What We Are Reading

What We Are Reading

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Key Reads

Arab Nations Issue Demands to Qatar
Ben Hubbard / The New York Times
Saudi Arabia and several other Arab countries that recently cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar issued a harsh list of demands on Friday, insisting that the wealthy but tiny Persian Gulf nation shut down the news network Al Jazeera, abandon ties with Islamist organizations and provide detailed information about its funding for political dissidents.


Former State Department Security Officer accused of spying for China
Charlie Savage / The New York Times
A former State Department diplomatic security officer and military contractor was charged with conducting espionage for China after F.B.I. agents found top-secret documents and apparently incriminating messages on a communications device he brought back from Shanghai, the Justice Department said on Thursday.


Saudi Arabia’s Game of Thrones
Robin Wright / The New Yorker
In the fractious world of Middle Eastern politics, Mohammed bin Salman is seen either as a long-awaited young reformer shaking up the world’s most autocratic society, or as an impetuous and inexperienced princeling whose rapid rise to power could destabilize Saudi Arabia, the preëminent sheikhdom on the energy-rich Arabian Peninsula. Either way, the thirty-one-year-old is now set to be the kingdom’s next ruler—potentially for the next half century—following an abrupt shakeup in the royal family.


American Competitiveness

How Not to Win an AI Arms Race With China
Patrick Tucker / Defense One
A lawmaker’s proposal to curb Chinese investment in U.S. artificial-intelligence firms has more than a few critics.


National Security & Strategy

Why neither North Korea nor the United States want all-out war
Joshua Berlinger / CNN
It’s been a tense six months on the Korean Peninsula and many North Korea watchers believe the situation is dangerous. But it hasn’t reached the brink yet, and that’s likely because US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and their respective advisers are aware of the immense cost of the Korean War, which started 67 years ago Sunday.


National Security & Space

Air Force to Congress: No ‘Space Corps’
Oriana Pawlyk /
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., believes the Air Force is getting in its own way when it comes to advancing space operations. During the House Armed Services Committee markup hearing of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act on Thursday, Rogers lamented that the service doesn’t expect to stand up a U.S. Space Corps to better prepare against space threats from Russia and China.


Asymmetric Operations

Philippines: IS funded siege through Malaysian militant
Jim Gomez / Associated Press, ABC News
The Islamic State group helped fund the monthlong siege of a southern Philippine city through a Malaysian militant who was reportedly killed by troops, the Philippine military chief said Friday.


Raqqa: The desperate fight for Islamic State group’s ‘capital’
BBC News
As a battle to eject so-called Islamic State from Mosul grinds on, across the border in Syria, an alliance of US-backed fighters is advancing on the IS stronghold of Raqqa. The BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse is one of the first reporters to reach the city.


Australian spy planes to fly over southern Philippines in Islamic State Fight
Caitlyn Gribbin / ABC Australia
Australian military spy planes will start flying over the southern Philippines to help the fight against Islamic State (IS) group.


Nuclear Security

North Korea Tests Another Rocket Engine
Aria Bendix / The Atlantic
North Korea has conducted another rocket engine test within the last 24 hours, U.S. officials told Reuters late Thursday night. Officials say the engine could be part of the nation’s ongoing efforts to build an intercontinental ballistic missile (IBCM) capable of reaching the U.S. mainland or, in the meantime, U.S. bases in South Korea and Japan. This month’s test is the first of its kind since North Korea conducted three rocket engine tests in March. The nation has also ramped up its testing of ballistic missiles, the latest of which occurred on June 8, in repeated violation of UN sanctions.


Climate Security

From heatwaves to hurricanes, floods to famine: seven climate change hotspots
John Vidal / The Guardian
The evidence for the onset of climate change is compelling. But who and where is it hitting the hardest? How fast will it come to Africa, or the US? What will be its impact on tropical cities, forests or farming? On the poor, or the old? When it comes to details, much is uncertain.


