BY RICHARD JAVAD HEYDARIAN
2017 may have heralded the beginning of a new Sino-centric regional order
China advances, US retreats in SEAsia
BY RICHARD JAVAD HEYDARIAN
2017 may have heralded the beginning of a new Sino-centric regional order
The grand bargain to give the West back its mojo
Dalibor Rohac | The American Interest
What America must do if it wants strong European allies
Paul Zajac | War on the Rocks
Russia Fires New RS-12M Topol ICBM
By Joseph Trevithick, The WarZone: “Russia says it has tested yet another new reentry vehicle design on an RS-12M Topol intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM. The development comes amid persistent complaints about America’s ballistic missile defense shield, as well as renewed tensions between the Kremlin and the U.S. government over various agreements limiting the development of nuclear weapons.”
Beijing vs the end of the North Korea threat. Gregory Copley, Defense & Foreign Affairs.
BEIJING — A Chinese county along the border with North Korea is constructing refugee camps intended to house thousands of migrants fleeing a possible crisis on the Korean Peninsula, according to an internal document that appears to have been leaked from China’s main state-owned telecommunications company.
Three villages in Changbai County and two cities in the northeastern border province of Jilin, have been designated for the camps, according to the document from China Mobile. The document appeared last week on Weibo, a microblogging site.
The camps are an unusual, albeit tacit, admission by China that instability in North Korea is increasingly likely, and that refugees could swarm across the Tumen River, a narrow ribbon of water that divides the two countries.
For decades, Chinese policy on North Korea has centered on maintaining stability in a neighboring country known for its repression and volatility.
Despite international sanctions and condemnation, the North in recent months has intensified a program to test nuclear weapons and missiles, increasing the potential for internal instability or the chance of an attack by the United States.
GREGORY COPLEY DEFENSE AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS MAGAZINE ON ZIMBABWE; A SECOND CHANCE FOR SOUTH AFRICA & AFRICOM'S TRANS-SAHEL MOVEMENTS
A Second Chance for South Africa
Desmond Lachman, U.S. News & World Report
Too Many Generals, Not Enough Troops in the Sahel
By Kimberly Dozier, The Cipher Brief: “A crisscrossing patchwork of African joint security forces have marshalled in North Africa to stamp out terrorism on the continent, with particular focus on the long and remote borders of the Sahel. But their small size, lack of funds, unclear authorities and competing lines of leadership are more likely to produce confusion than coalesce into an effective blanket of security capable of blocking traffic by vicious and nimble militant groups, and the criminal networks that supply them and profit from the instability they bring.”
Turkey finalizes Russian missile defense buy
Turkey and Russia have finalized a $2.5 billion deal to finance the delivery of four S-400 missile defense systems for Ankara. Sergei Chemezov, the CEO of Russia's state-run defense company Rostec, told Russian daily Kommersant that the first delivery is planned for March 2020.
"It is the first NATO country to acquire our latest air defense system S-400," Chemezov said. Turkey's decision to buy Russian S-400 systems has raised concern among NATO member countries, who worry the move points toward a Turkish military tilt away from the defense bloc.
Report: Obama stalled investigation into Hezbollah’s drug empire
The Barack Obama administration stalled a US law enforcement effort to uproot drug trafficking networks controlled by the Shiite militia Hezbollah in an apparent effort to avoid disrupting nuclear negotiations with Iran, Politico reports. The investigation is likely to rekindle criticism of the previous administration’s efforts to reduce tensions with Tehran. “This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David Asher, a former Defense Department analyst who worked on the probe. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.” Other sources, however, suggest Drug Enforcement Administration investigators and other critics have little idea why the probe was stymied. Read More
Recovering the empire: A paper series edited by AEI's Leon Aron
Various scholars | American Enterprise Institute
Through a glass darkly: Three scenarios for Russian aggression in UkraineMichael Kofman | American Enterprise Institute | December 12, 2017
Russia's unfinished business in UkraineAndrew Wilson | American Enterprise Institute | December 12, 2017
Russia to expand military presence in Syria bases
Russia will start expanding its naval and air bases in Syria, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday. The move comes as part of a deal signed with Damascus in January and ratified by parliament to ensure Russian access to Syrian waters and ports. “Last week the Commander-in-Chief [President Vladimir Putin] approved the structure and the bases in Tartus and in Hmeimim [air base]. We have begun forming a permanent presence there,” RIA news agency quoted Shoigu as saying. Russia will use the Tartus port for 49 years with the possibility of extending the agreement, and utilize the air base in Hmeimim indefinitely.Meanwhile, Chief of the General Staff Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov said Wednesday that next year’s priority for the Russian military in Syria will be "wiping out An-Nusra forces." Gerasimov noted that "some members of this terrorist organization operate in de-escalation zones … therefore they must be eliminated." Another priority will be political settlement in Syria, Gerasimov added. Read More
Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan made a major breakthrough by resolving most of the issues related to a decades-long border dispute earlier this year. - Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
CHINA SUSTAINS NORTH KOREAN GERM WARFARE UNIT & WHITE HOUSE POLICY PRINCIPLES DIVERGE ON NORTH KOREA
Trump’s North Korea Policy? Tillerson, McMaster Diverge
By Brian Garrett-Glaser, The Cipher Brief: “Conflicting signals about whether the U.S. is prepared to resume talks with North Korea raise questions about what conditions, if any, might be imposed and even how unified the administration of President Donald Trump really is on undertaking this kind of initiative.”
