FPI Overnight Brief: July 31, 2017

The Must-Reads

Middle East/North Africa

Iran
 
The U.S. and Iran on Saturday reported their second confrontation this week in the waters off the Persian Gulf, as political tensions between the longtime rivals flare. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Iran has built up a multinational network of tens of thousands of young men from across the Middle East, turning them into a well-drilled fighting machine that is outgunning the US on the battlefield, as Tehran outsmarts the White House in the corridors of power. – Buzz Feed
 
A much-hyped Tehran space launch turned out to be a dud, as the Iranian Simorgh rocket suffered a "catastrophic failure" shortly after liftoff on Thursday and likely blew up before it reached space, two U.S. officials told Fox News. – Fox News
 
Gary Schmitt writes: The irony is that the information necessary to declare Iran in non-compliance will ultimately come from the US Intelligence Community (IC) — the very entity that candidate and President Trump has repeatedly belittled for its failure when it came to Iraq’s WMD program and, of course, its finding of Kremlin interference in last year’s presidential campaign. – AEI Ideas
 
Yaakov Amidror writes: It appears that Iran, its confidence bolstered by the nuclear agreement and by its successes as an ally of Russia in Syria, is crossing every possible red line that protects whatever quiet and stability remains in the region. The fate of the Middle East is being decided right now; action is required to prevent a future in which Iran is the region’s leading and controlling power. – Breaking Defense
 
Syria
 
Even by the brutal standards of the Syrian civil war, children growing up in areas ruled by the Islamic State have experienced and witnessed astonishing brutality…Now, as foreign militaries and local militias try to flush out the Islamic State from its last redoubts in Syria, children fleeing the violence have to dodge airstrikes, snipers and then thirst and scorpions as they make their way across the desert. – New York Times
 
Editorial: The solidified Russian presence shows the naivete of Barack Obama’s 2015 claim that Mr. Putin was entering “a quagmire” in Syria. Mr. Obama’s abdication in Syria created the opening for Mr. Putin to intervene. But it should also be a dose of reality to President Trump’s hopes that Russia will cooperate to stabilize Syria by working out a diplomatic solution. The only solution Mr. Putin wants is a victory for Mr. Assad, Iran and the Kremlin. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Iraq
 
Iraqi intelligence officials said Sunday they foiled an attempt by the Islamic State group to attack revered Shiite shrines and the sect's spiritual leader. – Associated Press
 
Egypt
 
Yet for Egyptian businessmen, the resolution of one problem has triggered a new set of challenges: soaring inflation and rising borrowing costs. The issues are causing some companies to put their expansion plans on hold – Financial Times
 
Levant
 
Hezbollah took a party of journalists on a tour that helped explain, trumpeting the results of the militia’s recent fight against Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate in barren mountains near the northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal. – Washington Post
 
On Sunday, an Israeli military court rejected an appeal by Mr. Azaria, upholding a manslaughter conviction in January in the shooting death of another Palestinian assailant as he lay wounded on the ground. The court also upheld Mr. Azaria’s prison sentence of 18 months, turning down a request by military prosecutors to increase the jail term. – New York Times
 
Interview: For months, leaders of America's Arab allies in the Mideast have telegraphed this view of the world, and it helps explain why the gilded palaces of the troubled, war-torn region are the few places on the planet - outside Russia - where Trump has been more popular than the president he succeeded. This is the case Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri laid out in an exclusive interview for The Global Politico at the end of a weeklong visit to Washington. - Politico
 
Turkey
 
A Turkish court ordered the release Friday of seven journalists of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, but left the four most prominent editors and executives in jail, in a sign that the government remains determined to prosecute its most vociferous critics. – New York Times
 
The Turkish government has appointed Nurettin Canikli, a veteran politician from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as the new defense minister, in what industry says is part of efforts to build more business-friendly relations, including foreign players. – Defense News

Asia

Afghanistan
 
President Donald Trump’s reservations about sending more troops to Afghanistan have triggered a new exploration of an option long considered unlikely: withdrawal. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Attackers entered the grounds of the Iraqi Embassy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, after a suicide bomber blew himself up at an entrance gate shortly before noon Monday, an Afghan official said. – New York Times
 
