Three days after the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Donald Trump said “racism is evil” and called out the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, “and other hate groups” as “criminals and thugs.” A 20-year old Ohio man believed to be a Nazi sympathizer has been charged with second degree murder, ...

When North Korea commits a provocation, the U.S. often responds by conducting a flyover with its strategic bombers. American bombers flew over South Korea after both of Pyongyang’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests this month as well as nuclear tests in previous years. Strategic bombers can display American power and ...

The White House’s National Security team is expected to issue a report early this week outlining U.S. options for deterring adversaries in cyber space.  The report, called for as part of President Donald Trump’s Cyber Executive Order issued last May, is expected to offer a range of options from economic ...

As President Donald Trump struggles to find a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, The Cipher Brief’s Mackenzie Weinger spoke to two experts — retired Lieutenant General Guy Swan, and retired Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — to get their respective insights on ...

In retaliation for the wave of new sanctions the United States Congress passed, Moscow has ordered the U.S. cut 755 diplomatic staff by September. The demand will likely end up hitting local Russian staff particularly hard, given they vastly outnumber the American embassy and consulate personnel in Russia. President Donald ...

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords last month was widely denounced as a blow to global climate change cooperation. However, it has also been used by some observers to mark a turning point in President Trump’s vision of American global leadership. The Cipher Brief’s ...

When President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement this June, it confirmed the administration’s intent to pull back on international efforts to combat global climate change. The Cipher Brief’s Fritz Lodge spoke with the Director of Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience at the Wilson Center, Roger-Mark ...

President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement this June was met with immediate outcry from both domestic opponents of the president and international partners. Business leaders like Elon Musk of SpaceX and Bob Iger of Disney quit White House advisory councils in protest, ...

A large portion of what U.S. special operations forces do in Africa is security force assistance – training, advising and equipping partner militaries – rather than putting large numbers of U.S. boots on the ground. What are America’s aims with this strategy, and is it effective? The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin ...

U.S. President Donald Trump’s “war on terror” – much like his predecessor’s – uses partners’ capabilities against terrorists in an effort to protect the country from potential attacks, while minimizing U.S casualties. In Africa, Trump’s continuation of this strategy has resulted in increased reliance on U.S. special operations forces. The ...

On the night of May 5, Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a senior chief special warfare operator, was killed during an attack on al-Shabaab militants outside Mogadishu, Somalia. Two other U.S. soldiers were wounded. Milliken was the first U.S. military death in the country since the infamous 1993 Black Hawk Down ...

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has demanded a cut in the number of United States diplomats in the country and said it will seize two U.S. diplomatic properties in Russia. These actions come as a response to the U.S. Congress passing a wave of new sanctions against Moscow Thursday afternoon. Both chambers ...

The United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation on Tuesday to impose tough new sanctions and codify existing sanctions against Russia into law, placing limits on any possible efforts by the president to try to lift sanctions against Moscow. The vote was 419-3. The sanctions package also targets Iran ...

In addition to ethnic divisions and poor governance, the power projection of neighboring countries inside Afghanistan will continue to be a key factor in determining whether the U.S. and our allies will be successful in Afghanistan. The primary mission for the U.S. in Afghanistan continues to be denying ISIS and al ...

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department issued a memorandum stating that foreign countries are required to provide increased information and data about their citizens who are seeking to travel to the U.S. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Rob Richer, former Associate Deputy Director for Operations at ...

Pakistan’s intelligence organization, known as Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has ensnared the U.S. in a double game for years. Operating in the shadows of the Pakistani “deep state” – a term used to reference the country’s political system, which is dictated by unelected military and security officials – the ISI has ...

Reports late last week revealed that the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya also included a Russian-American lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin, a former member of the Soviet military who may have ties to Russian counterintelligence. The Cipher Brief asked Steve Hall, a former member of the ...

Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer and a Russian-American Lobbyist – among others - begs the question, was this a Russian intelligence operation? If so, is this typical Russian tradecraft, or something out of the ordinary? And what should we expect in the coming years? The ...

“Mr. Sessions, are you familiar with what spies call tradecraft?” Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June. “A little bit,” replied Sessions. “Do you like spy fiction: John le Carre, Daniel Silva, Jason Matthews?” Cotton continued, finally asking, “have you ever, in any of these fantastical ...

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first meeting later this week comes against the backdrop of a cyberattack thought to be linked to Russia that largely wreaked havoc in Ukraine. This latest cyberattack, which spread globally, offers yet another potent example of the way the Kremlin has treated ...

Ray Mabus, who was navy secretary during both Obama Administrations and held that post longer than anyone since World War I, discussed innovation in the Navy – such as the use of green technologies – and the importance of public-private partnerships Thursday at The Cipher Brief’s annual Threat Conference in ...

Retired Admiral James Stavridis believes the Trump Administration fails to recognize the importance of our oceans.  In his new book Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans, Stavridis is troubled by the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and a proposed budget that boosts military spending, ...

Ray Mabus, who was navy secretary during both Obama Administrations and held that post longer than anyone since World War I, discussed innovation in the Navy – such as the use of green technologies – and the importance of public-private partnerships Thursday at The Cipher Brief’s annual Threat Conference in ...

Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell on Thursday warned against the pressing threat of North Korea, suggesting that the country may have the capability to put a nuclear weapon on the continental U.S. “It’s a current threat, not a future threat,” Morell told attendees of The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference ...

Last Sunday, a U.S. Navy F/A-18E fighter jet shot down a Syrian government SU-22 bomber in the U.S. military’s first air-to-air kill involving manned aircraft since the 1999 Kosovo campaign. In response, the Russian Ministry of Defense has condemned the incident as “a cynical violation of the sovereignty of the ...

