What We Are Reading

What We Are Reading

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Key Reads


Deadly rebel attack in center of Ebola outbreak stalls work

Associated Press / Washington Post

Congolese rebels killed 15 civilians and abducted a dozen children in an attack at the center of the latest deadly Ebola outbreak, Congo’s military said Sunday, as the violence again forced the suspension of crucial virus containment efforts. “It will be very hard to stop the outbreak if this violence continues,” the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, Peter Salama, said, while the WHO’s director general condemned the attack. Confirmed Ebola cases have reached 202 in this outbreak, including 118 deaths.


US brigadier general wounded Thursday in Afghanistan attack

Ryan Browne / CNN

US Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley, who oversees the NATO military advisory mission in southern Afghanistan, was wounded in the Thursday insider attack that took place in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Two Afghan officials, including the police chief of Kandahar province, were killed in the Thursday incident. CNN previously reported that the Taliban released a statement claiming responsibility, saying the group killed “the notorious police chief” who was their primary target in the attack.


New footage appears to show Saudi suspect wearing Jamal Khashoggi’s clothing

Erin Cunningham / Washington Post

Surveillance video recorded by Turkish law enforcement appears to confirm reports that Saudi agents accused of carrying out the killing of Jamal Khashoggi used a body double as part of an attempted coverup. The video — obtained and broadcast by CNN on Monday — purportedly shows a Saudi agent walking out of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul wearing Khashoggi’s clothes, as well as spectacles and a fake beard, in an attempt to disguise himself as the slain Saudi journalist.


American Competitiveness


Unemployment Looks Like 2000 Again. But Wage Growth Doesn’t.

Ernie Tedeschi / New York Times

Lots of measures are telling us that the United States labor market is doing well. Most prominently, the unemployment rate has fallen steadily over the last nine years. It dipped to 3.7 percent in September, and it has averaged 4 percent over the past year, the same as it did at the economic peak just before the 2001 recession. Meanwhile, job openings are at record highs. Although the overall labor force participation rate has been largely flat over the past three years, it is rising when adjusted for the aging of the population. So in many ways, the labor market looks like the economic heyday of 2000 and 2001, but in one important way it does not: wage growth.


Asymmetric Operations


4 million vote in Afghanistan despite violence and technical glitches

Ehsan Popalzai, Ali M. Latifi and Laura Smith-Spark / CNN

More than 4 million people cast their ballots in Afghanistan’s parliamentary election amid spates of violence and logistical issues, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission announced. The election had to be extended by one day due to security threats by the Taliban and logistical issues that left hundreds of thousands of people unable to vote on Saturday. On Sunday, up to one million Afghans returned to 76 voting centers across 22 of the nation’s provinces. The four million voters represent half of the eligible voter base in the country.


Climate Security


‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Willa aims for Mexico’s west

Associated Press / FOX News

Hurricane Willa has grown rapidly into an “extremely dangerous” near-Category 5 storm in the eastern Pacific, on a path to smash into Mexico’s western coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta in the coming days. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said early Monday that Willa could “produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday.” It predicted that Willa could become a Category 5 hurricane later Monday, generating life-threatening surf and rip tide conditions.


Trump thinks scientists are split on climate change. So do most Americans

Dana Nuccitelli / Guardian

When queried about the most recent IPCC report, Republican lawmakers delivered a consistent, false message – that climate scientists are still debating whether humans are responsible. The previous IPCC report was quite clear on this, attributing 100% of the global warming since 1950 to human activities. As Nasa atmospheric scientist Kate Marvel recently put it, “We are more sure that greenhouse gas is causing climate change than we are that smoking causes cancer.”


Energy Security


US seeking to boost LNG exports to Japan, rest of Asia

Mari Yamaguchi / AP News

A top U.S. energy official said Monday that Asia is the center of growth in energy demand and offers a great opportunity to expand American liquefied natural gas exports. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette told reporters in Tokyo that the U.S. is working with Japan and others to build facilities for U.S. LNG exports and improve their energy security. Japan is the world’s biggest importer of LNG.


A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history

Darryl Fears / Washington Post

An oil spill that has been quietly leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico has gone unplugged for so long that it now verges on becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history. Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor Energy sank in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Many of the wells have not been capped, and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century. With no fix in sight, the Taylor offshore spill is threatening to overtake BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever.