Pakistan
 
With his term as Pakistan’s prime minister cut short, and with his governing party facing critical national elections in less than a year, Nawaz Sharif announced publicly on Saturday that he was choosing his younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, to be his long-term replacement as prime minister and as the party’s standard bearer. – New York Times
 
The resignation of Nawaz Sharif, who was forced to step down as prime minister of Pakistan amid corruption charges, raised eyebrows at the State Department and the Pentagon, but little else…Still, the removal of Mr. Sharif comes as the White House is trying to determine a strategy for Afghanistan that officials say has stalled amid concerns about how to deal with Pakistan, where both the Taliban and the Haqqani network have a sanctuary. – New York Times
 
The removal of Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan’s prime minister by the courts and the takeover of the position by his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif could hand more power to the country’s military establishment, political experts said Sunday. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Mr. Khan’s path to victory in the next general election, set for mid-2018, is far from assured, according to analysts, including Moeed Yusuf, associate vice president of the Asia Center at the United States Institute of Peace, whose research and work centers on Pakistan. – New York Times
 
Editorial: Pakistan has so often been a miasma of uncertainty, impunity, coercion and violence that it is worth applauding the Supreme Court’s determination to see this case to a difficult but necessary conclusion. It’s a glimmer of hope for accountability and rule of law in a nation that could use much more of it. – Washington Post
 
Sadanand Dhume writes: Even if the army didn’t orchestrate Mr. Sharif’s ouster, it will be the major beneficiary. The prime minister’s departure sends a clear signal to politicians that they wrestle with the men in khaki at their own peril. With no domestic pressure on the generals to reform, Pakistan will remain what the Singaporean scholar Tan Tai Yong calls a garrison state dominated by the army. For the nuclear-armed Islamic republic’s 190 million people, dreams of a stable democracy will have to wait. – Wall Street Journal (Subscription required)
 
Ahmed Rashid writes: Pakistan has known little political stability since its birth in 1947. And it appears that the judiciary will now have its hands full cleansing the Augean stables. As long as that is left to the judges, and the military does not try to turn the situation to its own ends, Pakistan may benefit in the long term. – Financial Times
 
Central Asia
 
The office of Uzbekistan’s prosecutor general confirmed Friday that Gulnara I. Karimova, the once-powerful daughter of the man who led Uzbekistan for more than two decades, was in state custody. – New York Times
 
Ariel Cohen writes: Without a clear strategy for economic and security involvement, Central Asia will remain what I called it in my 2005 book Eurasia in Balance —“a bridge too far.” That is not an option. With the world getting smaller and major security competition afoot in Eurasia, the Trump administration should not remain a bystander. – The National Interest
 
China
 
China’s president, Xi Jinping, has opened a public campaign to deepen his grip on power in a coming leadership shake-up, using a huge military parade on Sunday, speeches and propaganda, along with a purge in the past week, to warn officials to back him as the nation’s most powerful leader in two decades. – New York Times
 
China unveiled a new, more mobile intercontinental ballistic missile at a parade of advanced weaponry and combat troops, in President Xi Jinping’s latest display of military—and political—muscle. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
China appears to have received help on Saturday from an unlikely source in its fight against tools that help users evade its Great Firewall of internet censorship: Apple. – New York Times
 
President Donald Trump’s top advisers are huddling behind the scenes in a bid to craft a set of economic measures meant to punish China, two administration officials told POLITICO. - Politico
 
Josh Rogin reports: Quietly but persistently, the Trump administration has been pressing the Chinese government to allow Liu Xia, widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, to leave China, where she is being held against her will. Senior U.S. officials regard China’s ongoing mistreatment of Liu and her family as human rights abuses that simply can’t be ignored. – Washington Post
 
Korean Peninsula
 
Trump administration officials urged China and other nations to band together to confront North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic-missile ambitions, with Vice President Mike Pence declaring “all options are on the table” to rein in Pyongyang. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday that, for the first time, appeared capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States, according to experts — a milestone that American presidents have long declared the United States could not tolerate. – New York Times
 
