Strategic Observer


Daily Observations for 9 November 2019

Daily Observations for 9 November 2019
December 09
16:15 2019

Good morning, and welcome to my Daily Observations.

On my radar: Getting closer to the status quo with North Korea

The government of Kim Jong-un has become more bellicose in recent weeks as an end-of-the-year deadline, of sorts, to jump-start nuclear talks approaches. The North Koreans have begun to revitalize a missile test site that had been shut down, new test launches of missiles have taken place, and the rhetoric from the regime is ramping up. For his part, President Trump appears nonplussed in public, saying only that Kim “has no choice but to denuclearize” if he wants to save his government and his country. But North Korea has withstood the test of time, so to speak, even while continuing to develop weapons Kim believes will ensure his own power for the foreseeable future. Plus, Trump is preoccupied with impeachment, as well as his 2020 reelection campaign. In short, it looks like we’re set to return to the status quo with Pyongyang: Missile tests, ongoing nuclear development, threats, tension, and no help from China.

What I’m also tracking:

Russia Expected To Keep Throwing Its Military Weight Around [sourceAnalysis: Russia does not have enough combat power (or the economy) to invade Europe and challenge NATO, but Moscow clearly has enough to chip away at its perimeters (Ukraine, the Baltics, etc.) to expand its turf at a time of its choosing. 

N. Korea conducts ‘important test’ at once-dismantled site [sourceAnalyst comment: To the comments above. Interesting note: Pyongyang’s site was reportedly rebuilt by ‘Chinese military forces.’ 

NATO chief says Trump remains committed to alliance [source]

With an eye toward China’s expansion, US invests whopping $22 billion in new submarines [source]

One final thing:

Is Iran seeking to break an impasse with the U.S.? This seems likely following the regime’s worst internal unrest in years.

From CNN: “On Saturday, Iran released American graduate student Xiyue Wang, who was imprisoned in Tehran for more than three years on suspicion of being a spy. In exchange, the US released Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani, who was arrested on charges of violating American trade sanctions against Iran. Soleimani was expected to be released from prison in a few weeks anyway as part of a plea deal.”

From Kyodo (Japanese news agency): “The United States has shown approval toward Japan’s plan to have Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visit the country, diplomatic sources said Saturday, as Tehran is seeking to break a deadlock over a nuclear deal with world powers. Washington has also urged Tokyo to share the outcome of a summit between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Rouhani, the sources said. A senior U.S. official has relayed the message to Japan.”

Notable Quotable: “I got NATO countries to pay 530 Billion Dollars a year more, and the U.S. less, and came home to a Fake News Media that mocked me. Didn’t think that was possible!” — President Trump, in a Sunday tweet criticizing U.S. media coverage of the alliance’s summit last week. Without tracking the actual numbers, alliance members are stepping up their contributions, based on other reporting, mostly due to the president’s criticisms they haven’t been paying enough for their own defense. Bottom line: Makes for a stronger alliance and bolsters deterrence. 

About Author



Jonathan Davis holds a BA in political science and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis. He has 30 years' worth of experience reporting on domestic politics and foreign policy.

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