Fdd's overnight brief

December 10, 2021

In The News


Nuclear talks between Iran, the U.S. and other major powers resumed on Nov. 29 for the first time in five months but U.S. and European officials are warning that Iran’s new government has backtracked on its previous commitments, leaving the negotiations a step closer to collapsing. – Wall Street Journal 

It will take a few days to judge whether Iran is showing flexibility in talks about Tehran and Washington resuming compliance with the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Thursday. – Reuters  

World powers will assess over the next few days whether Iran is serious in nuclear negotiations after it indicated it was ready to continue talks on the basis of texts that had been agreed at the last round in June, a European source said on Friday. – Reuters 

Talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed on Thursday with the United States and Israel ramping up rhetorical pressure on Tehran about the possible economic or military consequences if diplomacy fails. – Reuters  

The US military commander for the Middle East has told the Financial Times he has a “very robust range of military options” to deter Iran, which has expanded its nuclear programme and ballistic missile arsenal. – Financial Times  

This report, the third in a series, will review Iran’s diplomatic moves to regain its control of the route to Armenia.[1] It should be noted that Iranian spokesmen are attributing the Azerbaijan-Turkey move blocking this route at the Iran-Azerbaijan border to an Israeli scheme aimed at harming Iran, and they are repeatedly warning Azerbaijan not to allow Israel to operate on its soil. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: The White House knows how perilous Iran’s advances are, and so does Israel. The difference is that Washington is humoring this nuclear blackmail as Jerusalem weighs whether pre-emptive action, military or otherwise, is needed to rein in the Iranian nuclear program. Mr. Biden’s negotiators should wonder what gave Tehran the confidence to keep escalating. Rather than hope for an Iranian change of heart, Team Biden should prepare for how to stop the rogue nation from obtaining the bomb if negotiations fail. – Wall Street Journal 

Mariam Memarsadeghi writes: None of the Silicon Valley social-media giants have made a serious effort to prevent the Iranian regime from abusing their platforms. Many Iranian state media agencies and their employees are given verification. […]Whether they appreciate it or not, American social-media companies are working on behalf of an evil regime to suppress and censor a people agitating for freedom. All the while, the regime itself is free to use social media to spread domestic repression, anti-Semitism and animus toward the West. – Wall Street Journal 

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: This could be important to set timing for covert action or so that Washington will not need to break a formal deadline later, when it might become clear that Biden has no intention of attacking Iran overtly. One thing is sure: If Iran moderates its positions to return to the JCPOA in the near future, it will be because of the Israeli threat (which officials say is ready on some level even now), not the American one. – Jerusalem Post  

Dore Gold writes: To deny Iran the victory it thinks is within its grasp is doable. Tehran believes the winds of history are blowing in its direction. […]Preconceptions blinded decision-makers at the time as preconceptions about Iran are clouding the judgments of policy-makers today. At least, the US operates in a broad coalition in the Middle East including Britain, the Arab states and Israel. Iran may have imperial ambitions. But if we listen to each other this time, Pearl Harbor won’t happen again. – Jerusalem Post  


The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Thursday denied bowing to political pressure when he decided to focus an Afghan war crimes investigation on alleged crimes by the Taliban and Islamic State Khorasan rather than by U.S. or former Afghan government troops. – Reuters 

The al-Qaida extremist group has grown slightly inside Afghanistan since U.S. forces left in late August, and the country’s new Taliban leaders are divided over whether to fulfill their 2020 pledge to break ties with the group, the top U.S. commander in the region said Thursday. – Associated Press 

Taliban fighters have been accused of helping to forcibly evict more than 1,000 people in northern Afghanistan, with the evictions targeting members of the ethnic Uzbek and Turkmen communities. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sat for an interview on national television late last month, apparently seeking to calm nerves about Turkey’s weakening currency and galloping inflation. – New York Times 

The Istanbul conference last week was the visible and declarative element of a broader reality in which Ankara is actively promoting the political efforts of Hamas, as the movement seeks to emerge as the leading force among the Palestinians. Alongside this overt promotion, Turkey appears to be tacitly permitting Hamas to direct its campaign of violence in the West Bank, from Turkish soil. – Jerusalem Post  

Three Turkish soldiers were killed in an attack by Kurdish militants during cross-border operations in northern Iraq on Thursday, the Turkish Defence Ministry said, adding six of the militants were “neutralised”. – Reuters 

Turkish security forces rounded up 33 foreign nationals across the country for alleged links to the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group, security sources said on Thursday. – Anadolu Agency 

