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SnapshotsAug 7, 2020 | 20:48 GMT
With Tech Bans and Hong Kong Sanctions, Trump Hits China With a One-Two Punch
In the United States' pressure campaign against China, President Donald Trump's threshold for action is decreasing and his tolerance for risk of blowback to U.S. economic interests appears to be rising -- a trend confirmed by the White House's move to both restrict transactions by U.S. entities with China's TikTok and WeChat apps, as well as impose sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials involved in the Hong Kong crisis. Such blowback includes the impact of U.S. restrictions on U.S. businesses in China, as well as the threat of Chinese retaliation. Although both of these moves are part of a long-term bipartisan trend towards greater confrontation with China, U.S. President Donald Trump's electoral challenges will lead to an increasingly volatile dynamic ahead of the November vote, even as he tries to walk the line of preserving, at least in name, the U.S.-China trade deal as a key campaign promise. 
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On GeopoliticsAug 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A U.S. soldier (left) stands guard next to a South Korean soldier (right) in Panmunjom, South Korea, on July 27, 2019, during a ceremony commemorating the 66th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice Agreement.
With the Drawdown of U.S. Forces in Germany, Is South Korea Next?
With the drawdown of U.S. forces in Germany underway, a reduction of U.S. forces in South Korea is now more likely than ever, given evolving U.S. defense priorities and longstanding trends on the Korean Peninsula. Rumors of an imminent U.S. force drawdown in Korea have been circulating since at least 2019, and President Donald Trump has made it clear he wants to reduce large overseas basing. South Korea, however, is a particularly contentious case, as any changes to the size and structure of U.S. forces must take into consideration both the local mission of deterring against North Korea, as well as the broader U.S. strategic mission of refocusing on great power competition, particularly with China. And that will require reassessing South Korea's own national defense capabilities, the benefits and risks of having a large forward force based on the Asian mainland, and the impact of any shift in forces on
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On GeopoliticsJul 30, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A display shows the national flags of China and the United States at the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019.
The U.S.-China Ideological Divide and the Challenge of Cohesion
A series of foreign policy speeches by key officials in U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has sought to redefine the U.S.-China strategic competition as one based on conflicting core ideologies between those of the Chinese Communist Party and those of the free world. But to be effective, the United States needs to revive domestic unity and engender global cooperation, while China only needs to maintain domestic unity and exploit global divisions. 
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SnapshotsJul 28, 2020 | 15:46 GMT
Europe Braces for Another Round of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions
Amid rising COVID-19 cases, the reintroduction of travel warnings and quarantine measures in Europe will undermine economic activity, especially in tourism-dependent countries, leading to a slower recovery in the third quarter. These dynamics will probably force governments to introduce additional stimulus measures, which would further worsen their deficit and debt situations. 
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On GeopoliticsJul 24, 2020 | 15:53 GMT
A skyline view of Anchorage, Alaska, and the Chugach Mountains at dusk.
Remapping the American Arctic
Maps play an important role in shaping national policy, and in shaping society’s consciousness and support. But they can also reinforce ideas of relative unimportance by leaving key areas off, or having areas appear as mere incidental inclusions, which can subconsciously constrain developments in foreign policy. Indeed, it’s perhaps no surprise that many Americans still fail to recognize the United States as an Arctic nation when the majority of U.S. maps place Alaska in a small inset box, relegating the state to a secondary geographic status. The United States, however, maintains a strong interest in a secure and stable Arctic, for its Alaska citizens, for economic reasons, and for core national security. So long as the American Arctic is considered something distant and separate from the United States, it risks being sidelined in the national narrative, and thus sidelined in national priorities and attention. The United States is already playing
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AssessmentsJul 22, 2020 | 21:37 GMT
A group of people stand outside the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, after the United States ordered Beijing to immediately close the office on July 22, 2020.
What the Closure of a Consulate Could Mean for U.S.-China Tensions
Washington's closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston introduces a new conflict point in U.S.-China relations, but the impact will depend on the narrative and justification for the U.S. decision and whether Beijing retaliates proportionately or further escalates tensions. If it becomes apparent that the United States closed the consulate in response to an immediate security threat, it would indicate a continuation of the administration's more measured approach to Chinese threats in recent months. However, if the move is not linked to particularly egregious activity at the consulate, it may indicate that the White House is adopting a more aggressive posture against Beijing ahead of the November election. 
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SnapshotsJul 14, 2020 | 14:21 GMT
A Call for Unity May Protect Iran's President From Impeachment, but Not His Officials
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's appeal to parliament against efforts to impeach President Hassan Rouhani will slow, but not stop, legislators' action against Rouhani's administration in its final year. In a July 12 address to parliament, Khamenei urged unity among Iran's leaders and voiced his support for Rouhani carrying out the remainder of his second term, which ends in 2021. The movement to impeach Rouhani and officials in his administration, which has been building since Iran's new parliament took office in late May, has accelerated over the last week. Khamenei's intervention won't halt dissatisfaction with Rouhani's performance, but it will make his impeachment less likely. Other prominent figures in his administration, however, will still be at risk of being prematurely ousted from office.
