Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

24 June 2017

** The Emerging Trump Doctrine Of Strategic Savvy

By Jiri Valenta and Leni Friedman Valenta

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: “America will not lead from behind. America First does not mean America alone. It is a commitment to protecting and advancing our vital interests…” So wrote President Donald Trump’s NSA, General H.R. McMaster, with Gary Cohn, head of the National Economic Council, in the Wall Street Journal. What follows is a discussion of US leaders’ failed strategies in several wars, Trump’s team of generals, and the emerging Trump doctrine, which is here termed “strategic savvy”.

1964 Vietnam War; “Lies that Led to Vietnam”

Bullet-headed Lt. General H.R. McMaster, the US National Security Adviser, is not just a brave warrior. Like his mentor, General David Petraeus, he is a prominent military intellectual. Both men wrote their PhD dissertations on the lessons of Vietnam. In The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam, Petraeus concluded, “…significant emphasis should be given to counterinsurgency forces, equipment and doctrine.” McMasters’s thesis, Dereliction of Duty, addressed the roles of LBJ and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. His subtitle was “Lies that Led to Vietnam.”

On August 4, 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was pushed through Congress authorizing military action against North Vietnam as “vital” to US national interests. It sought to punish Hanoi for an allegedly unprovoked attack by three torpedo boats on a US destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. In fact, it had not been unprovoked; the US had made repeated prior attacks on the North Vietnamese coast.

CJCS Dunford Talks Turkey, Iran, Afghan Troop Numbers & Daesh

By JAMES KITFIELD

Breaking Defense contributor James Kitfield spoke with Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during Dunford’s swing through Japan, Singapore, Australia, Wake Island, and Hawaii. BD readers know that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis promised Sen. John McCain yesterday that America would get a new Afghan strategy by mid-July. In this second part of Kitfield’s interview, Dunford talks Turkey, Kurds, Daesh (ISIS) and whether the US will boost the number of troops stationed in Afghanistan. Read on! The Editor.

BD: Just while you were meeting with your Asian counterparts in Singapore and Sydney, Australia, there were terrorist attacks claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in London, Melbourne, and Kabul. What are we and our allies doing to try and contain the threat from ISIS’ foreign fighters returning to their home regions and launching attacks?

Dunford: One of the issues we talked about with our allies is that there are three pieces of connective tissue that unites these terrorist groups: the flow of foreign fighters, the flow of resources, and a common ideology. And we need to cut that connective tissue. A primary way we are doing that is through a broad intelligence and information sharing network that we have established with the members of the anti-ISIS coalition, who all share a common view of this threat of ISIS foreign fighters.

Who Will Fill America’s Shoes?


RICHARD N. HAASS

NEW YORK – It is increasingly clear that US President Donald Trump represents a departure when it comes to America’s global outlook and behavior. As a result, the United States will no longer play the leading international role that has defined its foreign policy for three quarters of a century, under Democratic and Republican presidents alike.

We have already seen many examples of this change. The traditional US commitment to global organizations has been superseded by the idea of “America first.” Alliances and security guarantees once regarded as a given are increasingly conditioned on how much allies spend on defense and whether they are seen to derive unfair advantage from trade with the US.

More broadly, foreign trade is viewed with suspicion – supposedly a source of job loss rather than an engine of investment, job creation, growth, and stability. Immigration and refugee policies have become more restrictive. Less emphasis is being placed on promoting democracy and human rights. More dollars are going to defense, but fewer resources are being devoted to supporting global health or development.

This is not to be confused with isolationism. Even Trump’s America will continue to play a meaningful role in the world. It is using military force in the Middle East and Afghanistan, increasing diplomatic pressure on North Korea to rein in its nuclear and missile programs, and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. And the policies of states, cities, and companies will translate into an American commitment to climate change, despite Trump’s decisionto abandon the Paris agreement.

23 June 2017

*** A Coalition of the Less-Than-Willing

By George Friedman

It’s been almost 16 years since the United States responded to 9/11 by going to war in Afghanistan, and 14 years since the United States invaded Iraq. Neither war has been successful, and there is no reason to believe that either is going to succeed if it continues to be fought as it is. Indeed, it’s been some time since they’ve been fought with any expectation of success. They have been fought in large part because neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama were prepared to admit failure. Domestic consequences in the U.S. would be grave, but there was also legitimate fear that abandoning the wars would result in the creation of radical Islamist states in the region and the toppling of governments that the U.S. regarded as, at best, preferable to the radicals.

