Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (83)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia update – domestic mayhem continues. Post-Soviet republic updates. Syria, Turkey, Israel updates – overshadowed by Iran in the media.

DPRK update – Iskander lookalike and impounded freighter main topics. Much on China, military posture, strategy and culture, a fascinating series of statements by Pres Xi on the topic of the “clash of civilisations” but he does not appear to be using it in the same sense as Huntington did.  Much on the trade war and Huawei. Swine flu epidemic causing immense grief. Muslim persecution. CAN / UK / AUS and China.

EU politics, UK, Germany, Poland vs. Israel, Scandinavia and Balkans. Venezuela update – the scale of Chinese debt is astounding.

Many reports on fake news and cyber, some very interesting.

US domestic topics – defense, Russia debate, and Israel debate.


 

Russia / Russophone Reports

 


 

UAWire – Putin and Pompeo met for an hour and a half
The meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which took place on Tuesday, May 14, in Sochi, …
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Reaction to Film about Russian Life Shows How Out of Touch He Is
Paul Goble Staunton, May 16 – The All-Russian Peoples Front, which this year occurred in Sochi so that Vladimir Putin could attend, showed the Kremlin leader a video about the lives of Russians today. His reaction to it highlights how out of touch he is with the lives of ordinary Russians and how few answers he has to their problems. Yelena Yegorova of Moskovsky komsomolets reports that this year’s session like its predecessors focused on the implementation of national projects “which by 2024 are supposed to make the country stronger … and Russians happier” (mk.ru/politics/2019/05/16/putinu-pokazali-shokiruyushhie-video-o-zhizni-rossiyan.html). “To vary the format of the forum,” she continues, “the organizers decided to show Putin clips taken by regional media about the problems which are interfering with the successful implementation of the national projects in the spheres of life which are most important for citizens.” He was shown scenes of villages where residents can’t get medical care, schools with horrific meals, orphanages with bugs, lakes full of sewage, decaying monuments, and similar pictures of everyday Russian life. Not surprisingly, his claque, including TV star Yelena Malysheva insisted that everything is better in Russia than elsewhere. But Putin’s own reaction was the most instructive. As to housing problems, Putin said he himself “had lived in a building without an elevator and carried his neighbor up five flights when she couldn’t get there herself.” Presented with evidence that “not one of the health care facilities residents of Crimea have been promised have yet been built,” Putin had no answer at all. According to Yegorova, he “clearly didn’t expect that the criticism would be so raw.” He simply fell back on talking about other things where there had been successes. “A journalist from Yekaterinburg asked him to comment on the situation which has arisen around the construction of a church in the city square: ‘People already have been protesting there three days. The situation is quite wild.” In response, Putin had a question for the journalist: “’What are they, godless people?” The Kremlin leader said he had heard a little about the situation in the Urals city and was surprised because “usually people ask that a church be built and here someone is against that. If these are local people, and not activists from Moscow [a classic reference to ‘outside agitators’], then their opinion should be considered.” . And when he was asked about the fires in Irkutsk Oblast and told that people there believe that some of the fires have been set to cover illegal logging operations, Putin was, Yegorova says, “forced to acknowledge that asking that people have the right to put the question that way.” He had no answer as to what should be done. At least two things about these exchanges are important. On the one hand, the activists were not afraid to confront Putin with some of the unpleasant aspects of Russian life, a development that suggests much of the magic of his figure has worn thin and those who can are prepared to challenge him. And on the other, Putin’s reaction showed how out of touch he is with the lives of ordinary Russians. He and his pocket television stars may be upbeat and happy in their imaginary Russia, but Russians who have to live in the real one know better – and more seriously, they can see that their president hasn’t a clue. One of the developments that precipitated the end of the Soviet system was the growing sense among the population that their leaders did not know what was going on in the country. Yury Andropov admitted as much, and many Soviets felt that their leaders had never set foot in the country in which they themselves had to exist. Apparently this pattern is being recapitulated under Putin something that may be far more corrosive of his authority than almost anything else.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Young People in Former Soviet Republics Ever Less Interested in Russia, New Study Finds
Paul Goble Staunton, May 16 – Poll results from Armenia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgzstan and Belarus show the young people between the ages of 18 and 24 are ever less interested in Russia and that Russians in that age group are ever less interested in them or in other foreign countries. But the study, prepared by Tatyana Karbchuk and Anita Poplavskaya of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics using Eurobarometer data and summarized by Svetlana Saltanova for the IQ portal (monitoringjournal.ru/index.php/monitoring/article/view/573 as summarized at iq.hse.ru/news/272496626.html), also shows significant variations. While the overall conclusion of the study is that there has been “a decline in the interest of young people from the non-Russian countries in Russia and a growth of preferences for Germany, the US, Turkey and China,” there remain important differences regionally, with Central Asians still far more interested in Russia that those elsewhere. The attitudes of young people in the Russian Federation are striking as well, Karbchuk and Poplavskaya say. “Fifty percent do not have relatives and friends abroad, the share wanting to work abroad is declining and interest in obtaining education beyond the borders of the Russian Federation is falling as well.” Between 2012 and 2017, they report, about a third of young people in each of the six countries had visited Russia at least once; but the numbers going elsewhere have risen, to Turkey from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and to Georgia in Armenia. Among Russians, the most popular destinations were Turkey, Ukraine and Belarus. More than a third of the young people in the non-Russian countries have friends and relatives in Russia, the result, the sociologists suggest of labor migration. Young people in Armenia and Moldova increasingly list having friends and relatives in Europe and the United States. But half of the sample in Russia said they do not have relatives or friends abroad. Moreover, while studying abroad is increasingly important for young people in most of the non-Russian countries – Belarusians and Moldovans are the exceptions — among Russians, that preference is falling. Armenians increasingly want to study in the US. Kazakhs and Tajiks in China. As far as working abroad is concerned, Armenians and Moldovans say they would like to work in Europe or the US, Central Asians say they would like to work in Russia, but ever more Russians say they can’t name a single country in which they would like to work, possibly, the sociologists suggest, because of sanctions. In other ways as well, including choice of goods produced abroad, scientific and technical cooperation, willingness to accept immigrants and capital sources and investment, the countries diverge as well, but the key divide increasingly is between the non-Russians, on the one hand, and the Russians, on the other.
‘STALIN-HOUSE’ Real Estate Advertisement Sparks Controversy In Novosibirsk
Advertisements for a new residential building called STALIN-HOUSE in the Russian city of Novosibirsk have sparked harsh criticism from city residents on social networks.
Investigation Opened After Blast In Russia’s Rostov Region Kills Two
Officials Russia’s Rostov region have opened a criminal investigation hours after a gas explosion at an apartment building killed an adult and a child.
Russian Researcher Charged With Treason Transferred From Jail To Hospital
A jailed 75-year-old researcher at a Russian rocket- and spacecraft-design facility who is charged with treason has been transferred from pretrial detention to a Moscow hospital.
‘Evil Genius’: Russia Remembers Maverick Journalist
One of Russia’s most prominent journalists is being eulogized in Moscow after a controversial career. Sergei Dorenko often got under the skin of Kremlin officials and others for his investigative reporting, his commentaries, and his often acerbic style.
Journalist from popular Russian Telegram channel is arrested for alleged forgery, as police seize the outlet’s computers — Meduza
On May 8, police arrested Mikhail Kumbrov, the producer of the Telegram news channel Mash, on charges of document forgery, sources told the news agencies Interfax, TASS, and RBC. Kumbrov now faces up to six months in prison, up to two years of community service, or a fine as high as 80,000 rubles ($1,225). Maxim Iskanov, Mash’s CEO and co-owner, has confirmed that police have opened a criminal investigation, but he hasn’t clarified the exact charges.
Witness In Russian Soccer Players’ Assault Case Falls From Czech Hotel Balcony
A key witness in a case that resulted in prison terms for two Russian soccer players who assaulted a government official in Moscow has sustained “serious injuries” after falling from a fourth-story…
Trump to meet with Putin, China’s Xi at G-20 summit – POLITICO
Trump had not confirmed that he was attending the event in Osaka, Japan.
Russians Dig Deep For Their War Dead
Each spring, volunteers head to a hilly area named Sinyavino near St. Petersburg to unearth the remains of Soviet soldiers killed during fighting on the World War II front line. The volunteers have excavated thousands of bodies in recent years, amid renewed interested in Russia’s wartime campaign.
75-year-old Russian scholar who spent 10 months in pretrial detention on suspicious treason charges moved to hospital — Meduza
75-year-old engineering researcher Viktor Kudryavtsev, who has been in pretrial detention since July 2018 on treason charges, has been moved from the Lefortovo pretrial detention center to a state-owned hospital, his attorney Yevgeny Smirnov told TASS. Kudryavtsev stands accused of sending confidential information to a Belgian institute; his lawyers have argued that he had not had access to the information in question for more than 20 years.
Ingush Activist Detained Over Violence At Rallies Against Chechnya Border Deal
Authorities in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Ingushetia have detained an activist for questioning about violence committed during unsanctioned rallies in March against a controversial border de…
Moscow Prosecutor Seeks Lengthy Prison Term For Police Officer Who Kept $120 Million Cash At Home
The prosecutor in a high-profile case has requested a guilty verdict and a prison sentence of 15 1/2 years for a Moscow police officer found with the equivalent of $120 million in cash at home.
Ombudswoman Of Russia’s Buryatia Calls On Federal Penitentiary Service To Investigate Controversial Video
The ombudswoman of the Russian region of Buryatia, Yulia Zhambalova, says she wants a music video clip containing scenes that Internet users called “violence against inmates” to be investigated by …
Russian Activist Udaltsov Detained For Parole Violation
Russian opposition activist Sergei Udaltsov says he was detained by police in Moscow on May 14 for a parole violation.
U.S. Sanctions Chechen Officials Allegedly Linked To ‘Gay Purge’
U.S. officials have announced new financial sanctions on a Chechen law enforcement agency linked to a recent “gay purge” that has resulted in dozens of gay and bisexual men being imprisoned, and in some cases, tortured.
Chase of a lifetime: Russian SWAT team ridiculed by opposition leader – news world | UNIAN
CCTV cameras installed around an apartment block in an unnamed Russian city caught the moment when a Rosgvardia (National Guard) SWAT team attempted to apprehend their target as he was just about to drive of in his posh Mercedes SUV. The corresponding video was initially uploaded on YouTube by PrimePravda, later to be hilariously commented by Alexei Navalny, a prominent opposition figure. “I’m far from the idea that all Rosgvardia raids are organized and implemented in a similar way, but things like this also happen… In short, here’s one time when something went wrong,” reads the captio to the video.
From Toxic Dump To Golf Course? Russian Site Targeted For Major Cleanup
The Russian city of Dzerzhinsk, a hub for the chemical industry, is also home to one of the most polluted dump sites in the world. A complex cleanup project is under way to try to make the contaminated land usable again.
Armed Russian Teen Detained After School Incident In Tatarstan
A Russian teenager was detained in the Tatarstan region after he brought a pistol and a knife to his school and allegedly held his classmates hostage.
Putin Shoots, Scores and Falls Face First on Hockey Ice – The New York Times
President Vladimir V. Putin’s image of control slipped, just briefly, during a friendly game at the Bolshoi Ice Arena in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
UAWire – Putin’s rumored mistress Alina Kabaeva gives birth to twins
The well-known Russian gymnast and former MP Alina Kabaeva has given birth to twins, Dom2Life.ru reports. The birth took place at the Kulakov Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology in Moscow. According to the news outlet, Kabaeva was placed in the VIP ward, and all other patients on the fourth floor were temporarily relocated to other wards. Numerous bodyguards were present to ensure that she was not disturbed. “Food for the famous birthing mother was brought in from local elite restaurants. How many days Kabaeva spent in the obstetrics center is not known for certain,” the outlet notes. The best professionals were reportedly summoned to assist with the birth. The names and weights of the twins are not known. This information is being kept strictly secret. Alina Kabaeva turned 36 on 12 May. In March 2015, the TV company RSI published the sensational story that Kabaeva had supposedly given birth to a son in Switzerland. Citing its own sources, the channel reported that two wards of the Clinica Sant’Anna in the Swiss city of Sorengo had been reserved: one for the future mother, and another for her bodyguards. The German-language Swiss tabloid Blick was the first to report the birth. According to the article, the clinic may have been recommended to Kabaeva by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose daughter Barbara was born in that same clinic in 2009. Alina Kabaeva won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics and a gold in 2004. She has been world champion twice, European champion five times, and Russian champion on six occasions. She served in Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, between 2007 and 2014 in the United Russia party. In 2009, a number of media outlets reported that Kabaeva had had a child with President Vladimir Putin, which they named Dmitry in honor of current Prime Minister and former President Dmitry Medvedev. On 6 June 2013, Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila announced their intention to file for divorce. The New York Post reported with reference to an anonymous source that in November 2013, Kabaeva bore Putin a second child, this time a daughter. Putin reportedly visited his 29 year-old mistress and their children at the Bocharov Ruchey presidential residence in Sochi.

