Gordon G. Chang writes: The Chinese military, from all indications, is now building a nuclear “war-fighting” capability, probably hoping to intimidate others into submission. […]There is no defense against hypersonic glide vehicles. Soon, China will be able to drop a nuke on America in the blink of an eye. Americans think strategic nuclear weapons are unusable. Chinese strategists obviously do not agree. – Newsweek
Succeeding Xi Jinping by Nan Li
What to Expect When You’re Expecting a National Defense Strategy
by Thomas Spoehr, Bradley Bowman, Bryan Clark, and Mackenzie Eaglen
Algerian court sentences two ex-PMs
An Algerian court on Monday handed down additional prison sentences for two former prime ministers charged in a major corruption case. Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal were sentenced to six and five years, respectively, for money laundering, wasting public money and abuse of office. In December 2019, a court sentenced Ouyahia to 15 years in prison and Sellal to 12 years on charges of corruption in financing the election campaign of late President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Mass protests erupted in 2019 against Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term, forcing him to resign. Despite his exit from politics, Algerians continued to demand the trial of figures linked to the former regime. Read More
To Deter China, Relearn The Lost Art of Dissuasion
Threats of denial or punishment will not deter a peer adversary fighting at home.
AUKUS: Good Goals, Bad Implementation
Now begins the real work for the United States and its democratic allies: cooperating to strengthen their eroding deterrence in the Indo-Pacific
Nagorno-Karabakh: A year of US failure in the South Caucasus
Michael Rubin | The National Interest
Treat Pakistan like China on military and sensitive exports
Michael Rubin | Washington Examiner
Going Back to the Future on Defense Acquisition
By Christine Fox & Sarah Stevenson , Proceedings: "The U.S. Navy’s submarine community was in near-crisis; its long superiority in acoustics detection fading."
China Tests Both Taiwan and the U.S.
By Seth Cropsey & Harry Halem, RealClearDefense: "PLA incursions into Taiwanese airspace should come as no surprise to observers of international events. In 2020, PLA aircraft violated Taiwanese airspace 380 times on 91 separate days."
America Cannot Take On China and Russia Simultaneously
By David T. Pyne, The National Interest: “U.S. concerns about the risks of fighting a coming war with Russia and China are well-grounded, given it is unprepared to fight even a purely conventional war with them.”
The Inevitability of Tragedy
By Mark Schell, Strategy Bridge: “Few public figures generated as much controversy in the last half of the 20th century as Kissinger, a man admired by some and reviled by others for his substantial role in shaping U.S. foreign policy."
Five Eyes wide shut
Zack Cooper | Korea on Point
Leaders in Washington and Seoul must be realistic that adding South Korea to the Five Eyes is ultimately unlikely. Instead, Seoul’s best opportunity for closer intelligence sharing is with its neighbors in East Asia, not the Five Eyes countries.
AFTER MERKEL: GERMANY MOVES LEFT POLITICALLY; TUNISIA FEARS A COUP; US SPY-CRAFT NEEDS REFORM; HOW CHINA IS A DECLINING POWER
Coup fears grow as Tunisian president shores up power
President Kais Saied is facing a growing wave of opposition from civil society and political actors as he takes new powers and attempts to transform the political system.
Tunisia’s Saied Appoints Prime Minister. Tunisian President Kais Saied has appointed Najla Bouden Romdhane as Tunisia’s first female prime minister and has asked her to form a government. Bouden, a professor of geophysics who implemented World Bank programs in the education ministry, has little government experience. Her appointment comes as Saied continues to seize power and Tunisia faces a financial crisis. Al Jazeera France 24 New York Times Reuters
Tunisians protest president’s expansion of power
Thousands of Tunisians took to the streets on Sunday to protest the president’s recent power grab, calling on him to resign. Last week, President Kais Saied announced that he will rule by decree for two months, ignoring parts of the constitution. In July, Saied suspended parliament and ousted a number of Cabinet officials, including the prime minister, in response to sweeping protests against the government’s failure to address the coronavirus pandemic and mounting debt. Saied’s opponents have described these measures as a coup. The developments reflect the most serious political crisis in the North African country since the 2011 Arab Spring.
A New Word for the Administration
For Those Who Have Chosen Power and Profits over Patriotism
Remembering 'Strategic Review'
By Francis P. Sempa, RealClearDefense: “. . . Strategic Review published thousands of articles, editorials, and book reviews that informed its readers, including Presidents, Secretaries of Defense, and our nation's military leaders, about crucial U.S. national security policy issues fundamental approaches to understanding global affairs. ”
The Pentagon’s ‘Deterrence’ Strategy
Ignores Hard-Earned Lessons About the Balance of Power
By Mike Gallagher, The Washington Post: “The Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has called into question the credibility of U.S. commitments and the state of conventional military deterrence. But even before the Afghanistan surrender, the Biden Pentagon was already wrestling with increasingly unfavorable military balances of power, particularly regarding China.”
AUKUS and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
By John Yoo & Ivana Stradner, RealClearDefense: "The Biden administration’s recent agreement to share nuclear technology with the United Kingdom and Australia has returned attention back to American policy on strategic nuclear weapons."
China's Risky Business Crackdown
by Raghuram Rajan via Project Syndicate
Like the earlier campaign against corruption, Chinese President Xi Jinping's effort to control China's private sector is agreeable in its stated intentions, but questionable in its implementation. Quite possibly, the campaign for "common prosperity" will undermine the economic sectors that China needs to reorient its growth model.
When Intelligence Is Not Serving Its Nation
Hoover senior fellow Amy Zegart in a recent opinion piece, argues that post-9/11 spycraft “does not serve America’s national security interests as it once did . . . [and] has taken time and talent away from [the CIA’s] original purpose of preventing strategic surprise.” What has happened, she explains, is an intermingling of the traditional Department of Defense warfighting function and the CIA intelligence-gathering role, resulting in an overly tactical focus of both. The consequences could be damning: “a diminished ability to understand, anticipate and counter longer-term threats—like China’s rise and Russia’s information warfare—that could threaten American lives and interests far more than today’s terrorist plots.” She recommends that the CIA regain “the balance between fighting the terrorist enemies of today and providing the intelligence to detect, understand and stop the enemies of tomorrow.” Zegart extends her argument and suggests, “The US intelligence community needs a radical reimagining to succeed,” which would include open-source intelligence, expanded talent, and evolved strategy.
When Intentions Fall Short
Research Fellow Joe Felter characterizes US involvement in Afghanistan as two wars, writing, “One was by necessity: safeguarding America from transnational terrorist attacks. The other was a war of choice: bringing greater freedoms and opportunities to Afghanistan.” John Yoo, visiting fellow, argues that the second mission, the one of choice, was a failure because it “was based on the assumption that any political and cultural environment would be receptive to the attractions of liberal democracy, capitalism, and international human-rights law. . . . But nothing in the political culture or traditions of Afghanistan . . . was favorable to such a radical constitutional transformation.” He suggests that US elites should finally learn “that external force rarely succeeds in bringing about the constitutional transformation of a society so long as it remains culturally resistant.”
