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What We Are Reading

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Key Reads

Mosul offensive:  Iraqi forces recapture airport in bid to retake city

The BBC

Iraqi security forces have recaptured Mosul airport, a key part of the government’s offensive to drive the so-called Islamic State (IS) from the western half of the city.

The operation took four hours. IS continued to fire mortars at the airport from further inside the city after losing the ground to the army.

America’s Aging Dams Are in Need of Repair

Troy Griggs et al / New York Times

Nearly 2,000 state-regulated high-hazard dams in the United States were listed as being in need of repair in 2015, according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. A dam is considered “high hazard” based on the potential for the loss of life as a result of failure.

 ….

American Competitiveness and Economic Diplomacy

S&P, Dow hit record highs as oil prices rally

Yashaswini Swamynathan / Reuters

The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit record intraday highs on Thursday as a rally in oil prices added to optimism about U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed tax reforms.  Oil prices surged 2 percent on Thursday after data showed a surprise decline in U.S. inventories, suggesting a global oversupply maybe be ending. The S&P 500 energy index jumped 0.9 percent, led by gains in Exxon and Chevron. The sector also provided the biggest boost to the broader index.

 

 

Asymmetric Operations

Syria’s warring sides trade fire as peace talks convene

John Davison / Reuters

Syrian warplanes carried out air strikes on rebel-held areas in Deraa, Hama and Aleppo provinces and insurgents fired rockets at government targets on Thursday, just as peace talks were set to resume in Geneva after a 10-month hiatus, a war monitoring group said.  However, the overall level of violence in western Syria was somewhat lower than in previous days, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

 

Climate Security

Scientists to test 50 coral reefs to seek ways to counter climate change

Alister Doyle / Reuters

Ocean scientists will pick 50 coral reefs worldwide to test ways to limit damage from climate change, pollution and over-fishing that threatens to wipe out 90 percent of all reefs by 2050, according to a plan launched on Thursday.  Last year was the warmest on record the third time in a row, damaging corals from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the Caribbean, a loss for fragile species and a threat to coastal economies in the magnitude of billions of dollars.

 

Energy Security

Wind and solar power are disrupting electricity systems

The Economist

To get from here to there requires huge amounts of investment over the next few decades, to replace old smog-belching power plants and to upgrade the pylons and wires that bring electricity to consumers. Normally investors like putting their money into electricity because it offers reliable returns. Yet green energy has a dirty secret. The more it is deployed, the more it lowers the price of power from any source.

 

National Security Strategy

After Abandoning Chinese Missiles, Turkey Says It’s Ready to Buy Russian
Joshua Kucera / Eurasianet
Senior Turkish officials say that Russia is now the leading contender in its seemingly never-ending competition to pick a multi-billion-dollar air defense system..

H.R. McMaster May Reorganize Trump’s Foreign Policy Team Once Again

Peter Baker / New York Times

Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, President Trump’s new national security adviser, is considering a reorganization of the White House foreign policy team that would give him control of Homeland Security and guarantee full access to the military and intelligence agencies.

 

National Security and Space

Space X Delivers Cargo to International Space Station After Delay
Associated Press
SpaceX made good on a 250-mile-high delivery at the international space station on Thursday, after fixing a navigation problem that held up the shipment for a day.

Nuclear Security

North Korea raps old ally China after China’s ban on coal
Jack Kim / Reuters
North Korea issued a rare reproach of China on Thursday saying its main diplomatic backer was “dancing to the tune” of the United States for halting North Korean coal imports because of its nuclear and missile programs.

 

U.S.-Russia Relations

Russian military admits significant cyber-war effort
The BBC
Russia’s military has admitted for the first time the scale of its information warfare effort, saying it was significantly expanded post-Cold War.

UK officials now think Russia may have interfered with the Brexit vote
Jake Kanter, Adam Bienkov / Business Insider
Labour MPs are ratcheting up pressure on the government to reveal whether Russia interfered in the EU referendum.

 

On our Flashpoint Blog

ASP’s Andrew Holland Weighs in on US in the Arctic
Mohammad Alhassani
ASP’s Andrew Holland shares his thoughts on increasing the number of icebreakers in the arctic in the latest E&E news article.

The Drone Threat:  At Home and Abroad
Jesse Vasquez
Early one morning in January of 2015, Secret Service personnel were shocked upon discovering that their advanced White House radar systems failed to detect a small, slow-flying commercial drone before it crashed into the South Lawn. Later that same year, a Japanese man attached a small amount of radioactive material to another drone and landed it on the roof of the Japanese Prime Minister shortly before being arrested.

“What’s Next?” with R. Nicholas Palarino
Maggie Feldman-Piltch
On this week’s episode of “What’s Next?” Maggie Feldman-Piltch is joined by terrorism expert and Georgetown Security Studies professor Dr. R. Nicholas Palarino. They discuss security concerns facing the upcoming administration, how to apply international relations theory to security policy, and the key policy initiatives needed to succeed in counter terrorism.

Adapting to Climate Change
Riza De Los Reyes
Although the global community must continue their vigilance on mitigating environmental pollutants, steps towards resiliency must be implemented to address climate security for those in disaster-prone communities who are already being affected.

The Future of US-Russia Relations:  Systemic Fate or Determined by Personality?
Catherine Katz, ASP Adjunct Fellow
Does the Relationship between Putin and Trump Matter? Some argue that systemic constraints determine geopolitics, while others argue relationships matter.

An Arctic Proposal for the New Administration
Rose Blanchard
Prioritizing investment in the Arctic would be a smart step for the Trump administration. Doing so would reap significant benefits in terms of border security, rural economic growth, and international regional cooperation.

 

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US-Russia Nuclear Policy in the Trump Era
February 28 @ 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
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