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AssessmentsJul 14, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wears a protective face mask as she attends a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on July 8, 2020.
Germany's Next Election Season Will Begin a Period of Political Turbulence
Disputes between outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her potential successor will likely lead to an ineffective government ahead of Germany's next parliamentary election, which will take place in late 2021 and could result in the collapse of the country's ruling coalition. In addition to reducing Berlin's ability to manage the economic fallout from COVID-19, this period of political turbulence will also slow the European Union's policymaking process as the rest of the bloc refrains from making meaningful decisions until its largest economy appoints a new government.
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SnapshotsJul 13, 2020 | 19:09 GMT
High Turnout in Hong Kong’s Opposition Primary Portends a Contentious Election Season
High voter turnout in Hong Kong's opposition primary demonstrates the pro-democracy camp's continued momentum toward a strong showing for the city's September legislative election. Despite fears of low turnout amid the draconian national security law, Hong Kong's July 11-12 unofficial pro-democratic primary attracted 610,000 voters -- 13.8 percent of the city's electorate and in excess of the 170,000-person target. The strong public mandate will help the opposition winnow down the normally massive pool of candidates in order to avoid splitting the vote to the advantage of pro-Beijing opponents. Instead of exerting a chilling effect on politics in the city, it also appears that the new national security law has galvanized the opposition, which bodes well for electoral turnout in September.
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GuidanceJul 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An evening view of the western half of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's Dollar Peg Likely Remains Safe From U.S. Sanctions -- For Now
U.S. President Donald Trump's expected signature of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA) presages a policy challenge for his administration as it seeks to pressure China without further damaging the U.S.-China trade deal. This, combined with the need to avoid creating additional economic uncertainty ahead of the November election, suggests possible new sanctions will not pose an immediate threat to Hong Kong's currency peg to the U.S. dollar.
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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
A crane moves Nord Stream 2 pipes at a port near Sassnitz, Germany, on June 5, 2019.
Nord Stream 2 Overcomes One Hurdle Only to Be Met With Another
Denmark’s decision to drop certain technical requirements for operating in its waters will allow Russia to use both of its available pipe-laying vessels to finish constructing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Another Russian vessel, the MV Fortuna, will now also be allowed to operate on the natural gas pipeline between Germany and Russia in Danish waters beginning Aug. 3. The United States, however, is now seeking to expand its sanctions to target all services related to constructing Nord Stream 2, including supply vessels and backfilling vessels. But even if construction is completed before additional sanctions disrupt progress, Washington could still take action to prevent Russia and Germany from putting their pipeline into operation.
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GuidanceJul 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Technicians in Hong Kong walk next to a banner supporting China’s new national security law following a flag-raising ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of the city’s British handover on July 1, 2020.
China's Hong Kong Security Law Leaves Tech Companies in the Line of Fire
China's new national security law is forcing tech companies to pick a side in Hong Kong's political crisis and decide whether to comply or resist authorities in some way, or leave the city altogether -- all of which carry the risk of retaliation from either Beijing or the United States and its allies. On July 6, Hong Kong's newly established Committee for Safeguarding National Security moved to implement seven, new enabling regulations for the national security law. The regulations -- which include police powers to order internet companies to remove content or to seize their equipment with threats of fines or prison -- have since prompted a spate of social media platforms and internet firms operating in the city to pause their cooperation with Hong Kong authorities. The volatile political dynamic in Hong Kong and the steady erosion of the city's autonomy will ultimately pose the greatest long-term threat to
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SnapshotsJul 1, 2020 | 19:50 GMT
What to Make of Hong Kong’s First Protests Post-Security Law
The Hong Kong protests carried out in spite of the new national security law showcase the volatile dynamic we expect to continue as authorities work to dishearten demonstrators and the broader pro-democracy camp. Following an official rejection of an application to hold rallies citing COVID-19 and past violent activity, pro-democracy demonstrators turned out by the thousands to mark the July 1 anniversary of the British handover of the city. While authorities arrested a relatively small number of protesters under the new law, how the detentions and trials proceed will indicate the legislation’s ability to truly dissuade protests in the future. There is also the possibility that further arrests will take place based on surveillance of protest activity.
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AssessmentsJul 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image depicts waving Chinese and Indian flags overlaying a map of the world.
In India, Anti-China Anger Will Bring Out Modi's Hawkish Side
A surge of anti-China sentiment among Indian lawmakers, business leaders and voters will prompt Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a more aggressive approach against Bejing in the wake of the two countries' recent border clash. This could include a variety of actions ranging from diplomatic moves to economic and trade measures, as well as a continued military build-up against China, which will only further ratchet up tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors. 
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Quarterly ForecastsJun 29, 2020 | 00:02 GMT
2020 Third-Quarter Forecast
While many of the trends identified in our annual forecast remain slowed down by COVID-19, their pace is picking up as countries carefully emerge from lockdown.
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