11 August 2018

What the US Iran Sanctions Mean for India

By Paras Ratna

The Iranian nuclear deal fiasco has made the whole world anxious. U.S. President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that the United States will withdraw from the deal and planned to reinstate sanctions against the Iranian government. The sanctions were reimposed this week, making good on Trump’s threat. The scrapping of the nuclear deal is bound to have widespread repercussions for the regional security architecture in particular and global polity in general. Given New Delhi’s engagement not only with the United States and Iran but also with other significant Middle East countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, the diplomatic headache resulting from these sanctions has multiplied for India.


David Brennan
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Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense has confirmed that American special forces are being deployed to the country’s western province of Farah. According to the Khaama Press News Agency, the American troops are being deployed alongside Afghan forces to help train local troops. It is not yet clear how many Americans will be part of the Farah mission. Ministry of Defense spokesman General Mohammad Radmanish said the U.S. troops will not participate in combat operations, and will be on a train, advise and assist mission. Radmanish added that the Americans will be helping the Afghansget to grips with new weapons. Farah is a province in the west of the country on the border with Iran. The province’s main city, also named Farah, has become a key target of the Taliban, who are still fighting for control of the country 17 years after it was invaded by the U.S.-led coalition.

IS in Afghanistan Just Won't Go Away, US Officials Say

Jeff Seldin

Intensified efforts to root out and destroy the Islamic State terror group in Afghanistan are making progress in some areas but have so far failed to prevent the terror group from maintaining a foothold in the country, based on the latest U.S. intelligence estimates. IS-Khorasan is thought to have more than 1,000 fighters, most of them located in Afghanistan's southern Nangarhar province, with a small number operating in the country's eastern Kunar province. Those remaining loyal to IS's black flag include local Afghans, as well as fighters from Pakistan and Uzbekistan, a senior counterterrorism official told VOA, adding that IS-Khorasan fighters are believed to also be carrying out operations in Pakistan.

Mattis Says Taliban Under Increasing Pressure to Reconcile

The secretary spoke before welcoming British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson to the Pentagon for discussions.
The strategy looks at coalition efforts in Afghanistan in a regional way, because many of the threats in the area are transnational. The strategy also called on the United States to realign its forces in Afghanistan to support the train, advise and assist mission with Afghan security forces and to accompany them on selected operations. But the reconciliation portion of the strategy is the most important pillar, Mattis told reporters, noting that through history, these conflicts and situations are solved via reconciliation. He cited the experiences in Northern Ireland and South Africa as examples.

U.S.-China Trade War: How We Got Here

by Brad W. Setser

For understanding trade law, I rely on the work of others. A trade war[1] is, among other things, a legal process—at least in the United States. Congress has delegated a lot of authority over the regulation of international commerce to the executive branch, which has given the Trump Administration a lot of latitude. But Trump and his team are still working within the framework of U.S. trade law (“232s”, “301s,” “201s,” etc.).

Is ‘Made in China 2025’ a Threat to Global Trade?

by James McBride


The Chinese government has launched “Made in China 2025”, a state-led industrial policy that seeks to make China dominant in global high-tech manufacturing. The program aims to use government subsidies, mobilize state-owned enterprises, and pursue intellectual property acquisition to catch up with—and then surpass—Western technological prowess in advanced industries. 

The Security Risks of a Trade War With China

By Ali Wyne

Trade tensions between the United States and China continue to rise. In June, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration announced that it would impose tariffs of 25 percent on $50 billion worth of Chinese exports, with the first wave targeting some 800 goods worth $34 billion. China pushed back with its own set of tariffs targeting the U.S. agricultural sector and industrial heartland. In response, Trump has reportedly ordered his administration to consider a 25 percent tariff on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese exports. As the showdown escalates, many observers are understandably focused on the potential for a full-fledged trade war that could destabilize the world economy. But they should also consider second-order, longer-term implications—in the security realm. Up until recently, the two nations’ economic ties had served as an effective brake on escalating strategic distrust. A China less constrained by and invested in economic ties with the United States could pose a substantially greater challenge to U.S. foreign policy. For all the Trump administration’s frustrations with managing interdependence, the consequences of decoupling could mean even bigger headaches.