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports

 


 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kazakh Writer Calls for All Central Asian Countries to Adopt Common Latin Alphabet
Paul Goble Staunton, May 11 – Since the end of Soviet times, the countries of Central Asia have been wrestling with the question of the alphabets their languages should use, with some still accepting the Cyrillic-based scripts the Soviets imposed and others moving toward Latin scripts. (Some intellectuals are interested in moving back to Arabic but they are marginal.) Now, Kazakh writer Rasul Shybantay has taken the next step and proposed that all the titular languages of the region adopt a common alphabet based on the Latin script, something he argues will help integrate the five and also allow them greater access to the outside world (ceasia.org/forum/815-rasulshinibaykazakhstan.html). Interviewed by Vladimir Paramonov of the Uzbekistan-based Central Eurasia analytic group, Shybantay says that the countries of the region need democracy, transparency, and the formation of an economic union. But promoting cultural exchange is also important and requires “the introduction of a single alphabet.” “Except for Tajikistan,” Shybantay continues, “the remaining countries are united by their Turkic language. However, the variety of alphabets they use – Cyrillic and Latin and beyond the borders of the region Arabic –is giving rise to a problem for their rapprochement” and integration.” According to the Kazakh writer, “an alphabet based on Latin script must and can be introduced as a common ‘denominator’ for the region, something that will make links among the states there easier. At the same time,” he says, “the study of Russian is also needed, Teaching of Russian should be included as an obligatory course along with English.” “This will help to draw the countries of the region into the world’s cultural continuum, will lower risks which Western globalization brings with it. More than that, this will also have an important political dimension: union relations with Russia are extremely important for the preservation of stability in Central Asia.” Shybantay’s argument is intriguing because, on the one hand, he is pushing for something that Moscow will see as undermining Russian influence in the region but, on the other, is suggesting that links with Moscow will remain important for the countries of the region. Maintaining that balance won’t be easy, but it may be the path to a breakthrough.

Serbia, Belarus Among Ten Countries Advancing To Eurovision FinalTen countries, including Belarus and Serbia, have qualified for the final of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, the annual europop song fest that draws tens of millions of viewers from around the gl…

 


 

Belarus Reports

 


 

Belarus Deports Ingushetian Activist To Russia
Belarus has deported to Russia an opposition activist from the North Caucasus region of Ingushetia despite his fears of persecution for his political activities.
Belarus Releases Christian Convert Wanted In Iran, Orders Him To Leave Country
Belarusian authorities have released from custody an Iranian man who has converted to Orthodox Christianity and is wanted by Tehran for alleged murder.
Belarusian Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence In Double-Murder Case
The Belarusian Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence for a man convicted of murdering two women, despite calls from the European Union for Minsk bring an end to capital punishment.

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

 


 

Trans-Dniester: The disputed ‘smuggler’s haven’ ruled by Moldovan ‘football kings’ – BBC Sport
Sheriff Tiraspol are the ‘kings’ of Moldovan football, but their power and backing comes from a disputed territory on the Ukraine border.

 


 

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

 


 

Inside Syria’s Secret Torture Prisons: How Bashar al-Assad Crushed Dissent – The New York Times
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been locked away in filthy prisons where thousands were tortured to death — and the pace of arrests and executions is accelerating.


UAWire – Erdogan accuses Assad of sabotaging the Russian-Turkish agreement
In a conversation over the phone, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the escalating …
Secretary Pompeo, Putin agree on political solution in Syria, deeper cooperation | One America News Network
Breaking News, Latest News and Current News from OANN.com. Breaking news and video. Latest Current News: U.S., World, Entertainment, Health, Business, Technology, Politics, Sports.
Syria’s war: NGOs suspend aid to embattled Idlib province | News | Al Jazeera
Humanitarian groups have ceased operating in Idlib, citing the safety of their employees as violence in the area grows.
What We Know About Syria’s Secret Torture Prisons – The New York Times
Even as the eight-year war ebbs, the pace of arrests and executions is accelerating.
Syrian troops expand offensive despite calls for calm | Fox News
Syria activists and media say government forces are expanding their ground offensive in northwestern Syria, pushing into the last rebel stronghold despite calls for honoring a cease-fire put in place in September.


