FPI Overnight Brief: July 19, 2017

The Must-Reads

  • Zimmerman: America’s real enemy: The Salafi-Jihadist movement
  • Trump and Putin held second, undisclosed, private conversation
  • POMED: Democracy, governance, and rights in the Mideast
  • Trump adds sanctions to Iran, weighs measures on Venezuela
  • Hannah: Trump should kill Boeing’s plan to sell Iran planes
  • Haqqani Network is center stage in US-Pakistan relations
  • Saudi King’s son plotted effort to oust his rival
  • WSJ editorial: China disqualifies Hong Kong’s democrats
  • Rogin: China’s Jack Ma has penetrated the Trump admin
  • Enos, Marston: Time for US to pressure Burma on rights again

Middle East/North Africa

Iran
 
The Trump administration announced new Iran-related sanctions on Tuesday intended to show its toughened stance toward the country despite having grudgingly recertified Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. – New York Times
 
A high-stakes power struggle between Iran’s moderate president and his hard-line opponents in the judiciary appeared to escalate with the arrest of the president’s brother and the conviction of an American student for espionage this weekend — rulings that seemed timed to embarrass the Iranian leader at home and abroad. – Washington Post
 
The Iran nuclear deal faces an uncertain future under President Trump, despite his reluctant decision on Monday to certify Iran’s compliance for the second time in his young presidency. – The Hill
 
Congress is ratcheting up pressure on the Trump administration to keep a watchful eye on Tehran, after the House approved an amendment last week requiring the president to inform lawmakers regularly of any efforts by Iran to ferry weapons and fighters using its commercial planes. – The Weekly Standard
 
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused U.S. President Donald Trump's administration of trying to "poison the atmosphere" by imposing new sanctions on Tehran despite its adherence to the 2015 nuclear accord. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday new U.S. economic sanctions imposed against Iran contravened the country's nuclear accord with world powers and he vowed that Tehran would "resist" them, state television reported. - Reuters
 
John Hannah and Saeed Ghasseminejad write: If combatting Iranian aggression is as important an objective as the Trump administration and its Arab allies claim, the time has come to back their words with action. Stopping the Boeing deal will be a litmus test of their seriousness. – Foreign Policy’s Elephants in the Room
 
Alan Goldsmith writes: Reasonable people can differ on a path forward to improve the deal so that it actually stops Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But as with many things, the first step to fixing our problem is recognizing that we have one in the first place. And that problem is that the current shortsighted agreement has mortgaged our future and made a nuclear Iran more likely in the long run. – Times of Israel
 
Iraq
 
Iraqi Kurds are mounting a campaign in Washington this week to rally U.S. government support for an independence bid before a referendum in September. But Baghdad opposes talk of secession, and with the United States committed to a one-Iraq policy, it’s going to be an uphill fight. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
Speaking to The Associated Press, four Iraqi officers from three different branches of the military and security forces openly admitted that their troops killed unarmed and captured Islamic State suspects, and they defended the practice. – Associated Press
 
Hundreds of suspected Islamic State members swept up by Iraqi forces in Mosul are being held in a cramped and stifling prison just outside the city. – Associated Press
 
Daniel Serwer writes: Washington can hope the Iraqi Kurds and Arabs will restrain themselves and negotiate a peaceful and mutually agreed outcome. But hope is not a policy. It is also still possible the referendum will be postponed, but if held, it is likely to undermine the fight against the Islamic State, heighten tension between Baghdad and Irbil, and cause fighting over the territories they dispute. – Washington Post
 
Syria
 
In the latest display of Turkish anger at U.S. policy in Syria, the state news agency has divulged the locations of 10 U.S. military bases and outposts in northern Syria where the U.S. is leading an operation to destroy the so-called Islamic State in its self-styled capital of Raqqa. – The Daily Beast
 
Russia's mostly Muslim republic of Chechnya is becoming a major player in rebuilding war-ravaged Syria. And ordinary Chechens are likely to foot the bill, with many of them being forced to make contributions or face the possibility of exile or death, human rights activists say. – Associated Press
 
