Archive for December, 2019

Palestine and Israel head to the polls?

As it because increasingly likely that Israel will head to the polls of the third time in one year some in the west bank and the Gaza strip hope for similar elections. The Palestinian Authority has officially requested Israel allow citizens in the west bank to vote in upcoming elections, one of the prerequisites President Abbas, who was elected in 2005, set out for the parliamentary elections. Hamas the violent terrorist organization that controls the Gaza strip in opposition to the Fatah faction of Abbas has jumped at the chance for elections, hoping to gain control of the Palestinian Authority, an event that could jeopardize the security of Israel. It remains to be seen whether Israel will allow west Jerusalem to vote however. In terms of what the U.S. stance on the matter should be is that is should seek to ensure the elections are free and fair as well as seek to help ensure that Hamas does not pose a danger to the region post election.

John F.

Foreign Fighters For The Islamic State

Image result for Jihadi John hd pic

An interesting graphic released shows the number of citizens who’ve travelled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State’s caliphate. The graphic also shows where these foreign fighters came from. At the top of the list are Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan with over 3,000 fighters from each of those countries joining the Islamic State. The United States has had 129 of its citizens join ISIS ranks.

We saw countries use many different ways to try and stop the flow of citizens leaving their country to join ISIS. France wants more power to block its citizens from leaving their country. Tunisia debated measures to make it a criminal offense to help jihadist militants travel to Syria and Iraq. And Russia has outlawed enlisting in armed groups that are contradictory to their foreign policy. There are many different reasons why these foreign fighters find ISIS attractive and decide to join.


-Joblessness and poverty and a lack of economic opportunities

-Let down by the West and a lack of trust in the West

-ISIS recruits wanting to belong to something special

-The urge to kill

-Religion and the promise of paradise for martyrs

-Going for the girls as the Islamic State has brilliantly and strategically used women as a reward for aggression. Think sex slaves.

Countering the flow of foreign fighters from joining ISIS wont be easy and will need strategic patience. This has to involve intelligence sharing and national and international collaboration. Also, continue with implementing severe penalties such as not allowing Western ISIS fighters to come back home.

Christopher T

What Could Be In Store Between the U.S. and North Korea For Christmas? It Depends..

Imaging evidence indicates North Korea may be resuming intercontinental ballistic missiles and satellite launchers at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, a site President Trump previously claimed had been shut down.The imagining shows large shipping containers, likely including items to make more missiles. If engine tests here resume, it would be a breach of the agreement made at the summit between the two leaders made in Singapore.

Even after the summit, it was unclear whether or not Kim Jong Un actually agreed to shut down this site, but even so, not until this week has the site been noticeably active. This also comes in recent events where Kim Jong Un is threatening a “Christmas gift” for the U.S., where what we get depends on our behavior. But, clearly demonstrated by this event, the U.S. is not the only member acting up or unwilling to come to negotiations. Since it has been so long since the two leaders have met, and with the new approaching deadline set by Kim Jong Un to come up with a better deal, not only are tensions continuing to rise, but also any progress that was possibly made at the summits are now being lost. In the meantime this week, both leaders have re-engaged their name-calling of each other, only escalating tensions. 

While Kim Jong Un clearly seems to be taking the desire for negotiations seriously, and even upholding threats he has been making, Trump continues to brush those actions off. The fact that Trump is not treating North Korea as a national security threat is a security threat to the U.S. in of itself. Although it is unclear whether it will work or not, Trump should attempt to talk to Kim Jong Un in a serious manner and try to at least negotiate for an extended deadline and to maintain the former agreement in order to shut down this engine test site.


The Biggest National Security Threat?

According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, the strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the during the years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, warned that the most dangerous scenario for America would be a grand coalition of China and Russia. The alliance would be not only united not by ideology, but by complementary grievances against the hegemonic power of the United States. The latest  ASPI special report, released just yesterday by Paul Dibb, examines Russian and Chinese concepts of great-power war in the 21st century, their views of the West and its military capabilities, as well the risks they might take to regain what they see as their lost territories in places such as Taiwan and Ukraine.

China and Russia are the two leading powers leagued together by their disdain for the West. The two now share an increasingly close relationship, especially militarily. If the China-Russia military partnership continues, it will inevitably undermine the international security order. Challenging the system of U.S. will lead in a classic security dilemma, that would end with lethal consequences.

-Eva W.

Samoa Under Lockdown

Measles has been making headlines in many nations recently and now Samoa has gone into a lockdown, restricting travel and closing schools because of a massive measles outbreak. Only 31% of the population were vaccinated against measles when the virus came to the island and now there is a huge push to vaccinate. Nearby New Zealand is sending assistance. In just two weeks the death count has reached 53 people. This is an extreme case of a population under-prepared for a deadly outbreak. Fortunately the U.S. has better vaccination coverage at the moment, but we have seen an alarming number of people turning against vaccinations in recent years and small outbreaks in the United States. It is believed that this outbreak in Samoa is because of a rugby team from New Zealand who brought the disease. All it takes is one person. The United States needs to institute mandatory vaccinations, or at the very least better educate the population about the safety and necessity of vaccines.