AFRICOM strike halts Shabaab car bomb attack
The US military has launched 32 strikes in Somalia since the beginning of 2017, more than doubling last year's total of 15.
New York City bomber ‘did it for the Islamic State’
"I did it for the Islamic State," Akayed Ullah, who is charged with carrying out the failed bombing in Times Square yesterday, allegedly told authorities.
Bomber targets New York City transit system with improvised device
Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old man from Bangladesh, attempted to detonate an improvised explosive device in midtown Manhattan earlier today. No one was killed in the failed bombing, but several people suffered minor wounds. Jihadists have repeatedly targeted New York City since the 9/11 hijackings.
New York Port Authority Attack
The Bangladeshi man accused of detonating an explosive device in an underground passageway near Port Authority Bus Terminal on Monday is a legal U.S. resident who was angry about “the plight of Muslims” in the Middle East, according to a senior law-enforcement official. - Wall Street Journal
The arrest of a Bangladeshi immigrant accused of making a homemade pipe bomb and setting it off in the New York subway system has led to discussion of the nation’s immigration system, with President Donald Trump repeating his refrain that it needs to be overhauled in favor of more restrictions. - Associated Press
Editorial: A terrorist set off a bomb in New York’s subway Monday morning, and the worst thing he did was blow up his own crotch. That may be why you don’t see the cries and arguments that you usually see in the wake of terrorist attacks. This relative silence doesn’t reflect a lack of vigilance, in our mind. It reflects a proper proportion of vigilance. - Washington Examiner
Editorial: For years after the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center towers, it was a point of civic pride among New Yorkers and their stellar police department that no serious terrorist attack had succeeded again in America’s foremost urban target. Now that may be changing, which raises questions about whether the post 9/11 status quo needs to be re-examined. - Wall Street Journal
THE U.S. ARMY'S SUICIDE SQUAD FOR MOSCOW & LEON ARON ON PUTIN'S EMPIRE, HOW TEAM TRUMP SHOULD WORK WITH MOSCOW
U.S. Army Had a Special 'Suicide Squad' Ready to Strike Russian Forces
By Michael Peck, The National Interest: “Had the Cold War turned hot, there would have been no escape for the U.S. garrison in West Berlin. Marooned in a city more than 100 miles inside Communist East Germany, the U.S. Berlin Brigade—and the British and French garrisons as well—would certainly have been overwhelmed by Soviet and East German troops.”
Leon Aron | US News & World Report
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he will seek a fourth term as president in the upcoming March 2018 Russian elections. In a US News & World Report op-ed from this past July, Leon Aron contended that Putin’s win in 2018 “is a given,” but how Putin must win is also important. “Putin does not want to resort to electoral fraud and thus risk protests all over Russia. No, he needs, and without doubt wants, fireworks, thrills, the outpouring of popular gratitude and adulation. He needs a national-patriotic military triumph, humiliating the enemy (NATO, the US) and adding to the glory of the lost empire.” Revisit the piece here.
