US Defense Secretary Visits Ukraine

The US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the security situation in the region. At the meeting, Austin affirmed US support for Ukraine against Russian aggression and called on Russia to return Crimea and stop cyberattacks against the US and its allies. Austin has also been critical of Russia’s action in eastern Ukraine as well. Since relations between the US and Russia have been at their lowest since the Cold War, the US has increased its support for its allies in the region.

Ukraine’s security remains in jeopardy since fighting in eastern Ukraine started and the Russian annexation of Crimea. This led to Ukraine trying to find allies that will have its back against Russia. Fortunately, the US has supplied military and other aid to Ukraine to counter Russia’s actions. Supporting Ukraine also worsens US-Russia relations as well as they have been a very low point following the crisis in Ukraine. As a result, Russia has been doing cyberattacks against the US, Ukraine, and other opponents.

As the war in Ukraine and Russian aggression against Ukraine’s allies, Washington should continue to support Ukraine as well as working on improving relations with Russia to prevent anything worse from happening.

Mark Volynski


Energy Security in the Sahel Region

An important development in the Sahel region is that the Green Climate Fund (GCF) has provided a financial package to the African Development Bank (AfDB) to develop the solar potential of the Sahel. The 150 million dollars from GCF will go to the “Desert to Power G5 Sahel” facility, the facility aims to support the Sahel countries including Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Niger, and Mauritania. They are planning to support these countries by adopting low-emission power generation by utilizing the country’s solar potential. Desert to Power G5 is expecting to invest $966 million over the seven-year implementation process. Overall this initiative is supposed to limit emissions by 14.4 million tons of CO2 equivalent. This development is important specifically because of energy security since there is a constant terrorist threat in the Sahel region, however, this initiative is an important step for not only global energy but also for climate change. This initiative matters on a level of security because there is the constant idea that a terrorist group such as al-Qaeda or the Islamic State, who both have operations in the Sahel region, could steal the technology. Keeping it from combatting climate change, as well as taking resources away from the citizens of the Sahel. This issue is also important globally since climate change has become an important issue when talking about state security or international security since statistics and evidence have made policymakers change their view on what climate change is and what it means for future generations. This initiative is important to limit emissions which will help the planet. My assessment is that the United States should support this initiative as a success for environmental and energy security, as well as potentially give military support in the region in order for this goal to succeed.


In Textbook: “Energy Security” by Michael T. Klare


Korean Peninsula Heats Up

North Korea has resumed its missile testing as news emerged that it launched missiles into waters off the coast of Japan.  North Korea has been conducting numerous tests of its missiles over the past month or so, but took a brief break during the last couple weeks.  One of the developments during this time was that they were taking steps to restore some communication lines with Japan and South Korea.  However, as this news comes out of more testing, it appears that it would be overly optimistic to hope for much progress with the restored communication.

A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows Kim Jong-Un, general secretary of the Worker"s Party of Korea, giving a speech during a commemorative lecture organized by the Central Committee of the WPK, celebrating a significant founding anniversary of the Party, at the office building of the Party"s Central Committee in Pyongyang, North Korea, 10 October 2021 (issued 11 October 2021).

The timing of this particular test is likely not a coincidence as it took place at the same time as officials from Japan, South Korea, and the US met to discuss North Korea.  North Korea has made it clear that any cooperation with the United States from Japan or South Korea would be perceived as hostility.  As the US continues to work heavily with Japan and South Korea, it is unlikely that Biden’s administration will make much diplomatic progress with North Korea despite stating their goals of improving relations.  With an emotional dictator like Kim Jong Un, the options are either to appease him in meeting his demands or to oppose him and hope for the best.  From the first several months of Biden’s administration, it appears as though he has chosen to call Kim Jong Un’s bluffs and continue to work with South Korea and Japan.

Over the next couple weeks, as the arms race continues to escalate on the Korean Peninsula, it will be important to keep a close eye on any changes in North Korea’s behavior.  This new test marks another step towards a more dangerous, more unstable North Korea.  South Korea has not been quiet either as it has been developing and improving its own weapons systems.  If China were to get involved, this would create an even more dangerous situation.  The Biden administration will need to tread carefully as it already has enough foreign policy issues to deal with.


