Fdd's overnight brief

March 23, 2020

In The News


President Trump was getting ready to declare the coronavirus a “national emergency,” but inside the White House last Thursday, a tense debate erupted among the president and his top advisers on a far different subject: whether the United States should escalate military action against Iran, a longtime American rival that has been devastated by the epidemic. – New York Times

French researcher Roland Marchal returned to Paris on Saturday after being imprisoned in Iran for over nine months, after France released an Iranian threatened with extradition to the US. – Agence France-Presse

The U.S. State Department on Sunday criticized the French government for releasing an Iranian national wanted by the U.S. – The Hill

The devastation of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran is raising pressure on the U.S. to ease sanctions on the Islamic Republic. So far, the Trump administration isn’t budging. – Bloomberg

The United States should lift sanctions if Washington wants to help Iran to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday, adding that Iran had no intention of accepting Washington’s offer of humanitarian assistance. – Reuters

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pushed a conspiracy theory on Sunday, rejecting the possibility of any U.S. aid amid the coronavirus outbreak and suggesting the novel virus was a “poison” designed specifically to kill Iranians. – Newsweek 

Iran International has received documents that disprove the claims made by Iranian Officials about the lack of coronavirus test kits In Iran due to sanctions. – Iran International

The latest threat is the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Iran harder than any country except China or Italy. As with other crises, Iran’s authorities have responded by stepping up censorship over an already-restricted press and social media landscape. This time, however, the government’s instinct to cover up bad news is having disastrous public health consequences. – Committee to Protect Journalists

Eli Lake writes: The truth is that there is little anyone can do for Iran at the moment. Even if the oil sanctions were lifted tomorrow, the price of oil has plummeted. The country’s main export will not yield very much revenue to help fight the pandemic. Even if it did, an infusion of cash would not fix the public health crisis for which Iran’s leaders were not prepared. – Bloomberg

Shay Khatiri writes: There is a direct chain of causality linking last year’s protests in Iran to the heightened severity of this year’s pandemic. Many of those protestors were disillusioned youth who’d come to realize that the promise of gradual political “reform” was empty. The regime succeeded in suppressing the protestors, but only until the regime’s destruction of a Ukrainian civilian airliner (and botched response to the tragedy) brought protestors back out onto the streets. – Quillette

Kyra Rauschenbach, Katherine Lawlor and Brandon Wallace write: Iranian proxies in Iraq have sustained attacks since the killing of Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in an attempt to provoke a US response that will lead to the expulsion of American forces from the country. […]The Iranian regime may also welcome heightened tensions with the US as an enemy other than its own ineptitude amid its failure to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. – Institute for the Study of War

James Phillips and Nicole Robinson write: Iran, which faces one of the most widespread COVID-19 coronavirus outbreaks outside of China, is paying a heavy price for the mismanagement, dishonesty, and self-serving priorities of its Islamist clerical regime. – The Daily Signal


A Turkish-language news website promotes the worldview of the Islamic State (ISIS) and is updated daily. The website gets 879 visitors per day, or about 26,370 per month, and is hosted by the U.S.-based reverse proxy service Cloudflare. The following report will review content published on the website. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Police in Greece said Friday they have seized grenade launchers and other weapons in raids against suspected members of a far-left Turkish armed group. – Associated Press

Jed Babbin writes: Earlier this month, Mr. Erdogan reached an accommodation with Russian President Vladimir Putin to prevent an outbreak of fighting between the two nations. There was every reason for them to do so. Russia, Turkey and Iran signed a treaty about five years ago to jointly preserve Syria’s Assad regime, and in 2018 Russia and Turkey agreed to a de-escalation zone in part of Syria. Note well that Syria is not party to either agreement. Russia, Iran and Turkey are jockeying for position while they carve up Syria. – Washington Times


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has mobilized Israel’s intelligence agencies to help contain the new coronavirus, an effort that has involved an undercover purchase of testing kits from abroad and the use of antiterrorism phone-tracking technology to map infections. – Wall Street Journal

Citing a threat to Israeli democracy, opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Supreme Court on Sunday to block what they described as a power grab by the caretaker government under the guise of combating the coronavirus epidemic. – New York Times

