The Evening CSIS May 8 2015
May 8, 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.
CSIS Exclusive: Vietnam's Castles Made of Sand
CSIS today published never-before-seen photos of Vietnam’s island building exercises in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea. The photos were provided exclusively to Reuters’ David Brunnstrom, whose article “Images show Vietnam reclaiming land in South China Sea” is now spanning the globe.
Dive Deeper: The source material, exclusive photos first published by Reuters, and analysis about Vietnamese expansion in the Spratly Islands is all contained in CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), an interactive, regularly updated source and web magazine for information, analysis, and policy exchange on maritime security issues in Asia.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was asked about the CSIS images of Vietnamese reclamation efforts during her regular press conference today.
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain wiped out all projections to win a second five-year term in office, as the Guardian reports.
The AP provides a simple “ Look at the Winners and Losers in the UK Election .”
Dive Deeper: CSIS’s Heather Conley provides a short analysis as to what PM Cameron’s reelection means for the UK and for the US.
CFR ’s James Lindsay published a new commentary today: “The Conservative Party’s Surprising Victory Doesn’t Herald a Bolder Britain.”
Chatham House provides an excellent resource in “UK General Election 2015: Foreign Policy Challenges.”
The Atlantic Council’s Nicholas Dugan says “British Prime Minister is now in a much stronger position to counter the euroskeptic wing of his Conservative Party” in an interview published on the Council’s website today.
And, Brookings’ Richard Reeves today published a piece on the Brookings’ website: “Cameron pulls off a surprise win: What now for Europe and Scotland?”
Saudi Arabia today announced a cease-fire in Yemen beginning next Tuesday for a five-day trial period that could be renewed, the Financial Times’ Simeon Kerr reports from Riyadh. The Gulf Cooperation Council meets with President Obama next week in Washington and at Camp David to discuss Yemen, Iran, and related issues.
Dive Deeper: CSIS’s Jon Alterman held a conference call with reporters on the upcoming US-GCC summit (May 13-14). A full transcript and audio of the call can be accessed here.
In a new commentary published yesterday, 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.”
In that Number
Iraqi authorities have signed up 1,000 recruits for a new Sunni militia in western Anbar province, tasked with fighting the Islamic State group and retaking the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.
Source: Associated Press.
A daily shortened sampling of our signature "Asked & Answered" series.
Asked: What should we make of the UK election results?
Answered: Heather Conley, CSIS senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic and director of the Europe Program
The British people returned the Conservatives to Westminster but this time with a majority, albeit a very slim one (the Tories claimed 331 seats—just five over the 326 benchmark). There are no doubts surrounding the government’s legitimacy or stability. This election was a clear referendum on David Cameron’s stewardship of the British economy, and the people placed their trust and bets on the success of continued Conservative leadership. This election also clearly signaled that the British people want to have their say about the UK’s future membership in the European Union—be it an affirmation or a rejection.
The domestic consequences of this historic election will reverberate for years to come. The Scottish National Party (SNP), which won an extraordinary 56 seats out of Scotland’s 59 total, will continue to demand greater regional devolution and budgetary authority, which can only be comprehensively addressed by the writing of a British constitution at some future point. The rise of Scottish nationalism will inevitably produce an equivalent counter-surge in English nationalism, which will continue to strain the UK’s ability to unite around a common political and economic agenda.
The future direction of the British Labour and Liberal Democratic (LibDem) parties is unknown, as both suffered enormous losses (netting -25 and -49 seats, respectively), particularly within the ranks of their leadership. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) succeeded in displacing established parties in many constituencies and winning 12.6 percent of the popular vote, but it was unable to translate this momentum into parliamentary seats. All three parties will be subject to new leadership contests in the coming months and will undergo a great deal of soul-searching about what they stand for and their future electoral viability.
Read the full analysis here.
One to Watch
This week, Lt. Col. Christine Mau made Air Force history by becoming the first US female to pilot an F-35 Lightning II fighter jet—widely regarded as one of the most technologically complex jets ever engineered. If you didn’t catch the flyover demonstrations on this VE Day anniversary, Lt. Col. Mau is definitely one to watch as she hits the skies in this NBC News video.
Vietnam became the latest nation in Asia to begin land reclamation activities in the South China Sea. Explore the latest never before seen images from our Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.
Read, “ Europe Surrounded Not by a Ring of Friends—But by a Ring of Fire ,” a CSIS Statesman Laureate Lecture by the Honorable Carl Bildt, former prime minister and foreign minister of Sweden.
Join us on Monday at 10:00 a.m. to learn about “US Strategy for Civil and Military Space,” with General James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Sean O’Keefe, former administrator of NASA.
And join us at 3:00 p.m. for a discussion on “India’s Nuclear Policies” and how the BJP’s general election victory last year has impacted the country’s nuclear policies and practices.
This Town Monday
The Atlantic Council will host a panel of experts for a discussion on “Can Fracking Survive? The Impact of Low Oil Prices and Prospects for International Expansion.” Click here to RSVP or watch live at 3:00 p.m.
CSIS on Demand
Last month, CSIS hosted an important Schieffer Series discussion, elevating the voices of female leaders dedicated to empowering women on an international level. Watch as Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s Face the Nation, speaks with Ambassador Cathy Russell, Peace Corps director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, and Dr. Sarah Mendelson of the CSIS Human Rights Initiative, on “Advancing Global Gender Equality.”
On this week’s CSIS Podcast , NPR’s international correspondent Ari Shapiro makes a guest appearance to explain the aftermath of the UK general election. He’s joined by Heather Conley to discuss what that means for the US-UK relationship.
I Like It Like That
Foreign Policy ’s excellent blog “Passport” yesterday published “Interactive Map: Follow the Roads, Railways, and Pipelines on China’s New Silk Road.” Great piece.
Dive Deeper: CSIS has a stellar multimedia presentation called "Reconnecting Eurasia” by CSIS’s Andrew Kuchins.
Sunday is Mother’s Day, one of my favorite days of the year for as long as I can remember. I lost my mom, Dr. Shirley S. Schwartz, several years ago, but I think of her and smile on Mother’s Day. I think of my amazing wife, Amy Goldberg, and smile and my incredible mother-in-law, Nancy Goldberg, and smile. After we lost my mom, my dad remarried a wonderful woman named Anne Weiss, and now I think of her too. But I never really knew the history of Mother’s Day and how it came to be. Of course, the History Channel has a good explanation.
There’s a song that makes me think of the power of my mother and mothers everywhere. “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That’s an Irish Lullaby)” is a classic Irish-American song originally written in 1913 by James Royce Shannon. Bing Crosby made it famous, but the best version in my book is The Band’s Richard Manuel and Van Morrison’s duet of it at “The Last Waltz.” The only existing footage I know of their performance is in black and white, grainy, and not in the high quality used by Scorsese in the rest of the movie. But this clip should give you a sense of why this song is so powerful when you hear the full-throated Van sing: “I feel her arms a huggin’ me/As when she held me then.” Thank you to moms everywhere and Happy Mother’s Day!
I always welcome and benefit from your feedback. Please drop me a line at email@example.com.