Trump’s CIA Escalate Tensions with Iran

The CIA appears to have collaborated with a think tank called the Foundation for Defense of Democracies to try to link Iran to al-Qaeda. It is believed that the move may be a part of the Trump administration’s new order for the CIA director to establish “a rationale for regime change” in Tehran. In the lead-up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, linking Baghdad to al-Qaeda was the final step in allowing the US to proceed with the attack, which could imply Trump may be attempting to do the same with Iran. President Trump has made aggressive opposition to Iran a central focus of his foreign policy, and has surrounded himself with anti-Iran hawks in the White House. Moreover, he pledged to unilaterally “tear up” the nuclear deal agreed to by major world powers. Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. proxy in the Middle East, has in recent weeks escalated its campaign against Iran. The Saudi monarchy pressured Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign, and has been accused of holding him hostage. Overall, the recent moves by the CIA, coupled with statements from the White House supporting Saudi Arabia and other enemies of Iran, shadow that the US is aiming to find enough substance to invade Iran in a way that reflects the 2003 invasion of Iraq.


The Safest Place on Earth?

Sign at the front of Aokigahara Pathway

Japan is a travel haven for tourists for many reasons. Past the vibrant neon lights of Tokyo and the autumn colors of Kyoto, Japan stands as one of the safest countries on the planet, with low crime rates even in major urban centers. Influence of Yakuza (A type of organized crime specific to Japan) is down since the turn on the century and the country has been vigilant since the downfall of the Aum Supreme Truth cult during the 1990s. However, Japan also stands as a nation with one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. Pressure and societal expectation in school and work are largely considered major contributing factors. It has also led, in the last month, to a large string of killings in and around Tokyo where a man named Takahiro Shiraishi currently stands accused of luring 15-26 suicidal teens and young adults to their death. For more information on the details of the case read:

For Japan, a large suicide rate is a security concern for the nation. With an already declining birthrate and economic vulnerability since the crash of the bubble economy in the 1980s (leading to its ‘lost decade’ in the 1990s), Japan needs all the young people it can get. The current high suicide rate is due, in part, to a stigma against mental illness and prevention which has crippled Japan’s ability to stop the morbid trend and allows for opportunities like the case mentioned above. Japan needs a major overall in their dealings with mental health, both culturally and on and off-line. If the government and police departments continue to want to protect their internal security it is vital they reverse a trend that only seems to be growing in recent years.


Iran’s Earthquake and its Power Struggle

There was a 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Iran that killed around 530 people leaving thousands injured. Political infighting among Iran has shifted focus to the relief effort after the earthquake. The Iranian government stated that enough help was sent to the many individuals who were left homeless, but people that do not like Rouhani explain that they do not have enough shelter from the cold. Iran has thus far declined offers of foreign aid. Many say Rouhani’s response exemplifies the weakness and inefficiency of him and his administration. One survivor called out to Rouhani saying, “Don’t leave us alone. Don’t forget us.”

Many children have been sleeping outside for days and I think that Rouhani should allow for assistance because the Iranian people already stated that they need more shelter, blankets, and tents because what was handed out was not enough. Foreign assistance would also help in rebuilding thousands of the homes that were destroyed. Many houses in the poor Iranian villages are usually made of concrete blocks or mudbrick that collapse easily, leaving the poor with nowhere to go.


Trump Offers to Broker SCS Talks

Summary: On the Vietnam leg of his current diplomatic tour of the Asia-Pacific region, President Trump offered to mediate between nations with conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea, saying he is, “…a very good mediator and a very good arbitrator. If I could help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know…”

Analysis: The US could broker regional talks and mediation to try to diplomatically resolve the regional claims and issue of militarization.  Ideally they would serve to facilitate a binding multilateral agreement to resolve all territorial issues, though format could involve a series of talks to reach that point. This would offer a more substantial non-confrontational option than has been pursued in the past, and is least likely to alienate the US relationship with China. However, it may be difficult to get China to agree to such talks, as it seems to prefer to settle the issue through bilateral agreements and unilateral declarations. China has previously dismissed criticism of its SCS policy, and ignored the ruling of an international court. If talks are agreed to, they may have a better chance of working than international courts or unilateral declarations have been. Of course, there is the danger that a negotiated settlement containing compromises could potentially weaken the status of UNCLOS and existing bilateral agreements in the region.

The International Threat to Venezuela

From the perspective of a large portion of the international community, Venezuela poses a significant threat to democracy to other nations. However, in regards to Venezuela’s national security, it would seem they are under attack. The United States recently called for an informal meeting of the UN Security Council to hold talks on the Venezuelan crisis. The meeting was held to discuss the role of the international community in seeking a solution to the political and humanitarian crisis in the region. While the United States and other UN nations believe it is doing the right thing, Venezuela has denounced this meeting as illegal and as an attack against their government. Venezuela is quickly running out of allies, and other than Russia and China it seems to have very little outright international support. Along with this meeting came the E.U. establishment of an arms embargo against Venezuela, which puts increased pressure on the administration which is struggling to keep itself together. If the international community continues to target Venezuela in such a way, it will eventually lose its ability to remain a sovereign nation.