The United States pointedly showed off its military prowess over the Pacific and the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in response to North Korea’s launch Friday of a missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, a test Pyongyang said was a “stern warning” for Washington to back off from threats and more sanctions. – Washington Post
 
South Korea announced Saturday that it will soon start talks with the Trump administration about allowing Seoul to build more powerful ballistic missiles to counter the North, but current and former American officials said the move would have little effect on the most urgent problem facing Washington: North Korea’s apparent ability to strike California and beyond. – New York Times
 
President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed Monday to get tougher on North Korea, while the regime said the threat of sanctions provides justification for its nuclear weapons program. – Stars and Stripes
 
United States Ambassador to United Nations Nikki Haley said the U.S. will not seek a emergency session of the U.N. Security Council after North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile last week. – Washington Examiner
 
Interview: The Cipher Brief’s Callie Wang spoke with Former Acting Director of the CIA, Michael Morell, about Kim Jong-Un’s intentions and message for the United States. – The Cipher Brief
 
Editorial: The North Korean crisis is accelerating as dictator Kim Jong Un moves closer to holding U.S. cities hostage to nuclear blackmail. Some in the U.S. intelligence community are admitting they have underestimated the threat, and President Trump again tweeted his frustration with China’s refusal to restrain its client state. A new U.S. strategy is needed, so it’s notable that CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently suggested that the Trump Administration may be contemplating a goal of regime change in Pyongyang. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Editorial: One school of North Korea experts has been arguing for some time that sanctions will never induce the isolated regime of Kim Jong Un to give up its nuclear weapons nor its race to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles that could carry them to the United States. A good answer is that while they might be right, sanctions are still the best available option — and unlike others, such as negotiations with the regime, they have never been given a robust try. Fortunately, that may be about to change. – Washington Post
 
Henry Sokolski and Zachary Keck write: Persuading the world’s major powers to sign on to new missile-trade restrictions will be no simple feat. Russia, for one, has already violated the existing INF Treaty. Yet before this violation, Moscow proposed expanding the INF to include other countries, especially China, the world’s largest land-based missile power. Bringing all parties to the table in good faith will be a long-term proposition. But given the missile threats that are already emerging, the time to begin is now. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Stephen Bryen writes: We never know if a North Korean launch is a test, or if the missile is live with a warhead on it. We therefore have every justification in the world, starting with self-preservation to shoot down North Korean missiles. – Defense News
 
Jenny Jun writes: North Korea has already allegedly tried using doxing and ransomware for criminal purposes, and it may not be long before it can marry the appropriate cyber means for their ends. – The Cipher Brief
 
East Asia
 
The head of U.S. Pacific Command said the region is focused on three major threats: North Korea, China’s interactions in the South China Sea, and the Islamic State spreading to the Philippines. – Military Times
 
North Korea’s test firing of an intercontinental missile demonstrates the urgency in forging tighter ties n between Washington and Tokyo along with Seoul in improving all defenses and underscores the importance of pulling Beijing off the sidelines to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, four recently retired U.S. and Japanese officers agreed Friday. – USNI News
 
The U.S. military has returned a small piece of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Japanese government, so that a road can be built to help ease traffic on Okinawa. – Stars and Stripes
 
Southeast Asia
 
A mayor who had been accused by President Rodrigo Duterte of involvement in drug trafficking was killed along with his wife and 10 other people in coordinated police raids early Sunday, the authorities said. – New York Times
 
Amid ongoing threats from an increasingly capable North Korea and power-hungry China, the Pacific is contending with a new growing menace: the presence of ISIS affiliates and other Islamic extremist groups looking to claim new territory. – Military.com
 
Australia
 
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Saturday that counterterrorism raids in Sydney thwarted a terrorist plan to "bring down" an airplane. – The Hill

Security

Defense
 
Debate and a final floor vote on the $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which hikes military spending over what President Trump has requested, is now likely to be delayed until the Senate returns from its summer recess in September because of McCain's absence. – Washington Examiner
 
