FPI Overnight Brief: May 23, 2017

The Must-Reads

  • Toll from Manchester attack rises to 22, many are children
  • Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI probe
  • Letter: Flynn misled Pentagon about Russia ties
  • Trump’s defense budget fails to live up to “historic” promises
  • US troop increase would aim to double Afghan Special Ops unit
  • O’Hanlon: Afghan problem not just more US troops
  • Abe Greenwald: Is this the end of the “Free World?”
  • Mead: A debate on America’s role, 25 years late
  • Wenar: Trump was right about Saudis before becoming President
  • John Hannah: Qatar needs to do its part

Middle East/North Africa

Iran
 
Flush from his decisive re-election victory, Iran’s president struck back on Monday after a weekend of verbal affronts from the Saudi-American summit meeting, describing President Trump’s visit to Riyadh as empty theatrics and mocking his support for a monarchy that has “never seen a ballot box.” – New York Times
 
Iran has sanctioned nine more U.S.-linked businesses, organizations and people over America's sanctions over its ballistic missile program. – Defense News
 
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has vowed to forge ahead with the Islamic republic’s missile programme as he defiantly mocked the US’s rekindled alliance with regional rival Saudi Arabia. – Financial Times
 
A day after putting the US squarely on the side of Sunni Arab states in what he described as a battle between “good and evil against Iran, Donald Trump landed in Israel and vowed to confront what he called an “Iranian regime that is threatening the region and causing so much violence and suffering”. – Financial Times
 
Mehdi Khalaji writes: Western countries should understand that a post-Khamenei regime will not necessarily be easier to deal with. Yet the key principles remain the same. While the West should maintain engagement with Iran, it should do so in ways that allow it to maintain pressure on the regime. No matter who is in charge after Khamenei, Iran will not be willing to negotiate seriously unless the United States and its allies show that threatening their interests comes at a price. – Washington Post
 
Iraq
 
As Iraq presses ahead in the fight against the Islamic State, its air force continues to grow in size and ability with the help of advisers from the U.S Air Force. – Military Times
 
he liberation of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul "is imminent" and the days of the Islamic State extremist group's self-declared caliphate "are numbered," the U.N. envoy for Iraq said Monday. – Associated Press
 
Murad, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a U.N. goodwill ambassador, has been the public face of the ongoing plight of Yazidi women and girls who were abducted, held in captivity and repeatedly raped after the Iraqi area of Sinjar fell to Islamic State militants in August 2014…But the push for an internationally sponsored investigation of IS and its members for crimes against humanity so far has not produced tangible results, and Murad acknowledges she is considering passing the torch. – Associated Press
 
Syria
 
A car bomb exploded in Homs on Tuesday morning, Syrian state television said, two days after the city passed back under full government control for the first time since 2011. - Reuters
 
ISIS
 
Interview: The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Daniel Byman, Senior Fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution to discuss ISIS’ recent battlefield losses and what to expect from the ISIS threat moving forward. – The Cipher Brief
 
Saudi Arabia
 
U.S. and Saudi officials cobbled together a $110 billion arms package in just two weeks — lightspeed by government standards — so President Donald Trump could announce the deal last Saturday in Riyadh. Now government officials and defense firms are scrambling to understand what’s actually included in the package, what’s new about it, and what comes next. – Defense One
 
A significant portion of the Trump administration's $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia includes billions of dollars worth of equipment that has already been approved by the State Department under the Obama administration, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. – Washington Examiner
 
U.S. President Donald Trump has called for a "coalition of nations" in the Middle East to come together with the aim of "stamping out extremism" during a landmark speech on May 21, the second day of his visit to Saudi Arabia. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Leif Weinar writes: Citizen Trump once accused a Saudi prince of wanting to “control U.S. politicians with daddy’s money.” A critic might say the same about what Prince Mohammed wants to do to President Trump. Except that the money that lets Saudi Arabia control the president of the United States comes from us, when we pointlessly pay for Saudi oil at the pump. – Los Angeles Times
 
