Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Monday, November 6, 2017, 12:49 PM

On a visit to Asia, President Donald Trump told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that American military hardware would enable Japan to shoot North Korean missiles “out of the sky,” the BBC reported. At a press conference in Japan, Trump pressed Abe to purchase more defense systems from the United States. Regarding the U.S. approach to North Korea, Trump said, “the era of strategic patience is over,” according to CNN. Abe agreed it was time to apply “a maximum level of pressure” on Pyongyang. The press conference came as Trump prepared to leave for South Korea on the second leg of a trip that will also take him to China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

A Pentagon report said a land invasion would be the only way to neutralize all North Korean nuclear weapons, the Washington Post reported. The Department of Defense’s report to Congress on U.S. capabilities to counter North Korea also raised the possibility that Pyongyang could use chemical and biological weapons in the course of a conflict.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is amassing evidence that could indict Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, NBC News reported. Mueller’s team is interviewing witnesses about Flynn’s lobbying work for groups linked to the Turkish government. Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., could face charges related to lying about their foreign contacts, money laundering and failing to register as foreign agents. Separately, Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with senior Trump campaign officials in June 2016, said that Donald Trump Jr. hinted at a possible review of a Russia sanctions law in exchange for damaging information about the Hillary Clinton campaign, Bloomberg News reported. Veselnitskaya said she would provide evidence to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the matter if her testimony is made public.

Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce, has maintained business relations in a shipping firm tied to Vladimir Putin-allied Russian oligarchs during the secretary’s time in office, the New York Times reported. Ross’ retained investments in Navigator Holdings despite becoming the top official for trade in Trump administration. He failed to disclose that he kept the holdings during his confirmation hearings. Navigator has pursued extensive dealings with a Russian billionaire-run chemical company that U.S. sanctions currently target.

Russian state-controlled companies made investments in Google and Twitter through a business associate of Jared Kushner, the Guardian reported. VTB Bank and the financial arm of the state oil company Gazprom sent funds to Yuri Milner to purchase hundreds of millions of dollars of shares in the social media platforms. Milner also holds a significant number of shares in a company owned by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

The Saudi crown prince ordered the arrest of dozens of senior Saudi officials and eleven members of the royal family in a purge of his political opponents, the Times reported. Mohammed bin Salman, an ascendant power in Riyadh, confined his chief remaining rival Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the kingdom’s richest individuals.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said a missile fired at Riyadh might amount to an “act of war” by Iran, according to the Times. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen fired the missile at Saudi Arabia’s capital on Saturday. In response, Saudi Arabia and its allies said they would close all ports of entry to Yemen on Monday. The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps denied Iranian involvement, saying it was not possible for Tehran to ship missiles to Yemen, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Russian-backed Twitter support for Donald Trump began in summer 2015, much earlier than previously thought, the Journal reported. An analysis of Twitter data showed that Russian-linked fake accounts heavily favored Trump throughout the election primaries.

Lebanon’s prime minister suddenly resigned during a trip to Saudi Arabia, CNN reported. Saad Hariri said Iranian influence in Lebanon made him fear for his life. In response, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iranian-linked Hezbollah said the Saudi government had imposed Hariri’s resignation, according to AFP. The political vacuum in Lebanon could lead to clashes between Saudi-backed Sunnis and Iranian-backed Shiites.

Russian police arrested hundreds of far-right protesters in roundups during a national holiday, the Times reported. The protesters were linked to a movement called Artpodgotovka that had been mainly active online. The movement’s leader had called for a “revolution” in the streets leading up to the protests.

The U.S. embassy in Turkey has resumed processing visas in a step that may help resolve the U.S.-Turkey diplomatic crisis, Reuters reported. Both countries suspended nonimmigrant visa services at their embassies over a month ago. A source within the Turkish government said Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s upcoming visit to the U.S. may lead to the restoration of visa services between the countries.

ICYMI: This weekend on Lawfare

Vanessa Sauter shared the Lawfare Podcast, featuring Benjamin Wittes’ interview with Mike Duncan on his book about the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic.

Stewart Baker posted a link to a discussion of his podcast on the Wassenaar Arrangement’s attempts at regulating intrusion software.

In the Foreign Policy Essay, Michael Horowitz and Julia Macdonald argued that civil society groups looking to regulate autonomous weapons should draw lesson from the campaign to ban landmines.

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