Erdogan Fights to Keep Control of Istanbul
Ekrem Imamoglu caused a political earthquake by winning the Istanbul mayorship, ending 25 years of Erdogan domination, but now he has to do it again
Turkish Democracy Can’t Die, Because It Never Lived – Foreign Policy
The country’s political system doesn’t deserve the laments it’s recently received.
Turkish Opposition Journalist Hospitalized Following Attack
The Yenicag newspaper said columnist Yavuz Selim Demirag was beaten up by about five or six people with baseball bats after appearing on a TV show Friday


‘Trumpville’ Site Chosen on Israel-Held Golan to Honor President – Bloomberg
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a location has been identified for the new Golan Heights community to be named after U.S. President Donald Trump.
Hamas cancels classes in Gaza to send children to ‘riot’ against Israel, IDF says | Fox News
Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday the militant group Hamas is canceling classes in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday to send children to “riot” violently against Israel.


Sri Lanka attacks: The family networks behind the bombings – BBC News
Ties between and within families helped a small number of die-hard radicals plan the Easter bombings.
Mena Mangal: Journalist and women’s rights campaigner shot dead in broad daylight in Kabul | The Independent
An Afghan journalist and political advisor, who was vocal about women’s rights in the country, has been gunned down in broad daylight, just days after saying she believed her life was in danger. Mena Mangal was shot dead on Saturday morning in a public place while she was on her way to work in the capital city of Kabul.


Israel Presses the Case Against Iran, but Not for War – The New York Times
Israel has quietly played an instrumental role in the escalating tensions in the Middle East. But analysts say it wants to pressure Iran, not start a war.
Facebook Bans Israeli Firm Over Fake Political Activity – WSJ
Facebook removed hundreds of fake accounts, pages and groups linked to a commercial entity based in Israel, the social-media giant’s latest move to curb abusive content, including efforts to influence elections.

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports

 


 

U.S. officials say new North Korean missile appears aimed at evading U.S. defenses – Los Angeles Times
A newly tested North Korean short-range missile appears to be a copy of a Russian design that could help Pyongyang evade U.S. missile defense systems.
‘Nobody’s happy’ about N. Korea missile launch, says Trump
US President Donald Trump said that “nobody’s happy” after North Korea raised the pressure over the future of their deadlocked nuclear negotiations by launching two short-range missiles. Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February broke up without
Trump downplays North Korea missile tests amid stalled nuclear talks with Kim Jong Un
President Donald Trump has downplayed a series of recent missile launches by North Korea, saying he doesn’t consider the tests a setback amid stalled nuclear talks with Kim Jong Un.
North Korea tested ‘multiple ballistic missiles’ in latest launch, Pentagon says
The Pentagon said Thursday that North Korea “flight-tested multiple ballistic missiles” in the second launch of weapons in less than a week.
(2nd LD) N. Korea fires unidentified projectile: JCS | Yonhap News Agency
(ATTN: RECASTS headlines, lead; ADDS more details throughout, byline) By Oh Seok-min SEO…
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Orders ‘Full Combat Posture’ as His Military and U.S. Fire Missiles
North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un said, “Genuine peace and security of the country are guaranteed only by the strong physical force capable of defending its sovereignty.”
Seized N. Korea ship accused of violating US sanctions could be auctioned, used in Navy SEAL training – ABC News
Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.
Trump’s Bet on Kim Might Not Pay Off – Defense One
All that’s preventing the collapse of talks is that North Korea’s missiles haven’t flown far enough yet.
North Korea won’t give up all its nuclear weapons, former Defense Secretary Gates says – POLITICO
Robert Gates said he doesn’t think North Korea will “completely denuclearize.”
North Korea Demands Return of Cargo Ship Seized by U.S. – The New York Times
The North called the seizure “a flagrant act of robbery.” The United States says the cargo vessel was being used to violate international sanctions.
North Korea calls coal ship seizure a ‘robbery,’ says it betrays spirit of US summit agreement | Fox News
North Korea on Tuesday demanded the U.S. returned a cargo ship used to transport that was seized in violation of international sanctions against the rogue regime, calling it a “robbery.”
Foiled North Korean Escape Ignites Human-Rights Debate – WSJ
China’s detention of a 9-year-old girl and six other North Koreans who tried to escape their country has triggered a public outcry that South Korea’s president, while pursuing peace talks, must confront Pyongyang about rights abuses.