David Weinberg writes: If the president wants to put “America first” in his bid to combat extremism, he should ditch the diplomatic niceties that gloss over such areas of concern. Instead, he should work with the Saudis to address state-backed incitement once and for all, especially in the kingdom’s official textbooks for children. – Huffington Post
 
Gulf States
 
Activists said security forces killed a protester during a raid on the home village of Bahrain's Shi'ite Muslim spiritual leader on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
John Hannah writes: The fact is that, relative to other cases in the region, the prospects today are good that a concerted U.S. diplomatic push to alter tiny Qatar’s anti-American practices could succeed. At the same time, the risks of failure, though certainly undesirable, are more manageable. The bottom line: If the Trump administration is looking for a place to start in its efforts to get U.S. allies in the Gulf region to be more helpful in support of U.S. interests, Qatar may be the place to start. – Foreign Policy’s Elephants in the Room
 
Yemen
 
American Special Operations forces conducted a new ground raid against al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch early on Tuesday, killing seven suspected militants, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint
 
The United Nations' special envoy to Yemen said on Monday he wanted to prevent any attack on the Houthi-held Red Sea port of Hodeidah and also called for the central bank's independence to be maintained to allow it to pay salaries on both sides of the conflict. - Reuters
 
North Africa
 
Tunisian security forces firing teargas clashed with protesters on Monday after they burned down two police stations following the death of a young man hit by a police vehicle during protests over jobs in the south. - Reuters
 
Levant
 
President Donald Trump’s overture to Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia has raised concern and anger in Shiite-majority Iraq and among the Christian, Shiite and Sunni population in Lebanon, two of America’s most important regional partners in the war on terror, which maintain good relations with Shiite Iran. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Israel
 
President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sketched the broad outlines of a new architecture for the Middle East here late Monday, declaring common cause among the United States, Israel and Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia to roll back Iranian aggression and defeat Islamist terrorism. – Washington Post
 
President Trump traveled to Bethlehem on Tuesday, meeting with the Palestinian leader and vowing again to “do everything I can” to break through decades of resistance to reach a peace deal but reporting no concrete progress toward a goal that has eluded many previous presidents. – New York Times
 
The Trump administration declared the president is in "Jerusalem, Israel," on Monday for a series of meetings with Israeli officials, a proclamation that breaks with years of American policy refraining from stating that the city of Jerusalem is part of Israel. – Washington Free Beacon
 
U.S. President Donald Trump talked up the prospects of peace between Israelis and Palestinians on Tuesday, saying he believed both sides were committed to an historic deal, but he offered no concrete proposals on how to get there. - Reuters
 
Turkey
 
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry lodged a formal protest Monday with the U.S. ambassador over “aggressive” actions by American security personnel during a visit to Washington last week by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that was marred by a violent  clash between Turkish guards and protesters. – Washington Post
 
Turkish authorities on Monday detained two teachers whose two-month-long hunger strike protesting their job dismissals has focused criticism on a harsh and ongoing purge of state institutions by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. – Washington Post
 
Turkish police said on Tuesday they are seeking 144 people including police, soldiers and prosecutors, over suspected links to the network of a U.S.-based cleric blamed by Ankara for orchestrating last year's failed coup. - Reuters

Asia

Afghanistan
 
As the Trump administration nears a decision on whether to send several thousand more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a move that could be announced at an upcoming NATO summit in Brussels, U.S. military officials here say the plan would include sending hundreds of American Special Operations forces to train up to 17,000 new members of Afghan special forces, an elite group seen as key to beating back a growing Taliban insurgency. – Washington Post
 
The U.S. has sent more than $70 billion to the Afghan security forces since 2002, funding that is supposed to have created a capable fighting force. Around $3.5 billion was budgeted for 2017. But endemic corruption and mismanagement means that money is often diverted away from where it is needed. In many towns and villages, the end product of America’s vast spending is a rag-tag force of the desperate, the opportunistic, and in some cases, the limbless. – The Daily Beast
 