Michael Rubin writes: The facilities the UN will lease will directly benefit Erdoğan’s supporters if not Erdoğan himself. The move also signals to Erdoğan that the UN is no longer serious about resolving the Cyprus dispute; otherwise, it would make transfer of offices to Istanbul contingent upon a resolution. Most importantly, operating from inside Turkey gives Erdoğan the ability to hijack U.S. assistance to benefit those willing to support him while denying it to those who are not. – 19fortyfive 


Former President Donald Trump lashed out with profanity at Benjamin Netanyahu for congratulating President Joe Biden on his victory in last year’s election, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday. – Associated Press 

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan claimed Thursday that the Biden administration effectively agrees with Israel that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal does not block Tehran’s path to a nuclear weapon. – Times of Israel  

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is expected to meet next week with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Channel 12 News reported. This will be the second meeting between Gantz and Abbas this year, and comes against the backdrop of a series of lone-wolf terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, including one fatal attack. – Arutz Sheva 


Israel’s foreign minister arrived in Cairo on Thursday on a diplomatic visit aimed at strengthening ties and shoring up a tenuous cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers. – Associated Press 

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on his Facebook official account on Friday that he had requested support from Egypt in the field of natural gas to urgently generate electricity. – Reuters 

Ido Levy writes: More broadly, as U.S. adversaries attempt to court and coopt tribal groups throughout the Middle East, Egypt’s campaign against Wilayat Sinai is further vindication of American counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Syria. After a hard learning process, the shift to properly incorporating civil affairs and tribal engagement into military campaigns has produced tangible gains. Yet maintaining long-term relations with newly empowered local populations is crucial—otherwise, losing touch with local partners can lead to disasters such as the IS sweep through Iraqi tribal areas in 2014. – Washington Institute 

Gulf States

The United Arab Emirates recently ordered work halted on a Chinese facility in the country after American officials argued that Beijing intended to use the site for military purposes, a top U.A.E. official said Thursday. – Wall Street Journal 

Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi political activist who pushed to end a ban on women driving in her country, is suing three former U.S. intelligence and military officials she says helped hack her cellphone so a foreign government could spy on her before she was imprisoned and tortured. – Associated Press 

Saudi Arabia would welcome a return to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, but that would “only be the first step” in addressing Tehran’s malign behavior, Riyadh’s top diplomat said Thursday. – Al Arabiya 

Karen Elliott House writes: The hostility toward Saudi Arabia comes at a time when the kingdom is moving in all the directions of modernization advocated by a succession of U.S. presidents. […]To continue this modernizing path, the kingdom needs stability. Efforts to build a tourism industry along the Red Sea, for instance, won’t succeed if Saudi territory is constantly threatened with attack. The U.S. has nothing to gain by distancing itself from Saudi Arabia and thereby encouraging Iran to step up its decadeslong effort to weaken Riyadh, undermine the royal family, and lay claim to Islam’s holiest sites and Arabia’s oil. – Wall Street Journal 

Middle East & North Africa

Syrian opposition member and former parliamentary member Mohammad Barmo claimed that North Korea and Iran were helping develop a nuclear reactor in Syria, the latest in a series of similar reports in recent years, in an article published in the Saudi Okaz newspaper on Monday. – Jerusalem Post  

Syria will host an Arab energy conference in 2024, the country’s energy ministry said Thursday, the latest sign that Arab countries are moving to re-engage with the government of Syria’s embattled President Bashar Assad. – Times of Israel 

Israel and Morocco celebrated one year on Thursday to the signing of the normalization agreement between the countries. – Jerusalem Post  

The Iraqi government announced Thursday that U.S. forces had officially ended their combat mission in Iraq, a formality that is not expected to shrink the U.S. presence there nor much change what the troops do. – Defense One 

U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman will depart on Thursday for the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Egypt to discuss international support for diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Ethiopia, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Avi Benayahu writes: Removing Syria from the axis of evil would also resolve the threat on Israel on its northern border from Lebanon – two birds with one stone. And there is already broad national consensus that Israel should retain the Golan Heights, but that it should be settled and reinforced. Even the Americans have expressly recognized Israel’s right to sovereignty on the Golan. This is a matter that can be settled creatively. Trust me – it’s worth giving it a try. And if Assad gives us a cold shoulder, then at least we’ll have gotten some good PR and be seen as a country that is striving for peace. – Jerusalem Post  

