Can the New Triple Entente of US, Russia and PRC manage the DPRK rogues? Michael Michael Vlahos @jhuworldcrisis.
"The Triple Entente (from French entente [ɑ̃tɑ̃t] "friendship, understanding, agreement") was the understanding linking the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente on 31 August 1907. The understanding between the three powers, supplemented by agreements with Japan and Portugal, constituted a powerful counterweight to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Italy, though Italy did not side with Germany and Austria during World War I and joined the Entente Powers instead, in the 1915 Treaty of London.
Historians continue to debate the importance of the alliance system in igniting the Great War. At the start of World War I in 1914, all three Triple Entente members entered it as Allies of World War I against the Central Powers, Germany and Austria-Hungary. However, it is important to note that the Triple Entente, in contrast to the Triple Alliance or the Franco-Russian Alliance, was not an alliance of mutual defence and Britain therefore felt free to make its own foreign policy decisions in the July crisis in 1914."
PRC Uyghurs join ISIS and Al Qaeda. Jacques Neriah, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Malcolm Hoenlein, @conf_of_pres.
"...Thousands of Chinese jihadis have come to Syria since the country’s civil war began in March 2011 to fight against government forces and their allies. Some have joined the al-Qaida’s branch in the country previously known as Nusra Front. Others paid allegiance to the Islamic State group and a smaller number joined factions such as the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham.
But the majority of Chinese jihadis are with the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria, whose vast majority are Chinese Muslims, particularly those from the Turkic-speaking Uighur majority native to Xinjiang in China. Their growing role in Syria has resulted in increased cooperation between Syrian and Chinese intelligence agencies who fear those same jihadis could one day return home and cause trouble there...."
North Korea Threatens Japan: What of our Treaty Interests & Can Actors Climb Down From Crisis
North Korea threatens Japan & What is to be done? @wjmurphy2 @gordongchang
"...A ballistic missile would likely take around 10 minutes to travel 1,600 km (1,000 miles) from its launch pad in North Korea to Okinawa, it adds, citing a launch in February last year which took that length of time to fly over the Japanese island.
The warning comes as tensions ratcheted up between North Korea, its Asian neighbours and the US. The secretive communist state test-fired four ballistic missiles last month, three of which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, just off the coast of the country.
It has subsequently emerged that the country's civil defence website had 5.7 million visitors in the first 23 days of April — more than 14 times the usual monthly traffic..."
Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, is seeking approval from lawmakers to borrow nearly $6bn from the Export-Import Bank of China for railway projects, as his government seeks to revive a recession-hit economy through spending on big infrastructure projects. – Financial Times
Ms Lagarde said the east African nation, ruled by former bush rebel Yoweri Museveni for the past 31 years, is at a crossroads. “The policies that Uganda chooses today will determine whether you are on a road to overcome poverty and provide opportunities to all Ugandans,” she said. – Financial Times
Somalia's al Shabaab gunmen shot and killed a senior national intelligence officer in front of his own house in the capital Mogadishu on Thursday, police and militants said, in the latest such incident by the group. - Reuters
Kenya's opposition alliance is expected to announce that veteran politician Raila Odinga will be its presidential candidate on Thursday, party sources said, as busloads of cheering, whistling supporters in orange T-shirts began converging on the capital. - Reuters
When Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s deputy president, delivered a speech that included a stinging attack on “the politics of patronage” in the African National Congress, it was widely interpreted as the unofficial launch of his bid for the party’s leadership. – Financial Times
The Rising: The European RIGHT
Judy Dempsey writes: Today the Polish government is under the control of the nationalist conservative Law and Justice Party, which is revealing increasingly illberal inclinations. In Hungary, Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party has increasingly undermined democratic institutions. Both countries are now at loggerheads with the E.U. It could hardly be otherwise. Both appear determined to pursue their own nationalist agendas and power politics even if they clash with E.U. values. – Washington Post
The Limits of U.S. War power
A "Concert-Balance" Strategy and the Limits of U.S. Power
By Ronald W. Sprang, Small Wars Journal: “In the midst of the current global setting Patrick Porter argues that the United States current grand strategy is no longer sustainable. He endorses a new collaborative “Concert-Balance” strategy to share global power and responsibility with leaders around the globe with the reality of U.S. limits of power and the emerging multi-polar world to extend the life of our national global influence. I disagree with his argument for two major reasons. First, the Concert-Balance Strategy needlessly cedes terrain signaling weakness and undermining U.S. status as a global leader. Second, the strategy unrealistically assumes risk to the national defense and strategic mobility of our military.”