Hunkered down on the top floor of an abandoned building, two Americans and a British volunteer face off against Islamic State snipers in the Syrian city of Raqqa…They are among dozens of Western volunteers who have battled the Islamic State group in Iraq, and now in Raqqa, the city in northeastern Syria that the militants declared the capital of their self-proclaimed caliphate. – Associated Press
 
ISIS
 
At long last, Donald Trump has a plan to fight the Islamic State. Well, sort of. According to the document’s text and those briefed on it, the plan is long on overblown rhetoric and short on a substantive strategy to destroy the jihadist group. – The Daily Beast
 
President Trump plans to visit the Pentagon on Thursday to receive a briefing from his national security team, according to the White House. – The Hill
 
North Africa
 
Some of the people who helped propel Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power are calling for his replacement in an election next year, a sign of a shift in the still widespread view that he is a force for stability. - Reuters
 
Egyptian security forces killed a prominent Islamic State militant on Tuesday suspected of being involved in recent attacks in North Sinai, an Interior Ministry statement said. - Reuters
 
West Africa migrants and asylum-seekers must be dissuaded from going to Libya, the main point of departure for Europe but where they often face abuse and detention at the hands of traffickers, the United Nations said on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
Arabian Peninsula
 
The young prince’s supporters have lauded his elevation as the seamless empowerment of an ambitious leader. But since he was promoted on June 21, indications have emerged that Mohammed bin Salman plotted the ouster and that the transition was rockier than has been publicly portrayed, according to current and former United States officials and associates of the royal family. – New York Times
 
Saudi Arabia’s police detained a woman for appearing in public wearing a short skirt and a cropped top, a violation of the country’s strict dress code, state media said on Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Senior diplomats from the four Arab countries that have broken ties with Qatar indicated Tuesday that they were no longer insisting on 13 precise demands that the Qataris must satisfy, or on a specific deadline for them to comply. – New York Times
 
At least 20 Yemeni civilians were killed and many others were wounded when a Saudi-led coalition air strike hit a village in the south, officials from the armed Houthi movement and the government said on Wednesday. - Reuters
 
Levant
 
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Tuesday the army would carry out an operation in an area of the border with Syria that has been a base of operations for militants including jihadist groups. - Reuters
 
In what is seen as the latest step in an effort to force Hamas to relinquish its control of Gaza, Abbas in June reduced the payments the PA makes to Israel for electricity it supplies to the territory. The resulting cuts mean that Gaza's two million people now have only 3 to 4 hours of power a day, forcing hospitals and other medical facilities to rely chiefly on generators and expensive fuel, while many private homes just go without. - Reuters
 
A leading suspect in an Israeli investigation into a $2 billion deal to buy German submarines is considering giving evidence in the case to state prosecutors, local media reported on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
Eli Lake writes: For years, the most delicate dispute in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the status of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Al Aqsa Mosque sits on the spot from which Muslims believe Mohammed ascended to heaven. At its base are the remains of the outer wall of the second Jewish Temple. This is why Friday's terror attack on this sacred ground is so important. – Bloomberg View
 
Turkey
 
Every new day Turkey and Russia are inching closer to a final deal on the Turkish acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 air defense architecture. But the Ankara government also said it reached a deal with the European group Eurosam to develop a similar air and anti-missile defense system. – Defense News
 
The German government has expressed concern over the arrest of a German human rights activist in Turkey who has been accused by the authorities of terrorism offences. – Financial Times

Asia

South Asia
 
The answers to the Haqqanis’ survival have much to do with qualities that Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former Taliban minister and friend of Osama bin Laden, cultivated and passed on to his surviving son and successor, Sirajuddin. These include kinship bonds and unwavering religious ideology, strong discipline and careful planning, and an enduring ability to attract supporters, whether young suicide-bomb trainees or generous Middle Eastern backers. – Washington Post
 
President Donald Trump met Tuesday with four troops who served in Afghanistan to get their ideas on the next steps in the war even as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis prepares to submit a revised strategy that could involve deploying 3,000 to 5,000 more service members. – Military.com
 
