Fdd's overnight brief

September 29, 2020

In The News


The Trump administration is considering fresh sanctions to sever Iran’s economy from the outside world except in limited circumstances, by targeting more than a dozen banks and labeling the entire financial sector off-limits, three people familiar with the matter said. – Bloomberg

An Iranian dissident who fled his country fearing arrest has fallen foul of politics and COVID-19 restrictions in ethnically split Cyprus. – Reuters

China has flagged Iran and Saudi Arabia as its bridgeheads for expanding its influence in Middle East, taking advantage of Tehran’s international isolation and Riyadh’s focus on nuclear energy. – Jerusalem Post


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that Washington will use its diplomatic and military influence in the region to try to ease a volatile dispute between NATO allies Greece and Turkey over energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean. – Associated Press

Turkey held a naval exercise near Greek waters on Tuesday as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pushed Athens for cooperation ahead of European Union talks over Ankara’s energy exploration in the contested eastern Mediterranean. – Bloomberg

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and his Greek counterpart Nikolaos Dendias reaffirmed their countries’ position that maritime borders should be settled peacefully and in accordance with international law, as Athens prepares for a new round of talks with Turkey on territorial disputes. – Bloomberg

While Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s spokesman urged both sides Monday to “immediately cease” violence and resume talks over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fully endorsed his ally Azerbaijan’s military campaign. – Bloomberg

Turkish prosecutors have prepared a second indictment in connection with the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, naming six new Saudi nationals as suspects, broadcaster CNN Turk and other media said on Monday. – Reuters

Turkey is sending Syrian rebel fighters to support Azerbaijan in its escalating conflict with neighbouring Armenia, two Syrian rebels have said, as Ankara pledges to step up backing for its majority-Muslim ally. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: Whatever analytical camp, the policy response should be the same: Judge Ankara by its actions rather than words and calibrate policy toward reality rather than wishful thinking. […]To solve the Turkey problem, therefore, it is essential to advance US-Greek relations. If Turkey returns to the community of responsible nations, both Washington and Athens might embrace it. Until that time, however, both should treat Turkey like the rogue nation it has become. – Ekathimerini


The relative rarity of these fleeting glimpses shows how, 20 years after the Second Palestinian Intifada (uprising), many Israelis ceased seeing the Palestinians as prospective peace partners, and prefer not to see them at all. – Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel has not ruled out a preliminary strike against Iran during a memorial service on Tuesday for those who fell in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. – Jerusalem Post

Mordechai Kedar writes: To sum up the situation, the Arab world — that part of it that sees Israel as the only hope in dealing with Iran — does not appreciate the expectation that it must mortgage its future and its very existence to the internal fighting between the PLO and Hamas. And let us not forget that Egypt and Jordan have signed peace agreements with Israel, moved outside the circle of war for the “liberation of Palestine,” and forsaken their Palestinian Arab “brothers,” leaving them to deal with the problem on their own. – Algemeiner


Washington has made preparations to withdraw diplomats from Iraq after warning Baghdad it could shut its embassy, two Iraqi officials and two Western diplomats said, a step Iraqis fear could turn their country into a battle zone. – Reuters

Five Iraqi civilians have been killed after a rocket hit a house near Baghdad airport, the Iraqi army says. – BBC

It’s not clear how imminent any potential attack might be, or whether it is the driving factor in the administration’s recent push to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. But the situation bears echoes of another fraught incident: the attack on the U.S. consulate and another facility in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. – Politico

Michael Rubin writes: In Syria, Afghanistan, and now Iraq, Trump and Pompeo are showing that terror works and that no one should trust the United States. Already, Russia is taking that lesson to Saudi Arabia and Egypt as it tries to peel away allies and end decades-long alliances. Trump may rail against “endless wars” but he should consider what the world would look like if the United States has neither alliances nor the trust necessary to build them. – The National Interest

Michael Rubin writes: Under no circumstances, however, should Trump and Pompeo undercut America’s strategic posture or undermine an election that, in combination with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani’s recent statements, is guaranteed to undercut the legitimacy of those groups most corrosive to Iraqi sovereignty and Iraq’s recovery. It’s not too late for Pompeo to clarify his statements to underscore America’s continued commitment to Iraq and highlight to both Iraq and the region the benefit that the strategic partnership brings to Iraq and the broader region. – Washington Examiner


The past year has been nothing short of an earthquake for Lebanon, hit by an economic meltdown, mass protests, financial collapse, a virus outbreak and a cataclysmic explosion that virtually wiped out the country’s main port. Yet Lebanese fear even darker days are ahead. – Associated Press

