foreign policy


Magazine says Trump invited Iranian foreign minister to White House

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the White House last month at the height of tensions between the two countries, The New Yorker magazine reported. The invitation, extended by Sen. Rand Paul with permission from the president, was turned down for now, The New Yorker reported Friday. Zarif said it was up to Tehran to decide on accepting it. Neither the White House nor the State Department responded to requests for comment on the report, which quoted U.S. and Iranian sources and what the magazine called a well-placed diplomat. Zarif told the magazine he would not want a White House meeting that yielded just a photo op and a two page statement afterwards, The New Yorker said.


Strategic sovereignty: How Europe can regain the capacity to act

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As the world descends into geopolitical competition, other powers increasingly challenge European countries' ability to defend their interests and values. Russia is willing to weaponise energy supplies, cyber capabilities, and disinformation; China invests strategically and uses state capitalism to skew the market; Turkey instrumentalises migration; Saudi Arabia leverages its energy resources. And the Trump administration is willing to exploit European dependence on the transatlantic security alliance and the dollar to achieve short-term policy goals. What unites these disparate powers is their unwillingness to separate the functioning of the global economy from political and security competition. The EU has the market power, defence spending, and diplomatic heft to end this vulnerability and restore sovereignty to its member states.


Geek Plus Robotics CEO on Expansion Plans, Made in China 2025, Trade War

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One of China's fastest growing robotic startups is ramping up its international expansion, even as Trump's tariffs force the company to dial back on its US ambitions. Geek Plus Robotics automates supply chains by replacing warehouse workers with bots. The Beijing-based company recently raised more than 100 million dollars and expects to more than double that at its next funding round. China correspondent Tom Mackenzie spoke exclusively to the company's founder and CEO in Beijing about the firm' plans.


Andrew Hunter, CSIS and Zach Lemnios, IBM on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in a National Security Context

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How and in what areas is AI being adopted in the national security space? What is an AI ecosystem? How can government and the military enhance their AI ecosystems?


Iran vows to ditch more nuclear curbs in war of words with U.S.

The Japan Times

TEHRAN - Iran said Tuesday it will further free itself from the 2015 nuclear deal in defiance of new American sanctions as U.S. President Donald Trump warned the Islamic republic of "overwhelming" retaliation for any attacks. Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have spiraled since last year when Trump withdrew the United States from the deal under which Tehran was to curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. The two arch-rivals have been locked in an escalating war of words since Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone in what it said was its own airspace, a claim the US vehemently denies. On Monday, Washington stepped up pressure by blacklisting Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top military chiefs, saying it would also sanction Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later in the week. Tehran was defiant on Tuesday, saying the new US sanctions against Iran showed Washington was "lying" about an offer of talks.


Iran says 'spy drone' violated its airspace in May amid U.S. escalation

The Japan Times

TEHRAN - Iran said on Sunday a "spy drone" had encroached its airspace in May, about a month before it downed an American drone as part of a series of escalatory incidents between Tehran and Washington. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted a map saying the U.S.-made MQ9 Reaper drone -- also widely used for carrying out military strikes -- had entered his country's airspace on May 26. Iran shot down a U.S. Global Hawk drone Thursday, saying it had violated its airspace near the strategic Strait of Hormuz -- a claim the United States denies. U.S. President Donald Trump called off a planned retaliatory military strike Friday, saying the response would not have been "proportionate," with Tehran warning any attack would see Washington's interests across the Middle East go up in flames. On Sunday U.S. national security adviser John Bolton cautioned Iran against misinterpreting the last-minute cancellation.


