What We Are Reading

What We Are Reading

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Key Reads

Trump praises North Korea’s Kim Jong Un for backing down on missile threat

Ben Westcott / CNN

US President Donald Trump praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday for appearing to back down on his threat to launch missiles toward the US territory of Guam. In an early morning tweet, Trump said: “Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision. The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!”


China, US military chiefs vow to patch up differences as North Korea threat rumbles on

Laura Zhou / South China Morning Post

Military chiefs from China and the United States have pledged to overcome differences and fortify links between their armed forces as fears of conflict over nuclear-armed North Korea persist. According to the defence ministry, Fang told Dunford that China would work with the US to handle disputes and efficiently manage and control risks.



American Competitiveness

As NAFTA talks begin, Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda looms large

Lesley Wroughton, David Lawder / Reuters
As the United States, Canada and Mexico kick off negotiations on Wednesday to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, the biggest uncertainty is whether a deal can pass President Donald Trump’s “America First” test.


Canada united, America divided on NAFTA as negotiations begin

Eric Grenier / CBC News
With a divided population behind them, the American negotiators may prove to be less predictable. U.S. President Donald Trump wants to deliver a result that will go over well with his Republican base — meaning the objectives of the Americans may be less about getting a good deal that can work for all three countries and more about getting a deal they can sell as a victory to their voters.



National Security & Strategy

North Korea’s stockpile of chemical weapons could wreak devastation in retaliatory strike

Stuart Leavenworth/ Stars & Stripes

As evidence piles up about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, some of President Donald Trump’s supporters and outside advisers are urging him to launch a preemptive strike on Kim Jong Un’s weapons facilities or the missiles being prepared for launch. But there’s at least one significant reason why U.S. military leaders would be reluctant to carry out such a strike: North Korea would surely retaliate, and this retaliation could include use of chemical weapons.


5 missing after Army chopper crashes off Oahu

Hawaii News Now

Rescue crews are searching for an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with five people aboard that crashed about two miles off Kaena Point late Tuesday. Coast Guard and Army rescue have been deployed, and a debris field was spotted by air about 11:28 p.m. Tuesday. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting training between Kaena Point and Dillingham Airfield at the time communications were lost.



Asymmetric Operations

The U.S. is now routinely launching ‘danger-close’ drone strikes so risky they require Syrian militia approval

W.J. Hennigan / LA Times

Drones are no longer confined to shadowy counter-terrorism missions. Their role has expanded to include more traditional military operations, including an increase in airstrikes during combat and close support for advancing ground troops. In Raqqah, drone strikes have helped dislodge and kill militants in the city’s narrow streets and crowded warrens, where they hid snipers, booby-traps and car bombs.


Afghan Taliban warns Trump against sending in more troops

Jibran Ahmad, Josh Smith / Reuters

The Taliban told U.S. President Donald Trump in an open letter on Tuesday that the military situation in Afghanistan was “far worse than you realize”, and sending in more troops would be self-destructive. A senior Taliban official told Reuters the rare decision to address Trump directly was timed to coincide with the president’s deliberations on the future of U.S. policy in Afghanistan.



Climate Security

Donald Trump to scrap rule to protect roads and infrastructure from climate change

Ian Johnston / The Independent

Overshadowed by his decision to describe some of those who took part in the far-right rally in Charlottesville as “very fine people”, Donald Trump announced plans to scrap regulations designed to protect roads and other infrastructure from climate change. Mr Trump complained that such regulations were slowing down projects, claiming it had taken 17 years to build a road in a state that he would not name.



Energy Security

China’s energy demand to peak in 2040 as transportation demand grows: CNPC


Energy consumption in China, the world’s second-largest economy, will peak then at 4.06 billion tonnes of oil equivalent, up from the previous forecast of 3.75 billion tonnes five years prior, CNPC said in its annual long-term energy outlook. CNPC raised its forecast because it predicts transportation demand will rise through to 2050, twenty years longer than previously estimated.



