What We Are Reading

What We Are Reading

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What’s next this week? After a dizzying week of developments last week, we should expect more from Syria, China, and Afghanistan. Read on so you’ll know what’s in the headlines next.
–Andrew Holland, ASP COO


Key Reads

U.S. has begun reducing troops in Afghanistan, commander says
Susannah George / Washington Post
The United States has reduced its troop strength in Afghanistan over the past year, Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, announced Monday in a news conference in Kabul.

Residents of northeast Syria city pelt departing US troops
Lefteris Pitarakis and Lolita Baldor / AP News
Angry over the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, residents of a Kurdish-dominated city pelted departing American military vehicles with potatoes Monday as they drove through. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said U.S. troops will stay in eastern Syria to protect Kurdish-held oil fields for at least the coming weeks and he was discussing options to keep them there.


American Competitiveness

Lagarde Says U.S. Is at Risk of Losing Global Leader Role
Kate O’Keeffe / Wall Street Journal
Christine Lagarde, the departing head of the International Monetary Fund who is set to take over as president of the European Central Bank, said in an interview that the U.S. risks diminishing its role as a global leader and warned of dire consequences of its trade war with China.

U.S. not out to ‘decouple’ from China, defense official says in Beijing
Ben Blanchard / Reuters
The United States is not seeking to “decouple” from China and not asking any country to choose sides, a senior U.S. defense official said on Monday, offering a softer outlook on relations bruised by a bitter trade war.

Officials View Trade Uncertainty as Biggest Global Economic Risk
Paul Kiernan / Wall Street Journal
The new head of the International Monetary Fund urged policy makers this week to undertake measures to bolster the slowing global economy and asked for a show of hands from those who planned to follow her recommendations.


Asymmetric Operations

Kurdish forces depart border city of Ras al-Ayn as part of cease-fire with Turkey
Erin Cunningham and Steve Hendrix / Washington Post
Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria withdrew from a flash-point city as part of a cease-fire agreement with Turkey, a spokesman said Sunday, a move that could ease tensions amid U.S.-led efforts to quell a spiraling conflict.

Putin, Erdogan to discuss Turkey’s operation in Syria on Tuesday
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan will discuss Turkey’s operation in Syria during their meeting on Tuesday, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters in Moscow on Monday.

Esper says reduction of American forces in Afghanistan relies on a peace agreement with Taliban
Lolita C. Baldor / Military Times
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived Sunday in Afghanistan, where stalled peace talks with the Taliban and persistent violent attacks by the insurgent group and Islamic State militants have complicated the Trump administration’s pledge to withdraw more than 5,000 American troops.


Climate Security

Climate change is coming for your Cabernet
CBS News
Harvest season has just begun in California’s Napa Valley. But the $160 billion wine industry could dry up if something isn’t done to combat a changing climate. As a grape ripens, the compounds within it perform a delicate, shifting balancing act for the right taste, texture and color — so any shift in climate conditions can be detrimental to the vines.

Is China Still the Global Leader on Climate Change?
Deborah Lehr / The Diplomat
The world’s success in bringing down global greenhouse gas emissions is dependent on the actions of China, the world’s largest carbon emitter.


Energy Security

Renewable energy to expand by 50% in next five years – report
Jillian Ambrose / The Guardian
Global supplies of renewable electricity are growing faster than expected and could expand by 50% in the next five years, powered by a resurgence in solar energy.

Can Renewable Power Reenergize Ukraine?
Tony Wesolowsky / Radio Free Europe
In the shadows of the shuttered nuclear power plant that was the scene to the world’s worst nuclear disaster more than 30 years ago, rows of solar panels have been erected, producing enough energy to light up hundreds of homes. It’s all part of a bold plan by Ukraine to develop alternative sources of energy.


National Security & Strategy

India and Pakistan trade fire in Kashmir, killing nine
Joanna Slater / Washington Post
India and Pakistan exchanged fire across the line dividing the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Saturday and Sunday, killing nine civilians and soldiers, according to authorities in both countries.

Protests in Chile Leave Eight Dead, Capital and Five Provinces Under State of Emergency
Maolis Castro and Juan Forero / Wall Street Journal
Protests, looting and arson in what had until now been Latin America’s most prosperous and stable country led to eight deaths Sunday, with the violence spreading beyond the capital even after President Sebastián Piñera said that the increase in subway fares that sparked the unrest would be canceled.

