With the continuing dispute between China and Japan in the East China Sea, don’t forget to tune into CNAS’s Flashpoints page, an online web portal for those studying security in the East and South China Seas. Flashpoints not only has the latest developments from the region, but offers insights into the rich history surrounding the ongoing territorial disputes in the Asia Pacific.
Photo: Courtesy of CNAS.org.
Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton participated in a roundtable on water security while visiting the United Nations in New York, raising the security profile of water among delegates at the UN General Assembly meeting.
In a speech in March honoring World Water Day, Secretary Clinton said that water is “an essential ingredient of global peace, stability, and security.” She added: “We think it actually is our duty and responsibility to make sure that this water issue stays at the very top of America’s foreign policy and national security agenda.”
Secretary Clinton’s remarks earlier this year coincided with the release of the intelligence community’s Global Water Security report, a study commissioned by the State Department to analyze the effect of water on U.S. foreign policy and national security interests. “This assessment is a landmark document that puts water security in its rightful place as part of national security,” Secretary Clinton said of the report.
Yesterday, Secretary Clinton reiterated her clarion call for action to address the growing global water crisis, drawing on the intelligence community's findings to frame water as a security issue.
“Now, this year alone in the United States, we’ve experienced extreme drought conditions in some parts of our country and devastating floods in others. We are well aware that Europe, Asia, and Africa have all experienced similar challenges. Now, you’ve already heard about our Intelligence Community Assessment on Global Water Security, and I hope that you will have if you didn’t today have a chance to really study it, because water scarcity could have profound implications for security,” Secretary Clinton said yesterday.
“The report found that dwindling supplies and poor management of water resources will certainly affect millions of people as food and crops grow scarcer and access to water more difficult to obtain. In fact, in some places, the water tables are already more depleted than we thought and wells are drying up.”
Read Secretary Clinton’s full remarks here.
The Washington Post published a must-read report this morning on the decline of Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned natural gas company.
Gazprom has long been Moscow’s instrument of choice for exerting influence over former Soviet bloc states in Eastern Europe, like the Urkaine, that have been moving too close to the West. But that could all be changing as a result of major structural shifts in global natural gas production, with hydraulic fracking jumping from the United States to Eastern Europe.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Central and Eastern European energy companies are exploring joint ventures with Western companies in order to develop the region’s potential shale gas resources. The move by these Central and Eastern European countries is in part driven by the need to diversify their own natural gas supply so that they are not as easily held hostage to Russian influence. In recent years, for example, Russia has used disputes over transit fees with countries like the Ukraine as the basis for cutting of gas supply during peak winter months.
While the United States should make better use of space technologies to advance U.S. interests (particularly for improving U.S. disaster warning and response, as I argued this week in a new policy brief Sentries in the Sky: Using Space Technologies for Disaster Response), ground-based sensors will continue to be important for providing a holistic view of environmental, climate change and other important global trends that can affect U.S. security. The U.S. government needs a suite of tools that include ground- and space-based remote sensing technologies, not one or the other.
In this photo taken on September 4, 2012, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute prepares to launch its research vessel with these buoys that will help scientists measure saline concentrations at sea. According to NASA, “The NASA-sponsored expedition will sail to the North Atlantic's saltiest spot to get a detailed, 3-D picture of how salt content fluctuates in the ocean's upper layers and how these variations are related to shifts in rainfall patterns around the planet.”
This type of expedition can help advance scientists’ understanding of ocean chemistry, which may help improve climate modeling that can provide security practitioners more actionable data about the impact of global climate change on particular regions.
Photo: Courtesy of Bill Ingalls and NASA.
Yesterday, CNAS released a new policy brief exploring how the United States can make better use of space technologies to improve disaster warning and response.
Sentries in the Sky: Using Space Technologies for Disaster Response explores some of the challenges with sustaining America’s disaster warning and response services by relying solely on ground-bases sensors to collect information about natural disasters and other events that could threaten U.S. communities. Alternatively, space technologies – which have not yet reached their full potential in disaster warning and response services – can complement existing ground-based sensors by combining new modes of data collection and delivery from space to improve the ability of first responders and others charged with protecting the United States to respond to natural and man-made disasters.