Militants attacked an Afghan government army base in the southern province of Kandahar, killing at least 10 soldiers and wounding nine, defense officials said on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
Michael O’Hanlon writes: In other words, in Afghanistan today, rather than talk of cutting forces further, the United States needs to first go back to the future—or perhaps it’s more accurate to say, go forward to the past—and redo the phase of the mission that it unwisely skipped in 2015 and 2016. By “escalating to deescalate,” the United States may not achieve a brilliant victory in Afghanistan, but it can improve significantly the odds of avoiding defeat, and of shoring up its eastern flank in the broader fight against extremism and terrorism. The proposal before Trump makes good sense and is worthy of serious consideration. – The National Interest
 
China
 
The Chinese government has the obligation to defend its national security and the legal authority to protect China’s interests, a government spokeswoman said on Monday, the first official response to a New York Times report on the dismantling of C.I.A. espionage operations in China. – New York Times
 
An exiled Chinese businessman with close ties to the government has begun revealing secrets about Beijing's intelligence operations after China pressured the official Voice of America radio to curtail a lengthy interview with him. – Washington Free Beacon
 
Bill Gertz reports: Nearly a year after China halted military efforts to counter US aerial surveillance operations in Asia, Beijing is once again stepping up hostile encounters toward US aircraft. In February and last week, China used  dangerous aerial encounters in a bid to pressure the United States to halt spying from international airspace. – Asia Times
 
Interview: China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 was a transformational moment in the global economy—the beginning of a new era of globalization. But now there’s a popular backlash against globalization in the West…The Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Browne spoke with two central actors in the WTO drama, Charlene Barshefsky, trade representative under President Bill Clinton, and Long Yongtu, China’s vice minister of commerce from 1997 to 2003 – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Editorial: The Chinese government breaks its own laws when it mistreats prisoners and fails to follow due process. Despite knowing they will suffer further abuse, scores of lawyers like Messrs. Xie and Li bravely continue to expose Beijing’s flouting of the rule of law. Their sacrifices deserve to be honored – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
North Korea
 
South Korean defense officials said on Monday that the missile the North launched on Sunday was a medium-range ballistic missile that cannot fly far enough to strike American military bases in Guam, as analysts had feared. – New York Times
 
Experts say atomic history — especially that of the American program, the world’s most successful, which other nations often seek to mimic — can help distinguish North Korea’s credible accomplishments from bluster and empty threats. – New York Times
 
North Korea’s military has 300 to 400 attack drones capable of carrying biological and chemical weapons that could reach the South Korean capital of Seoul within one hour, according to a high-level defector from the isolated regime ruling Pyongyang. – Washington Times
 
Two days after North Korea tested another missile that could one day carry a nuclear payload, a human-rights activist in Norway has convened a large conference to game out best practices for regime change without a clash of modern weapons. Philanthropist and human rights crusader Thor Halvorssen urges a flood of information to the North Korean people as the best way to liberate the world’s most infamous totalitarian country. – Washington Times
 
The head of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces expressed concerns on Tuesday about North Korea’s progress in building a long-range, nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the United States. – Stars and Stripes
 
South Korea's military fired warning shots at a suspected drone from North Korea on Tuesday amid tension over Pyongyang's latest missile test which drew international condemnation and a warning from China. - Reuters
 
China's imports of North Korean goods in April fell below $100 million to the lowest in nearly three years, data showed on Tuesday, after China stopped buying coal from the isolated country and as calls mount for further economic sanctions. - Reuters
 
South Korea
 
Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s recently impeached and ousted president, made her first appearance in court on Tuesday, denying all criminal charges against her, as one of the biggest trials in the country’s history began. – New York Times
 
The first protest signs come into view just down the road from where the U.S. military has positioned an anti-ballistic missile system in this rural hillside county about 150 miles south of the fortified border that divides the Korean Peninsula. “Stop U.S. militarism in South Korea,” reads one, strung up by angry locals who say last month’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system thrust their little corner of the world into the center of America’s brinkmanship with North Korea. – Washington Times
 
