
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As a global challenge with profound implications at the local level, climate change provides new opportunities for individual engagement. Communities around the world have their own unique experiences with the effects of climate change, as well as drastically different climate adaptation needs. This gives individuals an unprecedented role to play in sharing information and guiding policymaking through citizen-based observation. In “Using Citizen-Based Observations to Plan for Climate Change,” Sarah Abdelrahim looks at the work of a variety of citizen-based observation networks, also known as citizens’ observatories. She recommends greater cooperation and support from government agencies and decision-makers for these networks as a key aspect of any and all climate change adaptation strategies.

 
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In The Euro’s Difficult Future – Competitiveness Imbalances and the Eurozone’s North-South Divide author Luigi Bonatti, a professor of economics at the University of Trento in Italy, stresses that the existing North-South competitiveness divide creates growing tensions between member countries and fuels hostility towards European Union institutions. The paper illustrates why this competitiveness divide is structural, cannot be tackled by macroeconomic policies, and could threaten the euro’s survival.

 

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