[The duplicity of Pakistan's intelligence services was] baked into the stock price of U.S.-Pakistan relations. They were at times minimally responsive, but we always hit a wall. The outstanding list of Al Qaeda-affiliated figures [still operating in Pakistan] is small. But the Haqqani list is moving in the other direction.
[The recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee report on Russian meddling] is a thorough and comprehensive view of Russia’s decades-long political warfare against the West. The lesson learned from Europe, which has borne the brunt of Russian attacks, is that Russia can be deterred but that requires leadership. For that reason, this report would have sent a much stronger message to the Trump administration if it had Republican support. As is, it is an urgent warning and a call to action, but it may fall on deaf ears.
[On the inter-Korean talks] It remains to be seen if the more civil atmosphere prior to the Olympics can address the much deeper divide over major substantive issues - in particular, North Korea's nuclear and missile development (which Pyongyang insists is none of Seoul's business) and the almost certain North Korean demands in any future discussions to weaken or dismantle outright the workings of the U.S.-ROK alliance. The critical issue here is whether the ROK is prepared to say 'no' to the inevitable demands from the DPRK, despite the Moon administration's clear desire to improve inter-Korean relations.
These channels are especially vital at a time when relations at the leader level are so unpredictable. [SACEUR General Curtis Scaparrotti is] uniquely positioned [to raise U.S. concerns about Russia’s] ongoing military role in Ukraine, its INF treaty violations, its active measures to undermine Transatlantic democracies and the other strategic tensions that are driving the US and its Allies to take stronger deterrent measures.
Most protests in Iran are over economic issues. What’s different is that it seems to have tapped into a deep sense of alienation and frustration, that people aren’t just demonstrating for better working conditions or pay, but insisting on wholesale rejection of the system itself.
I don’t want to say [we should have] low expectations [for North Koera-South Korea talks], but we should have small-step expectations. We need to encourage both North Korea and South Korea to take baby steps. They’re not going to go for nuclear issues first. They’re going to go for the traditional issues they have worked on. I doubt that President Moon will be on a highway course to change the dynamics with North Korea.
This suspension [of U.S. military aid] will no doubt put pressure on Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves, but I am skeptical that cutting a few hundred million dollars in assistance will induce Pakistan to make significant changes to its security policy. Today’s announcement sends a signal about the U.S. administration’s intent to hold Pakistan to account in the public domain. Whether it accomplishes more than that is yet to be seen.
The suspension [of military aid to Pakistan] is arguably more significant as a signal of Washington’s discontent than as an act of financial deprivation. The Trump administration has likely sketched out an escalation strategy, and would be wise to pause after Thursday’s announcement to give Pakistan the opportunity to quietly address U.S. concerns.