FPI Overnight Brief: May 24, 2017

The Must-Reads

Middle East/North Africa

A senior Iranian official declared on Tuesday that Iran will "never stop" developing advanced missile technology in violation of international accords barring such action, according to comments that came in reaction to President Donald Trump's strong rhetoric against Iran during a trip through the Middle East. – Washington Free Beacon
Orde Kittrie writes: To be successful, a new United States policy towards Iran will require the same elements. Let’s hope that no matter what else they are struggling over, the administration and Congress can take advantage of their commonality of views on Iran and work together to develop and implement an effective strategy to halt and roll back Tehran’s non-nuclear malign activities. They must also ensure that Iran will not have a “patient pathway” to a nuclear weapon following expiration of the JCPOA’s restrictions. – The Hill
Lee Smith writes: The Iranians know how much they owe the Obama administration—whether it was air support for Qassem Soleimani in Tikrit, legitimization of Iranian interests in Yemen, deterring Israel from striking their nuclear facilities, turning a blind eye as they built a highway from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut. Now the Americans are dancing with the Arabs and praying with the Jews, and Iran is on its own again. – Tablet
The U.S. Army failed to properly keep tracks of hundreds of humvees, tens of thousands of rifles and other pieces of military equipment that were sent to Iraq, according to a government audit from 2016 that was obtained by Amnesty International and released Wednesday. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint
The Islamic State has been driven out of 90 percent of Mosul and fighters are now confined to an ever-shrinking area of the old city, the Pentagon said Tuesday. – Washington Examiner
The Iraqi Interior Ministry has ordered an investigation into alleged abuses by Iraqi security forces near Mosul earlier in the campaign to retake the country’s second largest city from the Islamic State, according to local media. – Stars and Stripes
A team from the international chemical weapons watchdog found exposure "to sarin or a sarin-like substance" in samples from an April 4 attack in northern Syria that killed over 90 people and now wants to visit the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, a senior U.N. official said Tuesday. – Associated Press
The American-led offensive to retake the Islamic State's de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria will fail to hamper the terrorist group's ambitions to perpetuate attacks against the West, the top U.S. intelligence official said Tuesday. – Washington Free Beacon
The U.S.-led coalition has launched significantly more airstrikes against the Islamic State this year, increasing the number of bombs dropped on the terrorist group by about 50 percent. – Washington Free Beacon
Arabian Peninsula
A raid by forces in Bahrain against a pro-opposition stronghold has left at least five people dead and hundreds detained in one of the deadliest crackdowns since protests erupted in 2011 against the Persian Gulf nation’s Western-backed monarchy. – Washington Post
Several U.S. troops were injured on Tuesday after coming under fire during a raid against an al-Qaida target in Marib Governorate in Yemen. – Military Times
Sen. Rand Paul intends to force a vote on a $110 billion defense deal President Trump signed with Saudi Arabia, according to an aide to the Kentucky Republican. – The Hill
President Trump's $110 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia could have an unannounced side benefit of giving the United States leverage to reduce the Muslim monarchy's support for radical clerics, according to Republican lawmakers. – Washington Examiner
Roula Khalaf writes: Saudi Arabia doesn’t win many international prizes. But its luck has suddenly changed with the creation in January of a new honour. The prize is awarded for the most successful seduction of Donald Trump. – Financial Times
For 15 years, Saudi Arabia has been pitching its formula for peace among Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab world, with little response from Israeli leaders. And for months now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asserted Israel’s increasing strategic alignment with Persian Gulf states over their shared enmity toward Iran. But it took President Trump just a couple of hours after he landed in Israel on Monday to suddenly and quite publicly combine those two ideas as the centerpiece of his plan for a peace deal. – New York Times
President Trump told Israelis and Palestinians on Tuesday that he knows they are eager to reach a peace agreement with each other and that he is committed to helping them “make a deal.” – Washington Post
In case there was any doubt, President Trump made it exceedingly clear: He wants a deal. “I intend to do everything I can,” he said on Tuesday. Moreover, he left after a 28-hour visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank convinced that he has partners in peace after meeting with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. – New York Times
Interview: So, what was President Trump’s message? And was the Middle East trip a success? The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani asked Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior Middle East adviser to three U.S. presidents. – The Cipher Brief


