By Gideon Rachman

Tear down this wall” demanded Ronald Reagan in Berlin in 1987. “Build the wall” demands Donald Trump, the man poised to take over Reagan’s party by winning the Republican nomination for the US presidency in 2016.

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Maybe we should rename this newsletter “White House Meltdown” after the Republican debate in Texas which saw Marco Rubio launch waron Donald Trump. While the presidential contenders brawled in Texas, Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator who last week told me that the GOP was facing its own Shia-Sunni conflict, said his party “has gone bats**t crazy”.Back in September, Jerry Springer, the host of the eponymous show, tweeted that “watching the Repubs debate…if they’re going to do my show, the least they could do is ask me!” What would Springer say about the debate last night, which resembled a Monty Python sketch? Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, described it as a “Texas demolition derby”.

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North Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo, one of Europe's most desolate places

To understand why tensions are rising in Kosovo, it is not enough to know about poverty and high unemployment, organised crime and widespread official corruption, family memories of war and ethnic cleansing. You also need to know what it feels like to live as a second-class citizen – either of your own society, or of the world. Read more

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Donald Trump is winning more friends. While many mainstream Republicans pull their punches when asked about the tycoon and his inflammatory rhetoric, Vincente Fox, the former president of Mexico, today showed his cojones – to use a favourite expression of Madeline Albright, former secretary of state.

“I’m not going to pay for that f*****g wall,” Fox told Jorge Ramos, a prominent Mexican-American journalist who was once evicted from a Trump rally. “He should pay for it. He’s got the money.” Read more

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Donald Trump’s decisive victory in Nevada has given him a big boost before the March 1 Super Tuesday contests when 11 states will vote. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who between them won fewer votes than Trump in Nevada, are rapidly running out of time to challenge the tycoon. Trump surprised everyone – except himself – by winning demographics across the board, including the highly and poorly educated. “I love the poorly educated” he declared in his victory party. Read more

Russia’s foreign policy resurgence
Russian air power has changed the course of the civil war in Syria and its annexation of Crimea remains largely unchallenged. Gideon Rachman talks to Neil Buckley, FT East Europe editor, and Sam Jones, defence and security editor, about Russia’s renewed confidence on the global stage and whether this is justified.

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Donald Trump has always been brash. But the tycoon is becoming bellicose. When a protester interrupted a rally in Las Vegas on Monday night, he said he wanted to punch him “in the face”. Things are getting more heated at his rallies. He took aim at the media again today – a favourite pastime despite the fact that free coverage saves the need for advertising dollars – saying they were a “disgusting” bunch who were “probably worse than (Ted) Cruz but not much”. Read more

The blocking of Evo Morales’ desire to run for a fourth consecutive presidential term in Bolivia is an encouraging result in Latin America’s “War on Checks and Balances”.

Mr Morales, who has already ruled for ten years, could have remained in power until 2025 if he had won Sunday’s referendum. (As of Monday evening, with 80 per cent of the vote in, the “No’s” stood at 55 per cent.) To the extent that a small, poor and landlocked country has global meaning, Bolivia’s example may even be an encouraging result for countries elsewhere. Yoweri Museveni, for example, has ruled Uganda for 30 years – and won another five year term last week. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

In his highly entertaining biography of Winston Churchill, Boris Johnson observes that — “To some extent all politicians are gamblers with events. They try to anticipate what will happen, to put themselves on the right side of history.” Mr Johnson even interprets his hero’s decision to campaign against Hitler, early in the 1930s, in this cynical light, explaining that Churchill — “Put his shirt on a horse called anti-Nazism . . . and his bet came off in spectacular fashion”.

(Charleston, South Carolina) Jeb Bush is wobbling. The last thing he needed the day before the crucial South Carolina primary was headlines like “Bush machine running on fumes” about his campaign coffers running dry and reports that – barring a miraculous surge in the state – friends will soon urge him to quit the race to clear the way for Marco Rubio.

