Center for Strategic Communication

Key Reads

Navy Seals, a Beating Death and Claims of a Cover-Up
Nicholas Kulish, Christopher Drew, Matthew Rosenberg / The New York Times
The three NAVY SEALs stomped on the bound Afghan detainees and dropped heavy stones on their chests, the witnesses recalled. They stood on the prisoners’ heads and poured bottles of water on some of their faces in what, to a pair of Army soldiers, appeared to be an improvised form of waterboarding.

Man Who Purchased Guns in San Bernardino Shooting to Be Charged, Officials Say
John R. Emshwiller, Devlin Barrett / The Wall Street Journal
Federal officials plan to file criminal gun charges against the friend and former neighbor of one of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooting suspects who allegedly purchased the rifles used in the attack that killed 14 and wounded more than 20 this month, according to people familiar with the decision.

Has Kerry Opened the Door for Syria’s Assad to Stay?
Aaron Mehta, Joe Gould / Defense News
On a trip to Moscow this week, Secretary of State John Kerry urged a focus not on removing Syrian President Bashar Assad but instead on developing greater cooperation in Syria — a change in tone which could represent a reversal of standing US policy and have dramatic repercussions for the fight against the Islamic State group.

American Competitiveness

A Missed Opportunity of Ultra-Cheap Money
Peter Eavis / The New York Times
Years of ultralow interest rates engineered by the Federal Reserve may have breathed life back into the economy and buoyed Wall Street. But they have not managed to solve problems like the aging Portal Bridge.

U.S. Oil Companies Won’t See Immediate Benefit From Lift of Export Ban
Amy Harder, Erin Ailworth / The Wall Street Journal
Republican leaders and the Obama White House are both claiming victory in this week’s dramatic policy shift that allows the export of U.S. oil for the first time in 40 years, reflecting an abrupt and rare change in the political and economic winds.

National Security & Strategy

After Iran Missile Test, U.S. Lawmakers Call For Continued Sanctions

Dozens of U.S. Republican senators called on President Barack Obama on Wednesday not to lift sanctions on Iran, saying Tehran’s recent ballistic missile testing showed “blatant disregard for its international obligations.”

Congress Includes $572.7B for DoD in Spending Bill
Joue Gould / Defense News
The sweeping $1.15 trillion spending bill unveiled early Wednesday by congressional leaders includes $572.7 billion for the Pentagon.

Asymmetric Operations

U.S. Intensifies Bid to Defund Hezbollah
Devlin Barrett / The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. government is intensifying efforts to stop the flow of money to the terror group Hezbollah as officials work more closely with their European counterparts to stymie the organization’s international financial network.

Iraq Declines U.S. Offer of More Troops, Attack Helicopters
Andrew Tilghman / Defense News
Defense Secretary Ash Carter traveled to Iraq’s capital Wednesday with an offer to deploy more American troops and new attack helicopters to help the Iraqi army defeat the Islamic State group.

U.S. Special Forces Sent to Embattled Afghan Province
Jessica Donati, Habib Khan Totakhil / The Wall Street Journal
KABUL—The U.S. and Britain have deployed at least four special-operations teams to the Afghan province of Helmand, stepping up their direct intervention in support of struggling Afghan government forces trying to fight off advances by Taliban militants.

Assad: Syrian Troops Advancing Thanks to Russian Airstrikes
Albert Aji, Bassem Mroue / The Associated Press
Syria’s president says his forces are advancing on “almost” all fronts thanks to Russian airstrikes that began nearly two months ago and have tipped the balance in his favor in some parts of the country.

Climate Security

Baby, It’s Warm Outside: Weather Patterns Shake Up U.S. Temperatures
Jim Carlton / The Wall Street Journal
Two weather occurrences—the Arctic Oscillation and El Niño—are combining to shake up temperatures from coast to coast in the U.S., bringing springlike conditions to the Northeast for much of this month and leaving parts of the West colder and wetter than usual.

A Field Research Network to Address Looming Grain Failures
Science Daily
Across the United States, record quantities of corn and soybeans have been harvested in recent years. However, according to a BioScience article by David Gustafson of the International Life Sciences Institute Research Foundation and his colleagues, this trend may soon change. “By midcentury,” the interdisciplinary team reports, “temperatures in Illinois will likely be closer to those of today’s mid-South, and precipitation will range somewhere between that of today’s East Texas and that of the Carolinas.” Likewise, vapor-pressure deficits, which are a measure of the atmosphere’s drying power, will also increase, potentially further stressing crop yields.

Climate Change Rapidly Warming World’s Lakes
Science Daily
Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to a study spanning six continents.

Energy Security

Oil Prices Down Again on Fresh Supply Build Worry, Dollar Spike
Barani Krishnan / Reuters
Oil prices fell as much as 2 percent on Thursday, with Brent trading not far from 11-year lows, as data showing fresh supply builds at the delivery point for U.S. crude futures added to worries about a global glut.

Solar Stocks Surge, Oil Producers Up After U.S. Spending Bill
Caroline Valetkevitch / Reuters
Shares of oil producers edged higher on Wednesday after U.S. lawmakers approved a spending bill that would lift a 40-year-old ban on domestic crude exports, while U.S. solar companies surged as Congress extended investment tax credits beyond 2016.

Nuclear Security

‘Not Impossible’ Iran Sanctions Will End in Jan, IAEA Chief Says
Shadia Nasralla, Francois Murphy / Reuters
Iran’s aim of having sanctions against it lifted by the end of January under a deal with major powers is “not impossible”, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog monitoring its implementation said on Wednesday.

Iran Says It Will Not Accept Any Missile Restrictions
Agence France-Presse
Iran will not accept any limitations on its missile program, Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan said on Wednesday after UN experts accused Tehran of violating a Security Council resolution.

On Our Flashpoint Blog

Event Summary: Understanding What’s Next In Fusion Technology
Ricky Gandhi
On Tuesday, December 15, the American Security Project hosted Understanding What’s Next in Fusion Technology – an event that featured prominent scientists from nuclear fusion labs and companies.

Doubling Down on Norms in Paris
Philip Rossetti
On Saturday the world held its breath with anticipation, awaiting the crack of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius’ gavel. A deal was struck, one that achieved the participation of nearly two hundred states. The Paris Agreement is remarkable for achieving such broad cooperation—but is also remarkably imperfect. Some already see it as a hollow agreement, demanding nothing of states but their willing contributions, and offering no penalty for failure on one of the most important collective action problems the world has ever known. However, the Paris Agreement does exactly what global leaders needed: it lays the foundation for global “norms” and a climate regime.

Event Recap: Department of Defense Action On Climate Change
Ricky Gandhi
On Friday, December 11, the American Security Project hosted the Department of Defense Action on Climate Change event. It featured a distinguished panel discussing the Department of Defense Climate Adaptation Roadmap and the results of ASP’s National Climate Security Tour.

ASP’s Consensus Member David Titley (Ret.) Featured in Washington Examiner
Ricky Gandhi
ASP’s Consensus Member, Dr. David W. Titley, Rear Admiral USN (Ret.), recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Examiner discussing the implications climate change has on national security. This concern has resonated among defense officials for quite some time now, he notes, starting with the Bush Administration in 2003. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have begun acknowledging the need to develop a comprehensive climate strategy. In addition, Dr. Titley raises some good questions regarding future military operations:

ASP Recently Published

Perspective – Alleviating the Resources Curse
American Security Project
Very soon, the Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to announce new proposed regulations under Section 1504 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. The goal is to increase transparency and provide the public with greater access to information related to the payments that U.S.-listed companies make to foreign governments to extract oil, gas, and mineral resources. The rulemaking has been delayed by lawsuits and SEC inaction. But now the SEC has an opportunity to put in place a policy for disclosure that is accessible and effective.

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