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What We Are Reading

What We Are Reading

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In a discussion at yesterday’s ASP event, Gen. Muniruzzaman of Bangladesh called for a new international agreement to protect climate refugees. Meanwhile, the White House has put together a memo to create a panel that would argue against that threat. Instead, let’s stick with the facts – Andrew Holland, COO of ASP

Key Reads 

Putin threatens to target US if it deploys missiles in nearby European countries

Matt Clinch / CNBC

Putin, in his annual address to parliament, says his country would not seek confrontation and would not take the first step in deploying missiles after the suspension of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Climate change will fuel more wars and displacement in the Middle East, experts warn

Borzou Daragahi / The Independent

The most volatile region in the world is about to be plunged into further chaos because of climate change, academics and international officials warned at a conference on Tuesday. Food scarcity and water shortages will add to the flood of displaced people, sparking wars and providing opportunities for extremist groups, they said.

Bangladesh adviser calls for climate refugee compact

Jean Chemnick / E&E News

The world needs a new convention to give formal rights to those driven from their homes by climate change, the former military adviser to the president of Bangladesh said yesterday. Speaking at an event in Washington hosted by the American Security Project, Maj. Gen. Munir Muniruzzaman said the 1951 Refugee Convention, which defines refugees and the rights they are entitled to internationally, is inadequate to protect those displaced by rising seas, more frequent storms and droughts linked to warming.

 

American Competitiveness

World Shares Mostly Higher on Upbeat Talk on China-US Trade

Elaine Kurtenbach / U.S. News

Stocks were mostly higher in Europe and Asia on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested trade talks with China do not face a hard March 1 deadline for a deal. Negotiators from both sides resumed talks Tuesday in Washington following discussions in Beijing last week that U.S. officials said had made some progress on difficult issues such as China’s blueprint for making its industries world leaders in advanced technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

Amid trade talks, China urges U.S. to respect its right to develop, prosper

Ben Blanchard / Reuters

The United States should respect China’s right to develop and become prosperous, the Chinese government’s top diplomat told a visiting U.S. delegation, reiterating that the country’s doors to the outside world would open wider.

 

Climate Security

White House prepares to scrutinize intelligence agencies’ finding that climate change threatens national security

Juliet Eilperin and Missy Ryan / The Washington Post

The White House is working to assemble a panel to assess whether climate change poses a national security threat, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, a conclusion that federal intelligence agencies have affirmed several times since President Trump took office.

Commodities Giant Glencore to Cap Coal Output Over Climate

Frank Jordans / U.S. News

Commodities giant Glencore said Wednesday it will cap how much coal it mines amid shareholder pressure for it to help reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases. The move is a sharp reversal for a company that has long championed the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, and which recently announced the purchase of further stakes in two Australian coal mines even as rivals pulled out amid climate concerns.

 

Nuclear Security

Donald Trump rushing to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear technology

William Roberts / Al Jazeera

The administration of President Donald Trump is bypassing the United States Congress to advance the sale of US nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia, despite concerns it would violate US law guarding against technology transfers, according to a new report by a congressional committee.

 

Asymmetric Operations

Iran Has a Big Advantage in the Battle for the Middle East

Hussein Ibish / Bloomberg

Why can’t the U.S. and its allies get the better of Iran? To all appearances, the face-off is a colossal mismatch, with incomparably greater power arrayed against Tehran than for it. But Iran and its allies have several underappreciated advantages, not least the relative cohesion on their own side versus the disarray among their opponents.

 

Energy Security

Oil steadies as forecast for record US shale output caps rally

CNBC

Oil traded roughly flat on Wednesday after the U.S. government said shale output would rise to a record next month, denting a rally that sent prices to their highest this year.

 

U.S.- Russia Relationship

How Russia’s domestic divisions could foil its Middle East plans

Dmitriy Froloskiy / Al Jazeera

For most outside observers of the Kremlin, Russia’s policymaking process is an inscrutable monolith, with decisions taken exclusively by President Vladimir Putin and any dissent stifled behind closed doors. In reality, however, within the Russian political elite, there is a good number of competing political interests and visions which clash on a regular basis. Policies are often the product of Putin playing a balancing act between these different groups.

 

American Security & The Oceans

Trump CONFRONTS China: Beijing bigger threat than North Korea claims US Admiral

James Bickerton / The Daily Express

US warships entered the disputed South China Sea last week in a direct challenge to the Chinese state, which a US Admiral has claimed is a bigger threat to the region than North Korea.

Vietnamese Intellectuals Call On Trump For Support in South China Sea Dispute

Paul Eckert / Radio Free Asia

A group of 100 Vietnamese intellectuals and activists penned a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump urging him to help thwart China’s gradual takeover of the South China Sea, where Hanoi and Beijing are embroiled in maritime territorial disputes.

 

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

February 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

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.

Government Shutdowns Weaken America’s Message Abroad

Matthew Wallin

American public diplomacy has long operated from the premise that America has an attractive story to tell. It contends that the American story is inspirational—that others should either follow in the American image or use its lessons to guide their own paths forward. And despite the warts that the American story has, from slavery to expansionism, the history of America presents a case of the struggle for continuous improvement. It’s a story worth knowing, and a story that carries weight. The idea of America is one worth spreading, but the reality of it is that it’s an ongoing project which takes constant care and vigilance.

U.S. Strategy Amid the INF Countdown

H.D. Scriba III

An analysis of U.S. diplomatic strategy as the clock winds down on the INF Treaty.

Before the Second Trump-Kim Summit: A Look Back

William Lucier

2018 began with North and South Korea marching and competing as one in the Winter Olympics and ended with both Moon and Kim expressing optimism about the future of bilateral relations. In between there were many shocking twists and turns from Moon and Kim’s embrace at the DMZ to Trump’s declaration of love for Kim.

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