What We Are Reading

What We Are Reading

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Key Reads

E.U. Climate Plan Would Sweeten Deal for Coal Countries
Matina Stevis-Gridneff / The New York Times
The European Commission introduced on Wednesday its centerpiece climate strategy that, if approved, would pivot the world’s third-biggest polluter to climate-friendly economic policies and nudge coal-reliant nations with payouts worth billions of euros.

Russia’s Gas Pipeline to Europe Faces Sanctions Under U.S. Defense Bill
Brett Forrest and Bojan Pancevski / The Wall Street Journal
However, the sanctions, which are directed at the companies providing pipe-laying services to the pipeline, might further strain relations between the U.S. and Germany, which has lobbied against the action.

Turkey and Russia Judged Bigger Risk Than ISIS for U.S. Troops in Syria
Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Eric Schmitt / The New York Times
American commanders have requested guidance on dealing with an attack from those armed groups and others from Iran and the Syrian government, but officials say they have received muddled direction.


American Competitiveness

Fed Likely to Hold Rates Steady After Busy Year
Nick Timiraos / The Wall Street Journal
Federal Reserve officials are likely to hold their benchmark interest rate steady after their two-day meeting concludes Wednesday and aren’t expected to make notable changes to their wait-and-see posture on more rate reductions.

Focus squarely on Trump as Dec 15 tariffs loom in US-China trade war
Jeff Mason and Heather Timmons / Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump has days to decide whether to impose tariffs on nearly $160 billion in Chinese consumer goods just weeks before Christmas, a move that could be unwelcome in both the United States and China.


Asymmetric Operations

Taliban Attack Clinic Near American Bagram Airfield Days After Afghan Peace Talks Restart
James Laporta / Newsweek
A savage fusillade of gunfire erupted early Wednesday morning and continued into the late afternoon between Taliban militants and U.S.-Afghan forces near Bagram Airfield, the largest American base in Afghanistan.

Mexico wracked by ‘heinous violence.’ But is it terrorism?
Whitney Eulich / The Christian Science Monitor
The way a threat is categorized goes a long way toward developing a response to it. Even what the U.S. considers a “drug cartel” is evolving, which complicates attempts to control the violence.

If Iran Falls, ISIS May Rise Again
Tom O’Connor / Newsweek
As disorder deepens in Iran amid widespread protests, fears are rising that the fall of Iran’s revolutionary Shiite Islamic Republic could lead to disaster in the region and the re-emergence of an even greater foe of the United States—the Islamic State militant group known as ISIS.


Climate Security

Australia ranked worst of 57 countries on climate change policy
Sarah Martin / The Guardian
Australia is the worst-performing country on climate change policy, according to a new international ranking of 57 countries. The report also criticises the Morrison government for being a “regressive force” internationally.

Defense Bill Boosts Climate Resilience, Ends PFAS Foam Use
Tiffany Stecker and Dean Scott / Bloomberg Environment
The House-Senate agreement, which must still be passed by both chambers, also retained some significant climate change provisions. Overall, they aim to ensure the Pentagon is better prepared for climate-related impacts, including rising sea levels and severe storms.


Energy Security

Russia, Ukraine Fail to Reach a New Gas Deal in Paris
The Associated Press / The New York Times
Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk said Ukraine was prepared to venture into a “gas war” in order to negotiate a deal. The country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said last month that the deal was a priority for Ukraine and important for Europe’s energy security.

Japan energy panel calls for national effort to secure oil and rare metals reserves
Reuters / The Japan Times
Other recommendations include the need to enhance coordination between Japanese ministries to help improve national energy and resource security. It has also been suggested that the state-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. (JOGMEC) should be allowed to raise funds for new development projects.


National Security & Strategy

Several election security provisions are in the massive defense bill
Andrew Eversden / Fifth Domain
The National Defense Authorization Act released Dec. 9 contains several provisions aimed at securing U.S. election infrastructure months before presidential primary season is in full-swing.

Congress is worried about an Iranian threat to a small garrison of U.S. commandos in Syria
Shawn Snow / MilitaryTimes
Congress wants a report from the intelligence community and the Pentagon about the threat posed by Iran and its militias to a small garrison of special operators near the Iraq-Syria border known as al-Tanf.


U.S.-Russia Relations

Trump meets Russia’s top diplomat amid scrap over election interference
John Hudson and Anne Gearan / The Washington Post
The White House statement said only that Trump urged Russia to resolve the conflict. The statement made no mention of Crimea, the region of Ukraine that Russia annexed in 2014.


Recent Reports

White Paper – A New American Message
Matthew Wallin
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has struggled to establish a credible, effective message suitable for competing in modern times. This paper discusses the problems in America’s current message and recommends behaviors to improve its credibility overseas.

Perspective – Micro Nuclear Reactors
Andrew Holland
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.


On Our Flashpoint Blog

RELEASE: Passage of USMCA will Provide Much-Needed Stability in Energy and Trade
American Security Project
The American Security Project (ASP) is a longtime supporter of free and open trade across North America. Canada and Mexico are two of America’s closest allies and closest trading partners. Passage of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will confirm that they remain that way.

Event Recap: A New American Message
Alexandra Hackbarth
On December 6, the American Security Project (ASP) published a white paper, “A New American Message.” ASP co-founder and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel provided introductory remarks, and a panel of experts discussed the US’ role in the world and how the rest of the world sees the United States.

ASP in Arizona: National Security Implications of Climate Change
Alexandra Hackbarth
On November 6 and 7, 2019, Lt Gen. Dirk Jameson, USAF (Ret.), American Security Project (ASP) Consensus Board Member, visited Phoenix, Arizona for a series of public events on the national security implications of climate change.

Considering the Carmel Institute: Is All Russian Public Diplomacy Malign?
Patrick Smith
We shouldn’t always treat Russia culture as a malign tool of the Kremlin. Unfortunately, however, the Kremlin has given us good reason to view cultural diplomacy efforts with skepticism. We should welcome opportunities to build greater understanding between Americans and Russians, but we should always be wary of the sources behind these efforts and their motives.

US Military Construction Standards Require Climate Security Update
Alexandra Hackbarth
Over the last decade, the US has witnessed some of the most damaging storms ever recorded. These storms cause billions in damage and are a threat to US national security. As the climate continues to change, storms are predicted to intensify. To prepare for stronger storms, the Department of Defense (DoD) is updating its construction standards for military installations.

Climate Security Legislation in 2019
Esther Sperling
Recently, there have been further efforts within Congress to reaffirm its commitment to addressing climate change. These bills are a symbol to the rest of the world that the U.S. is “still in” in responding to the threat of climate change.

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