South Asia
Pakistan’s government is cracking down on social-media critics of the nation’s powerful military, a move many activists and opposition lawmakers say is aimed at suppressing free speech and political dissent. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
The Pentagon is pushing to reinforce the Afghan army with up to 5,000 more American troops. Some administration officials expected Mr. Trump to make a decision on a deployment before the NATO meeting, which would have laid down a marker for the other alliance members. But now the president’s decision has been delayed, officials said, after an intense debate erupted in the West Wing over the wisdom of pouring more soldiers into a 16-year-old conflict. – New York Times
As the Trump administration contemplates sending additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a bipartisan group in Congress has demanded a floor debate on the war's endgame and whether it remains in America's interest to remain engaged there militarily. – Military Times
India may already have overtaken China as the world’s most populous country, according to research by an independent Chinese demographer. – Financial Times
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded its rating on China on Wednesday, saying the steady buildup of debt in the world’s second-largest economy would erode the country’s financial strength in the years ahead. – New York Times
China has granted President Trump preliminary approval for another trademark in apparel, expanding business interests that have already generated criticism over potential conflicts. – New York Times
Speaking at the University of Maryland, Yang Shuping, a graduating senior from China, sprinkled her upbeat commencement speech with observations that drew warm applause…The speech on Sunday drew harsh criticism, however, from some of Ms. Yang’s Chinese classmates in Maryland and from legions of social media users in China, many of whom accused her of selling out her homeland. – New York Times
Sasha Gong writes: I’m not aware of another instance in the 75-year history of Voice of America in which a foreign government has attempted to intervene with such force in the network’s broadcast decisions….Mr. Guo’s full story remains to be told. Reputable news organizations should not shrink from it for fear of reprisal by the Chinese secret police. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Korean Peninsula
President Donald Trump labeled North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un a "madman with nuclear weapons" during a private phone conversation with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte last month, just days before stating publicly that he would be "honored" to meet with Kim. – Washington Post
The United Nations Security Council edged closer to imposing new sanctions on North Korea with an emergency strategy session Tuesday and a unanimous condemnation of Pyongyang’s latest missile test. – Washington Post
Is China really punishing North Korea for its repeated missile tests and its threats to the outside world? President Trump says yes, but economists poring over the data suggest the picture is far from definitive. – Washington Post
Worried over what they described as President Trump’s erratic response to North Korea’s behavior, 64 Democratic legislators urged him on Tuesday to talk directly to the North Koreans — and warned that he would need congressional approval for any pre-emptive military strike. – New York Times
North Korea moved one step closer to its “inevitable” goal of developing a long-range, nuclear-armed missile to directly threaten the U.S. through a successful test this month, according to the Pentagon’s intelligence service. - Bloomberg
When the WannaCry ransomware exploded across the world on May 12, it shut down car factories, forced hospitals to turn away patients, and knocked out thousands of computers at the Russian Interior Ministry. Nearly two weeks later, computer security firms say a growing body of evidence points toward North Korean hackers as the authors of the worm – Foreign Policy
A South Korean military court convicted a soldier Wednesday for having gay sex, prompting an international rights group to urge the country’s new government to repeal its “archaic and discriminatory” laws. – Stars and Stripes
Editorial: Last year Congress passed Rep. Ed Royce’s bill to sanction banks facilitating North Korea’s finances, and the Trump Administration can move to implement it. This month a new bill from Rep. Royce to toughen sanctions on the North’s shipping and exports of slave labor passed the House with bipartisan support. That would be another good way to make Pyongyang pay a price for its criminal acts. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Joseph Bosco writes: Pyongyang’s failure to get on the denuclearization path soon will lead to a series of U.S. and allied actions that could well end with precisely the results they most fear. If the North Korean state refuses to liberate the region from its nuclear threat, the region may have to be liberated from the North Korean state. – The National Interest
East Asia
Michael O’Hanlon writes: A Trump strategy for Asia that builds on Mr. Obama’s rebalance but introduces some new and distinctive elements is within reach and could help the beleaguered new president change the subject in a way that would be good for him as well as his country. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
President Trump praised President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines in a phone call last month for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem” in the island nation where the government has sanctioned gunning down suspects in the streets. Mr. Trump also boasted that the United States has “two nuclear submarines” off the coast of North Korea but said he does not want to use them. – New York Times
President Rodrigo Duterte warned on Wednesday that he may declare martial law throughout the Philippines to deal with the threat of Islamist militancy, making the remarks one day after he imposed military rule on a southern island. – New York Times
At the center of a gunbattle and hostage standoff between Islamic State-linked militants and government troops in the southern Philippines is a faction leader who is trying to build a caliphate in the troubled region. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Southeast Asia
The Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who was recently imprisoned for blasphemy against Islam in a trial that has divided Indonesia, has withdrawn an appeal of his two-year sentence, his family and defense team said on Tuesday. – New York Times
US and Japanese ships have completed a joint show of force in the contested region of the South China Sea in an overt attempt to illustrate allied cooperation and interoperability - and challenge China's aggressive stance in the region, service officials said. – Scout Warrior
Southeast Asian and Pacific governments will hold a summit in August to coordinate against the security threat posed by homegrown Islamic militants returning from battlefields in Syria and Iraq, an Australian official said on Wednesday. – Associated Press