How the Russian-Chinese Partnership Threatens U.S. Interests
Russia and China may never forge a formal military alliance, but they could still work together in ways that cause major headaches for the United States.
China Strategy: Build Economic, Military, and Technological Superiority | National Review
China is confident that it now knows the U.S. only too well, and it is mastering the political, economic, cultural, and military methods of nullifying American advantages. And it may be right.
China’s New Carrier Shows Beijing Is Done Playing Defense – Foreign Policy
A growing fleet means much bigger regional ambitions.
How to Understand the United States and China | Foreign Affairs
Can Beijing and Washington Peacefully Coexist? The China Reckoning by Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner Washington has an outsize sense of its ability to determine China’s course, yet both carrots and sticks have failed to sway Beijing as predicted. That reality warrants a rethinking of U.S. China policy. Read More Did America Get China Wrong? by Wang Jisi; J. Stapleton Roy; Aaron Friedberg; Thomas Christensen and Patricia Kim; Joseph S. Nye, Jr.; Eric Li; Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner Experts respond to Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner’s “The China Reckoning.” Should underlying assumptions about the U.S.-Chinese relationship be reassessed? If so, what does this mean for U.S. policy toward Beijing? Read More The Stealth Superpower by Oriana Skylar Mastro China does not want to replace the United States at the top of the international system. It wants to alter global norms and institutions—and have the power to counter Washington when needed. Read More The Age of Uneasy Peace by Yan Xuetong The question is not whether a bipolar U.S.-Chinese order will come to be but what this order will look like. At least for now, confrontation will play out in economic and technological, rather than military, realms. Read More China’s New Revolution by Elizabeth C. Economy Xi Jinping has consolidated his personal power and accelerated a shift toward a more activist foreign policy. For the first time, China is an illiberal state seeking leadership in a liberal world order. Read More How China Sees America by Andrew J. Nathan and Andrew Scobell The United States worries about China’s rise, but at the same time policymakers in Beijing puzzle over whether the United States intends to use its power to help or hurt China. Read More Autocracy With Chinese Characteristics by Yuen Yuen Ang Since opening its markets in 1978, China has used bureaucratic reform to maintain single-party control while reaping the benefits of capitalism. But under Xi Jinping, the limits of this approach are beginning to loom large. Read More The Future of U.S.-Chinese Relations by Henry A. Kissinger A contest for supremacy between China and the United States is not inevitable. Beijing and Washington owe it to themselves, and the world, to resist the forces pushing them toward conflict. Read More
Problematic Thinking on China from the State Department’s Head of Policy Planning – War on the Rocks
At a recent event hosted by the Washington think tank New America, former Director of Policy Planning Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter hosted a conversation with her currently serving successor, Dr. Kiron Skinner, to get a first-hand explanation of the Trump administration’s approach to foreign policy. Skinner’s remarks included several concerning elements — both in how she described the Trump administration’s foreign policy broadly (which was well-covered by Masha Gessen of the New Yorker) and specifically in her description of U.S. competition with China (edited for clarity): [Competition with China] is different as an adversarial dyad than in the 20th century with the Soviet Union in the sense that … when we think about the Soviet Union and that competition, in a way it was a fight within the Western family. Karl Marx was a German Jew who developed a philosophy that was within the larger body of political thought … that has some tenants even within classical liberalism. … You could look at the Soviet Union — part West, part East — but it had some openings there that got us the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 which was a really important Western concept that opened the door to undermine the Soviet Union — a totalitarian state — on human rights principles. That’s not really possible with China. This is a fight with a really different civilization and a different ideology, and the United States hasn’t had that before. Nor has it had an economic competitor the way that we have. The Soviet Union was a country with nuclear weapons, a huge Red Army, but a backwards economy. … In China we have an economic competitor, we have an ideological competitor, one that really does seek a kind of global reach that many of us didn’t expect a couple of decades ago. And I think it’s also really striking that it’s the first time that we’ll have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian. Skinner seems to be arguing that China is different from Russia, with different philosophical and historical roots, that China is competing with the United States in different ways than did the Soviet Union, and that the U.S. approach to its competition with China must therefore be different from its strategy during the Cold War. At their foundation, all of these points are undoubtedly accurate. But they are not terribly new or profound, and from that basic foundation she goes on to sketch out aspects of a China strategy that are deeply problematic. Skinner argues that all of the differences between China and the Soviet Union that she described “are a bit perplexing for the American foreign policy establishment.” This is not even remotely true. American diplomats have operated within China since the establishment of official relations with Beijing in 1979. There is a large and robust community of scholars across the United States with deep expertise on China and U.S.-China relations. And the Department of Defense has been publishing annual reports on China’s military since 2002. As a former official with experience in both the Defense Department and the U.S. intelligence community, I can attest to the tremendous expertise on China that is resident within the executive and legislative branches of government. China may be new to Skinner (her expertise is in the Cold War and in the domestic forces that influence the formulation of foreign policy), but it is not new to the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Become a Member Some observers have focused on Skinner’s remark that the U.S. competition with China will be “the first time that we’ll have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian.” Unlike other observers, however, I don’t believe this reflects a racial animus or orientation from Skinner. She later in the discussion with Slaughter clarified that she was commenting on the homogeneity of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. But her comments were also part of her broader, and deeply problematic, argument that China exists outside of the Western philosophical tradition, and therefore old strategies of foreign policy statecraft — like promoting human rights — will not be effective. This argument is poorly considered for several reasons. First, China does not exist entirely outside the Western philosophical tradition. The Chinese Communist Party itself is founded on the philosophies of Karl Marx (who Skinner described as part of the Western tradition) and Vladimir Lenin. But these thinkers are not exactly alien to the Chinese Communist Party. Marxism-Leninism is enshrined in the Chinese Constitution, and Chinese President Xi Jinping has recently emphasized Marx as the “greatest thinker of modern times” in his effort to revitalize China’s commitment to the communist ideology. While it is true that China also looks to its own historical and philosophical traditions to inform its foreign policy decision-making, Mao (himself a staunch critic of traditional Chinese philosophy) still believed that the Chinese Communists should adapt Marxist and Leninist theories for China’s unique history and circumstances — thus the term “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” It should be noted that even if these ideas are not common for American foreign policy discussions, they are far from unknown — in fact, scholars like Orville Schell and John Delury, John K. Fairbank, Jonathan D. Spence, and even Henry Kissinger have covered them in great depth. Second, the idea that Russia is “part of the Western family” is not a terribly useful construction. It is inconsistent with some U.S. theories that were popular during the early decades of the Cold War as well as with the theories of Samuel Huntington that were discussed at this event. Daniel Nexon highlighted that many Americans during the Cold War saw Russia as outside of Western civilization, and Paul Musgrave pointed out that Huntington similarly identified Russia as part of the “Orthodox” civilization that is different from the West. The reality is that the entire construction of the world being divided into “civilizations” is not particularly accurate or helpful in understanding a country’s behavior or devising foreign policy strategies, and the fact that the head of the U.S. State Department’s internal think tank has adopted such a conceptual framing should be concerning. Finally, the argument that China’s status as somehow outside of the Western philosophical tradition renders it immune to appeals to human rights is demonstrably inaccurate. In fact, China has a robust history of appeals to democracy and human rights, including Sun Yat-sen’s “Three Principles of the People” in 1911, the subsequent New Culture Movement that began in 1915, the pro-democracy protests of 1989, 2008’s “Charter 08” movement, and most recently the 2014 Hong Kong Umbrella movement. More problematically, Skinner’s arguments seemed to align with those of the Chinese Communist Party: that so-called “Western” ideals of human rights are not appropriate for Chinese culture, and that U.S. efforts to promote these values are veiled strategies to undermine the Chinese Communist Party’s rule. Skinner’s arguments are also contradicted by the flourishing of democracy and human rights beyond the West, including in Taiwan (which shares a great deal of the same historical, cultural, and philosophical traditions as mainland China). There is a final irony to Skinner’s remarks. She sought to position herself as the intellectual successor to George Kennan, the first director of policy planning. She said “we’re now looking more deeply and broadly at China, and I think State is in the lead in that broader attempt to get something like a ‘Letter X’ for China, what Kennan wrote.” She was referring to “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” an article Kennan penned anonymously for Foreign Affairs in 1947 that laid the conceptual foundations for a strategy of containment against the Soviet Union. But Kennan was, at heart, a Russia scholar, and the strategy he proposed was rooted in a deep and nuanced understanding of Russian history and the politics and philosophy of the Soviet Union. Skinner, though clearly a brilliant academic, is just as clearly not an expert on China. There is nothing wrong with that per se (we can’t be experts at everything), but her remarks indicate that she may not be receiving, or listening to, the deep expertise on China that continues to thrive across the U.S. government (despite the State Department having recently lost some of its key experts on China) just when it seems they most need such expertise. Skinner’s comments raise concerns that she is developing a broad strategic concept for geopolitical competition with China without first developing a deep and nuanced understanding of China itself. As the United States has learned before, we cannot succeed in a competition against an adversary we do not understand. As Sun Tzu said in the Art of War, “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. … If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.”
Hiding in Plain Sight: Chinese Expansion in Southeast Asia
Beijing’s geopolitical moves continue to obfuscate its larger designs, surprise observers, and render the United States and its allies reactive. The
‘The Shadow War’: How a Chinese spy stole some of the Pentagon’s most sensitive secrets – CNNPolitics
Adapted from “The Shadow War: Inside Russia and China’s Secret Operations to Defeat America” by Jim Sciutto. Copyright © 2019. Available from Harper Collins.