Nationalist Protestors Interupt Poland’s Independence day.

Tens of thousands of nationalist protesters marched in the streets of Warsaw to have their voices heard by their government. They were waving red and white flags with signs saying, “Death to the enemies of the Homeland” and ” Catholic Poland, not secular.” The organization that is behind this protest is the National Radical Camp, which has previously  taken to the streets to protest against Muslim immigration. This is significant because the Polish government has taken a similar tone recently. Saying that immigrants from the middle east have contributed to the rise in crime and disease in Poland. The EU should come  together to negotiate with the government to change its nationalistic views. If the EU lets this type of behavior continue without addressing it could spread to other countries across Europe. Taking care of the situation now is the best idea for the entirety of Europe as well as the immigrants fleeing the middle east.


The Definitive Defector from a Defunct Defective Regime

This week in North Korea, a North Korean soldier was shot, not by South Koreans but by North Koreans. A soldier defected to South Korea through a small village that’s on the border between the two countries. He drove a vehicle up to the border and then ran to the border and then crossed while being shot at by his former compatriots. The North Korean man was shot but rescued by U.S. and South Korean troops. The man is being treated for his wound and expected to survive.

This move could be a potential message to President Trump by the soldier to try and take action against the brutal regime. I would find it likely that President Trump might use this incident in his usually fiery rhetoric in the domestic sphere to try and rally legislators and his base to support potential action against North Korea. This incident is likely to be a minor incident on the grand background of U.S.-North Korean tensions since 1950 which are littered with nuclear tests, Operation Paul Bunyan, and assassinations against people in the leadership of both North and South Korea.


U.S. and Russia Agree on UN Supervision of Syrian Elections

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with officials from Russia to iron out UN Security Council Resolution 2254 which states that the UN should involve itself in supervising any upcoming elections in Syria. While Tillerson did mention that the US has had and continues to have differences of opinion with Russia, they stand together in trying ensure the people of Syria are able to have their voices heard in future elections.

From a security standpoint, on the surface, it bodes well that it appears that the US and Russia stand together on what would best benefit the disenfranchised and displaced people of Syria. However, there is still much contention between both US and Russian interests in the war-ravaged nation. It is also important to point out that elections in Russia are far from democratic. Could this mean that Russia will choose not to interfere in Syria’s election when they have so clearly been supporting the Assad regime–something the US has long been opposed to? Are the Russians that confident that they can sway the Syrian people to keep Assad in power that they are willing to have a third party (the UN) come in and supervise? The confidence Russia seems to have in this situation should be disconcerting to the US who has been tempering its expectations in the region as the crisis continued. The US may appear weak, ineffectual, over-extended or even disinterested.



Nett Warrior
The recent increase in troop number by the US Military in Afghanistan has presented a slight shift from the previously two year plan to train Afghan military. Until now, the US military have primarily remained on military bases to train Afghanistan troops. The newly added estimated ,3,000 troops will be taking part in incursions in conjunction with Afghan military. In addition, a Security Force Assistance Brigade units will be dispatched with special equipment known as the Nett Warrior system. It is a “smartphone like device that allows soldiers to pinpoint and share intelligence”(Foreign Policy). The system is able to graphically display the location of an individual leader’s location on a digital geo-referenced map image screen. Soldier locations are also displayed on the e digital display. Nett Warrior is connected through a secure radio that will send and receive information. The soldiers in the field will connect to higher echelon data and information available to assist in decision making and situational understanding at will. This will allow decision makers, soldiers and commanders to easily see, understand, and interact in the method that best suits the the particular mission.


Iraqi Forces Find Mass Graves of People Killed by ISIS

Iraqi troops at suspected mass grave near Hawija

Iraqi security forces have found mass graves that could potentially contain up to 400 bodies in an area recently taken from the Islamic State. The bodies of civilians and security forces were found in an abandoned base near Hawija. A local shepherd who led troops named Khalaf Luhaibi, said that ISIS brought captives to the area and shot them or poured oil over them before setting them on fire. The area was scattered with torn clothing and what appeared to be human bones and skulls.


While the news of uncovering dead Iraqi civilians and security forces is appalling, Iraqi has slowly been regaining territory back from ISIS. US-backed Iraqi forces have driven ISIS from nearly all of the territory they once controlled, with some fighting still near the western border with Syria. According to Ahmend al-Asadi, a spokesman for the Shia-majority paramilitary forces, Rawa is the last Iraqi town help by ISIS. This is a step in the right direction for everyone that is involved the fight to defeat ISIS.



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