Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Thursday, 18 October 2018. (All times Central.)
The President is scheduled to meet with Secretary Pompeo, receive his intelligence briefing, meet with the South Carolina delegation, and then holds a Make America Great Again rally in Missoula, Montana.
Of Note: According to a New York Times report yesterday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is ready to wrap up his Trump-Russia collusion and obstruction of justice investigations. Every few weeks for the past several months, there’s been a new report that he’s readying to end his investigation, but it appears that he’ll produce his report sometime after the mid-terms. Investigators are highly discouraged from producing results this close to election season. If the Democrats take back the House and Mueller finds evidence of wrong-doing, Trump impeachment will be at the very top of the Democrats’ House agenda.
Secretary Pompeo is scheduled to hold meetings in Panama and Mexico Thursday and Friday to discuss “joint efforts to advance a secure, prosperous, and democratic hemisphere”. Specifically, Secretary Pompeo will engage Panamanian leaders on “counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and illegal immigration”.
On Friday, Secretary Pompeo will meet with Mexican officials to discuss “ongoing security cooperation efforts to disrupt the illicit movement of cash, weapons, drugs across our shared border as well as the issue of stemming illegal immigration and strengthening accountability for corruption and human rights abuses, and bringing members of transnational criminal organizations to justice.”
Of Note: Vice President Pence will travel to Mexico on 01 December to attend the inauguration of president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Defense Secretary Mattis met his Chinese counterpart in Singapore today, where Secretary Mattis stressed the importance of better military relations with China. “Especially when we have times of differences and irritants, we should seek to deepen our contact, particularly at the high level, strategic level, so that we can talk through differences and navigate through differences,” Mattis said.
(Analyst Comment: This reminds me of an anecdote from when Mattis was a general. Meeting with Chinese military officials, one Chinese general asked to be friends with General Mattis, who replied with something like, “I don’t want to be your friend. I want to better understand you and I want you to understand me.”)
Deployments: The Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group was last reported as underway in the South China Sea. The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) was last reported as underway in the Atlantic to participate in Trident Juncture 2018 in Norway. Along with the Iwo Jima ARG are Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit who will be joining 700 Marines already in Norway. Trident Juncture 2018 began on 15 October, but most of the exercise will take place between 25 October and 07 November.
These are the last publicly reported locations of these ships. Conflict requiring an aircraft carrier/carrier strike group not appear imminent.
The Carl Vinson (CVN-70) was last reported as being underway in the Pacific Ocean.
The Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) was last reported as being in port at Norfolk.
The John Stennis (CVN-74) was last reported as being underway in the eastern Pacific.
The Harry Truman (CVN-75) was last reported as being in the North Sea. The carrier strike group will participate in the upcoming Trident Juncture 2018 exercise in Norway.
The Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was last reported as being in the South China Sea.
The George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) was last reported as having returned to port in Norfolk.
Significant House Activity:
- Nothing significant to report.
Significant Senate Activity:
- Nothing significant to report.
* Only events pertinent to national security are listed.
** Significant reporting will appear in this week’s Strategic and National Intelligence reports.
According to September’s Federal Reserve minutes released yesterday, the Fed saw a potential downside risk to the U.S. economy as the dollar appreciated against emerging markets. Some Fed officials were concerned that the emerging market crisis, spurred on by a strengthening dollar, could spread. (Analyst Comment: When the dollar appreciates in value, paying back dollar-denominated debt in foreign currencies becomes more difficult. That’s the crux of the emerging markets crisis in countries like China, Iran, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, and others. Dollar-denominated debt accrued in foreign countries could lead to loan defaults if the dollar continues to strengthen, risking a 2008-esque financial crisis for some emerging markets. Another problem is that a stronger dollar makes the cost of doing business more expensive. A Turkish importer of Argentine Malbec has to exchange his Turkish Lira for U.S. Dollars, and then make a purchase from an Argentinian winery. A stronger dollar means more Lira for the same amount of wine. Examples like this are why the Fed is concerned that a strong dollar could lead to worsening economic conditions in emerging markets.)
HurricaneWatch: The National Hurricane Center continues to show a picture in the Atlantic free of cyclone activity. About 43 days remain in “hurricane season,” which ends on 30 November. [source]
(Source: This map is updated every Thursday.)
(Source: This map is updated every Monday.)
What I’m Looking at this Morning
“The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power. During the Cold War, Radio Free Europe, which grew over the years into a critical institution, played an important role in fostering and sustaining the hope of freedom. Arabs need something similar.” – Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi citizen and Washington Post columnist who is presumed to have been murdered by Saudi security officials