FPI Overnight Brief: March 8, 2017

The Must-Reads

Middle East/North Africa

Iran
 
The Trump administration is under increasing criticism from Republican lawmakers for continuing Obama-era policies to provide material support to the Iranian regime, including airplanes, which many have warned could be used to illegally ferry weapons across the Middle East on behalf of the Islamic Republic's war effort, according to lawmakers and veteran congressional insiders who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon. – Washington Free Beacon
 
U.S. President Donald Trump's administration pledged on Tuesday to show "great strictness" over restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities imposed by a deal with major powers, but gave little indication of what that might mean for the agreement. - Reuters
 
President Hassan Rouhani should apologize to the Iranian people if he cannot show that the economy has improved, one of Iran's most prominent hardliners said on Tuesday, setting a battle line for a presidential election in May. - Reuters
 
Ten years after a former FBI agent working on an unauthorized CIA mission disappeared in Iran, his family hopes U.S. President Donald Trump will do something America’s last two presidents have been unable to achieve: Finally bring him home. – Associated Press
 
A U.S. Navy ship changed course toward Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, a guard commander was quoted as saying on Wednesday while issuing a warning. - Reuters
 
Syria
 
The top American military officer met Tuesday with his Russian and Turkish counterparts to discuss how to avoid an unintended confrontation as forces from all three nations operate on an increasingly crowded battlefield in northern Syria. – New York Times
 
The United States appears to have decided to enlist the help of Kurdish YPG militia in a campaign to push Islamic State out of its stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, thwarting Turkey's ambitions, a senior Turkish official said on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
Some 130,000 people who have fled to the northern Syrian city of Manbij and nearby rural areas are in dire need of international aid, the head of a Manbij civil affairs council said on Wednesday. - Reuters
 
David Gardner writes: [T]he sort of money needed to reconstruct Syria is likely to be at least $250bn and maybe eventually double that. There will be no international queues to do it without basic stability and agreement on power-sharing. The “realism” taking hold in Brussels and Washington needs more input from reality. Europeans, in particular, desperate for anything that turns the tide of refugees back into Syria, should be clear that some of the demographic changes there are intended by the regime to be permanent. The regime’s patrons, too, will have time to reflect on the mess they own. – Financial Times
 
Iraq
 
As resurgent Iraqi forces backed by the US-led coalition continue their push to drive Isis from Mosul and surrounding towns, locals in al-Houd are taking it upon themselves to begin excavating the pits near them, hoping to end their agonising over the fate of missing loved ones. – Financial Times
 
A U.S. general in the international coalition in Iraq says that Islamic State forces defending western Mosul are disorganized and some foreign fighters are trying to leave the city. - Reuters
 
Iraqi forces saw off a nighttime Islamic State counter-attack near Mosul's main government building hours after recapturing it, a military official said on Wednesday, as troops sought to push the militants further back. - Reuters
 
North Africa
 
An oil guard official appointed by Libya's U.N.-backed government said on Tuesday that he had been tasked with protecting oil ports by an armed faction that took over Es Sider and Ras Lanuf terminals last week. - Reuters
 
The number of tourists visiting Egypt this year could come close to levels seen before its 2011 uprising, encouraged by investments in airport security and a cheaper Egyptian pound, the country's tourism minister said. - Reuters
 
Arabian Peninsula
 
Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky write: If we let them, our Gulf Arab friends will drag Washington into costly and risky commitments the United States will not be able to meet, further undermining our leadership and reputation. And if Sunni Arab governments are true to form, the United States will do most of the heavy lifting while they cheer us from the sidelines and then heap blame on Washington when things go wrong. – Washington Post
 
Levant
 
The Israeli leader’s praise for Mr. Trump’s stand against anti-Semitism helped inoculate the president from charges that he had not responded swiftly enough to a skein of threats against Jewish community centers and the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries. And Mr. Trump’s conveniently timed call was a not-so-subtle reminder to Israel’s attorney general that indicting Mr. Netanyahu — a step that would precipitate his resignation as a prime minister — could harm Israel’s national security at a dangerous time. – New York Times
 
Kimberly Dozier reports: The fathers of three fallen Green Berets believe their sons were murdered last year by a Jordanian soldier, and they’ve seen the surveillance video they believe proves it. – The Daily Beast
 