National Security Strategy


Trump calls U.S.-bound migrant caravan a national emergency, cuts aid

Susan Heavey and Makini Brice / Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he had alerted the military and federal border authorities that a U.S.-bound migrant caravan from Central America was a national emergency, and that the United States would begin curtailing aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.


The US Navy will have to pony up and race the clock to avoid a sealift capacity collapse

David B. Larter / Defense News

The U.S. surge sealift fleet, the ships needed to help transport up to 90 percent of the Army and Marine Corps’ gear by sea if the U.S. had to fight a war against a great power, will be facing a full-blown modernization crisis by the end of the 2020s if the Navy can’t arrest its decline, according to a Navy report send to Congress earlier this year.


Nuclear Security


Trump says U.S. to exit landmark nuclear arms pact, Russia threatens retaliation

Jeff Mason / Reuters

President Donald Trump said Washington would withdraw from a landmark Cold War-era treaty that eliminated nuclear missiles from Europe because Russia was violating the pact, triggering a warning of retaliatory measures from Moscow. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, negotiated by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, required elimination of short-range and intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles by both countries.


Recently Published


Perspective – Guyana: Building Sustainable Security
Andrew Holland / American Security Project
In 2015, oil was found off the coast of the small South American country of Guyana. Since then, successive test wells have confirmed that these reserves are some of the richest oil discoveries in decades. This report shows how the geopolitical challenges and opportunities presented by the coming oil boom will transform Guyana, and how American policymakers should build a closer relationship with the country to ensure sustainable, long-term security.


Climate Change in the Age of Great Power Competition
American Security Project
The National Defense Strategy (NDS) is the primary planning document that guides decision making within the United States military. The 2018 NDS outlines the priorities of the U.S. within the framework of “great power competition,” particularly focusing on China and Russia in addition to threats from North Korea, Iran, and terrorists. Climate change is a major factor in this “security environment,” even if left unsaid explicitly by the document.




“Flashpoint” with BGen Stephen Cheney and BG Stephen Xenakis

American Security Project

On this episode of Flashpoint, Andrew Holland sits down with ASP CEO BGen Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret), and BG Stephen Xenakis, MD, to discuss the impact of obesity on our nation’s ability to meet its military recruiting goals. This year, Cheney and Xenakis released a report outlining the challenges of the obesity epidemic and several suggestions with which it can be addressed.


On Our Flashpoint Blog


Press Release: Climate Change and the Continuing Risk to Military Infrastructure
Esther Babson
Today, President Trump is publicly assessing the damage from Hurricane Michael on a trip to the Florida panhandle. All elements of the U.S. government have grappled with this since October 10, when the record-setting storm made landfall.


Event Recap: Guyana Building Sustainable Energy

William Lucier

On Thursday, October 18th ASP hosted a panel discussion on the implications of Guyana’s recent discovery of oil. The panel included ASP’s Andrew Holland; Vice Admiral Kevin Green, USN (Ret); Sonya Boodoo from Rystad Energy, and Lisa Viscidi from the Inter-American Dialogue.


Differing Priorities Threaten U.S.-South Korean Unity

William Lucier

As Trump and Kim Jong un appear to be headed for a second summit meeting, a rift is threatening to derail U.S.-South Korean unity. South Korea signaled that it was going to remove sanctions from North Korea to support negotiations. However, following U.S. concerns with the plan, South Korea backtracked and canceled the plans. Then on Monday South Korea changed course again announcing a new agreement with North Korea which calls for linking road and rail networks between the two countries and a joint Olympic bid. These moves by South Korea underscore the growing rift between the U.S. and South Korean priorities entering negotiations.


ASP’s Esther Babson Quoted on China’s Foreign Investments

Rachel Hagen

ASP’s Climate Security Program Manager Esther Babson was quoted in a U.S. News and World Report article published last week regarding China’s growing geopolitical influence from foreign direct investment projects in nations around the world.


China in Jeopardy from Drought

Rachel Hagen

China has been making headlines in recent months regarding its well-documented trade war with the U.S. The trade war continues to attract the attention of the international arena, but behind the scenes China has been experiencing another serious economic threat, drought. Drought has already inflicted a major blow to their economy and will continue to do so. China’s drought should act as a warning to the international community on the importance of combatting climate change.

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