August 27, 2018

"Europe can no longer rely on the United States for its security," French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday. "It is up to us today to take our responsibilities and guarantee our own security, and thus have European sovereignty."

Macron was speaking to a gathering of French overseas ambassadors, outlining his diplomatic agenda. "I want us to launch an exhaustive review of our security with all Europe's partners, which includes Russia," he said, arguing that at present France is "paying the price of several decades of a weakened Europe." Now, he added, "France wants a Europe which protects, even as extremism has grown stronger and nationalism has awoken." Macron will travel to Denmark and Finland to promote this message.

The French president's comments echo those of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who argued in an op-ed last week that Europe must "take an equal share of the responsibility" for its own defense and "form a counterweight" to Washington. Bonnie Kristian

August 26, 2018
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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday accused the United States of being focused "on a psychological war against Iran and its business partners."

In his comments to an Iranian state news agency, Zarif slammed President Trump's decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal, arguing the move has had negative consequences for the U.S., too. "From the time that Trump announced the withdrawal from the nuclear deal, America has not been able to reach its goals," Zarif said.

He also acknowledged Trump's leaving has caused political conflict within Iran. "There are some in the country who, instead of laying the groundwork for using the opportunities presented by the nuclear deal, chose a political fight," Zarif said. "And this political fight led to despair and disappointment." Bonnie Kristian

August 25, 2018
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The Trump administration has cut about $200 million in development aid to Palestine, announcing Friday the money would be allocated to "high-priority projects elsewhere."

"At the direction of President Trump, we have undertaken a review of U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with U.S. national interests and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer," said the State Department. "This decision takes into account the challenges the international community faces in providing assistance in Gaza, where Hamas control endangers the lives of Gaza's citizens and degrades an already dire humanitarian and economic situation."

The Palestine Liberation Organization condemned the decision, labeling it "the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool" and vowing not to "be intimidated [or] succumb to coercion."

Trump on Twitter earlier this year claimed "we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect." He threatened to withdraw U.S. aid as a means of forcing Palestinian leaders to the negotiating table with Israel. Trump cited his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as a boon to peace talks, but most experts believe the recognition made diplomacy more difficult. Bonnie Kristian

August 6, 2018
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The Trump administration on Monday restored punitive sanctions on Iran that were previously lifted under the terms of the nuclear deal from which President Trump withdrew the United States this year. Additional sanctions will be renewed in coming months, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated they'll be around a while.

"'We're hopeful that we can find a way to move forward, but it's going to require enormous change on the part of the Iranian regime," he told reporters while en route to Southeast Asia. "They've got to behave like a normal country. That's the ask. It's pretty simple."

Pompeo labeled Iranian leadership "bad actors" and said he does not have high hopes Tehran will comply with U.S. demands soon. "Perhaps that will be the path the Iranians choose to go down," he said. "But there's no evidence today of a change in their behavior."

By contrast, the European Union issued a statement objecting to the renewed sanctions and reiterating its commitment to the Iran nuclear deal. Bonnie Kristian

July 22, 2018
Alex Halada

"America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday, "and war with Iran is the mother of all wars."

Rouhani issued his warning to the Trump administration at a meeting of Iranian diplomats, arguing that attempts to undermine Tehran among the Iranian public would not be successful. "You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran's security and interests," he said. In 1953, the U.S. helped engineer a coup to overthrow Iran's democratically elected government and support a pro-Western monarchy.

The Iranian president also addressed President Trump's June demand, since softened, that nations including China, India, and Turkey stop purchasing oil from Iran by early November. "Anyone who understands the rudiments of politics doesn't say, 'We will stop Iran's oil exports,'" Rouhani said.

Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year, claiming future negotiations will lead to a better arrangement. That has yet to materialize. Bonnie Kristian

July 21, 2018
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"By their own terms and what [Chinese President Xi Jinping] enunciates, I would argue by definition what they're waging against us is fundamentally a cold war — a cold war not like we saw during the Cold War, but a cold war by definition," Michael Collins, deputy assistant director of the CIA's East Asia mission center, said of China in a security summit speech Friday.

Collins defined cold war as a "country that exploits all avenues of power licit and illicit, public and private, economic and military, to undermine the standing of your rival relative to your own standing without resorting to conflict," adding, "The Chinese do not want conflict."

But a desire to avoid military conflict does not preclude competition "far more [significant] by any extreme than what the Russians could put forward," Collins continued, labeling China the "broadest, most challenging, most significant threat we face as a country." The next step for the United States, he advised, is to decide whether to treat China as a "true adversary or a legitimate competitor" on the world stage.

These remarks came the same day as President Trump's threat in a CNBC interview to levy new tariffs on all $500 billion in imports the U.S. buys from China each year unless Beijing waves a white flag in Trump's trade war. Bonnie Kristian

June 17, 2018
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Conservative Ivan Duque of the Democratic Center party is the next president of Colombia, after winning 53.9 percent of the vote in a second round runoff election Sunday.

Duque campaigned against the peace deal the government signed with FARC rebels in 2016, which ended 52 years of civil war. He vowed to modify parts of the deal that were controversial, like giving former militants guaranteed seats in congress. His opponent, Gustavo Petro, is the former mayor of Bogota and was once a leftist militant; he supports the peace deal.

When Duque takes office on Aug. 8, shortly after his 42nd birthday, he will become the country's youngest ever president. He worked at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C., before returning to Colombia in 2014 at the insistence of former president Alvaro Uribe to fill a seat in the senate. Critics say Duque is Uribe's puppet. Catherine Garcia

June 10, 2018
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday he is ready for a face-to-face meeting with President Trump in the near future. Trump has suggested a summit several times, most recently in a call between the two leaders about the risk of a new arms race.

"The U.S. president has repeatedly said that it's reasonable to hold such a meeting," Putin said while attending a conference in China. "As soon as the U.S. side is ready, the meeting will take place, depending, of course, on my working schedule." He proposed Austria as a possible location.

This overture comes after Trump ruffled feathers at the weekend's G7 summit in Canada by repeatedly suggesting, once on Friday and once at a press conference Saturday, that Russia be added back to the group to make it again the G8. Bonnie Kristian

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