Coronavirus or not, lock-down or not, social distancing or not, the IDF on Sunday “welcomed” hundreds of new Golani and Givati recruits at the Army Induction Base at Tel Hashomer as the army’s large March induction hit full-speed. – Jerusalem Post

The Israeli government is considering closing the Shoafat border checkpoint in East Jerusalem as part of its effort to stem the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. – Haaretz

Qatar announced $150 million in aid to the Gaza Strip over a period of six months, to support United Nations humanitarian programs in the Palestinian territory and efforts to contain the new coronavirus outbreak, the state-run Qatari Committee to Rebuild Gaza said Monday on Twitter. – Reuters

Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian who was hurling rocks at Israeli cars driving on a highway in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, the military said. – Reuters

The arrival of the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip, an impoverished enclave where the health care system has been gutted by years of conflict, and Syria, which has been devastated by nine years of civil war and sanctions, raised fears Sunday that the pandemic may soon prey on some of the most vulnerable populations in the world. – Associated Press

Palestinians and Israelis warn of catastrophe after the discovery of the first two cases of coronavirus in the densely populated Hamas-ruled coastal enclave. – Jerusalem Post


President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday came close to blaming Iran for a rocket attack in Iraq last week in which two American troops and a British service member were killed. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran is now concerned that its facility, into which it invested what limited resources it had, has been eviscerated. The airstrikes remain hidden in the shadows, with no one wanting to take responsibility. Iraq’s former prime minister blamed Israel for airstrikes in Iraq in July and August of last year.  However Iran has remained quiet this time. – Jerusalem Post

Katherine Lawlor and Brandon Wallace write: The U.S. began a planned drawdown from three Iraqi bases after Iran’s proxy network in Iraq intensified its campaign of rocket attacks against U.S.-led Coalition forces. A new Shi’a militia group, likely spawned from the Iranian proxy network and calling itself Usbat al-Thairen, claimed the attacks. Iran’s proxies will likely frame the U.S. drawdown as a victory in their campaign to expel U.S. forces from Iraq and may seek to gain access to these bases. […]Widening government shutdowns due to COVID-19 may further elongate the government formation process. – Institute for the Study of War

Arabian Peninsula

A group of Energy Department officials are pushing the Trump administration to forge an oil alliance with Saudi Arabia, a partnership supporters say could join the world’s two largest oil-producing nations and pave the way for the Saudis to leave OPEC, according to people familiar with the situation. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. oil industry regulators opened a dialogue with OPEC in talks that could help foster a truce between the world’s three largest oil producers and potentially resolve a Saudi-Russian price war that has devastated oil markets in recent weeks, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration plans to send a special energy envoy to Saudi Arabia to work with the kingdom on stabilizing the global oil market, officials said on Friday, as the U.S. scrambles to deal with a price crash so deep that regulators in Texas considered curbing production there for the first time in nearly 50 years. – Reuters

Fatima Abo Alasrar writes: Unfortunately there is no scenario in which a country like Yemen — with limited resources, poor infrastructure, and severe water shortages — is capable of escaping this pandemic. But pre-emptively blaming adversaries is not going to stop the virus. The Houthis need to dedicate all of their resources to fighting this threat, which will undoubtedly reach Yemen.  – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Syrians rushed to stock up on food and fuel Monday amid fears that authorities would resort to even stricter measures after reporting the first coronavirus infection in the country, where the healthcare system has been decimated by nearly a decade of civil war. – Associated Press

War-ravaged Syria on Sunday confirmed its first case of the coronavirus after weeks of rejecting opposition allegations that the disease had already reached a country with a wrecked health system and thousands of Iranian-backed militias and Shi’ite pilgrims. – Reuters

Libya’s UN-backed government has accused a Syrian airline of exposing the war-torn country to coronavirus by flying mercenaries into the eastern city of Benghazi, controlled by the military leader General Khalifa Haftar. – Financial Times