A vice president being barred from landing in his own country -- it's a scenario that could spark a major political crisis. That appears to be the case after a private jet carrying Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, a powerful former warlord who had been on medical leave in Turkey in recent months, was turned away when it tried to land on July 17 in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Gunmen on Wednesday shot dead four members of the Shi'ite Muslim minority in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan, officials said, in what police suspect was a sectarian attack. - Reuters
 
China
 
As the Trump administration prepares for its first formal economic talks with China here Wednesday, Chinese officials highlighted their ability to quell trade tensions with the new American president, while some U.S. business groups expressed concern their government might not push Beijing hard enough. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
China’s already formidable internet censors have demonstrated a new strength—the ability to delete images in one-on-one chats as they are being transmitted, making them disappear before receivers see them. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The last of Facebook’s major products that still worked in China was disrupted by the government on Tuesday, as Beijing broadly tightened its controls over the internet. – New York Times
 
Thousands of China’s children could be out of school this autumn as Beijing begins demolishing some of the city’s largest migrant schools. The demolitions come as Beijing authorities look to push out migrant workers and rein in the city’s population — a citywide “urban rectification” campaign that involves tearing down small businesses and homes. – Financial Times
 
Josh Rogin reports: Alibaba chief Jack Ma has done more to penetrate the top ranks of the Trump administration and the Trump family than any other foreign business leader. Meanwhile, his investment company is trying to take over a large piece of the U.S. commercial financial infrastructure. Lawmakers and experts are asking if that’s really in America’s interest. – Washington Post
 
Editorial: In 2012, Ms. Liu said of her house arrest, “Kafka could not have written anything more absurd and unbelievable than this.” We agree. It is time for China’s Communist regime to leave this woman in peace. – Washington Post
 
Editorial: A Hong Kong court has disqualified four opposition legislators for failing to take the oath of office, though the president of the Legislative Council accepted the oaths in October. The decision means that pro-democracy legislators no longer have sufficient votes to block legislation, which may allow Beijing and its local supporters to pass laws to restrict civil liberties. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
David Ignatius writes: Chinese government leaders, subtle masters of propaganda, seem to have discovered a Sun Tzu formula for taming dissent on the Internet: The best strategy may not be to confront critics directly, but to lull or distract them with a tide of good news. – Washington Post
 
Korean Peninsula
 
On Wednesday, activists affiliated with the Transitional Justice Working Group, a human rights group based in Seoul, announced their initial findings, identifying more than 300 sites [in North Korea] where executions are thought to have occurred and 47 sites believed to have hosted cremations and burials, places where as many as 15 people may have been executed and their bodies dumped together or left “like trash.” – New York Times
 
Until April, Lim Ji-hyun had been a modest television celebrity in South Korea, talking to the audience about the country she knew best: North Korea. She even had her own online fan club, indicating that she was among the relatively few North Korean defectors who had successfully adjusted to life in the capitalist South. This week, Ms. Lim resurfaced in North Korea, tearfully recalling a terrible life in the South. – New York Times
 
The second-highest ranking military officer in the country said North Korea’s July 4 missile test “clearly” shows the country has the range to hit part of the United States, though he added Pyongyang still lacks the technology to accurately and reliably aim its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). – The Hill
 
North Korea carries out public executions on river banks and at school grounds and marketplaces for charges such as stealing copper from factory machines, distributing media from South Korea and prostitution, a report issued on Wednesday said. - Reuters
 
Southeast Asia
 
Indonesia’s government on Wednesday banned an Islamist group with ambitions to include the country in a global caliphate, the first use of a new executive decree signed by President Joko Widodo last week. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
While Southeast Asian nations take comfort from the Trump administration’s stated interest in the region, a Singapore-based international security expert said they still remain wary of the president turning their territorial disputes with China as a bargaining chip to pressure Beijing to rein in North Korea. – USNI News
 
With political activity banned [in Thailand], internet censorship in force and activists and dissidents detained or summoned for "attitude adjustment", public discontent is being manifested in widely shared cartoons, internet memes, and parody music videos. - Reuters
 