The policy brief focuses specifically on advancing tsunami detection through space-based services as just one of many ways that space technologies can advance disaster warning and response capabilities. But despite this narrow focus on tsunami detection, the policy brief is intended to encourage policymakers and others to think more creatively about ways to leverage space technologies to enhance U.S. national security missions, particularly unconventional (but increasingly important) missions such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The policy brief builds on a broader body of work at the center on the role of Earth monitoring satellites in national security and foreign policy making. In August 2011, Christine Parthemore and I published Blinded: The Decline of U.S. Earth Monitoring Capabilities and Its Consequences for National Security. More to come from us in this research area.
Photo: An artist concept of the Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason 2 Earth satellite. Courtesy of NASA.
During her visit to the Asia Pacific last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to the dispute over the South China Sea, arguably one of the region’s most intractable challenges that, left unmanaged, could uproot stability in East Asia. Those countries at the heart of the dispute — particularly China, Vietnam and the Philippines — need to “establish rules of the road and clear procedures for peacefully addressing disagreements,” Secretary Clinton urged.
The dispute is complex. States ringing the sea are becoming increasingly assertive in their claims, driven by concerns of nationalism, sovereignty, and even the need to stake claims to the region’s lucrative (but dwindling) fish stocks. And then there are the potential petroleum resources. Estimates of the region’s energy potential ranges widely, according to the independent U.S. Energy Information Agency: U.S. estimates suggest the region could contain roughly 28 billion barrels of oil; while Chinese estimates are much more optimistic, projecting more than 200 billion barrels of oil beneath the sea.
Despite much uncertainty about the size of the region’s oil and natural gas resources, countries in the region are increasingly behaving as though access to those potential petroleum reserves is zero-sum — a winner take all and leave none for the loser approach — that is pitting countries against each other to tap into those resources first. Indeed, China, Vietnam and the Philippines are actively soliciting bids from petroleum companies to explore for oil and gas in contested waters, escalating tensions and reinforcing this zero-sum perspective. This continued competition is destabilizing and countries in the region need to take efforts to tilt the balance of behavior toward cooperation so that countries across the region can benefit from the sea’s potential resource wealth.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Afghanistan’s mineral wealth could be contributing to instability in some parts of the country, particularly areas beyond Kabul’s control.
Just two years ago, Afghanistan’s mineral wealth – estimated to be worth potentially a trillion dollars –promised hope to a torpid economy plagued by generations of war. “The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world,” The New York Times reported in June 2010.
“But the wealth has inspired darker dreams as well,” The New York Times reported yesterday. “Officials and industry experts say the potential resource boom seems increasingly imperiled by corruption, violence and intrigue, and has put the Afghan government’s vulnerabilities on display.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with officials of the Association of South East Asia Nations, or ASEAN, while traveling in Jakarta this week. During her visit at the ASEAN Secretariat, Secretary Clinton spoke to the regional dispute over the South China Sea and emphasized that all claimants “make meaningful progress toward finalizing a comprehensive code of conduct in order to establish rules of the road and clear procedures for peacefully addressing disagreements."
Photo: Courtesy of the U.S. State Department.
All eyes are on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her visit to the Asia Pacific this week.
On Tuesday, Secretary Clinton met with officials of the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, in Jakarta where she encouraged ASEAN leaders to work cooperatively with China to resolve the longstanding territorial dispute in the South China Sea. “The United States does not take a position on competing territorial claims ... but we believe the nations of the region should work collaboratively to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation and certainly without the use of force," Secretary Clinton said, according to a report on CBSNews.com. "That is why we encourage ASEAN and China to make meaningful progress toward finalizing a comprehensive code of conduct in order to establish rules of the road and clear procedures for peacefully addressing disagreements."