China’s Xi warns of ‘stupid,’ ‘disastrous’ clash of civilizations – POLITICO
U.S. State Department’s Kiron Skinner had provoked criticism by calling competition with China &quot;a fight with a really different civilization.&quot;
As US China trade war heats up, President Xi Jinping says no civilization is superior – CNN
Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged countries not to “close their doors and hide behind them” in his first major public speech since US President Donald Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods amid an escalating trade war.
China’s Xi Calls Efforts to Reshape Other Nations `Foolish’ – Bloomberg
Chinese President Xi Jinping denounced as “foolish” foreign efforts to reshape other nations as he pushes back against U.S. trade demands.
Amid trade war, China’s Xi preaches openness, says no civilization superior – Reuters
China will only be more open to the world, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday, as he denounced as “stupid” those who believe in cultural superiority, in his first public address since trade tension with the United States spiked last week.
Beijing calls for a ‘people’s war’ against the US as Trump threatens tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods in all-out trade battle | Business Insider
The US-China trade war continues to heat up, with Beijing calling for a “people’s war” against Washington and President Donald Trump threatening to impose tariffs on another $US300 billion worth of Chinese goods.
Lack of innovation is ‘Achilles heel’ for China’s economy, Xi says – Reuters
A lack of innovation is China’s “Achilles heel”, President Xi Jinping warned in an article given high prominence by state media on Thursday, where he also bemoaned the economy for being big yet without being strong.
Trump’s Huawei Threat Is Nuclear Option to Halt China’s Rise – Bloomberg
The Trump administration is pulling out the big guns in its push to slow China’s rise, with potentially devastating consequences for the rest of the world.
Trump declares emergency over threats to US tech amid Huawei concerns
The move, done via executive order, is expected to precede a ban on U.S. firms doing business with the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei.
China’s Huawei, 70 affiliates placed on U.S. trade blacklist – Reuters
The U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday it is adding Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and 70 affiliates to its so-called “Entity List” – a move that bans the telecom giant from buying parts and components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval.
After Huawei blow, China says U.S. must show sincerity for talks – Reuters
The United States must show sincerity if it is to hold meaningful trade talks, China said on Friday, after U.S. President Donald Trump dramatically raised the stakes with a potentially devastating blow to Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Trump’s Huawei ban escalates the US-China trade war into a tech Cold War | Business Insider
By giving Huawei Technologies the “death penalty,” the Trump administration has escalated tensions between the US and China to a level of hostility akin to a tech Cold War.
Paul Bracken interviewed on FoxNews: China backtracks on key aspects of trade deal. | Department of Political Science
Professor Paul Bracken is interviewed on Lou Dobbs Tonight, Fox Business Network about the trade negotiations between the United States and China. Professor Bracken is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Professor of Political Science and Business at Yale University.
Unlike China’s Xi, Trump is not president for life | TheHill
In the end, it is more likely than not that President Trump is forced to acquiesce.
Xi Has $3.65 Trillion Fiscal War Chest to Counter Trump Tariffs – Bloomberg
Beijing’s main defense against trade-war fallout this year is more likely to come from the finance ministry than the central bank, no matter what President Donald Trump says.
China’s nasty threat to retaliate against the US in the trade war would backfire catastrophically | Business Insider
Now that the trade war between the US and China is on, observers on both sides are wondering what more China will do to retaliate against the United States.
Trump tells China to ‘act now’ on trade or face a ‘far worse’ deal in his second term
Chinese and U.S. negotiators held trade talks in Washington on Friday after Trump more than doubled tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
A (Trade) War with China is Inevitable | The National Interest
Beijing’s trade tussle and brazen technology theft stunts are part of an overlooked war that has been going on for decades.
It’s time for markets to end their illusions about US-China trade deal
What markets have misunderstood since the negotiations resumed last December is that the talks had become just one of many events of a new era of geopolitical and systemic competition that will define our times, writes Atlantic Council CEO Fred Kempe.
Kudlow acknowledges US will pay for China tariffs, contradicting Trump
Kudlow contradicted President Trump’s claims that China alone will pay tariffs imposed by the U.S.
Paul warns Trump administration against escalating trade war with China | Fox News
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Sunday that he has warned the Trump Administration against leveling more tariffs against China, arguing that they will cancel out any benefits companies received from the administration’s recent tax cuts.
Markets Fall as Investors Await China Response to Trump – The New York Times
Global stocks took a modest tumble on Monday as the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies showed little sign of ending soon.
Dow Jones Dives More Than 500 Points As U.S.-China Trade War Escalates | Investor’s Business Daily
The Dow Jones industrials fell more than 400 points in today’s stock market action. China retaliated Monday with tariff hikes, sending stocks sharply lower.
The Cost of China Tariffs – WSJ
Border taxes are an economic loss, as markets are saying.
America Needs Unity on China | The National Interest
Washington cannot afford to let rival powers divide America along partisan lines.
Why free traders and all Americans should back Trump on China policy | TheHill
I’m a free trader, and I hate tariffs — which are consumer taxes — but if ever there was a right time to impose punitive tariffs, it is now, and it is against China.
Trump boxed in on trade | TheHill
President Trump is in a trade mess.
U.S., China break off trade talks with no deal as tariffs rile markets
Fears that the China tariffs could mean higher prices for consumers have roiled financial markets and a deleted Trump tweet added to Friday’s jitters.
Farmers get impatient with Trump’s trade war: ‘This can’t go on’ – CNNPolitics
American farmers are running out of patience with President Donald Trump’s trade war with China.
Trump and Trudeau Discuss Disputes With China as Tariffs Loom – Bloomberg
President Donald Trump discussed trade and legal disputes with China in a telephone conversation Thursday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
McMaster: China’s treatment of detained Canadians telling | Fox News
Former U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Thursday China’s treatment of two detained Canadians is a telling example of how China is a threat to the liberal international order.
Rebecca Grant: For Trump, the China trade war began long ago – and this is a war he’s determined not to lose | Fox News
Trump doesn’t want long-term tariffs. He wants a deal, and the markets know it. 
China Said to Have Linked 2017 Max Approval to Own Jet Support – Bloomberg
As Boeing Co.’s 737 Max was about to enter service in 2017 it became the subject of an unusual diplomatic exchange.
2 Chinese men indicted for hacking Anthem
The Justice Department said the two also hacked three other U.S.-based companies it did not name, one in the technology sector, the others in basic materials and communications.
How the US-China trade war became a lesson in 5,000 years of Chinese history — Quartz
The Chinese government is exhorting people to remain steadfast and patriotic, and that the current impasse is a mere hiccup in China’s ancient history.


Vox Sentences: China’s national pork crisis – Vox
Trump unveils his new immigration plan to a lukewarm crowd; African swine fever has led to a national pork supply crisis in China.
China’s African swine fever epidemic could raise global meat prices – CNN
Sun Dawu’s pigs started dying from a mysterious virus last December. Four months later, all 20,000 in one farm were dead.
Donald Trump and Swine Fever Are Creating an Economic Crisis – Foreign Policy
A deadly outbreak in China and trade tariffs in the United States are threatening to send global markets into a tailspin.
China cancels US pork import order as trade war drags on
The same week U.S. President Donald Trump announced sweeping increases on tariffs against Chinese goods, Chinese buyers dropped orders for 3,247 metric tonnes of U.S. pork – the biggest cancellation in more than a year.


Western Companies Get Tangled in China’s Muslim Clampdown – WSJ
Kraft Heinz, Adidas and Gap are among the companies whose supply chains run through Xinjiang, where China is cracking down on its largely Muslim population. In one tactic, many residents must go through mandatory job-training programs that include political messaging.
Inside China’s Surveillance Crackdown on Uyghurs | WIRED
In Xinjiang, northwest China, the government is cracking down on the minority Muslim Uyghur population, keeping them under constant surveillance and throwing more than a million people into concentration camps. But in Istanbul, 3,000 miles away, a community of women who have escaped a life of repression are fighting a digital resistance.
China uses an intrusive surveillance app to track its Muslim minority, with technology that could be exported to the rest of the world. Here’s how it works. | Business Insider
Officials in Xinjiang, China’s most oppressed region, use an intrusive, all-seeing smartphone app to monitor, track, and flag citizens for investigation or punishment.
China’s Uyghurs practice their culture ‘freely’ in Turkey – CNN
Members of the Uyghur community in Turkey say they escaped a brutal crackdown in China and now continue to rally for missing relatives believed to be held in camps.


China Charges 2 Canadians With Spying, Deepening a Political Standoff – The New York Times
Supporters of the two men, who were detained in December, say the case amounts to retaliation for the arrest in Vancouver of a Chinese tech executive.
China formally arrests two Canadians on national security grounds – CNN
Chinese authorities have formally arrested two Canadians who have been held in detention for five months on suspicion of espionage, in a move likely to increase tension between Ottawa and Beijing.
Trudeau says China’s arrests of two Canadians ‘unacceptable’ | China News | Al Jazeera
Ottawa demands immediate release of the men after China formally arrests suspects on state secrets charges.
Britain Fails to Assuage US Security Fears
The old allies disagree sharply over policy toward Iran and Britain’s dealings with China
Australia and the U.S. Are Old Allies. China’s Rise Changes the Equation. – The New York Times
Economic geography is proving more significant than historical alliances.
Chinese ownership of Merredin airport sparks controversy | The West Australian
Merredin’s multimillion dollar airfield has become an “important part of the town” but not everyone is happy it’s owned by a state-run Chinese company.
‘Nuclear Coffin’ Leaking Radioactive Waste Into Pacific Ocean, U.N. Warns
Secretary General Antonio Guterres says a Cold War era concrete dome containing radioactive waste is breaking apart.

 


 

Foreign Policy Reports

 


 

Angela Merkel says the postwar world order is over and calls for Europe to stand up to China, Russia, and the US | Business Insider
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a recent interview with the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that she thinks the postwar global order built over seven decades is over – and grouped the United States with China and Russia as rivals of Europe.
Angela Merkel Identifies U.S. as Global Rival That, Along With China and Russia, Europe Must Unite Against
“There is no doubt that Europe needs to reposition itself in a changed world,” Merkel said.
EU, Eastern Partners Downgrade Anniversary Statement Due To Objections From Baku
Foreign ministers from the EU and the six Eastern Partnership countries have downgraded a celebratory statement marking the 10th anniversary of the partnership that aims to bring the countries clos…
Violence, disasters forced 41 million from their homes
A leading advocacy group for refugees estimates a record 41 million people have been displaced within their countries because of conflict, violence and natural disasters last year.
How to avoid a great power war over small stakes
A discussion with Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon about his new book, “The Senkaku Paradox Risking Great Power War Over Small Stakes,” and Martha Ross talks about her new research on youth unemployment.