Adnan Nasser writes: On a recent trip to Qatar, Lebanese president Michel Aoun met with Qatari emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to discuss ways to assist Lebanon’s unprecedented economic crisis. Tamim publicly expressed solidarity as a reason to support Lebanon. […]The Qataris want the same commitments from Beirut—that Beirut will ensure tangible economic and political reforms prior to receiving life-saving investment. However, this will not stop Doha from sending aid to Lebanese families that are in dire need of support through a possible International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrangement with Lebanon. – The National Interest 


An independent panel wrapped up its yearlong examination of China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, concluding that China’s policies in the region amounted to a form of genocide. – Wall Street Journal 

Increased government intolerance of independent reporting pushed the number of imprisoned journalists worldwide to a record high of 293 this year, more than a quarter of them in China alone, a monitoring group said in an annual survey released on Thursday. – New York Times 

After China was excluded — along with Russia and other nations deemed autocratic — from Biden’s “Summit for Democracy” this week, Chinese state media, think tanks and officials have lined up to take potshots at the event. But aside from mudslinging and off-color humor, the campaign also betrays Beijing’s desire to redefine international norms and present its controlling, one-party political system as not just legitimate but ideologically superior to liberal multiparty democracies. – Washington Post 

Defense Department officials and industry executives are working “to just create artificial fear” of China’s growing nuclear arsenal, according to a senior Senate Democrat who expressed irritation at the phenomenon. – Washington Examiner 

China on Thursday dismissed the decision by Canada and the United Kingdom to join Washington’s diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games as a “farce.” – Associated Press 

Russia’s Olympic Committee chief said on Thursday the country did not support the diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics by some Western countries, denouncing the move as pointless. – Reuters  

The Chinese government has launched a bitter public relations campaign targeting Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy, arguing that the Communist nation also deserves recognition as one of the world’s great democracies. – Financial Times  

Editorial: The democracy summit is getting criticism over which countries have been invited and which not—and that’s fair comment. But if the vitriolic denunciations against Mr. Law and Taiwan’s Audrey Tang are any indication, the summit has already had a constructive impact. China wants its authoritarian model to spread around the world, but those Chinese voices for democracy show how precious self-government is and how people are willing to fight for it even at great personal risk. – Wall Street Journal 

Jamie McIntyre writes: China’s strategy was effective so long as its goals were purely defensive, and the purpose of its relatively small arsenal tightly proscribed: to deter a nuclear attack, to limit the escalation of conventional conflict, and if attacked with nuclear weapons, be able to launch a counterstrike. – Washington Examiner 

Elizabeth Economy writes: Whether Xi is able to realize his ambition will depend on the interplay of many factors, such as the continued vitality of the Chinese economy and military and the support of other senior leaders and the Chinese people, on the one hand, and the ability of the world to continue to resist Chinese coercion and the capacity of the world’s democracies and others to articulate and pursue their own compelling vision of the world’s future, on the other. Perhaps most important to Xi’s success, however, will be his ability to recognize and address the vast disconnect between what he wants to deliver to the world and what the world wants delivered from him. – Foreign Affairs 

Julian Spencer-Churchill writes: China will predictably stoke concerns about arms races, while avoiding any arms control constraints on their own military build-up. If China closes the gap on, for example, the number of ocean-going platforms, or submarines, or total missile tubes, or achieves a sufficient concentration in sea denial systems, such as sea mines or anti-ship ballistic missiles, then Beijing will view war as an attractive option. The likelihood of war will be reduced dramatically, therefore, if the United States and its democratic allies commit to the procurement of a sustainably robust defense. – War on the Rocks 

Michael Schuman writes: In the end, the U.S. and China will likely never agree on what the global order should be, and they’re never likely to abide by the other’s rules. Ultimately, neither power can fully enforce its version of the rules, either. To a certain extent, they both prefer it that way. “The big powers don’t want impartial independent adjudication of their behavior under prevailing international norms,” Cohen pointed out. “They want to settle things themselves.” – The Atlantic 

South Asia

Taliban militants in Pakistan declared an end to a month-long ceasefire arranged with the aid of the Afghan Taliban, accusing the government of breaching terms including a prisoner release agreement and the formation of negotiating committees. – Reuters 

India is moving ahead with a $5.4 billion deal to buy a missile defense system from Russia, despite earlier warnings from U.S. officials of possible sanctions against the South Asian nation. – Stars and Stripes 

