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Venezuela On The Brink?

Venezuela On The Brink?

Since taking power following the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, Nicolas Maduro has adopted many tactics to remain in charge. He's introduced gimmicks to try to stave off economic collapse, blamed product shortages and growing opposition on foreigners, borrowed billions from China and Russia, ordered crackdowns on protests, arrested critics, expelled foreign journalists, stacked courts with cronies, stripped opposition-controlled legislatures of power, and rigged elections while firmly denying the crisis-plagued country is in crisis.


There's a new confrontation brewing. On Wednesday, huge numbers of protesters flooded the streets of Caracas and other major cities to demand Maduro's ouster, and the newly appointed leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido declared himself interim president. The United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru quickly recognized Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate president. Mexico, Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Iran, and Turkey are sticking with Maduro.

Is Venezuela on the verge of major change? There's no credible sign of that yet. Maduro will only be forced from power when senior military commanders decide that keeping him in place is more dangerous than ousting him. A direct appeal from Guaido to the military makes clear he understands that, but the strong response from security forces to this week's protests and their pledge to back Madurosuggest that moment isn't imminent.

But that's a choice that a few senior military men will make in secret. If they decide it's time to abandon Maduro, a status quo that has dragged on for years could be reversed in a matter of hours.

Public exhaustion with endless economic hardship, the scale of latest protests, and broad international support for a new government give the opposition and its new leader real momentum. They will certainly try to use it.

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It almost didn't happen — but here we are again. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden face off tonight in the final presidential debate of the 2020 US election campaign.

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Back in 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump presented his vision for an "America First" foreign policy, which symbolized a radical departure from the US' longtime approach to international politics and diplomacy.

In electing Donald Trump, a political outsider, to the top job, American voters essentially gave him a mandate to follow through on these promises. So, has he?

Trade

"A continuing rape of our country."

On the 2016 campaign trail, candidate Trump said that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a 12 country trade deal pushed by the Obama administration — would "rape" America's economy by imperiling the manufacturing sector, closing factories, and taking more jobs overseas.

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In an op-ed titled "Iran Arms Embargo Reckoning," the Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that ending the UN arms embargo on Iran was a major flaw of the 2015 nuclear deal and questions whether Biden could do anything to contain Iran at this point. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Henry Rome take out the Red Pen to explain why this discussion misrepresents the importance of the embargo and the consequences for its expiration.

So, the US presidential election is now just days away, and today's selection is focusing on a specific aspect of foreign policy that will certainly change depending on who wins in the presidential contest—namely America's approach to Iran.

You've heard me talk before about the many similarities between Trump and Biden on some international policies, like on China or on Afghanistan. But Iran is definitely not one of those. Trump hated the JCPOA, the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, put together under the Obama administration, and he walked away from it unilaterally. Joe Biden, if he were to become president, would try to bring it back.

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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government surrender Osama bin Laden and end support for al-Qaeda. The Taliban refused.

On October 7, US bombs began falling on Taliban forces. NATO allies quickly pledged support for the US, and US boots hit the ground in Afghanistan two weeks later.

Thus began a war, now the longest in US history, that has killed more than 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. It has cost the American taxpayer nearly $3 trillion. US allies have also made human and material sacrifices.

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