Senior Fellow Peter Berkowitz offers an alternative conclusion to the belief that “promoting democracy and freedom are beyond America’s capabilities [and] imposing destabilizing practices and institutions on local populations have no place in a responsible US foreign policy.” Berkowitz argues that to secure “the conditions conducive to freedom at home,” US foreign policy must be grounded in America’s needs and priorities. It must also recognize that promoting democracy and promoting freedom are separable and distinct achievements and, in many cases, severely limited. Additionally, the US must improve its understanding of other nations’ cultures as well as rededicating itself to the principles of freedom on which the United States is based. Listen to senior fellows H. R. McMaster and Victor Davis Hanson discuss the “lost war” on Uncommon Knowledge
Caravan Notebook; HOOVER INSTITUTION ON WAR
The Race for Tech Superiority
As China modernizes its nuclear arsenal and the US reviews its nuclear posture, America should not lose sight of the bigger race, explains Rose Gottemoeller, research fellow. “China may be a rising nuclear power, but its bigger agenda is building up its science and technology prowess.” She suggests that nuclear weapons should not be the primary focus of our efforts and money, but instead “the new and emerging technologies that are rapidly maturing into military assets. Innovations in artificial intelligence, big data analysis, quantum computing and quantum sensing and biotechnology are where future defense capacity is being born. The Chinese have sworn to beat us at acquiring and exploiting every one of them.” She calls for US government research funds to “push the frontiers of science and innovation.” For more about risks being posed by collaborative research with authoritarian nations, see the China Global Sharp Power’s (CGSP) essay “Global Engagement: Rethinking Risk in the Research Enterprise.”
Guinea Junta Unveils ‘Transitional Charter’ Toward Elections. Guinea’s military government has presented a “transitional charter” to return the country to civilian rule late Monday. According to the charter, which was read on TV, coup leader Mamady Doumbouya will be president of the transition until new elections, which no member of the interim government will be allowed to run in. The document, however, does not outline how long the transition will last. Al Jazeera Reuters Washington Post
The U.S.- Australian Alliance needs a Strategy to Deter China's Gray-Zone Coercion
by Ashley Townshend, Thomas Lonergan, and Toby Warden
Tribes, Political Parties, and the Iraqi Elections: A Shifting Dynamic by Alison Pargeter
A reflection on the promise and limits of American power in Afghanistan.
READ MORE ›
Turkey: NATO's Pro-Russian, Taliban-Friendly Ally by Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute
September 24, 2021
From The Middle East To The Sahel And Throughout Africa: How Russia Pushes Western Powers Towards The Exit
by Isabelle Lasserre via The Caravan
Sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahel, the Middle East, Afghanistan. Like an octopus, Russia has extended its tentacles to every crisis riddled corner, filling the void created by the withdrawal of Western forces. Occasionally partnering with Turkey to better share the imperial burden, Vladimir Putin has once again inserted Moscow as a major player on the international scene. To what extent can it take the place of democratic powers?
Why We Failed In Afghanistan
by John Yoo, Robert Delahunty via National Review
Following the ignominious end to a 20-year effort, American foreign-policy elites must reassess their ambitions and assumptions
After Withdrawal: How China, Turkey, and Russia Will Respond to the Taliban by Michael Kofman, Aaron Stein, and Yun Sun
Ten Things the United States Should Do to Combat Terrorism in the Sahel by Michael Shurkin and Aneliese Bernar
The Next Afghan Battle
Editorial of The New York Sun | August 31, 2021
The U.S. decision to withdraw from Afghanistan by September 2021 is provoking a victorious narrative among Salafi-jihadi clerics and some Shi’ite militants in Iraq as both groups exploit the withdrawal not only to motivate fighters to never abandon jihad or, in the case of the Shi’ite militias, to continue targeting the U.S. interests in the region, but also to discredit rival groups. – Middle East Media Research Institute
CHARLES FAIN LEHMAN, RAFAEL A. MANGUAL
Progressive Policies Won’t Stop the Crime Wave
An approach to crime-fighting that scorns policing and incarceration relies on empirical and conceptual errors.
Getting the Quad Right Is Biden’s Most Important Job
By James Mattis, Michael Auslin, and Joe Felter via Foreign PolicyJames Mattis, Michael Auslin, and Joe Felter write that the Biden administration is wise to continue with its predecessor’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region by engaging in talks with fellow leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which includes Australia, India, and Japan. They list four ways in which cooperation can be strengthened in the informal Quad alliance: enhancing maritime security to deter Chinese aggression in the South and East China Seas; reducing dependency on China’s economy by building supply chains on the strengths of its members’ advanced free-market economies; achieving an edge in the next generation of telecommunications technology; and drawing on the diversity of the alliance to advance diplomacy with other nations in Asia.
Turkey Signals Sweeping Regional Ambitions
By Dr. James M. Dorsey, March 11, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A nationalist Turkish television station with close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has dug up a 12-year-old map that projects Turkey’s sphere of influence in 2050 as stretching from southeastern Europe on the northern coast of the Mediterranean and Libya on its southern shore across North Africa, the Gulf, and the Levant into the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Continue to full article ->
The United States’ Strategic Competition with China
Testimony by Matt Pottinger via US Senate Committee on Armed ServicesMatt Pottinger explains that following the Cold War, the United States replaced the Soviet Union as China’s primary security concern, leading Beijing to devise a grand strategy aimed at supplanting American power in Asia and dominating the global order to promote an authoritarian model of governance. He explains that, currently, Beijing is attempting to leverage its dominance in international production chains to pursue its political objectives. Pottinger advises that American policy makers adopt a counterstrategy against the policies that China initially set 30 years ago.
This would include addressing immediate challenges such as bypassing Beijing’s communication firewall and establishing common cause with China’s middle and entrepreneurial classes; ensuring that the financial activities of American citizens aren’t supporting China’s modernization of its military or Beijing’s human rights abuses; winning the race against China for supremacy in technological innovation; and increasing funding for Taiwan’s military to deter People’s Liberation Army aggression against the island nation.
7 Ways to Develop Comprehensive Diplomatic Strategy with Turkey
By Russell Berman and Dania Koleilat Khatib via National Interest
Russell Berman and Dania Koleilat Khatib write that President Biden’s upcoming meeting with Turkish leader Recip Erdogan is an opportunity that should not be squandered to repair bilateral relations and stabilize the NATO alliance. Berman and Khatib advocate that Biden should initiate a comprehensive strategy of reconciliation based on mutually beneficial exchanges and compromises. Such an approach, they believe, would help diffuse a range of potentially explosive issues, including the conflict between Turkish and Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria and Ankara’s decision to purchase S-400 missiles from Moscow.
The Sahelian Matrix Of Political Violence
by Heni Nsaibia, Clionadh Raleigh via The Caravan
The Sahel is one of the most active conflict theatres on the African continent and has become a major node in the "Global War on Terror'' over the past twenty years. After nearly a decade of foreign military intervention through overlapping counterterrorism, stabilization, and military and security training missions, the conflict is often referred to as a ''Forever War'' alongside other Western-led military interventions in the Middle East and Africa. As military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan draw to a close, attention is increasingly shifting to Africa as the next battlefront— where the Sahel remains a key geopolitical dilemma.