A New Cold War? Why the U.S. and China Would Both Lose

With escalating threats of higher American tariffs on more Chinese imports, followed inevitably by Chinese tit-for-tat retaliation on American exports, talk of a trade war is everywhere. But the Trump administration’s strategy is about far more than trying to level the playing field in trade, with potentially much worse consequences for both countries, and for the global economy and global stability. The U.S. claims that Chinese trade is unfair — because of government subsidies, restricted American access to the Chinese market, and manipulation of the Chinese currency, among other things — and hence merits tough tariffs. But that is only the beginning.

Trump’s Post-ISIS Retreat Leaves Syria Vulnerable to Russia and Iran

As the U.S.-led coalition winds down its fight against the Islamic State in northeastern Syria, analysts are warning that Washington’s reluctance to devote resources to stabilizing the area could allow Russia and Iran to exert greater influence over the country. Coalition forces are closing in on the last bastion of Islamic State fighters in the city of Hajin, near the Iraqi border. Once the militants are routed, the next challenge will be providing food and services to civilians, demining the cities, repatriating millions of refugees, and re-imposing rule-of-law in broad swaths of the country.

Why an Attack by Grassroots Jihadists in Tajikistan Matters By Scott Stewart

By Scott Stewart

The July 29 attack on a group of cyclists was clearly conducted by grassroots jihadists and not by a professional terrorist cadre.  Despite its proximity to Afghanistan, Tajikistan has managed — with Russian assistance — to keep the jihadist threat in check. Beneath its relative stability, Tajikistan is significantly divided, and it will be important to watch for signs of increasing radicalization, specifically among younger members of the population. 

How to Strike a Missile Deal With Iran


The United States’ confrontational posture toward Iran is not likely to enlist any international partners apart from those already in the anti-Iran camp. But as European leaders try to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran, they should seek to find common cause with Washington to address their shared concerns. A key issue is the potential threat inherent in Iran’s ballistic missile program: If Iran ever decides to go for broke in building nuclear weapons, some of its missiles, which today are fitted with conventional warheads, could be repurposed to deliver nuclear warheads.

Japan urges overworked employees to take Monday mornings off

Justin McCurry 

Japan was forced to confront its work culture by the 2015 suicide of a young advertising employee who had clocked up more than 100 hours’ overtime in the months before her death.  Japan’s government is to urge companies to give employees Monday mornings off in its latest attempt to improve the country’s poor record on work-life balance. The economy, trade and industry ministry believes that “Shining Mondays”, part of a wider campaign to address the punishingly long hours many Japanese are expected to work, will give employees a much-needed lie-in at the start of the working week, although similar schemes aimed at reducing people’s workload have been largely unsuccessful.

Daily Memo: Mixed Signals from the US and Turkey, Circled Wagons in China

Two stories stand above the rest today.

The first concerns the U.S. and Turkey’s on-again, off-again relationship. On Tuesday, things seemed to be going well again. A Turkish delegation headed by the deputy foreign minister arrived in Washington, where the two sides reached a preliminary agreement over imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson, according to Hurriyet. The U.S. Embassy in Turkey piled on the good news, tweeting that “the U.S. continues to be a firm friend and ally of Turkey despite current tensions.” The embassy also emphasized the vibrant “economic relations” between the two countries – a notable statement, considering the value of the Turkish lira continues its nosedive. (It fell to a new record low against the dollar – down to 5.4 – marking a 28 percent slide on the year and an almost 8 percent drop this month. On Tuesday, the Turkish Central Bank changed its foreign reserve requirements. It hoped to strengthen the lira but instead weakened it further.) The government in Ankara insists that it will not abide by U.S. sanctions against Iran, but the events from Tuesday suggest the U.S. and Turkey can find a way to pursue their interests without bludgeoning the Turkish economy.

