martes, 14 de febrero de 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Today's Insight

Missile Defense: Blocking Threats or Blocking Diplomacy? | Will Edwards, The Cipher Brief
North Korea has become the first national security test of Trump’s presidency. The overall threat posed by North Korea has prompted the U.S. to deploy missile defense systems, including the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Asia.

Expert Commentary

Putting Missile Defense on Pause |
 Philip E. Coyle, Senior Science Fellow, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
Nations are understandably sensitive to adversary military bases close to their borders. Also Russia and China worry that U.S. missile defense systems near their borders will nullify their strategic nuclear deterrent. If the tables were turned, the United States would feel the same way.

South Korea's Missile Defense: Balancing Between the U.S. & China | 
Tong Zhao, Fellow, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Given its potential capability of neutralizing long-range strategic missiles, which are the main delivery vehicle for nuclear weapons, strategic missile defense becomes an increasing concern for some nuclear weapon states that worry their nuclear deterrent could be undermined.

Today's Column: Fine Print

DHS Secretary Kelly's Border Remedies Differ from Trump | Walter Pincus, The Cipher Brief
President Trump has championed his wall as one way to stop illegal immigrants and drugs from coming into the U.S. He has also suggested taking steps to tax trade with Mexico to pay for the wall, thus negatively affecting that country’s economy. Kelly, instead, talked of the U.S. helping the economies of Mexico and Central American countries, saying, “If the countries to our south are better off economically and socially, then the people will rightly stay home with their families."


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15 Minutes
This week,The Cipher Brief’s Executive Producer and Reporter Leone Lakhani speaks to Chris Taylor, who leads a course at Georgetown University called “Hacking for Defense.” Despite the name, the course isn’t just about cyber threats; it uses unique new methodology to find solutions to pressing challenges in national security, brought directly to the class by U.S. government agencies.
Listen to 15 Minutes with Georgetown's Chris Taylor on Hacking for Defense

Don't Miss On The Cipher Brief

North Korea Tests Missile—and Trump |
Mackenzie Weinger, TCB
The Cipher Brief’s Mackenzie Weinger spoke separately with former Ambassadors Joseph DeTrani and Christopher Hill to get their respective views on this latest provocation, how Trump has handled the security challenge so far, and what the U.S. should be watching for concerning Pyongyang.

Homeland Season 6: "A Flash of Light" |
Michael Sulick, Former Director, CIA National Clandestine Service
"This season’s parallel plots begin to converge in episode four. Carrie’s houseguest, Peter Quinn, still recovering from his near-death experience, hasn’t been involved in the political machinations between the President-elect and the CIA or in the FBI terrorism case against young Sekou Bah. In this episode, he is subtly woven into the Sekou Bah storyline."

A History of What Works with Iran |
Michael Morell, Former Acting Director, CIA
The Trump Administration is correct that the U.S. should focus on the significant threat posed by Iran’s misbehavior in the Middle East. Luckily, history provides a guide on how we can change that behavior.

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The Cipher Take:

Flynn was not without controversy – he is known for his aggressive stance toward “radical Islamic extremism” and his potential ties to the Russian government were in question even during the campaign. The position of National Security Advisor requires deep trust by the President; he or she must not only maintain close communications with and access to him in the White House, but also must make sure the implementation of the President's policy runs smoothly. As General Michael Hayden told The Cipher Brief in December, the National Security Advisor must play the role “of the honest broker – the process guy – making sure that the President and the Vice President see issues early enough that it matters, see them in the right sequence so they can approach them logically, and have the benefit of seeing the broad range of views that the others in the government might tee up, all so that the President and the Vice President can make the best decisions possible.” This is additionally critical for the Trump administration as national security is an area where the President and his closest advisors supposedly have very little to no experience. Furthermore, the Administration has already instituted multiple controversial policies related to national security that would require close management even without a disruption to the national security leadership.

Syrian Rebels May Not Attend Kazakhstan Talks
On Monday, senior Syrian opposition officials suggested that they may not attend ceasefire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, scheduled for February 15-16. These talks – sponsored by Russia and Turkey – are being held in tandem to UN-sponsored peace talks scheduled to take place in Geneva on February 20. The Astana meeting is meant to shore up the nationwide ceasefire, which took effect in December of last year, and follows up on a previous meeting between Syrian rebel and government delegations last month. However, according to senior rebel official Mohammad al Aboud, there have been “violations in the ceasefire, and the Russians did not live up to their promises to halt these violations.” Rebel officials have also complained of Damascus’ failure to complete prisoner swaps.

The Cipher Take:
There is little doubt that violations have occurred frequently on both sides since the ceasefire’s implementation last December. Similarly, although an exchange of female prisoners was successfully negotiated in northwestern Hama last week, few other prisoner swaps have been finalized. The revelatory report by Amnesty International that up to 13,000 prisoners have been systematically executed in the Syrian government’s Saydnaya prison has also added fuel to the fire. However, this rebel announcement is, at least in part, diplomatic theater. On Sunday, rebel groups confirmed their delegates to Geneva for broader peace talks on February 20 and, as those talks approach, opposition representatives will look to position themselves for negotiating advantage. Establishing their protest against consistent Syrian government ceasefire violations seems a good place to start.

Trump and Abe Respond to NK Missile Test During Dinner
The announcement of North Korea’s latest missile test on Sunday reached President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while the two were having dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Photographs taken by resort guests showed the two leaders conversing with aides and reading documents at their dinner table by light of cell phones. The two gave a statement where Abe called the act “intolerable” and Trump reaffirmed the United States’ “100 percent” commitment to its ally. The two leaders then finished dinner before retiring for the evening.