Japan
 
The Japanese parliament appeared ready Monday to move toward approval of a sweeping new “anti-conspiracy” measure that the government says is needed to stop terrorist attacks but that critics worry will be used to create a surveillance state. – Washington Post
 
Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp are working with Japanese partners on rival projects to develop new radars that will enhance Japan's shield against any North Korean missile strike, government and defense industry sources in Tokyo told Reuters. - Reuters
 
Southeast Asia
 
Now that he’s president of the Philippines, Duterte still speaks brashly about many things. But when it comes to China, the preeminent Asian superpower, he has toned down the rhetoric substantially, while still trying to assert his country’s sovereignty over its territory. – Los Angeles Times
 
Myanmar's army on Tuesday rejected allegations of human rights abuses during its crackdown on Rohingya Muslim last year, made by the United Nations in a report on the offensive that forced some 75,000 Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. - Reuters
 
Thailand’s ruling junta said Tuesday that police will handle the investigation into a bombing at a military-run hospital that wounded more than 20 people, while security elsewhere in the country is being reviewed. – Associated Press
 
The United States has transferred six patrol boats to the Vietnam coast guard, to help build security cooperation between the two countries, U.S. embassy in Hanoi said in a statement on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
Jakarta's former governor, a Christian, will withdraw an appeal against his controversial jailing for insulting Islam in Muslim-majority Indonesia, to allow prosecutors to appeal the sentence and calm protests, his family and lawyers said on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
Australia
 
U.S. Homeland Security officials have begun "extreme vetting" interviews at Australia's offshore detention centers, two sources at the camps told Reuters on Tuesday, as Washington honors a refugee swap that U.S. President Donald Trump had called "a dumb deal". - Reuters

Security

Defense Budget
 
Campaign promises of a larger, more ready and fully modernized military have slammed into budget realities as the Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget for the Pentagon shows only modest growth above what the Obama administration had projected. – Breaking Defense
 
The first Trump administration budget plan fails to live up to the president’s claims of a “historic” defense increase, and will likely meet stiff resistance on the Hill for what analysts say are unrealistic plans for cuts to non-defense spending. – Defense News
 
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry warned against “low expectations” for the defense budget as he repeated his case Monday for a $640 billion base budget for national security in fiscal 2018. – Defense News
 
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee plans to call for a $2.1 billion boost to the US military in the Pacific region to bolster it against threats from North Korea and China. - CNN
 
Defense
 
The only shipyard to build aircraft carriers in the United States says the Navy's vision for building them more frequently could save $1.5 billion for every three carriers built and reduce construction time for each by up to two years. – Virginian Pilot
 
The Navy is engineering a new, more powerful, high-tech electronic warfare Next-Generation Jammer technology designed to allow strike aircraft and stealth bombers to destroy enemy targets without being detected by modern surface-to-air missile defenses. – Scout Warrior
 
Lockheed Martin has proposed doing additional maintenance work on F-22s in the hopes of lengthening the life of the fighter’s low observable coating. – Defense News
 
Nuclear Weapons
 
A United Nations disarmament panel presented the first draft on Monday of a proposed global treaty to ban nuclear weapons, which advocates called an important step that could hasten completion of a final text by early July. – New York Times

Russia/Europe

United Kingdom
 
An explosion that appeared to be a suicide bombing killed at least 22 people on Monday night and wounded 59 others at an Ariana Grande concert filled with adoring adolescent fans, in what the police were treating as a terrorist attack. – New York Times
 
The death toll from the attack on a Manchester concert venue rose to 22 people on Tuesday, as the authorities blamed a bomber, who died in the blast, for Britain’s deadliest case of terrorism since 2005. – New York Times
 
President Trump on Tuesday condemned the concert bombing in Manchester, England, as a “very horrible morning of death,” and called on nations around the world to join together to act against those who commit acts of terror. – New York Times
 