That would narrow the establishment field to two: John Kasich, the Ohio governor whose relatively moderate stance makes him a difficult sell to conservatives in the Bible Belt states that dominate the Super Tuesday grouping of primaries on March 1, and Rubio. Mainstream Republicans increasingly view Rubio, a 44-year-old telegenic Cuban-American, as the candidate with the best chance of beating Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and giving the GOP its best shot at winning the White House in November. Read more

Poland's rightwing PiS government is engaged in a ruthless campaign against its critics. One such critic is Lech Walesa

Probably only Lech Walesa really knows what went on between him and Poland’s communist-era secret police. But for the health of modern Polish democracy, for the image that Poles have of themselves and for Poland’s international reputation, it would be best to establish the truth, or as much of it as possible. Sad to say, this is a forlorn hope in today’s febrile Polish political atmosphere.

Walesa, now a white-haired 72-year-old, is a former Polish president. He founded Solidarity, the independent trade union and mass patriotic movement that overthrew communism by peaceful means in the 1980s. He won the Nobel peace prize in 1983.

He made an indelible contribution to the cause of democracy and human rights in central and eastern Europe. He deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Vaclav Havel and Andrei Sakharov, the brave Czech and Russian campaigners for freedom.

Was he also, as alleged on Thursday, a paid informant for the security services in the 1970s? I shall address this below. What is important is to underline that a proper perspective on Walesa requires placing his career in its full historical context. Read more

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Donald Trump has come under an unprecedented attack. Pope Francis said Trump was “not Christian” if he planned to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. “A person who thinks only about building walls … and not building bridges is not Christian,” he said after leaving Mexico. Trump called the comments “disgraceful” and responded that only he could protect the Vatican from Isis. Read more

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(Aiken, South Carolina) White House contenders make many unrealistic promises in the heat of the presidential campaign. But Marco Rubio made a bold move during a rally in Aiken, South Carolina on Wednesday when he vowed to ban something that made life tough in the 1970s. Unless you’re a fan of KC & The Sunshine Band, you better put your dancing shoes away if the Cuban-American enters the White House. Read more

Antonin Scalia’s legacy and the US Supreme Court
How influential was Antonin Scalia as the longest serving Justice on the US Supreme Court? Martin Sandbu discusses his legacy and the political repercussions of his demise with FT Washington correspondents Barney Jopson and Geoff Dyer.

Things are heating up in South Carolina ahead of the Republican primary on Saturday. Former President George W. Bush hit the trail for his brother Jeb on Presidents’ Day in the Palmetto State where he took aim at Donald Trump. While he did not mention the property mogul by name, the target was crystal clear when he said “we do not need someone in the Oval Office who mirrors and inflames our anger and frustration”. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

Why is the Middle East in flames and Russia on the rampage? In both Europe and the Middle East, it is common to hear the blame placed on Barack Obama. The US president, it is charged, is a weak and disengaged leader who has allowed international events to get out of control.

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With the South Carolina Republican primary one week away, most of the GOP candidates, including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, were courting evangelicals in the Palmetto State. Mr Bush is also rolling out his brother, former president George W. Bush, on Monday for his first public appearance on the campaign trail. Read more

Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry in Munich

The situation in Syria is so horrific that it is tempting to grasp at any straw. The news that world powers have agreed a route to the declaration of a ceasefire, in a week’s time, may be just such a straw. Of course, any prospect of a stop to the killing has to be welcomed. Yet, at the same time, there are obvious grounds for scepticism, based both on the details of the agreement and on the record of the parties involved – above all, the Russians. There are many difficult conditions to be fulfilled, before the ceasefire would come into force. The likelihood that some of these conditions will not be met would give Russia a giant loophole to justify the continuation of its bombing campaign in and around Aleppo. And, unfortunately, the record suggests that Russia is very good at dragging the west into negotiations – as cover for its continued military campaign. Read more

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John Kasich, the Ohio governor who came second in New Hampshire, is not expected to expend much energy in the state where there is less support for his moderate conservatism. He will focus on Michigan, which votes on March 8 and is seen as a must-win for him. That leaves Mr Bush and Mr Rubio dueling in South Carolina for the establishment mantle that they and Mr Kasich are all hoping to claim. Read more

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Fasten your seat belts. The emphatic victories Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders scored in New Hampshire have underscored that the populist mood sweeping the country has dramatically changed the course of the 2016 presidential race. The New York tycoon got the victory that eluded him in Iowa and solidified his status as the Republican frontrunner. The potential for a President Trump can no longer be dismissed as ridiculous. Read more