Turkey
 
Turkey has ordered Oregon-based Mercy Corps, one of the largest humanitarian organizations delivering aid to Syria, to immediately shut down its Turkish operations, ending a program that provides regular assistance to hundreds of thousands of besieged Syrian civilians and refugees. – Washington Post
 
Turkey risks sliding towards “an authoritarian and personal regime” under a constitutional overhaul proposed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president, in the wake of a failed military coup, Europe’s leading human rights watchdog has warned. – Financial Times
 
The German government said on Wednesday there had been a significant increase in Turkish spying in Germany, where tensions within the large Turkish community have escalated ahead of next month's referendum on Turkey's presidency. - Reuters

Asia

South/Central Asia
 
Gunmen stormed the main military hospital in Kabul on Wednesday after a suicide bombing at one of its gates, and fighting was underway, Afghan officials said. – New York Times
 
Pakistan temporarily reopened its border with Afghanistan on Tuesday, 18 days after sealing it over security concerns. – New York Times
 
India’s crackdown on foreign aid will claim its most prominent casualty this month, as a Colorado-based Christian charity that is one of India’s biggest donors closes its operations here after 48 years, informing tens of thousands of children that they will no longer receive meals, medical care or tuition payments. – New York Times
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking aim at influential regional parties in state elections as he tries to bolster his government and redraw India’s political map. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Reporters Without Borders has launched a center to protect women journalists in Afghanistan, the second-most dangerous country for female reporters after Syria. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Uzbekistan's detention of a human rights activist and the extension of another activists' prison term drew criticism from the United States on Tuesday, although it welcomed the release of other dissidents and urged more tolerance. - Reuters
 
China
 
As part of a settlement for breaking sanctions and selling electronics to Iran and North Korea, ZTE agreed to plead guilty and pay $1.19 billion in fines, the United States Department of Commerce said in an announcement. The penalty is the largest criminal fine in a United States sanctions case. – New York Times
 
China will formulate a national intelligence law this year, the head of its largely rubber-stamp parliament said on Wednesday, its latest piece of legislation aimed at safeguarding security. - Reuters
 
A controversial interpretation by China's parliament of Hong Kong's mini-constitution that effectively bars pro-independence lawmakers from taking office, showed Beijing's resolve to prevent secession, a Chinese leader said on Wednesday. - Reuters
 
Christopher Whalen writes: As the new government of Donald Trump engages with Beijing in areas such as trade and economics, Washington needs to appreciate that the economic situation in China is changing rapidly and has significant political ramifications. Rising wages and prices are eliminating China’s relative advantage in the global competition for investment and production, while higher productivity nations, such as the United States, are actually becoming more alluring. – The National Interest
 
Korean Peninsula
 
China tried to cool newly volatile tensions on the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday, proposing that North Korea suspend its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for a halt to major military exercises between American and South Korean forces. – New York Times
 
The tensions are testing the new Trump administration and its uneasy allies South Korea and Japan, which have complained for years that China has simultaneously chastised and coddled the North, refusing to enact stiff enough measures to force it to abandon its nuclear and missile programs. – New York Times
 
The Trump administration turned up rhetorical pressure on North Korea on Tuesday, calling it an isolated and dangerous threat and underscoring the country’s commitment to defend Asian allies President Trump had criticized as free riders during the presidential campaign. – Washington Post
 
Three North Korean state banks have been recently banned by the world’s most important financial messaging service, amid calls in the U.S. and Europe for the complete isolation of Pyongyang from the international financial system. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
At the heart of Northeast Asia’s increasingly fraught security situation is an antimissile system that would significantly improve South Korea’s ability to track down and take out missiles fired by North Korea. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could use an upcoming trip to Asia to gauge Chinese interest in a military response to North Korea's recent nuclear weapons program tests, according to the State Department. – Washington Examiner
 
The leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services committees are praising the start of the deployment of a missile defense system to South Korea, something they had long pushed for to protect against North Korea’s burgeoning missile program. – The Hill
 
Faced with a growing test of resolve for a new U.S. president who vowed while campaigning to get tough on North Korea, Donald Trump's aides are pressing to complete a strategy review on how to counter Pyongyang's missile and nuclear threats. - Reuters
 