Biden's Emerging Foreign Policy L'Informale
February 19, 2021
The coronavirus pandemic underscores the catastrophic consequences of setting the Chinese Communist Party loose in the liberal international order — but many other unfamiliar new threats also lie in store, explain Dan Blumenthal and Nicholas Eberstadt.
Beijing’s misapplication of international law in the disputed waters is more complex than it seems, explains Oriana Skylar Mastro.
Russia seeks to outplay the US in Libya
While Russia's preferred candidates lost in last week's vote for interim leadership in Libya, Moscow still has a strategy for reinforcing its influence in the country.
Turkey’s risk grade far from safe
Turkey’s risk premium has sharply decreased over the past several months, but an array of economic and political factors threatens to undo the trend.
What’s next for Turkey in Libya after election of new interim leaders?
Universal goodwill messages to Libya’s new interim leadership indicate how complex the Libyan file has become for all foreign actors in the country ahead of potentially clamorous elections in December.
Russia, Iran compete for influence in Syria via private security companies
Private security companies in Syria with ties to Russian and Iranian forces are busily recruiting young men with attractive salaries.
Want to Redefine Readiness? Here's Where to Start // Seamus Daniels: Two Joint Chiefs are on the right track.
Pentagon Launches China Policy Review. President Biden launched a Department of Defense task force to evaluate the United States-China rivalry and produce comprehensive China policy recommendations in the next four months. Al Jazeera Axios South China Morning Post
DOD Budget Battles Loom Over Nukes. Progressive lobbyists and advocates for nuclear disarmament are pressuring the Biden administration to curtail the Air Force’s plans to upgrade its 400 Minuteman III nuclear missile arsenal. The fight over the 100 million dollar ‘Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Contract’ is expected to be the most contentious DOD budget fight this year. Politico
MULLAH'S IN IRAN NEED MONEY: EXTORTION RACKET BEGINS AGAIN & U.K. PM JOHNSON NEEDS PATHWAY OUT OF LOCKDOWN FAST
Joe Biden should reverse Trump’s decision on Somalia
Katherine Zimmerman | Critical Threats Project
The new Joe Biden administration should reverse the Donald Trump administration’s shortsighted 11th-hour decision to withdraw from Somalia to stave off a worst-case possibility.
Saudis Expanding US Military Access to Airfields, Port, to Counter Iran // Katie Bo Williams: The year-old initiative is intended to give CENTCOM "more options" in a fight, general reveals.
The Forgotten People Fighting the Forever War // Jessica Donati, The Atlantic: A devastating incident in Afghanistan shows the perils of relying on Special Operations alone to fight the nation's battles.
Nuclear Extortion: Mullahs Want More Concessions from Biden
by Majid Rafizadeh
The Pernicious Effects of Popular Nuclear Mythology
by Stephen Blank and Peter Huessy
US War Surge Production Too Slow, CSIS Finds
The United States could not make enough military equipment fast enough to sustain its military in the event of a major war. While much thought has been given to how a great power conflict might erupt or play out, far less has been written on how the U.S. industrial base could sustain U.S. wartime equipment…
‘Made In USA’ Won’t Secure Supply Chain Vs. China: Solarium
Rather than try to mine strategic minerals, build key technologies, and develop high-tech talent entirely on its own, the US should work together with trusted allies like Australia, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission and other experts argue.
Johnson's Days Look Numbered Unless He Can End Lockdowns
By STEPHEN MacLEAN, Special to the Sun | January 18, 2021
Israel Is Facing a Domestic Existential Threat
By Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, January 12, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Israeli government is living in denial about the growing violent anarchy in the Negev, the Galilee, and in certain cities. Putting a stop to this phenomenon, which is developing into an existential threat, requires an all-out effort to enhance the power of the military and the police alongside appropriate preparations by the State Attorney’s Office and the legal system to restore sovereignty and governance.
Continue to full article ->
Debating Yad Vashem
January 18, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The recent attempt by PM Netanyahu to appoint former IDF general and cabinet minister Effi Eitam as chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center has stirred a heated public debate about the Center’s depiction of the Holocaust in recent years and its implications.
Two BESA associates have joined the debate.
Continue to full article ->
Can Nigel Farage Reform the Tories After Brexit?
By STEPHEN MacLEAN, Special to the Sun | January 11, 2021
Intra-Party Feud Of the Democrats Is the Key Battle
By IRA STOLL, Special to the Sun | January 11, 2021
Israel's Supreme Court Vindicates MEF News from the Middle East Forum
Sunk Costs In Iraq And Afghanistan
by David R. Henderson via EconLog
Will Joe Biden have the guts and/or the sense to recognize sunk costs?
The Big Lesson Of 2020: Government Failure
by David R. Henderson via EconLog
The year 2020 gave us a huge amount of evidence about the relative merits of government intervention and free markets. The bottom line is that government failed massively and free markets triumphed spectacularly (with one major exception) within the constraints that government placed on them. The one apparent exception to government failure is Operation Warp Speed but, as we shall see, that apparent exception may not be an exception at all.
Experts note that if the US is serious about refocusing on great-power competition with China and Russia and away from the Middle East, then withholding high-end reinforcements from the Persian Gulf is the hard call American leaders need to make. This argument is dangerous, argues Fred Kagan in a Hill op-ed. The US cannot allow its policy on China and Russia to starve the Middle East of essential military resources amid a crisis. As long as the US has a diplomatic presence in the region, the US must continue to deter escalation and prepare to protect its people. Learn more here.
US-China competition may not be a “superpower marathon,” but a decade-long sprint. In an AEI report, Michael Beckley and Hal Brands argue that the US will need a “danger zone” strategy geared toward preventing China from achieving major gains that could alter the long-term balance of power with respect to technology and Taiwan. Washington must harden its base infrastructure in Asia, help Taiwan fight asymmetrically, take part in long-term endeavors to reform the World Trade Organization, and reinvest in the domestic foundations of American innovation.
Read the full report here.
Has the Chinese century begun, or is trouble brewing on the horizon? In a new AEI video, Michael Beckley dives into the hard numbers to reveal China's challenges in the decades ahead. He concludes that as China’s economic growth slows, it will continue to crack down on domestic dissent and deter foreign rivals from exploiting their financial woes. The United States must firmly but patiently contain China with a careful blend of deterrence, reassurance, and damage limitation. Watch the video here.
If Beijing poses such a clear global threat, then why has Washington struggled to build a coalition to counter its rise? In a Foreign Policy op-ed, Zack Cooper and Hal Brands debunk the belief that a single alliance will emerge to counter China. Instead, the US must forge a geostrategic coalition of countries in the Indo-Pacific, an economic alliance, a technological alliance, and a governance coalition. Unless the US adopts a more sophisticated approach to coalition building, it will be stuck trying to re-create a world that no longer exists. Continue here.