Tom Rogan writes: Imran Khan is the nominal prime minister of Pakistan. In reality, he’s Xi Jinping’s thinly veiled viceroy. Pakistan presents itself as a great beacon of Islamic democracy and morality. It’s actually just a Chinese fiefdom. […]There’s a broader issue here. Other Muslim governments play the same game when it comes to ignoring China’s genocide. The United Arab Emirates, Bashar al Assad’s Syria, and the Taliban are notable examples. – Washington Examiner 


Nicaragua on Thursday severed ties with Taiwan and established relations with Beijing, further shrinking the island’s dwindling ranks of diplomatic partners as China pressures countries to break off contact with Taipei. – Washington Post  

Australia’s military said Friday it plans to ditch its fleet of European-designed Taipan helicopters and instead buy U.S. Black Hawks and Seahawks because the American machines are more reliable. – Associated Press 

Armenia and Azerbaijan on Thursday traded blame for border clashes in which officials say at least one soldier was killed and two others were wounded amid simmering tensions between the ex-Soviet neighbors. – Associated Press 

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday that the United States was “outraged” by reports that Myanmar soldiers rounded up and killed 11 people in the northwestern region of Sagaing. The soldiers were accused of shooting the people and setting fire to their bodies. Charred remains were discovered in a village. – Reuters 

Myanmar’s military government accused senior United Nations officials on Thursday of interference and making judgments based on “distorted news”, days after a storm of international criticism over the jailing of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi. – Reuters 

Myanmar’s military-installed government has described as “fake news” reports that its troops were involved in a widely reported massacre in the country’s northwest in which soldiers allegedly rounded up and killed 11 civilians whose charred bodies were later discovered by fellow villagers. – Associated Press 

Nicaragua’s decision to sever diplomatic links with Taiwan and recognize China leaves the self-governing island democracy with just 14 diplomatic allies. – Associated Press 

Eugene Kogan writes: Even though Georgia’s military reforms have advanced and NATO military commanders have praised the country for its efforts, a MAP for Georgia and eventual membership in NATO is not decided by the military commanders, but by the political leadership. The Alliance should strive to achieve internal consensus on this issue and in the meantime Georgia should continue to pursue both military and political reforms. Until NATO can agree, Georgia will not get a MAP and become a member — and Russia will be the only winner. – Middle East Institute 

Michael Rubin writes: There is a qualitative difference, here, however: Armenia’s ties to Iran are a matter of survival due to the double blockade of Armenia by Azerbaijan and Turkey. To lift the blockade to normal trade and commerce would enable Armenia to thrive and extricate itself from Iranian blackmail. Azerbaijan, however, embraces today Iran by choice and because of Aliyev’s greed and his belief that he can continue to deceive the West. – 19fortyfive 

Patrick M. Cronin writes: Kim is too crafty a leader and too set on winning global attention to ignore the United States’ offer for serious dialogue over the long term. Because Kim needs to maintain a strategic equilibrium among regional powers, shifts in either South Korea or U.S.-China relations could trigger new provocations, diplomatic overtures, or both. – The National Interest  


President Biden laid the groundwork Thursday for talks with Moscow to de-escalate the crisis over the massing of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border. The negotiations, which Mr. Biden said a day earlier could include some North Atlantic Treaty Organization members and Russia, promise to be difficult for the Biden administration. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia’s top military officer on Thursday sternly warned neighboring Ukraine against trying to reclaim control over separatist areas by force, saying that Moscow will “suppress” any such attempt. – Associated Press

Russia kept up a barrage of hostile rhetoric towards Ukraine on Thursday and compared the crisis there to the most dangerous moment of the Cold War as it waited for U.S. President Joe Biden to invite it to possible talks with NATO countries. – Reuters 

A US-born businessman who has operated in Russia since 1999 has been jailed by a St Petersburg court on suspicion of fraud, in a sign of the increasing judicial threat hanging over both national and foreign executives. – Financial Times  

Ivan Timofeyev, Program Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, Director of Programs of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), and  Associate Professor at MGIMO University assesses the war scare triggered by Russian troop concentrations on Ukraine’s border. […]Timofeev’s analysis follows below – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: Russia is a great power possessing significant military strength. Putin’s voice matters and must be heard. But the enduring lesson for the West, shaped by more than 20 hard years of experience, is that Putin senses and takes advantage of his adversaries’ weaknesses. […]It is no surprise, then, that Putin so obviously now holds the strategic initiative. Both Ukraine’s and the U.S.’s allies have every reason to be afraid that the leader of the free world is not up to the job. – Washington Examiner 

