The Evening CSIS May 27 2015
May 27, 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.
Lack of Authority
The Obama administration stood by Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s remarks that Iraqis “lacked the will” to fight ISIS in Ramadi, CNN’s Kevin Liptak reports.
Dive Deeper: Late last week CSIS’s Anthony Cordesman authored a new analysis on “The Defeat in Ramadi: A Time for Transparency, Integrity, and Change."
Dr. Cordesman wrote that a State Department official last week provided a meaningful and in-depth explanation of the course of the fighting in Ramadi, provided a realistic assessment of the problems the US faces, the uncertainties in its plans for reacting, and the fact it might take years to succeed.
And, in a thoughtful new essay, “Popular Authoritarians,” published today in his Middle East News and Comment, CSIS’s Jon Alterman writes that the Middle Eastern authoritarian governments who retain popularity arise from a fear of chaos. Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and the Sinai all serve as object lessons for populations who think nothing can be worse than the status quo. Persistent terrorist attacks remind populations of how vulnerable they remain.
The Institute for the Study of War has published a new “Iraq Situation Report: May 23-25, 2015,” in which it reports that ISIS continued its campaign for the Euphrates following the fall of Ramadi and Palmyra. According to the Institute, in Anbar ISIS seized the Iraqi side of the Tanf/Waleed border crossing with Syria, having captured the Syrian side on May 22 on Ramadi from the west.
China said it will project its military power further beyond its borders at sea and more assertively in the air, defending the construction of artificial islands CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) first exposed via analysis and digital satellite images in the New York Times in early April. China’s statements today have sparked concerns in Washington, as Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.
Dive Deeper: CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative has all the latest satellite images of island building and land reclamation in the South China Sea. Explore these images and analysis by visiting the AMTI micro website.
And, AMTI project director Dr. Mira Rapp Hooper authored an op-ed for CNN Opinion late last week: “Why China's island-building is raising eyebrows.”
According to a report by Defense News, a new push by Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to increase the armed services’ authorities to manage major weapon programs could weaken the power of the Pentagon’s top acquisition office.
Dive Deeper: A commentary published today by John Hamre, CSIS president, CEO, and Pritzker Chair, “ Return Acquisition Role to Service Chiefs ,” provides further context to the issues at stake.
In that Number
Russia’s military forces have begun a four-day, large-scale exercise involving around 250 aircraft and 12,000 service personnel to check combat readiness, according to its Defense Ministry. The exercise began on the same day that NATO and some of its partners started an Arctic training exercise.
Source : BBC.
Asked: After the fall of Ramadi, the Iraqi Army is coming under fire for its lack of resilience; what can be done to address this issue and build an effective Iraqi force?
Answered: Anthony Cordesman, CSIS Burke Chair in Strategy: We need to be very careful not to imply that the Iraqis lost the will to fight or somehow imply they lack courage. The US left too soon to really finish the job of rebuilding the Iraqi forces, and former prime minister Maliki came close to gutting the Iraqi Army by using it to serve his own ambitions and in operations to suppress legitimate Sunni dissent during 2012-2013. The better units have shown the same courage Iraqis did during eight years of the Iran-Iraq War and in combat with the US and coalition in 1991 and 2003.
The key issues are whether the new Iraqi government will give the army and all the Iraqi people—including Arab Sunnis and Kurds—a reason to fight for it; whether the government can solve the problem of allocating reinforcements and supplies when they are really needed and do so to Arab Sunnis and Kurds as well as Shi'ites; and, whether the US will provide a strong enough train and assist mission to rebuild the force. We need to shape the elements of victory, not assign blame.
One to Watch
Julianne Smith ( @Julie_C_Smith) is director of the Strategy/Statecraft Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a senior VP at Beacon Global Strategies, and former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Biden. Julianne is also a CSIS alum—she directed our Europe Program and was deputy director of our International Security Program before joining the Obama administration. Insightful analysis like her recent piece published by the Atlantic Council, “ The Leadership Gap in the West ,” make her one to watch.
Natural beauty is mixed with uncertainty, as this Reuters photo essay shows, depicting the journey of Afghan and Syrian refugees making the journey across the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos.
Outlaw biker gangs have been in the news lately in the US for the recent massacre in Waco. Here’s a good read in the Telegraph, “Meet the Night Wolves – Putin’s Hell’s Angels.” The Night Wolves, with over 5,000 members, are described as a fiercely patriotic motorcycle gang that are a key source of Russian soft power in former Soviet states.
Wes Bush, chairman, CEO, and president of Northrop Grumman, joined CSIS for a Next Generation Dialogue on Industry and Defense, providing an industry perspective on “Rethinking Research and Development for the Department of Defense.”
CSIS will host a Statesmen’s Forum featuring Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO on the challenges facing the Transatlantic Alliance and the ways in which NATO must adapt. Click here to RSVP or watch live at 11:00 a.m.
This Town Tomorrow
At 2:30 p.m., the Wilson Center hosts an event on “Afghanistan’s Unsung Heroes: Reflections of Afghan Women Leaders and Implications for US Policy.” Click here for more.
CSIS on Demand
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal, CSIS hosted Jorge Quijano , CEO of the Panama Canal Authority, last week for a briefing on the canal’s impact and continued relevance. In his presentation, Quijano points out that “69 percent of canal cargo traffic originates in, or is destined to, the United Sates.”
This week’s Smart Women, Smart Power podcast looks at the best of Melinda Gates’s remarks from her visit last Wednesday. In case you missed it, take a listen here.
I Like It Like That
ICYMI, the One Campaign released itsannual data report, The DATA Report 2015: Putting the Poorest First, late last week.
Over the weekend, Canadian inventor Catalin Alexandru Duru set a new Guinness World Records title for farthest flight by a hoverboard—a machine he built and says can reach “scary heights.” Watch this, it’s an incredible smile as Catalin travels a total distance of 905 ft, 2 in (275.9 m)—over 2 football fields (both US and Canadian size!).
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