Micah Zenko and Andrew Miller/The Atlantic
President Obama and his new foreign policy team cannot plan for, prevent, or mitigate all the crises that the United States could potentially face in 2013. With slight reductions to the defense and foreign affairs budgets on the horizon, they must prioritize the contingencies that warrant the attention of senior policymakers. The Center for Preventive Action’s Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS) seeks to help in that process by identifying plausible contingencies and ranking them based on their potential impact to U.S. interests and likelihood of occurring in 2013
Russia hopes the next round of six-power talks with Iran to resolve a protracted dispute over its atomic program will take place in January, RIA news agency reported on Thursday. The agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying the world powers – the United States, Russia, France, Britain, Germany and China – were still negotiating with the Islamic Republic on a possible date and venue for the talks.
When it comes to sequestration, President Barack Obama and most lawmakers would prefer to just not go there. Executive branch departments and industries affected by the cuts are asking how they should respond to the first installment of across-the-board spending cuts set to go into effect Jan. 2, absent a last-minute deal with Congress to avert them.
Grantham Institute/The Guardian
The relative costs and benefits of nuclear energy have been the subject of heated debate in recent years thanks to a combination of factors, including the need to cut carbon emissions and the 2011 accident at Fukushima, Japan. Critics argue that nuclear is not only dangerous but also unnecessary for tackling climate change; supporters claim the risks are small and that abandoning nuclear would make an already huge challenge even harder and more expensive.
North Korea said on Friday it had detained an American tourist on charges of perpetrating a crime against the state and is putting him through criminal proceedings, indicating it is set to try him. His custody comes amid tension between Pyongyang and Washington over a recent North Korean rocket launch, which U.S. officials consider a provocative test of ballistic missile technology.
Noor Khan, a Pakistani man whose father was killed in a drone strike, has attempted to “force the UK government to reveal if it is providing intelligence for US drone strikes.” The UK’s High Court has rejected Khan’s case.
Ronald Jackson/Business Insider
British defence giant BAE Systems announced on Friday a £2.5 billion ($4.1 billion, 3.1 billion-euro) deal to supply 12 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft and eight Hawk trainer jets to Oman. The deal, which will help sustain thousands of jobs in Britain, is the first major order since BAE Systems failed to merge with European aerospace giant EADS earlier this year.
Jamey Keaton/Huffington Post
Afghan officials were meeting Thursday with Taliban rebels and envoys from another Islamist militant group near Paris, looking beyond Afghanistan’s insurgency to a future long after international forces have returned home. French hosts say the secretive meeting is simply designed as a conversation about the country’s future, and isn’t expected to involve any horse-trading toward a possible peace and reconciliation deal.
Kerry Cosby/Foreign Policy
The term “civil society” has entered into the discourse of authoritarian states like Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Russia – as a term with its own histories, connected to, but also separated from, those of Western Europe and the United States. In these countries, examining civil society through the interplay between the concepts of the international development community and the authoritarian societies of Central Asia would serve us better than stating outright that the “Western” concept has no place.
Saad Abedine and Ivan Watson/CNN
In an escalation of its civil war, Syria is firing more Scud missiles in a desperate attempt to quash rebel gains, the NATO chief said Friday. The government has launched more missiles in recent days, according to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary-general of the alliance, though Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem has denied such reports.
In a vision statement forged at a summit in New Delhi on Thursday, India and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) set their sights on a new “strategic partnership” that would bring closer political, security and economic cooperation. Significantly, they underlined the need for freedom of navigation, a contentious issue because of competing claims with Beijing over parts of the South China Sea (and its plentiful natural resource stocks), though there was no mention of China in their statement.
Adam Segal/The Atlantic
The Senior Fellow for China Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations discusses digital security between the U.S. and China, including potential sources of conflict as well as greater cooperation.
Emily Alpert/Los Angeles Times
Aiming to reclaim the northern stretches of Mali from extremists, the United Nations Security Council on Thursday approved the deployment of African-led forces to the West African nation for a year. However, the resolution stresses that Mali has a second battle to fight: stopping the military from meddling in government affairs and reestablishing order through peaceful elections.
Scott Peterson/Christian Science Monitor
Arguing that further sanctions “are unlikely to stop Iran’s nuclear pursuits,” a group of Iran experts and senior former officials are calling on the White House to pursue realistic, “serious, sustained negotiations” with Tehran that they say are the best chance to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. The letter to President Obama, from 24 signatories whose professional careers have often been marked by dealing firsthand with the thorny Iran issue, suggests that a diplomatic deal can ease the West’s greatest fears about Iran’s nuclear program – but only if Washington revises its position in nuclear talks that are expected to resume within weeks.
Bernice Napach/Yahoo! Finance
Congress this week is considering a $60 billion bill to pay for damages inflicted by Hurricane Sandy across three Northeastern states in late October. Though some congressional members are balking at the sum, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut say the damage is closer to $82 billion. In either case, these sums are nothing compared to the long-term price the U.S. will pay as a result of extreme weather caused by climate change
On Our Flashpoint Blog
Recent trends in globalization have empowered drug trafficking organizations operating throughout Latin America. As financial motivations are driven largely by U.S. demand, American policymakers have a key stake in empowering foreign allies to ensure stability and alternative financial avenues for citizens.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued safety culture guidelines for the offshore oil industry that take their inspiration from the nuclear industry.
The National Ignition Facility (NIF), a cutting-edge facility that houses 192 of the world’s largest lasers, is responsible for research into nuclear weapons, which allows it to ensure the integrity of nuclear weapons without having to actually test them. Another major role that the NIF has is its research into fusion energy. Its director, Ed Moses, spoke at an event hosted by The Atlantic yesterday.
*This will be the final installment of ASP’s “What Are We Reading” daily news update for 2012. Please check back in the new year for all the latest national security news and policy analysis!