Defense Budget
Defense officials responded to criticism Tuesday that the Trump administration’s proposed $52 billion increase in defense spending next year is too small to deliver on the president’s promise to “rebuild the military,” saying they’ve asked for modest growth now and will likely want even more money in 2019. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint
The Trump administration in its 2018 Defense Department budget proposal on Tuesday called for a new round of base realignment and closures, echoing a request that the Obama administration and senior military officers have made for years despite lawmakers repeatedly blocking it. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint
The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2018 budget requests $574.5 billion in base funding with another $64.6 billion in wartime supplemental funding, with a focus on near-term readiness over long-term modernization. – Defense News
Defense analysts are slamming President Trump’s budget as not meeting his campaign claims for “historic” hikes in spending for the Pentagon – The Hill
Military personnel would receive a 2.1 percent pay raise in January — less than the projected rise in private sector wages — as part of the Trump administration's otherwise ambitious plans to recapitalize the armed forces, according to budget documents released by the Pentagon on Tuesday. – Military Times
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis personally intervened to increase the number of munitions being bought in the Pentagon’s fiscal 2018 budget request, pushing procurement of six specific weapons to the maximum production rate industry can handle, a top DoD official said Tuesday. – Defense News
With the May 23 release of the fiscal 2018 budget, Defense Department leadership is making clear department wide goals to overhaul the U.S. military and position for a new era of warfare. – Military Times
Peter Huessy writes: Ironically, the current budget straitjacket was passed into law over 40 years ago in 1974 with the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. It has not been fundamentally changed since. So, 43 years later, the budget process is broken. For this past budget year, beginning Oct. 1, 2016, the federal government operated on a continuing resolution for nearly two-thirds of the fiscal year. – The Hill
Air Force
President Donald Trump’s military buildup hasn’t hit the Air Force yet, with the fiscal year 2018 budget request for the most part conforming to the previous administration’s plans. – Defense News
President Trump's fiscal 2018 budget proposal, released Tuesday, calls for growing the active-duty Air Force to 325,100 airmen to try to fix serious shortfalls in critical jobs, which are jeopardizing the service's readiness. – Military Times
As of the fiscal year 2018 president’s budget request, there are no plans to retire either famed the A-10 Warthog or the venerable U-2 spy plane, Air Force officials said Tuesday. – Defense News
Judging by the number of ships, aircraft and weapons the Pentagon wants to buy in 2018, there are no significant differences between the Trump administration’s proposed 2018 budget and the plan as laid out in the last Obama administration submission. The budget is in line with pronouncements by U.S. Navy officials that major acquisition changes would wait for 2019 to begin to appear. – Defense News
The Navy’s request of $8.5 billion to cover overseas contingency operations in fiscal 2018 will include funding for 66 Tactical Tomahawk cruise missiles to replace those launched over the last 12 months in two separate deterrence operations. – Defense Tech
While all eyes are on the Navy's hopes to surge the fleet to 355 ships, the biggest surprise in next year's budget request for the service may come in manpower. – Military.com
The Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter continues to cut its teeth while operating onboard the third U.S. Navy littoral combat ship, or LCS, to go on a rotational deployment to Singapore as the deployment itself approaches its halfway mark. – Defense News
The U.S. Army is stretched across the globe conducting missions to include destroying the Islamic State, supporting Afghan Security Forces and deterring North Korea and Russia and its needs $166 billion in fiscal year 2018 to continue those operations with a force of over a million soldiers while preparing for the future. – Defense News
The U.S. Army -- racing to add thousands of soldiers to its ranks this year -- plans to hold end-strength flat in fiscal 2018 in part to boost funding for armored forces in Europe and missile defense systems. – Military.com
If Congress enacts the Trump administration’s 2018 budget request, many in the Army will be ecstatic. Weapons contractors, maybe not so much. – Breaking Defense
Marine Corps
Despite President Trump’s promise for a massive military buildup, the Marine Corps is not expected to grow any more next fiscal year. – Military Times
After years of investing heavily in the V-22 Osprey and the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, the Marine Corps is ready to put down some real spending money to modernize its ground vehicles. – Military.com
The War
President Trump’s budget announced Tuesday proposes an end to President Obama’s signature counterterrorism training program, long criticized on Capitol Hill as too broad to be effective. – Defense News
The White House fiscal 2018 budget request cuts more than $1 billion from the U.S. State Department's Foreign Military Financing program, with the majority of countries fighting over a pot of about $200 million in funding. – Defense News
Strategic Issues
The experiences of Ukraine and Libya have taught other vulnerable countries around the world not to surrender their weapons of mass destruction under pressure from the west, according to Dan Coats, President Trump's director of national intelligence. – Washington Examiner
The Ballistic Missile Defense Review ordered this month by Defense Secretary James Mattis won’t wrap up until the end of the year but the Missile Defense Agency’s fiscal year 2018 budget request shows signs of flexibility ahead of the reviews findings. – Defense News
A bipartisan group of senators wants the government to explore how to expand United States missile defense systems to a new realm: space. – Washington Examiner
A Democratic senator said “one of our closest allies” has expressed concerns to her about sharing intelligence with the United States, after a report that President Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats. – The Hill
CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a blunt declaration Tuesday: "We are back in the business of stealing secrets.” The remark from Pompeo, made to a small group of reporters on Tuesday, was a tacit jab at his predecessor. Former agency director John Brennan turned heads in March of last year when he told National Public Radio that the U.S. doesn’t “steal secrets.” - Politico
A federal appeals court on Tuesday reversed a lower court’s decision to dismiss Wikimedia’s lawsuit challenging the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass interception of Americans’ international digital communications. – The Hill
President Trump’s budget request seeks increases in cybersecurity personnel across several departments and nearly $1.5 billion in funding for a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unit in charge of safeguarding the country’s cyber infrastructure. – The Hill
House Homeland Security Democrats are expressing concern about a reported White House plan to combat negative coverage by launching an investigation into a Department of Homeland Security program sharing information on cyberattacks. – The Hill


