Programming note: We’ll be off Monday and Tuesday for the Fourth of July but will be back in your inboxes on Wednesday.

With help from Nahal Toosi

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As Western powers increasingly push to give Global South nations more representation in major international bodies, the West looks likely to remain in the driver’s seat — if change can even happen.

British Foreign Secretary JAMES CLEVERLY called Thursday for including India, Brazil, Germany and Japan in the U.N. Security Council and adding permanent African representation at the G-20. It’d be a way, he said to make it clear that wealthier countries aren’t “hoarding power,” also noting the “real risk that the Global South will walk away from the global trading system” if there isn’t strategic reform to these bodies.

His remarks, along with Berlin’s vocal support for the African Union joining the G-20 earlier this week, follow the Biden administration’s calls for expanding the two powerful institutions.

It’s a nice gesture, experts say, but the West isn’t really ceding any power on the world stage if more countries are looped in.

“The U.S. and its allies are keen to show that they are willing to share more power in international institutions with non-Western powers,” RICHARD GOWAN, a U.N.-focused analyst at the International Crisis Group, told NatSec Daily. “The reality is that the U.S. and European powers still hold the reins in most multilateral institutions … Washington and its allies can offer to open up multilateral decision-making a bit without losing control.”

The idea behind overhauling the Security Council is that it would restore international confidence in the governing body by adding more members. But new nations probably wouldn’t be granted veto powers, ensuring that current members’ ability to override votes isn’t diluted.

“The structure of the Security Council — with five permanent members who wield veto power and ten nonpermanent elected members serving two-year terms — is anachronistic, reflecting the configuration of global power at the end of World War II,” political analyst SITHEMBILE MBETE wrote in a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report examining the council’s future on Wednesday.

Proponents of making the African Union a permanent G-20 member (South Africa already is one) argue that between Africa’s growing economy and population, adding the continent to the group is a no-brainer.

“Adding the African Union as a member would be an appealing way to significantly increase representation without adding too many seats to a group that was intended to be kept small enough to make decisions efficiently,” LANDRY SIGNÉ and BRAHIMA SANGAFOWA COULIBALY wrote in Foreign Affairs in April.

It’s one thing to call for reform on the world stage. It’s another thing to actually implement it.

A proposal for the African Union’s membership would likely need to be formally introduced at a G-20 meeting by a member nation, and the bid approved unanimously. While that’s a challenge, several members including Japan, Italy, Canada, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Russia have expressed support for its membership in recent months.

In the United Nations, however, there’s a China-sized roadblock to deal with.

Beijing has long opposed the idea of Japan becoming a permanent member of the Security Council and isn’t too hot on the idea of India getting more power at the U.N. either. What’s more, China has the power under the rules of the U.N. charter to block any reform.

“Europeans can talk about U.N. reform,” Gowan said, but “the real obstacles to Security Council reform in particular lie in Asia.”

BIDEN’S AFGHANISTAN FAULT: A State Department report released today found the Biden administration made mistakes with crisis management and awareness before and during American troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, Matt reports.

The 21-page report, requested by Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN, found that the decisions of both then-President DONALD TRUMP and President JOE BIDEN “to end the U.S. military mission posed significant challenges” for the State Department.

Among contributing factors to the chaotic and violent withdrawal, the report found, were that the State Department wasn’t best prepared for the collapse of the Afghan government, “prolonged gaps in filling” senior positions overseas and difficulties staffing and running the department’s in-person crisis response due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, the department found that the U.S. needs to “plan better for worst-case scenarios, to rebuild and strengthen the department’s core crisis management capabilities, and to ensure that senior officials hear the broadest possible range of views including those that challenge operating assumptions or question the wisdom of key policy decisions.”

The report provides more ammunition to critics who have lambasted the administration for its response in the weeks leading up to chaotic and violent events as troops were pulled from Afghanistan.

The timing of the report appeared deliberate, as the New York Times’ MICHAEL CROWLEY put it: “The rollout of the report had clear hallmarks of a calculated effort to mute its public impact. It was released on the Friday afternoon ahead of the July 4 holiday, as many in Washington were beginning vacations.”

ZALUZHNY IS ‘PISSED’: Ukrainian Gen. VALERY ZALUZHNY, who has led his country’s forces against Russia’s military, said the West needs to supply Ukraine with more weapons quickly for the counteroffensive to succeed.

“Without being fully supplied, these plans are not feasible at all,” he told the Washington Post’s ISABELLE KHURSHUDYAN. “But they are being carried out.”

Zaluzhny said it “pisses me off” when he hears complaints — voiced publicly and often by Western officials and military analysts — about how slow the counteroffensive is moving, since his troops have made incremental gains despite asking for more Western equipment. His troops have taken ground everyday, no matter how little, Zaluzhny said — adding that “every day, every meter is given by blood.”

He also vented that while Western backers wouldn’t launch a counteroffensive without air superiority, Kyiv still hasn’t received fighter jets that they’ve repeatedly said were crucial to victory. While American F-16s were promised to Ukraine, the quickest they’ll arrive is the fall.