Ryan Grace writes: The growing fears and false narratives surrounding coronavirus exacerbate existing political tensions while obscuring a legitimate health risk for millions of people. The ongoing pandemic presents a truly global issue that requires international cooperation and a rapid response. Policies that stoke regional tensions while misleading the public only make things worse. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday in the country’s third weapons test this month, the South Korean military said. – New York Times

President Trump sent a letter to Kim Jong Un to offer help in North Korea’s battle against the coronavirus, Kim’s sister said Sunday, but she warned it wasn’t enough to improve relations. – Washington Post

With international focus on the coronavirus, North Korea has doubled down on its missile development and military exercises in recent weeks while signaling new confidence that it has dodged an outbreak of its own. – Reuters

North Korea fired two projectiles that appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles on Saturday, South Korea’s military said, calling the action “highly inappropriate” given the global coronavirus pandemic. – Reuters

Patrick M. Cronin writesThe possibility of peaceful change on the Korean Peninsula appears less realistic today than it did throughout 2018 and 2019. Instead of a rapid breakthrough to curb nuclear dangers and cement inter-Korean peace, the peninsula seems to be reverting back to its cold war norm. – Hudson Institute


A sweeping evacuation of American diplomats has hobbled the U.S. government’s presence in China, further rupturing interactions between the two superpowers at a time of rising tensions and hampering efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. – Wall Street Journal

The Marine Corps is undertaking its most sweeping transformation in decades, pivoting from a focus on fighting insurgents in the Middle East to developing the ability to hop from island to island in the western Pacific to bottle up the Chinese fleet. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Intelligence Community warned President Trump in early 2020 that the Chinese Communist Party was downplaying the real threat posed by the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has since become a pandemic with more than 300,000 confirmed cases around the world. – Washington Examiner

China’s ambassador to the U.S. reaffirmed his opposition to promoting theories that the virus that causes Covid-19 originated in an American military lab, in an unusual break with the country’s foreign ministry. – Bloomberg

The Trump administration on Friday said it was soliciting public comments on lifting additional tariffs on Chinese imports that could help the United States battle the coronavirus pandemic, showing some flexibility in its trade war against Beijing. – Reuters

China has promised it will not impose a nationwide ban on imports of U.S. poultry if the United States finds cases of avian flu, an industry group said, a policy change that could help Beijing fulfill commitments to buy more American farm goods. – Reuters

Editorial: The coronavirus threat creates new challenges for social-media companies already grappling with the limits of free speech online. China is waging an information war to whitewash its handling of the virus and impugn the U.S. Meanwhile, charlatans hawking bogus science or false cures could endanger the public. […]The idea that “democratizing information” leads to better outcomes is often exaggerated, but the freewheeling marketplace of ideas has sometimes performed better than the central authorities. – Wall Street Journal

Alessandra Bocchi writes: It is ironic to see Beijing trying to swoop in as Rome’s rescuer. Western nations should come up with a plan quickly to help one another weather the storm of the virus. Otherwise the Chinese Communist Party will exploit this opportunity to present itself as the savior of not only Italy, but Europe and the world. – Wall Street Journal

Sophia Yan, Nicola Smith and Roland Oliphant write: China is rewriting the history of its handling of the coronavirus outbreak with Beijing looking to take on the role of global Good Samaritan as the disease takes hold in Europe and America, regional experts have warned. – Telegraph

Nate Sibley writes: None of these measures will stop coronavirus, but they can help ensure that increased public health expenditure finds its way to researchers and patients rather than kleptocrats. They also pose a direct threat to the authoritarian culture of secrecy and corruption—embodied by the Chinese Communist Party—which is undermining our ability to plan and respond to the pandemic in a unified and effective manner. – Hudson Institute

Linda Zhang writes: It is true that the Chinese government’s response to COVID-19 was an improvement from its handling of SARS in 2003. However, that does not mean that the CCP had a well-executed response. Had the Chinese government listened to the medical community, been transparent, and worked with international partners early on, we may not be living with this global pandemic today. – American Enterprise Institute