North Korea's latest weapons test showed it can accurately fire multiple medium-range ballistic missiles, an attack strategy that experts said could test the advanced U.S. THAAD anti-missile system which began to arrive in South Korea on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
Editorial: The broader lesson is that China’s support for the Kim regime is increasingly harming its own interests. Chinese leaders have long feared that turning on Pyongyang could cause a chaotic collapse, but their abdication of responsibility has now brought Thaad to the Korean Peninsula and otherwise strengthened defense cooperation among the U.S., Japan and South Korea. As the North’s nuclear threat grows, South Korea and Japan will inevitably consider going nuclear themselves. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) writes: The president’s team cannot fall prey to endless, circular negotiations that result in Western concessions and fail to impose meaningful consequences for bad behavior. The United States must be willing to turn the screws on the North Korean regime, only releasing the pressure once the calculus changes and Kim Jong Un realizes the costs of naked aggression are far higher than the benefits. - Politico
 
East Asia
 
North Korea’s advancing nuclear-tipped missile program is fueling a new push by hawkish Japanese politicians to enable Tokyo to pre-emptively attack North Korean launch sites if Japan appears under imminent threat. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will make his first trip to Asia next week and meet with senior officials to discuss North Korea's recent missile tests and U.S. economic and security interests in the region. - Reuters
 
Taiwan's formal relations with its dwindling number of allies around the world lack a basis in international law and have "no future", Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday. - Reuters
 
Southeast Asia
 
The son of Kim Jong-nam — the slain half brother of North Korea’s leader — appears to have emerged in a YouTube clip indicating that his family has gone into hiding after his father’s killing last month. – New York Times
 
Malaysia’s prime minister said Wednesday that relatives of Kim Jong Nam, the long-exiled half brother of North Korea’s ruler, may be too scared to come forward to provide DNA samples following his mysterious poisoning death in a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur. – Associated Press
 
Myanmar’s government urged ethnic rebel groups on Tuesday to join talks to achieve a nationwide peace agreement even after one of the groups raided a government-controlled town in an attack that killed five policemen and five civilians, including a schoolteacher. – Associated Press
 
A judge is expected to issue a decision in the case of a Singaporean blogger who is seeking asylum in the United States in around two weeks, his lawyer said on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
An Indonesian court has jailed three leaders of a group that Islamic clerics had called a deviant religious organization for up to five years for blasphemy, sparking condemnation from human rights groups over the targeting of minorities. - Reuters
 
A first draft of a code of conduct for behavior in the disputed South China Sea has been completed, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday, adding tension in the waterway had eased notably. - Reuters

Security

Defense
 
A Washington, D.C., defense think tank has a modest proposal: Move all three of the Navy’s planned DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers to South Korea. That’s one of the major recommendations to emerge from a new report by the Center For Strategic and Budgetary Assessments on a future fleet architecture for the Navy. – Defense Tech
 
Navy officials tell Scout Warrior that the second Ford-class ship, the future USS Kennedy, will be 50-percent built this year. This comes alongside recent Navy reports that the USS Ford is now “99-percent” complete. Ship developers say the USS Ford is expected to deliver to the Navy later this year. – Scout Warrior
 
The littoral combat ship has completed its first at-sea test firing of the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM), officials with Naval Sea Systems Command announced today. The test took place Feb. 28 and was conducted from the LCS Detroit off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, according to a news release. – DOD Buzz
 
The War
 
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report on Tuesday finding that 121 of the 714 Guantanamo Bay detainees released from the military prison over the past 15 years have reengaged in terrorism. – Washington Free Beacon
 
President Donald Trump appeared on Tuesday to reinforce his campaign support for the continued use of the Guantanamo Bay detention center, using an early morning tweet to discuss the facility, which his predecessor had vowed to close. – Associated Press
 
Strategic Issues
 
North Korea could soon have the capacity to launch an attack on Hawaii that would devastate America's Pacific military bases, accelerating the need for the United States to upgrade missile defenses in the area. – Washington Free Beacon
 
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) writes: I recently met a North Korean defector in Seoul who told me that “there can be no security for North Korea without its nuclear weapons.” In the face of the growing North Korean threat, there is no security for the U.S. without robust homeland missile defense – Defense One
 
