Intelligence Forecast
November 2018

1. The United States and Russia likely to end the INF Treaty

During the height of the Ukraine crisis in 2014, the Obama administration was the first to acknowledge that the Russians were breaking the ordinances laid out in the INF Treaty, originally signed in 1987. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is an arms control agreement between the United States and the former Soviet Union that sought to eliminate short and intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles. Over a four year period, 2,500 missiles were destroyed between the United States and the Soviet Union. It should be noted the treaty did not cover sea or air missiles but instead focused on land-based missiles.

The Obama administration did not seek to remove the United States from the INF Treaty or desire to punish the Russians for breaking the arms control treaty because they believed it would ignite an arms race. Although this may be true, the Russians are abusing the United State’s loyalty to the treaty. During the Obama administration, the Russians were able to deploy intermediate-range tactical nuclear missiles to intimidate not only Europe but also various states that have allied themselves with the United States through NATO.

The abuse of the INF Treaty by Russia allows for the diminishing sphere of influence of the United States in Eastern Europe, especially with nations formerly a part of the Soviet Union. The United States is also being constrained by this treaty in Asia where China is attempting to expand its sphere of influence in the South China Sea. It would be ideal for the United States to place intermediate-range nuclear missiles to deter China from expanding to the areas of Taiwan, Singapore, and the Philippines. Although China is producing and deploying intermediate nuclear missiles, they are not a signatory on the INF Treaty. Therefore they are not breaking any parameters treaty wise.

Under the current INF Treaty, the United States is getting taken advantage of by the Russians and the Chinese governments. It would only make sense for the Trump administration to pull out of the INF Treaty because it’s departed from its original conception during the Cold War.

This past week, National Security Advisor John Bolton met with Vladimir Putin to formally give an official notice that the United States was going to pull out of the INF Treaty. As expected, the Russians argued they had not violated the treaty, but the readers of PAI know too well this is all just a game being played by the Russians. The Chinese government has also weighed in by saying dissolving the INF Treaty would have a negative impact between the relations of the great powers.

It is in the United States best interest to withdraw from the INF Treaty in order to secure order in contended regions of the world, as well as to maintain primacy. President Donald Trump and Russian Leader Vladimir Putin are set to meet next month in Paris to discuss the issues relating to the United States pulling out of the INF Treaty. Expect Donald Trump to stand firm on his decision to withdraw from the 31-year-old treaty, especially after a recent history of election interference and growing tension between the United States and Russia.

2. Migrant caravan to be stopped on U.S.-Mexico border

A massive caravan made up of over 14,000 Central American undocumented migrants is making its way to the United States-Mexico border to seek economic opportunity in the United States, but what will happen when they are confronted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement? There are concerns by many in the Trump administration that the caravan has been infiltrated by members of MS-13 and other individuals that will have a negative impact on American society.

Many in the Trump administration have made statements regarding the migrant caravan. For example, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has made blunt comments stating that “The caravan will not cross our border into our southern states under any circumstances.” Donald Trump has stated he will send 5,200 members of the U.S. military to stop the incoming caravan from crossing into the United States. It is the opinion of many conservatives that in order to be a country, borders must be enforced and maintained. If Donald Trump was serious during his campaign stating that “We don’t have a country without a border,” this is the perfect scenario to prove it.

The Trump administration has threatened financial aid would be pulled from countries which the caravan’s individuals emigrated from if the caravan wasn’t stopped from leaving the country. Although the countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico have somewhat attempted to stop the caravan from crossing their borders, they have been unsuccessful due to the lack of enforcement and general apathy.

In its current state, the caravan is going to continue its unlawful journey to the U.S.-Mexico border, but once they reach the border it’s unclear what will happen next. It’s unlikely that shots will be fired at the caravan, but something has to be done to stop the unlawful attack on the United States’ southern border. If the undocumented migrants do successfully cross into the United States, it is likely they will head towards sanctuary cities. Above is a graph showing the illegal immigrant sanctuary status in various areas of the United States.

The migrant caravan, along with illegal immigration, in general, is a substantial national security threat to the United States. This is an ideal scenario for the United States government and border security to make definitive moves to show they care about protecting the borders from drug dealers, gang members, and terrorists sought to gain off the ignorance of those who support sanctuary cities.

3. United States actions toward Saudi Arabia after the murder of a journalist

News continues to unravel from the Middle East involving the murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Although there are still questions on where Khashoggi’s body was disposed, the next question is what does the United States do in response to the killing of an individual that isn’t an American citizen, but someone that resided in the United States?

The Trump administration has threatened to put sanctions on the Saudi government workers involved in the murder, but is there anything else to do? Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has stated the United States will also revoke visas from Saudi officials responsible for the cover-up. Although many in Congress believe that economic sanctions are enough, others deem more punishment should be given to the Saudi government.

One proposal, mainly discussed by Liberals, is to cut off arms trade to Saudi Arabia.  Although this sounds like a common sense proposal, there is more that needs to be evaluated on this decision. The reason the United States and the Trump administration initially sold small arms, tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems and cybersecurity technology was to aid in the ongoing Yemen conflict. Unless the United States wants to allow groups, like al Qaeda, a haven in Yemen, the arms deal with Saudi Arabia needs to remain intact. The fear PAI has is if the arms treaty between the United States and Saudi Arabia is broken, there will be diminishing attempts from the Saudis to prevent terrorism in Yemen, thus possibly requiring American boots on the ground in Yemen.

Other proposals include holding Saudi Arabia more responsible for terrorism, specifically through the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, and start a congressional investigation into the matters. Unfortunately, these actions will do little to discipline Saudi Arabia and will do nothing to stop them from continuing these actions in the future.

As it stands, the only logical choice for the United States would be to put temporary sanctions as well as revoking visas from those involved in the murder. The option of halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia is a serious national security issue that needs to be well thought over before a decision is made solely on emotion. Free speech of the media and press needs to be upheld throughout the world, however all foreign policy decisions must take into account national and vital interests. These suggested punishments would do little to stop Saudi Arabia from silencing those in the media that are against the House of Saud and would unsuccessfully divert United States foreign policy. However, once full complicity is known, specific Saudis should be punished, and if Saudi Arabia does not do this, the United States will need to reconsider its position.