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday signaled a partial reversal on flagship plans to finance elderly care announced only last week, after a flurry of weekend opinion polls suggested the policy was eroding a double-digit poll lead over the main opposition Labour Party. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Editorial: British voters don’t trust Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, so Mrs. May is still the favorite to prevail on June 8. But this embarrassing reversal is a warning to center-right parties: The more you adopt the entitlement mentality of the left, the less your ability to advance the major reforms that Western economies—and their taxpayers—need. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Russia
 
Interview: The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani asked General Jack Keane, the former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army – who turned down a request to serve as Trump’s Secretary of Defense – about the threat Russia poses to the U.S. and what the Trump Administration’s policy has been so far towards Moscow. – The Cipher Brief
 
Eastern Europe
 
The House Armed Services Committee has asked the Pentagon to calculate the cost of permanently stationing what are now rotational U.S. military forces in Europe, chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry said Monday. – Washington Examiner
 
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin writes: I have pledged that we will continue our fight and I am calling on our friends and partners to stand by Ukraine to help reverse the illegal occupation and annexation of the peninsula. It is only then that the decadeslong tragedy of the Crimean people can finally be drawn to a close. Today free men and women everywhere must identify with the plight of the Crimean Tatars. Only then can Russia be forced from its criminal, bullying ways, and justice and dignity can prevail. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Charles Kupchan writes: By arriving in Europe with a compelling plan to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Mr Trump may be able to square the circle. If he can pull off a diplomatic breakthrough on Ukraine, he would at once set the stage for his desired repair of relations with Moscow while also advancing transatlantic solidarity. – Financial Times
 
NATO
 
Alexander Vershbow and Fabrice Pothier write: With the UK set to leave the EU, and the latter in need of fundamental reform, NATO is more relevant than ever to ensuring strategic stability in Europe. This will demand from the transatlantic allies funding, leadership, and the striking of a new transatlantic bargain, even if one with eyes wide open. – Defense One

Americas

United States of America
 
An estimated 629,000 visitors to the United States — just over 1 percent of all travelers — remained in the country at the end of last year after overstaying their visas as students, workers or tourists, according to a report released on Monday by the Department of Homeland Security. – New York Times
 
President Trump said Monday that he never told Russian diplomats during a May 10 Oval Office meeting that the classified information about the Islamic State he was sharing with them had come from Israel — something he has not been accused of doing. – Washington Post
 
A broad majority of senators voted Monday to install President Trump's choice to be the U.S. ambassador to China in his first term. – Washington Examiner
 
As Russia builds up its massive icebreaker fleet with cutting-edge technology to assert dominance in the Arctic, the United States may need to keep its options open with its own icebreaker buildup plan. – Military.com
 
Comey/Russian Election Interference
 
President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials. – Washington Post
 
Lawmakers on Monday evening seemed resigned to yet another bombshell report suggesting President Donald Trump attempted to interfere with a federal investigation aimed at, in part, determining whether there was collusion between his campaign and the Russia government. – Roll Call
 
Robert Mueller -- the former FBI director now overseeing the Department of Justice's investigation into Russia's election-year meddling and contact with the Trump campaign -- has been briefed on the contents of some of the memos that former FBI Director James Comey kept to document his conversations with President Donald Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter. - CNN
 
House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller should in no way impede congressional investigations into ties between Russia and the Trump administration, and said ousted FBI Director James Comey should be called to testify in the Senate committees on Intelligence and Judiciary. – Washington Examiner
 
Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, two key figures from the Trump campaign, have turned over at least some of their documentation requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee, but a third associate, Carter Page, has not turned over any documents to the committee yet. – Washington Examiner
 
Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday that an investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 elections is "absolutely" necessary. – Washington Examiner
 
Former CIA Director John Brennan is set to testify publicly about the intelligence underpinning the Obama administration's conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and could shed light on concerns about the security risk posed by President Donald Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. – Associated Press
 
Flynn
 
Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, misled Pentagon investigators about his income from companies in Russia and contacts with officials there when he applied for a renewal of his top-secret security clearance last year, according to a letter released Monday by the top Democrat on the House oversight committee – New York Times
 
