Iran Nuclear Talks begin Monday, November 29th

Iran and the US are set to resume,e nuclear talks on Monday in Vienna to revive the nuclear deal the Trump administration withdrew from in 2018. There will be European diplomats there as intermediaries as Iran will not meet with the United States directly. Iran has said that they will only resume serious talks with the United States if the United States will drop all of the sanctions that are imposed on the country. The reason for this is because the United States was the first to withdraw from the agreement, not Iran. Iran has much more leverage in this negotiation that the US does.

I am really looking forward to what news comes out of these talks in the coming days and weeks. It will be interesting to see what the US gives, as well as Iran. Because the US withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, Iran has been operating pretty freely and without too much oversight. I do not think Iran will have to0 much to give, as they see themselves as the more complacent one, not breaching the agreement until a breach was more acceptable, without the weight of the United States. I also do not believe the United States will lift any o the sanctions that are currently imposed, so it will be interesting to see the end result of these talks.


Ukraine Uncovers Coup Attempt linked to Moscow

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that his government has discovered that a coup against Zelensky linked to Moscow may happen. This comes in an already tense situation as Russian forces are stationed near the Ukrainian border. The main force behind the alleged coup is Renat Akhmetov,an oligarch who opposes Zelensky’s government. Despite the situation, conflicts between the government and oligarchs are common and are one of the biggest problems in Ukraine.

In Ukraine, a country that already lost part of its territory and is engaged in a war against pro-Russian separatists, Zelensky’s conflict with Akhmetov and the potential for a coup to happen could make matters worse. Any additional problems in Kyiv will allow Russia to legitimize taking more action that it already did.

For Washington, corruption in Ukraine and Russian aggression are important issues to be resolved. The annexation of Crimea followed by the war in eastern Ukraine have required the White House to increase security aid for Ukraine to prevent the situation from being worse. The Biden administration should continue to provide Ukraine with security and humanitarian aid in addition to countering Russian aggression in Ukraine and in Europe.


Mark Volynski

Japan, Vietnam Cooperating Against China’s Growing Assertiveness

On Tuesday, Japan and Vietnam signed a cybersecurity agreement to work together against growing concerns over China. This is not new for Japan over recent years, the nation has done similar agreements with other countries such as the United States and Australia. The Japanese Defense Ministry has said that cyberattacks are one of the rising security threats from China, which is why Japan has been forming these agreements with other countries in its geographical region. This push from Japan is also because of  China’s increased presence at the Senkaku Islands, a chain of islands that Japan currently controls.

If Japan wants to hold back against China, then having these foreign  policies will help their case. Currently,  compared to China, Japan is lacking significantly in the Defense spending required to go toe-to-toe against China. Furthermore, their government is just now talking about possibly putting  the defense spending  past its 1% GDP cap. Thus, having these agreements with other similarly aligned nations could benefit them in the long term against China.


NATO, The New German Government, and Nuclear Deterrence

On Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that it is Germany’s special responsibility to keep NATO’s defenses strong by remaining the linchpin in NATO’s nuclear deterrent. His statements came just before talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel begin. NATO’s nuclear strategy currently hinges upon the storage of US nuclear weapons at several sites throughout Europe. In the event of a nuclear war, German planes would be expected to carry bombs.

After the recent German elections, there have been concerns that Germany would try to leave its role in NATO’s nuclear strategy. The Social Democratic Party and the Green Party are both expected to be a part of the new government, and both parties have softer stances on Russia than Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. The Green Party in particular is strongly opposed to nuclear weapons. Being that the current German bombers are nearing the end of their life cycle, its well within the realm of possibility that the new German government will not replace them, leaving a huge hole in Europe’s nuclear umbrella.

Given the rising tensions between NATO and Russia, I think now is a terrible time for Germany to remove itself from NATO’s nuclear sharing strategy. Combining that with the general perception that America is shifting its focus, would leave Europe in a much weaker position in its negotiations with Russia. It would also weaken or remove Europe’s ability to deter further Russian provocations. I think it’s good that Stoltenberg is publicly applying pressure on this issue, and I would like to see the US join that effort. I understand that Germans have become very pacifist in recent decades for good reason, but Germany is the largest economy in Europe, and they must step up militarily.



Agreement and Failure- Some Key Takeaways from COP26

Countries made a number of important commitments during COP26, which concluded November 12, 2021.  Most notably, the summit delivered on its primary goal of continuing with the Paris Agreement’s aim of keeping global warming below 1.5º C through the Glasgow Climate Pact, which states carbon emissions must fall 45% by 2030.

Ultimately, the success of COP26 is dependent on the details, and relies on pledges for future action.  There is always a risk that these pledges may not translate into action.  Additionally, some agreement in crucial areas fell short during COP26.

Below I have listed a selection of what COP26 did and did not accomplish:


* = Glasgow Climate Pact provision


  • “Phase-down” of coal production*
  • New rules for trading carbon credits across boarders*
  • China and U.S. (two greatest emitters) agree to work together on climate
  • > 100 nations pledge to cut 30% of methane emissions by 2030
  • > 130 nations (90% of forests) agree to halt/ reverse deforestation
  • > 450 financial institutions (oversee $130 trillion) agree to align portfolios with goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050


  • Some nations will not reduce coal use until 2040s or later
  • No significant progress on climate finance
  • ^ Issues agreeing on funding and financial assistance for poorer nations


-Maddy S.