UK’s top diplomat urges ‘decisive’ defense budget boost
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to reinforce Britain’s role in the world through hard power.
Theresa May’s Tories face huge defeat in EU elections; Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party surges | Fox News
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party is facing electoral annihilation in the upcoming European elections, with polls suggesting the governing party could finish as low as fifth place — as Nigel Farage’s recently formed Brexit Party could emerge the big winner.
Rebels hope to kill off May’s Brexit deal in ‘last-chance’ vote – Reuters
Brexit-supporting rebels in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party said on Wednesday they would vote down her European Union divorce deal when she brings it back to parliament next month.
Brexit: MPs to vote on withdrawal bill in early June – BBC News
This will happen even if there’s no agreement between the government and Labour, Downing Street says.
Running down the clock: How British politics fell into a Brexit coma | Business Insider
“Please do not waste this time.” That was the message to British politicians from European Council President Donald Tusk following the decision in April to grant a six-month delay to Brexit.
Labour: Brexit Talks Threatened by Fight to Replace May
The Brexit talks have stalled if not regressed thanks to the uncertainty of May or her replacement
No-Deal Brexit Risk Bigger Than Firms Think, Business Chief Says – Bloomberg
U.K. companies and politicians are underestimating the chances of a no-deal Brexit, the head of a business group said.
London mayor on state visit: UK ‘shouldn’t be rolling out the red carpet’ for Trump | TheHill
London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Friday slammed President Trump ahead of his state visit to the United Kingdom next month, saying Trump is not in the “same class” as presidents who made such trips in the past.
Sadiq Khan: Trump ‘not in same class’ as Obama and Bush, not worthy of U.K. state visit – The Washington Post
“History tells us only two presidents have had a state visit,” Sadiq Khan said. “President Trump is not in the same class as those two.”
Brexit: Gavin Williamson attacks Theresa May’s talks with Labour – BBC News
The recently sacked defence secretary says negotiations with Labour over a Brexit deal will “fail”.
Poll surge for Nigel Farage sparks panic among the Tories and Labour | Politics | The Guardian
Support for the Conservatives at the European elections slumps to 11%, less than a third of what the Brexit party is polling


Heir Apparent: Germany’s Merkel Should Serve Full Term
A slowing economy and possible tax fight has Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in no hurry to take Merkel’s mantle
They Resisted Hitler. They Were Executed. At Last, They Lay at Rest. – The New York Times
After the prisoners were killed, their bodies were given to a researcher. More than 75 years later, hundreds of slides bearing microscopic remains were buried.
Nazi victims’ remains to be buried in ceremony in Berlin – ABC News
Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.


Polish Nationalists Protest US Over Holocaust Claims
WARSAW — Thousands of Polish nationalists have marched to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, protesting that the U.S. is putting pressure on Poland to compensate Jews whose families lost property during the Holocaust. The protesters included far-right groups and their supporters. They said the United States has no right to interfere in Polish affairs and that the U.S. government is putting “Jewish interests” over the interests of Poland. The nationalists say that Poland was a major victim of Nazi Germany during World War II and that it is not fair to ask Poland to compensate Jewish victims when Poland has never received adequate compensation from Germany. “Why should we have to pay money today when nobody gives us anything?” said 22-year-old Kamil Wencwel. “Americans only think about Jewish and not Polish interests.”
Polish Nationalists Protest US over Holocaust Claims | Newsmax.com
Thousands of Polish nationalists marched to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw Saturday, protesting that the U.S. is putting pressure on Poland to compensate Jews whose families lost property during the Holocaust. The protest took place amid a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic hate speech in public life in Poland and it appeared to be one of the largest anti-Jewish street demonstrations in recent times. It also comes as far-right groups are gaining in popularity, pressuring the conservative government to move further to the right. Protesters, including far-right groups and their supporters, say the United States has no right to interfere in Polish affairs and that the U.S. government is putting “Jewish interests” over the interests of Poland.
Polish ambassador to Israel assaulted in Tel Aviv amid diplomatic row over Holocaust reparations | Fox News
The standoff between Poland and Israel has further escalated after Poland’s foreign ministry summoned Israel’s ambassador to the country after the Polish ambassador to Israel was assaulted and spat on in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
Polish Sports Minister In Line To Become Next WADA President
Poland’s sport and tourism minister is in line to become the next World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president after a vote left him the only candidate remaining on the ballot.


Sweden to reopen investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
Sweden’s state prosecutor said on Monday she would reopen a rape investigation involving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that circumstances now existed to seek his extradition from Britain.
Saving Lofoten Islands: Norway’s turn towards biodiversity | Norway News | Al Jazeera
Rich in biodiversity, the Lofoten Islands are in the crosshairs of a big oil company.
Suspects in Slovak journalist’s murder charged in second killing
Two of the suspects charged with the murder of a Slovak journalist investigating corruption were implicated Monday in another killing, according to national police.  “Two persons from the Jan Ku…
EU Warns Romania Of Legal Steps Over Moves To Weaken Rule Of Law
The European Commission has threatened it will take legal action against Romania unless it reverses moves to cripple the independence of its courts and hinder the fight against corruption.
Interview: Laura Codruta Koevesi: The Bête Noire Of Romanian Corruption
As Romania’s chief anticorruption prosecutor, Laura Koevesi put dozens of politicians and officials behind bars. But after being accused of being part of a shadowy antigovernment structure, she was…


There’s Only One Hope Left for Venezuela | The National Interest
About 90 percent of Venezuelans support military action to save their country.
Opinion | Russia and Cuba Could End the Venezuelan Catastrophe. Seriously. – The New York Times
The Trump administration should include Havana and Moscow in its efforts to remove Maduro from power.
Who owns Venezuela’s oil and debt? – CNN
Venezuela’s two biggest creditors, China and Russia, are keeping an eye on what they’re owed. …. Overall, Venezuela could owe China more than $55 billion and Russia at least $17 billion, estimates Moises Rendon, a former Venezuelan bank analyst who is now Associate Director of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, D.C. China has loaned more than $60 billion to Venezuela since 2007, most in exchange for promises of repayment in oil. Russia too has made significant loans to Venezuela as well selling arms on credit. Both countries already are slowly reducing their debts by taking oil deliveries. And the Maduro regime has not figured out how to raise foreign exchange by pumping more oil for sale for dollars on the open market without triggering clamoring from its creditors, who are owed yet more oil. Before U.S. sanctions, PDVSA was raising dollars for Venezuela by selling nearly 500,000 barrels of oil a day to its subsidiary, Citgo, the US refinery company headquartered in Houston, Texas and incorporated in Delaware. Citgo has been so crucial to Venezuela that its bonds are the only debt issue that has been kept up to date with creditors by the government. But US sanctions have put Citgo’s board under control of Guaido supporters and segregated its bank accounts to cut off Maduro’s access.
Guaidó Officials Rally at Venezuelan Embassy in Washington as a Stalemate Ends – The New York Times
The police arrested activists who had occupied the embassy since April, allowing diplomats representing the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó into the building.
How Venezuela’s vice grip on the internet leaves citizens in the dark during crises
Venezuelans are dealing with the government’s efforts to remain in power and quell uprisings that threaten to remove President Nicolás Maduro. The efforts have included blocking social media services, messaging apps and news broadcasts.
Decades after failed invasion, Cuba still eyes Venezuela | Fox News
For all the heated talk coming from Washington about President Nicolás Maduro being a Cuban puppet, there was a time when Cuban troops really did try to take control of Venezuela — or at least a remote coconut-strewn tropical beach.