WHY THE WORLD WANTS PUTIN IN PLACE: While experts say the recent mutiny against the Kremlin showed Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN’s weakness, it also revealed that no matter how much many world leaders hate him, they don’t want the Russian president suddenly ousted, our own NAHAL TOOSI reports.

The possibility of post-Putin chaos in Russia is one key factor that countries, including the United States and China, considered as they calibrated their reactions to mercenary leader YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN’s armed rebellion against Moscow. Right now, the lack of a clear successor, or the possibility of a violent warlord taking charge, leaves too many uncomfortable variables to openly root for a Putin overthrow, current and former officials told Nahal.

“The United States has no interest in instability inside Russia that has the potential to spill over into Europe,” said ANDREA KENDALL-TAYLOR, a former U.S. intelligence official who specializes in Russia and autocracies. “Regime change that occurs through a chaotic and violent process is also the most likely to produce another authoritarian leader, which could possibly be worse than Putin.”

CLUSTER MUNITIONS ON THE MIND: Joint Chiefs Staff Chair Gen. MARK MILLEY said the U.S. has been thinking about sending cluster munitions to Ukraine “for a long time” but stressed that discussions are ongoing.

“Of course there’s [a] decision making process ongoing and it’s a continuous ongoing process. To my knowledge, I don’t know of a decision yet,” he said while speaking at the National Press Club today.

His remarks confirm that Washington is actively considering sending cluster munitions to Ukraine to help Kyiv’s counteroffensive punch through Russia’s defenses, as Alex reported Thursday night. Talks have intensified in recent days — last week, we wrote about how there hadn’t seemed to be movement just yet.

IRAN ENVOY ON LEAVE: U.S. Special Envoy for Iran ROB MALLEY is on leave because his security clearance is under investigation, he told Nahal on Thursday.

“I have been informed that my security clearance is under review,” Malley said in a text message. “I have not been provided any further information, but I expect the investigation to be resolved favorably and soon. In the meantime, I am on leave.”

A person familiar with the issue said Malley was placed on full-time unpaid leave Thursday. Prior to that, he’d been on a partial leave.

Some media outlets have reported that the matter centers on Malley’s handling of classified information. Malley’s absence could hinder the Biden administration’s efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal and come to terms with Tehran on a range of other matters. Malley didn’t say when the leave began or the extent of it, though he has given interviews about Iran at least as of late May.

Advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran today called for an investigation into Malley’s conduct.

“A fulsome explanation is especially critical right now in light of recent developments regarding ‘informal’ talks the administration has engaged in with Iran regarding its nuclear program,” UANI Chair JOSEPH LIEBERMAN and CEO MARK WALLACE wrote in a joint statement.

DRINKS WITH NATSEC DAILY: At the end of every long, hard week, we like to highlight how a prominent member of Washington’s national security scene prefers to unwind with a drink.

Today, we’re featuring VICTORIA COATES, the newly named vice president of the Heritage Foundation’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, where she will start work on Aug. 1.

As she prepares for the new post, Coates will be sipping on a Negroski, which is a Negroni made with vodka. “I learned the name from the bartender at the Café Milano in Abu Dhabi, which is a great place to enjoy them,” she told us. “But given my husband’s mixology expertise, my very favorite place to drink them is wherever he has the ingredients assembled.”

Cheers, Victoria!

IT’S FRIDAY. WELCOME TO THE LONG WEEKEND: Thanks for tuning in to NatSec Daily. This space is reserved for the top U.S. and foreign officials, the lawmakers, the lobbyists, the experts and the people like you who care about how the natsec sausage gets made. Aim your tips and comments at [email protected] and [email protected], and follow us on Twitter at @alexbward and @mattberg33.

While you’re at it, follow the rest of POLITICO’s national security team: @nahaltoosi, @PhelimKine, @laraseligman, @connorobrienNH, @paulmcleary, @leehudson, @magmill95, @johnnysaks130, @ErinBanco, @reporterjoe, @_AriHawkins and @JGedeon1.

PUTIN ‘SOMEWHAT WEAKENED’: Trump, who has long touted his close relationship with and admiration of Putin, said the Russian leader had been “somewhat weakened” by the failed mutiny last weekend.

“You could say that [Putin is] still there, he’s still strong, but he certainly has been, I would say, somewhat weakened at least in the minds of a lot of people,” Trump told Reuters’ STEVE HOLLAND and NATHAN LAYNE.

On the outcome of the rebellion, Trump’s line of thinking aligned with the officials we mentioned above, who believe it’s best for Putin to stay in power for now: “You don’t know what the alternative is. It could be better, but it could be far worse,” Trump said.

ALLIES’ CYBERSECURITY: Lawmakers are including a clause in a legislative package set to be introduced in the coming weeks that would give the State Department more resources to help shore up the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure in allied nations, our own MAGGIE MILLER reports (for Pros!).