BIDEN & CHINA
Joe Biden will rediscover Russia when he assumes the presidency. In a Dispatch op-ed, Leon Aron notes that Biden should beware of the pull to befriend or even change Russia. Attempting to change countries’ behavior from the outside usually fails. However, the US doesn’t have to wait for a regime change to moderate hostile policies. Joe Biden’s first priority in his discovery of Russia should be readying credible, quick, and robust responses. Learn more here.
Europe is divided by two different views on the threat Russia poses. In Sweden, increased preparedness for its aggression has produced larger defense budgets. In contrast, Germany and much of Western Europe seem far less concerned over such a “hard power” threat from Russia, explain Gary Schmitt and Craig Kennedy in a Hill op-ed. The new Joe Biden administration, with its clear desire to rebuild transatlantic ties, will look to Germany as the keystone to those efforts. Berlin could do well to look to Stockholm for an idea over what Washington could ask of its partners in Europe. Read here.
BIDEN & GERMANY
The Faultline Between Futurists and Traditionalists in National Security
by John Speed Meyers, David Jackson
Something Old, Something New
by Francis J. Gavin
Why Israel's Massive Radar Deal With Slovakia Matters by Seth J. Frantzman
The National Interest
January 14, 2021
Rwanda and the African Union: The Promise of Increased US-Africa Engagement
Featuring H. R. McMaster and Paul Kagame via BattlegroundsAfrican nations’ efforts to expand economic prosperity and defeat jihadist extremism underline the continent’s need for strong and stable governance, argues Rwandan president Paul Kagame in the latest episode of Battlegrounds, Hoover’s foreign policy video series hosted by Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow H. R. McMaster.
Unresolved Border Dispute Escalates Tensions. Tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan continue to escalate following an ambush and military movements along the contested al-Fashaga frontier. Al-Jazeera
Mogadishu Siege Ends. Somali security forces ended yesterday’s hotel siege by al-Shabab militants. Five civilians were killed, including a former Somali Army general, along with four militants. Associated Press Al-Jazeera
Tigray Situation Continues to Deteriorate. Despite the capture or killing of significant TPLF leaders, fighting continues in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Refugees have been caught in battles between government forces and rebel militants. Sudan, currently preoccupied with its own border dispute with Ethiopia, could be key to sustaining or inhibiting the TPLF’s cause.
AEI & TERROR & THE SAHEL: READ THE LATEST EDITION HERE
Vicious cycles: How disruptive states and extremist movements fill power vacuums and fuel each other
Russia crowds out Turkey in post-war Caucasus
Having brokered a cease-fire deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Vladimir Putin is now giving priority to the development of transport links in the conflict-ridden region.
Ethiopia’s worsening crisis threatens regional, Mideast security
With the Horn of Africa increasingly becoming an integral part of the Middle East’s security landscape, the fallout from Ethiopia's current crisis will have a significant impact on states of the region.
Nile dam talks hit yet another snarl
The latest round of talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the controversial Nile River dam again collapsed amid Sudanese objections and calls for African Union experts to take on a greater role in resolving the dispute.
What can Turkey expect from Qatari-Gulf deal?
Turkey feels vindicated as al-Ula Declaration ends the blockade against Qatar.
Egypt seeks to bypass Turkish presence in Senegal
In an attempt to counter Turkey’s expansion in West Africa, Egypt and the UAE seek to consolidate their ties with Senegal, the gateway to West Africa, by pushing forward new investments in the African country.
The Taliban is using magnetic ‘sticky bombs’ to assassinate Afghan officials
(Task & Purpose) Magnetic bombs have killed at least 10 Afghan government officials in the last several weeks.
THOR: Air Force tests counter-drone microwave in Africa
(Breaking Defense) The Air Force is testing its prototype drone-killing microwave, the Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR), “in a real-world setting” in Africa, says Richard Joseph, the Air Force’s chief scientist.
10 years on, Tunisian emotions mixed in birthplace of Arab Spring
(Al-Monitor) Ten years after the first Arab Spring protests erupted in the central Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid, the locals are still suffering economic hardships amid a lack of government support.
AEI's favorite books of 2020
John Konicki | AEIdeas
Chinese Military Bases in The Caribbean? by Lawrence A. Franklin
The Case for a Quadripolar World
Daron Acemoglu offers an imperfect but preferable alternative to the emerging Sino-American hegemonic rivalry.
The Infrastructure Spending Challenge
Kenneth Rogoff cautions against the view that large investment projects will necessarily boost long-term growth.
"U.S. launches airstrikes as it argues Shabaab is ‘contained’ in Somalia,"
Bill Roggio and Caleb Weiss, FDD's Long War Journal
Michael Rubin writes: That Pakistan should have relations with communist China is not the problem. After all, it was through Pakistan’s offices that Nixon-era “Ping Pong” diplomacy and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s secret trip to Beijing became possible. There is a qualitative difference, however, between maintaining good neighborly relations and the wholesale betrayal of both Pakistani sovereignty and, given the ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs, Islam as well. Perhaps not since Vidkun Quisling has there been a politician who has so willingly and enthusiastically sold out his country’s sovereignty. Sharif came close, but Khan has surpassed even his example. – The National Interest
Mike Rogers writes: We should realize the diversity and challenges of these countries in Africa, and use all the levers of statecraft to enable economic development, build stronger education and health systems, and end political corruption. So a smart and comprehensive foreign policy toward Africa must be part of our national security and economic strategy. At the end of the day, it is part of the great power competition that the United States must win. – The Hill
China's Military Incursions Around Taiwan Aren't A Sign Of Imminent Attack
by Kharis Templeman via The Diplomat
Instead, China’s military bravado represents the end state of a failed strategy.
Last week, Armenia accepted a Russia- and Turkey-backed cease-fire, ending the 45-day war with Azerbaijan. Many are outraged, but the anger is warranted, notes Michael Rubin in a National Interest op-ed. Armenia lost much of southern Nagorno-Karabakh. Moreover, the deal calls for the deployment of Russian and Turkish troops along the lines of control. For now, Azerbaijan might celebrate, and Armenia will lick its wounds, but by engaging in ethnic cleansing, Azerbaijan has set the stage for a new chapter in the conflict. Read more here.
Iran's Advances in Latin Americaby Gabriel Andrade
Middle East Quarterly
Fall 2020 (view PDF)
Hoover Institution Press Releases A Hinge Of History: Governance In An Emerging New World, By George P. Shultz And James Timbie
via Hoover Daily Report
The Hoover Institution has published A Hinge of History: Governance in an Emerging New World by Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow George P. Shultz and Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow James Timbie.
America Must Reshape Its Future With Nagorno-Karabakh
by Russell A. Berman via National Interest
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict may yet provide America an opening for an indirect approach to Turkey, while also pushing back against Russian expansionism.
Salafi-jihadi militants are exploiting the growing security vacuum in Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s intelligence service claimed to have arrested 14 militants linked to either al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab or the Islamic State on November 14 for plotting attacks across Ethiopia, including in the capital.