Dan Blumenthal writes: Therefore, those who believe in an inevitable Chinese takeover of Asia may not be wholly wrong. But that is not because China is overtaking the United States in wealth generation; far from it. Rather, it is because Beijing is taking advantage of an American political system unwilling to deal with its fiscal problems and provide for the common defense against the country’s most challenging threats. – Real Clear World
Seoul-Washington, missile consensus: When the US started setting up an anti-missile defense system in South Korea on Wednesday, it brought out bottle-throwing protesters, riot police, and a rebuke from the man who wants to be the country’s next president. Peter Langan writes that overnight the scene had changed to one of calm, after both governments acted quickly to publicly state they were that in agreement on installation of the THAAD missile batteries to counter the threat from North Korea. READ THE STORY HERE
U.S., CHINA, NORTH KOREA: FONOPs to Continue in South China Sea Despite North Korea Diversion
By Megan Eckstein, USNI News: “Complex situations in the Asia-Pacific region have forced the United States to both rely on China as a partner in deescalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and admonish as an aggressor, with the U.S. vowing to push back with upcoming Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea and pushing other countries to do the same, U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris told lawmakers yesterday.”
NORTH KOREA: Nuclear Tests Will "Never Stop"
By Will Ripley, Tim Schwarz and Ben Westcott, CNN: “A North Korean government official in a rare interview promised his country's nuclear tests would "never stop" as long as the US continued what they viewed as "acts of aggression."”
Complex situations in the Asia-Pacific region have forced the United States to both rely on China as a partner in deescalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and admonish as an aggressor, with the U.S. vowing to push back with upcoming Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea and pushing other countries to do the same, U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris told lawmakers – USNI News
Trump's Empty Hand In East Asia: Military Diplomacy Alone without State Department
Trump's Armada Can't Shoot Down North Korea's Missiles
By Anthony Capaccio, Bloomberg: “The Navy’s lack of ballistic missile defense capability on the scene means the Trump administration’s high-profile show of force has a significant gap as it warns North Korea against another missile test and pressures it to back down from its nuclear program.”
Two months after U.S. Africa Command sent a contingent of special operations forces for tactical training with African troops in areas threatened by Boko Haram militants, U.S. Army Africa is set to take training there to the operational level. – Stars and Stripes
Libya is the main launching point for migrants streaming into Europe from across a broad swath of the globe, and whose numbers this year are again surging. Under the plan, Italy would train and equip Libyan guards to scour coasts and deserts to stop, push back and detain migrants before they reach the high seas. – Washington Post
All three experts who testified before the panel — Michele Dunne, a longtime Middle East expert at the State Department now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Elliott Abrams, who served in the George W. Bush administration and is now at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Tom Malinowski, formerly Obama’s assistant secretary of State for democracy, human rights, and labor — painted the U.S.-Egypt relationship as a relic of a bygone era. All agreed that, given the poor human rights and economic conditions in Egypt at present, the relationship should be reconsidered. – Foreign Policy
It was a startling collision of religion and politics. Egypt’s president proposed a new law that would prevent Muslim men from ending their marriages simply by saying “divorce” three times. The country’s top institution of Islamic clerics, Al-Azhar, bluntly rejected the idea, saying Islam gives men that right and nothing can change that. – Associated Press
Editorial: Mr. Trump’s friendliness toward Mr. Sissi will pay off if he can persuade the general to adopt desperately needed reforms in Egypt, such as rational counterinsurgency tactics in the Sinai, rather than mass repression, and the release from prison of secular opponents and Islamists who renounce violence. Scores of nongovernment groups like that founded by Ms. Hijazi remain under government attack. Mr. Trump was right to argue her case — but if Egypt is to get on the right track, he will need to push for more. – Washington Post
Beijing-Pyongyang-Washington, shifting alliances: China’s state-run news outlet Global Times this week wrote that Beijing should not respond militarily if the US carries out a surgical strike on North Korean nuclear facilities. Christopher Scott writes that although Beijing is officially an ally of North Korea, it’s clearly now aligning with the US and South Korea over Pyongyang and this marks a seismic and potentially game-changing shift in Northeast Asian regional politics. READ THE STORY HERE
U.S., SOUTH KOREA: U.S. Military Starts Installing Controversial THAAD Battery in South Korea
By Anna Fifield, The Washington Post: “The United States military started installing a controversial anti-missile defense system in South Korea overnight Tuesday, triggering protests and sparking criticism that it was rushing to get the battery in place before the likely election of a president who opposes it. ”
