This article appeared in the February 01, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Old divisions, new divisions, and signs of solidarity

Bob Daugherty/AP/File
US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev exchange pens during the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signing ceremony in the White House East Room in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 1987. Mr. Gorbachev's translator, Pavel Palazhchenko, stands in the middle. The US administration announced Feb. 1 that it will withdraw from the pact.

Sometimes nations standing together can change history.

That happened in 1987, when the US and its NATO allies won a treaty eliminating an entire class of nuclear weapons via their collective will to confront the Soviet Union. Here’s a story of mine from the time, describing how the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty came together.

Today the US announced it will withdraw from the INF pact, saying Russia is cheating. It’s another blow to NATO’s teetering solidarity, and a test of how the White House handles Vladimir Putin’s pushing of geopolitical limits.

Those old cold war divisions are appearing in today’s Latin America, too. The US, aligned with regional powers from Canada to Brazil, wants Venezuela’s embattled leftist President Nicolás Maduro to go. Russia and China want him to stay. The longer he hangs on, the better his chances, writes the Monitor’s Howard LaFranchi.

Meanwhile, the divisions in Washington are symbolic as much as physical. When is a “wall” a real wall? Another government shutdown may hinge on the answer, as Democratic and Republican lawmakers try to strike an agreement on border security that satisfies President Trump. (He has called wall talks a “waste of time.”)

Finally, the US released employment numbers on Friday, and they were good. “The job train,” said one expert, “just keeps rolling.”

Now to our five stories for your Friday.

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This article appeared in the February 01, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 02/01 edition