What We Are Reading

What We Are Reading

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Key Reads


White House releases ominous statement about another possible Syria chemical attack

CBS News
The White House issued a stern warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad on Monday night as it claimed “potential” evidence that Syria was preparing for another chemical weapons attack. In an ominous statement issued with no supporting evidence or further explanation, press secretary Sean Spicer said the U.S. “has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.”


Syria war: Air strike on IS prison in Mayadin ‘kills dozens’

Almost 60 people have been killed in a suspected US-led coalition air strike on a prison run by so-called Islamic State in eastern Syria, activists say. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 42 prisoners and 15 militants died when the facility near Mayadin, in Deir al-Zour province, was hit on Monday. Mayadeen, which lies in the Euphrates river valley about 45km (28 miles) south-east of the city of Deir al-Zour, has been targeted frequently by coalition aircraft.


Many firms hit by global cyber-attacks


Firms around the globe are reporting that they have been hit by a major cyber-attack. British advertising agency WPP is among dozens of firms reporting problems. Ukrainian firms, including the state power distributor and Kiev’s main airport were among the first to report issues. Some experts are suggesting that it could be a ransomware attack, similar to Wannacry which hit last month. Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at Surrey University, said: “It appears to be a variant of a piece of ransomware that emerged last year.



American Competitiveness


IMF Lowers Forecast for U.S. Economy Amid Rising Policy Uncertainty

Ian Talley / Fox Business

The International Monetary Fund lowered its forecast for the U.S. economy Tuesday, saying it could no longer assume the Trump administration will be able to deliver pledged tax cuts and higher infrastructure spending. The IMF, in its annual review of the American economy, questioned the White House’s plan to accelerate output and said it was skeptical the administration would be able rev up the world’s largest growth engine to a sustained 3% annual rate.



National Security & Strategy


North Korea at the top of agenda as South Korea’s new president comes to D.C.

Anna Fifield / The Washington Post
When South Korea’s new president comes to the United States this week for his first meeting with President Trump, there will be no cozy dinners at Mar-a-Lago or rounds of golf in the Florida sunshine. Instead, Moon Jae-in will be going to the White House for what is shaping up to be a challenging summit, with the leaders taking sharply different approaches to dealing with North Korea and a continuing disagreement over an American antimissile system deployed to South Korea.


Key senator threatens arms sales to Persian Gulf countries over Qatar dispute
Karen DeYoung / The Washington Post
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Monday that he would “withhold consent” from all U.S. arms sales to Persian Gulf countries until the ongoing dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is resolved.



Asymmetric Operations


ISIS Fighters in Iraq Kill 25 Police and Soldiers on Anbar Province
Rod Nordland / The New York Times

Islamic State fighters launched a heavy attack on government-held territory in Anbar Province late on Thursday and on Friday, killing 25 Iraqi police officers and soldiers, and then executing 15 family members of local police officers, according to Iraqi officials.


Attacks in Europe signal shift in terrorists’ tactics
The Wall Street Journal via Fox News
Two botched attacks in Europe in recent days signal that Islamist terror has reached a new phase, security officials say, one that is more disorganized and less sophisticated but risks spawning more assailants eager to kill with any means at hand.


Mattis: After Raqqa, the Syrian battlefield will only get more complicated
Thomas Gibbons-Neff / The Washington Post
As the fight against the Islamic State moves beyond its de facto capital in Raqqa, the Pentagon is readying itself for an increasingly complex battlefield in northern Syria, where U.S.-backed forces, pro-Syrian government troops and Russian jets will likely all be fighting near one another.



Climate Security


“A threat to billions of people”: Global sea levels are rising faster and faster, a new study finds

Alexa Liautaud / Vice News
By the end of the century, coastal cities could end up a lot closer to the coast than they started out: Global sea levels in 2014 rose at a rate 50 percent faster than in 1993, according to a new study by a multinational team of researchers released Monday.


World food supplies at risk as climate change threatens international trade, warn experts

Ian Johnston / Independent
The world’s food supplies are in danger as climate change and the increasing reliance on global trade threaten to create shortages and sudden, dramatic increases in prices, according to a new report by the leading think tank Chatham House.



Energy Security


‘Energy is worth a war’: US nuclear supremacy is collapsing, but there’s a way to win it back
Robert Hargraves / Business Insider
Westinghouse’s bankruptcy culminates the collapse of potential US strategic leadership in world nuclear energy. The US has faltered in many aspects of nuclear technology, now allowing other nations to become the world leaders in nuclear and energy diplomacy.


Trump to Call for U.S. ‘Dominance’ in Global Energy Production
Jennifer A Dlouhy / Bloomberg
Donald Trump will tout surging U.S. exports of oil and natural gas during a week of events aimed at highlighting the country’s growing energy dominance. The president also plans to emphasize that after decades of relying on foreign energy supplies, the U.S. is on the brink of becoming a net exporter of oil, gas, coal and other energy resources.



US-Russia Relations


Russia accuses US of provocation over Syria chemical-attack warning
Fox News

A senior Russian lawmaker on Tuesday dismissed the White House’s warning about a potential chemical weapons attack in Syria as a “provocation.” Frants Klintsevich, first deputy chairman of the defense and security committee at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, accused the U.S. of “preparing a new attack on the positions of Syrian forces.” “Preparations for a new cynical and unprecedented provocation are underway,” he told state-owned RIA Novosti.



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      


Innovating to Fight and Win the Next Major War
Carlton Haelig
Since 2001, United States has been engaged in nearly constant asymmetric counterinsurgency (COIN) and counterterrorism (CT) operations. Despite the current operational focus toward ongoing COIN and CT operations, the United States’ major military planning and innovation programs continue to focus on fighting and winning a major conventional war against a near-peer adversary.


Appropriators: DoD Should Plan for Climate Change
Andrew Holland
On June 22, the House Appropriations Committee published their report to accompany the 2018 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2998).


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.



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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