Why Sell Weapons To Taiwan? Because Washington’s China Strategy Won’t Work Without It.
Loren Thompson / Forbes
Someday very soon the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan, will receive formal approval from Washington to move ahead with its biggest purchase of U.S. arms in many years. The package includes over a hundred M1A2 tanks, hundreds of surface-to-air and anti-tank weapons, and the first U.S. fighters Taipei has bought from America since 1992.

Lebanon protests: Mass revolt continues as cabinet agrees reforms
BBC News
Lebanon’s coalition government has approved a package of economic reforms as it attempts to quell the biggest protests in years. The proposals reportedly involve scrapping new taxes and halving the salaries of top officials. The government’s move came as people took part in a fifth day of protests, amid calls for a general strike.


Nuclear Security

Erdogan’s Ambitions Go Beyond Syria. He Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons.
David E. Sanger and William J. Broad / New York Times
A month before invading Kurdish areas in Syria, Turkey’s president said he “cannot accept” the West’s restrictions that keep him from a bomb.


U.S.-Russia Relations

Last Soviet Leader Gorbachev Urges Russia, U.S. to Hold Nuclear Talks
Reuters via Moscow Times
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, warned on Friday that the world was drifting into a dangerous era of militarized politics and appealed to Moscow and Washington to sit down for urgent nuclear arms control talks.

Putin steps up drive for clout in Africa with broadside against West
Tom Balmforth and Andrew Osborn / Reuters
President Vladimir Putin stepped up Russia’s push for influence in Africa days before he hosts a summit with African leaders, saying on Monday that Moscow could offer help without strings attached unlike what he cast as the exploitative West.

Open Skies Help Keep the Peace With Russia
George P. Shultz, William J. Perry and Sam Nunn / Wall Street Journal
Ike’s idea, codified in a 1992 treaty, is still a good one. The U.S. shouldn’t abandon the pact.


Recent Reports

Perspective – Micro Nuclear Reactors
American Security Project
Energy is a critical, if often overlooked, part of the military’s mission. The U.S. military is considering investments into micro nuclear power plants to enhance energy security and energy resilience. While the Navy has a long history with nuclear power, these new reactors would deploy in support of Army and Air Force missions.

Perspective – Russian Influence in the Middle East
Rossella Cerulli
Using the case studies of Syria, Turkey, and Egypt, this paper demonstrates how Moscow is employing a combination of military, economic, and soft power methods to rebuild Russia’s reputation in the Middle East.


On Our Flashpoint Blog

Russia Resurgent: Syria Allows Russia to Take Center Stage in Mid East
Patrick Smith
“The tectonic plates” of the Middle East are shifting, with “a seismic strategic recalculation in the region” occurring. After years of waiting in the wings, Putin has transformed from eager understudy to lead.

Event Recap: Battlefields of the Future: The Next Generation of Nuclear Reactors
Patrick Smith
The American Security Project hosted a public event on nuclear reactors and their strategic and tactical uses by the military. Congressman Conor Lamb (D-PA) provided introductory remarks. Caroline Cochran, COO of advanced nuclear company Oklo, joined a panel including ASP President BGen Stephen Cheney and ASP COO Andrew Holland.

What the Latest “Moscow Case” Sentences Say About Justice
Patrick Smith
After dropping charges against six of the defendants, why did courts adopt harsher sentencing against others in the “Moscow Case?” What sort of rationale is governing how authorities act in these cases?

ASP COO Andrew Holland in Inside Philanthropy
Patrick Smith
On October 7th, ASP COO Andrew Holland was quoted in an article published by Inside Philanthropy on the critical role philanthropy can play in advancing the development of nuclear energy to combat climate change.

Climate Security: What can the US Army do to prepare for climate change?
Alexandra Hackbarth
Climate change is not going away; it is a today problem. The US Army War College has released a report on the implications of climate change for the US Army. It outlines the threats climate change poses to national security–extreme weather, migration, limited drinking water supplies, changing vectors of infectious disease, Arctic competition, and sea level rise—and what the Army should do to prepare.

Event Recap: Climate and Security in Southeast Asia
Alexandra Hackbarth
On October 3, the American Security Project hosted a public event on climate and security in Southeast Asia. Distinguished guests Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, USN (Ret.), Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., and Ashley Westerman joined us for a panel discussion on how climate change is affecting security in the region. ASP Climate Security Program Manager Esther Babson moderated the discussion.

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