Links – September 21, 2017

Kori Schake was an official in George W. Bush’s Department of Defense. Here’s her analysis of Donald Trump’s speech at the United Nations. Another good analysis by Mira Rapp-Hooper. And by Thomas Wright.  The transcript of Trump’s speech.

Rex Tillerson’s “Redesign Overview” slides for the State Department.  “He took the job and made it smaller”: how Rex Tillerson failed the State Department.

The history of US nuclear weapons in South Korea.

One of North Korea’s key diplomats, someone for the US to engage. Top photo: North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho addresses the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2016.

Excellent defense of the Iran nuclear deal from two people who helped negotiate it. There are many articles on the Iran nuclear deal and why we should stay in it. This one is among the best.

 

 

North Korea’s Latest Nuclear Test

For broad policy, there are only two things that matter about the latest North Korean nuclear test: The explosion is very big and the bomb possibly small enough to fit on a North Korean missile. If it isn’t that small yet, the next model will be.

The yield measured for the test was about 150 kilotons. That’s about ten times the force of the Hiroshima bomb. It doesn’t matter whether it was 130 kilotons or 200 kilotons. It can destroy a city. The missiles now being tested can reach the United States. Read More

Links – August 14, 2017

Excellent article by Vipin Narang and Ankit Panda on why Donald Trump’s threats against North Korea are so destabilizing. MAD doesn’t apply.

Second- and third-order effects of foreign policy actions. And every action has them. This is something that Trump chooses not to understand, or perhaps is incapable of understanding.

Seven experts: Are we on the brink of war with North Korea? Probably not.

Letter from 62 members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, asking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to urge Trump to STFU on war with North Korea. Read More

Links – June 6, 2017

The $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia is fake news.

The bottleneck in Rex Tillerson’s State Department. Tillerson is depending primarily on two aides who don’t have a lot of foreign policy experience, rather than the expertise in State’s various bureaus.

Apparently Donald Trump’s insistence on absolute loyalty is part of the reason that government jobs are going unfilled. More about why those jobs are unfilled.

That Russian bank that Jared Kushner (and, btw, Carter Page) was dealing with.

The Marshall Plan turns 70 this week. Here are four reasons it was so important. Lessons for the current administration, if anyone is listening. Read More

Donald Trump, Nuclear Negotiator

One of Donald Trump’s few consistencies has been his admiration of Vladimir Putin and his unwillingness to criticize Russia. Many of his other actions, like his refusal to explicitly support NATO’s Article 5, seem to be consistent with a Kremlin line.

The big question is why. From the information publicly available, this theme seems to have surfaced around the time of his trip to Russia in 1987. That was an interesting time for Russia, too. Read More

Links – June 3, 2017

Every Russia story Donald Trump said was a hoax by Democrats: A timeline.

Watch what he does, not what he says: Trump’s words and budget for NATO.

A devastating portrait of Donald Trump.

Everyone at Vladimir Putin’s table at that RT dinner with Michael Flynn and Jill Stein, identified.

Long read on phishing and faking emails.  When emails are released, consider that some of them may be faked or modified.

What does Russia want? Basically, a sphere of control and for the West to come to its senses. Very much a case of two parties talking past each other.

The historic B-52 bomber no longer carries nuclear gravity bombs. Cruise missiles, yes. Photo from here. Read More

Links – May 23, 2017

Russia has been violating the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but the United States won’t say exactly what the violation is. The INF Treaty prohibits intermediate-range missiles with nuclear warheads. Back in the 1980s, both the US and Russia had such missiles aimed at each other in Europe. The problem with missiles like this is that there is no warning time whatsoever, and thus a heavy motive to strike the other party first. James Action suggests a strategy for getting the treaty back on track. Top photo from here: Soviet inspectors and their American escorts standing among dismantled Pershing II missiles in Colorado as other missile components are destroyed nearby under the INF Treaty, January 1989. Read More

Estimating North Korea’s Nukes

David Albright offers an estimate of North Korea’s nuclear weapons that is not too far from mine. As he notes, any estimates have uncertainties upon uncertainties.

President Donald Trump’s bluster at North Korea has died down, but it could start up again at any time. Since North Korea’s nuclear weapons, or the threat of them, figure in the situation, we now need the best estimates possible.

Although Albright’s estimates are only slightly higher than mine, there are other considerations that I took into account implicitly. This post makes those considerations explicit. Read More