Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Alex Potcovaru
Wednesday, July 5, 2017, 4:29 PM

North Korea has successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range that could reach Alaska, The Washington Post reports. Experts and the U.S. government confirmed Tuesday’s missile to be a “real” ICBM, the specific type of which has never been seen before. In response to the test, the United States and South Korea conducted joint military exercises on Wednesday that launched missiles off the coast of South Korea. In an unusually blunt statement, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea said U.S. and South Korean “self-restraint” is the only thing preventing the partners from launching a war with the North. But an attack—even a “surgical strike”—could lead to major casualties, The New York Times reports. In just the first hour of a counterstrike, North Korea could launch 300,000 rounds on the South. Seoul, the capital of South Korea home to over 10 million people, sits just 35 miles from the border.

On Monday evening in Washington following the launch, President Donald Trump mused on Twitter that Japan and South Korea would likely refuse to accept the North’s actions. Trump initially pressured China to assist with the issue, but in a tweet early Wednesday appeared to dismiss the possibility of continued cooperation. The strategic options for Washington are wrought with drawbacks. The Atlantic examines which pose worse consequences than others.

Trump will visit Poland prior to his arrival in Hamburg, Germany for this week’s G20 summit, the Times reports. The decision to stop in Warsaw, currently governed by a right-wing, populist administration, may serve as a warm-up for Trump prior to the hugely consequential summit. At the G20, the president will sit down for a one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin and will face tension over climate action and questions of coordination on the North Korean threat. The decision to visit Poland over other allies may highlight Eastern-Western European tensions.

Senators on a bipartisan delegation to Kabul, including John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), criticized Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for lacking a clear strategy for Afghanistan and for a severely understaffed foreign service in the country, the Wall Street Journal reports. The U.S. may send several thousand more troops to the region to break the current stalemate with the Taliban, which flourished after a majority of the foreign forces in the country withdrew in 2014.

A new survey of State Department and USAID employees shows concerns about the future of their agencies and the leadership of Trump and Tillerson, writes the Journal. Out of over 35,000 who responded, many employees expressed concerns about budget cuts and the long-term ability of the agency to achieve its goals. USAID employees were especially concerned with the possibility their agency is folded into the State Department. Many others also expressed longstanding frustration with outdated technology and inefficient processes.

Tensions are rising on the India-China border following China’s demand that India remove troops from a disputed Himalayan plateau, the Post reports. After India sent troops to block Chinese workers from building a road on land also claimed by Bhutan, both sides, which have a history of tension in the region, have turned up the rhetoric on the possibility of the use of force. A host of other tensions, including over the influence of the Dalai Lama and India’s opposition to Chinese regional expansion, could contribute to making the conflict a flashpoint in the relationship.

Emirates and Turkish Airlines both announced that they have received exemptions from the ban on personal electronic devices that had been imposed by the TSA, reports the Times. The ban was introduced in March in eight Muslim-majority countries over fears that terrorists were developing explosives small enough to fit in the batteries of those devices. The airlines were forced to upgrade their security screening processes to receive an exemption. Etihad received approval on Sunday.

The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS will hold a series of meetings next week in Washington, D.C., the State Department announced today. The meetings, including one that will include the full 72-member coalition, will focus on accelerating the process of defeat and building upon successes like those in Mosul and Raqqa.

Four Venezuelan lawmakers were injured when pro-government protesters stormed the opposition-controlled legislature, reports The Guardian. The incident followed three months of clashes between protesters and government forces. The legislature voted to approve a July 16 referendum that would permit an informal vote allowing Venezuelans to weigh in on President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to rewrite the country’s constitution.

ICYMI: The past two days, on Lawfare

Julian Ku examined the grammar in a recent statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that may or may not have called the 1984 Sino-British Declaration “not at all binding.”

Robert Loeb argued that the D.C. Circuit Court’s refusal to adjudicate Jaber v. United States on the basis of the political question doctrine actually violates the requirements of the Torture Victim Prevention Act.

Herb Lin discussed why examining the source code of an anti-virus product like Kaspersky would not necessarily rule out the possibility to product could be used for an attack.

Stewart Baker posted the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast.

J. Dana Stuster posted the Middle East Ticker, covering the battle in Mosul, Secretary Tillerson’s concessions to Russia on the future of the Assad regime, and Saudi Arabian succession, as well as the Kingdom’s demands to Qatar.

Arun Mohan Sukuman argued that despite setbacks, states should not abandon the goal of developing international law for cyberspace.

Peter Margulies argued that by not treating relationships with grandparents or approved refugee resettlement agencies as “bona fide” under the travel ban, the Trump administration has interpreted the Supreme Court’s stay order too narrowly.

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