North Korea Shifts Their Strategy

After the collapse of US-North Korea negotiations in Hanoi earlier this March, Kim Jong-un has begun to pursue a foreign policy strategy that may not necessarily include a diplomatic relationship with the United States. This follows Kim’s meeting with Russian President Putin in Vladivostok in April, a move that aims to improve North Korea’s economic partnerships and increase leverage in future negotiations with the United States. If the United States does not respond to North Korea’s shifting strategy, tensions may rise once again.

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Donald Trump’s New Israel-Palestine Peace Plan

In June 2019, the United States Trump administration is scheduled to unveil the new White House plan, which involve the reinstitution of funds for Palestine but no two-state solution. The new plan has come under criticism from Mohammad Shtayyeh, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, as well as over thirty politicians from the European Union. As the Trump administration continues to endorse controversial Israeli policies,it threatens to end the credibility of the United States as a trustworthy third-party and sabotage the prospects of reaching an agreement in the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

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Russian Warships Arrive the Philippines Should the United States be Worried about the Philippines’ Independent Foreign Policy?

In April 2019, three Russian ships docked in Manila for five-day “goodwill visit” amid the escalating tensions in the South China Sea. The move follows President Duterte’s three foreign policy goals of separating the Philippines’ foreign policy from the United States, establishing stronger ties with non-traditions partners like Russia, Japan, and India, and improving relations with China. As the foreign policy of the Philippines becomes increasingly balanced and independent, what are the implications for other Southeast Asian states and the United States?

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Japan’s Move Away from Pacifism

Last December, Shinzo Abe’s cabinet approved plans to significantly increase Japan’s defense spending. The new five-year defense plan is seen as a shift away from Japan’s constitutionally-enshrined principles of pacifism. While the Abe administration maintains that the budget changes are in response to the rise of perceived regional threats, Japanese public opinion remains sharply divided.

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The EU Seems to Not Trust Their Leaders; Should We?

The past month has seen a number of highly anticipated votes in European Union nations. As the United Kingdom struggles to determine the process of executing Brexit (if at all), Theresa May survived her attempted removal 325 to 306. Economically distraught Greece has fared no better as embattled Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras narrowly escapes a vote of no-confidence by a mere 3 tallies to remain in power. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has recently become the third EU leader to be faced with disruption of his direct political power. The outlook for the coming months in European politics is one filled with legislative strife for nations both at home and throughout the EU

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The Next Big Referendum to Shape the European Union

Almost three months since it first erupted, the Yellow Vest protests in Paris still rages on. The Yellow Vest protests have since transformed into a general anti-government movement with no clearly defined agenda apart from a common display of frustration towards an unresponsive and out-of-touch government. Rumors in French media have hinted at a potential nation-wide referendum on May 26th this year. If true, this would be the first French referendum in 14 years, with strong implications for France and the European Union.

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Eight Years on from the Arab Spring: A Tunisian Turnaround?

Eight years on from the “Arab Spring” of 2011, Tunisia continues to struggle with questions of economy and identity. While Tunisian President Beji Essebsi has implemented a number of initiatives to combat extremism and improve regional and international trade, the remains much uncertainty in the country’s political structure and domestic economic situation.

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Libya: Abusing Migrants in Detention

In January 2019, the Human Rights Watch organization published a report titled “No Escape from Hell: EU Policies Contribute to Abuse of Migrants in Libya”, which documents instances of severe overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and malnutrition in Libyan detention centers. Today, human rights abuses against migrants remain rampant in Libya as the country continue to serve as a departure point into Europe for migrants fleeing from economic hardship, violence, and discrimination in their home countries in Africa.

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Yemen: A Human Security Crisis

According to the United Nations, today 79% of Yemen’s population is in poverty, compared with 49% just two years ago. Of the roughly 28.5 million people living in the country, 22 million are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. From a human security standpoint, ending the conflict in Yemen is as much a mission to secure regional stability as a pursuit to ensure civilian wellbeing.