Jon Wolfsthal writes: Time, sadly, is not on America’s side. If Russia’s violations go unchallenged, then U.S. allies — already on edge — will increasingly question U.S. commitment to their security. In addition, if Russia cannot be convinced to return to compliance, it is hard to see how the New START strategic arms control treaty that effectively manages America’s strategic nuclear competition can be extended or renegotiated when it expires in 2021. – Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government
 
Intelligence
 
In what appears to be the largest leak of C.I.A documents in history, WikiLeaks released on Tuesday thousands of pages describing sophisticated software tools and techniques used by the agency to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions. – New York Times
 
The FBI has begun preparing for a major mole hunt to determine how anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks got an alleged arsenal of hacking tools the CIA has used to spy on espionage targets, according to people familiar with the matter. – Washington Post
 
WikiLeaks’ release on Tuesday of a massive cache of data describing CIA hacking tools has renewed a debate over how well the U.S. government balances the protection of Americans’ cybersecurity against the need to protect national security. – Washington Post
 
​The release of documents that purportedly describe hacking of consumer gadgets by the Central Intelligence Agency fueled new concern in the technology industry that U.S. intelligence agencies are working at odds with tech companies. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The documents and files released Tuesday by WikiLeaks included claims that the Central Intelligence Agency had ways to hack into many popular consumer products, including Apple’s iOS, the mobile operating system used on iPhones. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Editorial: Some on the political left and right want to treat Messrs. Snowden and Assange as heroes of transparency and privacy. But there is no evidence that U.S. spooks are engaging in illegal spying on Americans. The CIA’s spying tools are for targeting suspected terrorists and foreign agents. As for WikiLeaks, note how it never seems to disclose Chinese or Russian secrets. The country they loathe and want to bring low is America. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Alex Finley writes: The pivot back toward traditional espionage will be a shock to the system, but a necessary one if the United States wants to gauge Russia’s true intentions. Putin brought his empire roaring back. I hope the CIA will prove it can do even better. - Politico
 
Cybersecurity
 
Sen. John McCain said both Congress and federal intelligence agencies need to make cybersecurity a much higher priority after WikiLeaks released thousands of CIA documents on Tuesday. – Washington Examiner
 
Information security officials on Tuesday highlighted the importance of focusing on the time between when a hacker enters a network and when the intruder is expelled. – The Hill

Russia/Europe

Ukraine
 
A ruling by a Kyiv district court to place Ukraine's top tax official under arrest pending trial on embezzlement charges is being heralded as a landmark win for the country's independent anticorruption agency and civil society as a whole in its uphill battle against entrenched graft. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
The men patrolling some of Ukraine’s far-eastern rail links see themselves as patriots who have proved it by battling Russian-backed separatists. But for Volodymyr Groysman, the prime minister, these Ukrainian veterans of the war in the country’s breakaway eastern regions are engaged in nothing less than “sabotage against our nation”. – Financial Times
 
Ukraine's central bank said on Tuesday it was likely to recommend the introduction of sanctions on the local subsidiary of Sberbank over the Russian lender's decision to recognize passports issued by separatists in eastern Ukraine. - Reuters
 
Maxim Eristavi writes: There are good reasons that Ukraine is a country of deeply ingrained cynicism. Yet the remarkable surge of public interest and activism that we’ve witnessed over the past few days shows that civil society and public anger are still a powerful and unpredictable force here. And that, at least, offers grounds for hope. – Washington Post
 
Oksana Bedratenko writes: Ukraine’s infrastructure must develop if it is to stop throttling economic activity. The efficient operation of Ukraine's rails, roads, and ports is crucial to improving the country’s competitiveness and securing its economic growth; its successful transformation will allow Ukraine to unlock its potential as a transit hub by developing transport corridors between Europe and Asia. With attention and effort, it can become one of the economy’s driving forces. – Atlantic Council
 
Russia
 
President Trump and his administration have a unique chance to convince Russian leader Vladimir Putin to give up power and return the country to the path of democratic political reform, a leading Russian opposition leader says. – Washington Free Beacon
 
A new video has emerged from the day in February when Russian Su-24 attack aircraft, along with an Ilyushin Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft, harassed the destroyer Porter. – Military Times
 
