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Sri Lanka in Crisis: From Debt Traps to Soft Coups

Sri Lanka was plunged into a political crisis in late October when President Maithripala Sirisena suspended parliament and attempted to install his former ally and former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister. Decried as illegal and unconstitutional by incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his supporters, the extra-constitutional maneuver has been opposed by a majority in parliament and several court rulings. Nevertheless, Sirisena and Rajapaksa have refused to disband their new shadow government and the country’s political crisis endures. The turmoil is unfolding at a time Sri Lanka is grappling with the consequences of a major expansion of Chinese influence and investments, portrayed as a warning to others about the risks of Chinese “debt traps” and the strategic ambitions underpinning the Belt and Road Initiative. As China and India compete for influence in Colombo and prepare for the potential return of the Rajapaksas, the Trump administration has suspended a major aid package and urged the country to resolve the crisis through democratic means.

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7/31/2020

Re-Designing the Marine Corps for Future War: Necessity or Madness?

General David H. Berger, Marine Corps Commandant, is aggressively pushing a dramatic redesign of the Corps for future war incorporating new missiles, advanced sensors, unmanned platforms, and hypervelocity weapons. HisForce Design 2030effort has drawn enthusiastic support from those who agree that the Corps must change to remain relevant on a more lethal battlefield. But it has generated an equally fervent amount of criticism from others who think the effort is overly focused on China—rendering the Corps irrelevant across a range of other potentially more likely scenarios. To achieve its vision, the Corps is doing away with tanks, reducing conventional artillery, shrinking units, and placing new demands on the Navy, already struggling to modernize its fleet. But it is adding anti-ship missiles, doubling-down on unmanned systems, and reenergizing a profound discussion about the importance of naval power.Will a redesigned Corps make it irrelevant for land operations against conventional militaries of larger state powers or irregular forces like terrorist groups? Or are General Berger’s designs essential to America’s future ability to conduct nearly any military operation in any theater against a host of potential enemies?Join us for an in-depth conversation about all of this with nationally recognized experts who hold informed opinions on both sides of this issue: Dr. Frank G. Hoffman, Lt. Col. USMCR (Ret.), Distinguished Research Fellow at the National Defense University, and Mark F. Cancian, Colonel, USMCR (Ret.), Senior Advisor, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies.