The Evening CSIS July 1 2015
July 1, 2015
Welcome to The Evening CSIS—my daily guide to key insights CSIS brings to the events of the day plus HIGHLY RECOMMENDED content from around the world. To subscribe, please click here and if you want to view this in your browser, click here.
President Obama announced today that the US is renewing diplomatic relations with Cuba and called on Congress to lift the embargo of more than five decades, reports the New York Times’ Julie Hirshfeld Davis.
Dive Deeper: CSIS’s Carl Meacham published a new commentary today on what's next in US-Cuba relations.
Read the full statement by President Obama on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.
CSIS Exclusive: Satellite photos show China has finished construction of man-made S. China Sea islands
Exclusive satellite images produced by CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) and Digital Globe provided to the Washington Post’s Simon Denyer show China’s rapid island building in action in the South China Sea . On Fiery Cross Reef, the photos show that construction of an air base is continuing “with ongoing paving and marking of the airstrip, an added apron, construction of a sensor array and development of additional support facilities.”
Additional photos show a Chinese naval vessel docked on one man-made island and images at another island, the Johnson South Reef, show what looks like a significant military monitoring station. Also using CSIS/Digital Globe images, the Washington Post produced a visually stunning collection of photos and info-graphics showing “China’s Rapid Island Building in Action."
Dive Deeper: CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) has all the latest satellite images and analysis of island building and land reclamation in the East and South China Sea. You can dive deeper into the satellite imagery of construction on the Spratly Islands as well as new analysis on the Strategic and Economic Dialogue with China (S & ED). Plus, a terrific video discussion between CSIS’s Mira Rapp Hooper and Bonnie Glaser.
Egypt's army said today that more than 100 militants and 20 Egyptian soldiers were killed in simultaneous attacks on military checkpoints in North Sinai, CNN reports.
Dive Deeper: Several new analyses compiled by CSIS’s Middle East program, Rocky Harbors: Taking Stock of the Middle East in 2015 and Religious Radicalism after the Arab Uprisings are helpful in understanding today’s attack in greater context.
In that Number
First Lady Michelle Obama announced today via Instagram that a 40-year ban on taking photos during public tours of the White House has been lifted.
Asked: What is next in the road towards U.S.-Cuba normalization?
Answered: Carl Meacham, director of the CSIS Americas Program:
The embassies also mark the essential exhaustion of President Obama’s powers to push toward normalization without further legislative action. That poses a big risk. U.S.-Cuba policy normalization gaining many new supporters in the GOP, but it’s still deeply polarizing with many on the Hill, so congressional action toward normalization is, for many, a tough sell. And as long as that’s true, the embargo will remain in place—and Havana will be empowered to call Washington out for failing to lift it.
Still, there’s a real need to keep up momentum and maintain the steady flow of visible change.
On one hand, setting a formal framework—through, for example, bilateral dialogues along the U.S.-Brazil model—would help publically establish the agenda for bilateral issues. Less controversial issues, as well as difficult issues like human rights, unresolved expropriations of property, extradition, and Cuba's ongoing role in Venezuela would all benefit from a formal structure for the ongoing U.S.-Cuba discussion.
And on the other hand, there could be real potential in initiatives based on cultural diplomacy. In 1987 during the Reagan Administration, Billy Joel’s Glasnost Tour in the Soviet Union helped to foster understanding and create space for demands from Russians for greater opening toward the United States. Major League Baseball conducting spring training in Cuba or Taylor Swift playing Havana could be the modern equivalent, bringing Cuban hearts and minds on board with the pace of the changing relationship.
One to Watch
Lee Wolosky has just received the seemingly impossible task of shutting down Gitmo, as the State Department’s new “closure envoy.” He is the third special envoy in this position, and starting July 6th will work to transfer the remaining 116 detainees from the US military prison. The Miami Herald offers this timely profile of Wolosky’s new role. Photo credit: Boies, Schiller & Flexner.
Bethesda, Maryland, July 1, 2015. Photo taken by H. Andrew Schwartz for The Evening CSIS.
On Sunday, one of America’s most influential commentators on public policy passed away at 81 years of age. Ben Wattenberg, PBS host, author and self-professed neoconservative spent decades urging his fellow Democrats to move to more centrist policy positions. In National Affairs, the political scholar Jonathan Bronitsky wrote that Wattenberg’s “most concrete triumph has been that every decade over a stretch of 60 years, he published at least one critically acclaimed title that challenged and reshaped conventional wisdom.”
Proving that he was always current, watch Wattenberg discuss his influential book “Fighting Words” with John Stewart in this 2008 interview on "The Daily Show."
Iceland’s minister of foreign affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson joined CSIS to provide important perspective on the changing economic and political dynamics in the Arctic.
CSIS also hosted a discussion on state fragility in Africa examining some of the underlying causes and how to improve development outcomes.
This Town Tomorrow
DC Improv is kicking off the holiday weekend with their “Best of DC” show featuring some of the top comedians from the region. Get a glimpse of the performers here.
CSIS on Demand
The US and Cuba will open their embassy doors later this month, but what remains on the path to normalization? Watch the original CSIS discussion that laid out the legal pathway for US-Cuba policy reform with Senator Jeff Flake.
Listen to World Weekly from the FT for the latest on how last week’s terrorist attacks in Tunisia have shaken the country’s tourism-driven economy .
I Like It Like That
I like how the UK sometimes celebrates things that the US should celebrate louder and better than we do ourselves. Here, England’s Independent celebrates punk icon and Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry’s 70th birthday today —I don’t see anything like this in the American press. It’s only rock and roll, but I like it like that.
Independence Day (July 4) is my favorite holiday. I love America, the American spirit and plan to celebrate it all week with Smiles in The Evening CSIS.
Thanks to all of you who wrote me about yesterday’s Evening CSIS post on the Beach Boys’ triumphant return to perform live on the National Mall in 1984. How can I follow that? There’s nothing more American than the Beach Boys on July 4th in Washington, right?
Well, nothing more, but maybe something a little different and equally as good.
Let’s celebrate the American spirit by watching one of the greatest performances ever captured on film by one of America’s greatest, most electrifying performers. You guessed it. His name is Bruce, his band is from E Street, and there is nothing better than watching them blast through “Born to Run” in 1975 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. That’s how you follow the Beach Boys.
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