Coup-proofing? Making Sense of Turkey’s S-400 Decision (CSIS)

On July 12, Turkey received the first elements of the S-400, a fourth-generation surface-to-air Russian missile system. Few recent weapon sales have been as geopolitically charged as this one. U.S. officials have threatened both military and economic sanctions should Turkey acquire the Russian system.

Thomas Karako

Throwing Globalization Under the Container Ship? (CSIS)

Last week produced relatively few incendiary tweets about trade and not a lot of news, aside from the French digital services tax and the similar UK proposal, so I’ll take advantage of the void and discuss a bigger picture issue—the state of globalization.

William Reinsch

Dangerous Liaisons: Russian Cooperation with Iran in Syria (CSIS)

As tensions escalate between the United States and Iran in the Middle East, Russia is engaged in covert and overt cooperation with Iran in ways that undermine U.S. national security interests. This analysis of commercial satellite imagery at Tiyas Airbase in Syria indicates the scope and proximity of Russian and Iranian military ties. If Washington wants to contain Tehran and prevent further Iranian expansion, U.S. policymakers will need to increase pressure on Moscow to curb Tehran’s activites in countries like Syria.

The Globalization Chameleon (CSIS)

Although last week was eventful—China talks, Brexit debates, among other things—I’m going to take a week off from commenting on current events and instead look at the long term and the changing face of globalization. This is prompted by a McKinsey Global Institute study, Globalization in Transition: The Future of Trade and Value Chains.

William Reinsch

Beating the Air into Submission: Investing in Vertical Lift Modernization (CSIS)

The U.S. military’s vertical lift fleet of helicopters and tiltrotors is aging. With the exception of V-22 Osprey, no completely new aircraft designs have been introduced since the 1980s. Even the V-22 made its first test flight back in the 1980s. And the U.S. Army, which has the largest helicopter fleet and traditionally takes the lead on vertical lift innovation, has not made substantial investments in Research & Development since the cancellation of RAH-66 Comanche.

Gabriel Coll, Andrew Hunter

Is It Time for a Caribbean Basin Initiative 2.0? (CSIS)

The announcement last October that U.S. policy in the wider Caribbean region would be working from an integrated vision to deal with the region’s three collapsing dictatorships, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, was significant. The notion of a “Troika of Tyranny, as the U.S. national security advisor, John Bolton, termed it, begins to fill in a policy environment that in the past decade or more has lacked focus. For years, the United States has floundered in the region, evidenced by the absence of policy responses to Venezuela’s PetroCaribe regional discounted oil program, the years of tinkering in the hopes of reversing the Chavez-Maduro march into oblivion, as well as denial and then a belated recognition that an expanding geopolitical presence in the region by China has consequences.

Georges A. Fauriol


Imperfect Proxies: The Pros and Perils of Partnering with Non-State Actors for CT (CSIS)

The Islamic State’s march across Syria and Iraq in 2014 and ensuing expansion via global affiliates posed a vexing challenge for the United States and key allies. The Islamic State sought not only to seize, govern, and defend territory as part of its so-called caliphate, but also to leverage these safe havens to build transnational terrorist networks. Countering the Islamic State would thus require large-scale ground operations to conquer the Islamic State proto-states and defeat its military forces, but the need to do so urgently and expeditiously to prevent external terrorist attacks. But who would conduct such a ground campaign?

Brian Katz

U.S. Oil Demand Recovers (CSIS)

Oil imports into the United States are falling, and the country even became a net oil exporter for one week in November 2018. This dramatic transformation is rightly attributed to the boom in oil production. But oil demand was, until recently, a co-equal partner. U.S. oil consumption fell by 11 percent between 2005 and 2012, or 2.3 million barrels a day (mmb/d), making a larger contribution to net imports than rising production (from 2005 to 2012, total petroleum production rose by 2 mmb/d). But oil demand has since recovered. According to preliminary data for 2018, oil demand surpassed 20 mmb/d for the first time since 2007 and will be just shy of the 2005 peak (20,524 mb/d versus 20,802 mb/d in 2005).

Nikos Tsafos

Settling Kurdish Self-Determination in Northeast Syria (CSIS)

When President Trump declared on December 19 that U.S. troops in Syria were “all coming back and coming back now,” it plunged the future of the East of the country into uncertainty.1 Dynamics in Syria were already shifting against the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration (AA) in Northeast Syria, as threats from Turkey and the regime increased. The impending withdrawal of U.S. forces eliminates the AA’s main source of leverage over the Assad regime and increases its vulnerability to the Turkish invasion President Erdogan has threatened. Scrambling to avoid conflict, AA officials have turned to Russia to mediate a political deal with President Assad, hoping to restore regime control to Syria’s eastern borders in exchange for self-administration.

Will Todman

Building a Better Deal with China (CSIS)

With Chinese vice premier Liu He coming to Washington, D.C. this week to engage in trade negotiations with his U.S. counterparts, this is an important time to take stock of the U.S.-China relationship, assess the goals of the talks, and chart a pathway forward.

Daniel H. Rosen, Scott Kennedy