When US legislators held hearings on Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency Libra in July, it was just the opening salvo in a much broader regulatory battle over big tech’s latest venture. The Libra project seems poised to aggravate existing transatlantic policy tensions, particularly with respect to data privacy.
On June 18, Facebook announced plans to launch a new digital currency, Libra, in 2020. The non-profit organization which will manage the currency and the related payments wallet (the Libra Association) will be based in Switzerland and already includes twenty-seven companies as partners, including payments processors such as VISA and PayPal, and ecommerce companies like Uber and Spotify.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he and US President Donald J. Trump agreed to eliminate the “communication gap,” between their two countries during Khan’s visit to Washington on July 22. Speaking at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on July 23, Khan described his meeting with Trump as “one of the most pleasant surprises.”
The US-Pakistani relationship has been strained after the Trump administration decided to suspend $300 million in aid to Pakistan in September 2018 due to their belief that Islamabad did not do enough to combat terrorism. Trump has specifically criticized Pakistan as a “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”
To get there, however, President Trump will have to navigate the greatest perils in US-Iranian relations in recent memory, something he has done so far with a military restraint that has confounded his critics and gained him praise for “prudence” even from Iran’s foreign minister.
As the captivating 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing recedes into memory and the momentary nostalgia for space exploration dims, many in Washington will forget the lessons of Apollo. But in an era of increased geopolitical turbulence, this would be a grave mistake.
The Apollo moon landing was not only a momentous scientific achievement, but also a grand strategic instrument of the Cold War. It symbolized the innovation of America’s capitalist society and, perhaps most importantly, it signaled the willingness and ability of the US industrial base to generate the aerospace and defense capabilities needed to compete effectively with the Soviet Union. As the United States now embarks upon a renewed era of great-power competition with Russia and China, it must pursue new projects in the ambitious spirit of Apollo 11, ones which will leverage industry, animate public imagination, and signal the decisive resolve to act.
New missile launches from North Korea could derail US President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to restart talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The tests are “another sign that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un believes he has the upper hand over Trump and that the administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ strategy isn’t working,” according to Alexander Vershbow, an Atlantic Council distinguished fellow and former US ambassador to South Korea.
According to South Korean officials, two short-range missiles were fired from the east coast of North Korea on July 25, landing harmlessly in the sea. Seoul has suggested that these missiles could be a “new type of missile,” design but likely are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions barring North Korea from testing ballistic missiles. In addition to the tests, North Korea released images on July 23 of a new submarine, which could be large enough to carry nuclear-armed missiles. The July 25 missile tests are the first reported since several other short-range missiles were fired on May 4.
Boris Johnson, Britain’s new prime minister, is a man in a hurry. He has promised that the United Kingdom will quit the European Union (EU)—with or without a withdrawal agreement—on October 31 and he has prepared the ground for an early general election.
And if parliamentary arithmetic gets in his way soon, then that election could happen very quickly indeed.
Boris Johnson will now take his turn at trying deliver the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (EU), as he was elected on July 23 to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party. Johnson, who previously served as UK foreign secretary and mayor of London, will be named prime minister on July 24, replacing May who resigned on May 24 after being unable to get parliamentary support for her Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union.
Johnson, an outspoken supporter of Brexit, campaigned for Conservative leader on his ability to deliver Brexit by the October 31 deadline agreed to by the UK and the EU in April. “We are going to get Brexit done on October 31 and take advantage of all the opportunities it will bring with a new spirit of can do,” Johnson said on July 23.
The approval of a new digital service tax by the French Senate which takes aim at US tech firms may open a new digital front in a brewing trade war between the United States and its European allies. On the eve of the July 11 decision, the US administration announced it would launch an investigation into the French legislation and its treatment of US firms under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which could allow US President Donald J. Trump to levy retaliatory tariffs and other measures against France. As the United States weighs its options and France digs in its heels, here are some key issues to keep in mind:
French President Emmanuel Macron visited Serbia on July 15, the first such visit of a sitting French head of state since former President Jacques Chirac in 2001, only months after the fall of the regime of former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević. While the international landscape has seen dramatic shifts in the two decades since, including a return of great power politics, the European Union’s attitude toward the Balkans has changed less than many might think. While Serbia and Montenegro have opened EU accession talks with Brussels, the region seems as distant from the EU as ever.