Nuclear Security

Tillerson: US ‘continues to be interested’ in North Korea talks

Rebecca Kheel / The HIll

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that the United States was still interested in talks with North Korea, but he put the onus on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “We continue to be interested in trying to find a way to get to dialogue, but that’s up to him,” Tillerson told reporters. Tillerson’s comments come after Kim tabled a plan to fire a salvo of missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam, appearing to signal a path to defusing the crisis.


Iran could quit nuclear deal in ‘hours’ if US imposes new sanctions: Rouhani

Reuters via CNBC

Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers “within hours” if the United States imposes any more new sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.



US – Russia Relations

Trump And Russia: Lots Of Talk, But Critics Say There’s No Clear Strategy

Greg Myre / NPR

Managing the U.S.-Russia relationship is one of the most important jobs for any president. Yet for all the talk about President Trump and Russia, here’s the irony: He has yet to lay out a grand plan for dealing with Moscow.



Recently Published Reports

Perspective: Assessing US and North American Energy Security in 2017
BGen Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.), Andrew Holland
This report is drawn from testimony by ASP’s CEO, Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (ret.), to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at the hearing on “U.S. and North American Energy and Resource Security.” In the report, ASP argues that we must not confuse “Energy Security” with “Energy Independence.” The increase in production of oil and gas has given America breathing room; policymakers should pursue sustainable energy security by investing in the future.



On Our Flashpoint Blog

ASP CEO Stephen A. Cheney Appears on PBS Program “The Open Mind”

American Security Project

ASP’s CEO, Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (ret.) was featured on PBS’s The Open Mind hosted by Alexander Heffner. In the episode entitled “Defcon U.S.A.,” which aired August 8, 2017, BGen Cheney discussed national security issues surrounding nuclear weapons, cyber capabilities, and climate change.


India and China: Drifting Towards Danger

Esther Babson

As tensions rise between the U.S. and North Korea, another conflict between two nuclear-armed countries is flying under the radar. Since late June, relations between China and India have deteriorated over a border dispute. Disputes such as this may be more common in the future.


Oppose Russian Gas Pipelines to Support European Unity

David Woodside

Opposing Russia’s geopolitical energy weapon and preserving positive relations with close European allies’ advances America’s national security interests. A more unified EU backed by NATO is the best option to counter Russian aggression and maintain the security and sovereignty of America’s Eastern European allies.


North Korea Threatens Guam Today; Climate Change Threatens it in the Long Term

Andrew Holland

North Korea threatens the American military base at Guam with “enveloping fire.” In the longer term, climate change presents serious threats to readiness. The military is capable of preparing for both threats.


North Korea’s Nukes: A Song of Fire, but Where’s the Ice?

Matthew Wallin

While we explore ways to build the fire under the Kim regime, we need to provide opportunities to cool down the tensions so that all sides make the right choices. But where’s the ice? President Trump needs to chart a way forward that doesn’t result in a war nobody truly wants.


Homeland Security Policies Should Not Stop Booming Travel Industry

David Woodside

Stronger, more effective homeland security policies can work within a system which promotes international travel into the United States, encourages domestic travel, and creates a more positive image abroad.


Geopolitical Considerations for Russia’s Turkish Stream Pipeline
Anna Semler
European powers are bristling at the ongoing NATO-Russia tensions as NATO and Russia both run large-scale military drills in Northern Europe this summer and into Fall 2017. Russia’s war games are paralleled by increased diplomatic activity to spread Russia’s sphere of influence and secure Russia’s leading position in the European energy market.


Climate Change’s Impact on Arctic Northern Sea Route May Magnify Future Conflict in Asia
Katherine Weingartner, WiSE Fellow
As melting ice opens up new shipping pathways in the Arctic, there has been great interest in strengthening trade between Russia and other Asian nations such through the Arctic’s Northern Sea Route. However, increased shipping in these areas through the NSR could pose enhanced security risks.


The Resurgence of Congressional Influence in Foreign Policy Formation
Lincoln Webb
Since the Nixon Administration saw the moderation of the National Security Council under Henry Kissinger, the dynamics between the Oval Office and the NSC have been the driving force that defines the direction of US foreign policy.

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