The Evening CSIS: Taliban Attack, China on the Charts, Keith's Trouble & More
September 29, 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.
The Taliban Attack
Taliban fighters clashed with Afghan government forces near Kunduz airport today, a day after the militants seized control of the northern city in arguably the biggest victory of their 14-year insurgency. And, as the New York Times reports from Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani today sought to assure the Afghan public that the push to win back Kunduz would succeed even as the crisis deepened.
The Washington Post reported late this afternoon from Kabul that, as part of the counteroffensive, Afghan forces were backed by at least two US airstrikes.
Dive Deeper: CSIS’s Anthony Cordesman writes in a new commentary published today— “Afghanistan and “Failed State Wars”: The Need for a Realistic Transition ”—that “The Taliban’s capture of Kunduz does mark its first major capture of a major urban area, but it is only a symptom of a much broader crisis in the transition process in what has begun to approach a forgotten war.”
Climbing the Charts
As Quartz reports, China is climbing the UN peacekeeper charts by committing 8,000 troops, as well as Xi Jinping’s commitment to donate $1 billion to a UN “peace and development fund” and contribute $100 million to the African Union to establish an emergency-response unit.
For all the latest on Xi’s visit to the US, the New York Times’s chief diplomatic correspondent Jane Perlez has documented all the key moments in her “Reporter’s Notebook.”
Dive Deeper: CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) today published a new interactive called “Xi in Washington: Outcomes Explained.”
In that Number
Number of ships in the US Navy today, as compared to 550+ during the Reagan administration.
Source: CSIS: “Is the Navy Too Small?”
"In each case, the 'Transition' since U.S. combat forces left at the end of 2014 is failing."
—Anthony Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, on Afghanistan policy.
Source: CSIS, "Afghanistan and the Defeat in Kunduz: The Crisis in Transition."
One to Watch
My great friend Justin Kenny (@JustinPKenny) is PBS NewsHour’s foreign editor and senior producer. Justin and his team took home an Emmy at last night’s 36th annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Investigative Journalism in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast.” Justin’s acceptance speech at New York’s Lincoln Center is gracious and absolutely one to watch.
Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin shared an awkward handshake and toast on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly yesterday. For a look back at other tense moments in their relationship, check out the Washington Post’s photo rundown.
CFR hosted Afghanistan’s Abdullah Abdullah who is chief executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan last Friday. You can read the transcript or watch the video here.
Andres Velasco, former Chilean finance minister and presidential candidate, will join CSIS at 5:00 p.m. for a discussion on what’s next for Chile, as that nation continues to struggle with political and economic issues. And at 9:00 a.m. you can watch as panelists discuss “Outcomes of Recent Defense Acquisition Reform: Lessons for the Future.” Finally, the CSIS Japan Chair will host Tomomi Inada, chairperson of the Policy Research Council, Democratic Party of Japan, for her insight on the political challenges ahead for Japan.
This Town Tomorrow
As China continues to emerge as a dominant economy and trade powerhouse, the Brookings Institution will take a look at how the United States and Japan should respond. Register for the event and listen as a panel of distinguished policymakers discuss the future of China’s economy, its growing role internationally, and how the United States can best respond to its rise.
CSIS on Demand
Last year, thousands of people poured across the southern border of the United States and fled northward to escape widespread violence, instability, and lack of economic opportunity in Latin America. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Caryn Hollis joined CSIS last week to discuss alternative governance in the Northern Triangle of Central America and its implications for US foreign policy. Above: Carl Meacham, director of the CSIS Americas program, with Dep. Assistant Secretary of Defense Caryn Hollis.
James A. Lewis, director of the CSIS Strategic Technologies Program, joined Minnesota Public Radio News to discuss China and cybersecurity. Listen as he covers the potential threats faced by the US and ways in which to respond.
I Like It Like That
Eye-catching things in CSIS's orbit
Check out the longest glass suspension bridge in the world. It’s called “Brave Men’s Bridge,” and it just opened in China’s Shiniuzhai National Park.
A little over a week ago Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards released his first solo record in 23 years. It’s called “Crosseyed Heart.” It’s bluesy, funky, steeped in history and a big smile.
Recorded in analog (because, as Keith says, it sounds so much better than digital) its tone is close, warm, weathered and intimate.
Keith hasn’t recorded solo without the Stones since 1992’s “Main Offender,” a stellar album he recorded with his other band, the X-Pensive Winos. In an accompanying Netflix documentary called “Under the Influence” Richards tells rock journalist Anthony DeCurtis that he’s the luckiest guy in the world because he’s part of the best two bands on earth. He’s not kidding.
Anthony, who is a friend, told me yesterday in an email that the show he saw Keith and the Winos play in February, 1993 at the Beacon Theater in New York “remains one of the greatest shows” he’s ever seen. Anthony would know, he’s written for Rolling Stone magazine for over 30 years.
Like Anthony, I was also one of the lucky ones who saw the band play in February ’93 when they came through DC and performed at Constitution Hall.
There is something ethereal about Richards and his music. As with the blues masters he patterned his career after (Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Robert Johnson) and pioneering rocker Chuck Berry, Richards’ music is both transcendent and timeless.
Here’s an example. Watch this clip from “Crosseyed Heart” of Richards’ new song “Trouble.” That’s X-Pensive Wino’s drummer Steve Jordan and guitarist Waddy Wachtel playing with Keith in the video.
Tomorrow we’ll talk more about Keith, the X-Pensive Winos, the new record, the new documentary and more smiles. But in the meantime, enjoy this smile—it’s a good one.
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