“Since it’s virtually impossible to do cyber without involving the military or law enforcement, we were basically hamstringing ourselves in our ability to help the countries that needed it the most,” said one of the two Senate aides who spoke to Maggie. “We fixed that in this cyber authority,” the aid added.

The State Department has already been providing financial support to multiple allied nations hit by major cyberattacks in the past year, but as the agency ramps up its efforts to coordinate with more countries on global cyber threats, the new authority will give it more ability to make direct assistance part of that strategy.

The clause has the support of both Senate Foreign Relations Chair BOB MENENDEZ (D-N.J.) and ranking member JAMES RISCH (R-Idaho), but the measure is likely to face skepticism from House Republicans who control the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

RECRUITING CRISIS: The Pentagon had long voiced its issues with drawing in new recruits, but now one of its most reliable pipelines — children of former service members — is being threatened.

“Influencers are not telling them to go into the military,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Wall Street Journal’s BEN KESLING. “Moms and dads, uncles, coaches and pastors don’t see it as a good choice.”

There are many factors that could be at play, including America’s involvement for two decades in wars with no decisive victories, poor pay among lower ranks, scandals about military housing and healthcare, and rising rates of PTSD and suicide among veterans. It’s a long-term issue that, if not fixed, could cause the military to reduce its force size.

“I’ve been studying the recruiting market for about 15 years, and we’ve never seen a condition quite like this,” a senior Defense Department official told WSJ.

NEW FIGHTER JETS IN TOWN: The State Department approved the sale of F-35 jets and related equipment to the Czech Republic worth up to $5.62 billion, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced to Congress on Thursday, per Reuters.

NO REPLACEMENTS: Starting July 10, four members of the eight-member Joint Chiefs of Staff will begin retiring. And if Sen. TOMMY TUBERVILLE’s (R-Ala.) blockade holds, it’ll mean half the chiefs — the leaders of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, along with the chair — will have no successor in place, reports our PAUL McLEARY.

Without Senate-confirmed officers in those positions, those who will be tapped to fulfill their duties won’t be able to make major, strategic decisions for the future of their services. It also has a knock-on effect, as every officer waiting to replace that person will be in limbo down the chain of command.

“Senator Tuberville is taking the military nominees as political hostages,” said ARNOLD PUNARO, a retired Marine Corps major general and former Senate Armed Services Committee staff director.

Tuberville, a Republican from Alabama and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, placed the hold in protest of the Pentagon’s new policy that pays for troops if they need to travel to seek abortions. The move has halted the promotions of around 250 high-ranking military officers.

The jam-up comes at an exceedingly complex time as the U.S. continues to supply Ukraine with weapons to beat back an increasingly unstable Russia, and contends with China as it continues its breakneck military modernization efforts.

PENTAGON TO FILMMAKERS: DON’T KOWTOW TO CHINA: Filmmakers who want the U.S. military to help with their projects must now pledge that they won’t let Beijing alter those films, according to a new Defense Department document obtained by our own BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN.

The DOD “will not provide production assistance when there is demonstrable evidence that the production has complied or is likely to comply with a demand from the Government of the People’s Republic of China … to censor the content of the project in a material manner to advance the national interest of the People’s Republic of China,” the document reads.

Hollywood and the Defense Department have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship for decades. The Pentagon has allowed filmmakers to shoot their projects on military bases, Navy ships, or other locations, and weighs in on filmmaking processes. The military benefits from positive portrayals of service members, and moviemakers benefit from authentic settings and technical expertise.

But as China’s ruling Communist Party has developed increasingly advanced censorship and surveillance tools, countless American companies — including Hollywood studios — have sought to comply with Beijing’s demands while attempting to dodge stateside pushback.

— Join us in our heartfelt goodbye to Ari “The Hawk” Hawkins, who is moving into a new position writing our Morning Trade (for Pros!) newsletter. “Fly away, Young Hawk. Be free,” Alex wrote last night, a tear in his eye, wistfully looking into the distance.

RYAN UYEHARA is now deputy chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management. He most recently was special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

— Retired Army Lt. Col. JASON GALUI has joined the Bush Institute as the new director of Veterans and Military Families.

STEVEN COOK, Foreign Policy: India has become a Middle Eastern power

ALYONA GETMANCHUK and OLENA HALUSHKA, POLITICO: Why Ukraine should get an invitation to NATO

MIKHAIL ZYGAR, The New York Times: Putin thinks he’s still in control. He’s not.

— Washington Post Live, 11 a.m.: MICHAEL MULLEN and SUSAN GORDON on U.S. policy toward Taiwan and China

— Atlantic Council, 1:30 p.m.: After Prigozhin, what’s next for Belarus?

— University of Manchester, 2 p.m.: Digital Platforms Governance: A China Perspective

— Chatham House, 6 p.m.: Working with the Taliban?

Thanks to our editor, Heidi Vogt, who tells us we have power over this newsletter, but we know she’s lying.

We also thank our producer, Sinobia Aiden, who is the most powerful POLITICO of all.

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