North America

My Good Friend Roosevelt

Were US-Cuban relations soured for the want of ten dollars? Perhaps better than anyone else, Fidel Castro was keenly aware of the fact that the histories and destinies of Cuba and the United States were profoundly intertwined. Luis Martínez-Fernández History Today A fascinating and virtually unknown document housed in the US National Archives and Records Administration demonstrates that Castro was aware of this from an early age. ‘My good friend Roosvelt’, opens a letter a young Castro sent to President Franklin Delano ... Read More »

Trump Asks for Unity, but Presses Hard Line on Immigration

WASHINGTON — President Trump delivered a message of bipartisan unity on Tuesday night in his first address to Congress in the new era of divided government, but signaled that he will continue to wage war for the… Peter Baker The New York Times In a nationally televised speech that toggled between conciliation and confrontation, Mr. Trump presented himself as a leader who can work across party lines even as he pressed lawmakers to build a… “We must reject the politics ... Read More »

INF nuclear treaty: Russia plans new missile systems after pullout

Russia says it is planning to develop new missile systems after both Russia and the US suspended their involvement in an arms control pact. BBC The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) banned the pair from using short- and medium-range missiles. The US has long accused Russia of violating the pact, and last week US President Donald Trump announced he would exit it. Russia followed suit. The moves have raised concerns about a new arms race. The INF was signed during ... Read More »

Europeans fear Trump may threaten not just the transatlantic bond, but the state of their union

BERLIN — As President Trump prepares to deliver his second State of the Union address, the leaders of the United States’ closest allies in Europe are filled with anxiety. Dan Balz and Griff Witte The Washington Post They are unsure of whom to talk to in Washington. They can’t tell whether Trump considers them friends or foes. They dig through his Twitter feed for indications of whether the president intends to wreck the European Union and NATO or merely hobble the ... Read More »

How countries use ‘migration diplomacy’ to pursue their own interests

The story of Rahaf Mohammed, the Saudi teenager granted asylum by Canada on January 11 after barricading herself in a Bangkok hotel room, sparked headlines around the world. Authors: The Conversation The decision to grant asylum to Mohammed, the daughter of a Saudi town governor, was the latest episode in an ongoing spat between Canada and Saudi Arabia. Commenting on the decision, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said: Canada is a country that understands how important it is to ... Read More »

China’s research in artificial intelligence ‘far outranks’ Huawei threat, expert says

Experts are warning of the threat posed by China’s use of artificial intelligence (AI) to develop a survellience state, and say the risk of such authoritarian behaviour spreading to other parts of the world is increasing. Ian Burrows ABC While Chinese technology company Huawei is making daily headlines at the moment, Greg Austin, professor of cyber security, strategy and diplomacy at the University of New South Wales, said there were… “If I were asked which was the bigger threat from ... Read More »

House punts on full transparency

The Massachusetts House this week overwhelmingly declined to adopt a full ban on the use of nondisclosure agreements by its members in sexual harassment cases — again. Editorial Boston Globe In stark contrast, the state Senate voted to eliminate their use altogether. In rejecting a sensible, basic measure, the House further entrenched a culture of secrecy that has no place in government. House rules currently allow the use of so-called NDAs only if victims of sexual harassment request them. Typically ... Read More »

Mexico’s New Neutrality in the Venezuela Crisis

Bucking the U.S. and several large and influential Latin American states, Mexico has not recognised Juan Guaidó’s claim on Venezuela’s presidency, and has instead argued for negotiations to end the country’s crisis. As Crisis Group’s Senior Mexico Analyst Falko Ernst explains, this position is rooted in a new Mexican foreign policy doctrine. What is Mexico’s position on the fast-developing events in Venezuela? Mexico has declined to recognise Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela, and has adopted a… Mexico’s New ... Read More »

Kurdish lobby struggles to slow US pullout from Syria

Reeling from President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria, the political wing of the Pentagon-backed Kurdish group that has spent the past four years fighting the Islamic State started the… Jack Detsch Al-Monitor It’s not clear how the delegation, led by Ilham Ahmed, happened upon the president. Trump told the group “I love the Kurds” and promised that the US allies are “not going to be killed” by Turkish forces, the Syrian Democratic Committee co-president recalled ... Read More »

INSTEX: Europe sets up transactions channel with Iran

Germany, France and the UK have set up a payment channel with Iran called INSTEX, to help continue trade and circumvent US sanctions. DW Washington has cautioned EU nations against such actions. Several European countries have set up a new transaction channel that will allow companies to continue trading with Irandespite US sanctions. The announcement was made on Thursday. The channel, set up by Germany, France and the UK, is called  INSTEX — short for “Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges.” “We’re making ... Read More »

American colonisation killed so many people it triggered climate change, study suggests

‘Genocide-generated drop in CO2’ resulted from abandoned farmland turning into forests that sucked climate-warming gas from atmosphere Josh Gabbatiss Independent The arrival of Europeans in the Americas left a trail of death in their wake that also triggered a period of climate change, according to a new theory proposed by British scientists. A University College London team estimates that 55 million indigenous people died following the conquest of the Americas that began at the end of the 15th century. The majority of these ... Read More »

The un-diplomat

As US ambassador to Germany, Ric Grenell hasn’t won many hearts and minds. But he has gotten results. By MATTHEW KARNITSCHNIG Politico BERLIN — Richard Grenell arrived in the German capital as Donald Trump’s ambassador last year with a reputation as a diplomatic bad boy. A Fox News commentator and former aide to John Bolton —  the outspoken head of the National Security Council — Grenell was known as a man who didn’t let diplomatic decorum stand in the way ... Read More »

MPs have united around a fantasy Brexit plan in yet another act of national hubris

After months of disagreement and a historic defeat in parliament, MPs have finally given Theresa May a lifeline in what is being hailed as a “mandate” to go back to Europe and renegotiate the… Chris Stafford The Conversation Even the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has agreed to enter talks with the prime minister to set out his party’s position. He has previously been hesitant to do so and, it should be noted, was initially ignored by Number 10. However, while ... Read More »

Europe’s refugee crisis explains why border walls don’t stop migration

President Trump has long called migration a security crisis, but in recent weeks he has also referred to the situation along the southern border as a humanitarian crisis. Eleanor Paynter The Conversation As he ended the government shutdown in a televised speech on Jan. 25, Trump reiterated his claim that a border wall between the United States and Mexico would save the lives of Central American migrants, many of whom are women and children. “Walls work,” he said. “They save ... Read More »

Iranian parallels hanging over US-North Korea negotiations

With Washington focused on Pyongyang’s nuclear arms while overlooking missiles, it may be setting up a future Iran-style conundrum Stephen Bryen Asia Times In advance of the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, planned for next month, Vice President Mike Pence said the US will not require a complete list of missile sites from North Korea. Instead, the US plans to focus first on nuclear policy. But omitting a discussion on missile sites and missile ... Read More »

Use it or lose it: Seagoing nations must defend embattled waterways

Great Britain is returning to seaways “east of Suez,” decades after freeing its colonies and withdrawing, more or less, to the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. James R. Holmes The Hill A warship from Britain’s Royal Navy demonstrated on behalf of nautical freedom in the South China Sea last September, drawing a stern rebuke from China. This month the frigate HMS Argyll joined the destroyer USS McCampbell for six days’ worth of exercises in the South China Sea. Beijing will doubtless ... Read More »