 


 

IW/EW/IO/Cyber/Social Media Reports

 


 

Mozilla Foundation – 7 Interesting Things We Learned When We Asked the World About Misinformation Online
We asked people all around the world to take a survey on misinformation online. Nearly 60,000 people responded. What we learned was quite interesting.
Sex vouchers for migrants? The truth behind Europe’s fake stories – CNN
From false stories about sex vouchers for refugees, to homophobia caused by uncontrolled immigration, some populist politicians are taking advantage of misconceptions about the EU to stir anti-migrant sentiment ahead of the European Parliament elections.
Fake-News Forensics: Montenegrin Team Dissects Disinformation
A team of online sleuths in Montenegro is electronically combing the Internet in search of fake news.
Russian Malign Influence in Montenegro: The Weaponization and Exploitation of History, Religion, and Economics – To Inform is to Influence
This CSIS article is the second fairly major article or report I have read in the past month (the report unpublished as of yet) which describes Russian efforts as “malign”. ma·lign /məˈlīn/ adjective 1. evil in nature or effect; malevolent. “Evil in nature” is quite appropriate in describing Russian actions in general. Russia seems to do absolutely nothing for good, for humanitarian purposes, or for the betterment of mankind. As a matter of fact, Russian efforts in Montenegro appear to be the epitome of actions taken for the detriment of Montenegro. </end editorial>
Burned After Reading – To Inform is to Influence
The Citizen Lab at the Munk School at the University of Toronto has historically focused on the cyber discipline. I am glad to see them delve more into the influence side of the house. </end editorial> Endless Mayfly’s Ephemeral Disinformation Campaign
Singapore Passes Controversial ‘Fake News’ Bill | Time
Singapore passed a law criminalizing publication of fake news and allowing the government to block and order the removal of such content
France Welcomes Facebook’s Zuckerberg With Threat of New Rules
Zuckerberg went to Paris to show that his social media giant is working hard to limit violent extremism and hate speech shared online
Facebook to restrict livestream feature after Christchurch attack
Facebook announced Tuesday night that it will restrict who can use the company’s livestream tool in an effort to limit its use to “cause harm or spread hate,” a company executive said.
Meet the shadowy security firm from Israel whose technology is believed to be at the heart of the massive WhatsApp hack | Business Insider
A security flaw in the massively popular WhatsApp messaging platform used by more than 1.5 billion people exposed users to software from NSO Group, the maker of one of the world’s most malicious spyware programs, called Pegasus.
US, EU Dismantle Global Cybercrime Syndicate
Network with members in Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine used GozNym malware to steal $100 million from more than 41,000 victims
10 charged in alleged malware conspiracy to steal $100 million – CBS News
U.S. and European authorities are going after an alleged cybercriminal ring that infected thousands of computers
10 in Eastern Europe Are Charged in Malware Attacks in the U.S. – The New York Times
The attacks enabled criminals to take control of infected computers and plunder victims’ bank accounts remotely, the authorities said.
Cybercrime Gang That Stole $100 Million Dismantled
European and U.S. police have dismantled an international crime gang that used malware to steal $100 million from tens of thousands of victims, Europe’s police agency says.
How military leaders got a clearer view of the cyber environment
Cyber Command’s new integrated cyber center drastically improves the information sharing of cyber threats across the government.
Drone flights over Iraq limited by electromagnetic interference
Jamming will pose a durable problem to surveillance for years to come.

US Domestic Policy Reports

 


 

For Shanahan, it looks like a rocky road to defense secretary
Key Democrats are signaling that Patrick Shanahan, the acting defense secretary who was informally nominated for the permanent role last week, will face tough questioning.
US Air Force nuclear, space programs take hit in border wall reprogramming
The Pentagon is taking $402 million from Air Force programs as part of a reprogramming effort to support the border mission.
Pentagon will pull money from ballistic missile and surveillance plane programs to fund border wall – The Washington Post
The Defense Department, under Trump, intends to reprogram $2.5 billion that was originally designated by Congress for other projects.
The Pentagon is reportedly shifting funds from ballistic missile and surveillance plane programs to fund Trump’s border wall | Business Insider
The Pentagon is taking $US1.5 billion from military programs, including an intercontinental ballistic missile system and its Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing a Department of Defence document.
To counter China, Pentagon wants to create patriotic investors
The Pentagon wants to play matchmaker between investors and companies looking for cash.
Pentagon ‘Matchmakers’ Aim to Keep US Tech Firms from Taking Chinese Money – Defense One
Defense officials hope to protect cutting-edge technologies by getting innovative firms funded by U.S.-friendly investors.
People are key to securing the defense-industrial supply chain
Successfully targeting a single component of the defense industrial base can cause a ripple effect that can significantly impact everything from data centers to war fighters in theater, and people are the first line of defense.
Elizabeth Warren targets military-industrial complex in new plan
Elizabeth Warren railed at the military-industrial complex, and Patrick Shanahan as a symptom of it.
The Pentagon wants to create a broader network of innovators
The Pentagon wants to fortify its innovation pipeline and has made a series of changes in how it works with universities and upstart technology firms to ensure the military has access to talent and research in the near future.
Well-Trained Partners Are More Likely to Fight | AUSA
The first pickup laid down suppressive fire with its .50-caliber heavy machine gun; the other pickup—called a “technical” in the many places such makeshift combat vehicles are found—then advanced to the next fold in the sand, braked h
Our Risk-Averse Army: How We Got Here and How to Overcome It – Modern War Institute
I think we’re overly centralized, overly bureaucratic, and overly risk averse, which is the opposite of what we’re going to need in any type of warfare, but in particular the warfare that I envision. —Gen. Mark Milley, US Army chief of staff In a recent essay, retired Col. Kevin Benson calls on the Army to evolve its collective thinking on tactical risk assessment. As he points out, commanders must not be content to avoid risk. Instead, they must deliberately accept tactical risk to create and exploit relative advantages over the enemy. Col. Benson is correct that the Army must revisit how it doctrinally defines tactical risk. However, the chief obstacle to tactical risk taking is not doctrine; it is risk aversion. From a military perspective, this propensity to avoid risk is most problematic in situations where taking risk is advantageous. There are three main reasons Army commanders tend avoid risk: loss aversion, institutional risk norms, and senior leaders’ lack of comfort with risk. To overcome risk aversion, the Army should strive to deliberately train commanders as risk adapters. Risk adapters do not avoid risk like most people, nor do they seek it out like gamblers or adrenaline junkies. Instead, they weaponize it. Risk adapters use risk deliberately and precisely to create relative advantages in particular domains. Risk research has found three strategies that Army commanders can use to become risk adapters: perspective taking, risk norming, and decision framing.
‘Ned Stark’ unveiled: Colonel who wrote viral leadership columns has a challenge for the Air Force
Under Pressure, Pentagon Publishes a Contractor-Fraud Report – Defense One
Released under FOIA, the 4-page document names firms barred from government work, but lacks the detail of a predecessor report.
Why Is H.R. McMaster Pleading For More War? | The National Interest
H.R. McMaster contends that support for the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, which is now in its eighteenth year, is being undermined by a “defeatist narrative that’s inaccurate, and doesn’t reflect what’s at stake.” He’s wrong. H.R. McMaster contends that support for the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, which is now in its eighteenth year, is being undermined by a “defeatist narrative that’s inaccurate, and doesn’t reflect what’s at stake.” He’s wrong.
The Brain of the Pentagon – Defense One
Andrew Marshall leaves behind an American tradition of strategic thinking that will live well beyond him.
How to Really Honor the Troops – Defense One
Thousands of soldiers have successfully led combat units without committing atrocities. Pardoning war crimes dishonors them.
Senators Press U.S. Arms Control Officials On Fate Of Treaties
U.S. senators clashed with two top arms control officials over the fate of several major treaties with Russia, as President Donald Trump’s administration has suspended compliance with one and is un…
The US Should Be Strengthening Deterrence. The Opposite Is Happening. – Defense One
Instead of debating no-first-use policies and other potential advancements, Trump is undermining an alliance system built over decades.