The European Union expressed “disappointment and concern” Monday about the resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister-designate over the weekend and urged the country’s leaders to do their best to form a Cabinet that meets the demands of the people. – Associated Press

Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group on Monday rejected criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday after he panned its political machinations. And it vowed to remain committed to fighting Israel, as the country is paralyzed by its worst economic and financial crisis in decades. – Times of Israel

French President Emmanuel Macron assailed Hezbollah and the entire Lebanese political class Sunday, and warned of a new civil war if they can’t set aside personal and religious interests to unlock international aid and save Lebanon from economic collapse. – Associated Press

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Arabia, which is presiding over the Group of 20 countries this year, said Monday that the upcoming November gathering of world leaders will be held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia said on Monday it had taken down a terrorist cell this month that had received training from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, arresting 10 people and seizing weapons and explosives. – Reuters

Ratcheted-up tensions between Iran and the U.S. — either with Donald Trump still in the White House or a new Joe Biden administration — could see Oman brought into the middle of a situation that nearly sparked a war at the beginning of the year. And the sultanate’s long-cherished neutrality finds itself challenged by regional disputes. – Associated Press

Dmitriy Frolovskiy writes: The peace accord with Israel has given the UAE an important step up in revitalising its economy amidst the coronavirus pandemic and slumping oil prices. The Emirates will be unable to fully take advantage of the opportunity, however, unless it commits to genuinely reforming its judicial and financial framework so that it becomes a more dependable partner for its international allies. – Haaretz

Middle East & North Africa

On Tuesday, two years after his death, Mr. Khashoggi’s friends and colleagues will launch that organization, Democracy for the Arab World Now, or DAWN. DAWN is a Washington-based human rights watchdog that plans to focus on violations by the United States’ closest Arab allies and publish articles by political exiles from across the Middle East to carry on Mr. Khashoggi’s legacy. – New York Times

Egypt is upset with the Palestinian Authority leadership for reportedly undercutting Cairo’s role as a main player in the Palestinian arena, particularly with regards to ending the Fatah-Hamas rivalry, Palestinian sources said on Monday. The Egyptians are also said to be disturbed by the recent rapprochement between the PA, Qatar and Turkey. – Jerusalem Post

Sam Heller writes: The Caesar Act and other U.S. sanctions on Syria are just the latest achievement of a Washington policy community that prioritizes “trying” over results — and, in this instance, over the well-being of Syrians stuck in Syria. – War on the Rocks

Korean Peninsula

South Korean President Moon Jae-in apologized for the first time Monday for the death of a man who was shot by North Korean troops last week, saying his government failed in its responsibility to safeguard a citizen. – Associated Press

South Korea said Tuesday that a government official slain by North Korean sailors wanted to defect, concluding that the man, who had gambling debts, swam against unfavorable currents with the help of a life jacket and a floatation device and conveyed his intention of resettling in North Korea. – Associated Press

The brother of the South Korean fisheries official killed by North Korean soldiers at sea last week rejected the government’s claim on Tuesday that the man had expressed his willingness to defect to the soldiers. – Reuters

Olivia Schieber writes: Dear Respected’s letter is vintage North Korea, a classic from the regime’s playbook. But the bottom line is that the awful Kim is not actually sorry, at least not if “sorry” means “I won’t do this again.” It’s only a matter of time until Pyongyang’s next assault on a target of the dictator’s choosing. Truth be told, the only real item of note is how ably he has trained his South Korean admirers to lower their standards, allowing a murder and apology to mark a “special significance” in North-South relations. – American Enterprise Institute


U.S.-China friction flared again Monday, with Beijing firing back at accusations by Washington that it is a leading cause of global environmental damage and has reneged on its promise not to militarize the South China Sea. – Associated Press

China’s foreign ministry knocked the U.S. on Monday in response to a statements from the State Department criticizing Beijing’s record on environmental policy. – The Hill 

China’s new “dual circulation” economic strategy proposed by President Xi Jinping is not a short-term measure to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic or frictions with the United States, an adviser to cabinet said on Tuesday. – Reuters

China’s top leaders will meet Oct. 26-29 to draft economic and social policies for the next five years, as President Xi Jinping prioritizes domestic consumption and innovation to counter the threat of decoupling from the U.S. – Bloomberg

