The Baltic, Poland, and President Trump’s Warsaw Declaration

US Naval War College Review – There may be no greater potential flash point in Europe today than the Baltic Sea region (BSR). The convergence of the Kaliningrad outpost; the riparian powers, neutrals, NATO allies, and Russia; and economics and military force in general makes for an explosive brew that may merely simmer—or may boil over and ignite a larger conflict. While much of the debate focuses on the Baltic littorals and hinterlands, it is the Baltic Sea itself that sits, physically and strategically, at the center of the issue. It is critical for naval policy makers and scholars today to understand the history of the BSR.

Black Sea’s Back, Alright?

War on the Rocks – When analyzing the clash between Russia and the West, it is common to speak of a contest for influence in the post-Soviet space. That is not quite true. Only certain post-Soviet states have become real battlegrounds, and all are located along the shores of the Black Sea. Consider, for example, the frozen conflicts that emerged from the Soviet collapse and that have been sustained with Russian help. Of these conflicts — Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region, Georgia’s ongoing disputes with its Abkhazia and South Ossetia territories, and now the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine — all ring the Black Sea.

What Will the Future Hold For Arctic Economies?

CIMSEC – It is critical to analyze economic drivers and political factors across the High North in order to evaluate the economic potential of the region, understand national security interests, and develop appropriate Arctic policy.

China & Russia In The Arctic: Axis Of Ambivalence

Breaking Defense – So are Chinese ambitions racing ahead of Arctic realities? “It seems the chickens are being counted before the eggs are hatched,” Sun admitted, “but the Chinese position is, ‘if the eggs are going to hatch, we want to make sure we’re there to collect the chickens.'”

Nordics Mobilize To Send Russians Clear Message: We Shall Not Be Cowed

Breaking Defense – Russia’s threats have not cowed the Nordic states. Instead, they have strengthened their relationship with Washington, with each other through enhanced cooperation and plan focused to mobilize their entire societies to deal with the Russian efforts to intimidate.

China’s Rise and Indian Ocean Ambitions

CIMSEC – Due to India’s growing dependence on oil and energy resources, any interference in the stability or peace of the Indian Ocean will have a cataclysmic impact on the economic and political stability of the nation. A peaceful and reliant Indian Ocean is the responsibility of the littoral and island states in this region to an extent that the “overall political character of the Indian Ocean had changed from one of European dominance to that of local assertion.”

Donald Trump’s New World Order

New Yorker – How the President, Israel, and the Gulf states plan to fight Iran – and leave the Palestinians and the Obama years behind.

A Little-Noticed Player Goes Big in the Indo-Pacific

War on the Rocks – While many eyes are on China’s port investments in the Indian Ocean, Japan has also been busy. The scale of its infrastructure investments in the region rivals, and sometimes exceeds, that of China. But Japan argues that its growing presence in the Indian Ocean is qualitatively different, focused on transparency, economic sustainability, and a rules-based order that should become part of regional norms.

The Great Game in the Indian Ocean: Strategic Partnership Opportunities for the U.S.

CIMSEC – As Robert Kaplan, author of Monsoon, has noted, the Indian Ocean represents the fulcrum between American Power in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific, and its growing relationship with India will shape its desire to remain atop the global order against a rising China.

China Envisions Growing Role in Regional Security

USNI Proceedings – China sees itself and the United States as key power brokers in Asia, but on regional issues, it often views the United States as an interloper.

China ‘Dream’ Is Global Hegemony

Washington Free Beacon – China’s large-scale military buildup, regional coercion, and economic aggression are part of plan for global domination, experts told Congress on Thursday.

China’s Claim to the Spratly Islands is Just a Mistake

CIMSEC – Although the Chinese government likes to say that it has an ancient and historical claim to the reefs and rocks in the South China Sea, a detailed examination of evidence shows that it actually emerged in the first half of the twentieth century. It also changed during a 40-year period 1907-1947. The whole process was filled with confusion and misunderstanding. A few mistakes by a small number of poorly-informed Chinese officials and academics back in the 1930s have created lingering confusion that still poisons the politics of Southeast Asia to this day.

The Quiet Americans Behind the US-Russia Imbroglio

New York Times Magazine – Can Washington’s “Russia hands” help explain why the post-Cold War relationship has gone off the rails?

China Hasn’t Won the Pacific (Unless You Think It Has)

Bloomberg – A rising school of thought among allies holds that the U.S. can’t compete with Beijing’s economic and military expansion.

Two Decades of War Have Eroded the Morale of America’s Troops

The Atlantic – After nearly 17 years of war, service members have seen plenty of patriotic displays but little public debate about why they’re fighting.

McMaster and Commander

New Yorker – Can a national security advisor retain his integrity if the President has none?

Countering China’s Militarization of the Indo-Pacific

War on the Rocks – Having broken Xi Jinping’s promise not to militarize Chinese man-made islands in the South China Sea and then gotten away with it, Beijing now appears poised to establish a string of bases and dual-use ports from Hainan to Djibouti. It is not too late for the maritime democracies of the “Quad” (the United States, Japan, India, and Australia) to act. First, however, they must recognize what is at stake.

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 secret on the ocean floor

BBC – A wave of pioneers is poised to scoop up treasure from the deep sea.

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.