Trump Says He’ll Meet With Russia’s Putin, China’s Xi At G20
U.S. President Donald Trump has said he’ll be meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin during the upcoming Group of 20 (G20) summit to be held in Japan in June.
Russia’s Putin Says He May Meet Trump Next Month At G20 In Japan
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he may meet U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of a Group of 20 (G20) summit next month in Japan.
Judge Orders Florida-Based Broadcast Company To Register As Agent For Russia
A U.S. judge has backed a Justice Department ruling that Florida-based RM Broadcasting must register as an agent of Russia under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), another move in the two …
Florida Governor Says Russian Hackers Accessed Voter Databases
The governor of Florida has said Russian hackers gained access to voter databases in two of the southern state’s counties ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Trump defends Bolton, but admits they have differences | TheHill
President Trump on Thursday conceded he has policy differences with John Bolton, even as he defended his national security adviser amid media reports he has grown frustrated with some of his hawkish foreign policy moves.
Trump Is a Warmonger Who’s Terrified of War
Donald J. Trump’s weapon of mass destruction is the U.S. dollar, but he’s learning it can’t win the many fights he has picked around the world.
Opinion | Killing the Pax Americana – The New York Times
Trump’s trade war is about more than economics.
Opinion | How Utopia Birthed Dystopia – The New York Times
Cleared of collusion with a foreign power to win election, Team Trump tries to stir up collusion with a foreign power to win re-election. Go figure.
Trump has the attention span of a gnat. It’s destroying our foreign policy. – The Washington Post
If it doesn’t fit on his wide-screen TV, he’s just not interested.
Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Watters say CNN ‘using’ James Comey | Fox News
Fox News’ Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld jabbed CNN Friday for their featured town hall with former FBI director James Comey saying the network is “using” him to get back at President Trump.
Trump: It would be ‘appropriate’ for me to talk to DOJ about investigating Biden | TheHill
President Trump said Friday it would be “appropriate” for him to discuss opening an investigation into former Vice President Biden and his family with Attorney General William Barr.
Former Obama Advisor Ben Rhodes: Investigating Origins of Russia Probe “Waste of Time,” “They Will Find Nothing” | Video | RealClearPolitics
Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security advisor to President Obama, told Nicholas Ballasy with PJ Media that Attorney General Bill Barr and the Justice Department “will find nothing” showing that former President Obama or his White House staff had any political “involvement” with the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign or the creation or distribution of the Steele dossier. “No, no, I cannot be clear enough about this. We didn’t even know there was an FBI investigation of Trump. I didn’t. President Obama didn’t, like, we actually abided by the firewalls between – if there were any investigations that took place, those decisions were made in the Justice Department, in the FBI, not in the White House,” Rhodes said following a discussion at Georgetown University about his book, “The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House,” on Thursday. “They will find nothing that suggests there was any political or White House involvement in any of that. Literally, I learned about the FBI investigation of Trump as a private citizen in the frickin’ Washington Post. So, you have to understand, we actually abided by the longstanding practice of the White House not getting involved in that kind of stuff,” he continued. “We had nothing to do with” the creation or distribution of the Steele dossier, he said in response to a question. “I heard about it at the very end, in January 2017, like, we weren’t involved in commissioning the dossier, that’s crazy. We learned about it when it was in the report that was appended to the report that went to Congress at the end of the administration. I have been investigated by these committees and I’m telling you they didn’t find it. No, we had nothing to do with the dossier. I mean, like literally, nothing to do with this dossier.” “I’m not an investigator. I haven’t even read this whole dossier. You guys are focused on this. Have fun, have your witch-hunt. We did not initiate this,” Rhodes said.
The GOP’s increasing embrace of Trump’s Russia conspiracy theory – The Washington Post
When Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) first raised questions about the process of obtaining warrants using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, GOP leaders cautioned it should not be used to undermine the Mueller investigation. That’s exactly how it’s being used now.
Robert Mueller ‘is going to testify’: Rep. Adam Schiff – ABC News
On
Robert Gates questions whether Trump, Biden and Sanders are too old to be president | Fox News
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes that some of the candidates running for the White House in 2020 may be too old for the job.
Obama and Bush’s former Defence Secretary says he doesn’t know if Biden would make an effective president, says a president in their 70s is ‘problematic’ | Business Insider
Former Defence Secretary Robert Gates levied a number of criticisms against his former Obama Administration colleague, Joe Biden, in an interview that aired Sunday, even saying he didn’t know if Biden could be an effective president.
Robert Gates says Russian interference not “case closed” by Mueller report – YouTube
Face the Nation Published on May 12, 2019
Trump Said He Would Tame Rogue Nations. Now They Are Challenging Him. – The New York Times
President Trump said Barack Obama was a patsy who had allowed North Korea, Iran and Venezuela to run roughshod over him. But those nations are pushing back against Mr. Trump.
Justice Department follows Trump’s order to chase insane conspiracy theory – The Washington Post
The GOP’s position is that Russian interference in our election should never have been investigated in the first place.
William Barr appoints attorney to examine origins of Russia probe
Attorney General William Barr has appointed a top Connecticut prosecutor to look into the origins of the Russia probe.
Barr appoints prosecutor to examine Russia probe origins – POLITICO
John Durham will examine whether the Trump campaign was treated appropriately.
Report: U.S. Prosecutor Assigned To Look Into Russia Probe Origins
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has appointed a federal prosecutor to examine the origins of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the Associated Press r…
Valerie Plame: Surveillance on Trump campaign not ‘spying’ | TheHill
Former CIA operative and current congressional candidate Valerie Plame said Monday that FBI surveillance of President Trump’s 2016 campaign was not spying.
Mueller Wasn’t the Main Problem Between Trump and Putin – Bloomberg
The two still don’t have anything to offer each other.
Court Filing: Ex-Security Adviser Flynn Told Mueller Of Attempts To Obstruct Russia Probe
Former White House national-security adviser Michael Flynn gave Special Counsel Robert Mueller information about several attempts by people to obstruct the Russia investigation, newly released cour…


Rep. Zeldin calls for House to take up anti-BDS legislation, ‘forcefully condemn’ anti-Semitism | Fox News
Rep. Lee Zeldin and several of his House Republican colleagues are hoping to force a vote on a bill meant to oppose the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Rashida Tlaib holds ‘frank’ discussion with GOP critics on the House floor – CNNPolitics
Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib approached two of her fiercest GOP critics on the House floor Wednesday, an eye-catching moment amid a tense debate between the two parties over Tlaib’s recent comments about the Holocaust.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib criticized for comments made on podcast
She was criticized over the weekend by House Republicans for comments she made about Jews moving into Palestine after the Holocaust.
Rashida Tlaib slammed by House GOP over comments on Holocaust, Palestinians | Fox News
House Republican leaders called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to “take action” against Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Sunday after Tlaib said that thinking about the Holocaust gave her “kind of a calming feeling” in part because in its aftermath, the Palestinians helped create “a safe haven for Jews.” 
Trump says he’d agree not to use information from foreign agents in campaign – POLITICO
“I don’t need it,” the president said.
Trump blasts Tlaib over Holocaust comments, accuses her of ‘tremendous hatred’ | Fox News
President Trump joined the chorus of criticism Monday against freshman Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib over her recent remarks about the Holocaust. 
Rashida Tlaib hits critics over Holocaust remarks, says friend told her to speak to ‘racist idiots’ at fourth-grade level | Fox News
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich, doubled down on her controversial remarks about having a “calming feeling” whenever she thinks that Palestinians created a “safe haven for Jews” after the Holocaust during her appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on Monday night, suggesting that she should be speaking to “racist idiots” at a fourth-grade level. 
Rashida Tlaib stands by Israel and Holocaust comments amid criticism – CNNPolitics
Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib defended her recent comments about Israel and the Holocaust Sunday after drawing criticism from top Republicans and Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, accusing her detractors of purposefully mischaracterizing her remarks.
Cruz: Extreme left has a history of anti-Semitism, anti-Israel hatred – YouTube
Fox News Published on May 13, 2019 Anti-Israel scandals embroil Democrats; reaction from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on ‘Hannity.’
Americans divided by political party on who to blame for anti-Semitism: Poll
A poll found that Americans are strongly divided by party on which side of the political aisle to blame for anti-Semitism in the U.S.
Democratic leaders back Muslim lawmaker after Holocaust comments – Reuters
U.S. Democratic leaders on Monday rallied behind a freshman lawmaker on Monday after President Donald Trump and other Republicans attacked her over comments about the Holocaust and Palestinians.
Rashida Tlaib Holocaust comments: Democrats come to Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s defense as Republicans slam her Holocaust comments – CBS News
Tlaib said she gets &quot;a calming feeling&quot; when she thinks of &quot;the tragedy of the Holocaust,&quot; the suffering of her Palestinian ancestors and the new state of Israel
Ilhan Omar defends Rashida Tlaib, says criticism ‘designed’ to ‘silence’ Muslim voices | Fox News
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, defended her colleague, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich, from criticism over controversial remarks about the Holocaust, insisting that the backlash is “designed” to “silence” Muslim voices.
Muslim groups apologize for video: Mistake ‘ours to own’ | Fox News
Muslim leaders in Philadelphia are apologizing for an event last month at which children were captured on video speaking in Arabic about beheadings and the liberation of Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site.
Philadelphia Muslim leaders apologize for video of children speaking of beheadings – Washington Times
Muslim leaders in Philadelphia are apologizing for an event last month at which children were captured on video speaking in Arabic about beheadings and the liberation of Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site.
AOC impersonator strikes again, showing off ‘electric car’ while poking fun at Green New Deal | Fox News
The eight-year-old impersonator of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, is back with a new video.
8-Year-Old AOC is back AGAIN! 3rd video! *Breakdown* – YouTube
 
Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | TheHill
The White House on Wednesday declined to join a global call to fight online terror, citing concerns about freedom of speech but in the process stoking a new controversy over its response to extremism.