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 ...

Don’t be fooled that there is a new Donald Trump now that he is president-elect. As I have written before, this Trump presidency is going to test our democratic institutions, not just Congress and the Judiciary, but also the so-called mainstream media that in the past was referred to as ...

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 ...

As the security clearance process comes under the microscope during President-elect Donald Trump’s transition, some experts and former intelligence community members say the system for determining whether people are eligible for access to classified information needs a revamp. Given the challenges of over-classification, insider threats, and today’s security environment, the ...

Prepare yourselves for a stepped-up, worldwide war against Islamic radical terrorists directed from the White House by President-elect Donald Trump and his closest aides, who claim this to be a 21st Century crusade to save Judeo-Christian values from what they see as an apocalyptic cancer growing within the Islamic religion. ...

As President-elect Donald Trump assembles his national security team, The Cipher Brief met with one prospective nominee, General Jack Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army and member of The Cipher Brief’s network. He had just met with the Trump team when he sat down with ...

President-elect Donald Trump is compiling his national security and law enforcement teams and, so far, has tapped three conservative Trump loyalists – retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, Representative Mike Pompeo, and Senator Jeff Sessions. Here is The Cipher Brief’s take on the potential national security leadership: National Security Advisor: LTG ...

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 ...

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny,” James Madison wrote 228 years ago in Federalist Paper 51. Those words are worth recalling ...

The election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. President has created uncertainty among European leaders as they consider the future of defense and security cooperation with the United States. Trump’s campaign rhetoric calling NATO – the transatlantic defense alliance – “obsolete” and demanding member nations contribute more to their ...

Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton for the presidency of the United States surprised a number of European leaders. Given Trump’s statements about NATO being “obsolete” and the need for all allies to contribute their fair share, NATO’s European member states are trying to figure out what the alliance will ...

9 November is a historic day for Germans. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came crashing down on that day, and in 1938, pogroms across the Deutsches Reich became the starting point of the systematic persecution of European Jews. Both 1989 and 1938 are also strongly linked to German-U.S. history, and the formative role that the U.S. has played in shaping post-war Europe. ...

Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States and his most solemn responsibility is ensuring the safety of all Americans as well as helping protect the country’s allies.  The Cipher Brief’s Pam Benson sat down with retired General Jack Keane, a member of The Cipher Brief’s ...

The Arab world woke up to a new U.S. President-elect after an election race many had closely followed. The Cipher Brief’s Executive Editor, Fionnuala Sweeney spoke to network member Rob Richer, the CIA’S former Associate Deputy Director of Operations, to ask about government reaction in the Arab world and what ...

The votes have been cast, the decision made, and now comes the really tough part: governing.   During a presidential campaign, issues are portrayed mostly in black and white terms. But when it comes time to actually take hold of the reins of power, the candidate’s stated positions run smack into ...

Pollsters had projected a close race, but in the end it was a decisive win for Donald Trump. In a stunning victory, the Republican candidate was elected the next president of the United States, after winning the key battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The Republican Party ...

When the new president walks into the Oval Office on January 20th, the American leader will most likely find a note from Barack Obama, a time honored tradition by departing presidents. Although the notes are not often made public, the ones we know about contain words of encouragement and reflections ...

As the Nation staggers to Tuesday's electoral finish line, the Cipher Brief asked if I would comment on what a Trump foreign and security policy might look like. Donald Trump isn't one to make detailed speeches or to offer commentary at think tanks or to post policy prescriptions.  And he ...

No matter who wins today’s election, the American democratic system is in trouble. Should Donald Trump win, the country would have a president who has threatened to use his powers against those who disagree with him and has shown no respect for facts or telling the truth. A Hillary Clinton ...

Since the turn of the century, perhaps earlier, there has been a consistent distancing between the U.S. and Latin America. Today it is difficult, perhaps even fanciful, to talk about U.S. policy toward the region as a whole; region-wide policies are mostly a thing of the past. During the Cold ...

In what may be his last foreign trip as President of the United States, Barack Obama will make a stop in Germany in mid-November. This will mark the president’s sixth visit to Germany, “reflecting the strategic importance of our partnership,” the White House said in a statement.   Germany is ...

Germany – a strong U.S. ally – is watching the American presidential race very closely, with a critical eye. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder met in Berlin with German media expert Hero Warrings, who says that most Germans are keeping their fingers crossed for a Clinton victory. Warrings is the ...

A Donald Trump presidency could spell bad news for transatlantic relations, including the U.S.-German relationship, according to many experts. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder traveled around Germany, asking people what they think of Trump. Dagmar Pepping, who covers national politics for Germany’s largest broadcasting service ARD, told The Cipher Brief ...

All things considered, there was ample discussion of critical national security issues during the third and final 90-minute debate of this heated and often nasty U.S. presidential campaign. Whereas Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton provided some specifics on a number of these issues, Republican nominee Donald Trump mostly criticized past and ...

From Syria, to climate change, North Korea, and the largest global refugee flows in history, the next President will face a uniquely challenging set of national security threats when she or he takes office. The Cipher Brief spoke with former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and current ...

Fox News’ Chris Wallace has said as moderator, he plans to make “foreign hot spots” one of the 15-minute topics in tomorrow night’s final presidential debate. This has been far from an ideal campaign, and the past two debates – or should we call them confrontations—between Donald Trump and Hillary ...