ISIS claims responsibility for London bridge attack

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the London bridge attack. The jihadist group claimed responsibility through a bulletin from its news agency Amaq. The attacker was identified as Usman Khan of Pakistani origin and was a convicted terrorist released on licence. Khan was also convicted in 2012 for working with al-Qaeda.

The Islamic State ideology is back on UK streets. Although the attacker was shot dead the ideology still lives. The UK is a cesspool with jihadist activity. According to a recent report there is a massive huge scale of threat in the UK with up to 30,000 jihadists running around rampant. The UK faces an uphill challenge to eradicate this threat. The UK has a counter-terrorism strategy in place to prevent and disrupt plots against the country but the results so far have been disappointing.

Christopher T

Violence and Ineffective International Organizations in the DRC

Congo violence

This article is a pretty comprehensive look at the violence that has erupted in the DRC in the past 2 weeks. In response to a massacre of the of 17 people at the hands of a rebel group. This attack has brought mass protests against international institution representatives, such as U.N. Peacekeepers. The article points to low budget and slow responses as the reason for slow international action.

While my last post focused on the domestic implications of such tensions, I wanted to spend time to consider the international implications. The northeast portion of the DRC has been embroiled in conflict from several different militant groups. It is interesting to observe future actions that the country might undertake to work with neighboring countries to curb interstate problems such as terrorism, disease, and refugees. Given general public apathy towards international institutions and the western world in general in relation to assisting with problems, maybe these problems and more local international cooperation like with the African Union.

Ultimately, all of these stories about the DRC have been another case study of international institutions and aid being ineffective and slow to respond to very important problems. I am especially concerned as things get worse in the future with the rise of populism in the developing world and countries turning inwards. Perhaps more regional cooperation is thefate of the developing world.

John H.

Wanted: Mediators for Peace!

As I discussed last week, South Sudan’s peace negotiations have been pushed off once again. Discussions and dialogue have continued in days following the delay, but not much further progress has yet been made. IGAD, the regional body overlooking the negotiations, has stated that it is up to the mediators to decide the guidelines of the delay. To date, the mediators have been Sudan and Uganda due to proximity and influence. They have reported that they will be speaking to President Kiir about the situation and keeping everyone informed on the latest developments.

I would argue that the mediation group should be expanded drastically. We have seen that bigger groups with more powerful influence have been successful, as increased international interest has seemingly prevented an end to the ceasefire. More regional interests should be added to the group, such as Kenya and others in African leadership roles. The U.S. has stated its growing impatience with the constant delays and has made it clear it will not shy away from imposing sanctions and potentially cutting off crucial aid supplies.

-Julia G.

COP25: Point of No Return for Climate Change

The 25th Conference of the Parties(COP) will soon convene in Madrid to discuss the looming threat of climate change. The 200 countries in attendance will attempt to reach a global consensus on how to properly and effectively combat climate change. Attending delegates have been warned that the “point of no return” is imminent, and this warning comes as scientists declare global climate goals to be inadequate. In light of this, the delegates will also be discussing “loss and damages”, where “loss” refers to the total destruction of something such as human lives, habitats, or species, and damages refers to something that can be repaired, such as infrastructure. COP25 hopes to reform current global climate policies and achieve a more unified stance in preparation of COP26 next year. Discussions at COP26 will focus more on effective strategies to mitigate climate change directly.

Global pledges have been made to keep the world under 1.5 C, however current policies are nowhere near effective enough to achieve that goal. Currently the world is on course to see a rise in 2.9 C, which will have devastating consequences for food, health, and economic security for the entire world. Despite this massive and obvious threat to security, the US is planning on pulling out of the COP conferences, and will have done so by the COP26 meeting next year. While the US will not be participating at the national level, there is growing momentum among the states to adhere to global climate policies.


Nick C.

NATO Secretary General announces increased defence spending by Allies

The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, announced ahead of the NATO leaders meeting in London that spending had increased by 4.6%. This was the fifth consecutive year of growth by the alliance. One important note is that nine NATO members are meeting the 2% of GDP on defense, which is an increase from just three members a few years ago. Stoltenberg announced this progress as unprecedented and proof that the NATO alliance is still strong and will remain strong for the coming decades.

This news comes three days before a meeting between all the heads of NATO states in London. This can be seen as a sign that more NATO members are buffing their own Military capabilities as numerous heads of sate such as Donald Trump and Emanuel Macron have criticized NATO recently. The united States should not be rejecting NATO or its relevance especially as its clear that many of the smaller members rely on NATO for their own security and the United States shouldn’t risk losing out on allies in vital spots like the Baltics.
-Reavis L.

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