Center for Strategic Communication

Key Reads

Austria Finds Up to 50 Bodies Thought to Be of Migrants in Truck

Alison Smale / New York Times

The partly decomposing bodies of as many as 50 people assumed to be migrants being smuggled across Europe were found in a truck abandoned on a highway east of Vienna on Thursday, the police said. The precise toll was yet to be determined, said Hans-Peter Doskozil, director of police in the eastern state of Burgenland, during a live news conference on Austria’s public broadcaster.

Scholars: Iran deal will stabilize Mideast

Nahal Toosi / Politico

In the battle over the Iran nuclear deal, a favorite weapon has been the letter to Congress — in support or opposition — signed by a slew of prominent people: rabbis, nuclear experts, military leaders and more.

American Competitiveness

U.S. Economy’s Growth Rate in 2nd Quarter Revised Up to 3.7%

Nelson D. Schwartz / New York Times

The economy grew much more quickly last quarter than initially thought as businesses and consumers increased spending, the government said Thursday. At 3.7 percent, the revised estimate for the annualized rate of economic expansion in the spring is more than a full percentage point higher than the initial reading reported by the Commerce Department in late July.

Global Markets Continue to Recover

Josie Cox / Wall Street Journal

U.S. stocks rose sharply Thursday after stronger-than-expected U.S. growth figures and a rally in Asia and Europe. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 195 points, or 1.2%, to 16479 in early trade, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite both gained 1.5%.

Asymmetric Operations

Airmen killed in possible Afghan insider attack identified as special ops troops
Carlo Munoz / Stars and Stripes
The two servicemembers killed in southern Afghanistan Wednesday by a shooter in an Afghan uniform were Air Force special operations troops, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Pentagon to investigate claim of skewed intelligence assessments
Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller / Washington Post
The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating an internal complaint that U.S. military intelligence analysts have painted an overly optimistic assessment of the war against the Islamic State, officials said Wednesday. The complaint was filed in recent weeks by a Defense Intelligence Agency civilian analyst who raised concerns that assessments developed by the military command overseeing the war were overstating the progress of a conflict seen by U.S. spy agencies as a stalemate, officials said.

Islamic State takes new ground near Turkish border
John Davison / Reuters
Islamic State has seized new territory from Syrian rebels in northern Syria, advancing in an area where Turkey and the United States are planning to open a new front against the group in coordination with insurgents on the ground. The ultra-radical Islamist group and a monitor said it had seized several villages as it stepped up an offensive in northern Aleppo province, in a blow to rebels who are likely partners for Ankara and Washington in any ground campaign.

Climate Security

Study Finds Surprising Byproduct of Middle Eastern Conflicts: Cleaner Air
John Schwartz / New York Times
Civil unrest and humanitarian crises can now be detected from space — because of, somewhat surprisingly, cleaner air. A paper published on Friday in the journal Science Advances analyzed satellite data from observations of major cities in the Middle East and found that measurements of nitrogen oxides in the air around those cities provided insights into the effects of war, civil unrest and other crises.

Global sea levels climbed 3 inches since 1992, NASA research shows
Irene Klotz / Reuters
Sea levels worldwide rose an average of nearly 3 inches (8 cm) since 1992, the result of warming waters and melting ice, a panel of NASA scientists said on Wednesday. In 2013, a United Nations panel predicted sea levels would rise from 1 to 3 feet (0.3 to 0.9 meters) by the end of the century. The new research shows that sea level rise most likely will be at the high end of that range, said University of Colorado geophysicist Steve Nerem. Sea levels are rising faster than they did 50 years ago and “it’s very likely to get worse in the future,” Nerem said.

Middle East faces water shortages for the next 25 years, study says
John Vidal / The Guardian
Water supplies across the Middle East will deteriorate over 25 years, threatening economic growth and national security and forcing more people to move to already overcrowded cities, a new analysis suggests. As the region, which is home to over 350 million people, begins to recover from a series of deadly heatwaves which have seen temperatures rise to record levels for weeks at a time, the World Resources Institute (WRI) claims water shortages were a key factor in the 2011 Syria civil war.

Energy Security

Clean Energy: Doubling down
M.J. / The Economist
Crashing commodities scare not only stock markets. They also strike fear into environmentalists keen to see America move towards renewable sources of energy. Barack Obama sought to bolster confidence in green power at the National Clean Energy Summit on August 24th—a day on which oil prices also fell to below $45 a barrel, their lowest for six years. Fossil fuels are both cheap and plentiful. The Dow Jones Total Coal Market index has dropped by more than three quarters in the past five years. That makes it harder for the president to wean America, which accounts for 15% of global carbon-dioxide emissions, off them.

Nuclear Security
IAEA Reports Iran Broadly Complying With Nuclear Accords
Bradley Klapper / Associated Press
Iran is broadly complying with agreements on curtailing its nuclear program, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported Thursday in its first update since last month’s deal between Tehran and world powers. It noted concern, however, with an Iranian military site where nuclear weapons work may have occurred more than a decade ago.

White House pushes for Iran filibuster
Edward-Isaac Dovere and Burgess Everett / Politico
President Barack Obama’s almost certain to get the Iran nuclear deal through Congress — but whether he gets there by filibuster or sustained veto could make all the difference. A Democratic filibuster in the Senate would be a clear victory for the president, allowing Obama to say that for all the political noise there wasn’t enough actual opposition to the nuclear agreement with the Islamic republic to even get to a final vote.

Report: Pakistan adding nuclear arms
Tim Craig / Washington Post
A new report by two American think tanks asserts that Pakistan may be building 20 nuclear warheads annually and could have the world’s third-largest nuclear stockpile within a decade. The report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center concludes that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear capabilities because of fear of its archrival, India, also a nuclear power.

On Our Flashpoint Blog
Iranian Human Rights Defenders Coming Out Massively in Support of the Iran Deal
American Security Project
Dr. Trita Parsi, recent panelist for ASP’s event Understanding the Iran Deal on August 4, 2015, is in the news again regarding the Iran Deal. In an article published by The Huffington Post, Dr. Parsi pointed out that numerous Iranian human rights defenders gain out in support of the deal.

Cyber Escalation: A Military Planner’s Blank Slate
Adin Dobkin
Whether the United States will face an asymmetric, hybrid, or symmetric conflict in the coming years, cyber will assuredly take a place at the forefront of tactics used by opponents. As has already been seen in everything from headlines following the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach to the Air-Sea Battle (ASB) Concept Document of the Department of Defense, attacks stemming from the cyberspace can threaten a range of critical U.S. systems including national economic levers, military infrastructure, and the privacy that protects everyday citizens.

Drought Threatens Food Security
Philip Rossetti
Food security is one of the most basic forms of security that a state needs to survive. Climate change presents a threat to global food security, and a recent study has shown that the U.S.’ food security is already being negatively impacted by climate change. The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, concluded that 8-27% of the California drought is attributable to climate change. This marks one of the rare times where climate change can be said to have a directly contributed to a climate event, rather than merely increasing its probability.

TFTA: Africa’s Crucial Inflection Point
Maggie Feldman-Piltch
On August 10th, the following post by BCAS Chairperson Dante Disparte and Junior Adjunct Fellow John Bugnacki appeared on International Policy Digest.  On June 10, 2015, at the 25th African Union Summit in Cairo, Egypt, African leaders signed the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA). Prior to its signing, the agreement had been in negotiations for seven years.

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The post What We Are Reading appeared first on American Security Project.