Recent Events

The remarkable news that CIA Director and US Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo made a secret trip to North Korea where he met North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a measure both of the head-spinning pace of diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula and of the seriousness with which US President Donald J. Trump’s administration takes the upcoming Trump-Kim summit.

Trump has made solving the North Korea nuclear problem a centerpiece of his foreign policy. North Korea has posed a vexing dilemma the answer to which has eluded four US presidents—from George H.W. Bush through to Barack Obama—over the past quarter century.
The United States and its European allies have launched strikes against Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack blamed on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

US President Donald J. Trump announced the strikes on April 13.

In remarks at the White House, Trump said he had "ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad."

Trump, who earlier this month talked about getting US troops out of Syria, said: “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents."

The president said the strikes were aimed at preventing the use of chemical weapons, which he described as “a vital national security interest of the United States.”
On January 23, 2017, his first full business day as president, Donald J. Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

A little more than a year later, on April 12, 2018, Republican lawmakers said Trump had instructed his staff to look into rejoining the multilateral trade agreement with eleven other Asia-Pacific nations.
In the coming week, Congress will turn its attention to someone who has until now managed to fly under its radar—Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Facebook. On April 10, Zuckerberg will appear as the sole witness before a joint hearing of two Senate committees—the Judiciary Committee and the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. On April 11, he will then go on to testify (again as sole witness) before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Both hearings will focus on transparency, privacy, and Facebook’s use and protection of consumer data. In his statement, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, underscored that “users deserve to know how their information is shared and secured.” Sen. John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, highlighted the existence of “significant concern about Facebook’s role in our democracy, bad actors using the platform, and user privacy.”
What is the state of play in the East and South China Seas, and what might be the future of maritime rules and norms in the region? To answer these questions, the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security convened several experts for a public panel discussion on March 30, 2018. With panelists representing Asian, European, and American perspectives, the panel reflected the mission of the Scowcroft Center’s burgeoning Asia program—bridging the Atlantic and Pacific policymaking communities to build trans-Atlantic-Pacific partnerships and confront common challenges.
In an historic valedictory speech at the Atlantic Council on April 3, his last as a member of the United States government, National Security Advisor LTG H.R. McMaster depicted the United States and its European allies as under attack by Russia on multiple fronts. With passion and determination,  McMaster spoke of the need to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to defend against and counter Russian aggression in cyberspace, continued Russian covert activities and information warfare including election meddling, and ongoing aggressive Russian military operations across the broad expanse of the European continent.

His remarks were an extraordinary clarion call to more urgent action by the United States, NATO, and other allies. The clarity and vision that he outlined could put this speech into the history books. 
On March 29, the Atlantic Council hosted Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert B. Neller for a strategic look at the US Marine Corps. The event featured a moderated discussion led by Kevin Baron, Executive Editor of Defense One.

The event was a part of the Commanders Series, which is the Atlantic Council’s flagship speakers’ forum for senior military leaders. The series provides a platform to discuss current strategic issues with an impressive audience drawn from across Washington’s policy community, including think tanks, media, industry, embassies, and the US government. Gen Neller discussed issues concerning the strategic environment of the US military. He evaluated US military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and discussed the fight against ISIS, adaptation to new technologies in warfare such as drone swarms, and the increased budget for the military in FY2019.

Gen Neller is the 37th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. Previously, he served as the Commander, Marine Forces Command from July 2014 to September 2015 and Commander, Marine Forces Central Command from September 2012 to June 2014. He has also served as an infantry officer at all levels, including command of Marine Security Force Company Panama during Operations JUST CAUSE and PROMOTE LIBERTY; 3d Light Armored Infantry Battalion during Operation RESTORE HOPE; 6th Marine Regiment; and 3d Marine Division. Gen Neller held a position of Deputy Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (05-07); Assistant Division Commander for 1st and 2d Marine Divisions; and President of Marine Corps University. His Joint assignments include service in the Policy Division of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Casteau, Belgium, and as the Director of Operations (J-3) of the Joint Staff in Washington, DC.
In today’s new media environment, the opportunities for instant rhetoric add a novel element to national and international discourse that can complicate relationships between countries and leaders, as with China’s recent condemnation of President Trump’s December 2017 tweet on North Korea. With the prevalence of social and digital media, anyone with an Internet connection can contribute to the international dialogue. This creates both opportunities and challenges for leaders as they work to maintain national, regional, and economic security.
On Saturday, March 17, the Atlantic Council’s sixth annual Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge in Washington, DC, concluded with the Air Force Cyber College’s “Team Fightin’ Electrons” winning first place.

The Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge is a one-of-a-kind competition designed to provide students across academic disciplines with a deeper understanding of the policy challenges associated with cyber crisis and conflict. Part interactive learning experience and part competitive scenario exercise, it challenges teams to respond to a realistic, evolving cyberattack and analyze the threat it poses to national, international, and private sector interests. The 2018 competition was held on March 16-17 at American University’s School of International Service (SIS), and featured over 150 students from fifteen states across the United States. Student teams competed to offer their best national-security policy recommendations for combating evolving fictional cyber crisis scenarios. This year’s scenario featured the risk of vulnerabilities in blockchain technologies for US national security.
John R. Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations known for his hawkish foreign policy views, will replace LTG H.R. McMaster as US President Donald J. Trump’s new National Security Advisor.

Trump made the personnel announcement in a tweet on the evening of March 22.

The decision to replace McMaster comes nine days after Trump fired former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—also in a tweet. He nominated central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson.


    

RELATED CONTENT