Archive for September, 2017

An Impending Civil War?

Venezuela has been in a nation-wide crisis for years now. As President Maduro attempts to rewrite the nation’s constitution so that he has total power, protests continue throughout the country. Many people are angry with the corruption of Maduro’s regime, and the opposition has united their efforts to stop his leadership. It seems inevitable for the Venezuelan government to collapse since it has only declined in recent years. The potential collapse of Venezuela could generate a number of issues in the region, such as creating a large numbers of refugees. President Trump recently stated that he is considering a “military option” as a means to deal with the Venezuelan crisis, however this is should be considered a last resort measure when dealing with Maduro. Landing troops in Venezuela will do little to rectify the issue; what is more likely is that it raises more tension and hatred for the intervention. With an issue that affects numerous nations of the Americas, matters should be dealt more strategically. The article stresses the importance of getting the OAS involved to condemn Maduro, and possible UN support as well. Another important step to take is prepare for a collapse and work closely with other allies in the region to help diffuse the situation.


Russian Military exercise “Zapad” well underway

General Petr Pavel of the NATO Military Committee is concerned about Russia’s week-long military exercise in Belarus, the Baltic Sea and Kalingrad. He is concerned about any accidents during the simultaneous training and wishes to reestablish direct military communications to avoid any. While NATO estimates that 100,000 Russian and Belorussian troops are on maneuver the Kremlin is claiming only a strength of under 13,000. It is not uncommon for Russia to undergo extensive military displays like this every four years, but on this occasion the Russians have extended this training into Belarus; placing them within spitting distance of their NATO counterparts. The irony is not lost on the Russian military in naming their operation “Zapad”, meaning “west”.




Department of Energy: Lesser Known Relevance

In May of this year, the Department of Energy released a fact sheet on their 2018 budget proposal. This, while very pedestrian, holds much significance to national security and defense, namely because the DoE does not normally come to mind when security and defense are mentioned. But, taking even a quick look at the fact sheet will reveal some of the understated importance of the DoE to our security. Focus on the first section of the second page; it highlights the National Nuclear Security Administration for which the DoE has requested $13.9 billion.

The NNSA fulfills critical roles in U.S. defense programs by managing our military nuclear capabilities. This management includes maintaining and modernizing nuclear stockpiles ($10.2 billion requested), overseeing nuclear non-proliferation ($1.8 billion requested), and developing and supporting US Navy nuclear reactors ($1.5 billion requested). It is crucial that these roles be funded properly and fulfilled with competence. In an increasingly contentious political climate, we cannot afford for the critical nature of the NNSA and DoE’s functions to be outshined by the glamour of the DoD and DHS. Sometimes, we cannot settle for under-funding, trying to do less with more.


Fossil Future?

Gary D. Cohn, who is the Chief White House economic adviser and also the Director of the National Economic Council, has met with senior climate ministers and other state officials from over twelve countries before the United Nations General Assembly meeting passes. Mr. Cohn has had to hide from the spotlight during the meeting after Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. Apparently, U.S. representatives like Mr. Cohn say they are ready for cooperation even though the administration will not acknowledge the reality and severity of global climate change. International representatives are not very hopeful of progress under our national foreign policy of the current administration, however some liberal leaning states like California which is the seventh largest economy in the world plan on continue keeping the previously agreed upon reduction standard set before Trump took office, showing that the country is fluid when it comes to dealing with fossil fuels. Trumps’ excuse cannot simply be that doing our share of saving the planet from our destruction cannot get in the way of impeding on our current economic path (we must all pay for our mistakes as a species, and work together to best mitigate them). Trumps weakness is he is not serious about making progress against climate change because he has a vested interest to ignore the reality of current world problems so he can continue to focus on personal improvement. We cannot even formally withdraw from the Agreement until Trump has to run for reelection. The Trump administration must stay in the Agreement and it seems as if they are trying to find a way to retract previous advances, whether due to public pressure or rational enlightenment. The Trump administration would be directly putting our country in a heightened threat of national security if officials are instructed to use the meeting as a medium to push the desired concept of ‘suitable terms for re-engagement’, meaning a specialized position for staying to what we’ve already said as a nation is our word.

  • Daniel


Iraq top court rules to suspend Kurdish referendum

On September 18, 2017, Iraq’s top court has ordered the suspension of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s planned referendum on independence. The original vote was set to be on September 25th but has come to a halt because of multiple “requests to stop the referendum.” The court’s decision to move the vote was in response to at least two lawsuits that challenged the planned vote, one being the Iraqi Prime Minister and the other was filed by four members of Iraq’s Parliament.


The United Nations, United States, Britain, and Turkey have all opposed the referendum. The US, U.S, and Britain have all mentioned that this referendum would take away from the fight against ISIS and has been called a mistake. Meanwhile, Turkey fears that the vote could stroke separatist aspirations among its own Kurdish minority.


