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Escalation and Tension With Iran, North Korea, and China: The Politics Daily

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“We’ve now descended to the point at which all that is keeping diplomacy with North Korea from collapsing is how many miles its missiles are flying,” Friedman writes. In other words: Since none of these missiles is capable of hitting the United States, Washington hasn’t fully given up on talks.

Shanahan gets the part: Last week, we told you to watch for whether Trump would officially nominate Patrick Shanahan to the role of secretary of defense—the White House announced on Thursday that it will. Shanahan now “faces a culture of entrenched interests and standard operating procedures that has thwarted the ambitions of far more experienced bureaucrats,” Gilsinan writes.

This also happened: Military experts say the missiles Kim launched this week look strangely similar to missiles Russia has deployed in Syria. (Eric Talmadge, Associated Press)

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🚨 Terrorism & security

A 2006 photo shows Shiite-militia members in Baghdad carrying mock coffins to criticize American actions in the region. (Wathiq Khuzaie / Getty)

Navigating a post-ISIS Iraq: “The global fight against ISIS created strange alliances,” writes Mike Giglio. One example: The United States allied with Shiite militias on the shared objective of defeating the Sunni extremist group. Awkwardly, some of those militias were funded by Iran. And as tensions spike between Washington and Tehran, the militias might become a flash point.

But Shiite militias also have a role to play in parts of Iraq that have been destabilized since the American invasion in 2003. In Samarra, a majority-Sunni city, Shiite militias are behind recent efforts to rebuild. It’s a fragile peace, Thanassis Cambanis reports.

This also happened: A former U.S. intelligence analyst was charged with leaking classified information to a reporter at The Intercept, less than a year after another Intercept source was sentenced to five years in prison for the same offense. (Aruna Viswanatha and Dustin Volz, The Wall Street Journal)

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🇨🇳 EYES ON China

Trade warriors: Negotiators from the United States and China met in Washington to try to end the months-long trade dispute between the two nations. They didn’t make much progress. The U.S. put more tariffs in place at 12:01 a.m. Friday, even as talks continued later that day.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called the talks “constructive” but offered no details. Watch for whether Trump keeps the higher tariffs in place—and whether talks will continue if he does.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is at the center of the talks. As Matt Peterson wrote in December, Lighthizer isn’t afraid of “bend[ing] the rules of the global economy in America’s favor—even if that means breaking the system America itself created.”

This also happened: In a London speech on the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, Pompeo warned Britain to be wary of the Chinese tech company Huawei and “Beijing’s spymasters.” (Stephen Castle, The New York Times)


About us: This edition of The Atlantic’s Politics & Policy newsletter was written by Gabby Deutch and edited by Yara Bayoumy, the national-security editor, and Shan Wang, the newsletters editor.


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