Senior Chinese Communist party officials have been sending an ominous message to private sector entrepreneurs in recent weeks. In a series of policy announcements and meetings, they have emphasised that private companies have an important role to play in “United Front work” — a euphemism for efforts aimed at ensuring that non-party organisations and entities support the party’s top policy objectives as well as its iron grip on power. – Financial Times

China reduced the pace of its purchases of U.S. goods in August, making slow progress in meeting the goals of its trade deal with the world’s biggest economy. – Bloomberg

Anna Fifield writes: I don’t see the situation getting freer or easier for the Chinese people any time soon, nor for the foreign journalists who try to show their audiences back home what it’s like to be on the ground in China, for better or for worse. Before I left, an old acquaintance told me about a joke going around China these days: “We used to think North Korea was our past — now we realize it’s our future.” – Washington Post

William Alan Reinsch writes: Decoupling will grow because both governments want it to and because some companies will find it in their economic interest, but it will be incomplete. That is not likely to change regardless of who wins the November election or as long as Xi Jinping remains in power. Unfortunately, that means we are heading for a fragmented global economy driven by government policy and increasingly separate internets driven by divergent internet governance policies. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

South Asia

Pakistan’s top court agreed Monday to hear arguments that a death sentence should be reinstated on the British national accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl after a lower court overturned his conviction earlier this year. – Wall Street Journal

As the Afghan government conducts peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, one of the main concerns has been over how fractured their side is, leading many to question whether government negotiators can truly speak for much of a country that is torn by political discord and lack of faith in the system. The restiveness in Panjshir, where many are outraged by the effort to make peace with the Taliban, is raising fears that the province and other regions might take up arms and try to force more autonomy for themselves, in an echo of the early days of Afghanistan’s warlord era. – New York Times

A former president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, was indicted on Monday in a money laundering case, the latest legal action against him and one that his supporters say is part of a wider trend against politicians opposed to Prime Minister Imran Khan. – New York Times

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International said Tuesday that it was halting its operation in India, citing reprisals from the government and the freezing of its bank accounts by Indian authorities. – Associated Press

India scrapped a rule that forced foreign suppliers of weapons, aircraft or military hardware to invest in the South Asian nation, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to accelerate defense purchases and reduce red tape. – Bloomberg

The chief of Afghanistan’s peace negotiating team said Tuesday on a visit to Pakistan that the time has come for the two neighboring countries to shun the suspicion, “stale rhetoric” and tired conspiracy theories that have dogged past relations. – Associated Press


International concern is growing over rapidly escalating turmoil in the South Caucasus as fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues to spiral, threatening to draw in regional powers and destabilize an area that serves as an important energy corridor for global markets. – Wall Street Journal

In his weekly public address on Monday, Mr. Duterte lashed out at Facebook for taking down fake accounts that supported his policies, making vague threats to shut the platform down in the Philippines. – New York Times

A long-simmering territorial dispute in the Caucasus region that reignited in recent days[…] suggests that the two sides — Azerbaijan and Armenia — are girding for an extended conflict rather than the border skirmishes that they have engaged in over the years. And what would seem to be a local war over a mountainous land of little strategic value is taking on greater importance because of its potential to draw in bigger powers like Russia and Turkey. – New York Times

Armenian and Azerbaijani forces fought over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh for a second day Monday, with both sides blaming each other for resuming the attacks that reportedly killed and wounded dozens as the decades-old conflict has reignited. – Associated Press

Japan will host a meeting next week of the foreign ministers of four of the Indo-Pacific region’s biggest democracies, in the so-called Quad group seen as a counter to China’s influence in the region. – Bloomberg

Taiwanese banks’ contributions to offshore loans for mainland Chinese firms fell to their lowest levels in at least 10 years as lenders turn increasingly anxious to limit their credit exposure to the economic fallout of the pandemic and rising political tensions. – Bloomberg

Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has broken out repeatedly since Armenians seized control of the territory and surrounding areas from Azerbaijan, in a war that started soon after the 1991 collapse of the former Soviet Union[…]. The latest bout of fighting that started Sept. 27 differs from many previous skirmishes since the end of the war in 1994, both in scale and in geopolitical risk. This time, Turkey has given unreserved backing to its ally Azerbaijan, raising the stakes significantly. – Bloomberg

A majority of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers plan to remain in office after China’s decision to extend their terms without a planned election. – Bloomberg