United Kingdom
Britain’s prime minister put the nation on its highest level of alert on Tuesday and deployed the military to work with the police over fears that another terrorist attack was imminent. – New York Times
The police arrested three men in Manchester on Wednesday as part of an investigation into a deadly bombing at the city’s main arena, as the authorities tried to determine whether the assailant had accomplices. – New York Times
The Manchester massacre underscores complaints from counterterrorism analysts that Europe has fallen into denial about the threat of Islamic terrorism. – Washington Times
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Tuesday that the terrorist attack in Manchester, England, the night before will be a “harbinger of more activities in the West” committed by Islamic State militants as they continue to be defeated in Iraq and Syria. – Washington Times
Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old British man believed to have killed 22 people in a suicide-bomb attack, had ties to al Qaeda and had received terrorist training abroad, a U.S. intelligence official told NBC News on Tuesday as the United Kingdom raised its terrorist threat level to the highest category. – NBC News
UK and European intelligence officials are expressing concern over the fact that much of the information that emerged in the wake of the Manchester bombing has been sourced back to US officials. – Buzzfeed
Salman Ramadan Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people at the Manchester Arena, turned from gangs to radical Islam in recent years, family friends and neighbours said. – Financial Times
British police and intelligence agencies arrested three more suspects Wednesday in connection with the Manchester suicide bombing and moved quickly to secure key sites across the country, including Buckingham Palace and the British Parliament at Westminster. – Associated Press
Editorial: Muslims will have to take ultimate responsibility for rooting out radicals in their midst. British Muslim groups such as the counterterror Quilliam Foundation have made strides, but they are often in the minority among imams and community leaders. As long as that continues, the failure of integration will pose a mortal threat to Europe. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Editorial: As nations across the West have learned, it is not possible to prevent all such terrorist attacks, especially when they are staged by homegrown militants. What is possible is a response that focuses on uniting rather than dividing a diverse society. That’s what was happening in Manchester on Tuesday, as thousands of people of all races and faiths gathered for a vigil in the city’s Albert Square. – Washington Post
Transparency International is coming under renewed pressure in Russia, where senior lawmakers are calling for the global anticorruption watchdog’s local affiliate to be investigated -- or even banned altogether -- for allegedly threatening a member of parliament. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Investigators searched a Moscow theater and the home of a prominent director who has protested against the government and voiced concern about the increasing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
The YouTube videos have seized national attention, highlighting a potential generational clash brewing over Russia's political course under President Vladimir Putin -- and the often ham-handed efforts to foster youth fealty to the Kremlin. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Nat Brown writes: Nemtsov’s life and work is the subject of a new documentary written and directed by Vladimir Kara-Murza, himself a well-known Kremlin critic and former adviser to Nemtsov who worked closely with him in various human-rights- and democracy-promotion efforts. With a running time of just over an hour, the film does an excellent job of deftly laying out Nemtsov’s many achievements, both as one of the principal figures of the Yeltsin era, and later as a key figure in the liberal opposition to the Putin government. – National Review Online
Eastern Europe
Interview: The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who recently visited the Balkans and met with leaders there, about what Montenegro brings to NATO and the current state of affairs in the region. – The Cipher Brief
Ivan Miklos writes: Broader support in the parliament will be the key to the success of Ukraine’s reforms, as will the appointment of reformers to two key positions that have recently become vacant: the head of the National Bank and the head of the State Property Fund, the agency responsible for privatization. Fortunately, Ukraine also has a very strong pro-reform civil society, as well as support from Western countries and their affiliated international financial institutions. – Atlantic Council
Brussels, which he called a “hellhole,” and the European Union, which he called “a vehicle for Germany,” and NATO, which he called “obsolete,” are all nervously awaiting the arrival of President Trump on Wednesday, the way earthlings might await the impact of an asteroid. – New York Times
A terrorist attack at a concert in Manchester, England, is shifting the focus of President Trump’s first meeting with NATO members. – The Hill
When President Donald Trump arrives at NATO headquarters on Thursday, allies will be under intense pressure to live up to demands from an American administration that has threatened to make the thorny issue of increased allied defense spending a condition for guaranteeing U.S. commitment to 68-year-old military pact. – Stars and Stripes
Richard Fontaine writes: The new administration has an opportunity to build a better transatlantic alliance, should it choose to seize it. Focusing only on the top line of allies’ defense budgets threatens to elevate accounting above strategy. Instead, the president should convert his considerable leverage not only into higher spending but also into plans to spend more wisely. His administration should pursue a broad program of activity, one aimed at redirecting funds toward niche capabilities, redeploying eastward to deter Russia, and enhancing readiness to deal with crises. – Foreign Policy
Douglas Lute writes: Troops, tanks, ships, and planes are not the core of NATO’s strength. At the core of the strongest, most durable, most successful alliance in history are its common values — democracy, individual liberty, and rule of law. Values are the glue that binds NATO’s 28 diverse nations together. Today these values are being challenged from multiple directions, including from the inside. Protecting these values is vital to America’s security and it’s a process that begins at home — in all 28 member capitals. This is again the message NATO needs to hear. – Foreign Policy
Peter Rough writes: For years, Trump loudly expressed skepticism about Europe. This week, leaders filled with a similar degree of doubt about the United States will receive him. In the end, however, both sides know that there is no viable alternative to the transatlantic alliance. Propelled by the momentum of his Middle East tour, Trump should cap off a successful week by proposing to U.S. allies new ideas for defense — starting with Germany. – Foreign Policy’s Elephants in the Room
Gary Schmitt writes: So, when the Alliance meets on Friday, it will see the tale of two key allies. On paper, the UK remains committed to playing an outsized role globally, but its resources make doing so less and less likely. Meanwhile, Germany has sufficient resources to increase its capabilities to match its declared responsibilities but is still reluctant to put its money where its mouth is. NATO is far from being “obsolete” as candidate Trump declared, but Germany and the UK are in danger of falling short of what they must do to ensure that it does not. – Real Clear Defense
Dalibor Rohac writes: After the horrific attack in Manchester on Monday, Europeans are not intrinsically opposed to Trump’s idea that NATO should become more active in counterterrorism operations. What they are missing, however, is a concrete strategy and leadership that only the United States can realistically provide. Not many are willing to bet that Trump will rise to the occasion. But if the U.S. president, who at other times seems obsessed with how others perceive him, cares at all about how he’s remembered in history books, he should do everything he can to prove his critics wrong. – The Hill
Taylor Dinerman writes: The U.S. shares the blame for encouraging Europe to develop a more “expeditionary” mind-set. “Out of area or out of business,” was, alas, an American slogan. Mr. Trump should not hesitate to say we were wrong. NATO’s European members have to take responsibility for collective security in their own neighborhood. Mr. Trump is also asking NATO allies to do more in Afghanistan and against Islamic State. It would be nice if they did—but for now it would make more sense if they prioritized protecting their fellow NATO members in Central and Eastern Europe. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)


