What We Are Reading

What We Are Reading

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EU Retaliatory Tariffs on Raft of US Goods Go Into Force


The European Union is enforcing tariffs on $3.4 billion in U.S. products as of Friday in retaliation to duties the Trump administration has put on European steel and aluminum. The goods targeted include typical American products like bourbon, peanut butter, and orange juice, in a way that seems designed to create political pressure on U.S. President Donald Trump and senior U.S. politicians.


Fact Check: What Trump Says About North Korean Denuclearization
Chloe Sang-Hun / New York Times
President Trump said on Thursday that North Korea had already begun to denuclearize, as he continued to trumpet the results of his summit meeting last week with the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un. At the June 12 meeting in Singapore, Mr. Kim agreed to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” But the joint statement the two leaders signed lacked details about when North Korea would dismantle its nuclear program and under what terms, or even what specifically was meant by “denuclearization.”



American Competitiveness


India Imposes Retaliatory Tariffs on U.S., Widening Global Trade War
Annie Gowen / Washington Post

India joined the European Union and other U.S. trading partners in retaliating against the Trump administration’s tariff hikes on steel and aluminum Thursday by raising import duties on a variety of goods, including almonds, apples and some metal products. India had notified the World Trade Organization on June 14 of its decision to increase tariffs on more than two dozen goods from the United States.


Chinese Media Says U.S. Has ‘Delusions’ as Impact of Trade War Spreads

Ben Blanchard, David Stanway / Reuters

U.S. protectionism is self-defeating and a “symptom of paranoid delusions” that must not distract China from its path to modernization, Chinese media said on Friday as Beijing kept up with its war of words with Washington while markets wilted.


Trump Threatens 20% Tariffs on European Autos

Kevin Liptak, Julia Horowitz, Michelle Kosinki / CNN
President Donald Trump escalated his threats to apply new tariffs on European autos on Friday. “Based on the Tariffs and Trade Barriers long placed on the U.S. and it great companies and workers by the European Union, if these Tariffs and Barriers are not soon broken down and removed, we will be placing a 20% Tariff on all of their cars coming into the U.S.” he wrote on Twitter. “Build them here!” he declared.



Asymmetric Operations


The Taliban Has Successfully Built a Parallel State in Many Parts of Afghanistan, Report Says
Pamela Constable / The Washington Post
The main conclusions of the report, written and primarily researched by Ashley Jackson, are that the Taliban sets the rules in “vast swaths” of Afghan territory but is far more concerned with influencing people. It has largely shifted from outright coercion to “creeping influence” over Afghans through services and state activities, it is often part of the local “social fabric,” and it views itself as preparing to govern the country, not just to participate in political life, whenever the 16-year conflict ends, the report says.


The War in the Desert: Why the Sahara is Terror’s New Front Line

Firle Davies, Alastair Leithead / BBC

It is just before 15:00 on Saturday in Timbuktu and the intense desert heat has reached its peak. Five years ago, Islamist occupiers were driven out of the historical town – but violent extremists have never been far away. A few people are browsing through the silver jewellery and leatherwork at a small Tuareg curio market by the security checkpoint at the airport entrance. It’s on the outskirts of town and both French troops and UN peacekeepers have set up what they call a “super-camp” there. At this sleepy time of day, people are working inside their air-conditioned containers and all that can be heard is the low hum of generators. Then, blaring sirens.


Activists: Syrian Government Steps Up Offensive in Southwest
Sarah el Deeb / Fox News
Syrian government forces kept up their pressure on the country’s strategic southwest on Friday, using artillery, airstrikes and dropping barrel bombs that targeted rebel-held parts of the region, activists said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 12 barrel bombs hit the province of Daraa, in the first use of the rudimentary and non-discriminatory weapons there in over a year when a truce went into effect in the area



Climate Security


Methane Leaks Offset Much of the Climate Change Benefits of Natural Gas, Study Says

Steven Mufson / The New York Times

The U.S. oil and gas industry emits 13 million metric tons of methane from its operations each year — nearly 60 percent more than current estimates and enough to offset much of the climate benefits of burning natural gas instead of coal, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.



Energy Security


OPEC Tentatively Agrees to a Deal to Lift Output

Summer Said, Benoit Faucon / Wall Street Journal

OPEC ministers tentatively agreed Friday to a deal to join other big producers in adding around 600,000 barrels a day of oil to global markets, according to people familiar with the matter. The agreement is in principle only and involves so-called effective barrels—or “real” barrels that will actually hit markets, these people said.



National Security Strategy


Venezuela Crisis: UN Says Security Forces Killed Hundreds

Venezuelan security forces have carried out hundreds of arbitrary killings under the guise of fighting crime, the UN says in a new report. The UN’s human rights body says it has credible accounts of security forces raiding poor neighbourhoods and killing young men, often in their homes. The rule of law was “virtually absent” in the country, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said. Venezuela has in the past dismissed human rights allegations as “lies”.


Inside a Heist of American Chip Designs, as China Bids for Tech Power
Paul Mozur / New York Times
With a dragnet closing in, engineers at a Taiwanese chip maker holding American secrets did their best to conceal a daring case of corporate espionage. As the police raided their offices, human resources workers gave the engineers a warning to scramble and get rid of the evidence. USB drives, laptops and documents were handed to a lower-level employee, who hid them in her locker. Then she walked one engineer’s phone out the front door.