Mackenzie Eaglen writes: A new round of base realignment and closure in the spirit of the plan introduced by McCain and Reed is the best way to prepare the military — and defense communities at home — for the uncertain strategic challenges of the future. – The Hill
 
Navy
 
In a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee, several noted experts called into question the U.S. Navy’s underlying analysis in the kind of frigate its looking for to replace its beleaguered littoral combat ship, or LCS, program. – Defense News
 
The Navy completed testing on a software fix for its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) that will allow the heaviest planes to take off with less stress to the airframe, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced – USNI News
 
Six days after commissioning, the crew of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) launched and recovered their first aircraft from carrier’s flight deck, according to a statement from the service. – USNI News
 
Army
 
The Army’s no-holds-barred study of its network shortfalls should produce a comprehensive strategy to solve them — a strategy that can withstand the scrutiny of a skeptical Congress. That’s the goal Acting Army Secretary Robert Speer laid out for me and a fellow reporter after an Association of the US Army event this week. – Breaking Defense
 
The U.S. Army‘s chief of staff said he wants future versions of its main battle tank, the M1 Abrams, and other ground combat vehicles to feature active protection systems, as-yet-undeveloped lighter armor and a driverless option. – DOD Buzz
 
The Army’s well-known Stinger missile can now destroy small, moving drones using a newer proximity fuze to detonate near a target, service developers said. – Scout Warrior
 
Leading thinkers in technology and warfare picture a transformed infantry in future battles where humans are distant, if not entirely removed, from the fighting. – Military Times
 
A new night vision and weapon camera system allows shooters to fire around corners without exposing themselves and eliminates the dead time between seeing a target and firing when using night vision goggles. – Military Times
 
Air Force
 
Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, if given permission, may start a small group tryout for pilots testing a new program in which aviators stay at their home-duty stations longer, thus increasing their longevity and likelihood to stay in service, the head of the command told Military.com in an exclusive interview. – Military.com
 
The Air Force is in the early phases of designing new sensors for its stealthy 5th-generation F-22 Raptor as it proceeds with software upgrades, hardware adjustments, new antennas and data link improvements designed to better enable to connect the F-22 and F-35 sensor packages to one another, industry officials explained.   – Scout Warrior
 
The Air Force is aggressively accelerating its hypersonic weapons development effort, following findings from a recent service report identifying Russian and Chinese ongoing hypersonic weapons testing. – Scout Warrior
 
Strategic Issues
 
The U.S. military on Sunday conducted a test of its THAAD missile defense system, two days after North Korea launched its second intercontinental ballistic missile. – Fox News
 
The commander in charge of American nuclear missiles, submarines, and bombers is concerned by the slow pace of modernizing aging U.S. weapons in the face of growing threats from China, Russia, and North Korea. – Washington Free Beacon
 
Cybersecurity
 
Officials from a dozen states and the federal government took preliminary steps this week toward more formal cooperation regarding election-security efforts at a two-day meeting near Albany, N.Y. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Russia/Europe

Ukraine
 
Interview: Now staying at a relative’s home in the New York City borough of the Bronx, Saakashvili is in a fighting mood, planning his next move in the sort of political battle he has long lived for. In an interview, Saakashvili told Foreign Policy about the scheme to render him stateless while overseas, how Ukrainian civil society has rallied around him, and his plans to return to Ukraine. – Foreign Policy
 
Diane Francis writes: Poroshenko’s latest attack on the anti-corruption movement will backfire as Saakashvili becomes a megaphone to the world. He already is a media darling—and speaks five languages—and now is the poster boy for the victims of corruption as well as of Vladimir Putin. – Atlantic Council
 
Russia
 
President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Sunday that the American diplomatic mission in Russia would have to cut its staff by 755 employees, a response to the new American sanctions that escalated the tensions between Washington and Moscow. – New York Times
 
President Trump plans to sign legislation slapping new punitive sanctions on Russia over election meddling, the White House said Friday, effectively ending hopes for the fresh start with Moscow that he came into office promising to seek. – Washington Post
 