United States of America
Mexican and Canadian officials said Tuesday that negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. should be trilateral as a matter of common sense, and that replacing it with bilateral pacts would be impractical. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Justice Department ethics experts have concluded that newly appointed special counsel Robert S. Mueller III can oversee the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election — even though his former law firm represents several people who could be caught up in the matter, authorities announced Tuesday. – Washington Post
The controversial proposal to have women register for Selective Service has gone nowhere in Congress thus far and now has been referred to a commission for more study. – Military.com
Russian Election Interference
John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, described on Tuesday a nerve-fraying few months last year as American authorities realized that the presidential election was under attack and feared that Donald J. Trump’s campaign might be aiding that fight. – New York Times
The nation’s top intelligence official declined to comment Tuesday on a report in The Washington Post that President Trump had urged him to deny publicly the existence of any evidence of collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. – Washington Post
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., warned Tuesday morning President Trump's problems may extend beyond the investigation into Russia's meddling if he asked top intelligence officials to push back against the FBI's investigation into his campaign and Russia. – Washington Examiner
Editorial: By the time Mr. Trump turned to Mr. Coats and Mr. Rogers, reports suggest Mr. Comey had already impressed upon him the importance of maintaining FBI independence, a sentiment Mr. Comey put into action by keeping the Russia investigation going and refusing to bow to Mr. Trump in other ways. Now that Mr. Trump has been widely rebuked for firing Mr. Comey and for other actions relating to the Russia investigation, if the president crosses a line, he knows what he’s doing. – Washington Post
The Senate Intelligence Committee issued two new subpoenas to business entities controlled by Mike Flynn, in an escalation of the legal showdown with President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser over his cooperation with the panel’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
The top two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee said all options are "on the table" when it comes to determining how to proceed against Mike Flynn, who invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to turn over subpoenaed documents. – Washington Examiner
State Department/Foreign Aid
The White House is proposing a State Department budget that would make deep cuts in long-term development aid, humanitarian food assistance and peacekeeping missions around the world. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint
The potential scaling back of VOA’s Turkish-language broadcasting is just one of a number of programming changes contemplated by the Broadcasting Board of Governors as a means of meeting steep budget reduction targets. – The Daily Beast
Josh Rogin reports: The Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 State Department budget proposal irresponsibly cuts diplomacy and diplomatic security in a way that could cause “a lot of Benghazis,” according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C), chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee on the State Department and foreign operations. He promised that Congress would reject the cuts. – Washington Post
Latin America
The Trump administration’s push to deport more Central American gang members has alarmed officials here who fear the returning gangsters could exacerbate violence in one of the deadliest countries in the hemisphere. – Washington Post