Olivia Enos and Hunter Marston write: Burma’s democratic transition is faltering. The Trump administration should respond by shoring up and maintaining democracy programming in Burma. Moreover, it should press the NLD government to begin to implement a path to recognize Rohingya as citizens. Such actions would affirm the U.S. commitment to promote human rights and freedom, not just in Burma but also throughout Southeast Asia. – Washington Post
 
Philippines
 
The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday that the United States should consider restarting a named military operation in the Philippines in order to counter the rise of the Islamic State. – Washington Examiner
 
The leader of the Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group says Islamic State-linked militants wanted his group to broker their possible withdrawal from Marawi city during the major military offensive against them but he refused to intervene. – Associated Press
 
Five Philippine presidential guard members were wounded and a paramilitary guard killed on Wednesday in an attack by Maoist rebels disguised as soldiers, security officials said, an incident that could dent a stuttering peace process. - Reuters

Security

Defense
 
Creating a new military branch focused solely on space could disrupt Pentagon capabilities and exacerbate existing issues rather than fixing them, the Defense Department’s No. 2 uniformed official warned Tuesday. – Defense News
 
The second highest-ranking general in the U.S. military on Tuesday warned lawmakers against equipping the military with autonomous weapons systems that humans could lose control of and advocated for keeping the "ethical rules of war" in place. – The Hill
 
The Navy has confirmed that its submarine industrial base can continue building two Virginia-class attack submarines a year even while adding the Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine to its workload, giving a key congressman confidence in the House’s plan to boost submarine procurement in the coming years. – USNI News
 
United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt and Whitney unit has been slow to incorporate promised cost savings techniques for the latest and biggest batch of engines to power F-35 jets, the Pentagon’s costliest weapons program, according to a new report. - Bloomberg
 
Upgraded radar and cybersecurity being engineered into the F-22 is designed to enable the stealth fighter to counter attacks from emerging future enemy threats and fly successfully well into the 2060s. – Scout Warrior
 
The Navy plans to fire a high-speed, long-range rail-gun Hypervelocity Projectile from its deck-mounted 5-inch guns to destroy enemy drones, ships, incoming missiles and even submarines, service officials said. – Scout Warrior
 
The Army is dialing up its lasers, from 5 to 10 kilowatt weapons that torched quadcopters in successful tests to 50 to 100 kW weapons that could kill helicopters and low-flying airplanes — and, possibly, blind cruise missiles as well. Given rising anxiety over Russia’s Hind gunships, Frogfoot fighters, and Kalibr missiles, the technology is timely. – Breaking Defense
 
Mark Moyar writes: With the demand for special operations forces exceeding the supply, the new administration must determine where scarce special operations personnel can best be employed, and where other U.S. and allied capabilities can most profitably shoulder the burden. – Center for Strategic and International Studies
 
The War
 
Katherine Zimmerman writes: The US must develop a new strategy to counter the movement as a whole—not just al Qaeda, ISIS, or even local groups that seemingly present the greatest threats. The strategic focus on only components of the movement—from al Qaeda to ISIS to the ideol­ogy—has been misplaced. A strategy must be based on an understanding of the Salafi-jihadi movement from its ideology to its military strengths to its pop­ular outreach and governance. It must proceed from an understanding of why the movement has gained strength recently after foundering for so many years. – American Enterprise Institute
 
Strategic Issues
 
Mark Schneider writes: Presently, the U.S. has no air-delivered nuclear munitions with either stealth or maneuverability, much less both.  In 2007, a bad decision was made to retire the U.S. nuclear stealth cruise missile, the AGM-129. It saved virtually no money but significantly decreased our ability to counter advanced air defenses.  Unless the current Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) changes the legacy Obama nuclear weapons program, this will continue until at least 2030.   – Real Clear Defense
 
Cybersecurity
 
Hackers tried to breach Pennsylvania government computers over 90 billion times in 2016, a state official said Tuesday, highlighting the scope of the cybersecurity risks at hand across the country as concerns linger surrounding hacking’s role in last year’s U.S. election. – Washington Times
 