READ THE LATEST EDITION HERE
Pacific Century: Look, Up In The Sky
interview with Kenneth Wilsbach via The Pacific Century
America’s Air Chief in the Pacific Talks About China.
HOW THE U.S. MANAGES CHINA; PETROL MONARCHIES COLLAPSING; & A LOOK AT U.S. CIVIL MILITARY RELATIONS; FAILING BUSINESS MODELS OF U.S. UNIVERSITIES
Hal Brands explains that America cannot compete with China if it abandons the liberal order that China’s behavior threatens. When Trump’s presidency ends, prevailing in a US-China rivalry will require reinvesting in, rather than undermining, the liberal order Trump has scorned. Read here.
A SecDef Flournoy's policy priorities? She laid them out in a July oped in Defense One with co-author Kathleen Hicks, starting with the threats: "The coronavirus pandemic lays bare the fragility of our health security. Climate change threatens generations of Americans. And authoritarian states are developing sophisticated weaponry, flouting other nations' sovereignty, killing, jailing, and interning their own people, and leveraging modern technology to undermine our democracy."
Her three-part solution: "First, we must secure America's edge in the global economy by investing more substantially in the drivers of U.S. competitiveness: science and technology, research and development, STEM education, access to higher education, 21st century infrastructure like 5G-capable networks, clean energy, and a robust public health system. We also need a smart immigration policy. The United States should once again welcome foreign-born talent that pose no risks to our national security and encourage them to stay and build enterprises here in America. Second, we must repair the damage to our alliances...Third, we need a national security enterprise that is matched to future challenges…" Read the piece here.
It is tempting to assert that American policymakers should reset the US-China relationship on reciprocal terms. In a RealClearWorld op-ed, Zack Cooper and Aine Tyrrell note that reciprocity plays into Beijing’s hands in three ways. First, reciprocity can appear to excuse Beijing’s censorship and disinformation. Second, it allows China to determine the overall nature of the competition. Third, it risks undermining the very freedoms at the heart of American democracy. The reality is that espousing democratic values on the international stage is only effective if the US leads by example at home. Continue here.
The China problem that has been exposed because of COVID-19 is a subset of a more serious one. Much of the global infrastructure built in the wake of World War II such as the United Nations, NATO, and the European Union is aged, sclerotic, corrupt, and incapable of addressing the challenges of the 21st century, argues Danielle Pletka in a Horizons article. Failure to reform these institutions will eventually signal their waning power, and with their fading will go the prosperity and peace we have come to take for granted. Read the full article here.
Joe Biden has said he is committed to rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal. Enthusiasm for reengaging with the Islamic Republic should not blind Biden to China’s presence in Iran’s Chahbahar port, notes Michael Rubin in a National Interest op-ed. It would be unfortunate if, in its efforts to restart the Iranian nuclear deal, Biden’s team inadvertently bolstered Chinese interests in the Indian Ocean basin when neither Iran’s nor China’s leaders appear sincere in their desire for rapprochement and to respect the post–World War II liberal order. Read here.
For the Gulf Arab states, the twin crises of COVID-19 and the collapse of oil prices have accelerated ongoing trends to differentiate their economic policies and force more aggressive responses to demands for job creation and market liberalization, explains Karen Young in a Global Discourse publication. The pandemic has complicated the dueling priorities of shrinking public-sector payrolls and spurring domestic demand. What emerges are trade-offs that reveal leadership priorities, targeted support, and important distinctions in the Gulf Cooperation Council’s ever-weakening body. Read more here.
Ethiopia is sliding into a civil war. In a new Critical Threats Project op-ed, Emily Estelle argues that the humanitarian consequences of such a conflict would be massive. A broader conflict could lead to famine and even greater displacement. In addition, Al Shabaab and other Salafi-jihadi groups are positioned to benefit from Ethiopia’s crisis. A civil war risks creating an environment for prolonged proxy warfare. The international community must act now. Continue here.
In a world where the US faces two major revisionist powers, Russia and China, and threats from Iran, ISIS, and North Korea, a critical edge for America is its global network of allies and strategic partners. In a new “In 60 Seconds” video, Gary Schmitt explains why assessing our allies capabilities is crucial to advancing the safety and strength of the United States. Watch the video here. RSVP to the event here.
Do those who fight America’s wars ever think civilians truly understand and appreciate their experiences? In a War on the Rocks op-ed, Kori Schake and Aine Tyrrell review Phil Klay’s novel “Missionaries” and argue that the wars US soldiers fight change the way the world sees America and how America sees itself in the world. So why do soldiers continue to fight America’s battles? Although the troops involved in the war of “Missionaries” resent being underappreciated by society, they take pride in fighting, are drawn to the heightened sensations experienced in war, and — if nothing else — see it as their job. Read the review here.
Should the former vice president wish to carry that promise over to foreign policy, he ought to lead a bipartisan effort to stop the Azerbaijani assault on Nagorno-Karabakh, argues Michael Rubin in a National Interest op-ed. Azerbaijan has shown the insincerity of both its counterterror commitments and its pledge to pursue a peaceful resolution of its dispute with Armenia. If Biden is victorious, he needs to establish a bipartisan coalition to end Azerbaijan’s free pass and descent into terror complicity. Continue here.
Is Iran Sending Weapons to Venezuela? And How Is the U.S. Responding? An Iranian cargo plane gets stranded in Senegal on its way to Caracas.
The Failing Business Model of American Universities
Eric Jansen, Quillette
How a Fiercely Christian Nation Became Fanatically Islamic by Raymond Ibrahim
November 5, 2020
Civil war is breaking out in Africa’s second largest country | Emily Estelle | November 4, 2020.
FAVORABLE DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS DOMINATE US-AFRICAN STRATEGIC RELATIONS; turkey goes rogue & how sudan GOT TO YES
Palestinians: What Needs to Be Done by Khaled Abu Toameh
"Why Are You Killing Christians?" Trump Asks Nigeria's President by Raymond Ibrahim
American Election: Endgame for Party System? by Amir Taheri
James Barnett writes: In order to be competitive in Africa in the long-term, the US will ultimately need to focus more on African needs and interests than on Chinese behavior. Forging stronger ties across Africa, the world’s fastest growing continent in terms of population, is not simply something that great power competition necessitates. It is a smart move in its own right. – Hudson Institute
Erdoğan's Costly "Make Turkey Great Again" Program
By Burak Bekdil, October 25, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's "Make Turkey Great Again" campaign has come with military, diplomatic, geostrategic, and economic costs. Turkey's posturing as a military might has been met with a Moody's downgrade of Turkey's credit rating to B2, putting the country on a level with Egypt, Jamaica, and Rwanda.
Continue to full article ->
Sudan: The Three Yeses
Editorial of The New York Sun | October 23, 2020
President Trump's latest peace deal related to Israel -- announced today with Sudan -- is hard to appreciate fully without reference to the Khartoum resolution of 1967. It was issued at a summit of the Arab League at Sudan's capital after the Jewish state emerged as the victor in the Six-Day War. The resolution came to be called "the three nos" -- "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it."