Russia Suspends NATO Mission

Today, Monday October 18, 2021, Russia announced that it would stop its diplomatic mission to NATO following the alliance’s expulsion of eight Russians accused of being spies earlier this month. Staff at NATO’s military mission in Moscow will also lose their accreditation as of Nov. 1, and the alliance’s information office in the Russian capital will close. In addition, NATO cut the size of Moscow’s team allowed to work at its headquarters in Brussels from 20 people to 10. Russia at the time said it could retaliate with similar measures. NATO-Russia relations have been strained since Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Russia has since held frequent military drills near its borders with other European countries, engaged in nuclear missile development and sent military flights into NATO airspace and near allied ships.

No doubt it’s easier to communicate with Russia if its mission in Brussels isn’t shut down. But given the poor state of the relationship, this shouldn’t make much of a difference. Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the two sides haven’t really been speaking to each other, let alone interacting on a working level. As Russia shows no sign of withdrawing from Crimea anytime soon, which was NATO’s condition to return to normal relations, this situation is likely to continue for as long as it takes. While Russia suggests that NATO could approach its ambassador in Brussels on “urgent” matters, it remains to be seen whether the alliance will appoint an ambassador to deal with Russia.


Olive Harvest Attacks

The start of the olive harvest season was marked by an increase in attacks on Palestinians from Israeli settlers in the West Bank. This uptick in violence at the beginning of the season has occurred for many years, and the violence this year appears to be worse than in years past. The attacks typically involve the damaging of the olive trees, which many Palestinians rely on for income. Other attacks involve transportation or violence directly against villagers. Often, the settlers come with military protection. The reliance the Palestinians have on the olive trees makes these attacks particularly harmful. By destroying a group’s primary or secondary source of income, the group with the most power can create many roadblocks for the controlled group to gain a fighting chance to rebel against those who control them.  To add to the difficulty, the Palestinians must purchase access permits from the Israeli government in order to reach the land they harvest in many areas. There have been fewer and fewer of those permits approved each year. Some say the increase in attacks will eventually push the Palestinians into a mass uprising against the Israelis. However, if the US backing of Israel continues, it is very possible that the outcome of a Palestinian uprising will not be in the Palestinian’s favor.


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Labels Climate Change an “Existential Threat” to U.S. Security

The Defense Department has been mandated to include climate change adaptation into its planning and strategic efforts to ensure the U.S. is able to retain its current military prowess in increasingly difficult conditions.

Equipment, installations, and troops across the Defense Department must become more resistant to extreme weather conditions resulting from the climate crisis.  Such conditions will continue to grow harsher in coming years as a warming global climate will likely cause global stability and security problems.

Despite partisan divides on the issue, the Pentagon is unable to ignore the problem any longer.  Officials have pointed to climate change as a major problem facing the military in recent years, with an especially apparent increased stress on homeland military operations and the National Guard.  Short-term plans were released approximately one week after Joe Biden took office, however long-term planning is still in the works and is even more critical.  When facing a challenge that cannot be avoided, the Department of Defense must act swiftly and boldly.

-Maddy S.


Link to source:



Prime Minister Fumio Kishida calls to Increase Japan’s Military Capability

Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called to increase the nation’s military capabilities. This is following growing concerns of threat from China and North Korea. Additionally, the Prime Minister cited North Korea’s development of missiles, which is believed to be able to reach Japan, as one of the various factors to why Japan should increase its defense budget. This call from the Prime Minister will face some backlash from both the public and other political parties within the government. One reason for this is that this call could possibly go against Japan’s war-renouncing Constitution, which limits the state’s use of force to self-defense. Also, some opposition has said that instead of putting money into the defence budget, more money should be put into Japan’s economic stimulus and social welfare.

For the Biden administration, this should be great news to hear. President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida have already talked about continuing their nation’s alliances and working together against China and North Korea. If Kishida manages to stay in office longer than his predecessor Suga, this may mean that Japan will start playing a bigger role against the U.S’s rival nations in East Asia. However, if nothing becomes of Prime Minister Kishida’s calls Japan may continue to play the same role that it has today with its alliance with the U.S.


