From South Korea’s point of view, the year of 2016 will be remembered as one of the most challenging years since the armistice of the Korean War was signed in 1953. North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth nuclear tests on January 6 and September 9 respectively, and it continued ...

South Korea’s National Assembly voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye Dec. 9.  Since then, Park has been suspended from power and the nation is waiting on a Constitutional Court ruling finalizing the impeachment process, to reinstate or permanently remove Park from office.  Among other things, perhaps what troubles South Koreans ...

President Trump said he wants to improve relations with China, but he has expressed concern with China’s theft of intellectual property, unfair taxes for U.S. companies in China, currency manipulation, product dumping and failing to reign in North Korea.  He took a congratulatory call from the President of Taiwan and ...

In his first news conference since July, President-elect Donald Trump revealed he now agrees with the unanimous verdict of the U.S. intelligence community: Russia was behind the hack on the Democratic National Committee (DNC). "I think it was Russia," he said (though he later caveated “but you know what, it could ...

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, one of his earliest—and most important— foreign policy decisions will be how to move forward with the United States’ bilateral relationship with Russia. Will he pursue something along the lines of Obama’s reset or take a firmer stance? Given the president-elect’s opaque statements ...

Donald Trump will take office at the lowest point in Washington’s relations with Moscow since the end of the Cold War.  He has consistently talked about the need to establish a better relationship with Mr. Putin.  Can he do that in a way that serves American interests? The key to ...

When the Russian intelligence operation designed to influence our 2016 election is used as a case study to train new Russian intelligence officers, it will be considered the most successful covert action operation in the history of Mother Russia. This operation, known as “Grizzly Steppe,” will be in the annals ...

Thirteen years ago, on a reporting assignment for The Boston Globe, I described “Burma” as a “deteriorating” country where “the frayed fabric of a nation [was] coming apart at the seams.” The capital, Rangoon, was “clogged with 20-year-old cars running on spare parts and spewing black exhaust.” Today, Yangon is ...

As a bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday unveiled a bill to impose more sanctions on Russia, leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community gathered again on Capitol Hill to testify on the Kremlin’s interference in the election. The flurry of activity related to Russia also comes amidst a week of ...

Within a week North Korea has gone beyond its New Year’s Day promise that it was close to testing an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile), claiming it can launch one “anytime and anywhere.” This is unwelcome news for South Korea, which finds itself in a period of internal political turmoil. The ...

Historically, South Korea’s geographical position among larger and—in the case of its neighbor to the north—adversarial countries has placed it in a precarious foreign policy situation. This has been compounded by the recent impeachment of President Park Geun Hye at a time when North Korea has advanced its nuclear and ...

The December 9th impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye has created a vacuum of political leadership in South Korea. Normally, the South Korean president would lead a full court press to confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s commitment to the U.S.-ROK security alliance and coordinate a consistent approach to the growing ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a cyber and influence campaign aimed at interfering in the United States election and boosting President-elect Donald Trump’s chances, according to a declassified U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on Russian hacking and efforts to meddle in the 2016 election. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith ...

Whether President-elect Donald Trump will keep in place the Obama administration sanctions against Russia for its interference in the U.S. election remains to be seen.   Trump has repeatedly scoffed at the Intelligence Community’s conclusion that Russia hacked into the Democratic National Committee in an effort to help his candidacy, but ...

New presidents often think they can redefine relations with Russia. But will Washington ever get along with Moscow if the Kremlin does not share Western internationalist values? In this article from December 7, Cipher Brief experts John Sipher and Steven Hall, both former members of the CIA's Senior Intelligence Service, ...

Editor’s Note: Over the coming days, The Cipher Brief presents some of our most incisive coverage on key issues of 2016 and a look ahead at what is yet to come in 2017. Just before Christmas, Russian President Vladimir Putin strode onstage to field more than four hours of questions ...

For years, China's GDP has soared under its hybrid model of a free-market and command economy. But as growth slows and debt levels rise, are cracks forming in this model that Beijing cannot control? Timothy Heath's article, published on December 14th, explores the implications of these economic and political dynamics. ...