The Cipher Take:
There are several key takeaways from both the test and the presidential response. This missile test is North Korea’s first since Trump became president and, given Abe’s state visit to the United States, may have been meant to send a message to Japan. From a technical standpoint, the test is significant because it was a successful demonstration from an as yet unseen missile type, the Bukkuksong-2, a road mobile, solid-fueled rocket modified from North Korea’s submarine-launched missile. The combination of solid fuel—no refueling time— and mobility makes this missile type harder to detect before launch. North Korea has displayed a growing aptitude for complex missile technologies, and the expected sanctions from the UN are unlikely to deter its progress. Experts believe that Pyongyang intended for this to be a low intensity provocation, citing that it could have tested a larger missile type or flown the missile closer to Japan to make a bigger metaphorical splash.

As for the two leaders’ reaction to the news of the missile launch, it turned into something of a spectacle given the audience of diners, many of whom tweeted photos and descriptions of the impromptu security briefing. Cyber security experts have raised questions as to whether all the phones used to provide light were properly secured from hacks, as their cameras could have captured sensitive information in the briefing. While the briefing itself was somewhat chaotic, the president’s statement gave a measured response with a firm reassurance to Japan, which has been the standard U.S. response to previous missile tests. With upcoming joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea, Trump may soon get even more practice responding to North Korean provocations.

U.S. Navy Planning More FONOPS in South China Sea
According to several Navy officials at Pacific Command, the U.S. Navy is drawing up plans to conduct more Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) in the South China Sea. This would put U.S. Navy ships on paths close to the artificial islands militarized by China in the Spratly and/or the Paracel island chains in order to establish a persistent U.S. naval presence in the South China Sea.

The Cipher Take:
This plan could be part of a new, assertive U.S. approach that the Secretary of Defense reportedly shared with Japanese policymakers in a behind-closed-doors meeting during his recent visit. The Trump administration has, to this point, been cagey on details for its South China Sea policy – as well as its broader Asia policy, but it appears to be heading in the right direction. FONOPS are a strong - though not sufficient on their own - element of a larger strategy in the region, according to experts. FONOPS are a global program intended to display the United States’ support of freedom of navigation as defined by international law, but not necessarily to deter the misconduct of another country, such as China. The U.S. is unlikely to shift China off the islands it already occupies, and to deter Beijing from further island building, all while avoiding regional conflict, will require open communication alongside a suite of well-defined policies with clear goals.

Pakistan Explosion Kills 14
A suicide bomb during a protest in Lahore, Pakistan, killed at least 14 people and injured 80 more in an attack claimed by Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban known as Tehreek-i Taliban (TTP). Jamaat-ur-Ahrar was also responsible for a bombing at a park in Lahore last Easter, killing more than 70 people.

The Cipher Take:
The TTP is a separate and distinct organization from the Afghan Taliban. The TTP is responsible for conducting several large-scale attacks in Pakistan, such as the 2014 massacre at a military school in Peshawar, which killed more than 140 people, including 132 schoolchildren. In contrast to the Afghan Taliban, the TTP aims to overthrow the Pakistani government and has become a primary target of the Pakistani military.

Germany Voices Support for Greece in Eurozone
On Monday, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters that Germany “wants to keep the Eurozone whole, including Greece, and will support everything that helps Greece.” This statement comes in response to the unfolding crisis over Greece’s latest bailout accord, and follows a controversial interview given by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble last Wednesday, which seemed to suggest that Berlin would be willing to see Greece leave the Eurozone if it couldn’t meet reform targets. Meanwhile, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Chief Christine Lagarde reiterated her organization’s opposition to any bailout agreement which does not provide either significant debt relief – Greek public debt stands at nearly 180 percent of GDP – or guarantee that deep budget reforms will bring Greek debt to sustainable levels.

The Cipher Take:
This latest Greek crisis stems from a recent IMF report which claims that Greek debt could reach “explosive proportions” of above 200 percent of GDP or more without real debt relief from Eurozone countries. The IMF has long called for Eurozone countries to provide significant debt relief to Greece with either large infusions of cash or by extending the maturities on Greek loans. They say that the current severity of austerity policies – deep reforms and budget cuts – levied on Greece by EU creditors is unsustainable, and will continue to produce ballooning debt in the future. However, key EU economies like Germany have consistently argued against significant debt relief, claiming that reforms and Greek budget cuts alone should do the job. Numbers released by the European Commission on Monday appear to bear that belief out, forecasting that Greek debt is set to fall from roughly 180 percent of GDP today to 170 percent by 2018. Fortunately for the Greeks, Athens won’t face its next major interest payments until July, by which time most experts expect this standoff to be resolved. Still, the IMF has a point. This is Greece’s third major bailout since 2010, and the path to debt sustainability with reforms alone is murky at best. If the EU wants to prevent such crises from arising nearly every year, they should consider offering Athens the long-term debt relief it needs.

Upcoming Cipher Brief Events

National Interests vs. International Provocations: China Pushes the Line in East Asia | Tuesday, February 28
Our February Georgetown Salon Series event will focus on the global implications of China's island-building campaign in the South China Sea. Leading the discussion with be Admiral Jon Greenert, former Chief of Naval Operations for the U.S. Navy; Timothy Heath, Senior International Defense Research Analyst at RAND Corporation; and Greg Poling, Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at CSIS. The discussion will be moderated by The Cipher Brief's CEO & Publisher, Suzanne Kelly.
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