70th Anniversary of the CIA

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency, and it is very difficult in today’s world of technology to effectively have undercover operatives without them being discovered by other countries. An example of how times have changed is about three Americans who were for 949 days in Cuba in 1963. The three men were undercover CIA officers, who the Cuban authorities had caught in a bugging operation. The Castro regime put them on trial, and convicted them of “activities against the security of the Cuban state”.

At the time of the agents’ release the CIA was only 15 years old. Now the agency is 70 years old, in the digital age where background information can be easily checked, movements tracked on a minute-to-minute basis. Thus, creating and maintaining a cover poses a far greater challenge. Therefore, in an international community that mostly understands the world in a realist’s perspective, the nation that can effectively deploy the most undercover operatives and maintain their aliases will be more secure. Along with that, the country that can expose as many operatives spying against their own country will be equally as secure.


Mr. Abe’s Letter

It’s 7 o’clock on a Friday morning. You wake up to the sound of your phone buzzing. That’s strange you think to yourself, your alarm is set for 7:30. You pick up your phone and see that it’s blaring a message saying an ICBM is passing overhead and that you need to proceed to shelter immediately. Scary, isn’t it? That’s what some in Japan woke up to only a few days ago.

In Japan this week, another missile test was conducted by North Korea that set off the emergency broadcasts across the Japanese island of Hokkaido on Friday. The residents of Hokkaido were told to proceed to an emergency shelter until the missile had passed. In this New York Time op-ed, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe writes a very carefully detailed and planned piece affirming his country’s commitment to the US-Japanese alliance and the goal of de-nuclearization of North Korea.

While this seems very routine for U.S. officials and U.S. allies to do when faced with a crisis, reaffirm alliances, talk about shared values, etcetera, the interesting part was Shinzo Abe’s subtle jabs at China in his piece. He only mentions the North Korean ally by name once in the article when talking about Six Party Talks.

However, he references, “that there are countries, mainly in Asia, that continue trading with North Korea; and for some, as recently as in 2016, their trade even exceeded that of the previous year.” The line of trade exceeding that of the previous year is a reference to specifically Chinese-North Korean trade having been up 40% earlier in the year. Prime Minister Abe lambasts “companies established in Asia” that keep currency flows into the rogue regime.

Prime Minister Abe’s response, however diplomatic and routine it seems, appears to be an affirmation of a U.S. and Japanese pivot against North Korea, but a rebuke of China as well.


Terrorism in the Tube

Another act of terrorism has occurred in England where the transit system was targeted. The tube, which is a major hub for transportation was target with an IED which injured 30 people during their rush hour commute Friday. One man was arrested for the creation of the IED and the other was arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act. The attack on London’s transit system by these men is a wake up call for British parliament. A couple actions that could be taken should be brought up by lawmakers in the next couple of days. The first option is to increase the number of Metropolitan Police that guard the entrances and exits of the Tube. Which could potentially scare off terrorists who are looking for easy or low security targets to hit. This wont totally stop potential attacks but it will create a more difficult area for terrorist to have a successful attack. The second action that could be taken by lawmakers or even the Metropolitan Police Chief is that they impose random security checkpoints in the entrances of some of the station access points. Increasing the odds of authorities catching any future acts of terrorism.


Russian Forces Deny Bombing U.S. Security Forces in Syria

U.S.- backed fighting forces in Syria claim they came under attack from Russian jets on Saturday in Deir Al-Zor, a highly contested region east of the Euphrates. They report that six Syria Defense Force (SDF) fighters were treated for injuries incurred during the assault. Coalition forces had earlier denied a Russian request to strike an area within the province due to safety concerns for those coalition forces on the ground. The Russians allegedly decided to strike anyway, maintaining they had given their intentions to the coalition forces that they were striking an IS target. The Russian Defense Ministry denies any wrongdoing. As the ISIS presence in Syria dwindles, U.S.- backed coalition forces and Assad-backed forces are using their power in an attempt to claim strategic areas of Syria once held by ISIS.


Trump’s delayed reaction

The article this week detailed how Trump’s administration will be sending Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to Mexico to mend ties after President Trump’s four day delay to send condolences and aid after Mexico was hit by a 8.2 magnitude earthquake. In light of Trump’s disregard to Mexico’s immense need of human resource and aid,  Mexico has rescinded its offer of aid for victims affected by hurricane Harvey. The Mexican foreign ministry stated that Mexico now needed the money because of its domestic natural disasters. Many speculate the decision was also in part because of Trump’s administration’s negligence to reach out in a timely manner, especially when it was stated he’d call Mexico three days sooner. Mr. Mattis’s visit is to ensure that Mexico understands United States values its relationship with significant importance and to show solidarity with Mexico in a time of great need. Regardless of whether Trump’s delay caused Mexico to take back its aid, Mexico is a country with low human security resources which prompts the need for any and all aid to go to its own people who got hit with both an earthquake and a hurricane. Trump’s administration acted unprofessionally and their move to send Mattis was important but Trump’s delay speaks volumes to an already shaky and animosity filled relationship. However, this big slip up won’t harm the overall relationship between the two states as they both rely on each other for economic and security issues.


Ayel Morrissey

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