In the post-9/11 era, Washington has waged innovative campaigns against terrorism finance, sanctions evasion, and money laundering. Leveraging the United States’ heavyweight status in the international financial system, the US Treasury has isolated and bankrupted rogue regimes, global terrorists, and their enablers. As financial technology transforms global business, the traditional financial system faces new competition across a suite of offerings, ranging from brokerage services to peer-to-peer lending. In no area is this clearer than in mobile payments, where a global hegemon lies ready to exercise its weight, and it is not the United States. 

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The resignation letter of Secretary of Defense James Mattis should be required reading for current and future senior officials of the US executive branch. Without so much as a hint of insubordination or disrespect for the commander-in-chief, he has made it clear that his 40+ years of service to country have instilled within him values not compatible with those of President Donald J. Trump.  Consistent with his record of service, he has chosen the path of honorable exit.  In this administration he will likely be alone.

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All of the press and expert attention has been focused on whether the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union—Brexit—will occur by the March 29, 2019, deadline, in conformance with the referendum vote by the British people. If so, under what terms? Will there be a “soft” Brexit in which the UK remains a part of the EU Customs Union with full access to the single market? Will there be a “hard Brexit” in which the UK makes a clean break from the EU?  How will the devilishly difficult problem of maintaining an open border between Northern Ireland, which as part of the UK will leave the EU, and the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the EU, be resolved without rekindling Irish passions that caused a brutal civil war for years? What is clear is the fact that Brexit will have significant impacts on US-EU and US-UK relations.

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There is strategic logic, political logic, and then there is Donald Trump logic.

On Syria, political, military, and strategic logic was conveyed to US President Donald J. Trump by his secretary of defense and other advisers, very likely in the State Department and intelligence agencies, but certainly in Congress, where Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have strongly advised against a hasty withdrawal of US troops from Syria.  Among other things, Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria without a thought-through discussion and coordination with NATO allies, who have supported the war on ISIS, has angered senior advisers in and out of the administration.  Trump’s logic, by all indications, is mainly focused on domestic politics.

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Defense secretary to leave Trump administration at the end of February

The differences between Donald J. Trump and Jim Mattis were on display in their statements on December 20. While Trump wrote in a tweet that his defense secretary was “retiring” at the end of February; Mattis made clear he was resigning over policy differences with the president.


Mattis submitted his resignation after a failed attempt to convince Trump to keep US troops in Syria, The New York Times reported.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote in his resignation letter to Trump.

Trump said Mattis would leave the administration at the end of February.

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2018 was about more than royal weddings, Fortnite, and figuring out if you heard Yanny or Laurel. Were you paying attention to all the best summits, elections, deals, and dust-ups from around the world? Take our final quiz of 2018 before time runs out!

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We asked our community of experts for a list of books they would recommend for the holidays. Whether you like to read from cover to cover or between the lines, we have you covered.

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This past year was marked by historic peace agreements, contentious trade and diplomatic negotiations, hard-fought electoral consequences, causes for concern, and reasons for hope. As 2018 draws to a close, we take a look at some of the biggest news stories of the year from around the world.

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Saturday mornings for Lithuanian National Guard Private First Class Adomas Bužinskas rarely begin with a steaming mug of coffee in bed. Instead, the highly-skilled sharpshooter is often lying in a deep, cold trench defending Lithuania’s borders.

Lithuanians born after their country declared its independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990, are often referred to as the “Freedom Generation.” Bužinskas is one of them.

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Many of the “risks” we highlighted a year ago were suggestive of the serious structural problems at the heart of the global system. We wrote last year of a United States in crisis; if anything, it could be worse if US President Donald J. Trump is impeached in 2019. We correctly predicted then that populism would not be on its way out in Europe. The recent eruption in France of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) movement is testament to the nagging torments in Europe and in the United States of a middle class that feels ignored and its plight underappreciated by the political system. The tension between the United States and China is more acute than ever, fueled partly by a growing realization that China is more technologically advanced and savvy than was assumed. The current trade truce may hold up and an eventual agreement reached, but the fear is that we are growing ever further apart. China resents the United States trying to set the rules for others, while there is a growing realization that China may not fit into our conception of a liberal order.


Why do we undertake such annual rituals?  In part, it is to make clear in our mind what unfinished business we have left for the next year. What things can we check out? And what tasks still face us. 

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