Emails Suggest ‘Zero Tolerance’ Effectively on Hold, Despite What Trump Admin Says

Tal Kopan / CNN

Though the Trump administration outwardly is maintaining that it is continuing its “zero-tolerance” border policy, email traffic obtained by CNN shows that the policy has effectively been curtailed for now — the latest sign of confusion and disarray over how to implement an executive order designed to halt family separations at the border.



Nuclear Security


A Need to Verify NKorea Nuclear Pledges

Deb Riechmann, Matthew Pennington / AP

The Trump administration on Thursday identified the missile test engine site that it says North Korea has pledged to destroy, but the president’s latest comments about resolving the nuclear standoff have raised new questions about what concessions Pyongyang has made. President Donald Trump had said on June 12 after his summit with Kim Jong Un that the North Korean leader was “already destroying” a missile site, in addition to committing to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.



Public Diplomacy


The Razzmatazz of Public Diplomacy
Alan Chong / Straits Times
The Trump-Kim summit on June 12 in Singapore witnessed the features of a new environment for diplomatic summits as processes that are more than just formal meetings for heads of state or government. Summits today have become circuses: Just as much as they are venues for serious inter-governmental communication, they are also platforms for image-making, merrymaking, jokes and mass catharsis concerning the gravity of global insecurity. With about 2,500 journalists from all over the world and those based in Singapore here to cover the summit, the publicity is multiplied many fold.



On Our Flashpoint Blog


Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Causes Turbulence Within East Africa

Madeline Flamik

In October, at the end of the Ethiopian calendar year, The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will be completed and will become the largest dam in Africa, generating 6,4000 megawatts of electricity. Since Ethiopia began construction in 2011, GERD has caused major controversy and instability within the Blue Nile Basin region, particularly between neighboring countries Egypt and Sudan.


Why Now? The Necessity and Challenges of a New Public Diplomacy Strategy Towards the DPRK

Ellen Ehrnrooth
Whilst all steps towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula are an accomplishment for global security, as well as the primary objective of U.S. policy towards the DPRK, the requisite actions to get to that point must occur as part of a long-term, multi-pronged strategy that goes far beyond simple reaffirmations. One aspect of that strategy that is important to consider is public diplomacy, and its ability to deepen and increase the credibility of the U.S.-DPRK relationship.


Where Trade and Latin American Immigration Meet

Caroline Anderson

Concern over President Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy” has been a constant in the news as of late, highlighting immense public criticism over the immigration policies that separated families at the border. Although this criticism led President Trump to sign an executive order ending family separations, any serious discussion about how to eliminate the demand to illegally enter the United States is notably absent from the immigration debate. Advances can be made to avert the high levels of immigration.


Trade Tariffs Leave the Door Open for Russia

Kiersten Harris

On June 20th, the United States Institute of Peace held a talk titled “Russia: 21st Century Disrupter in Europe,” with key speakers Ambassador Francis Rooney and Congressman William R. Keating, both of whom are members of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. The purpose of this event was to discuss Congress’ efforts to counter Russian aggression.


Understanding the Baqir Brigade’s Threat to U.S. Troops In Syria

Adam Ettelbrick

Despite videos of ISIL beheadings and video-messages from Osama bin Laden not too far removed from memory, the threat to Americans posed by the Baqir Brigade and their Facebook post should not be overstated. They, and other militant groups loyal to the Assad regime in Syria differ from ISIL and al-Qaeda in three notable ways.


ASP’s Andrew Holland Quoted By S&P Global Market Intelligence on Trump’s Plan for Energy Market Intervention

Noa Tann

ASP’s Andrew Holland was quoted in a June 15 article on U.S. government intervention in energy markets. On June 1, Trump ordered Rick Perry to take “immediate action” to stop coal and nuclear plant closures, in the name of national security. The plans for this immediate action are “still being fleshed out.



Recently Published


Fact Sheet – US Military Bases And Facilities In The Middle East

Matthew Wallin

This fact sheet provides a rough overview of U.S. military bases and facilities in the Middle East. Compiled from publicly available information, this listing presents a picture of a variety of facilities the U.S. either maintains or retains access to throughout the region.


Perspective: Obesity – An Epidemic That Impacts National Security

BGen Stephen A. Cheney USMC (Ret.) and BGen Stephen Xenakis USA (Ret.)

The Congress and the President have tasked the U.S. Military with increasing the number of active duty service men and women. Increasingly, however, recruiters are facing challenges meeting their targets. One big reason is that a growing number of America’s youth – the recruiting pool for the military – are obese. It is not an exaggeration to say that, without targeted action to increase nutrition and reduce sedentary behavior, our national security is at risk.


Perspective: Strained Stability – Climate Change And Regional Security In Southeast Asia

Esther Babson

The consequences of climate change will be multifaceted. Each region of the world will face unique threats that range from extreme weather to rising sea levels to increased drought. These threats will interact with other vulnerabilities to exacerbate existing tensions. Southeast Asia is uniquely vulnerable to the growing threats of climate change. Highly reliant on fishing and often living on the ocean’s edge, Southeast Asian coastal communities there will face some of the worst impacts. Their high dependence on the ocean and fisheries, both of which will be seriously affected by climate change, will drive the overall security and stability of the region.



#TradeWar #Migration #NorthKorea