An advisory group is preparing two separate reports on what the government can do to protect against armies of compromised zombie computers that carry out cyber mischief, known as botnets, a representative said Friday. – Defense One
 
A senior U.S. military leader says his bank account was targeted as part of a massive government data breach and dealing with the hack was a distraction from his job. – Associated Press

Russia/Europe

Ukraine
 
The U.S. State Department, Russia's envoy to Ukrainian peace talks, and the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe all voiced concern about the declaration of a "Little Russia" in Ukraine by Russia-backed separatists on July 18. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
The leader of a rebel-held breakaway region in eastern Ukraine has announced a plan to abolish the country and replace it with the new state of “Malorossiya”, in the latest blow to faltering peace talks aimed at ending a more than three-year conflict. – Financial Times
 
Russia
 
President Trump had a second, previously undisclosed, private conversation with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia this month, the White House acknowledged on Tuesday, raising new questions about their relationship as the cloud of Russia investigations continues to shadow the Trump administration. – New York Times
 
After a new round of talks failed to resolve the issue, Russia’s Foreign Ministry reiterated on Tuesday that it reserved the right to retaliate against the United States for its seizure of diplomatic property as punishment for Moscow’s meddling in last year’s presidential election. – New York Times
 
Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia in the Obama administration, said Tuesday that President Trump's second undisclosed conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin could have been recorded. – Washington Examiner
 
The White House formally announced its plans to nominate former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman as ambassador to Russia, signaling its intent to put the onetime Trump campaign critic in a leading diplomatic role. - Politico
 
Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor nominated by President Donald Trump to be the next U.S. ambassador to Russia, will have his diplomatic experience and business acumen put to the test should he represent U.S. interests in Moscow. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
The top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee expressed pessimism on Tuesday that long-stalled Russia sanctions legislation could get done before lawmakers leave Washington for August. – The Hill
 
Proposed new US sanctions on Russia approved by the Senate could have “unintended consequences”, hitting US jobs and oil and gas projects around the world, the industry has warned. – Financial Times
 
The Trump administration said Tuesday that more work needs to be done to resolve irritants in the U.S.-Russia relationship, as Moscow stepped up its impatient calls for the return of two seized diplomatic compounds. – Associated Press
 
Western Europe
 
While the full economic and political impact of the Brexit referendum remains to be seen a year after Britons voted to leave the European Union, it is clear that the break between the United Kingdom and the 27 other members of the EU will not be painless. – Washington Times
 
The head of France’s armed forces has resigned after a public battle with President Emmanuel Macron. General Pierre de Villiers said proposed army budget cuts meant he was no long able to “guarantee” the protection of France. – Financial Times
 
Laura Rosenberger and Jamie Fly write: As we celebrate the anniversary of the Revolution that gave birth to Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, let us hope that, like the generations of American and French citizens who have preceded us, our generation is up to the challenge of defending our ideals against authoritarians in Moscow and beyond who seek to undermine our fundamental freedoms. – German Marshall Fund
 
Eastern Europe
 
Macedonia on July 18 rejected suggestions it could end a dispute with Greece over its name by adopting an acronym instead, saying it sounded like the "Klingon" language from the Star Trek series. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
The high-profile trial in Montenegro of two Russians and 12 other people charged with plotting a coup to scuttle the country's NATO bid was postponed on Wednesday over a defense motion to replace the prosecutor. – Associated Press
 
The European Union's executive called on Poland on Wednesday to put on hold judicial reforms it said would "have a very significant negative impact" on courts' independence, or face disciplinary action as early as next week. - Reuters
 
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban told Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday that his country stood firmly against anti-Semitism today after the "crime" of failing to protect its Jewish citizens during World War Two. - Reuters

Americas

United States of America
 
A day after the Trump administration unveiled its objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. businesses and a major labor coalition sparred over the merits of an international arbitration system embedded in the agreement with Canada and Mexico. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Despite the concerns around governance and ethics, the so-called Ivanka fund might be a sign that — despite its “America First” policy — the White House is not as combative toward multilateral institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as many in Washington expected. – New York Times
 