If US and Russia Talks Fail, Turkey Prepares For Action Against Syrian Kurds

Recent news has broke that if talks between the United States and Russia falls through, Turkey plans to take physical action against United States backed Kurdish militia. The United States backed Kurdish militia is based out of northern Syria. Recently, this Kurdish militia attack resulted in two Turkish police officers being killed. Turkey released a statement saying that this was the final straw with this militia. This area of Northern Syria is a populated area with a plethora of other nations having involvement there in recent years such as U.S. troops, Iran-backed fighters and Russian jets.

This Kurdish militia has been seen as a massive friendly to the United States with the battle against the Islamic State in northern Syria. Russia and the United States are in talk about this situation because Russia has troops there for support of the President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. It is important that President Joe Biden is able to implement and negotiate some sort of diplomacy before it is too late and allowing Turkish forces to use force against their backed militia. President Joe Biden has the opportunity to do so at the G20 summit taking place at the end of October in Rome. This area is heavily populated with a variety of moving parts such as troops/ organizations fighting for different motivations.

China flies, and denies hyper-sonic missile test.

Explainer: China joins heated race for new missiles, vies with U.S., Russia | Reuters

DF-17 missiles paraded in Tienanmen Square on the 70th anniversary of the PRC’s founding, October 1st, 2019. (REUTERS)

The People’s Republic of China, by all accounts, launched something into space in August.

The nature of this launch, however has come under scrutiny following a Financial Times report on the 17th of October (link leads to paywall,) which claimed that China successfully launched a “nuclear-capable hypersonic missile … that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise.” It cited unnamed intelligence informants.

This news spread quickly, with English-speaking media publishing their own stories, citing the Financial Times article as the source. As a result — the relatively ignored, nearly 3-month-old launch gained a new life as a potential security issue for the United States and its allies, made public.

Zhao Lijian, the press secretary for the PRC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 18th was asked about the FT’s report, and he responded that the launch was the test of a “a spacecraft, not a missile.” It was launched, according to the Ministry, to test reusable rockets, technology still yet proven, despite Elon Musk-owned SpaceX making strides in creating the first tested reusable first stage (For reference, most modern rockets rely on three-stage launches, ejecting the empty fuel containers in-flight) in its Falcon 9 Rocket.

However, it’s currently unproven as to what the nature of the launch really was. Regardless, both developments have security implications for the United States and its interests. Hypersonic missile development is a worrying prospect for any adversary, even if some worries may be overblown. The threat that Chinese forward capabilities pose can’t be underestimated in light of unfavorable war games and simulations, along with fiery rhetoric from the PRC as Taiwan and US allies continue their posturing over the Taiwan strait. On the other hand, successful development of reusable two-stage rockets by the China National Space Administration would be a massive blow to research and capabilities of the US’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and private American firms like the aforementioned SpaceX. Having the upper hand in reducing costs of spaceflight, the primary goal of reusable rockets, could massively propel Chinese missions to the Moon and beyond. It’s not just a matter of American prestige — it will be a matter of jurisdiction, mineral rights, and the very shape of international law concerning the use of the upper atmosphere and extraterrestrial bodies, like Mars.

This rocket launch, no matter what its purpose, was representative of the continuing conflict between China and the United States. A game of distrust, conflicting narratives, and ever-escalating tensions — onto which any number of anxieties and ideologies can be projected. Each side constructs a narrative, and the other tries to tear it down. This — is more of the same.

– Liam




Russia stops NATO mission

Russia decided to suspend its NATO mission in response to NATO expelling eight members of the Russian mission. NATO claimed that these eight  members they expelled were actually undeclared intelligence officers. The Russian foreign minister said that NATO could talk with Russia though its embassy in Brussels. Russia also accursed NATO of taking provocative activity territory  near its borders. NATO said that it is committed to reinforce the security of member states that are near Russia.

The actions taken by Russia will damage Russia’s relationship with the members of NATO such as America. A benefit to Russia for taking these actions is that it is responding to the actions of NATO instead of just letting NATO do what it wants. This could cause NATO to try and tread more lightly in the future when it comes to dealing with Russia.


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