Ilan Goldenberg and Julie Smith writes: Russia views the Middle East as its near abroad, and is in the early stages of executing a long-term strategy in an attempt to return itself to the powerful stature and influence it had in the region during the heart of the Cold War. It is working to undercut longstanding U.S. relationships in the Middle East and restructure the regional order more to its liking. Indeed, Russia’s strategy in the Middle East is no different than its approach to undercutting NATO and the EU in Europe. – Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government
 
Western Europe
 
Theresa May, who became Britain’s prime minister last year, has resisted any and all efforts to constrain her freedom to steer the country on its unpredictable journey out of the European Union. But on Tuesday, Mrs. May encountered a significant new obstacle, when the House of Lords voted 366 to 268 to approve an amendment giving Parliament a much greater say over the outcome of talks on exiting the bloc. – New York Times
 
The parochial world of Dutch elections is not often seen as a hotbed of foreign intrigue. But in recent months, an unexpected worry has emerged: the influence of American money. – New York Times
 
Sebastian von Stedingk was among the last generation of Swedish military conscripts before officials created an all-volunteer force seven years ago. Now, Sweden has reinstituted the draft to prepare for a potential conflict with Russia. – Washington Times
 
A growing majority of French voters see Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front as a threat to democracy, but a third approve of its ideas, a Kantar Sofres-Onepoint poll showed on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
Eastern Europe
 
Top central and eastern European  diplomats came to Capitol Hill Tuesday to urge lawmakers to support non-military and military means to counter Russian influence in the region. – Defense News
 
The Hungarian government is moving to limit the influence of nongovernmental organizations that promote democracy and the rule of law, seemingly buoyed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s election victory and the ascendance of the alt right in Washington. - Politico
 
Kosovo's president has asked parliament to transform the country's lightly armed security forces into a regular army, a move that quickly drew objections from Serbian leaders who refuse to recognize Kosovo's independence. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Kosovo is trying to counter a perceived radicalization threat within its prison population amid reports of a surge in the embrace of more radical beliefs by practicing Muslims and others. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Europe's human rights court on Tuesday again suspended an attempt by Georgia to put the country's biggest independent television station under the control of a close government ally. - Reuters
 
The Polish government approved on Tuesday a draft bill that would give parliament a bigger say on the appointment of judges, a move the country's top judiciary council and ombudsman said would violate the constitutional separation of powers. - Reuters

Americas

United States of America
 
The Trump administration, searching for money to build the president’s planned multibillion-dollar border wall and crack down on illegal immigration, is weighing significant cuts to the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and other agencies focused on national security threats, according to a draft plan. – Washington Post
 
The incident has prompted an outcry from senior Marine leaders and an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, but according to ten current and former female service members interviewed by The Washington Post, online harassment goes well beyond a single shared drive or Facebook group. The behavior has become pervasive in the younger enlisted ranks throughout the Marine Corps, threatening unit cohesion at the lowest levels and its ethos at the highest. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint
 
The country’s top Marine issued a video statement Tuesday saying that the Marines accused of sharing nude photos of female service members “acted selfishly and unprofessionally,” his first public comments on the issue since the scandal began over the weekend. – The Hill
 
The top Republican on the House intelligence committee said he has not seen any evidence to back President Donald Trump's claim that the Obama administration wiretapped him during the 2016 campaign and suggested the news media were taking the president's weekend tweets too literally. – Associated Press
 
Video: FPI Policy Director David Adesnik discussed the President’s new executive order on immigration and refugees – Fox News
 
John Bolton writes: The burden properly lies with the White House to specify how it will confront the DSU’s failings, many of which seem embedded in its design. Whatever steps President Trump recommends should be understood and measured against the larger dangers of global governance. The shadows cast by other flawed multilateral “authorities” make clear that U.S. sovereignty is at stake. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
State Department
 
President Trump's provisional plan to cut State Department funding by up to 37 percent won't come to pass, a department spokesman suggested. – Washington Examiner
 
Josh Rogin reports: Reporters crowded into the briefing room at the State Department’s Harry S. Truman building Tuesday for the long awaited first news briefing since inauguration. But after more than an hour of peppering acting spokesman Mark Toner with questions of all sorts, they left with barely any more information than they had Monday. – Washington Post
 
Trump-Russia Connections
 
Under insistent questioning from Democrats, deputy attorney general nominee Rod J. Rosenstein refused to commit Tuesday to appoint a special counsel to oversee investigations of Russian meddling in the presidential election — though he stressed that he did not yet know the facts of the matter. – Washington Post
 