The United States and South Korea began installing key elements of an advanced missile-defense system in a rural southern county on Wednesday, a day after North Korea held huge artillery drills to mark the 85th anniversary of the founding of its military. – New York Times
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain suggested Tuesday that he’ll push the Trump administration to take a harder line toward China over North Korea’s nuclear provocations when senators head to the White House Wednesday for an unusual group briefing on Pyongyang’s activities. – Washington Times
In the last few years, national security analysts and senior defense officials have suggested that it may not be North Korea’s ballistic missiles or artillery that are used to launch a large-scale attack on South Korea or U.S. installations, but North Korean commandos potentially armed with biological weapons. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint
The White House will host the entire Senate on Wednesday for an extraordinary briefing on North Korea amid rising tensions with Pyongyang and growing questions about how the Trump administration intends to halt the regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. – Foreign Policy
Sen. Cory Gardner has been among the lawmakers calling on the Trump administration to prioritize addressing the threat of North Korea launching nuclear weapons, and the Colorado Republican said it is “refreshing” to see some action. – Roll Call
North Korea could have the capability to fire a missile at the United States by 2020, top Asia-Pacific experts told lawmakers Tuesday. – The Hill
The U.S. Navy flotilla sailing toward the Korean peninsula to deter Kim Jong Un’s regime lacks a key capability: It can’t shoot down ballistic missiles. - Bloomberg
A senior Republican senator says he emerged from a dinner meeting with Donald Trump confident the president will not allow North Korea to build a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the United States. – Associated Press
Analysis: As North Korea edges closer to being able to threaten the United States with a missile, a preemptive U.S. strike will become more thinkable. If it comes to war, it could be hell on Earth. Barring a fast surrender by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, even a purportedly limited, preemptive U.S. strike could lead to deaths in that region numbering as high as the hundreds of thousands, experts say. – Roll Call
Editorial: The way to avoid this dire prospect is for China to join the U.S. and its allies in a united effort to change the regime in the North to one that will give up its nuclear weapons. This needn’t mean unification with the South, and it could mean a government in Pyongyang that is still allied with China. But China needs to take action beyond its familiar plea for more negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea. Toward that end, tougher sanctions are worth pursuing lest war becomes inevitable. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
John Bolton writes: Why, after this eight-year charade, anyone would believe North Korean “commitments” to renounce nuclear weapons is hard to understand. The real problem is that many otherwise sensible people are prepared to believe that agreements constitute reality, rather than actual behavior. Reporters and diplomats often say things like “the agreement ended [fill-in the blank]’s nuclear program.” Needless to say, no agreement does any such thing, only the verified conduct of the parties themselves. – Washington Post
The campaign of the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been targeted by what appear to be the same Russian operatives responsible for hacks of Democratic campaign officials before last year’s American presidential election, a cybersecurity firm warns in a new report. – New York Times
China-Philippines, honeymoon over: Ten months into Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte’s tenure, his strategic alliance with China has devolved into open sparring over their South China Sea disputes as both sides fortify their claims. Richard Javad Heydarian writes that Beijing’s fast growing network of South China Sea military facilities has pushed the Philippines to take a tough line and China is now realizing that Duterte will not be an easy strategic pushover. READ THE STORY HERE
Analysis: Behind the Trump administration’s sudden urgency in dealing with the North Korean nuclear crisis lies a stark calculus: a growing body of expert studies and classified intelligence reports that conclude the country is capable of producing a nuclear bomb every six or seven weeks. – New York Times
North Korea appears to have resumed work at its nuclear test site after a perplexing series of volleyball matches were held there, according to analysts who studied satellite images of the site, renewing concerns that a major weapons test could be imminent. – New York Times
North Korea has detained a United States citizen, the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang and a university chancellor said Sunday, raising the number of Americans thought to be held by the secretive nation to three. – New York Times
Experts say the United States is unlikely to have been behind North Korea's botched missile launch last week, despite rampant speculation that the explosion was the result of an Obama-era cyber sabotage program. – The Hill
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that President Trump will face a nuclear-armed North Korea with missiles that could reach the United States in this term. – The Hill
North Koreans are reportedly experiencing long lines at the gas pump, prompting speculation over whether China is withholding fuel supplies in an effort to put pressure on President Kim Jung-un to curb his developing nuclear program. – The Hill