The wars turned into a holding pattern whose primary purpose was to keep al-Qaida, the Taliban and, now, the Islamic State off balance, destroying their capabilities in some areas but ideally destroying the groups themselves. But this was wishful thinking. The U.S. did not have enough forces in either theater to eliminate groups like the Taliban and IS. And it was a mistake to believe the destruction of the groups would mean the destruction of the jihadist movement. Instead, it spawned new flag bearers for the movement. Further, the idea that these operations reduced the amount of terrorist activity was becoming dubious. There were no more attacks on the scale of 9/11, but there were several smaller attacks that went on despite the wars.

The Wrong Approach

21 June 2017

A dealmakers’ draw

by Bharat Karnad

PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA Modi should have pondered the perils of visiting Washington this early in Donald J Trump’s presidency. It will do him and the country no good, especially if Trump chooses to turn it into a staged affair of yet another third-world leader paying him obeisance. At a time when the US president is distracted by numerous investigations of Russia’s role in tilting the 2016 US presidential election his way, Modi may find the unpredictable Trump in a funk, or in a flinty mood. 

Trump, unlike Barack Obama, is not a liberal internationalist. As an impulsive isolationist with a sharply constricted view of America’s role in the world but gifted with a keen eye for promoting his profitable family businesses worldwide, Modi may get the US president’s attention if he talks of Trump Towers mushrooming all over the Indian urban landscape. No, really! Even as he is supposedly running the US government, the president, on the side, has just firmed up plans for a chain of more affordable Trump hotels across the United States. Trump may be vocabulary- challenged but is far from dimwitted. He is pursuing his three- point agenda of more jobs for Americans, more trade for America, and of getting freeloaders—assorted NATO and other allies and strategic and trade partners—to pay up for the security afforded them by far-flung US military forces. It follows that Trump believes in ‘free trade’ and ‘free trade agreements’, but only if these are partial to America. 

This is a roundabout way of saying Trump doesn’t give a damn for India (or any other foreign country for that matter). If Modi thinks he can cash in once again on that clichéd rhetoric of shared liberal values, democratic freedoms, et cetera, he had better do a rethink, lest the airing of such sentiments lead Trump to first delay their meeting and then cut their eventual discussion short, as he did with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in early May when the latter brought up the subject of refugee intake. Some of Trump’s best friends are dictators and the regimes he is most comfortable dealing with are autocratic. Ask Chinese President Xi Jinping. Or, better still, Russian President Vladimir Putin. India and Modi lose out on both these counts—unless, who knows, Trump takes a liking to the strongman in Modi. 

20 June 2017

** Did the US Just Abandon Tibet?

By Pradeep Nair and Sandeep Sharma

Reversing its stand on Tibet policy and giving a huge jolt to the Tibetan aspirations, the Trump administration recently took a step away from precedent by proposing zero aid to the Tibetans in 2018. This move points to both the changing internal politics of the United States, especially after Trump’s election, and also the new geopolitics and emerging world order, which is overshadowed by the People’s Republic of China.

The U.S. “Tibetan Policy Act of 2002” clearly states that it is intended to “support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity,” including by supporting “projects designed … to raise the standard of living for the Tibetan people and assist Tibetans to become self-sufficient.” This act, a major piece of Tibet legislation, was enacted as law by President George W. Bush on September 30, 2002, as part of the U.S. Foreign Relations Authorizations Act.

Since the second half of the 20th century, the “Tibet Question” remained an important factor in the US-China relationship. The Tibet agenda of the United States was tactically inspired by a dual policy encompassing both a strategic and a pragmatic aspect. Strategically, the United States has consistently and explicitly supported the Chinese position that Tibet is a part of China. But at pragmatic level, Washington has been opportunistic in its dealing with Tibet and has been prone to wide fluctuations: the provision of financial and military aid to Tibetan guerrilla forces in the 1950s and ’60s; neglect and almost no official contact in the ’70s and ’80s; the enactment of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002; and most recently the Trump administration proposal to withdraw all monetary assistance to the Tibetan community.

