Today's D Brief: Democracy summit; Navy’s networks; Where are US hostages?; FARC, no longer terrorists?; And just a bit more.
The White House has invited more than 100 nations to its upcoming democracy summit in early December. (Find the full list, via the State Department, here.) Predictably, Chinese officials are indignant today that the government of Taiwan made the list.
What to expect: A two-day virtual summit on Dec. 9 and 10, which the U.S. is framing as “a platform for leaders to announce both individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad.”
Three “key themes” are expected to dominate talks, according to Foggy Bottom:
- “Defending against authoritarianism”;
- “Addressing and fighting corruption”;
- And “Promoting respect for human rights.”
Not invited: China, Russia, or Turkey.
Taipei’s foreign ministry called their invite an “affirmation of Taiwan's efforts to promote the values of democracy and human rights over the years.”
China’s foreign ministry called it “a cover and a tool for [the U.S.] to advance its geopolitical objectives, oppress other countries, divide the world and serve its own interests,” according to spokesman Zhao Lijian. Reuters has a bit more, here.
ICYMI: Here’s how China might take Taiwan, according to Reuters’ David Lague and Maryanne Murray, writing on Nov. 5.
For your ears only: Join us as we review the U.S. Navy’s contribution to the U.S. military’s China-focused JADC2 construct, known as Project Overmatch.
Defense One’s Caitlin Kenney and Patrick Tucker tagged along for our latest episode of the Defense One Radio podcast, which assesses not just the Navy’s Overmatch, but also provides an update on the Army’s big PC21 experiment in Arizona about two weeks ago.
Listen on iTunes, Spotify, Podbean, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find a transcript here.
And don’t miss this one: NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” skewered U.S. military acquisitions—nowadays almost always pitched with an eye to China—in a five-minute sketch this past weekend entitled “New Military Weapon.”
From Defense One
Key Pentagon Posts Remain Vacant Amid Supply-Chain Crisis // Marcus Weisgerber: The Biden administration has not even nominated a defense undersecretary of acquisition and sustainment.
Defense One Radio, Ep. 91: Project Overmatch + Project Convergence, updated // Defense One Staff : We explore the future of the U.S. Navy's Project Overmatch.
Americans Want to Defend Taiwan. The Pentagon’s Budget Should, Too // Chet Lee: Lawmakers should take advantage and give Americans the defense budget we need to stay ahead of China.
Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 2015, a Turkish F-16 pilot shot down a Russian Su-24 that had violated Turkish airspace while flying from Syria. It was the first time since the early 1950s that a NATO member shot down a Soviet or Russian jet.
The UAE is competing with Qatar and Turkey to run the airport in Kabul, Reuters reports today from Dubai, where Taliban officials recently held talks with the Emiratis.
One apparent hiccup: “The Taliban say they do not want foreign forces in the country following their return to power after two decades of war,” Reuters writes. However, “Qatari special forces are presently providing security within the airport's perimeter, the diplomats added, while Taliban special forces were patrolling areas outside.”
- “Thousands of Afghans evacuated during U.S. withdrawal awaiting resettlement,” via the Washington Post reporting from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico on Saturday;
- “Afghan evacuees may wait years to reach US,” via the Wall Street Journal reporting Sunday;
- “Afghan evacuees enjoy Albania but have eyes set on Canada,” via AP, reporting Nov. 16.
A federal jury on Tuesday found white supremacist leaders liable for $25 million in damages from the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that left one woman dead and nearly 50 others injured. The Anti-Defamation League called the ruling “one of the most important cases against extremists in modern history.”
Insurgent alt-right founder Richard Spencer is among those liable, according to Tuesday’s verdict. “The jury also held responsible several other white-supremacist groups whose members promoted and participated in the rallies, including the National Socialist Movement, Vanguard America and League of the South,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The laws of this country will not tolerate the use of violence to deprive racial and religious minorities of the basic right we all share to live as free and equal citizens,” said the lawyers for two of the plaintiffs, Roberta Kaplan and Karen Dunn, in a statement afterward.
The man behind a Jan. 8 video entitled “KILL YOUR SENATORS” is headed to prison. His name is Brendan Hunt, and he’s a 37-year-old from Queens, N.Y. He was given a 19-month sentence on Monday for two videos he posted to a site called BitChute threatening U.S. lawmakers; the other was posted the following day, on Jan. 9, with a very similar message.
Charges include “threatening to assault and murder members of the United States Congress to impede, interfere with and intimidate those members and to retaliate against them on account of their performance of their official duties,” according to the Department of Justice. More here.
Related: On Nov. 7, the House voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., “for posting an animated video that depicted him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword,” AP reported. Just two Republicans joined 220 Democrats in approving the unusual rebuke.
Where in the world are Americans being held hostage? Axios produced a map this morning illustrating the answer, as well as showing where Americans are being wrongfully detained around the globe.
Why bring this up? “Multiple hostage advocates told Axios they believe the president's key advisers are deliberately shielding him from the personal agony of these stories to minimize the potential for emotional decision-making.” More to that, here.
U.S. officials are considering removing Colombia’s FARC rebels from its list of designated terrorists, five years after a peace agreement was reached between the rebels—now organized into a political party known as the Common People—and the government in Bogota, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The change would free up developmental aid from the U.S. to former rebels now engaged in more legitimate enterprises like agriculture as opposed to the cocaine trade and related drug-trafficking.
A separate group of rebels is still using the FARC name, and other former members of the original FARC have regrouped into what they call the New Marquetalia group. Both of those would likely be added to America’s terrorist lists, officials told the Journal. Read more, here.
Lastly this (abbreviated) week: Take a jump back in time to July 1997. That’s when editors at WIRED published an overly optimistic, but at times quite interesting glimpse into the future with a cover story entitled, “The Long Boom: A History of the Future, 1980–2020.”
Context: “In the 1990s, the United States is experiencing a booming economy much like it did in the 1950s,” Peters Schwartz and Leyden write. “But look ahead to the next decade, our parallel to the 1960s. We may be entering a relentless economic expansion, a truly global economic boom, the long boom.”
That boom could trigger “five great waves of technology—personal computers, telecommunications, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and alternative energy—that could rapidly grow the economy without destroying the environment.” However, of course, they caution: “This is not to say that there aren't some huge unknowns, the critical uncertainties, such as how the United States handles its key role as world leader.”
Making this interesting in 2021: “Ten scenario spoilers,” or variables—like a “major rise” in terrorism, a pandemic, the devolution of Russia into a kleptocracy, a “new Cold War” with China, to name just a few—that could derail Schwartz and Leyden’s rosy forecast for global unity. Read the rest at WIRED, here.
And Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, wherever you are or may be traveling this week. Have a safe and enjoyable next several days. We’ll catch you again on Monday!
NEXT STORY: The Pentagon’s New UFO Office Has a Specific Job