How to Keep the US-India Defense Relationship Moving Ahead


For the United States and India, a strong defense partnership is one of very few strategic opportunities in a rapidly changing Asia. Yet despite their strong commitment to the relationship, leaders in Washington and New Delhi risk letting it become an underperforming asset for both countries. Positive steps like avoiding secondary sanctions on India over Iran or Russia and adding India to the top-tier U.S. list of “Strategic Trade Authorization-1” partners can leave officials sanguine about their ability to handle bilateral bumps in the road through calm collaboration, but the partnership needs to move beyond avoiding problems to maximize its strategic value.

Truth and Reconciliation and Violence in Mexico

By Allison Fedirka

For many Mexicans, insecurity is commonplace. They look at the news and see stories of new vigilante groups, or they learn about the piles of bodies that were the most recent victims of organized crime, or they hear anecdotes of how business was obstructed or suspended because of some unnamed security concern. Now, the media coverage they watch tends to overemphasize these kinds of acts of violence while de-emphasizing the fact that Mexico has a mostly functional government and thriving economy. Still, violent crime, especially associated with the country’s drug cartels, is a serious issue in Mexico. So serious, in fact, that President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s radical proposal to resolve it – which features amnesty and reconciliation rather than confrontation – helped win him the presidency. He will soon begin to execute the plan, but as he does, he needs to bear in mind that virtually every previous plan to eliminate the cartels in the past few decades has failed.

Dawn of a New Armageddon

Cynthia Lazaroff

A personal essay on the meaning of a ballistic missile alert issued in Hawaii in January 2018, at the height of nuclear tensions between the United States and North Korea.

The Real History of the Liberal Order Neither Myth Nor Accident

By Michael J. Mazarr

For 70 years, U.S. commentators have, by and large, supported the idea of a U.S.-led, rules-based international order. Yet recently, more and more scholars and experts, including the political scientist Graham Allison writing in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, have started dismissing it as a “myth.” Their argument has more than academic significance: given the accelerating assault on the institutions and practices of the postwar order by politicians around the world, the idea that the system is more mythical than real implies that the United States can get along perfectly well without it.

Somalia Is a Country Without an Army


MOGADISHU, Somalia—Last week, the U.N. Security Council unanimously agreed to extend the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mandate in the country until May 2019. The security situation has been getting worse by the day. On Sunday, two car bombs killed at least six people; one detonated in the capital, Mogadishu, and the other in a nearby town. A few days before, a popular young entrepreneur was murdered, sparking protests demanding accountability and better security.AMISOM first deployed to Somalia in 2007 with a six-month authorization to counter al-Shabab, a militant anti-government group. Although initially a marginal peacekeeping force of privately trained Ugandan soldiers, AMISOM has since expanded in size and in scope of mandate, and is now comprised of an estimated 22,000 troops from Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Sierra Leone. Unlike typical peace-support missions, AMISOM has taken the lead role in the counterinsurgency campaign, filling in as a de facto army until the Somali National Army (SNA) is strong enough to counter the jihadi group on its own.

The Agriculture Industry Is Losing Its Voice in American Politics

As agriculture's contribution to overall employment declines in large part because of farm consolidation and mechanization, the political influence of agriculture lobbies will also continue to decrease. The U.S. government will become less protective of its agricultural sector in the long term, making it more vulnerable to market forces. As agriculture's political power continues to wane, farming subsidies and protections could face cuts. As members of the U.S. Congress debate the 2018 Farm Bill, which outlines funding for the agriculture industry and food supplement programs, they are focusing less on the needs of U.S. farmers and more on the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). And though Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced $12 billion in emergency aid for U.S. farmershit by retaliatory tariffs, producers are struggling more and more to succeed financially and to influence politicians on policies that directly affect the industry. The overshadowing of traditional support mechanisms in the Farm Bill, which controls government aid for U.S. producers, is one sign of the agriculture lobby's waning influence.