The relationship between Russia and the United States has always been and will always be complicated.  In the U.S. and the West in general, hope seems always to spring eternal.  The thinking, boiled down to its essence, goes something like this:  if we just keep trying, if we just keep ...

It was a U.S. presidential debate unlike we have ever experienced.  Personal attacks and accusations expressed by Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton dominated over discussion of substantive issues. It seemed as though more time was spent in the gutter than the trenches. The Cipher Brief went ...

It was a raucous Vice Presidential debate Tuesday night, with both candidates repeatedly talking over each other, and each disparaging the positions of the other’s running mate. Unlike last week’s Presidential debate, where the focus was more on domestic issues and character, approximately half of the VP debate surprisingly centered ...

The conditions under which a U.S. president might use nuclear weapons has in recent weeks become a topic of national conversation. Toward the end of the first presidential debate on September 27, moderator Lester Holt asked Republican nominee Donald Trump if he supported the adoption of declared policy that the ...

For the Islamic Republic of Iran, the stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to the outcome of the upcoming U.S. presidential election. With a landmark nuclear agreement reached last year between the world powers – the U.S., Russia, China, UK, France, and Germany – and Iran, and implemented earlier ...

The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election is fraught with uncertainty for the electorate, political establishment, and the world. The Iranian political establishment is closely observing the contest with an eye on the implications for Iran’s own national security and for the fragile region it resides in. With the United States' major ...

No country is watching the theatrics of the American presidential campaign more closely than the Islamic Republic of Iran. As the object of U.S. President Barack Obama’s most significant foreign policy initiative, Iran has a bigger stake in the outcome of the race than at any time since the end ...

The issue of national security is one of many to divide the two Presidential candidates in this, the most contentious of election campaigns. During Monday night’s first debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump, those divisions were readily apparent.  The last 30 minutes provided some animated ...

The real Donald Trump appeared last Saturday evening near the end of a Colorado Spring, Colorado airport rally. The new, teleprompter-controlled persona Trump has become, switched to his real self and launched into a three-minute, off-the-cuff, personal attack, this time on former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Gates had apparently ...

Last week, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump answered questions at the Commander in Chief Forum—designed specifically to allow the candidates a chance to address military family issues as well as those of veterans. But if you tuned in, you know that there was no mention of military families. ...

As we draw closer to November 8 and the U.S. presidential race heats up, countries around the world have focused on how the potential election of either Republican nominee Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will impact their relations with the United States.  In the eyes of Saudi Arabia, ...

If Donald Trump, the Republican Party nominee for the presidency of the United States, found it convenient to propose a ban of all Muslims from entering the country, his vision on how to go about his deed shocked one of America’s closest allies.  Hundreds of thousands of Saudis who studied ...

Throughout American electoral history, Saudi Arabia’s ruling Al Saud family, particularly the kings, has refrained from commenting on U.S. presidential candidates. But if they could now or even cast a vote, for whom would it be? Long-serving former Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal once referred to U.S. presidential campaigns as ...

Donald Trump is selling himself as a businessman, so let’s see how much he knows about budgets, particularly when it comes to defense. In his September 7 speech on Pentagon issues, he said with regard to the 2001 Budget Control Act, “Under the budget agreement, defense took half of the ...

NBC’s Wednesday night “Commander-in-Chief Forum” gave some insights into how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump might handle the job, but I first want to deal with the danger it illustrated for the Intelligence Community when it comes to providing classified intelligence briefings to political candidates running for president in a ...

The Russians hack the United States’ systems “all the time,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a conference of intelligence professionals on Wednesday. He also tackled concerns about the upcoming presidential transition and major threats facing the United States such as terrorism, climate change, and widespread global instability. During ...

A potential Trump Presidency provides both opportunities and challenges for Russia and President Vladimir Putin. Putin’s strategic goals are to weaken the U.S., diminish U.S. influence in Europe, solidify hard and soft control over the nations on Russia’s periphery, and eliminate economic sanctions. As a former KGB officer, Putin’s primary ...

What presidential candidate Donald Trump says on the spur of the moment about foreign events – without understanding, or perhaps caring about its impact overseas -- can create serious and potentially dangerous situations for Americans abroad. Take Trump’s outlandish claim on August 10th that President Obama was “the founder of ...

Before Donald Trump speaks out again on the subject of nation-building, I suggest he – or his staff – study what the Pentagon terms “Building Partner Capacity,” which has been expanding over the past decade and serves as what can only be termed the Defense Department’s part in nation-building. Trump’s ...

American exceptionalism comes in many forms. When it comes to intelligence, there has been a unique tradition in the United States for more than 60 years: the current president grants his two possible major-party successors access to Top Secret information in post-convention briefings. These election cycle presentations, which began last ...

Russia is back in the U.S. political spotlight in a way it hasn’t been since the Cold War. President Vladimir Putin is increasing Russia’s show of force around the globe – fanning the flames of the Syrian civil war as an ally to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, allegedly hacking the ...

In an electoral season with no shortage of drama, the recent resignation of Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, brought even more scrutiny to Russia’s intense interest in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Manafort’s past lobbying efforts for pro-Russian elements in Ukraine drew unwanted attention to a Trump campaign already ...

There is no question of the intense level of interest in Moscow in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election campaign.  For the first time in modern history, Russia faces the prospect of a U.S. president who does not come from the established political process in the U.S., and if elected, would ...

On Wednesday, Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump, received his first classified intelligence briefing at an FBI field office in New York City. The briefing, which was given by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), comes on the heels of controversial remarks made by Trump in an interview ...