No Easy Exit from Afghanistan
* Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga council advised President Hamid Karzai to stop delaying the signature of a pending security agreement with the US. Karzai does not seem inclined to relent, despite threats from the Americans that they won’t leave troops after 2014 if the agreement is not inked by the end of 2013.
* Pakistani opponents of UAV strikes are actively impeding NATO’s supply flow in and out of Afghanistan through Pakistan.
* The Pentagon released a document describing its Arctic strategy [PDF] which does not say much of interest, but at least has the honesty of recognizing that “significant uncertainty remains about the rate and extent of the effects of climate change, including climate variability, in the Arctic.”
Air Force One Refurbishing
* The US Air Force will host an industry day on December 11 at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, to discuss recapitalization of the VC-25A Presidential fleet. Delivery of new aircraft would start in 2021 at the earliest.
Reining In Mass Surveillance?
* China released a map on Saturday of the “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone” whose outline includes the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China. Japan and the US departments of State and Defense promptly voiced their objection, and South Korea also found overlap with its own defense identification zone. China objected to the objection. Public opinion, to the extent that matters in China, seems to support the assertive stance against Japan.
* As much as the US would like Japan and South Korea to get along, their relationship is marred by past pains and distorted by internal politics, which leads to all sorts of triangulations with China.
* Between the Zapad-13 exercise on Russia’s eastern borders with NATO; trade wars and economic pressure on the Ukraine, Armenia, and Moldova; and other measures, Russia is compiling a long list of ways to annoy its neighbors. Oddly, Russia these days is winning with soft power and “active measures,” even as its massive hard power investments are attracting great skepticism. The Daily Beast.
* Syria has reportedly given about 200 man-portable anti-aircraft missiles to the PYD offshoot of the Marxist-Kurdish PKK. Their position near the Turkish border helps enforce the Kurdish area’s semi-autonomy against possible Turkish attacks, while cementing the status of the regime-friendly PYD in Syrian Kurdistan. Syria’s long-standing support of the PKK, which has conducted terrorist and guerrilla attacks in Turkey, is a big reason that Turkey became involved in Syria’s civil war.
* The video below shows the 2nd test of David’s Sling Weapon System, jointly managed by the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency: