The Evening CSIS July 30 2015

Good Evening,

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.

The Empire Strikes Back
China’s Defense Ministry today accused the US of “militarizing” the South China Sea by staging patrols and joint military drills there, as Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, as Voice of America reports, China is holding a series of military exercises in the South China Sea this week—one of them involved live-fire drills with more than 100 ships, including some with nuclear capabilities.

Dive Deeper: CSIS has created a microwebsite, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) that has all the latest satellite images and most comprehensive analysis to date on the South China Sea. Today, AMTI launched a new set of analysis, infographics, satellite images, and video on “Airpower in the South China Sea.”

AMTI has even created a visualization of the evolution of China’s airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef, which you can watch on the AMTI microsite or CSIS’s YouTube Channel.

Heard on the Hill
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said today that House Democrats will provide the necessary support to finalize President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and referred to the deal as a“diplomatic masterpiece,” The Hill reported today.

Meanwhile, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN that the deal is a “pathway to nuclear armament, not getting rid of it.”

Dive Deeper: CSIS Senior Adviser Juan Zarate today testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the subject of sanctions and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between the P 5+1 and Iran. Zarate’s statement to the committee is available for download.

Zarate, a former senior White House and US Treasury official is the author of Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare , reviewed here by the Financial Times.

Yesterday, CSIS’s Jon Alterman testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the Iran deal. Dr. Alterman’s statement to the committee is available for download.

In that Number
According to the World Bank, across the developing world 20 percent of primary-school pupils are enrolled in private schools, twice as many as 20 years ago.
Source: Economist.

Critical Question
Asked: How does the Iran nuclear deal affect US financial sanctioning power?

Answered: Juan Zarate, CSIS senior adviser:

In essence, the US and its negotiating partners appear to have agreed to immunize Iran from any effective future financial or economic pressure—precisely the type that brought the regime to the table. And our negotiating partners—most champing at the bit to do business with Iran again—were willing to take advantage of this offering. Even during negotiations, China, which rejects the use of America’s global financial power and sanctions, and Russia, chafing under the weight of US and EU sanctions, were all too willing to undermine US economic leadership. China named Iran a founding member of its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and Russia quickly renewed its deal to sell SA-300 missiles to Tehran and then supported Iran’s demand to lift the arms and missile embargo.

We appear to be giving up this power by intending to “normalize” economic relations. This is a commitment we should not be making. This is highly problematic if the US hopes to maintain any ability to use financial and economic power and suasion to affect Iranian behavior in the future—either to ensure compliance with any agreement or confront other elements of Iranian behavior. We will need to rely on sanctions and economic constriction campaigns even more aggressively to keep Iran honest in any deal and check its aggressive revolutionary agenda. Though administration officials assure that it was clear at the table that all “nonnuclear” sanctions would remain in effect, the US will need to amplify its use of financial measures aggressively against key elements of the Iranian economy to deal with the increased risks of Iranian activity. It is not at all clear that this is well understood by all parties or part of our strategy.

From today’s congressional testimony.

One to Watch

Steve Morrison ( @MorrisonCSIS) is the head of our Global Health Policy Center and is a prominent voice on health issues worldwide. Just this year, his research took him to Ebola-stricken Liberia to learn firsthand about the efforts to contain the virus. On Tuesday, Dr. Morrison will lead a press briefing on the efforts Myanmar is making to eliminate Malaria, featuring experts from Myanmar’s government, opposition, and ethnic minorities.


US paratroopers load an M119A2 howitzer to support British army units during exercise Wessex Storm at the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, July 28, 2015.

U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach.

Highly Recommended
The Silicon Valley Business Journal’s report on Apple’s new visitor center.

This Town Tomorrow
What’s next in the defense technology revolution? Brookings Institution will host a panel focusing on how the US military is on target to become one of the largest adopters of cutting-edge manufacturing, improving acquisition processes and lowering costs. Register for the 10:00 a.m. event or watch it live.

CSIS on Demand
On Wednesday, Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) joined CSIS to discuss US foreign policy and emerging threats. Watch her comment on the opportunities and challenges faced by the United States and its allies.

CSIS’s Anthony Cordesman talks about Turkey’s latest moves against the Islamic State and the PKK, as well as broader strategy in the war for Iraq and Syria on this week’s CSIS Podcast.

I Like It Like That
Today, George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, tweeted the following statement with a wonderful picture of himself: “Who knew jumping out of planes was safer than getting out of bed? Thanks to all for your kind get-well messages.”

We don’t just like your tweet, we love it—what spirit! Get well soon, Mr. President.

Encore. Yesterday, in our “Smiles” section I shared my latest musical obsession—the brilliant Watkins Family Hour’s take on the Grateful Dead’s “Brokedown Palace” at the Newport Folk Festival. Here’s one more for the road. Watch Watkins’ beautiful interpretation of Fleetwood Mac’s “Steal Your Heart Away.” I haven’t seen any new music that has made me smile this much in a long time.

I always welcome and benefit from your feedback. Please drop me a line at