What We Are Reading

What We Are Reading

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As we await a decision from the White House on whether the President will issue an unnecessary executive order on climate security, many other threats are gathering. Time to stop the politics and get to work. – Andrew Holland, COO of ASP 

Key Reads

Does the U.S. need a ‘presidential climate security committee’?
Andrew Revkin / National Geographic
On its face, a proposal to create a “presidential committee on climate security” might sound like progress, given President Donald Trump’s well-known penchant for dismantling Obama-era environmental and climate initiatives, withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and tweeting dismissively about global warming any time there’s a cold snap.

Army Driving Forward with Electric Vehicle Plans

Yasmin Tadjdeh / National Defense

While government and industry have long been experimenting with electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, JP-8 conventional fuel — with its long logistical tail — is still king on the battlefield. But technological advancements in batteries and alternative fuels could shake up the status quo.

Putin to U.S.: I’m ready for another Cuban Missile-style crisis if you want one

Andrew Osborn / Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia is militarily ready for a Cuban Missile-style crisis if the United States wanted one and threatened to place hypersonic nuclear missiles on ships or submarines near U.S. territorial waters.


American Competitiveness

China to Propose $30 Billion More U.S. Agriculture Purchases


China is proposing that it could buy an additional $30 billion a year of U.S. agricultural products including soybeans, corn and wheat as part of a possible trade deal being negotiated by the two countries, according to people with knowledge of the plan.

EU Aims to Clinch U.S. Trade Deal by End of 2019

Andra Timu, Jonathan Stearns, and Bloomberg / Fortune

European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said a trans-Atlantic trade deal could be achieved before year-end, stressing a readiness to work speedily as the bloc tries to keep at bay the threat of U.S. automotive tariffs.

Weak U.S. data underscore growing headwinds to economy

Lucia Muitkani / Reuters

New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly fell in December amid declining demand for machinery and primary metals, pointing to a sustained slowdown in business spending on equipment that could further crimp economic growth.


Asymmetric Operations

From Syria, IS slips into Iraq to fight another day

The Associated Press

Islamic State fighters facing defeat in Syria are slipping across the border into Iraq, where they are destabilizing the country’s fragile security, U.S. and Iraqi officials say. Hundreds — likely more than 1,000 — IS fighters have crossed the open, desert border in the past six months, defying a massive operation by U.S., Kurdish, and allied forces to stamp out the remnants of the jihadi group in eastern Syria, according to three Iraqi intelligence officials and a U.S. military official.


Climate Security

Workshop explores national security repercussions of climate change

Kylie Foy / MIT News

The workshop, jointly organized by MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and hosted at MIT, brought together science and policy experts from campus, the U.S. Geological Survey, the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and several other organizations to discuss how to predict social and political conflicts that may be caused or exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.


Nuclear Security

North Korean Sanctions Will Not Be Lifted Until Nuclear Risks Are ‘Substantially Reduced,’ Pompeo Says

Renae Reints / Fortune

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said economic sanctions would not be lifted until the threat of nuclear warfare from North Korea is at least significantly reduced, seemingly leaving open the possibility of sanctions relief prior to complete denuclearization.

North Korea sees nuclear weapons as key to its survival

Katiana Krawchenko / CBS News

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sees nuclear weapons, not alliances, as the “ultimate guarantor” of survival, according to former top CIA analyst Jung Pak, who joined CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for lunch on this week’s episode of “The Takeout.”


Energy Security

Oil prices hit fresh 2019 highs on trade hopes


Oil prices rose to their highest levels this year on Friday, supported by OPEC’s ongoing supply cuts and hopes that Washington and Beijing may soon end their trade dispute.

Energy commissioners reach ‘breakthrough’ approval of natural gas export facility

Josh Siegel / The Washington Examiner

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a liquefied natural gas export terminal in Louisiana on Thursday night, the first step in clearing a backlog of such facilities that the energy industry says is key to sharing the shale revolution abroad.


U.S.- Russia Relationship

Russia extends detention of US citizen accused of spying: report

Tal Axelrod / The Hill

A Russian court extended the detention of a U.S. citizen being held on espionage charges by three months Friday, Reuters cited the Russian news agency RIA as reporting. Former marine Paul Whelan, who holds U.S., British, Canadian and Irish passports, was arrested in December and charged with spying. He could face up to 20 years behind bars if found guilty.