After a U.S. Navy F/A-18E shot down a Syrian SU-22 bomber on Sunday, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly condemned the action, announced that a military hotline between U.S.-led coalition and Russian forces had been shut down, and declared that any U.S. jets flying west of the Euphrates river ...

On June 18, a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 fighter bomber near the town of al-Tabqa in eastern Syria.  According to coalition sources, the Syrian aircraft had bombed anti-Assad militias fighting Islamic State forces in the region and was shot down as part ...

High level United States-China talks concluded Wednesday with the U.S. pressing China “to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure” on North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program, Washington’s top security threat. Looming large on the eve of the first U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue was a CNN report ...

There is no adjective to which I have a greater aversion than “unprecedented.” Such language is most often intended to describe challenges more daunting than anyone has previously faced or circumstances not akin to anything seen in the past.  In truth, there are very few challenges that cannot benefit from ...

President Donald Trump today announced a rollback to the Obama-era opening to Cuba in a speech at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami’s Little Havana. “Effective immediately I am canceling the previous administration's one-sided deal with Cuba,” he said. The Obama-era deal opened diplomatic relations between the two Cold War ...

The FBI is investigating why a gunman opened fire Wednesday on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, wounding four people including a senior lawmaker. The shooter — identified by the FBI as James Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old Illinois man — was fatally shot by police who were ...

In a recent op-ed, National Security Advisor General H. R. McMaster and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn proclaim a basic fact of world politics as they see it: “The world is not a ‘global community,’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.” This ...

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis is in Washington today meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.  Romania, a member of NATO, is a key strategic partner of the U.S., hosting a U.S. missile defense site.  But the eastern European nation also sits in a precarious location along the Black Sea, where the ...

U.S. policymakers seeking an end to North Korea’s nuclear program often point to Beijing’s leverage over Pyongyang as the key to securing a binding disarmament agreement and peace on the Korean peninsula. However, China’s key interests are maintaining stability along its shared border with North Korea and limiting U.S. military ...

Ambassador Fu Ying, Beijing’s veteran diplomat, said last month that her country had “no leverage” over North Korea unless China addressed Pyongyang’s security concerns. Whether China addresses those concerns or not, its leverage over Pyongyang is, in a word, overwhelming. The trend of thinking these days, both inside and outside ...

Pyongyang has responded to the UN Security Council’s unanimous decision June 2 to expand sanctions for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs by lashing out, not only at the United States but also at China. “[The U.S. and China] railroaded ‘sanctions resolution’ at the [UN Security Council] after having ...

When SpaceX successfully launched the National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-76 into orbit last month from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and recovered the rocket's first stage, it marked the commercial space launch company’s first successful delivery in a series of top secret satellite launch contracts for the U.S. Air Force. ...

A populist wave is washing over the United States and Europe, which have seen populist leaders take the helm – U.S. President Donald Trump – or come exceedingly close to power. Geert Wilders’ Dutch populist Party for Freedom is strong, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen went face to ...

What is the definition of populism? What are the common threads that tie together populist movements? Does populism work? The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with Carmen Medina, a former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence, about how she defines and evaluates populism, and how, in some ways, it’s related to ...

The upsurge of populism in the United States and Europe has us asking the wrong questions. The issue that should concern us is not what populists have in common. The similarities between Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farage are unimportant. We also should stop wondering why voters ...

U.S. President Donald Trump shook the post-war foundation of German foreign policy: its integration into the European Union (EU) and NATO. By questioning Pax Americana and trying to divide and conquer Europe, Trump has been forcing European – and particularly German – leaders to stand up for their vital interests. ...

Donald Trump’s interactions with our European Allies and his renunciation of the Paris Climate Accords have left our Allies baffled and startled.  Faced with “America First” their reaction is to look after themselves.  Unfortunately for both President Trump and the Europeans, we’re stuck with each other.    More than anything ...

Graham Allison's ominously titled Destined for War fulfills an implied promise made by his seminal Atlantic magazine article 18 months ago. That article was labeled The Thucydides Trap: Are the US and China Headed for War? and indeed the ancient Greek historian's warnings permeate both that article and the current ...

Today Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will become the first ASEAN leader to visit the White House under the Trump administration. The meeting is a part of his first official trip to the U.S. after more than a year holding the premiership. Phuc’s visit continues a series of high-level ...

The small East African country of Djibouti – which sits on the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a gateway to the Suez Canal and a shipping chokepoint in the sea lanes connecting Africa with the Middle East and India – hosts seven foreign militaries. The U.S. and China are now neighbors, and Saudi ...

China is constructing its first overseas military base just a few miles from one of the United States’ largest and most important foreign bases -- Camp Lemonnier in the small East African nation of Djibouti.  Five other nations have put up bases there, and Saudi Arabia will soon join them.  ...

What’s the outcome of President Trump’s trip last week to the Middle East? I’ll focus mainly on what may be the after effects of the first days of his trip in Saudi Arabia, where he was treated like a visiting potentate. “The House of Saud played Donald Trump like a ...

After violence broke out between white nationalist protestors and counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia over the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, a 20-year old man from Ohio drove his vehicle into a crowd, killing one counter-protestor and injuring several others. The echoes of a terrorist tactic the ...

Editor's Note: For this year’s Memorial Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage examining the future of U.S. aircraft carriers.  Some planners advocate building smaller carriers that could employ many U.S. Navy supercarriers’ capabilities at less cost. With the right aircraft, a light carrier could undertake long-range strike, counter-air ...

Editor's Note: For this year’s Memorial Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage examining the future of U.S. aircraft carriers. America’s largest warships have grown in size and cost, but also capability over the decades, and the new Ford-class promises to raise the bar on all three of those ...