The Evening CSIS June 30 2015
June 30, 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.
Keep Talking or Walking?
President Obama said today he is prepared to walk away from a nuclear deal with Iran unless Tehran accepts a tight monitoring regime. Talks have been extended until July 7, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Lawrence Norman and Carol Lee.
CSIS’s Anthony Cordesman published a new analysis yesterday: “The Continuing Duel with Iran: Containment, Deterrence, and the Iranian Arms Control Agreement.”
American troops survived a suicide bombing in Kabul today with the Taliban claiming responsibility for the attack, the Washington Post’s Sayed Salahuddin and Daniela Deane report.
Dive Deeper: In mid-May, CSIS’s Anthony Cordesman published Key Combat Trends in Afghanistan: Violence vs. Population , a useful analysis for understanding the larger context of attacks such as today’s.
And, in mid-March, Dr. Cordesman published a major report: Afghanistan at Transition: The Lessons of the Longest War .
The Council on Foreign Relations has a superb “InfoGuide Presentation: The Taliban” that is a must see for anyone interested in learning more about the Taliban.
Trade Winds Blowing
Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership are expected to heat up in July. The New Zealand Herald today reported that New Zealand’s trade minister, Tim Groser, told the US/NZ Partnership Forum in Auckland, “I have learned never to be dogmatic about timetables, but the scenario that I and my negotiators are working to is that we have to get the basic political deal done by the end of July, including finalizing all the chapter texts, leaving only legal rectification by experts to be done thereafter.”
Dive Deeper: CSIS’s Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies has produced a superb new, interactive micro-website launched today called “US-News Zealand: Going to the Next Level.” Serious cool factor: The site opens with a “haka,” the traditional ancestral war cry of the Māori people of New Zealand.
In that Number
Fifteen hijackings took place in 2014 in the South and East Asian seas, up from only a handful the year before. There have been nine in the past six months alone. This is the area where the narrow straits separating Singapore and Malaysia from Indonesia provide passage for about one-third of the world’s shipping.
Source: The Economist.
Asked: Is it a good sign or a bad sign that the Iranian nuclear talks have been extended?
Answered: Jon Alterman, Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy and Middle East Program director at CSIS:
It’s not really much of either. Iran’s lead technical negotiator, Ali Akbar Salehi, had major intestinal surgery in May, and John Kerry had a serious biking accident at the end of the month. Both had planned to devote significant time to negotiations in June but could not for health reasons. Partly as a consequence, much remains “in brackets,” to be resolved by negotiators.
Both the US and Iranian side benefit politically by showing they are driving a tough bargain, and extending the deadline is part of that. The White House has made a show of saying how important it is to get a deal in early July so as to avoid extending the time Congress has to disapprove it. Arguably, it is a tool to pressure the Iranians to make an agreement, but it’s not clear that Congress would be less likely to consent to a deal (or, more accurately, to fail to disapprove of a deal by 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress) with a 60-day review rather than the 30-day review that would be in place were an agreement struck by July 9. Ayatollah Khamenei has announced new red lines, some of which appear to conflict with terms the Iranians agreed to in Lausanne in April.
A potential outcome is that the parties leave Vienna July 9 without an agreement, they informally agree to abide by the terms of the Joint Plan of Action without an actual agreement, and reengage in earnest before the UN General Assembly meetings in late September. It would not be ideal, but it would be better than many alternatives.
For the Obama administration, the absolute worst-case scenario is if the world is satisfied the Iranians have been reasonable but Congress is not. In that event, sanctions would collapse, Iran’s isolation would end, and the Iranian nuclear program would be unconstrained.
One to Watch
General Gatot Nurmantyo is currently the chief of staff of the Indonesian army. CSIS’s superb all-things-Asia blog, CogitAsia, profiled him for “The Leaderboard.” Given today’s military disaster in Indonesia, Gen. Nurmantyo is certainly one to watch in the days to come.
More than 100 people are thought to be dead after an Indonesian military transport plane—a C-130B Hercules aircraft that went into service about 50 years ago—crashed into a residential area today shortly after take-off in northern Indonesia. Reuters has a dramatic photo slide show of the crash site.
What happens at midnight? Politico took a look at the IMF’s official step-by-step procedure when a country falls into arrears , as well as what will happen once Greece joins with the likes of Somalia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe in outstanding IMF debt.
Iceland’s minister of foreign affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, will join CSIS for a Statesmen’s Forum on the changing political, strategic, and economic dynamics in the Arctic.
CSIS will also host a discussion on how to mitigate and build resilience in fragile African states.
This Town Tomorrow
The Bipartisan Policy Center will host a conversation on Turkey’s election results and the implications for Kurdish groups.
CSIS on Demand
How do we degrade and defeat ISIS? Stephen Kappes, former CIA deputy director, and David Ignatius of the Washington Post joined CSIS yesterday to weigh in. Above: Stephen Kappes, former Deputy Director of the CIA.
Listen to the director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, Steve Morrison, discuss his life and career in public service on the UN’s Global Dispatches podcast with host Mark Goldberg.
I Like It Like That
Business Insider ’s Pamela Engel today featured a post about a detailed Syria map showing what “territory ISIS is truly fighting for.”
Independence Day (July 4) is my favorite holiday. I love America and the American spirit and plan to celebrate it all week with Smiles in The Evening CSIS.
July 4 in Washington is always remarkable. Even the recession year’s fireworks displays are set against an unparalleled backdrop! One of my favorite 4th of July traditions when I was growing up was watching the Beach Boys perform live on the National Mall.
From 1980 to 1982, they performed live on the Mall on July 4. Then, President Reagan’s secretary of the interior, James Watt, banned them in 1983, saying that “rock bands” on the National Mall encouraged the “wrong element.”
I used to go see the Beach Boys with my mom, dad, and little sister, and I can tell you that the right element and the national spirit and love of America was there. When the Beach Boys, yes, the Beach Boys were banned by James Watt in ’83 there was a vast public uproar. What’s more American than the Beach Boys??? Subsequently, and I think heroically, Vice President George H.W. Bush said of the Beach Boys, “They’re my friends and I like their music.”
Then Watt apologized. Then the first lady, Nancy Reagan, apologized for Watt, and in 1984 the Beach Boys gave an Independence Day concert on the Mall to an audience of more than 750,000 people. I will never forget their electrifying return performance. Watch this clip from ’84 of “Help me Rhonda” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.” You’ll get a sense of the Mall that day and the spirit of America. Oh, and there’s this guy named Ringo on drums…
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