What We're Watching: Kim Jong-un's New Weapon

What We're Watching: Kim Jong-un's New Weapon

North Korea's Dangerous New Weapon – North Korea and the United States have announced that a new round of nuclear talks will begin in coming days. The DPRK marked the occasion on Wednesday by test-firing a new type of ballistic missile, one able to carry a nuclear weapon, from a platform at sea. This was more than just North Korea's 11th weapons test this year alone. This missile can be launched from a submarine, a development that changes the game on calculations of which countries are in range of North Korean missiles. The talks, still expected to take place soon, should be interesting.


Iraq Protests – Baghdad and other major cities are under curfew after days of increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. So far, 18 people have been killed, and hundreds injured. Demonstrations are common in Iraq. But these protests, which began over a lack of jobs, are the largest in years and seem uncharacteristically spontaneous. (There's no party boss whipping them up.) After years of war, occupation, and a brutal fight with ISIS, Iraq's economy continues to struggle. The need to balance relations with the US and neighboring Iran doesn't make life easier. Abdul Mahdi's government is barely a year old. As public anger rises, how much longer can he last? And if he falls, who – inside the country or beyond – will be jockeying for power?

Justice Delayed in Kashmir – Since Indian troops moved into Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir on August 4, and India's government stripped the territory of its partial autonomy, an uneasy calm has taken hold. The internet remains down. Mobile phone connections are still suspended. Many schools and businesses remain closed. The streets are quiet. But frustration is growing for many residents. Thousands of locals have been arrested, but there are reportedly only two judges assigned to manage the petitions filed to advance their cases. It remains unclear whether justice delayed will become justice denied.

What We're Ignoring

Hong Kong Mask Ban – Hong Kong has now seen large—sometimes violent—pro-democracy protests for 16 weeks. In response, the territory's embattled government is reportedly set to announce a ban on wearing masks in public places, an ordinance that hasn't been used in more than half a century. There are four good reasons to ignore the possibility that protesters will voluntarily shed masks. One, many don't believe the local government has any democratic legitimacy. Two, they're not big fans of colonial-era laws. Three, they don't want Chinese officials to identify them. Many of those now wearing the masks are already violating the law as part of their protest.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

China's GDP grew a lower-than-expected 4.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, a whopping three percentage points less than in the previous period. It's a big deal for the world's second-largest economy, the only major one that expanded throughout the pandemic — and now at risk of missing its growth target of 6 percent for the entire year.

Normally, such a drastic slowdown would have put the ruling Communist Party in a tizzy. But this time, Xi Jinping knows this is the price he must pay for his big plans to curb rising inequality and boost the middle class at the expense of the CCP's traditional economic mantra: high growth above all else.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Read Ian Bremmer's wide-ranging essay in Foreign Affairs that puts in perspective both the challenge, and the opportunity, that comes from the unprecedented power of Big Tech.

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here on the road, something we haven't done very much recently, but will increasingly as we try to move through COVID. And I want to talk to you about a new article that I just put out in Foreign Affairs that I'm calling "The Technopolar Moment." Not unipolar, not bipolar, not multipolar, technopolar. What the hell does technopolar mean?

It means that increasingly big technology companies are themselves geopolitical actors. So to understand the future of the world, you can't just look at the United States, Europe and China. You need to look at the big tech companies, too.

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China gets away with a lot these days in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and elsewhere. That's because over the past decade, its economy has experienced explosive growth, making it an indispensable trading partner for almost every country in the world. At the same time, China has been expanding its share of the global economy, and is now set to overtake the US as the world's biggest economic powerhouse in the near term. We take a look at China's annual growth rate and share of the global economy based on GDP over the past decade.

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What is the legacy of Colin Powell?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell tragically died of complications of COVID-19. He was the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first Black National Security Advisor and the first Black Secretary of State. And he leaves a legacy of a long career, dedicated almost entirely to public service.

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Can this guy defeat Viktor Orban? Hungary's opposition movement of odd bedfellows has finally settled on the person they think has the best chance of defeating PM Viktor Orbán at the ballot box: Péter Márki-Zay, a politically conservative small-town mayor from southeastern Hungary, who beat out left-leaning European Parliament member Klara Dobrev in a weekend poll. Márki-Zay has a lot going for him: as a devout Catholic and father of seven it will be hard for the ultraconservative Orbán to paint him as a progressive threat, even as Márki-Zay reaches out to reassure left-leaning groups that he will protect LGBTQ rights. What's more, Márki-Zay has little political baggage: until recently he was a marketing executive. But can the relatively inexperienced Márki-Zay keep the various opposition factions happy? The stakes couldn't be higher: since taking power more than a decade ago, Orbán has deliberately made Hungary into an "illiberal" state, cracking down on the press, undermining the rule of law, and clashing with the EU. Bonus: if Márki-Zay stays in the news, you get to say "Hódmezővásárhely" the name of the city he currently runs.

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5,600: Myanmar's military junta will release from prison 5,600 people who were jailed for protesting against last February's coup. The gesture, the biggest act of amnesty since the junta took power, comes just days after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which rarely interferes in members' internal affairs, said it would exclude the head of Myanmar's military from an upcoming regional meeting.

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Colin Powell's legacy

US Politics

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