Also, stay tuned for the release of Aron’s upcoming monograph, “Recovering the Empire,” which will be released in March 2018 to coincide with the Russian presidential election. The monograph will consist of 12 essays by various regional and military experts exploring the motivations behind a potential attack on six post-Soviet counties, the Kremlin’s criteria for choosing the target countries, and a country-by-country analysis of putative venues and modes of potential Russian aggression. Get a sneak peek here.
Analysis: With the victory of President Vladimir V. Putin assured, the real contest, they say, is the bare-knuckled, no-holds-barred fight to determine who or what comes after him by the end of his next six years in office, in 2024. - New York Times
Russia's unfinished business in Ukraine
Andrew Wilson | AEI
With Russia, Try Try Again
By Michael Nordeen, RealClearDefense: “Despite this deplorable state of affairs, a responsible step to improve U.S.-Russia relations would be to negotiate recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and eliminate related sanctions in exchange for a series of small wins that benefit the U.S., Russia, and the global order.”
Getting the Best Out of Moscow
By Daniel Hoffman, The Cipher Brief: “While partnership with Russia on Syria has too many pitfalls to justify the strategic risk to the U.S., the Trump administration should consider three areas for collaboration.”
Assessment of the Lone Wolf Terrorist Concept
By Linda Schlegel, Divergent Options “The label “lone wolf” is attached easily to an individual attacker by politicians and the media, but must be used with care. These actors do not perceive themselves as acting alone but as part of a group. This group is increasingly found in the virtual realm, begging the question of whether traditional notions of membership in terrorist groups is still a valid indication of whether an attack was perpetrated by a lone wolf or not.”
CALLING CHINA'S BLUFF ON TAIWAN
How Trump and Taiwan are calling China's bluff
Gary J. Schmitt | AEIdeas
In the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, there are a number of notable measures regarding US defense cooperation with Taiwan. These provisions are long overdue. For the past quarter century, successive administrations have dawdled or simply refused to send Taiwan the weapons and systems needed to strengthen Taiwan's own defense and its strategic value to the US.
China fears an Indian ‘stab in the back’ if it fights Taiwan
BY FRANK CHEN
New Delhi fears losing control of its eastern states, while Beijing is concerned about fighting wars on two fronts - the Tibetan border, and Taiwan
CHINA: China Confirms Test of Powerful DF-41 ICBM
By Bill Gertz, The Washington Times: “China's People's Liberation Army has confirmed the latest flight test of the newest and most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile known as the DF-41.”
A Chinese county along the border with North Korea is constructing refugee camps intended to house thousands of migrants fleeing a possible crisis on the Korean Peninsula, according to an internal document that appears to have been leaked from China’s main state-owned telecommunications company. - New York Times
Opinion: Recognizing the seriousness of the growing threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the United States, it was a welcome sign that President Donald Trump recently reclassified North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. This designation puts North Korea under increasingly harsher sanctions to reinforce the nonnegotiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. - Defense News
Opinion: For decades, the relationship between China and the West rested on illusion and pretense. Western politicians fooled themselves into thinking that the Chinese system, centrally directed and authoritarian, would in time resemble their own, open and democratic. - Wall Street Journal
Crises in Middle East could change Asia’s energy security dynamic
BY ALAM SRINIVAS
India and China are not only trying to reduce their dependence on oil from the Middle East, but also considering renewable energy alternatives; meanwhile, China-Russia-Iran-Pakistan could become a new energy supply axis in the near future
Iran eyes Caspian Sea pact with Russia
Iran and the four other nations bordering the Caspian Sea — Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan — have agreed to ban foreign military forces from entering the sea under a convention to be debated at a two-day summit in Moscow. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Moscow gathering could lead to a ministerial summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, aimed at finalizing the Caspian’s legal status. Read More
The Long and Winding Road to a Haircut
Carmen Reinhart predicts that key similarities between Puerto Rico and Venezuela will emerge as their debt sagas play out.
Venezuela Cryptocurrency Scheme: No Way Out of Its Crises
Venezuela is being strangled by hyperinflation, joblessness, insolvency, corruption, and sanctions imposed by the US government. It has also been suspended from the South American trading bloc Mercosur over the undemocratic practices of the Nicolas Maduro government, among other reasons. To loosen...
Puerto Rico needs the IMF
Desmond Lachman | US News & World Report
Puerto Rico’s economic challenges
Desmond Lachman | Statement before the Puerto Rico Oversight Board