The Indian Air Force strike on what India claims was a terrorist camp in Balakot, Pakistan, on February 26 followed by the Pakistani air strike on targets in India-administered Kashmir have placed both countries on a perilous path to war. The escalation ladder on any such military actions between these two nuclear-armed neighbors remains very steep. Each is equipped with standoff weapons that can be launched from air platforms without sending troops across their border, and increasingly have been talking of the use of miniaturized nuclear weapons euphemistically labeled “tactical.” Once they reach that level, a full-scale war, involving dozens of nuclear weapons could engulf the subcontinent with grave consequences for the whole region and the world. Nuclear Winter, the shutting off sunlight from the Northern Hemisphere of the globe, would mean no light or food for the world. This is not science fiction but reality. Hence, it is critical that leaders in India and Pakistan defuse the current situation before it becomes impossible to retrieve.

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In congressional testimony, Atlantic Council’s Alexander Vershbow says US allies concerned ‘we  may have given a gift to President Putin’

Although the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from a Cold War era nuclear arms control treaty with Russia was “legally justified,” the decision could “give Russia free rein to rapidly deploy ground-launched versions of its newest cruise missiles and hypersonic weapons,” Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, warned Congress on February 26.

Vershbow, who is a former NATO deputy secretary general, testified to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces that Washington’s “allies are concerned that, politically, we may have given a gift to [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin, who has long sought to escape the INF Treaty’s limitations.”

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Within twenty-four hours both the British Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have backtracked on major policy issues concerning Brexit. And in both cases, the question is whether they are actually committed to their declared change of course.

Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament on February 26 that if she failed to secure parliamentary approval on March 12 for her agreement to leave the EU then the next day she would introduce a motion that would allow Parliament to rule out leaving Europe without a deal. If that also failed, then on March 14 she would introduce a further motion providing for Britain’s exit from the EU to be delayed – for a short and limited period – from the currently planned departure date of March 29.

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The Kim Jong-un regime’s most important policy objective is regime survival. In 2013, North Korea adopted the “parallel (Byungjin) policy of economic construction and nuclear development,” which served as the premise for accelerating development of its nuclear capabilities. In the meanwhile, the Kim regime has been confronted with burgeoning informal markets known as jangmadang (market grounds), rapidly increasing cellphone penetration rate, changing mindset of the younger generation, and the undeniable deterioration of the North Korean economy. In response to these developments, Kim and those in his inner circle are altering their perception of what they must pursue to safeguard the survival of their regime. The most significant move was the recently renewed policy line that “prioritizes economic development policy.”

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US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will hold their second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27 and 28.


The two leaders last met in Singapore on June 12, 2018. Following that meeting—the first engagement between a sitting US president and the leader of North Korea—Trump declared that North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat.” However, there is little evidence that Kim is preparing to eliminate his nuclear weapons.

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Global democracy has seen better days. Disruptive new technologies, demographic change, stagnant wages, and uneven economic growth are leading many citizens to question the effectiveness of democratic institutions and the usefulness of global cooperation. At the same time, authoritarian regimes around the world have become emboldened in recent years, directly challenging global rules, regional stability, and attempting to undermine democratic electoral processes. Former leaders from democracies around the globe now say it is time to fight for the principles of freedom, prosperity, and peace.

“There has been much hand-wringing about the state of democracy and the world in general,” Daniel Fried, a distinguished fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative and Eurasia Center, said. “The point now is to take action.”

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The escalating U.S. global offensive against China's Huawei – the world's largest telecom equipment provider and second largest mobile phone manufacturer – provides an unsettling glimpse into the messy, high-stakes multibillion-dollar future of U.S.-Chinese great power competition.
 
It also marks the most significant test yet for the Trump administration's shift in China policy to strategic competition from strategic engagement.

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The crisis in Venezuela is heading toward a showdown between Nicolás Maduro’s regime and the US-backed opposition, led by Juan Guaidó, this weekend.


Here’s a quick look at what’s going on:

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Ecuador elections

After ten years of left-wing populism, Ecuador, the smallest of the Andean nations, could witness a drastic political shift. Upcoming sectional elections may provide a foretaste of a victory for the political right in the 2021 presidential and legislative elections.

On March 24, Ecuadorians will elect representatives to occupy more than 11,000 governmental positions, from the lowest municipal posts to the highest tiers of provincial representation.

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On February 24, millions of Senegalese voters are expected to head to the polls to elect their president for the next five years. While five candidates—whittled down from a whopping eighty-seven by a controversial citizen sponsorship system—are vying for the presidency, the election is President Macky Sall’s to lose.

Macky Sall’s challengers include a former prime minister (Idrissa Seck), a former foreign minister (Madické Niang), a little-known university professor (Issa Sall), and a social-media sensation (Ousmane Sonko).

Mindful of what’s at stake, Macky Sall, who has been in office since 2012, is keen to remind voters of some of his greatest achievements. In the last year alone, the president has inaugurated a new airport, special economic zones, and state-of-the-art sports facilities, and talked up the 200 km of highway built during his time in office.

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