The Evening CSIS May 7 2015
May 7, 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.
TPP and National Security: Dr. Hamre Weighs In
As Demetri Sevastopulo and Shawn Donnan of the Financial Times report today, a bipartisan contingent of 17 former secretaries of defense and retired military leaders, including Colin Powell, Leon Panetta, Donald Rumsfeld, and David Petraeus, sent a letter to congressional leaders from both parties calling on Congress to give President Obama fast track authority to complete contentious trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Dive Deeper: In his personal capacity, CSIS president, CEO, and Pritzker Chair John Hamre wrote a letter to the editorpublished today by The Hill in which he underscored that the TPP is a matter of national security. (As with all of our work at CSIS, we don’t take center-wide policy positions and are a nonpartisan organization.)
Cease-Fire in Yemen
At a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia announced it is considering a five-day cease-fire in Yemen, as the Wall Street Journal reports.
Meanwhile, as Barbara Slavin of Al Monitor reports, Ambassador Yousef al Otaiba of the United Arab Emirates said today that the UAE and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) “need something in writing” from the US to better guarantee their security in the wake of an anticipated nuclear agreement with Iran.
Dive Deeper: In a new commentary published today, CSIS’s Anthony Cordesman said the upcoming US-GCC summit next week “provides a key opportunity for both the Arab Gulf States and the US to create a stronger strategic partnership and address the need for common action in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.”
Tomorrow, join us for a conference call on the upcoming US-GCC summit with CSIS’s Jon Alterman at 10:30 a.m. To join, the call please dial (888) 204-5987 and use the access code: 3998468. We will be providing a transcript of the call if you can’t make it.
In that Number
Southeast Asian countries spent $38.2 billion on defense in 2014.
Source : CogitAsia.
A daily shortened sampling of our signature "Asked & Answered" series.
Asked: Why did Chilean president Michelle Bachelet fire her cabinet? And what does it mean for Chile?
Answered: Carl Meacham, director of the CSIS Americas Program: Yesterday, President Bachelet announced that she asked all of her cabinet ministers to submit their resignations—and that she would decide who stays and who leaves in the next 72 hours. So far, she has only confirmed that Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz, will stay in office.
This move is, essentially, an outgrowth of a series of political scandals that have unfolded in Chile in recent months—scandals that have wreaked havoc on confidence in government, on political stability, and on Bachelet’s approval ratings, currently in the low 30s. Chileans are loudly demanding change, and the president’s cabinet overhaul is meant to deliver that change. But ultimately, Bachelet’s decision doesn’t bode well for Chile. And a lot of that has to do with how the news was delivered.
First of all, President Bachelet announced the cabinet overhaul in a televised interview with popular late-night host Don Francisco—not the heavy-weight format we might expect for a major governing decision, particularly from a president who only a couple of weeks ago told another interviewer she would not announce a cabinet shuffle in a televised interview.
Second, Bachelet—who claimed she has not yet thought through what the new cabinet would look like— gave herself a very tight timeline for making up her mind—just 72 hours. In a country where cabinet posts are given out as part of a complex political jockeying process among the many parties that make up the governing coalition, her back is against the wall. The clock is running out, and time is not on her side.
Third, this move is meant to show Bachelet’s commitment to reforming the way government is run in Chile—particularly with respect to corruption and abuse of power. But her timing and strategy reveal a troubling political deafness on the president’s part. Bachelet seems to be blaming the low popularity of her political reforms on cabinet members and not on the content of the reforms themselves.
And fourth, who she picks to replace her cabinet is the end-all. If she leans toward the old-school political elite instead of up-and-coming fresh faces, she has the potential to unravel the fundamental logic behind this overhaul: real change.
Ultimately, Chile is at an inflection point. Political scandal, a crisis in confidence in the government, and President Bachelet’s apparently hasty stewardship in the midst of major changes in Chile make it clear that change is necessary. Adding uncertainty in the midst of crisis sets a worrying precedent for the rest of President Bachelet’s leadership—not to mention for Chile’s place as a regional outlier in stability and prosperity.
One to Watch
CSIS’ Heather Conley is senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic and director of our Europe Program. Her recent analysis of the UK general election and the aftermath once it’s all sorted out makes her one to watch.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter offers applause as he thanks Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for his service during a press conference at the Pentagon today. Dempsey, who has served as chairman since 2011, will leave his post later this year. Marine commandant General Joseph Dunford has been nominated by President Obama to replace General Dempsey. DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett.
CSIS’s super all-things-Asia blog, CogitAsia, has a new piece today, “Analyzing Southeast Asia’s Military Expenditures,” which is chock full of easy to digest infographics. The piece is by Dr. Zachary Abuza of Southeast Asia Analytics who writes on Southeast Asian politics and security issues.
This Town Tomorrow
So many important things in this town—so little time. Of note:
The Brookings Institution in conjunction with the State Department will host an event on “Bringing driverless cars from research to international markets,” convening industry experts and research scientists to discuss the future of regulations and innovation in the industry. Click here for more.
CSIS on Demand
This week, CSIS’s Abdullah Toukan released a new presentation, “The Arab Gulf and the US Strategic Partnership in Ballistic Missile Defense,” which details Iran’s security concerns and the GCC’s missile capabilities. You can download the graphics here, or watch his presentation on Demand.
The Senate has cyber legislation and transition legislation on its agenda in the coming weeks. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), ranking member of Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, tells “In Depth with Francis Rose” on Federal News Radio there’s an economic reason cyber security legislation is important.
I Like It Like That
Eye catching things in CSIS’s orbit
The New York Times has an extraordinary feature called “ Op-Docs” where opinion driven videos are featured online. I follow it closely and in a previous edition of The Evening CSIS featured an Op-Doc about drummer Saul Dreier, 89, and accordionist Ruby Sosnowicz, 85 of the “Holocaust Survivor Band.” Today, the Times Op-Doc section presented “A Conversation About Growing Up Black,” by Joe Brewster and Perri Peltz, who ask African-American boys and young men to tell them candidly about the daily challenges they face.
If you are a fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA), there’s no doubt you already know that one of the best programs on television of any genre is the “TNT Halftime Report.” It is hosted by TNT’s Ernie Johnson and stars former NBA great Kenny “The Jet” Smith, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, and superstar Shaquille O’Neal, who is a first-ballot lock to be inducted in to the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 2017. The banter between these men is thoughtful and intelligent in a way that often supersedes the game of basketball itself. It also provides some of the funniest moments ever seen on live TV. Take a look at what happened last night when Shaq got a bit tangled up while live on the set.
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