David Ignatius writes: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s path toward threatening an invasion of Ukraine is marked by reckless actions. In this move toward defiance of international norms, Putin has been subtly encouraged by former president Donald Trump, a fellow traveler in recklessness. […]Putin and Trump share the same playbook. Defy and disrupt; plead innocence when confronted; negotiate through intimidation. They act like pro wrestlers with fake theatrical bluster, but the danger is all too real. The rule of law is a noble concept, but it needs to be enforced. – Washington Post  

Eli Lake writes: Hosting a high-level meeting with Russia about Ukraine’s possible future in NATO will only sow further doubts about how much the West is willing to risk to protect what is left of Ukrainian sovereignty. It would also give legitimacy to the demands of Putin, whose goal is to break up the alliance, not accommodate it. Biden should be careful: The U.S. and Europe have to deter Putin from starting another war against his neighbor. But the price of that deterrence cannot be Ukrainian independence. – Bloomberg 

Matthew Rojansky and James Jeffrey write: A successful U.S. and European approach depends on backing Ukraine in all of these efforts, with concrete resources whenever possible, and with sustained attention beyond the current crisis. Indications are that Washington is ready to do this. Biden has already made clear to Putin the severe costs to Russia of starting a major war, and he has accepted Putin’s proposal for further high-level dialogue. History suggests this mix could be enough to convince Moscow that in the high-stakes drama of Eastern Europe, life should not imitate art. – Politico 

Rich Lowry writes: No CPAC invitation will be in the offing anytime soon, but Vladimir Putin has picked up admirers on the populist right in the United States and abroad that he doesn’t deserve […]His grand strategic play is apparently to make an autocratic alliance with President Xi Jinping of China, a move that — given the power disparity in China’s favor — might not work out for Russia in the long term. Regardless, making himself the junior partner of a Chinese potentate intent on restoring China’s greatness and becoming the preeminent power in the world is a funny way to defend Western civilization. – Politico 

Elisabeth Braw writes: For the moment, however, Kyiv is vulnerable to investors and stock traders who have no geopolitical obligations. If they want to withhold their money from a country, or speculate against its currency, or assume it will default, they can. And the more Ukraine’s economy suffers, the more remote its chances of EU membership will become. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin could not hope for a better outcome. Who said those soldiers needed to cross the border? – Financial Times 

James Jay Carafano writes: Biden has a double risk. Having disastrously failed in Afghanistan, one more massive foreign policy reversal on his watch could prove politically fatal for the president. The lack of strong leadership now also risks letting NATO solidarity break up under Putin’s pressure. Europe is a vital partner in today’s world. We can’t defend ourselves or the free world alone. We need a strong NATO. Putin looks to the current crisis as the next step in unraveling NATO. If Biden allows him to succeed, he will put all of us at risk. – Fox News 

Kris Osborn writes: The Russian Navy is much smaller and less capable than the U.S. Navy. Yet there are indications that Russia is up-gunning some of its lighter-class warships in what could be an effort to keep pace with the United States. […]While Russia may be taking repeated steps to up gun its surface fleet, there are little or no indications that the Russian Navy can compete with the U.S. Navy in any measurable way. – The National Interest 


President Emmanuel Macron, in a rare news conference, called on Thursday for the European Union to change from a “Europe of internal cooperation to a powerful Europe active in the world, fully sovereign, free in its choices and master of its own destiny.” – New York Times  

President Biden moved to solidify a unified position with Ukraine and U.S. allies on Europe’s eastern flank in a set of phone calls Thursday, part of an urgent effort to prevent and prepare for a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. – Washington Post  

With nearly 100,000 troops now massed across Ukraine’s eastern, northern and southern borders and more on the way, even the Ukrainian officials responsible for their country’s defense acknowledge that without a significant influx of resources, their forces do not stand much of a chance. – New York Times 

The U.S. government won an appeal against a U.K. court’s decision to bar the extradition of Julian Assange, clearing a big hurdle in Washington’s pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder on espionage charges. – Wall Street Journal 

Now, amid fears that a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine’s border could signal a possible attack, military experts say Moscow would face stronger resistance this time. But they emphasize that Ukraine would be well short of what it needs to counter Russia’s overwhelming land, sea and air superiority. – Associated Press 

U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday promised Central European NATO members more military support as concern grows over a Russian troop build-up on the border with Ukraine, Lithuania’s presidential advisor said. – Reuters 

