This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy

Photo by Evan Vucci/AP; photo illustration by Nick Kirkpatrick/The Washington Post

Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked

Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Philip Rucker

Washington Post

In the final days before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of his inner circle pleaded with him to acknowledge publicly what U.S. intelligence agencies had already concluded — that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was real.

Holding impromptu interventions in Trump’s 26th-floor corner office at Trump Tower, advisers — including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and designated chief of staff, Reince Priebus — prodded the president-elect to accept the findings that the nation’s spy chiefs had personally presented to him on Jan. 6. (Read more)

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Why China Won’t Rescue North Korea

Oriana Skylar Mastro

Foreign Affairs

U.S. officials have long agreed with Mao Zedong’s famous formulation about relations between China and North Korea: the two countries are like “lips and teeth.” Pyongyang depends heavily on Beijing for energy, food, and most of its meager trade with the outside world, and so successive U.S. administrations have tried to enlist the Chinese in their attempts to denuclearize North Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump has bought into this logic, alternately pleading for Chinese help and threatening action if China does not do more. In the same vein, policymakers have assumed that if North Korea collapsed or became embroiled in a war with the United States, China would try to support its cherished client from afar, and potentially even deploy troops along the border to prevent a refugee crisis from spilling over into China. (Read more)

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Ignore the victory parades: Russia will struggle to escape from the Syrian quagmire (£)

Neil Hauer

The Telegraph

Reading news coverage of Syria over the past several weeks, one could be forgiven for thinking the conflict in the country is coming to an end. Various international powers and local combatants are declaring victory over the Islamic State (Isil), including in neighbouring Iraq.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also announced, again, that Moscow will be withdrawing much of its forces in Syria. It would appear that events have largely concluded beyond some forthcoming political formalities.

To be sure, Russia has achieved some considerable success. In a two-year campaign, they have crushed the armed opposition to Assad, culminating in the full recapture of Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, by government forces. (Read more)

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Brexit: Inside the UK’s messy deal to secure an amicable divorce (£)

Alex Barker and George Parker

Financial Times

Theresa May ended the call just before 11:30pm last Thursday, knowing the future shape of Brexit and even the fate of her government would depend on what she did next. She looked at the grey-faced officials, who had spent three gruelling weeks negotiating the final text of the UK’s divorce deal with the EU. She had not received the green light on the Irish issue that they so desperately wanted. But she decided to push ahead, anyway. “OK,” Mrs May said. “We’re going to go.” It was one of the biggest judgment calls of her premiership, made against the dull thud of a disco upstairs at the Downing Street Christmas party, and while she was surrounded by discarded plates and half-eaten canapés. (Read more)

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Surviving Congo’s massacres: ‘I climbed over bodies to flee’

Fergal Keane

BBC

Day by day the truth recedes from view. It is concealed by thick grasses. Only a few fragments of bone and shreds of cloth reach from the earth and demand attention.

“The blood is speaking,” said “Papa” Isaac, a local translator with the UN in Tshimbulu town in the central Kasai region. He had brought us to the centre of a field where, he says, “the blood of my brothers is speaking”.

Nobody knows how many bodies the army dumped here.

A woman working in a field nearby approached, curious at at the presence of UN soldiers. Her 12-year-old son was among those buried in the grave.

“The military were burying the bodies. We saw where they stopped and how they dug to bury the corpses… some were as young as 12,” she sad.

“They did not only kill the militia. They killed innocent people.” (Read more)

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