Editor’s Note: Over the coming days, The Cipher Brief presents some of our most incisive coverage on key issues of 2016 and a look ahead at what is yet to come in 2017. The oppressive smog that overtook China in late December covered 3.9 million square miles, put 24 cities ...

Since coming to power in 2012, China's Xi Jinping has reforged the Chinese Communist Party with his anti-corruption campaign and his accumulation of titles. In a post-Mao system designed to distribute power, Xi's reforms risk tying China's success too closely to his own. Gordon Chang's article, written for The Cipher ...

During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly slammed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a "bad deal" that would harm U.S. workers and export jobs to Asia. He has promised to renegotiate the agreement, or more likely, back out altogether. Assuming that Trump follows through with his campaign promises, The Cipher ...

During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly slammed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a "bad deal" that would harm U.S. workers and export jobs to Asia. He has promised to renegotiate the agreement, or more likely, back out altogether. For TPP partners and American allies in the region, this is ...

The election of Donald Trump and the demise of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement has unleashed a flood of anxiety-ridden commentary about how China will now seize leadership in Asia and how Trump may launch devastating trade wars that might lead to real wars. This is ...

President-elect Donald Trump’s first meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to have gone smoothly, though it remains too soon to say what policies Trump will pursue to promote U.S. strategic and economic interests in East Asia. The Cipher Brief spoke with Mansfield Foundation President and CEO Frank Jannuzi ...

Political turmoil in South Korea, following its president’s impeachment, could be exacerbated if North Korea tries to take advantage of a vacuum. That’s according to Jonathan Pollack, Interim SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies at the Brookings Institution. “Pyongyang is highly practiced at injecting instability at times it deems appropriate, ...

On November 25th, six Chinese aircraft—two nuclear-capable H-6K bombers, two Su-30 fighters, and two surveillance planes—participated in an exercise near Taiwan’s airspace. Four of the craft, in an especially provocative move, circled the island. This was the first time China’s planes had done so. A Taiwan defense spokesman said there ...

The December 2nd phone call between President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is the first such communication between a U.S. president or president-elect and a Taiwanese president since 1979. This poses major questions about the foreign policy direction of the incoming administration and how far it is willing ...

On Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, alongside U.S. President Barack Obama, made a landmark visit to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. His appearance marked the first by a Japanese Prime Minister at Pearl Harbor while accompanied by a U.S. president. Abe also became the first sitting Prime Minister to visit the ...

As President-elect prepares to take office, the new administration has an opportunity to adjust U.S. foreign policy direction with key allies. After a recent meeting with Prime Minister Abe, Trump has begun to outline how he envisions the U.S. relationship with Japan. The Cipher Brief spoke with Thomas Cynkin, Vice ...

The uncertainty surrounding President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policy platform caused a sense of unease in Japan over the future of cooperation with the U.S. on economic and security issues, though a subsequent meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe established a personal rapport that bodes well. The Cipher Brief spoke ...

President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly said that fighting Islamic extremism is one of his administration's top priorities. Determining the path forward in Afghanistan, where the ongoing battle against al Qaeda and the Taliban was launched 15 years ago, is a challenge Trump’s national security team will face as soon as ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann to discuss some of the challenges that the incoming Trump Administration will face in Afghanistan and the steps the U.S. government can take to reaffirm its commitment to stability in Afghanistan. The Cipher Brief: What are some ...

With the Trump Administration set to take office next month, The Cipher Brief spoke with Robert Grenier, former CIA Chief of Station in Pakistan and Afghanistan and author of the book, “88 Days to Kandahar,” to discuss ways for the U.S. to move forward in its efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. ...

When asked recently by The Atlantic about President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy with China, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger replied: “I’d say B-plus.” As President Obama wraps up his final days in office, presidential watchers are evaluating how well he performed, wonder what his legacy will be, and ...