John L. Holden writes: In the short term, I am pessimistic about U.S.-China relations because I think that the leaders of both countries calculate that the benefits of blaming the other play so much to their own political advantage[…]. It is time for men and women of good will and practical abilities around the world to set aside politics and join forces to fight COVID-19. If national governments are unable to find ways to cooperate, there is no reason others cannot. Too much is at stake not to. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Danielle Pletka and Derek Scissors write: Over the last couple of years, the Washington consensus view on China has shifted 180 degrees. The nation whose transformation lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and spurred serious calls for examination of a “China model”—authoritarian government married to managed capitalism—is now perceived by most political leaders as a strategic competitor at best, a dangerous enemy at worst. Setting aside the well-documented military challenge, since the Wuhan outbreak, the economic and health threats have come sharply into view. – The Dispatch

Michael Rubin writes: What to call the pandemic sweeping across the world has become the subject of peculiar political, press, and pundit focus. At press briefings this week, President Trump has doubled down on calling the virus at the heart of the pandemic “the Chinese virus.” Richard Engel at NBC News labeled this racist […]judgmental riffs on the part of the press do more to delegitimize it or allow the administration to avoid answering tough questions on the pandemic than to address the most important decisions that must now be made which are, quite literally, matters of life and death. – Washington Examiner


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Kabul on Monday on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan, where he will be working to bridge a political impasse that has undermined U.S. efforts to pull all its troops out of the country. – Wall Street Journal

Balancing coronavirus concerns with fears that a painstakingly negotiated peace deal could fall apart, Afghan government officials met by videoconference on Sunday with Taliban delegates to discuss technical details of a prisoner release that is a part of the deal, officials said. – New York Times

It was once a sideshow to the American military in Afghanistan and later became one of the largest diplomatic missions in the world. Now, as the United States Embassy in Kabul transitions to its newest role, its future is tied to a fragile peace process, one that will withdraw American troops even as violence continues. – New York Times

A Taliban ambush that appears to have had inside help killed up to 24 Afghan security forces in southern Afghanistan early Friday, officials said. – New York Times

The coronavirus pandemic is throwing another curveball at President Trump’s already shaky efforts to end the war in Afghanistan. – The Hill


In South Korea, government agencies are harnessing surveillance-camera footage, smartphone location data and credit card purchase records to help trace the recent movements of coronavirus patients and establish virus transmission chains. […]Health and law enforcement authorities are understandably eager to employ every tool at their disposal to try to hinder the virus — even as the surveillance efforts threaten to alter the precarious balance between public safety and personal privacy on a global scale. – New York Times

The International Olympic Committee on Sunday said it is considering postponing the Tokyo 2020 Games, bowing to the reality of the worsening novel coronavirus pandemic and growing pressure from athletes, sports federations and public health leaders to delay its multibillion-dollar centerpiece event. – Wall Street Journal

A man from the New South Wales south coast has been charged with terrorism offences a week after another man was arrested over the alleged rightwing plot. – The Guardian

Zachary Karabell writes: Post-virus investment is likely to pick up as well throughout Latin America, Africa and especially East Asia, where the Trans-Pacific Partnership (absent the U.S.) has streamlined economic relations. Such connections will expand in the wake of the present crisis, for reasons not of altruism but of self-interest. […]The months ahead will feel like the presumptive end of an era of globalization. And it may be the end of globalization’s first phase, with its heady optimism and corresponding ideological and economic backlash. But there will be a next phase, one less rosy-eyed and less sour as well. – Wall Street Journal


A group of Democratic U.S. senators is calling on the European Union to impose economic pressure on a Russian businessman and certain businesses over concerns of potential foreign interference as the U.S. presidential election nears. – Wall Street Journal

Paradoxically, however, those sanctions and the policies Russia enacted in response prepared the Kremlin for what came this month: a universal dislocation of the global economy from the coronavirus pandemic and an oil price war that led to a collapse in oil prices and the revenues that Russia relies upon to support social spending. – New York Times

Russia never sought a sharp oil price fall or an end to cooperation with Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the Gulf nations are to blame for the crisis on the global oil markets, a senior Russian official said. – Reuters

Janusz Bugajski writes: If the contagion incapacitates the tottering Russian healthcare system, the public will become further alienated from the regime and will no longer accept the nonsense that the existential crisis is a Western conspiracy. Official public opinion polls in Russia are notoriously unreliable. The real test of the popular mood will be visible in public actions against a regime that persistently deceives its people, as well as those in the West. – Washington Examiner