One Term of ‘Maximum Pressure’ on North Korea
A new book from H.R. McMaster offers a look back at Trump's attempted containment and wooing of Kim Jong-un.
Israel’s military steps up campaign against Iran and its proxies in southern Syria
IDF military operations continue in southern Syria against Iranian military entrenchment near the Golan border.
Beijing’s new world order
Clifford D. May — The Washington Times
For countless centuries, tribes have fought and conquered other tribes, nations have fought and conquered other nations, empires have fought and conquered other empires. After World War II, a different future was imagined. The United States created the hopefully named “United Nations.” Americans began to build what would become known as the “liberal international rules-based order.” When the Soviet Union disintegrated, America was left as what Charles Krauthammer termed “the unipolar power.” Read more
How Big Tech factors into the US-China geopolitical competition
Emily de La Bruyère and Nathan Picarsic — The Hill
On Oct. 6, the House Judiciary Committee issued a report calling for new antitrust regulations to rein in Big Tech. This report comes after a 15-month antitrust probe into technology firms Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook — and with it, findings that the tech giants all hold monopoly power. Congress is making the wrong call — not because of what was in the House report, but because of what was not: These 450 pages, the antitrust probe, and the national conversation about Big Tech writ large ignore the strategic context. Read more
Afghanistan’s Terrorism Challenge
Afghanistan remains at the center of U.S. and international counterterrorism concerns. As America prepares to pull out its military forces from the country, policymakers remain divided on how terrorist groups in Afghanistan might challenge the security of the U.S. and the threat they pose to allies and regional countries. Advocates of withdrawal argue that the terrorism threat from Afghanistan is overstated, while opponents say that it remains significant and is likely to grow after the drawdown of U.S. forces. This report evaluates the terrorism challenge in Afghanistan by focusing on the political trajectories of three key armed actors in the Afghan context: al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, and the Islamic State.
Summer 2020 Issue: MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE
The Past, Present, and Future of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance
Via Decision 2020In the twenty-first edition of the Decision 2020 Report, Hoover fellows analyze the policy implications of America’s commitment to Europe’s defenses, Washington’s strong stance against Russian aggression, and the state of the European Union as a capable and cohesive governing body.
Narcoterrorism and U.S. National Security
By Carlo J.V. Caro, RealClearDefense: "The arrest of Mexico's former Defense Minister, Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, on drug trafficking charges, shows once more how far certain "organized crime groups" have penetrated state institutions and how these groups have transformed into transnational terrorist insurgencies that are challenging the entire hemisphere's security."
Marine Corps Infantry Dilemma
By Lucas Wood, Proceedings: "The Marine Corps is not manned, organized, trained, or equipped to compete against near-peer adversaries in the current and future operating environment. The 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps General David H. Berger recognized this delinquency and directed the Marine Corps to focus on force design and warfighting as two of five focus areas in his July 2019 Commandant’s Planning Guidance."
The 5 Faces Of Chinese Espionage
By Nicholas Eftimiades, Breaking Defense: "Chinese intelligence operations are the first in modern times to use, as a foundation, the whole of society."
Mehdi Khalaji writes: Today, however, a new sense of urgency among Iran’s political elite is undeniable as the country faces a major crisis. […]The Supreme Leader’s demise could produce chaos so great as to jeopardize the stability of the political system. This would hardly mark the crowning achievement Khamenei seeks to achieve with America’s next president, but rather the failure of his life’s work. – Washington Institute
Amos Harel writes: The Israeli army is seeing, more than in the past, cracks in the three-way alliance of interests between the regime and its two major patrons, Russia and Iran. […]Iran, more so than Hezbollah, has open accounts with the United States and Israel. Surprises are always possible but less than two weeks before the presidential election in the United States, it appears that Iran – like the rest of the countries in the region – prefers to wait for the results there. – Haaretz
Tom Rogan writes: Instead, Erdogan requires confrontation. The United States should join with the European Union in preparing sanctions on the Turkish central bank. The Turkish lira is already at pathetic lows (in no insignificant part, thanks to Erdogan’s economic mismanagement). Let’s see whether the sultan feels so supreme when his economy implodes. – Washington Examiner
Tom Rogan writes: U.S. and common NATO sanctions action is now needed. It is not enough simply to continue on the present track of restricting Turkey from accessing the F-35 strike fighter jet. […]The Turkish lira is already near junk value, hovering at extraordinary lows. Any new sanctions would carry major economic consequences. Erdogan must make a choice: his pet project from Putin or his economy. – Washington Examiner
Yuval Karni writes: Netanyahu marketed the deal with the UAE as “peace in exchange for peace.” Sure, Israel did not have to make any territorial concessions, but it paid a price, both politically and security-wise. First of all, Netanyahu forfeited his years-long vision of applying Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, giving up on a not only political asset, but also on one of his strongest campaign promises. Secondly, the country forfeited its strategic superiority in the region and allowed an Arab nation to be on the same technological footing as Israel. – Ynet
Michael Knights writes: Having emerged out of anonymity around 15 years ago, KH and other top-tier IRGC-QF proxies in Iraq may once again be ordered to atomize, reconfigure, and sink back into the shadows. It should not be surprising if today’s greatly enlarged KH itself begins to fall victim to factionalism and defections, especially due to the absence of either Soleimani or al-Muhandis as a peacemaker. The aforementioned formation of Al-Warithuun (The Inheritors) could be a signpost of a shaving-off of younger, talented, and anonymous operators that is highly reminiscent of the formation of KH itself. – Washington Institute
Abdulkhaleq Abdulla writes: The Arab Gulf states’ time-tested recipe has worked well with President Trump, the most unpredictable president in American history, and it will also be able to accommodate President Biden as well. At the end of the day, a Biden presidency might not be all that different from Obama’s; indeed, some have already dubbed him “Obama lite.” – Middle East Institute
Joseph J. Collins writes: Afghanistan once again stands at a crossroads. The next U.S. president will decide whether to increase support for Kabul, or withdraw all of our troops and leave Afghan forces to fight on alone against the Taliban and its ugly foreign backers, all of whom would delight in our failure there. A precipitous exit from Afghanistan is not in America’s interests. – The Hill
HOW RUSSIA VIEWS AFGHANISTAN TODAY; BAHRAIN GOES TO ISRAEL AND CHINA VIEWS MAHAN AGAIN FOR DOMINANCE
How Russia Views Afghanistan Today by Nurlan Aliyev
Horns of a Dilemma: Biden, Trump, and the Future of U.S. Foreign Policy with Jim Golby and William Inboden
Bahrain, Israel formalize ties during historic visit to Manama
During the visit of an Israeli-US delegation to Manama on Sunday, Bahrain and Israel signed a joint communique to formalize relations. The visit marks the first commercial nonstop flight from Israel to Bahrain following the two countries' normalization agreement signed last month. “It was indeed a historic visit, to start opening relations between both countries,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said after the signing ceremony. US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, who accompanied the delegation along with US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, expressed hope that the “the Abraham Accords will continue to grow” even if Trump loses the US elections next month. The group is scheduled to fly to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday. The UAE and Bahrain became the third and fourth Arab countries, after Egypt and Jordan, to establish relations with the Jewish state. Meanwhile, Israel and the UAE reached a bilateral agreement that will provide incentives and protection to investors and encourage economic ties, both finance ministries said on Sunday.
