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China's New Silk Road Is Getting Muddy
By Joshua Eisenman and Devin T. Stewart, Foreign Policy, January 9, 2017
 

 With the future of U.S.-China relations an open question for the incoming Donald Trump administration, many have focused on whether the president-elect's promise to withdraw from negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will enhance Beijing's growing influence in East Asia. But rather than hand-wringing over TPP's ignominious failure, Asia watchers should turn their attention to China's unprecedented $1 trillion strategic gambit: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, aka "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR). Launched in 2013 as President Xi Jinping's signature initiative, OBOR holds great promise, as well as potential pitfalls, for both China and its neighbors. 

 
Trump's Arsenal Against Iran
By Ilan Berman, USA Today, December 29, 2016
 

What will the new president do about Iran? 

While still on the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump railed repeatedly against President Obama's "disastrous" nuclear deal with Iran. He pledged to tear up the agreement, or at least amend it substantially, as one of his first acts in office. Yet, for a host of reasons, the nuclear pact concluded between the Iran and the P5+1 powers (the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany) last summer is likely to prove more resilient than either the president-elect or his advisers hope. 

 
Next Year In Jerusalem?
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, December 21, 2016
 

In his March 2016 speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference, then-candidate Donald Trump promised that his administration would "move the U.S. embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem." Last week, ambassador to Israel designate David Friedman said he looks forward to working "from the U.S. embassy in Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem." Senior aide Kellyanne Conway has confirmed that the move is a "very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump." 

 
China's Drone Grab and the Dangers of 'Strategic Ambiguity'
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, December 20, 2016
 

Last week the USNS Bowditch, an unarmed U.S. Pathfinder-class survey ship manned by a civilian crew, was shadowed by a PLA Navy (PLAN) Dalang-III-class salvage and rescue vessel as it operated 50 nautical miles (nm) northwest of the Philippines’ Subic Bay. As the Bowditch maneuvered to recover an unclassified “ocean glider” Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) gathering hydrographic data, a smaller ship was launched by the PLAN vessel to capture the UUV. Just 500 meters away, the Bowditch established radio contact but the Chinese vessel left the area with a simple reply: “We are returning to normal operations.”

 
Trump Should Read Indias Playbook for Taunting China
By Jeff M. Smith, Foreign Policy, December 20, 2016
 

Donald Trump’s decision to break protocol and become the first president-elect in decades to speak by phone with a Taiwanese president was either a colossal blunder or a shrewd strategic coup, depending on which Beltway insider you ask. At the least, Trump’s divisive exchange with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has sparked a substantive debate about the nature of U.S.-China-Taiwan relations and the sanctity of Beijing’s version of the “One-China” policy, which codifies China’s inalienable sovereignty over Taiwan and Tibet.

 
Waking The Beast: India's Defense Reforms Under Modi
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, December 16, 2016
 

“India has done enough to simplify its defense procurement and other norms,” opined Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar at a speech in Washington last December. “It is time for U.S. Government and Industry to reciprocate. It is easy to blame Indian bureaucracy but in some cases, U.S. bureaucracy is much worse.’’

 
The End Of The Iran Deal?
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, December 7, 2016
 

President Barack Obama believed that reaching a deal with Iran over its nuclear weapons program would be a historic diplomatic breakthrough that could lead to a fundamental transformation in U.S.-Iranian relations and, more importantly, to significant changes in Iran's international behavior. But, nearly a year after the deal's implementation, there are no signs of change in Iran, and good reason to believe that the deal is in its final days. 

 
China And Sri Lanka: Between A Dream And A Nightmare
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, November 18, 2016
 
My previous article for The Diplomat examined Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte's trip to Beijing and the security and economic implications of the deals he sealed with China to construct ports and artificial islands in the Philippines. 
 
In Foreign Affairs this May, I wrote about the implications of China's investments in the Sri Lankan ports of Colombo and Hambantota, which had not only plunged Sri Lanka into debt, but raised questions about the security and defense consequences of Beijing's use of economic statecraft, including in rekindling Sino-Indian rivalry. 
 
The emergence of new details about China's endeavors in Sri Lanka merit revisiting what is quickly becoming a case study for China's emerging One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. 
 
Trump And Iran: What The Next Administration Can Do
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, November 16, 2016
 

The United States’ relationship with Iran tops the list of foreign policy issues that will confront President-elect Donald Trump when he takes office in January. Like many of the other Republican presidential candidates, Trump was an early and staunch opponent of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the controversial nuclear deal concluded last summer between six world powers and Iran. But Trump took up contradictory positions on the deal over the course of his campaign, at times promising to tear it up and at others suggesting he would simply amend it.

 
When Modi Met Abe: Asia's Strongest Democracies Are Joining Forces
By Jeff Smith, The National Interest, November 16, 2016
 

Like every news event that shared last week with the U.S. presidential elections, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's visit to Japan was swallowed up by American electoral headlines. What attention his summit with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe did attract centered on the consummation of a long-pending nuclear cooperation deal. For a host of reasons covered extensively elsewhere, the deal is symbolically and practically significant for both countries.