The European Union needs an emergency response mechanism that a member state can trigger when the bloc’s external borders are under threat, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday. – Reuters 

A day ahead of a European deadline, France said it was still waiting for Britain to approve nearly 100 licences for its fishermen to operate in UK territorial waters and off Jersey and that last-gasp negotiations were ongoing. – Reuters 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Kiev’s army and pro-Russian separatists “looks like genocide”, at a time of heightened tensions with the West. – Agence France-Presse 

The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on former Ukrainian government official Andriy Portnov, accusing him of buying influence in Ukraine’s judiciary. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

The Biden administration strenuously denied reports that it has urged Ukraine to cede territory to Russia as the number of troops grows along its eastern border. – Washington Examiner 

Editorial: Mr. Lukashenko presents a real-time challenge for those who would fight back against authoritarianism as it rises around the world. Fresh ideas are needed for how to effectively struggle for free thinking and an open society under despotic rule, as the Belarus Free Theatre admirably did for so long. – Washington Post  


Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, reinstated after a coup, must now pull off a political juggling act if he is to realise his ambition of forming a government to secure a civilian foothold in his country’s turbulent transition away from autocracy. – Reuters 

Unidentified gunmen ambushed and killed least 14 members of a government-backed civilian militia in Burkina Faso on Thursday, officials said, the latest in a wave of violence. – Reuters 

The U.S. Treasury has imposed sanctions on a former Angolan military general who has been a longstanding partner of Trafigura Group, accusing him of corruption and embezzlement.  – Bloomberg 

United States

President Biden warned world leaders Thursday of a “backward slide” in democracy around the globe and urged them to champion a form of a government that he said needs concerted work to be sustained through an “inflection point in history.” – Washington Post 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and a top Republican sparred on the House floor about the investigation Schiff led into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Hunter Biden’s questionable business dealings. – Washington Examiner 

Dalibor Rohac writes: For Europeans, there was something comforting about the idea of a Summit for Democracy when the proposal was floated by the US administration earlier this year. […]The administration should seize the opportunity and forge a new ‘New Europe’ – a coalition of largely though not exclusively post-communist countries cognizant of the twin threat of Chinese and Russian autocrats and willing to do something about it. – American Enterprise Institute 

Gro Harlem Brundtland writes: President Joe Biden has a historic opportunity to demonstrate leadership by using the current US Nuclear Posture Review to implement his campaign commitment that the “sole purpose” of the US nuclear arsenal “should be deterring — and if necessary, retaliating against — a nuclear attack”. […]Biden should therefore have the courage of his convictions, resist the weapons lobby and act boldly to reduce the existential threat of nuclear catastrophe for current and future generations. He will be applauded around the world if he does. – Financial Times  


The Biden administration is expected to announce on Friday an initiative to tighten rules surrounding the exports of certain technologies that have been used by authoritarian governments and bad actors for repression. – The Hill 

Israel led a 10-country, 10-day-long simulation of a major cyberattack on the world’s financial system by “sophisticated” players, with the goal of minimizing the damage to banks and financial markets, the Finance Ministry said on Thursday. – Times of Israel 

John Basnemer writes: The impact of uncontrolled cyberattacks is becoming ever more costly. It is past time for the United States to explore the potential for AI to improve its cyberdefenses to better protect critical infrastructure providers and state and local governments. There is little reason to believe that strategic competitors will not turn to AI-enabled attacks if traditional techniques lose their effectiveness. The stakes are high, and AI techniques are a double-edged sword. The United States must commit the resources to ensure that it is the defense that benefits. – Foreign Affairs 


Congress plans to scrap its requirement for the U.S. Army to procure two additional batteries of the Rafael-Raytheon developed Iron Dome air defense system as an interim cruise missile defense capability, a move for which the Army has been pushing. – Defense News  

Congress wants the Missile Defense Agency to get a radar installed in Hawaii that can protect the homeland from ballistic missiles by the end of 2028, according to the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act released this week. – Defense News  

The final version of the annual defense policy bill will create a new office to study UFOs, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced on Thursday. – The Hill 

Editorial: A new, overarching space treaty is probably not achievable in the short-term. But smaller steps could be taken to ensure the space economy remains safe and open to all. Nations that signed the 2019 guidelines should ensure there are penalties for violators. Launch companies and users of satellite services could refuse to do business with operators who ignore them. Urgent agreement is also needed on communication and traffic management protocols to avoid collisions. – Financial Times