Eve Levin  //  10/1/17  //  Topic Update


The U.S. and Korea continued to trade tough messages as U.S. warplanes flew closer to the North Korean border than any American aircraft has flown since the North Korean government began testing ballistic missiles in the 1990s (WSJ).

  • The Trump administration said that the US has not declared war, but North Korea’s foreign minister alleged that the U.S. declared war in a tweet and said that North Korea has the right to shoot down US warplanes (WSJWaPo).
  • Over the weekend, North Korea threatened to detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean (WSJ).
  • The North Korean foreign minister called a strike against the U.S. mainland “inevitable” (WaPo).
  • Commentators were critical of President Trump’s use of personal insults in the international stand-off with the North Korean government (NYT).
  • Pyongyang released propaganda videos showing U.S. planes and an aircraft carrier under attack (WaPo).
  • Ars Technica considers whether American ballistic defenses could succeed against North Korean missiles.

New sanctions signal U.S. willingness to take a more aggressive approach to cutting off North Korea and would allow the U.S. to unilaterally enforce a trade embargo against North Korea (WaPo).

  • Megan Reiss argues that many of the provisions in the new sanctions against North Korea are actually aimed at China (Lawfare).
  • The Wall Street Journal explains Secretary Tillerson’s efforts to have China press North Korea on the nuclear threats.
  • Politico reports that the Treasury Department has issued sanctions against North Korean banks.
  • China said Saturday that it would ban some exports and imports to and from North Korea to comply with new U.N. Security Council sanctions (NYT).

Foreign leaders warned President Trump that failure to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran would adversely affect prospects for negotiations with the North Korean government (WSJ).

  • European allies differ sharply from President Trump and hope to build upon, rather than rescind, the nuclear agreement with Iran (WSJ).
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is reportedly urging President Trump to certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal (WSJThe Hill).

President Trump denied a request from a Beijing-backed fund for permission to purchase an American semiconductor chip company after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. had already blocked the transaction (WSJ).

The Trump administration’s changes to the drone strike policy sparked controversy and commentary.

  • The changes affect the policy, rather than the legal, framework for drone strikes, argues Robert Chesney at Lawfare.
  • The new policy is not as bad as we imagined, Luke Hartig writes for Just Security.
  • In contrast, Hina Shamsi of the ACLU argues that the new policy will allow the Trump administration to kill more people in more places and will leave the world less safe.
  • The changes are legally and operationally significant, argues Monica Hakimi at Just Security.
  • Targeted killing policies under President Obama have allowed President Trump to expand such targeted killings outside traditional warzones, argues Letta Tayler at Just Security.

Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence despite warnings from the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq (WSJ).

The FBI is conducting numerous investigations of suspected white supremacists or other domestic terrorists (WaPo).

Addressing the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar is in the United States’ strategic interest, writes Mayesha Alam at Just Security.

The U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s determination that the U.S. airstrike on Al-Jinah violated the Law of Armed Conflict followed the correct legal rule, writes Elvina Pothelet at Opinio Juris.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee closely scrutinized the State Department’s elimination the office of cybersecurity coordinator (The Hill).

The Trump Administration appears not to have a cohesive strategy for trade negotiations (NYT). 


Updates | The Week of January 22, 2018

1/28/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump's Guantánamo "policy" is best understood as an extension of his anti-Muslim bigotry, wrote Nimra Azmi and Sirine Shebaya at Take Care. The terrorist watchlist statistics from last week's DOJ and DHS exaggerate the threat of terrorism, argued Harsha Panduranga at Just Security. The Pentagon's new National Defense Strategy contains notable omissions related to climate change and the use of special operations forces.

Updates | The Week of January 22, 2018

1/28/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump threatened to take aid away from Palestine if Palestinian leadership remained unwilling to negotiate with Israel. Vice President Mike Pence announced that the new embassy in Jerusalem would open in 2019.

Updates | The Week of January 15, 2018

1/14/18  //  Daily Update

In a series of tweets, President Trump wavers between opposition and support of FISA reauthorization. On the 16th anniversary of the prison’s founding, Guantanamo Bay prisoners file mass habeas petition.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School