Last-minute reversal on Iran strike showcases Trump's confusion

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON - Sebastian Smith and Jerome Cartillier Donald Trump wants to be warlike and he wants to avoid war -- and late Thursday, with U.S. bombers poised to unleash explosive fury on Iran, those contradictory impulses came to a head. The surprise revelation that Trump ordered the bombing of Iran in retaliation for downing a U.S. drone, only to pull back at the last minute, encapsulates the paradox at the heart of the White House foreign policy over the past two years. One is caution, believing that endless, repeated wars have been too costly for the United States," said Rob Malley, a former advisor to President Barack Obama who heads the International Crisis Group. "The other instinct is to look like someone strong, who can't be pushed around." Many days, Trump resembles a geopolitical John Wayne, a swaggering global sheriff out to duel with rivals like China and old allies alike. And even if the 45th president famously managed to avoid serving in his generation's big war, Vietnam, he revels in his role as commander-in-chief. He rarely seems happier than when boasting about the billions of dollars spent on "rebuilding" the military or talking lovingly about the latest, deadliest weapon system. But Thursday evening in Washington, with U.S. forces on the verge of striking three sites in Iran, that hawkish version of Trump suddenly transformed into Trump the dove. "We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die.


The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on International Trade - TradeVistas

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Artificial intelligence (AI) stands to have a transformative impact on international trade. Already, specific applications in areas such as data analytics and translation services are reducing barriers to trade. At the same time, there are challenges in the development of AI that international trade rules could address. General AI refers to systems that can self-learn from experience with "humanlike breadth" and surpass human performance on tasks. General AI raises broad existential concerns, but remains a technology in the distant future.


The USA-China AI Race – 7 Weaknesses of the West Emerj

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The great power nations that master the use of artificial intelligence are likely to gain a tremendous military and economic benefits from the technology. The United States benefitted greatly from a relatively fast adoption of the internet, and many of its most powerful companies today are the global giants of the internet age. I believe these to be fatal assumptions. The decade ahead will make it clear that the United States must, as it has in the past, earn its prosperity and its technological leadership – something that many Americans now take completely for granted. This will involve a focus on the competitiveness of the US economy – and a willingness to continually earn its place in the international order.


How to Win a War with Artificial Intelligence and Few Casualties - The Red (Team) Analysis Society

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The U.S. and China are locked in an increasingly heated struggle for superpower status. Many perceived this confrontation initially only through the lenses of a trade war. However, the ZTE "saga" already indicated the issue was broader and involved a battle for supremacy over 21st century technologies and, relatedly, for international power (see When AI Started Creating AI – Artificial Intelligence and Computing Power, 7 May 2018). The technological battle increasingly looks like a fight to the death, with the offensive against Huawei, aiming notably to protect future 5G networks (Cassell Bryan-Low, Colin Packham, David Lague, Steve Stecklow And Jack Stubbs, "The China Challenge: the 5G Fight", Reuters Investigates, 21 May 2019). For Huawei and China, as well as for the world, consequences are far reaching, as, after Google "stopping Huawei's Android license", and an Intel and Qualcomm ban, the British chip designer ARM, held notably by Japanese Softbank, now stops relations with Huawei (Paul Sandle, "ARM supply halt deals fresh blow to Chinese tech giant Huawei", Reuters, 22 May 2019; "DealBook Briefing: The Huawei Backlash Goes Global", The New York Times, 23 May 2019; Tom Warren, "Huawei's Android And Windows Alternatives Are Destined For Failure", The Verge, 23 May 2019). The highly possible coming American move against Chinese Hikvision, one of the largest world producers of video surveillance systems involving notably "artificial intelligence, speech monitoring and genetic testing" would only further confirm the American offensive (Doina Chiacu, Stella Qi, "Trump says'dangerous' Huawei could be included in U.S.-China trade deal", Reuters, 23 May 2019; Ana Swanson and Edward Wong, "Trump Administration Could Blacklist China's Hikvision, a Surveillance Firm", The New York Times, 21 May 2019). China, for its part, answers to both the trade war and the technological fight with an ideologically martial mobilisation of its population along the lines of "People's War", "The Long March", and changing TV scheduling to broadcast war films (Iris Zhao and Alan Weedon, "Chinese television suddenly switches scheduling to anti-American films amid US-China trade war", ABC News, 20 May 2019; Michael Martina, David Lawder, "Prepare for difficult times, China's Xi urges as trade war simmers", Reuters, 22 May 2019). This highlights how much is as stake for the Middle Kingdom, as we explained previously ( Sensor and Actuator (4): Artificial Intelligence, the Long March towards Advanced Robots and Geopolitics).