At least one million people will die in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, researchers and advocates said on Tuesday, if funding cuts proposed by the Trump administration to global public health programs are enacted. – New York Times
Under mounting pressure to take credible action after two United Nations experts were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations Security Council said on Tuesday that it was meeting to discuss the case. – New York Times
The U.N. peacekeeping force commander in Central African Republic, Lt. Gen. Balla Keita, told The Associated Press he is constantly moving forces around the impoverished country to stop the violence after hundreds have died over the past month in areas far from the capital, Bangui. – Associated Press

Trump Administration

Four months into her tenure as the envoy of a president she once denounced as reckless, Haley has carved out a distinct foreign-policy path, one that sees Russia unambiguously as an enemy, touts America’s role as a human rights champion, and advocates for continued U.S. leadership on the humanitarian front. – Foreign Policy
Trump’s relatively successful swing through the Middle East was due to the fact that, for the most part, he didn’t get in his own way. It was also the result of months of careful planning. A decision was made early on to visit a part of the world where Trump is venerated and feared, and to pack his schedule so that he mostly stayed on message and, according to one aide, “didn’t have time to tweet.” But a key factor was the role played by Dina Powell, H.R. McMaster and Jared Kushner, who brought a combination of government experience and understanding that Trump wanted to get some negotiated wins on the board. - Politico

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.
Read More