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said Monday he would refuse to cooperate with a congressional subpoena, invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination and setting off a legal showdown with Congress over a key witness in its investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Latin America
 
The Trump administration said Monday it was extending by six months temporary protections for Haitians displaced by the devastating 2010 earthquake, but signaled it will end the program and send home most of the 58,700 affected Haitians living in the U.S. after that. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
With cash running low and debts piling up, Venezuela’s socialist government has cut back sharply on food imports. And for farmers in most countries, that would present an opportunity. But this is Venezuela, whose economy operates on its own special plane of dysfunction. At a time of empty supermarkets and spreading hunger, the country’s farms are producing less and less, not more, making the caloric deficit even worse. – Washington Post
 
The crisis in Venezuela, which was already awful, is somehow getting worse, with protests against the government of President Nicolás Maduro now entering their eighth week and a death toll of at least 49. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
The anti-government protesters who have poured on to Venezuela’s streets in the past two months lack basic staples such as bread, rice, flour and medicine, but the one thing they have in spades is creativity. – Financial Times
 
Venezuela possesses 5,000 Russian-made MANPADS surface-to-air weapons, according to a military document reviewed by Reuters, the largest known stockpile in Latin America and a source of concern for U.S. officials amid the country's mounting turmoil. - Reuters
 
Editorial: Eventually Venezuela may need help brokering a deal for elections and the orderly transfer of power. For now, however, the Maduro regime, tutored by Cubans from Fidel Castro’s hard-line camp, appears intent on installing a dictatorship by force. The United States should make clear that anyone who collaborates in that effort will be a target for sanctions. – Washington Post

Africa

The former captives before their families did — have cast a shadow over what should have been a success story for President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration…The government’s insistence on keeping the rescued girls in state custody has fuelled speculation that officials suspect the young women developed sympathy for their captors. – Financial Times
 
Nigeria arrested 55 members of a Biafran separatist movement on Monday during protests in the oil-rich southeast, police said. - Reuters

Trump Administration

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and special adviser, influences the White House in ways that send U.S. diplomats and journalists scrambling for answers. With Mr. Kushner now traveling alongside Mr. Trump on the nine-day U.S. presidential tour of holy sites in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican, it’s no surprise that the Middle Eastern press is scrutinizing his actions for clues about how the Trump administration will proceed in the region. – Washington Times
 
In embracing Mattis’s Mad Dog persona, Trump neglected a side of him that appealed to many others—that of the deeply read scholar-soldier and sophisticated analyst. In this view, Mattis is a kind of anti-Trump, a veteran of three wars who has been sobered by their brutalities, a guardian of the internationalist tradition in American foreign policy. – The New Yorker
 
John Bolton writes: The Trump administration has not yet passed the point of no return on these critical issues, but it is getting perilously close. Warning flags are multiplying. Ronald Reagan once said he wanted a Republican Party that stood for “bold colors, no pale pastels.” Mr. Trump should get out his paintbrush. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Democracy and Human Rights

Conflicts, violence, and natural disasters forced more than 31 million people into internal displacement in 2016, a new report says. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Ideas

Abe Greenwald writes: Democratic freedom is not self-perpetuating. Among modes of political organization, it is uniquely fragile, relying as it does on the consent of majorities. People may continue to vote for their own freedom. But if voting publics no longer consider democratic ties to be a priority, those ties will wither. American influence will wane. Strongmen will prey on the weak with no consequence. Donald Trump poses no threat to freedom in the United States, but if he continues to shirk the responsibilities that freedom bestows, our liberty will not be nearly so glorious as it was. - Commentary
 
Walter Russel Mead writes: For much of the establishment, focusing on the Trump administration’s shortcomings is a way to avoid a painful inquest into the failures and follies of 25 years of post-Cold War foreign policy. But Mr. Trump’s presidency is the result of establishment failure rather than the cause of it. Until the national leadership absorbs this lesson, the internal American crisis will deepen as the world crisis grows more acute. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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