Regardless of whether the Kremlin believes its own denials of interfering in the 2016 elections, there is one undeniable truth: Russia is now Washington’s greatest political foe. Understanding that President Trump is “tied hand and foot,” as one foreign policy hawk here put it, Moscow is weighing options for retaliation. – Washington Post
 
Russia’s global military ambition was on display Sunday when the country celebrated Navy Day with large military parades not only in St. Petersburg, but also on the banks of Syria. – New York Times
 
Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC, on the eve of a planned meeting with the US Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death. – Buzz Feed
 
The economic sanctions imposed by Western governments on Russia in retaliation for its annexation of Crimea in 2014, in conjunction with plummeting world oil prices, have necessitated stringent cuts in funding to Russia's constituent subjects, many of which are dependent on federal subsidies to balance their budgets…But there is one glaring exception to that trend: The Chechen Republic is seemingly exempt from such belt-tightening. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Analysis: A little more than a year after the Russian effort to interfere in the American presidential election came to light, the diplomatic fallout — an unraveling of the relationship between Moscow and Washington on a scale not seen in decades — is taking its toll. – New York Times
 
Editorial: We generally support presidential flexibility on sanctions, but Mr. Trump’s flirtation with Mr. Putin has brought this bill’s limitation on himself. Russia needs to see that there is a political consensus in the U.S. that won’t tolerate meddling in U.S. elections. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Editorial: The wild disparity in access accorded by Moscow and Washington to each other’s government-sponsored media outlets is unsustainable. If Mr. Trump is a champion of reciprocity, as he asserts, then U.S. diplomats should demand reciprocal treatment for Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. And if Mr. Putin has embraced reciprocity, he should be prepared to live by it. – Washington Post
 
Elizabeth Rosenberg writes: The unprecedented, massive new sanctions bill that Congress sent to President Donald Trump on Thursday is a statement of outrage by legislators over the president’s failure to responsibly carry out foreign policy on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Fundamentally, it is also an overt effort to seize the national security reigns from the president. – Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government
 
Western Europe
 
The German police said Saturday that the 26-year-old man accused of killing one person and wounding five others with a knife in Hamburg was known to them as a recently radicalized Islamist, but that they did not believe he posed an imminent danger. – New York Times
 
WikiLeaks published Monday a cache of more than 70,000 emails related to the recent campaign of French President Emmanuel Macron and other correspondence going back to 2009. – Washington Post
 
Nearly 100 days into Macron’s presidency, there are already indications that the French are increasingly skeptical of their new president. While a majority still approve of him, Macron’s initially sky-high approval rating dropped by 10 percent this month, mostly because of his refusal to back down on commitments to slash government spending. – Washington Post
 
Eastern Europe
 
The European Union on Saturday launched legal action against Poland over part of the government’s planned overhaul of its court system, a move that could result in the government being fined and taken to the bloc’s top courts. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Many here perceived the attempt to undercut the independence of the judiciary as a far broader and more fundamental threat to their freedoms than anything the government had tried before. But everyone knows the crisis is merely postponed. The battle over the courts promises to loom as a point of contention for Poles, especially of a younger generation, concerned about safeguarding the hard-won democratic progress the country has made since communism collapsed more than 25 years ago. – New York Times
 
Vice President Mike Pence looked to reassure NATO allies on his trip to Eastern Europe on Sunday, saying President Trump’s “America first” policies are not meant to isolate U.S. allies. – The Hill
 
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on July 30 raised the possibility of deploying the Patriot antimissile defense system in Estonia, Prime Minister Juri Ratas said. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
As the U.S. Army Europe commander prepares to exit the military stage in September, he’s pushing for better ways for militaries to move freely around the European theater. A military Schengen zone, he thinks, might be the best way to achieve that goal. – Defense News

Americas

United States of America
 
A State Department spokesman told Foreign Policy the department is temporarily withdrawing itself from participation in the Presidential Management Fellowship program, an esteemed program that recruits cream-of-the-crop graduates into the federal government. The spokesman cited an ongoing reorganization of the State Department, but did not say when the temporary suspension would end. – Foreign Policy
 