You Live in Robert Lighthizer’s World Now


Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, sat through two hours of grilling by Congress, fending off grievances about the Trump trade war’s effects on Alaskan salmon, Maine lobsters, and Delaware chickens. “Nobody is declaring war on Canada,” Lighthizer protested, even as he conceded that the use of Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum was premised indirectly on assessing that country as a national security threat. When pushed on whether he had this assessment vetted by the National Security Council, he demurred that doing so was the Commerce Department’s responsibility, not his own.

How prepared is the U.S. to fend off cyber warfare? Better at offense than defense, author says

by Nick Schifrin, Dan Sagalyn, Larisa Epatko
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“We spent years worrying about the giant cyber-Pearl Harbor,” says David Sanger, author of “The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age.” But, he argues, that has blinded us to more subtle uses, in which we are all collateral damage. Sanger joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the threats and realities, how the U.S. wages cyber warfare, and how prepared the U.S. is to stop attacks. Nick Schifrin:Last week, David Sanger of The New York Times reported that Russian intelligence hackers are now more focused on disrupting the U.S. electrical grid than on sowing chaos in the U.S. electoral system.Sanger has been reporting on the threats and realities of cyber-warfare, who wages it and how prepared the U.S. is to stop it in a new book.Judy Woodruff recently sat down with Sanger to discuss it.


CHRIS MONROE’S VISION for quantum computers is simple: He wants people to use them. Monroe, a physicist and co-founder of the quantum computing startup IonQ, wants the machines to be as sleek as the iPhone. He wants people to code on them without needing to understand complicated quantum physics. Basically, he wants the devices to be so intuitive that, on a lonely evening in 2050, a high schooler will log on to invent the cultural equivalent of Snapchat—but quantum. The industry has a ways to go. They have a timeline, sort of, give or take a few decades. And at the moment, their roadmap has at least one glaring pothole: a lack of trained people. “Quantum computer scientists are in high demand right now,” says Monroe. “I would know. IonQ has a lot of trouble hiring people.”

Crossing $1 Trillion: What’s Next for Apple?

Consumer electronics giant Apple is finding itself in a whole new race after last Thursday, when its share price rose to $207, making it the first U.S. company to cross $1 trillion in market capitalization. As Apple and its CEO, Tim Cook, set their sights on the future, experts from Wharton and elsewhere point out that the company does face some challenges: Apple’s smartphone sales have slowed (although margins have gone up); it has no big-bang product around the corner, notably in augmented reality or artificial intelligence (AI); its R&D investments are lagging; and its next big leap may take place under a different CEO.

Crossing $1 Trillion: What’s Next for Apple?

As Apple and its CEO, Tim Cook, set their sights on the future, experts from Wharton and elsewhere point out that the company does face some challenges: Apple’s smartphone sales have slowed (although margins have gone up); it has no big-bang product around the corner, notably in augmented reality or artificial intelligence (AI); its R&D investments are lagging; and its next big leap may take place under a different CEO. Meanwhile, other tech giants such as Amazon, Google’s parent Alphabet and Microsoft are close runners-up in the trillion-dollar race, heralding a new era of large, cash-rich companies. Platforms and ecosystems are critical to success in the next round, and some predict that Amazon looks poised to become the first $2 trillion company, especially with its ability to seemingly enter any industry it chooses to.

US Navy's Top Admiral Cites Increased Threat in Ocean Nearest Washington

Carla Babb

Chinese military vessels are now operating in the Northern Atlantic, and Russian submarines are prowling those same waters at a pace not seen since the end of the Cold War, the Navy’s top admiral told VOA in an exclusive interview. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said China's military movements from the North Atlantic into the Mediterranean Sea create a "new dynamic." "Even five years ago, we wouldn't have seen anything like this,” Richardson said.