Henry Foy and Laura Pitel write: Ankara’s support for its neighbour Azerbaijan and sabre-rattling rhetoric has fanned the most violent flare-up for several years in a decades-long conflict, and created a significant headache for Russian president Vladimir Putin by challenging Moscow’s regional hegemony. […]That has added another flashpoint to Moscow and Ankara’s list of conflicts where the two regional powers and their strongman leaders — who have sought to strike an uneasy alliance over trade, energy and mutual distrust of the west — find themselves at odds, alongside Syria and Libya. – Financial Times

Bobby Ghosh writes: Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s alliance of convenience with Vladimir Putin has survived conflicts of interest in Syria and Libya, but it faces a sterner test in the Caucasus, where the outbreak of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan puts the leaders of Turkey and Russia in opposition. And having burned his bridges with Europe and expended most of his brownie points with the U.S., Erdogan clearly has the weaker hand. – Bloomberg

Thomas de Waal writes: Groan as they may about this faraway conflict in the hills of the Caucasus, with its unpronounceable name, the Europeans and Americans will ultimately have no option but to engage with it more seriously. Turkey’s involvement, Iran’s proximity, the enigmatic role of Russia, the presence of major oil and gas pipelines all make this a region where a local flare-up can quickly turn into an international headache. – Politico

Lindsey Ford writes: While there will not be a resolution to this debate until after the presidential elections, U.S. defense leaders need a plan for what a more constrained budget environment means for defense priorities. The future of U.S. defense strategy in the Indo-Pacific is among the most important issues to consider. The recommendations offered here represent a starting place for understanding the resourcing priorities necessary to fully realize the Indo-Pacific as the U.S. military’s priority theater. – Center for a New American Security

Daniel F. Runde, Richard M. Rossow, Christopher H. Metzger, Blair F. Sullivan, Robert Carlson write: CSIS is pleased to release a new research report, “Creative Economies in the Indo-Pacific and Covid-19,” that lays out findings from this research while also highlighting how Taiwan can operationalize its New Southbound Policy by tapping into the region’s potential for the creative sector, and supplementing the United States’ efforts to secure a free and open Indo-Pacific. Moreover, this study of creative industries in the Indo-Pacific region also demonstrates the central role of creative industries in driving a more resilient global economic recovery from Covid-19. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Russia’s tightening embrace of embattled Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is raising concerns at NATO that the balance of military power in the alliance’s weak northeast corner could tip further in the Kremlin’s favor. – Wall Street Journal

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday confirmed reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited him in a Berlin hospital where he was being treated for what German authorities determined was nerve agent poisoning. – Associated Press

Russian markets are once again being plagued by multiple sanctions threats that could materialize before the end of the year. The prospect of new Western sanctions has helped drive the ruble back toward a four-year low reached during the oil price crash in March. Only Turkish government bonds have performed worse than Russia’s in emerging markets over the past three months. – Bloomberg

The Trump administration has asked the military to assess how quickly it could pull nuclear weapons out of storage and load them onto bombers and submarines if an arms control treaty with Russia is allowed to expire in February, according to three people familiar with the discussions. – Politico

In a meandering press conference on Sunday, President Donald Trump repeatedly accused his Democratic opponent’s son, Hunter Biden, of receiving millions of dollars from the wife of Moscow’s late mayor Yury Luzhkov, asking why “nobody even has any question about it.” […]But Trump himself sought to do business with Luzhkov’s government in the late 1990s, according to press reports from the time, SEC filings and comments made by Luzhkov last year. – Politico


The presidents of France and Lithuania agreed that the European Union should decide on sanctions against Belarus at the summit of the bloc’s leaders later this week, the Baltic country’s president said on Monday. – Reuters

Leaders of countries once subjugated to Western powers sent a pointed message at this year’s U.N. General Assembly: For those who think the word “colonialism” evokes a long-ago, no-longer-relevant era, think again. – Associated Press

Britain entered a crucial week of post-Brexit talks with the European Union on Monday by rejecting the EU’s demand that it drop plans to breach the legally binding agreement it signed on its departure from the bloc. The EU told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to brace for a legal fight. – Associated Press

French President Emmanuel Macron insisted on Monday that Europe should cooperate with Russia to build peace in Europe, despite calls among European Union peers to review his stance towards Moscow after the poisoning of a Russian opposition leader. – Reuters

When French President Emmanuel Macron flies to Lithuania on Monday for a three-day trip to the Baltics, he will be heading to the frontline of skepticism toward his Russia strategy. – Politico

The dissident Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei staged a silent protest outside London’s Old Bailey court on Monday against the possible extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, where he is wanted on an array of espionage charges. – Associated Press

