– – – Tearline – – – Sept. 7, 2017

In this week's Tearline: Dealing with the impacts of hurricanes, the persecution of the Rohingya, a win for the rule of law in Kenya, and more threats from North Korea.

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Tearline noun | ‘ter ï lin
The portions of an intelligence report that provide the substance of a more highly classified or controlled report without identifying sensitive sources, methods, or other operational information.

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What was that?!

The latest wave of violence in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine State has escalated. In the last two weeks alone, more than 120,000 Muslim Rohingya people have been sent fleeing into Bangladesh. So far, an estimated 400 people have died in clashes between Rohingya insurgents and Myanmar’s military. As a result of the renewed violence, the World Food Programme had to suspend food aid operations in Rakhine State, which will affect an estimated 250,000 people. This is an appalling situation and is tragic for a country that has done so much in recent years to emerge from authoritarianism and begin the road to democracy. It also poses a challenge for the United States, which has been supportive of the political transformation but must take action to address the persecution of the Rohingya immediately.

What’s missing?

Last week, the Supreme Court of Kenya ruled the country’s recent presidential election null and void, responding to a suit—filed by the losing candidate Raila Odinga—that claimed that the election was not free and fair. New elections will take place October 17. In a country where past elections have been marred by violence, this was a win for the rule of law, foreshadowing another test for Kenyan democracy with the new vote and its aftermath. It would be good if the Trump administration had an assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of African Affairs.

What’s on deck in the world for next week

The U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) is coming! Next week is the formal start to the annual convening of the UNGA, which will kick off the year’s most intense series of speeches by presidents and prime ministers, as well as an important round of diplomatic engagements. Just about every issue under the sun is likely to be covered. Stay tuned.

Better ideas

North Korea is at it again. This time, Pyongyang tested its largest nuclear weapon yet, which some analysts say may actually be a hydrogen bomb, as North Korea claimed. That, of course, provoked an immediate series of tweets from U.S. President Donald Trump, who responded to North Korea’s latest act by criticizing South Korea’s handling of the situation and by threatening to cut off U.S. trade with every country that does business with North Korea. The Trump administration is clearly lacking good ideas in dealing with North Korea. Luckily, CAP has some: See here for how to deter and contain the threat; here for a new piece by CAP’s Melanie Hart on how to ramp up sanctions; and here for a piece in The Guardian by CAP’s Mike Fuchs, where he discusses pursuing diplomacy.

Quote of the week

President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is as heartless and cruel a decision as one can imagine. But it is not only morally wrong and economically damaging to America—as made clear here by CAP research—it is also a threat to national security. John Cohen, a former senior official for the Department of Homeland Security, makes that case here, arguing: “Ending this program will force these young people who are contributing to our country back into the shadows, increasing the risk that they will engage in illegal activity. It will certainly make them less likely to cooperate with local law enforcement authorities and that will have a detrimental impact on local efforts to prevent violent crime.”

Read of the week

As the devastation of Hurricane Harvey—and now Hurricane Irma—dominates headlines in the United States, South Asia has been devastated by floods that have killed at least 1,400 people. Tens of thousands are getting sick from waterborne diseases, and the displacement of people is enormous. For the Trump administration, an appropriate response would be to not gut humanitarian assistance budgets and to start taking climate change seriously.

Weekly Trump-Russia reminder

There is a lot going on. Russian attempts to interfere with actual voting in 2016 are much more extensive than we thought. Special counsel Robert Mueller has an early draft of a letter that detailed the reasons for President Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Don McGahn, the White House counsel and assistant to the president, prevented Trump from sending the letter to Comey. Donald Trump Jr. spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee today about the Russia investigation. And it turns out Facebook sold ads to almost 500 accounts—likely from a Russian “troll farm”—that were stirring up divisive issues during the campaign. And that’s just what was learned in the last week.

230 days still violating the Constitution

President Trump has been violating the Constitution’s prohibition against corruption by foreign governments for 230 days because his companies are receiving payments from foreign governments. For an in-depth look at Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, see this CAP interactive map and series of columns.

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Michael Fuchs

Senior Fellow

Meredith Leal

Program Coordinator

Abigail Bard

Former Policy Analyst, Asia