The Evening CSIS June 17 2015
June 17, 2015
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Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey presented a dismal outlook on the situation in Iraq today during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, with a discussion on potential US policy if Iraq’s current borders dissolve. CNN’s Tom LoBianco reports.
And late this afternoon Fox News’ James Rosen in an exclusive report said that “One of President Obama’s top intelligence officers (Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. General Vincent R. Stewart) has privately concluded that the situation in Iraq is a ‘quagmire,’ but struck the term from testimony being prepared for him to deliver on Capitol Hill."
Dive Deeper: CSIS’ Anthony Cordesman published a recent commentary, "Obama’s Plus Up in Iraq: Incrementalism is Not a Strategy."
The Institute for the Study of War published its latest Iraq Situation Report , June 16-17.
My Big Greek Divorce?
Greece faced a barrage of warnings today that it risked being forced out of the Eurozone and left without support if it failed to strike a swift aid-for-reforms deal with its creditors. Reuters' George Georgiopoulos and James Mackenzie report from Athens.
And, the Wall Street Journal’s Stelios Bouras and Brian Blackstone reported late this afternoon that “Greece’s central bank, in an unusually sharp statement that set it squarely against the government, warned Wednesday that failure to clinch a deal with international creditors on desperately needed funding could tip Greece into a catastrophe.”
Dive Deeper: CSIS’ Heather Conley published a new commentary today, " Will Greece exit from the Eurozone?"
The Syrian army said today it had defeated a major rebel offensive to capture remaining positions held by the Syrian military near the Golan Heights, where bombardments could be seen a short distance away. Reuters’ Sylvia Westall and Baz Ratner report.
Dive Deeper: CSIS's Aram Nerguizian published a major new report this week which examines key military dynamics and drivers of instability in Syria to better contextualize what has increasingly become a “shattered” military balance in the Levant.
The report , The Military Balance in a Shattered Levant: Conventional Forces, Asymmetric Warfare & the Struggle for Syria is a comprehensive analysis of the changing military balance in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan and reflects extensive research in the region and work with security experts in the US and Europe.
In that Number
The estimated maximum number of active combat troops in the Syrian Army.
Source: The Military Balance in a Shattered Levant: Conventional Forces, Asymmetric Warfare & the Struggle for Syria
Asked: Will Greece exit from the Eurozone?
Answered: Heather Conley, senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic, and director of the CSIS Europe Program:
Since his victory in Greek elections on January 25, the message conveyed by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been consistent: he will put an end Greece’s “humiliation” caused by its creditors and their imposed austerity measures, and Greece will remain in the European Monetary Union. The question of whether he can accomplish both objectives will be shortly answered.
Prime Minister Tsipras has also been consistent in his firm belief that Greece has all the leverage in its relationship with its creditors – the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank. Should Greece be forced to default on its loans due to misguided European policies, the Eurozone would cease to exist and economic catastrophe would befall Europe. European leaders would not risk that outcome, according to Mr. Tsipras’s reasoning, and therefore Greece’s creditors will and must pay.
Greece’s creditors, however, believe the exact opposite. European leaders believe they have the upper hand in this relationship and that their economic and structural reform demands must be met in order for Greece to receive additional funding. If the creditors fail to provide Greece with funds, Greece’s banking system will collapse, capital controls will be imposed, and Greece will likely have to return to its national currency, the drachma. Greek leaders would never risk this eventuality, and Europe has substantially strengthened its economic crisis mechanisms (mitigating the threat of contagion); therefore Greece will and must accede to its creditor’s demands.
Tomorrow’s meeting of Eurozone Finance Ministers will decide whether European leaders will hold an emergency summit over the weekend to discuss the Greece crisis. However, as both sides are at an impasse and remain distant in their positions, it is unclear what any additional meetings will resolve. Any decisions that are reached will need to be approved by national parliaments – a process that will take time as the June 30th date looms large and a 1.5 billion euro payment to the IMF comes due.
Two sets of headlights are coming at each other at full speed. Which car will swerve first?
One to Watch
Aram Nerguizian is a senior fellow in the Burke Chair in Strategy at CSIS where he focuses on the strategic and military dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa. Aram has been a strong, analytical voice on the war in Syria as it has metastasized in to the broader war against the Islamic State. His latest report The Military Balance in a Shattered Levant is the benchmark publication on the state of warfare in the region and makes him one to watch.
Greece’s Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis looks on Alexis Tspiras speaks in the Greek parliament. The country’s future in the European Union remains in the balance.
CSIS’s all things Asia blog, CogitAsia has a c ool profile of Sato Kilman, 57, the new prime minister of Vanuatu.
Andriy Taranov, Ukrainian president Poroshenko’s deputy head of administration joined CSIS for a fascinating discussion on the region’s escalating conflict and the collapse of the February Minsk II agreement.
CSIS also hosted a discussion analyzing the refugee crisis in Southeast Asia , the reasons for the refugee departures, and possible solutions.
Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser to President George W. Bush will join CSIS for its Smart Women, Smart Power initiative and a discussion on fighting terrorism in the age of ISIS . Join us for a reception at 5:00 p.m. or watch live at 5:30 p.m.
This Town Tomorrow
The Cato Institute will host an event on “Millennials and U.S. Foreign Policy,” examining how one-quarter of the US population views some of the most pressing global challenges of the day.
CSIS on Demand
Yesterday, CSIS hosted Admiral Paul F. Zukunft (USCG) for a timely conversation and explanation of the US Coast Guard’s new cyber strategy . This is how the Coast Guard plans to work with industry to manage cyber risks to maritime critical infrastructure, and boost its own cyber capabilities for defending USCG networks.
There is no better place to look than the FT where Gideon Rachman explores “What if Greece Defaults?”
I Like It Like That
It’s getting harder by the day, no by the second, to name all the people that are running for President of the United States. So the New York Times put together a handy chart of the Democrats and Republicans that are running (which may need further updating—who knows?)
OK, so the Cleveland Cavaliers gave it their best shot. And Cleveland, a city known for heartbreak and losing in sports will have to wait another year to try again for an NBA championship. But I kept thinking to myself—the Cavs didn’t really “lose.” In LeBron’s first year back in his hometown, he got them within one game of winning it all for a city that hasn’t won since 1964. And he did it with the top players on his team out with season ending injuries. As FiveThirtyEight.com pointed out, “Andre Iguodala technically won the NBA Finals MVP, but let’s be real: It was definitely LeBron James who deserved it.”
And last night while this was going down, a fantastic song lyric kept going through my head which made me smile for Cleveland. The lyric is by the great Tom Petty who sang “Now and then, I get the feeling, that if I don’t win, I’m gonna’ break even.”
The people of Cleveland didn’t lose last night. They broke even.
I must have been thinking about that Tom Petty lyric because 16 years ago to last night (June 16, 1999) in the very same arena the Cavs “lost” the NBA championship, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed “You Wreck Me,” the song the lyric comes from. How do I know this you may ask? It was the first time I saw Petty perform live and it was three days before I married my wife (now of 16 years) in Cleveland. Now that’s a smile. So enjoy this clip of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performing an amazing version of “You Wreck Me” at LA’s tiny Peter Fonda Theater in 2013. And Cleveland, last night we didn’t lose, we broke even.
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