One of the suspects charged in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 denies any involvement and wants to speak in court to explain his version of events, his lawyer said Monday as the trial in absentia of three Russians and a Ukrainian resumed in a Dutch courtroom. – Associated Press

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called for the resignation of European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova over what he described as her “derogatory public statements” about democracy in Hungary. – Reuters

Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will tell French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday she wants new elections in Belarus this year, a member of her team told Reuters. – Reuters

European Union negotiators have signaled that they are willing to begin work on a joint legal text of a trade agreement with the UK, ahead of trade talks that resume on Tuesday, The Times reported on Tuesday. – Reuters

The European Union and Britain both said a post-Brexit deal was still some way off and differences persisted on Monday over putting in place their earlier divorce deal as they began a decisive week of talks in Brussels. – Reuters

A senior member of Germany’s ruling conservatives delivered a stark warning on the future of transatlantic ties, saying the reelection of Donald Trump as U.S. president could endanger the alliance and open the door for China and other powers to try and fill the vacuum. – Politico

Germany on Monday floated a compromise plan on linking payouts of EU funds to respect for the rule of law, aiming to defuse a highly emotive dispute that threatens to hold up approval of the bloc’s €1.82 trillion budget-and-recovery package. – Politico

Walter Russell Mead writes: Much has been written about how Donald Trump’s unconventional, disruptive and sometimes contradictory foreign policy views have undermined the Western alliance. The president’s critics have a point, but the EU’s inability to act effectively on the international stage is a far graver concern—and much harder to remedy. President von der Leyen is absolutely right that the world needs a geopolitical Europe, but if she has a strategy for creating one, it hasn’t been unveiled. – Wall Street Journal

Barbara Moens writes: With 127 diplomatic postings, Brussels hosts the most diplomatic missions in the world, according to the Global Diplomacy Index of the Lowy Institute. The presence of the EU institutions and NATO headquarters makes Belgium relevant not just for diplomats, journalists and lobbyists, but also for international espionage. But despite the high levels of interest in the Belgian capital, both Belgian and EU authorities say it is difficult for them to punish those caught spying and attempts to tighten the rules have failed. – Politico

Askold Krushelnycky writes: But rather than seeing the U.S. as a source of support, Ukrainians are now eyeing Washington with dread and worry that a victory for Donald Trump in November’s presidential election could send a signal to Russia — which, according to U.S. National Intelligence reports, is actively trying to get Trump reelected — that it can increase its aggression against Ukraine. – Politico


South Africa and China are working on a new 10-year strategic program for cooperation, as the current one nears its end. – Bloomberg

A year and a half since the South African government adopted an action plan to combat xenophobia, African and Asian foreigners in the country are still suffering routine harassment and abuse, according to Human Rights Watch. – CNBC

Editorial: Sudan is pulling away from terror networks and toward the West, and the Trump Administration has to push Congress harder on the issue to ensure success. It would be an important diplomatic achievement in a part of the world where those don’t come often. – Wall Street Journal

The Americas

As a result, officials and experts said that Trump has made himself vulnerable to manipulation by foreign governments aware of his predicament, and put himself in a position in which his financial interests and the nation’s priorities could be in conflict. – Washington Post

Canadian prosecutors are set to present their argument on Tuesday after Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers sought to add a new charge in their effort to stop her extradition to the United States. – Reuters

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou returned to a Canadian court on Monday to fight extradition to the United States, with her lawyers arguing she only needed to show supporting evidence to add an allegation of U.S. abuse of process to the case. – Reuters

A bipartisan group of members of Congress will announce on Tuesday the creation of a new global inter-parliamentary task force to combat digital antisemitism. – Jewish Insider

The first of a group of three tankers carrying Iranian fuel for gasoline-starved Venezuela entered the waters of the South American nation on Monday, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, in the most recent sign of the countries’ expanding trade. – Reuters

Charles A. Kupchan writes: Working to spread democracy through advocacy and example rather than more intrusive means will help the United States find the middle ground between isolation and overreach. This middle course will require that Americans become comfortable operating in the world as it is, not as they would like it to be. – Defense One


Computer systems at Universal Health Services Inc., one of the nation’s largest hospital chains, were taken offline after a malicious software attack crippled the company’s computers and led it to cancel some surgeries and divert some ambulances. – Wall Street Journal

A hacker published documents containing Social Security numbers, student grades and other private information stolen from a large public-school district in Las Vegas after officials refused a ransom demanded in return for unlocking district computer servers. – Wall Street Journal