Casey Michel writes: It’s unclear what the next steps for the prosecution may be, or what Mueller’s ultimate legacy will be. But one thing appears certain: Russia’s victory last week in our courts is only going to further embolden the trolls as we go through the 2020 election. Self-described “hackers” are going to accelerate their efforts  to try and con support from those of us who can “tell people the truth!”—and who will continue to be the target of hacking, trolling, and interference operations that are pushing on and amping up, with little reason to stop now. – The Daily Beast

Donald N. Jensen writes: COVID-19 has hit Russia at a time when the Putin regime was already under stress. At home, a stagnant economy will be buffeted by the plunge in oil prices. […]Putin’s approach, as usual, is to encourage competition and then choose the best proposals. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Russia’s success — it has sold more nuclear technology abroad since Mr. Putin came to power in 1999 than the United States, France, China, South Korea and Japan combined[…]. But it has also given Moscow a powerful geopolitical tool, locking clients like Belarus, but also members of the European Union like Hungary, into long-term dependency on Rosatom, and therefore the Russian state. That strategy seems particularly evident with plants like the one here in Belarus. – New York Times

For days, Prime Minister Boris Johnson charted a defiantly maverick course in Britain’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, refusing to shut down large parts of his country, as many other European leaders have. – New York Times

The Group of 20 finance leaders will not issue a statement after Monday’s teleconference, a G20 source told Reuters, underscoring the challenge they face in garnering a consensus on how to deal with the rising economic risk from the coronavirus outbreak. – Reuters


Al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia, the terrorist group’s largest and most active global affiliate, has issued specific new threats against Americans in East Africa and even the United States, U.S. commandos, counterterrorism officials and intelligence analysts say. – New York Times

With the coronavirus increasing its spread across Africa, the continent received a much-needed care package from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma. – Associated Press

U.S. State Department employees have complained about the U.S. ambassador to South Africa’s failure to self-isolate immediately after returning from a U.S. visit when she attended a March 7 Mar-a-Lago event, some of whose attendees have tested positive for coronavirus, according to messages reviewed by Reuters. – Reuters

The Americas

The U.S. quietly unsealed criminal cases against two former officials at Venezuela’s state oil monopoly this month as part of what American officials say is a new round of charges and sanctions against a Maduro government they accuse of systemic corruption, narcotrafficking and stealing billions of dollars in state funds. – Wall Street Journal

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the closure of Canada’s borders to most foreign nationals Monday but exempted U.S. citizens, citing the “level of integration of our two economies.” The move drew criticism, including from British Columbia’s health minister, who noted a surge of cases in neighboring Washington state. – Washington Post

A prison riot in Colombia’s capital Bogota late on Saturday left 23 prisoners dead and 83 injured, the justice minister said on Sunday, as detainees protested sanitary conditions amid the global outbreak of coronavirus. – Reuters

The IOC will take up to four weeks to consider postponing the Tokyo Olympics amid mounting criticism of its handling of the coronavirus crisis that now includes Canada saying it won’t send a team to the games this year and the leader of track and field, the biggest sport at the games, also calling for a delay. – Associated Press

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: In a country where soap and water are luxuries, ramping up traffic from Europe was a precarious strategy. But desperate times spawn crackpot measures, and the Cuban economy is skating dangerously close to the edge. The regime needs dollars to maintain the police state that has kept it in power for six decades. Its problem today, in a word, is oil. – Wall Street Journal

Moises Rendon and Claudia Fernandez write: Other multilaterals, including the United Nations, have established COVID-19 response funds for countries with weak health systems. On March 19, the UN confirmed that it is prepared to support Venezuela’s response to the virus. The United States and other donor countries should provide funding urgently. Once these funds are obtained, administering them will require assistance from the international community, as well as oversight to ensure that resources are distributed justly and on the basis of health needs. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Ana Quintana and Lora Ries write: It is important to note that Friday’s border action was a joint agreement with Mexico. Hopefully, the Trump administration is deepening cooperation with Mexico on their domestic efforts to counter the coronavirus. […]In the midst of a highly contagious global pandemic, definitions of normalcy are rewritten. Viruses do not respect borders or boundaries. What was extreme a month ago is now prudent and responsible. – The Daily Signal