As 2016 draws to a close and along with it the presidency of Barack Obama, it is perhaps time to reflect on the relationship with Russia during the eight years of his presidency and consider what might have been different.  It is fair to say relations between the United States ...

With the incoming Trump presidency, much ink has been spilled regarding the “end” of President Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia. The pivot was centered on the military prong of moving 60 percent of U.S. naval assets to the Asia Pacific along with the economic prong of the Trans Pacific Partnership ...

For roughly 30 years, China’s “economic miracle” has catapulted the once-impoverished country from relative backwater to global economic juggernaut. Driven by export-led growth and massive state investments in manufacturing and infrastructure, China had enjoyed a period of scorching GDP growth at an average of 10 percent a year. However, that ...

Since the liberalizing economic reforms implemented by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, the Chinese economy has grown at an average annual rate of nearly 10 percent. However, as the returns of rapid industrialization and urbanization begin to diminish, this growth has begun to slow. At the same time, massive state-driven investment ...

President-elect Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping have more in common than they currently realize. Both want to make their countries “great again,” and both need to demonstrate that they can create jobs for the large segments of their population that have felt left behind by globalization. President Xi’s challenge ...

The Putin government of Russia is conducting cyberspace-enabled Information Operations, including political “destabilizing operations” (a form of warfare), against the United States. Moscow is competing worldwide with the United States and rejects the Western, liberal world order as the model for all states. Russia is likely stealing internal documents related ...

Just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. president-elect Donald Trump spoke for the first time since the election, Russia launched a major offensive across Syria on Tuesday after weeks of relative quiet. With the transition between President Barack Obama and Trump now underway, Russia experts and former intelligence ...

In an announcement that caught many by surprise, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government would discontinue its two largest currency denominations in an effort to battle corruption, unreported income, and even terrorism. The move is indicative of a leadership style Indians have come to expect: taking bold and ...

Since becoming prime minister in 2014, Narendra Modi has pursued a more prominent and active role for India on the world stage in a bid to increase India’s international prestige. By shifting away from India’s longstanding policy of nonalignment, Modi has forged new partnerships that he hopes will benefit the ...

Before becoming prime minister, Narendra Modi became famous for developing the “Gujarat Model” for economic growth. Despite being poor in tourism and natural resources, Modi’s state government in Gujarat attracted foreign investment and developed a booming local industry based on trade and manufacturing. By the end of his 14 year ...

Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak’s visit to China this week comes as the embattled leader’s relationship with the United States has been tested by the Department of Justice’s investigation into the scandal swirling around the 1MDB state investment fund he founded. But despite the tension and Najib’s move to align ...

In the latest cross border clash between Pakistan and India, an elderly woman and Indian soldier were killed and two others were injured, according to an Indian news agency. Press Trust of India also reported that, since September 29th, 60 such cross-border incursions by Pakistani militants have occurred across the ...

India and Pakistan have experienced numerous militarized engagements and three wars over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Of particular note is that India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear status has not resolved the security challenges of Kashmir; in fact, it has continued to be a flashpoint for open conflict between the two ...

As India and Pakistan near the 70th year of their separation, contention over Kashmir shows no signs of abating. Border clashes between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) have increased in tempo since an attack on an Indian army base left 19 Indian soldiers dead in September. ...

With a familiar turn of phrase that still finds the world collectively raising its eyebrow, Rodrigo Duterte has added to his list of people and organizations that he feels should “go to hell.” The latest to earn this distinction is the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is ...

In the span of six months, the U.S.-Philippines relationship has gone from a 25-year highpoint to a period of worrisome uncertainty. At the center of this shift is President Rodrigo Duterte, whose frequent anti-U.S. rhetoric and desire to shift his country’s foreign policy course signal that the U.S.-Philippines relationship will ...

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte rattled decades of foreign policy on October 20 with his announcement of a military and economic “separation” from the United States. The declaration came in Beijing amid a Philippine pivot away from the long-standing relationship with the United States and toward China, with whom Duterte said ...