House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a budget that makes deep cuts in food stamps and other social safety net programs while boosting military spending by billions, a blueprint that pleases neither conservatives nor moderates. – Associated Press
 
Kimberly Dozier reports: Nearly five years after four Americans lost their lives in attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, the State Department still isn’t doing enough to protect diplomats overseas, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. – The Daily Beast
 
State Department/Foreign Aid
 
In a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Monday evening, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan parried blows on the administration’s proposals to reorganize the State Department and gut the diplomacy and foreign aid budget. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
Stephen McInerney and Cole Bockenfield write: When President Donald J. Trump took office in January 2017, many supporters of democracy and human rights feared that his administration would weaken already-timid support for democratic principles in U.S. foreign policy. Since his inauguration, President Trump and top officials have taken steps that have confirmed these fears, generating bipartisan concern about the direction of American foreign policy. – Project on Middle East Democracy
 
Russian Election Interference
 
A Russian businessman who helped arrange a meeting for Donald Trump Jr. to receive potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton in June 2016 sent his own emissary to the session at Trump Tower, according to his lawyer. – New York Times
 
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has contacted the eighth attendee at a meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr. between top campaign aides and a Russian lawyer, marking the first public sign that Mr. Mueller’s probe will examine the June 2016 gathering at Trump Tower in New York. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
A hearing scheduled for Wednesday that was to examine Russian lobbying activities has been postponed. – Washington Examiner
 
Special counsel Robert Mueller has cleared the way for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein. – Washington Examiner
 
Rosie Gray reports: Even at the time, Rohrabacher’s 2016 Moscow trip raised eyebrows among U.S. officials, particularly at the State Department. According to two sources with close knowledge of the events, officials at the Embassy in Moscow expressed doubts about the people they were meeting with and had warned the delegation that FSB presence was constant while the members were in Moscow. – The Atlantic
 
James Kirchick writes: If Republicans put country before party, they would want to know what the Russians did, why they did it and how to prevent it from happening again. But that, of course, would raise questions implicating Donald Trump and all those who have enabled him, questions that most Republicans prefer to remain unanswered. - Politico
 
Venezuela
 
The Trump administration is considering imposing sanctions on additional Venezuelan officials, one of several options under discussion as a rebuke to President Nicolás Maduro’s government and his efforts to consolidate authority. – New York Times

Africa

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has declared a three-month state of emergency in his home state, where clashes have raged for months between clan-based militias, the government spokesman said on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
More than 300 people have been killed and 100,000 displaced since May as violence that began in 2013 moves into [the Central African Republic]’s central and southeastern regions, prompting warnings of a national conflict roaring back to life. – Associated Press
 
Two United Nations sanctions monitors in Democratic Republic of Congo discussed their travel plans with family representatives of a late militia leader the day before they were murdered while investigating the group, according to a confidential report seen by Reuters on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
An ANC backbencher branded South African President Jacob Zuma a disgrace on Tuesday, adding one of his own MPs to the long list of detractors of all colors and political stripes who want an end to his eight scandal-plagued years in office. - Reuters

Trump Administration

Six months into a tumultuous term, President Donald Trump has failed to put his hands on the levers of American power, showing that occupying even the highest office doesn’t automatically mean wielding influence. – Buzz Feed
 
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the Pentagon’s new No. 2, Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan, 92-7, but Democrats say they will continue to delay Trump administration nominees. – Defense News
 
Four of President Trump’s pending Pentagon nominees largely appeared to receive the backing of Senate Armed Service lawmakers during a Tuesday confirmation hearing. – The Hill

Ideas

Kori Schake writes: In all three pivotal decisions, and in the trajectory of Athens, populists wreak damage on the body politic. Elites are the voices of sensibility, overruled by passionate argument from populists. It is the exact reverse of what President Trump and his closest political advisers believe about themselves and our country. So it is odd that the work of Thucydides, elites’ champion, is among their favorite books. – The Atlantic

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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