The House easily passed legislation on Friday that reauthorizes intelligence agency programs and responds to President Trump sharing classified intelligence with Russian officials. – The Hill
 
President Trump’s announcement that he plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military made an end run around Defense Secretary James Mattis, calling into question a relationship that so far has seemed solid. – The Hill
 
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in an interview broadcast Sunday said Moscow’s former ambassador was not trying to spy or recruit in his contacts with Americans during the 2016 presidential election. – The Hill
 
Berivan Orucoglu writes: McCain has been a guardian angel for many activists who have been fighting for their freedoms despite the odds. That might help Americans to understand why they aren’t the only ones who are now appreciating his legacy afresh. From Syria to Russia, from Burma to Ukraine, those who truly believe in freedom are praying for a speedy recovery of their true friend in the United States. – Washington Post
 
United Nations
 
The State Department plans to scale back its diplomatic presence at this year’s  annual U.N. gathering of world leaders in September, a cost-saving initiative that  delivers another powerful signal that America is deepening its retreat from international diplomacy, according to four well-placed diplomatic sources. – Foreign Policy
 
Venezuela
 
U.S. government officials are considering stepping up sanctions against Venezuela by targeting its vital oil industry, although an embargo against Venezuelan crude oil imports into the U.S. is off the table for now, people familiar with the deliberations say. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
President Nicolás Maduro defiantly followed through Sunday with his pledge to hold an internationally condemned election, creating a critical new stage in a long-simmering crisis that could mint the Western Hemisphere’s newest dictatorship. – Washington Post
 
Venezuelans on Sunday largely snubbed Nicolás Maduro’s election for a new all-powerful political assembly, in a vote marred by violence that killed at least 10 people and left seven police officers injured by a bomb attack. – Financial Times
 
Editorial: This is welcome U.S. leadership after eight years of Obama abdication, but more international effort is needed to save Venezuela’s desperate people from further agony. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Africa

A car bomb exploded near a police station in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on Sunday, killing at least six people and wounding at least 13 others, according to a police captain. – New York Times
 
Population swells, climate change, soil degradation, erosion, poaching, global food prices and even the benefits of affluence are exerting incredible pressure on African land. They are fueling conflicts across the continent, from Nigeria in the west to Kenya in the east — including here in Laikipia, a wildlife haven and one of Kenya’s most beautiful areas. – New York Times
 
A federal appeals court on Friday ordered Sudan to pay more than $7 billion in damages to American families of victims of the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa. – The Hill

Trump Administration

Kelly
 
In choosing Kelly to be his new chief of staff, President Trump has turned to someone who in many ways is the opposite of his predecessor, Reince Priebus, a seasoned political operator. – Washington Post
 
That meeting last November launched what has become one of the president’s most important relationships within his beleaguered administration. He likes Kelly. He trusts Kelly. But what remains to be seen is whether Trump will listen to him as Kelly seeks to bring order to a White House beset by chaos. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint
 
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was abruptly named the White House chief of staff late Friday afternoon. But not before getting assurance from President Donald Trump that he would have full authority within the confines of 1600 Pennsylvania avenue, sources tell The Daily Beast. – The Daily Beast
 
Personnel
 
Although Sessions was the first high-profile politician to endorse Trump and backed him through the campaign’s most tumultuous moments, the president is all about now. In his view, Sessions’s decision, after he was confirmed as attorney general, to remove himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, was a breach of Trump’s apparent belief that it was Sessions’s job to be loyal and protect him. – Washington Post
 
This week, Boente’s role at the Justice Department will be more public than ever. The department is expected to announce that it has launched a wide-ranging investigation into government officials who may have illegally shared classified information with reporters. It’s a highly unusual move, as the department rarely, if ever, publicizes its investigations. – The Daily Beast
 
Peter Feaver writes: Given the competition for airtime, the civil-military lessons may not get the attention they deserve. But given the stakes, not just with this policy but with national security more generally, I hope everyone in the administration with responsibilities in this area — up to and especially including the commander-in-chief — will take full advantage of this teaching moment. – Foreign Policy’s Elephants in the Room

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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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