Additional Information:

Middle Eastern Countries Getting Nervous About U.S. Involvement

Recently, countries in the Middle Eastern region have expressed concerned about the United States commitment to helping out the region. Despite  concerns, United States Defense Secretary Llyod Austin denied such remarks and gave full reassurance on the United States commitment in the Middle East. Recent concerns have been expressed due to the lack of attention the Middle East is receiving and the immense attention the Biden Administration has been on China. Countries in this region such as long time allies in this region are still very concerned because Llyod Austin remarks were not backed by any other officials. Gulf States areas rely immensely on the backing of the United States military so this causes uncertainty within the Gulf state areas. The Biden administration has made clear that they only have diplomatic intentions with resolving conflicts within the region. It is important for the United States to stay proactive and committed to this region to avoid any potential disasters.

Somali Journalist Killed in al Shabaab Attack

A few days ago, a prominent Somali journalist named Abdiaziz Mohamud Guled was killed by an al Shabaab suicide bomber as he was leaving a restauraunt in Mogadishu, Somalia. The attack also wounded several other people in the area. Guled was the director of Radio Mogadishu, and was best known for being an outspoken critic of al Shabaab. Among other things, Guled conducted a series of high-profile interviews with al Shabaab suspects who had been detained by Somali security forces. Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Despite AMISOM and the Somali government’s success in pushing back al Shabaab’s territorial gains in recent years, this attack proves that al Shabaab still poses a very real threat to Somalia and its security. Attacks like this are not uncommon in Somalia; earlier this semester, I wrote a blog post on a car bomb that was set off by al Shabaab outside of the presidential palace, which killed eight people including Hibaq Abukar, an advisor to the prime minister. The frequency of al Shabaab’s attacks on high-profile figures in Mogadishu indicates that al Shabaab still poses a significant security threat to Somalia. This attack also has implications for Somali journalism, as this attack may dissuade journalists from being critical of al Shabaab in the future.

Anna Bedal

The Actuality of Gillibrand’s Bill in action

While examining the efficacy of Senator Gillibrand’s bill:  Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act of 2021, there have been initial backlash from the mere sentiments of this bill. Specifically, General Mark Milley, who is a top officer within the DoD noted this past summer that he is open to “significant and fundamental change” regarding cases of sexual assault and harassment however, needed to see “some detailed study” before changes applied to all serious crimes. This is significant because the Senator’s bill would remove the chain of command distinction from all prosecutorial decisions for serious crimes, including sexual assault. Senator Gillibrand made this distinction in order to “eliminate bias and to not create a separate system for sexual assault that could further ostracize victims.” While such distinctions may in fact address these issues, these actions could be made in vain if the military community is not welcoming of such changes.


Iraq won’t be part of the Abraham Accords FM says

This past weekend the Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, stated that Iraq has no immediate plans to engage in ties with Israel in the coming future. Furthermore, the Iraqi Foreign Minister answered the questions about Iraq’s stance on the Abraham Accords and if they would join the Abraham Accords, the Foreign Minister responded to this by saying that Iraq has no intention of joining the Accords at this time. The vision of these accords are to bring peace to the countries within the middle east, but in order for this to occur, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Zayani has stated that all the countries within the accords and the middle east must work jointly to help bring peace to the region by helping to end the on-going Israel-Palestine conflict, and hopes these accords can help do that. When asked why Iraq would not be joining the accords, the Iraqi Foreign Minister gave no reason as to why they would not join the Abraham Accords.


Are Opioids Really Safe for Americans and Their Health?

The Opioid Crisis in the United States 

The United States is currently faced with a health issue that affects a significant number of Americans which is the usage of Opioids. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse “in 2019, nearly 50,000 people in the United States died from opioid-involved overdoses,” (para. 1, 2021), this is a decently sized portion of our population. Opioids are a class of drug that is typically used to relieve pain. Some of the common types are oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, and methadone. These different types of opioids are prescribed to people for a variety of procedures, medical problems you may have, etc. Opioid misuse first began in the 1990’s and medical professionals began to assure the public that people would not become addicted to this drug. However this drug triggers the release of endorphins, which transmit a “feel good” reaction. 

When researching how many people residing in Virginia are addicted to opioids, the number was shocking. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that in Virginia “1,193 drug overdose deaths involved opioids in 2018,” (para.6, 2021). Another statistic that was brought to my attention in this article was that in 2018, “Virginia providers wrote 44.8 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons compared to the average US rates of 51.4 prescriptions,” (para. 9, 2021). The number of prescriptions written alone in Virginia is only 6.6 away from being at the average. These two statistics alone are shocking to me because I have lived in Virginia my entire life and never knew that the opioid crisis was this large until I arrived at college and saw a presentation on it. 

This is a human, health security problem because Americans are dying every single day from preventable deaths. Doctors are prescribing prescriptions that they are aware people could become addicted to. Not every single person that takes this drug will become addicted but it’s obvious to see that many do. We could prevent these deaths by providing more information when the drug is prescribed to patients. Medical professionals could also find alternatives to provide people that are less addictive but also still relieve the pain as well. It also becomes a security issue because once someone’s prescription has run out and they’re addicted they will try all forms of violence or mayhem to receive this drug that will continue their addiction. It also poses the question as to where they are receiving the drug when it is not prescribed to them and they are obtaining it illegally. People could be receiving it from overseas or right here in the United Security, which poses a threat to human security. Are people from overseas providing these drugs to us or are we providing the drugs to them?

I am curious to see what you think about this topic as a human and health security problem. 

-Olivia Lewis 


An additional website on how Opioid addiction occurs:

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