China arming Venezuelan Navy with anti-ship missiles
(USNI News) Venezuela’s propaganda videos are showing off warships armed with new Chinese-made anti-ship missiles.
2019 was a landmark year for Connecticut’s defense industry
(The Day) Military contractors in Connecticut had their most lucrative year in more than a decade in 2019, receiving $37.1 billion in defense contracts last year.
Are Egypt-Russia naval drills in Black Sea message to Ankara?
(Al-Monitor) For the first time, the Egyptian navy holds joint exercises in the Black Sea with Russia, at a time of escalating tensions with Turkey.
Esper's lie? I don't think so
(Defense One) A recent Defense One commentary titled “Esper’s Convenient Lie” contains a number of statements challenging how the defense secretary is portraying the Pentagon’s focus on counterterrorism wars of the past and the current shift to state-on-state conflict with China which warrant our attention — but let’s start with the title.
Secretary of Defense Makes Strong Case for a Navy of Over 500 Ships
By Brent D. Sadler, RealClearDefense: “When The New York Times reported that Russia had likely deployed a nuclear-armed cruise missile in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.”
‘Preparing for War’: What Is China’s Xi Jinping Trying to Tell Us?
By James Holmes, The National Interest: “Xi recently exhorted Chinese marines to devote their “minds and energy” to “preparing for war.” Much of the message was meant for the U.S. and Taiwan."
The Central Idea of Conflict: Will
By Wayne Michael Hall, Strategy Bridge: “Good strategic thought empowers winning in conflict. With it, conflict’s constancy spreads across multiple domains and among levels of conflict and demand our fighters understand will as it relates to a resisting entity’s purpose for fighting."
Below Threshold Options for China against the U.S.
By Eli Kravinsky, Divergent Options: “The U.S. is continuing to orient its foreign policy and defense policy towards the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Accordingly, PRC tactics that have proven successful against the U.S. thus far may begin to fail. This failure will cause the PRC to develop new tactics to use against the U.S. below the threshold of armed conflict."
"With S-400 Escalation, Turkey Tests NATO," Bradley Bowman and Maj. Shane “Axl” Praiswater, FDD Policy Brief
Farzin Nadimi writes: The U.S. “maximum pressure” policy is unlikely to affect Iran’s overall military capability, given that the lifting of arms sanctions will hardly affect the arms markets. […]Although the portrayal of an invincible front against the enemy is partly to boost morale in a country battered by economic hardship and the COVID-19 pandemic, that should not obscure the fact that, for an aggressively ideological enemy now assured of its military might, bending under pressure will not be an option. – Washington Institute
Isabel Ivanescu writes: A Russian deployment could also allow pro-regime forces to pursue more-ambitious objectives and adopt a new modus operandi in an imminent Idlib offensive if Russia permits its forces to participate in combat as well as posturing. […]A deployment of conventional Russian forces would solidify Russia’s position in Syria and give Russia an opportunity to test evolving doctrinal concepts and combat capabilities. However, it would require Russian willingness to resource Syria as a priority effort and tolerate increased risk to force. – Institute for the Study of War
Danny Citrinowicz writes: And while Assad’s position appears to be secure for now, Israel should work to ensure that if the opportunity to influence the Syrian political scene does arise, it possesses an extant framework for communicating its concerns to involved parties in Syria. Without a diplomatic component, Israel’s military strikes will not open a permanent solution to the Syrian problem. With Hezbollah’s and Iran’s backs to the wall, continued aggression might lead to an undesired escalation not worth any operational achievement. – Washington Institute
Mahlet N. Mesfin and Scott Moore write: At a time when the world sometimes seems to lurch from one crisis to another, the risks and opportunities presented by biotechnology might seem far-off. But as the still-recent discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 has shown, the next transformative advance in biotechnology may be just around the corner — and the U.S., China, and other nations must seek new and expanded ways to identify shared principles to navigate the scientific, regulatory, and ethical dimensions of this brave new world. – The Hill
Natia Chankvetadze and Ketevan Murusidze write: Recent developments in the Karabakh confirm there are no ‘frozen’ conflicts and ‘unshaken’ status-quo. Growing militarization in the region, strengthening disinformation campaigns, and a lack of levers for strategic peacebuilding have created a fruitful ground for greater militaristic rhetoric and hard power decision-making. Peace and stability in the Black Sea region is extremely fragile. – Middle East Institute
Tom Rogan writes: Macron’s challenge, however, is that new rules and expanded economic opportunity won’t alone reverse this separatist trend. The government’s ban on Islamic face coverings, for example, has fed deep resentment without any obvious benefit for promoting social inclusion[…]Macron must be bold. Absent that endeavor, the social fissures which facilitate attacks such as that on Paty will only widen. – Washington Examiner
Hal Brands explains: “The best way to ensure that this help is forthcoming in a crisis is not simply to demand that allies do more in the common defense, as important as that is, it is also to invest in these relationships before the crisis strikes — to quietly build a common strategic outlook on the challenge that China poses, to explore new options for military and diplomatic cooperation, and to strengthen the network of ties that may mean the difference between victory or defeat.” With US soft power severely undermined, how can the US incentivize allies to form or strengthen nonmilitary relationships? With the Trump administration's America First strategy, how do we develop a common strategic outlook for great-power competition?
S-400 alert, Turkish edition. Turkey appears to have fired a missile into the Black Sea where its "military was expected to test its Russian-made S-400 defence systems," Reuters reports.
"Erdogan has crossed the Rubicon, as Ankara no longer has any plausible deniability that the system is not fully activated," said Aykan Erdemir, former Turkish member of Parliament and current Senior Director of the Turkey Program at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
Erdemir's forecast: "Putin's bet to use Erdogan as a spoiler in NATO has paid off, as Turkey will continue to distract the transatlantic alliance by diverting its attention and resources away from pressing threats elsewhere," he writes. "Washington's inaction and the impunity Erdogan has so far enjoyed will encourage other states to go forward with their plans to purchase the S-400 air defense system and other big ticket military hardware from Russia."
EU slaps sanctions on Kremlin insider over links with Russian paramilitary group in Libya
The European Union announced on Thursday sanctions on a Russian businessman and confidant of President Vladimir Putin over his alleged links to a Russian private military contractor accused of violating an arms embargo on Libya. Yevgeny Prigozhin is widely believed to be a leader of the Wagner Group, which operates as an unofficial arm of Russia's Defense Ministry. The Wagner Group has been accused of recruiting thousands of Syrian mercenaries to fight alongside Libya’s eastern military strongman Khalifa Hifter.
