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The US mid-term elections of November 2018

19-10-2018

The forthcoming mid-term elections in the United States, to be held on 6 November 2018, are likely to offer a closely watched political verdict on the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency. They will define not only the composition of the 116th US Congress, to meet from 3 January 2019 to 3 January 2021, but also the power balance both within Congress and between Congress and the President. In US mid-term elections, the entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate are up for ...

The forthcoming mid-term elections in the United States, to be held on 6 November 2018, are likely to offer a closely watched political verdict on the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency. They will define not only the composition of the 116th US Congress, to meet from 3 January 2019 to 3 January 2021, but also the power balance both within Congress and between Congress and the President. In US mid-term elections, the entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate are up for election. The Democratic party, currently the minority in both chambers, aims to regain control of the House of Representatives, at least, although the conditions for its winning back the Senate are less favourable. Any shift in power towards the Democrats will result in increased scrutiny and pressure on the sitting President, and might lead to detailed investigations in Congress into the performance of his Administration, and potentially to an impeachment attempt against President Trump personally. By contrast, if the Republicans succeed in retaining control of both chambers, this will consolidate the President’s power-base within his own party, create a more favourable backdrop to his intended run for re-election in 2020, and exacerbate the identity and leadership crises within the Democratic party. This Briefing provides background to the forthcoming mid-term elections, by offering an overview of how the US Congress is elected, by explaining issues such as voter registration, voting methods, the way the primaries work, election security issues and gerrymandering. It goes on to analyse the potential political implications of the mid-term election results.

US counter-terrorism since 9/11: Trends under the Trump administration

25-05-2018

The fight against terrorism has dominated the national security agenda in the United States since Al Qaeda's terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 (9/11). To improve the country's intelligence and homeland security apparatus, the presidential administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama implemented a series of legislative, organisational, policy, and personnel reforms. The new administration under Donald Trump is continuing these efforts and has put particular emphasis on restricting the entry ...

The fight against terrorism has dominated the national security agenda in the United States since Al Qaeda's terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 (9/11). To improve the country's intelligence and homeland security apparatus, the presidential administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama implemented a series of legislative, organisational, policy, and personnel reforms. The new administration under Donald Trump is continuing these efforts and has put particular emphasis on restricting the entry of and tightening the vetting process for refugees and immigrants. The administration has released a series of documents that provide strategic guidance for the US approach to national security and defence. Today, the US domestic counter-terrorism strategy focuses on radical Islamic terrorist threats, stopping the movement of foreign terrorist fighters, and countering the spread of radicalisation. In this context, cyberspace is of particular interest, since the internet provides opportunities for terrorists to inspire, radicalise and recruit followers; raise funds; communicate through encrypted apps; and supply guidance and instructions to followers for carrying out attacks. The European Union and the United States are key partners in the fight against terrorism, including through NATO.

United States' nuclear weapons policy: New priorities, new challenges

08-12-2017

The United States is the world's second largest nuclear power, coming close behind Russia. Together the two states account for 93 % of the world's nuclear weapons. Since the end of the Cold War, the US has followed a policy of reducing its nuclear arsenal, while maintaining a nuclear triad. Under President Obama, it embarked on an intense nuclear modernisation programme, while making commitments towards nuclear non-proliferation and – as a long-term goal – nuclear disarmament. President Donald Trump ...

The United States is the world's second largest nuclear power, coming close behind Russia. Together the two states account for 93 % of the world's nuclear weapons. Since the end of the Cold War, the US has followed a policy of reducing its nuclear arsenal, while maintaining a nuclear triad. Under President Obama, it embarked on an intense nuclear modernisation programme, while making commitments towards nuclear non-proliferation and – as a long-term goal – nuclear disarmament. President Donald Trump took office in January 2017 with the promise to discontinue the previous administration's policy priorities. This is reflected in the current realignment of the US nuclear weapons policy. The new administration aims to expand US nuclear capabilities, is sceptical of international arms-control agreements, and has a more determinant stance on non-proliferation. President Trump has criticised the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and consequently decertified the multilateral Iran nuclear deal in October 2017. The President has also characterised the bilateral New START Treaty, limiting the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons between the US and Russia, as 'a one-sided deal'. The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), a landmark nuclear arms control treaty between the US and the former USSR, seems to be in limbo, and nuclear proliferation efforts in North Korea have sparked a war of words between Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. The ongoing Nuclear Posture Review, together with the coming passage of the annual defence policy bill in Congress, the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2018, have the potential to provoke shifts in US nuclear policy.

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