Russia Seeks 20 Years for Cyber-Cops in U.S.-Linked Treason Case

Stepan Kravchenko / Bloomberg

Prosecutors in the treason trial of a top former Russian cybersecurity officer who was allegedly compromised by U.S. intelligence are seeking a 20-year prison term. While few details have emerged about the secret case at Moscow district military court, there have been tantalizing threads potentially linking the central figures to espionage, election hacking and the breach of hundreds of millions of Yahoo! Inc email accounts.


American Security & The Oceans

Chinese-British relations ‘complicated’ by South China Sea military plans

Laura Zhou / South China Morning Post

Britain said its relationship with China was facing complications, triggered by the plan to send a new Royal Navy aircraft carrier to the Pacific. The admission follows Britain’s participation this week in a joint naval drill with the US in the South China Sea, as part of an effort by the US and its allies to boost their military presence in the hotly contested waters.


Recent Reports

Perspective – Getting to a Deal with North Korea

American Security Project

This report examines the United States’ negotiating strategy with North Korea and suggests key changes the US should make to reach a nuclear deal with North Korea. It argues that while the denuclearization of North Korea should remain a long-term goal, the US should first pursue a deal which partially rolls back the North Korean nuclear arsenal, freezes its ballistic missile program, and includes independent verification mechanisms. Predicating negotiations on the complete denuclearization of North Korea will imperil the talks, as North Korea views nuclear weapons as vital to its survival under the current security dynamics.

Perspective – Underwater and Underrated: Coral Reefs and Climate Change

American Security Project

Climate change is a complex, intersectional issue that has international security implications. Climate change threatens one of the world’s greatest ecologic resources, coral reefs. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports the near-complete destruction of coral reefs due to climate change will be much sooner than previously assumed. This report highlights the importance of coral reefs around the world, describes potential consequences of climate in-action, and provides recommendations on how to save corals before they are gone.


Upcoming Events

Feb 25: National Security, Telecommunications and 5G – Using all tools to stop Cyber Espionage

American Security Project

Join national security experts for a briefing on national security and telecommunications. The American Security Project will bring together national security experts for a Capitol Hill briefing on the threat of Chinese telecom giant Huawei to our national security, and how to pre-empt these threats.


On Our Flashpoint Blog

Andrew Holland Quoted in National Defense Magazine

American Security Project

ASP’s COO, Andrew Holland, was quoted by National Defense Magazine this week, discussing the potential military use of electric vehicles. The article discusses an electrification forum held by the Army in November 2018, along with the increasingly impressive development of electric and hybrid electric vehicle technology.

Executive Order Would Attack the Consensus on the Security Threats Posed by Climate Change

American Security Project

The National Security Council deputies committee is meeting to focus on an Executive Order (EO), drafted by William Happer, a member of President Trump’s national security staff, and notable denier of both the causes and effects of climate change.

Event Recap: Migration and Security in the Age of Climate Change

Esther Babson

Major General Muniruzzaman, American Security Project’s CEO General Cheney, and COO Andrew Holland came together to discuss the real-time crisis of the internationally unrecognized climate-related displaced population at an ASP event Migration and Security in the Age of Climate Change.

Post-INF: U.S. In No Hurry to Extend New START

H.D. Scriba III

The U.S. has recently wavered in its commitment to nuclear treaty-based security. In early February of this year, it suspended the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), citing Russian violations as its reasoning. The only other existing nuclear treaty between the U.S. and Russia, New START, is set to expire in 2021; the U.S. doesn’t seem anxious to save that one, either.

The Trump Energy Deregulation Effect

Nadia Cortez

Trump’s administration has been steadfast in attempting to end the “war on coal” by pulling back regulations on all fossil fuels. The economic, security, and social costs of carbon have taken a backseat to their “energy development” agenda; creating adverse impacts on the nation.

Post-INF: A New Arms Race?

H.D. Scriba III

Fears of a nuclear arms race are rising, as Russian President Vladimir Putin followed the United States’ move to suspend participation in the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on Saturday. Putin also made clear that he would follow suit with the United States when it comes to research, development, and deployment of any new nuclear weapons. He stated that “Moscow will not deploy such weapons in the European part of the country or elsewhere unless the US does so,” according to Al Jazeera.

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