Today, we go all over the place in our featured articles with a couple throwbacks to links from several days ago on stories that we may have missed or didn’t have an opportunity to dive further into.
To start things off, we will go to Afghanistan and the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Dispute Heats Up from United States Institute of Peace where the fight over a wall could signal underlying tensions.
In at least two incidents in late December and early January, Afghan Taliban soldiers intervened to block an ongoing Pakistani project to erect fencing along the shared border between Afghanistan and Pakistan — the demarcation of which prior Afghan governments have never accepted. Despite attempts to resolve the issue diplomatically, and the Taliban’s dependence on Pakistan as a bridge to the international community, both sides remain at odds over the fence. USIP’s Richard Olson, Asfandyar Mir and Andrew Watkins assess the implications of this border dispute for Afghanistan and Pakistan’s bilateral relationship and the region at large.
In what appears to be a clash between the traditional right of free movement and arbitrary lines drawn on a map, the Taliban and Pakistan dispute has roots going back to the 1940’s. The fencing project is central to the Pakistani plans for security there. More from the USIP article:
Pakistani policy makers appear to be realizing that the Taliban will walk the talk of jihad and chew the gum of border nationalism at the same time. Will this compel a rethink in Pakistan’s policy toward the Taliban? Not immediately. But if the Taliban ramp up their challenge against the border, Pakistan might seek to influence the Taliban’s internal politics more aggressively.
Interestingly, and seemingly unrelated to the border dispute the Asia Times reports, US senses opportunity in fraying Taliban-Pakistan ties and is looking to deepen the fissures between the countries by using their financial leverage. Here are the relevant sections:
Simply put, the new thinking in Washington is that by easing the pressure on the Taliban in a calibrated way, a dependency will develop on the part of the latter on American goodwill, which in turn would slow down or arrest Kabul’s pivot to Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and others.
Basically, the tactic involves giving concessions to the Taliban in dollops in such a way that its dependency on Russia, China and other regional states (especially Iran and Pakistan) would diminish.
In effect, Washington is exploiting the reservations on the part of the neighboring states regarding the Taliban government by providing it limited aid in such a way that makes it even more difficult for them to decide on moving forward with the interim government in Kabul.
Switching gears to Kazakhstan, Radio Free Europe is reporting that the Russia-Led Military Alliance Completes Withdrawal From Kazakhstan. Mission accomplished, I guess? Interestingly, there are two other Radio Free Europe articles that are worth your attention. The first, Crisis In Kazakhstan Pushes China, Russia Closer Together, reports that stability at any cost is the most important aspect of the region. They state:
While Moscow was seen as the main military provider in the region, Beijing’s slow venture into Central Asian security in recent years with unofficial outposts and increased training — combined with rising influence through its multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure project — created a cocktail for increased friction and potential rivalry.
But analysts say China’s and Russia’s handling of violent unrest in their mutual neighbor, Kazakhstan, has pushed the two countries even closer together. It has also highlighted the lengths the two powers are willing to accommodate each other during a fast-moving and high-stakes crisis.
“The crisis in Kazakhstan proved that the relationship between China and Russia in Central Asia is very stable,” Jakub Jakobowski, senior fellow at the Center for Eastern Studies in Warsaw, told RFE/RL. “There are many difficult issues and potential problems for them to navigate and the fact that they have managed to do so demonstrates how durable ties between Beijing and Moscow are becoming.”
There is so much more in the article detailing common ground of the wider Russia-China relationship. And if that has piqued your interest on the region, you should definitely check out China In Eurasia Briefing: Beijing, Moscow, And A New Central Asia – Radio Free Europe. They detail why this relationship matters this way:
While China and Russia have been growing closer in recent years, Central Asia was seen as a region of competition between Beijing and Moscow. But their reaction to events in Kazakhstan shows they’re learning to work together and respect each other’s interests, even when they might conflict.
This article details the importance of Kazakhstan to China and goes further discussing a Serbian connection, Middle East diplomacy and the view through China’s big lens. If you are a China watcher or you only have time to read one article today, this should be it.
For our final section of the day, we will talk nukes because China Denies ‘Remarkable’ Expansion of its Nuclear Arsenal, Which Is Laughable – Popular Mechanics.
A senior Chinese official denied reports earlier this month that China is engaged in what he calls a “remarkable” expansion of the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal—but stopped short of denying the country was building more nukes period. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Defense claims that China will effectively triple its inventory of nuclear warheads by 2030…
Last summer, the Pentagon’s annual report on China warned that the country was aiming to build a total of 700 deployable thermonuclear warheads by 2027, and 1,000 warheads by 2030. The report states that China’s pace of warhead construction is so rapid that its previous estimate from 2020 had become obsolete in just one year.
Yikes. For a reminder, 75 Years On, the Doomsday Clock Keeps Ticking, – Wired.
For something different, and because I am always a sucker for a good map, check out Mapping a First Look at Tonga’s: Devastation After the Volcano Eruption – The New York Times. All of this and so much more in Today’s Daily Dump!
Inspired by the Cognitive Raider Initiative, The Cognitive Warrior Project has put together a daily list of diverse articles that can easily be chosen from to play a part in developing a more mentally agile warfighter that embraces the adaptation required for tomorrow’s battlefield. Our intent is to create a space where you can choose one or two articles a day (about 10 minutes) instead of mindlessly scrolling social media.
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January 19, 2022
Podcast: YEAH, LET’S LET WOMEN IN: HER COLD WAR – A Better Peace
#Reviewing First Platoon – The Strategy Bridge
Turn On the Light, Extinguish the Fire: Israel’s New Way of War – War on the Rocks
To Support Democracy in Myanmar, Engage with Ethnic Armed Organizations – War on the Rocks
1/18/2022 National Security and Korean News and Commentary – Small Wars Journal
Online Event: The Transatlantic Relationship: A View from Spain – Center for Strategic and International Studies
The Biden Boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics – Center for Strategic and International Studies
Macron’s Flawed Vision for Europe – Foreign Affairs
Privacy Is Power: How Tech Policy Can Bolster Democracy – Foreign Affairs
Crimean, Syrian ports sign cooperation agreements – Al Monitor
Abe’s Indo-Pacific vision is finally coming to life – Asia Times
‘We Are Taiwanese’: China’s Growing Menace Hardens Island’s Identity – The New York Times
Sudan’s Security Forces Kill Protesters as U.S. Diplomats’ Visit Nears – The New York Times
Mapping a First Look at Tonga’s: Devastation After the Volcano Eruption – The New York Times
China In Eurasia Briefing: Beijing, Moscow, And A New Central Asia – Radio Free Europe
Russia-Led Military Alliance Completes Withdrawal From Kazakhstan – Radio Free Europe
Erdogan Says Serbia’s Backing Crucial For Bosnia’s Territorial Integrity – Radio Free Europe
When Putin Loved NATO – Foreign Policy
Defining the Biden Doctrine – Foreign Policy
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Forgotten Foreign-Policy Vision – Foreign Policy
The Arab world is re-embracing its Jews – The Economist
#ChoosetoChallenge2022 Update – Wavell Room
How Alexei Navalny’s Jailing Changed Russia – The Moscow Times
China Denies ‘Remarkable’ Expansion of its Nuclear Arsenal, Which Is Laughable – Popular Mechanics
Watch a Marine Zoom From One Boat to Another … With a Jetpack – Popular Mechanics
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