The federal judge who stopped the Trump administration’s download ban on video-sharing app TikTok determined that the government likely overstepped its authority under national security law, according to his decision made public Monday. […]In his ruling, the judge sided with attorneys for TikTok and its owner, Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., in determining that the ban’s restrictions “likely exceed the lawful bounds proscribed by IEEPA.” – Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration faces ongoing court battles after two legal setbacks in its efforts to bar U.S. app stores from offering Chinese-owned TikTok or WeChat for download. – Reuters

Two federal judges have ruled this month that the Trump administration failed to prove Chinese-owned apps used by millions of Americans pose enough of a national security threat to justify a U.S. ban. – Bloomberg

Huawei Technologies has built up stakes in Chinese semiconductor companies and other tech businesses as the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker bolsters its supply chain in the face of pressure from the United States. – Reuters

While handling 90 percent of the global economy daily, maritime industry ashore and afloat remains increasingly vulnerable to cyber disruptions and attacks from “neerdowells and bad actors” that threaten financial markets and the country’s national security, the head of the Maritime Administration said last week. – USNI News

Heather Wilson writes: The Chinese have taken advantage of the top-down nature of their society to build a global equipment-making empire. America shouldn’t try to imitate them; we should use our strength against their weakness. American innovation and the investment that follows free enterprise could turn the tables on China. The future of the internet, and possibly much more, is at stake. – Wall Street Journal

Jason Healey and Robert Jervis write: As the United States shifts to a new military strategy of defending forward against adversaries in cyberspace, research into the role of cyber capabilities in crisis stability is especially relevant. This paper introduces the concept of situational cyber stability, suggesting the key question is not “whether” cyber capabilities are escalatory but rather how they are escalatory under certain geopolitical conditions. – Texas National Security Review


An overseas deployment with Marines is giving some of the Navy’s first crews that will operate its new cargo-delivery fleet of CMV-22B Osprey aircraft hands-on experience with tiltrotor technology and operations. – USNI News

If the commandant of the Marine Corps has focused his attention in his first year on the job tackling a Force Design 2030 effort to reshape how the Marine Corps gears up for a modern battlefield, the next year will focus on the training and manning issues that follow – ensuring the entire man, train and equip portfolio are brought up to date, the head of Marine Corps training said. – USNI News

A developmental robot pilot that transforms manned aircraft into unmanned systems is flying again after the Air Force Research Laboratory took its ROBOpilot out for a test flight at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, Sept. 24. – C4ISRNET

Across the U.S. Department of Defense, digital modernization is a significant priority. The department is moving to the cloud and trying to harness emerging technologies to support the war fighter. – C4ISRNET

David Barno and Nora Bensahel write: For these reasons, we’ve spent the past four years thinking about whether the U.S. military is adaptable enough for the wars it will face in the future. And though the U.S. military certainly has many strengths, our assessment of its adaptability in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the three critical areas of doctrine, technology, and leadership, lead us to be very concerned that it will not be adaptable enough to prevail. – War on the Rocks

Frederico Bartels and Patty-Jane Geller write: As the Department wrestles with the implementation of the National Defense Strategy and shaping the force for the reality of great-power competition, it is imperative that Congress act with the proper urgency in crafting its Defense appropriations bill to fulfill its role in the endeavor. – Heritage Foundation

Long War

A Pakistani immigrant suspected of stabbing two people outside the former offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris followed a South Asian Islamic sect that in Pakistan has become increasingly emboldened, and on occasion sparked violence, in defending the central figure in Islam from what adherents see as blasphemous insults. – Wall Street Journal

A judge in Arizona has ruled that an Iraqi immigrant arrested on charges of participating in the 2006 killings of two police officers in Iraq will remain jailed until his extradition case concludes. – Associated Press

A man convicted of leading a plot to behead blogger Pamela Geller on behalf of the Islamic State group will serve even longer behind bars after he was sentenced for a second time Monday and ordered to 30 years in prison. – Associated Press

Investigators in Paris on Monday were studying a video in which a Pakistani man accused of attacking people with a meat cleaver on Friday allegedly said he did so as an act of “resistance” following the republication of a cartoon mocking the Prophet Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo magazine. – Fox News

Stephen Tankel writes: The over-militarization of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts has had pernicious consequences both for these efforts and the U.S. military. Focusing on interstate strategic competition requires investing the mental energy necessary to develop a more sustainable approach to counter-terrorism. […]It is understandable for Defense Department leadership to want to turn the page on counter-terrorism, but equally critical that they realize the page won’t turn itself and that there are risks to closing the book too quickly. – War on the Rocks