The US and its allies are maintaining the military pressure on Pyongyang as well as urging China to use its trade ties to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions…China, however, is ambivalent about the benefits of tighter commercial sanctions. – Financial Times
North Korea marks the founding anniversary of its military on Tuesday, and South Korea and its allies are bracing for the possibility that it could conduct another nuclear test or launch an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time. – Associated Press
Eight North Korean defectors in China face involuntary repatriation after being detained by Chinese police last month, the Human Rights Watch group and a pastor who has been assisting them said on Monday. - Reuters
South Korean software mogul-turned-presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo will seek to restart six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula if he is elected on May 9, he said in a written interview with Reuters. - Reuters
Editorial: North Korea is a terrorist government that obeys none of the norms of international behavior. The only solution is regime change. But in the meantime, the U.S. should make clear that Americans who travel to North Korea do so at their own risk. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
David Cohen writes: The Trump administration should start by applying secondary sanctions against midsize Chinese banks that aid North Korean front companies, leaving the larger ones for later, if necessary. Imposing secondary sanctions would send a strong message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that the financial noose is tightening in a way that could drive a wedge between Kim and the Pyongyang elite critical to his continued hold on power. And it would demonstrate, to North Korea and China alike, that the United States is serious about generating the leverage necessary for a successful negotiation. – Washington Post
By Jack McCain, Strategy Bridge: “War in Africa is a vastly misunderstood concept to the majority of the United States military, save for the small number of Special Operations Forces that are fighting various groups across the continent. The prevailing narrative has been that the solution to the various African wars requires intervention by outside powers, which has been the understood norm with respect to Africa since its colonization by European powers, as seen in the numerous post-Cold War forays made by the U.S., UN, and other external entities.”
The North Korean War Plan Exposed
Thunder Run to Seoul: Assessing North Korea’s War Plan
By Raymond Farrell, Modern War Institute: “So what would the initial North Korean attack look like? Unlike in 1950, when Soviet, Chinese and North Korean planners had a realistic prospect of conquering South Korea in a war, an attack today has only a small chance of victory within a narrow time window.”
U.S. on South Sudan Genocide
Sudan on Monday warned South Sudan to cease its support of rebel groups at war with Khartoum, accusing its president of meeting with rebels last week in a rare public statement from Khartoum's intelligence agency. - Reuters
Kate Knopf writes: The Security Council meeting on Tuesday presents an opportunity for Haley, who has already stressed the link between human rights abuses and insecurity in the council, to demonstrate U.S. resolve in confronting the crisis in South Sudan. The success of the proposal in the CFR Council Special Report will depend on getting the politics right both at the United Nations and the African Union of course. But both institutions must act quickly to end the war and salvage South Sudan’s sovereignty before there is nothing and no one left in the country to save. – Defense One
Soaring crime rates against women in recent years, and a strengthening women’s rights movement, have forced Mexicans to begin addressing machismo and the harm it does through sexism, misogyny and violence – New York Times
At least 35 people were killed over the weekend in Mexico, according to local officials, amid a widespread surge in drug gang violence that has driven murders to a level not seen since 2011. - Reuters
Editorial: For the United States, the hemisphere’s richest country, to saddle Haiti, the poorest, with what would amount to a staggering new burden would be cruel and gratuitous. It may also be self-defeating. It’s hardly unthinkable that a sudden infusion of 50,000 jobless people could trigger instability in a nation with a long history of upheavals that often washed up on U.S. shores. – Washington Post
As opponents of President Nicolás Maduro confront his government with intensifying protests, they are also challenging him in a high-stakes battle for the sympathies of Venezuela’s armed forces. – Washington Post
The uniformed men who shot Mr. Moreno were not government security forces, witnesses say. Rather, they were members of armed bands who have become key enforcers for President Nicolás Maduro as he attempts to crush a growing protest movement against his rule. The groups, called collectives or colectivos in Spanish, originated as pro-government community organizations that have long been a part of the landscape of leftist Venezuelan politics. Civilians with police training, colectivo members are armed by the government, say experts who have studied them. – New York Times
Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro has ordered an investigation into Telefónica’s Movistar for alleged “coup-mongering” after a week of protests against his increasingly repressive rule. – Financial Times