The fate of the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to begin in late July, remains in question amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Olympic flame arrived from Greece on Friday. But for cybersecurity experts, the date of the next Olympiad is less important than whether they have learned the lessons from the last one. The main takeaway: Suspected state-backed Russian hackers could be ready for another run at the Games. – Washington Post

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday accused China, Russia and Iran of carrying out disinformation campaigns related to the coronavirus pandemic, in what is an apparent effort to sow fear and confusion. – The Hill

Eli Lake writes: This does not mean public indictments of foreign hackers are always wrong. But it does show the risks of using the U.S. system of justice as a tool of foreign policy. American due process is designed to protect the rights of the accused. It was not designed to protect the sources and methods the U.S. government uses to catch spies and hackers. – Bloomberg

Michael Sobolik writes: On January 28, 2020, the British government concluded its security assessment on the nation’s 5G infrastructure buildout. At the center of Downing Street’s internal deliberations was Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, and the implications of allowing an entity with connections to the Chinese government into its next-generation networks. The timing of the decision coincided with “Brexit,” the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, which saddled Britain with the need to negotiate a series of new bilateral free trade agreements, most urgently with Washington and Beijing.  – American Foreign Policy Council


The U.S. military said Friday it is preparing plans to take over hotels and other buildings if necessary to add to the nation’s supply of hospital rooms, part of its response to the coronavirus emergency. – Wall Street Journal

A Defense Department contractor has died after contracting coronavirus, marking the first military-related death from the illness. – The Hill

As the number of positive coronavirus cases mount in the greater San Diego region, the Navy’s U.S. Pacific Fleet announced it would forego naming ships sailors who test positive are assigned to. – Military Times

The coronavirus pandemic is stressing the military’s ability to keep its troops ready to fight as 124 service members, their families and civilian workers had contracted the disease as of Friday and the Pentagon seeks to halt its spread. – USA Today

The United States announced Friday it has successfully tested an unarmed prototype of a hypersonic missile, a nuclear-capable weapon that could accelerate the arms race between superpowers. – Agence France-Presse

Kevin R. Brock writes: It is true that America faces a whole host of challenges that are actual dangers. Any president will have a daunting task evaluating and correctly prioritizing very real threats to the country.  But characterizing the removal of any intelligence agency leader as “deeply destructive to the nation’s safety” is a bit of community self-importance that’s eye-rolling. We’ll be just fine. – The Hill 

Tom Karako and Wes Rumbaugh write: The 2021 budget submission represents an inflection point for missile defense programs, the relationship between active defenses and other forms of missile defeat, and the institutional makeup of the missile defense enterprise. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Trump Administration

Lora Shiao, a career American intelligence officer, will be the next acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the government’s central clearinghouse for intelligence on terrorist threats, Trump administration officials said on Saturday. – New York Times

President Donald Trump has doubled down on referring to the coronavirus pandemic as the “Chinese virus” as he tries to distance himself from criticism over how his administration is handling the response to the global pandemic that has shuttered public life across the U.S., roiled stock markets and left more than 200 people dead in the U.S. – USA Today

Ronald E. Neumann and Marc Grossman write: The State Department needs a strategic personnel plan that gets more FSOs into the field. The resources exist to do this. Personnel have been freed up by the removal of several special envoy positions, each of which required extensive staff. Drawdowns from crises and security threats in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba, plus political withdrawals or expulsions from Venezuela and Russia, total over 600 diplomatic personnel, according to calculations of the American Foreign Service Association. – The Hill

Gary J. Schmitt writes: It would be perverse if—as a result of People’s Republic’s failure to contain the spread of COVID-19 when it could have and saved thousands of its own people’s lives, or even alerted the world to its discovery in a timely way—the West is not only economically weaker but also less capable of guaranteeing its own security. The Pandemic of 2020 could be a strategic game-changer, if we are not careful. – The American Interest