The House Intelligence Committee will host the first public hearing concerning alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election later in March, the panel’s chairman announced Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The CIA is now providing raw intelligence documents to committee members, according to multiple senators. Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) visited CIA headquarters on Monday to view the documents underlying the intelligence community’s unclassified assessment that Russia sought to sway the election in favor of Trump. - Politico
 
More than half of likely voters, 58 percent, want an independent investigation of alleged ties between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University survey out Tuesday. – The Hill
 
In March 2014, the U.S. government sanctioned Dmitry Rogozin—a hardline deputy to Vladimir Putin, the head of Russia’s defense industry and longtime opponent of American power—in retaliation for the invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Eighteen months later, the National Rifle Association, Donald Trump’s most powerful outside ally during the 2016 election, sent a delegation to Moscow that met with him. – The Daily Beast
 
Latin America
 
Britain has awarded £153 million (US $187 million) worth of contracts to equip the Falkland Islands with a new ground-based air-defense system known as Sky Sabre, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed. – Defense News
 
Panamanian former dictator, CIA spy and convicted cocaine trafficker Manuel Noriega was in a coma on Tuesday after suffering a hemorrhage from an operation to remove a benign brain tumor, representatives for the 83-year-old said. - Reuters
 
Margarita Zavala writes: The United States is more prosperous, more secure, and more competitive for having Mexico as its partner. It is up to the United States to decide whether it wants to continue a strong partnership, or whether it will let one bad hombre destroy it. – Washington Post

Africa

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said the political tumult in the U.S. and Europe should spur African nations to carve out a path independent of Western trade, aid or influence. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, arrived in Somalia on Tuesday and appealed for $825 million in aid to address drought and cholera in the East Africa nation on the brink of famine. – New York Times
 
Somalia, a country where up to 98 per cent of local banknotes are fake, is about to embark on the massive task of taking back control of its currency. – Financial Times
 
Somali mothers are facing an agonizing choice over how to divide their shrinking food supply among hungry children as a devastating drought kills off livestock and leaves the Horn of Africa nation facing the possibility of famine. - Reuters

Trump Administration

Two front-runners have emerged to be President Donald Trump’s next Navy secretary after the previous nominee, a private-equity investor, pulled out due to investment conflicts, according to U.S. officials. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The Senate Armed Services Committee overwhelmingly approved President Trump’s pick for national security adviser, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, on Tuesday, teeing up a vote by the full Senate. – Defense News
 
National security adviser H.R. McMaster has invited top National Security Council staff back into the Oval Office for calls between President Donald Trump and foreign leaders, reversing a decision by his predecessor Michael Flynn to exile senior directors to the Situation Room during state calls. - Politico
 
The Senate Intelligence Committee postponed an expected vote on President Trump’s pick to head the nation’s national intelligence apparatus from Tuesday to Thursday, according to an aide to Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.). – The Hill
 
Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, was seen in the halls of the Capitol on Tuesday but he wouldn't address speculation that he could serve as President Trump's ambassador to Russia or deputy secretary of state or even run for the Senate against his home state's senior statesmen, Sen. Orrin Hatch. – Washington Examiner

Democracy and Human Rights

Editorial: The press would not be free in Cambodia, China or Russia if a different U.S. president had been elected. But the United States has a long tradition of speaking out against crackdowns on the news media, and sometimes those interventions make a difference. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that “American foreign policy must promote our core values of freedom, democracy and stability.” Does the president agree? – Washington Post
 
Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes: This International Women’s Day, we should protest the oppression of women who have no access to legal protections. We should support those Muslim reformers, such as Asra Nomani, Zuhdi Jasser, and Irshad Manji, who seek to reform Islam in line with full legal equality between men and women. And we should strive to overcome domestic political divisions to defend the universality of women’s rights. – The Daily Beast
 
Paul Berman writes: The liberal revolution lasted 50 years before the undercurrents of counterrevoution began to sweep it away. How long will the counterrevolution go on? We only know that we do not know. Six months before the 2016 presidential election in the United States, not a single respected political analyst predicted the outcome with any accuracy. This does not mean that in the United States political analysts are stupid. It means that we have entered an era in which the analytic categories of the past do not reliably apply: one more occasion for fear. - Tablet

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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