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Vaccines: Are They Truly Able to Protect Citizens?

In 2011, the World Health Organization developed a strategic document called the Global Vaccine Safety Blueprint, which aims to establish indicators for vaccine safety in all countries. Yet as of 2018, vaccination schemes around the world continue to undergo a number of setbacks, including a major vaccine scandal in China and failure to prevent measles outbreaks in Thailand and the United States. Despite current progress, there remain much to be done by governments to increase health standards transparency and consideration for communities that they serve.

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Trump’s Trade War: Economic Naivety or Deft Populist Politics?

Throughout his campaign and administration, President Donald Trump has emphasized the need to decrease trade deficits with China through increasing tariffs as one of the core tenets of his pledge to “Make America Great Again”. While academics and other experts often criticize the President as an “economic dummy” with little understanding of public policy, these negative judgments may actually allow President Trump the possibility to market and implement policies in a way that a “traditional” administration could not.

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Spain's Open Attitude Towards Syrian Refugees

In 2018, Spain increased its intake of Syrian refugees by 300%, accepting 38,451 documented Syrian refugees from the Mediterranean. Spain’s popular attitudes and political rhetoric towards Syrian refugees have also been markedly more positive in comparison to those from other European countries in face of rising populism and shifting public opinion. Will these policies and public sentiments create lasting effects in the coming months and years?

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What Merkel’s Stepdown Means for Germany and the Rest of Europe

In October 2018, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her intention to step down from her position as the head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), signalling the end of her thirteen year career in office. While frontrunner Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK) has been elected as Merkel’s successor to the CDU in December, there remain important questions for the future direction of the party, German domestic policy, and the European Union itself.

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Could the Treaty that ended the Cold War start a New Nuclear Arms Race?

The signing of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1988 was a pivotal moment in ending the nuclear arms race and the Cold War. Yet in October 2018, the United States under the Trump Administration announced its intention to withdraw from the treaty following violations of the treaty from both sides since 2001. If negotiations stagnate and powerful bodies like the United States and Russia continue to battle and build nuclear arms, there could be the evolution of a new nuclear arms race.

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China’s Xinjiang Camps: Human Rights Violations and International Interference

While China has frequently received international criticism for human rights abuses over the decades — violent suppression of protests, disappearances and arrests of “political dissidents,” tight control over religion, information, and speech — the Xinjiang re-educational camps may be one of the more pressing issues of human rights today. Yet, efforts at uncovering and condemning the camps have been complicated by media censorship, international diplomacy, as well as questions of national sovereignty.

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A Military Face of China’s ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative in Pakistan

A central piece of Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative lies in what has been titled the Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an approximately $62 billion dollar investment to strengthen bilateral ties in infrastructure, scientific research, and defense. The newest developments in the CPEC initiative involve increasing air force and naval cooperation between China and Pakistan, which holds significant implications towards the Belt and Road Initiative and regional diplomacy.

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The Trump Administration’s Renewed Commitment in Syria

The Syrian Civil War has waged on for more than 7 years, and the United States is likely to remain in Syria until there is wider political peace in an attempt to avoid a military resurgence similar to the case of Iraq in 2011. However, the Trump administration’s renewed commitment to stability in Syria will require more than just military presence.

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US Sanctions on Iran Hinder Hope of Future Progress

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was a milestone of Barack Obama’s legacy and the history of US-Iran relations, but was recently overturned by the Trump administration in November. The move to re-impose sanctions will not only prove ineffective to bring about the outcomes his administration purportedly supports, but it will also reduce the US’s ability to engage with Iran and other countries and negotiate successfully in the long-term.

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Cyberspace: The Real "Final Frontier"

The past two decades have seen unprecedented growth in online usage and dependency within nations around the globe. The internet has facilitated communication, international trade, and even the spread and development of democracy, but has also generated a host of security concerns involving the information and safety of nations and their citizens. Due to the constant growth of this threat, the next major international conflict very well may be fought not on soil but over cyberspace

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