Why is China suddenly leading the climate change effort? It’s a business decision
Roselyn Hsueh / The Washington Post
China watchers and other commentators debate China’s resolve and capability to fill the political vacuum left by the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord this month. Why would China be eager to take leadership on climate change? To understand this transition requires looking more closely at the interests and motivations of the Chinese leadership in the rapid growth and development of Chinese renewables.


Energy Security

Oil Prices edge up as big producers stick to cuts
Jenny W. Hsu and Georgi Kantchev / MarketWatch
Oil prices ticked higher on Friday as the globe’s largest producers expressed willingness to stick to output cuts, capping a tumultuous week for a market that continues to be plagued by a global glut.


US-Russia Relationship

Under pressure, Western tech firms bow to Russian demands to share cyber secrets
Joel Schectman, Dustin Volz, and Jack Stubbs / Reuters
Western technology companies, including Cisco, IBM and SAP, are acceding to demands by Moscow for access to closely guarded product security secrets, at a time when Russia has been accused of a growing number of cyber attacks on the West, a Reuters investigation has found.


Upcoming Events

Facing Russian Propaganda and Disinformation
American Security Project
For years, the Russian Government has been engaging in a large scale propaganda and disinformation campaign aimed at confusing audiences and spreading its influence abroad. From RT and Sputnik, to warehouses full of internet trolls, Russia’s efforts have been prominent and concerning. Join us as we discuss Russia’s efforts to cloud the information space, and ways the US can contribute to clarity.


On Our Flashpoint Blog      

Dictating the narrative: State-Controlled Media in Russia
Anna Semler
In Russia, the media is a valuable tool for the control of information to mediate public awareness and opinion. However, inconsistencies arise around state-sponsored media, independent reporting, and the Russian Government’s domestic perception as President Putin and the Kremlin work to control the dissemination of information.


Looking Forward: What comes after New START?
Shannon McKeown
Seven years have passed since President Barack Obama signed New START into force. The importance of the treaty, however, must be highlighted now more than ever.


Enterprise Funds: A New Model for International Aid
David Woodside
Building an efficient, targeted, and effective system for international development aid must be a national priority to better support US national security interests. The use of public-private partnerships through enterprise funds is an example of such a system.


Survey – What do you want the Future of US – Cuba Relations to be?
American Security Project
Do you support closer relations between the U.S. and Cuba? Please fill out this short survey on your views about the future of the U.S. – Cuba relationship.


Sea Level Rise: Southern California
Elsa Yammin
Climate scientists agree that climate change-induced sea level rise could threaten coastal communities and irreparably damage United States’ coasts. For coastal states like California, a rise in sea level equates to the destruction of property and beaches essential to the economy.


What’s Next? with Heather Higginbottom
Maggie Feldman-Piltch
On this week’s episode of “What’s Next?,” Maggie Feldman-Piltch is joined by COO of CARE USA and former Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom. They discuss the importance of international aid, challenges facing development operations abroad, and the role of NGOs in 21st century aid.


Biometrics: Exposing the Silent and Invisible Threat of Visa Overstays
Alexandra Rosen, WiSe Fellow
In an age of terrorism, the challenge for national security is to facilitate the legitimate flow of people into the United States while simultaneously preventing the entry of those who pose a risk to public safety. The ability to distinguish between illicit and earnest movement across our borders is a significant undertaking—both in terms of cost and strategy.


The Cipher Brief quotes ASP on Cuba Engagement
American Security Project
On Friday, June 16th, the Cipher Brief published an article quoting the American Security Project’s BGen. Stephen A. Cheney (ret.), BG Dave McGinnis (ret.), and Maggie Feldman-Piltch on the President’s Friday announcement in Miami. President Trump announced that the United States would be ending the Obama-era deal which opened diplomatic relations with Cuba.


ASP Recently Published

Perspective: Preventing the World’s Next Refugee Crisis
J. Jordan Burns
In an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, four countries: Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen are all on the verge of famine at the same time. A catastrophe of this magnitude would perpetuate mass migrations of people as well as create environments for terrorist groups to prosper. This report details the unique factors that have driven each of these four countries to their current levels of instability while also discussing their common challenges.



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