In the wake of retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor on Monday over his communications with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., President Donald Trump is considering three former military officers to replace Flynn. This follows a notable pattern of the new president’s reliance on retired ...

The arcane art of measuring the health of civil-military relations is experiencing a renaissance. Although it is welcomed by those who practice it, the reasons for the renewed focus are less so.  Contributing factors include 15 years of continuous wartime deployments and the lack of a shared experience between the ...

I’ve been a Puerto Rican all my life. I’ve also been an American citizen all my life. My ethnicity tended to confuse representatives of foreign governments, who didn’t comprehend how a Puerto Rican could serve in the Central Intelligence Agency. Very easily, I would say. Then I would usually segue ...

On Feb. 3, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced “we are in the midst of a full review of all U.S. policies towards Cuba.” This is excellent news. Under an administration which has thus far been dominated by knee-jerk responses and actions dictated more by politics than policy, it ...

With no firm commitment to a two-state solution, U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled a potential shift in U.S. policy in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was the first meeting between the two leaders since Trump took office. "I'm looking at two states and one state,” ...

The White House sought to present the resignation of President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, as a closed chapter tied to his deceiving Vice President Mike Pence on the nature of his discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States. But as the shake up unfolds, the ...

The resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn came only three weeks into a whirlwind beginning for the Trump Administration. The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani spoke to former Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin – who served seven presidents and watched three transitions closely – about how the next ...

With the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, there have been questions about the security implications of his conversations with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak before he took office.  But speaking to The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani, Jack Keane, retired four-star general and former Vice Chief ...

The Trump Administration is correct that the U.S. should focus on the significant threat posed by Iran’s misbehavior in the Middle East. Luckily, history provides a guide on how we can change that behavior. Some say that the threat from Iran’s malign behavior is overstated. Some say that the malign ...

On November 8 last year, Donald Trump upended the American political system with his surprising electoral victory over Hillary Clinton. That result has raised many questions about the U.S. political system. Most significantly, it revealed a deep and widespread frustration with a system of governance in the United States, which ...

When President Barack Obama came to Ottawa as part of the “bromance” with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he said that the world needed “more Canada,” but he also pointed out that Canada should contribute its fair share on defence. This was a significant call to action from Canada’s most important ...

On Thursday February 9th, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had their first phone call. Accounts from both sides described the call as productive and cordial. Most importantly for the future of the bilateral relationship, Trump affirmed U.S. recognition of the “One-China Policy,” reversing an uneasy start to ...

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan wants several thousand more troops from the U.S. and its allies to help break the “stalemate” in the 15 year-old war, which he told members of Congress has lately seen increased Russian involvement to bolster the Taliban and undermine the U.S. and NATO. “In ...

I remember remarking to Cuban American friends in Miami some 20 years ago and in the wake of the passage of the Helms-Burton Act (which formalized the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba) that it was my humble opinion that if we just got rid of the embargo against Cuba and ...

The world got a taste last week of what “America First” means: insulting Iraqis who’ve risked their lives with U.S. forces; blacklisting dual-citizen legislators in Canada; and jeopardizing the political standing of leaders, like Enrique Pena Nieto and Theresa May, who try to work with the new American President. Yet, ...

In an historic proclamation, then President Barack Obama announced in December 2014, “the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba [and] we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.” Obama promised to reestablish diplomatic relations that had been severed for nearly 53 ...

President Donald Trump has indicated he will reverse the Obama administration’s policy on Cuba, despite previously saying the deal was fine. The Cipher Brief asked Frank Mora, Director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University, about what he thinks U.S.-Cuba relations will be like ...

George W. Bush and Barack Obama were, in many ways, polar opposites in world view. The former saw black and white and an eternal struggle between good and evil, where those on the side of morality were compelled to use the power at their disposal lest nefarious forces take advantage ...

In the past, space was dominated by the Soviet Union and the United States. Today, however, space has become a vital part of all our lives, economies, and national defense systems. Satellites now crowd our orbit with vital communications, global positioning (GPS) networks, and imaging platforms. At the same time, ...

The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States has officially triggered a wave of significant policy changes in Washington, initially on issues of trade, foreign policy, energy, and the environment. At the same time, President Trump’s well-known isolationist foreign policy and protectionist trade agendas have ...

Space sparks a wide range of emotions. Since the 1960s, advocates have invoked the ideals of pure science, exploration, and fundamental human curiosity to push for an expansive – and expensive – vision of U.S. space policy. As both the grand embodiment of human achievement and a prime arena for ...

President Donald Trump made clear in his inaugural address that his administration was going to pursue an active space program. He said that we are a nation “ready to unlock the mysteries of space.” For more than a decade, much of America’s space program has stagnated. Human spaceflight has been ...

Some of the most significant challenges the Trump administration will face are in the Middle East.  These include the threat of salafi-Jihadist terrorism, Iran’s efforts to create a “Shiite crescent” spanning the region, and a resurgent Russian role. In the Middle East, President Donald Trump, like his last five predecessors, ...

