Sri Lanka cedes major port to China, fueling tensions

Defense News – Sri Lanka, an island nation in the Indian Ocean the size of West Virginia, has become another flashpoint in regional naval competition. That’s because in December, Sri Lanka turned over the strategic port in the southern city of Hambantota to a Chinese company on a 99-year lease. The deal, which allowed the country of 20 million to lessen its debts to China, marked another toehold for Beijing in the heart of the Indian Ocean.

A Saudi Prince’s Quest to Remake the Middle East

New Yorker – In his work with the White House, is Mohammed bin Salman driving out extremism, or merely seizing power for himself?

The Geostrategic Challenge – and Opportunity – of the South Pacific

War on the Rocks – The South Pacific remains strategically vital to the United States for two key reasons. First, it is in U.S. interests to prevent the emergence of a regional hegemon that could threaten America and its allies; and second, America wants to maintain the free flow of goods and ideas to Asia.

The Decline of the American Brand

American Interest – Robert D. Kaplan writes that for the first time in decades, America is consciously squandering the gifts of its geography.

Can Jim Mattis Hold the Line in Trump’s ‘War Cabinet’?

New York Times Magazine – Dismissed as a warmonger during the Obama presidency, the defense secretary may be the only reliable voice of caution left in an administration inching closer to the brink.

Has China passed an inflection point?

Naval Diplomat – James Holmes writes that Gordon Chang maintains that “China has passed an inflection point” in its ascent to world power, and that bad things are in the offing.

The Gate of Tears: Interests, Options, and Strategy in the Bab-El-Mandeb Strait

CIMSEC – The U.S. can afford neither to ignore the threats emerging from the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and surrounding territory, nor can it afford to aggressively intervene in Yemen and Somalia wholesale to fully stabilize the region. The most affordable approach to securing U.S. interests in the region is through maritime influence to enable regional and international partner efforts.

There Is No NATO without the North Atlantic

National Review – To fulfill its mission of collective security, NATO must pay attention to geography.

China unveils vision for ‘Polar Silk Road’ across Arctic

Reuters – China on Friday outlined its ambitions to extend President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming.

Is Japan Ready for the Quad? Opportunities and Challenges for Tokyo in a Changing Indo-Pacific

War on the Rocks – On Aug. 22, 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke in front of the Indian Parliament and articulated a vision for the Indo-Pacific region. He spoke of a “confluence of the two seas,” seeking to draw a strategic link between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Abe posited that Japan and India had a shared responsibility, as maritime nations located at the opposite edges of the “two seas,” to ensure the maintenance of peace and prosperity anchored by democratic principles.

The Mystery of the Exiled Billionaire Whistle-Blower

New York Times Magazine – From a penthouse on Central Park, Guo Wengui has exposed a phenomenal web of corruption in China’s ruling elite — if, that is, he’s telling the truth.

Making China Great Again

New Yorker – As Donald Trump surrenders America’s global commitments, Xi Jinping is learning to pick up the pieces.

The Chinese Dream and Beijing’s Grand Strategy

CIMSEC – Xi has irreversibly moved China away from the legacies of Mao and Deng, and resolutely set the country on the continued path of the Chinese Dream – a strategic roadmap for national rejuvenation (grand strategy) that interlinks all ancillary strategies. The following discourse will explore the cohesive alignment of these strategies and the connected strategic themes pervasive throughout them.

What Putin Really Wants

The Atlantic – Russia’s strongman president has many Americans convinced of his manipulative genius. He’s really just a gambler who won big.

Estonia, The Digital Republic

The New Yorker – Its government is virtual, borderless, blockchained, and secure. Has this tiny post-Soviet nation found the way of the future?

China has a plan to rule the world

Washington Post – David Ignatius’ fascinating look at Chinese grand strategy.

Why Russia Is Sending Robotic Submarines to the Arctic

BBC – The harsh icy sea is one of Earth’s biggest gas and oil hotspots – and Russia’s sending its military to stake its claim.

The Indo-Pacific Concept: Retrospect and Prospect

CIMSEC – Since 2010, the concept of ‘Indo-Pacific’ has gained increasing prevalence in the geopolitical and strategic discourse, and is now being used increasingly by policy-makers, analysts and academics in Asia and beyond.

The North Korean Threat to China

Traditional Right – William Lind writes that “If we instead stand back a bit and look at the strategic picture, we quickly see that the North Korean threat to China is far greater than its threat to us.”

Xi has bolstered his power, but what will he do with it?

New Straits Times – Niall Ferguson on the events in Beijing last week.

Delaying Chinese Global Dominance

Global Guerrillas – What could be done to delay China’s One Belt One Road initiative? One solution is to mount a rearguard action — a method of delaying an advancing enemy when your forces are in retreat.

The Risk of Nuclear War With North Korea

New Yorker – On the ground in Pyongyang: Could Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump goad each other into a devastating confrontation?

The Law of the Sea with John Burgess

CIMSEC – Join us for the latest episode of Sea Control for a conversation with Professor John Burgess of the Fletcher School about the Law of the Sea and its enduring effects on maritime security.