Net Assessment: We Need to Talk About Nukes
with Zack Cooper, Melanie Marlowe, and Christopher Preble
US working to end Chinese secrecy around nuclear capabilities
(USNI News) America’s senior arms negotiator said Washington is taking diplomatic and military steps to put an end to Beijing’s “great wall of secrecy” that surrounds its rapid and expanding strategic weapons program.
The status of US military power in 2020
(The Daily Signal) America’s competitors are developing and deploying new technologies that will make their conventional forces far more effective in open combat. The question before Congress is: Will the U.S. try to keep up?
Pentagon Has Big Plans for ‘Project Convergence’ in 2021
By Mandy Mayfield, National Defense Magazine: “The Defense Department is expanding an Army initiative known as "Project Convergence," with plans to bring in other services and international allies for the next iteration of the effort."
North Korea’s Two New Strategic Missiles:
What Do We Know and What Do They Mean for U.S. Deterrence?
By Joe Varner, Modern War Institute: “This year’s parade did not disappoint, with new strategic systems in the spotlight intended to convey Pyongyang’s capability to present new challenges to the United States’ and its allies’ security and nuclear deterrence."
For Baltic Defense, Forget the ‘Forest Brothers’
By Kevin Blachford & Ronald Ti, War on the Rocks: "The image of the partisan unexpectedly striking at the enemy, inflicting casualties and damage in a hail of gunfire, punctuated by explosions, before melting into the deep forests is a powerful metaphor for national resistance, determination, courage, and patriotism. The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania exist in a state of permanent precariousness, and the legacy of invasions, defiance, and independence has shaped the strategic culture of the Baltics to idealize such forms of paramilitary warfare."
Hypersonic defense; Leonardo's Lynn; Quad-A in person?; and more...
By Marcus Weisgerber
Priorities for 2021
Yuval Levin | NationalReview.com
We asked nine AEI scholars to offer guidance in their areas of expertise that the president might find useful in 2021 and beyond. But we asked them to do this while the presidential election whirls in the background, so they had to offer advice not to Donald Trump or Joe Biden but to America’s president.
Amid the efforts by the U.S. military and its potential adversaries to develop hypersonic weapons, an increasing number of defense companies are looking to crank up existing missile-defense systems to counter faster-flying threats.
"There [are] some technologies that are there today that are fielded that are effective," Scott Green, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin's $10 billion Missiles and Fire Control business, said in an interview Wednesday. "And there's some incremental things that you can do to the platforms that are out there today to make them more effective."
Lockheed Martin makes the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, air defense system, PAC-3 Patriot interceptor, and missile tracking radar. While Green wouldn't get into specifics, he said hypersonic defense is similar to traditional missile defense.
"The physics are similar," he said. You have to to turn up your agility based on the speeds of the incoming projectiles, but there's a lot that we do that can be reused."
Lockheed is hardly the only company vying for market share in both the offensive and defensive sides of the hypersonic battle. Raytheon executives have touted the company's desire to build defenses against hypersonic weapons. The company makes the Patriot system and other air- and missile-defense interceptors and tracking radars.
Lockheed Announces Team for DARPA Hypersonic Weapon Launcher Demo. Northrop Grumman will supply the solid rocket motor, Leidos' Dynetics will supply the canister, all-up round and fins, and support integration and test, and small business ECE will provide the booster power pyro module. "The goal of the Operational Fires (OpFires) program is to develop and demonstrate a novel ground-launched system enabling hypersonic boost glide weapons to penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly and precisely engage critical time sensitive targets," according to DARPA. "OpFires seeks to develop an advanced booster capable of delivering a variety of payloads at a variety of ranges."
One-on-One with Bill Lynn of Leonardo DRS
Leonardo DRS CEO Bill Lynn, who was deputy defense secretary during the Obama administration, talks ships, the industrial base, and advice for Pentagon appointees if former Vice President Joe Bidwn wins next month's presidential election.
Q. What do you make of the 500-plus ship plan announced by Defense Secretary Mark Esper last week? What could it mean for Leonardo DRS?
A. It's a little hard to assess when [the plan] comes this late [in a presidential term]. I think we're going to need a kind of a program and a budget to see exactly how they're gonna flesh this out. But, we feel it's going to be okay for us. Our biggest Navy program is the new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine; that's not going to change, no matter what. That's dictated by the half-life of a nuclear reactor. The schedule and the need is clearly not going to change. We're not going to abandon reliance on the sea-based deterrence.
In terms of ship counts ... we build things for both new ships and upgrading old ships. So if they buy new ships, our stuff goes on that. If they don't buy as many new ships, and they have to upgrade the older ships at a higher rate, we have that lane. So, we feel that we're in a pretty strong position however this comes out [but] I need to see a program and a budget before I can judge what this really changes,
Q. What programs are particularly at risk if the defense budget shrinks?
A. When the budget gets flatter, it forces the military departments into trade-offs. Cuts, the way the budget works, is that there's this ratchet effect of cost-of-living increases, in terms of salaries, in terms of benefits, in terms of the cost of technology. If the budget isn't going up at some rate, you're losing ground programmatically and so you have to make trade-offs — trade offs between force structure and modernization, trade offs between R&D and procurement, trade offs between current forces and future forces. I think we're starting down that path.
I think we're in a pretty good position there, because we're not dependent on any single program. We don't have big, multibillion-dollar programs where a single decision could change our whole outlook. Obviously, we're not looking for anything to be canceled, but we can absorb changes, I think, reasonably well.
We're not dependent on building new platforms for our growth....We build the communications, the sensors, the electronics, the gear that goes inside the platforms, whether it's an upgraded legacy platform or a new platform, our business continues. So it's not that these trade off don't change our trajectory some, but we feel we're pretty stable.
Q. As someone who presided over a shift in Pentagon priorities, what advice would you give the next administration as they evaluate the current portfolio?
A. Make hard decisions early. It...doesn't get easier. Set a course and stick to it. You're going to be in better shape than if you try, and hope that maybe in a year or two things will be a little bit different. You can defer the decisions [but] almost inevitably, that means that the decision you're faced with that is harder [it was] a year or two ago. You can't get lulled to complacency by the hope that maybe the fiscal situation or something will improve. It's far easier to react to that than the opposite.
Q. What's the next big M&A?
A. We've consolidated so much since the early 90s. There's less room for it then there was. It doesn't mean it can't happen. Certainly the Raytheon-UTC [merger], I didn't see it coming. There's certainly room for some changes, but I think you can't see that big massive consolidation you saw in the early '90s because there's just not enough players to allow it. But could there be more single episodes of consolidation? Sure.
Oshkosh Developing New JLTV Packages
The maker of the Army's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle has already delivered more than 8,800 vehicles and is developing new configurations of the armored truck that is replacing tens of thousands of Humvees. Among the more than 100 upgrade kits are a blast-protected ambulance and a command-and-control vehicle. "We believe that we are the vehicle and we're ready for any near-peer threat," George Mansfield, vice president and general manager of joint programs at Oshkosh Defense, said in an interview. The packages are modular and could be installed on existing vehicles. "We're working on some…additional kits for different configurations on the JLTV right now," he said.