President Donald Trump has wrapped his initial actions in office in the name of keeping the United States safe, but several experts and former top U.S. officials say they worry his moves on refugees, immigration, and reorganizing the National Security Council could hurt the country’s national security. On Friday, Trump ...

President Donald Trump sat down with British Prime Minister Theresa May today (Jan. 27), in his first meeting with a major world leader since taking office. Trade, a key concern for May following her nation’s vote to leave the European Union, the future of NATO, and Russia highlighted the agenda. ...

Two former CIA officers with decades of experience offered up some advice to President Donald Trump on how to deal with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during The Cipher Brief’s Georgetown Salon Series event on Thursday. Robert Richer, former Associate Deputy Director for Operations at the CIA, and Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, ...

From day one, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama had a clear connection. On issues of diplomatic, strategic, and economic cooperation, the two leaders appeared to share what Obama called a “common vision and talent.” While, on a personal level, the pair formed a famously close ...

The government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won its election in October 2015 promising to make Canada a world leader in the effort to address climate change. At one of his first international summits, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change held in Paris in December 2015, Trudeau pledged ...

The Canada-U.S. defence relationship is unique in the world of international politics. Its foundation is premised on the shared principle that the defence of North America is indivisible. From this premise, Canada and the U.S. further share the belief that threats to North America should be met overseas. As such, ...

At 12:00PM on Friday, Jan. 20, the nuclear “football,” a briefcase containing the launch codes for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, was passed to a new Commander-in-Chief. Donald Trump enters the Oval Office at a time of dual necessity: U.S. nuclear forces, which include 6,800 nuclear weapons, are in need of ...

On Monday, Jan. 23, President Donald Trump used his first full weekday in office to sign an executive order pulling the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. The TPP was signed by all 12 parties – representing almost 40 percent of the global economy – last ...

A dramatic, and sometimes controversial, campaign and transition period culminated Friday in Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States. In his speech, he said it was “the day the people became rulers of this nation again” and pledged that from now on, “it's only going to ...

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 ...

The start of a new U.S. administration, elections across Europe in 2017 that could drastically alter politics on the continent, and an increase in the number and kinds of external threats facing the world over the past few years rattle the NATO transatlantic defense alliance. Add to that President-elect Donald ...

The future of the transatlantic defense alliance is in jeopardy, according to news reports from the past few months. It all started with then-candidate Donald Trump’s comments in March about NATO being “obsolete.” Then, in July, Trump seemed to throw into question Article 5 of the NATO treaty – the ...

Poland and other countries in the region – particularly NATO members located on Europe’s eastern flank – look to the new American administration with both anxiety and hope. During the election campaign, President-elect Donald Trump sent mixed messages about NATO and his willingness to maintain the same level of U.S. ...

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 ...

Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president, subscribed to the philosophy, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” a line attributed to Sun Tzu, the famous sixth-century Chinese military strategist. Mr. Lincoln was also noted for saying, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Donald Trump, ...

The core missions of the U.S. Air Force demand that it always be prepared to defend the United States while also being prepared to carry out operations anywhere in the world. Perhaps more than any other service branch, this requires maintaining a technological edge over adversaries. In The Cipher Brief's ...

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 ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement Friday that he will not expel U.S. diplomats in response to U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia yesterday by President Barack Obama, a move Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov had advocated for. Putin called the “recent unfriendly steps” taken by the outgoing Obama ...

A two-state solution is the only way to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday as he defended the Obama administration's approach to the conflict and decision not to veto a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlement policies. That two-state solution, however, is "in serious jeopardy," Kerry, ...

The “complete meltdown of humanity” in Aleppo, as recently described by the United Nations, is an indictment of Russian/Syrian/Iranian barbarism, Arab indifference, and American dereliction and policy failure in the Levant.  The horrendous human tragedy, which is barely causing a yawn in the West—and across the Arab world as well—will ...

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has stitched the economies of Mexico, Canada, and the United States together since 1994. However, over those twenty-plus years, criticism and controversy have continuously dogged the free trade pact. To U.S. opponents of the deal, NAFTA represents the kind of rampant globalization that ...

President-elect Donald Trump consistently lambasted the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) as a "the worst deal, possibly in history," one which unfairly disadvantages American workers. He has promised to renegotiate the agreement, or possibly even get rid of it altogether. However, critics contend that the effect of degrading trade ...

President-elect Donald Trump will tell Canada and Mexico – our NAFTA partners – that we intend to “immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement,” and if not, “we will submit notice that the U.S. intends to withdraw from the deal.” The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) can be strengthened ...

NATO envoys and Russia’s ambassador to the 28-nation military alliance met in Brussels on Monday, as relations between the two sides remain tense. It was their third meeting this year. In July, the Alliance announced plans to move up to 4,000 troops into Poland and the three Baltic states, to ...

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 statement by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump dismissing the CIA’s findings that Russia had interfered in the recent election has implications for the Agency, the country, and its allies. Not least affected are the CIA field operatives, whose ability to develop contacts and sources could, argues former CIA Officer Alex ...