CJCS Dunford Talks Turkey, Iran, Afghan Troop Numbers & Daesh

By JAMES KITFIELD

Breaking Defense contributor James Kitfield spoke with Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during Dunford’s swing through Japan, Singapore, Australia, Wake Island, and Hawaii. BD readers know that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis promised Sen. John McCain yesterday that America would get a new Afghan strategy by mid-July. In this second part of Kitfield’s interview, Dunford talks Turkey, Kurds, Daesh (ISIS) and whether the US will boost the number of troops stationed in Afghanistan. Read on! The Editor.

BD: Just while you were meeting with your Asian counterparts in Singapore and Sydney, Australia, there were terrorist attacks claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in London, Melbourne, and Kabul. What are we and our allies doing to try and contain the threat from ISIS’ foreign fighters returning to their home regions and launching attacks?

Dunford: One of the issues we talked about with our allies is that there are three pieces of connective tissue that unites these terrorist groups: the flow of foreign fighters, the flow of resources, and a common ideology. And we need to cut that connective tissue. A primary way we are doing that is through a broad intelligence and information sharing network that we have established with the members of the anti-ISIS coalition, who all share a common view of this threat of ISIS foreign fighters.

18 June 2017

** The US Is Due for a Recession

By Xander Snyder

June 14 brought good news and bad for the United States. The U.S. Federal Reserve announced that it would increase the federal funds rate – the rate at which banks borrow from one another in private markets – from 1 percent to 1.25 percent. That the Federal Reserve would raise short-term borrowing rates is not wholly surprising – it started raising them incrementally in December 2015, when rates were still at 0.25 percent. What’s surprising is that the Fed announced it would also begin selling bonds that it had purchased as part of its quantitative easing program – the first time it has done so since the most recent recession ended.

Central banks can manipulate interest rates in a couple of ways. One way is to alter federal funds rates, which lets them control short-term interest rates. Low rates mean cheaper money.

Adjustments in the federal funds rate are accomplished through open market operations. But open market operations can also be used to control long-term interest rates. Quantitative easing, a bond-buying program that the Fed enacted in 2008, was a form of open market operations that targeted debt with a longer tenor. (The results of open market operations on longer-term debt are generally less predictable than are federal funds rate changes.) Through several rounds of quantitative easing, the Fed purchased $2.4 trillion worth of U.S. government debt and mortgage-backed securities. The additional demand for bonds that this purchasing program generated increased the price of bonds, which drove down long-term interest rates.

15 June 2017

Did the US Just Abandon Tibet?

By Pradeep Nair and Sandeep Sharma

Reversing its stand on Tibet policy and giving a huge jolt to the Tibetan aspirations, the Trump administration recently took a step away from precedent by proposing zero aid to the Tibetans in 2018. This move points to both the changing internal politics of the United States, especially after Trump’s election, and also the new geopolitics and emerging world order, which is overshadowed by the People’s Republic of China.

The U.S. “Tibetan Policy Act of 2002” clearly states that it is intended to “support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity,” including by supporting “projects designed … to raise the standard of living for the Tibetan people and assist Tibetans to become self-sufficient.” This act, a major piece of Tibet legislation, was enacted as law by President George W. Bush on September 30, 2002, as part of the U.S. Foreign Relations Authorizations Act.

14 June 2017

Everything That’s Wrong With That McMaster Op-Ed

BY DAVID

In an op-ed, the Trump administration’s 'adults in the room' portray America as selfish, isolated, brutish, domineering, and driven by immediate appetites rather than ideals or even longer-term interests.

H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn may not be the most influential people in the Trump White House. But the national-security adviser and the director of the National Economic Council are surely the White House’s most presentable faces. When they sign their names to a statement of Trumpism at its most dangerous, we are warned: The so-called adults in the room are shirking their responsibilities.

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed bearing McMaster’s and Cohn’s names. It’s a good guess they did not actually write very much of it. However, they now own it—and the United States must bear the consequences.

10 June 2017

How the Marshall Plan Emerged From Failure

Source Link
By Daniel Kurtz-Phelan

One of the United States’ greatest foreign policy achievements started with an 11-minute commencement day address 70 years ago this week. On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, at Harvard to receive an honorary degree, called on Americans to “face up to the vast responsibility which history has clearly placed upon our country.” World War II, he explained, had left Europe in ruins, and broken economies and starving populations invited unrest (which would, among other things, allow Soviet domination). So it was up to the United States to help Europe recover. “Our policy,” he declared that day, “is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.”

The Marshall Plan, as it became known, would be the largest foreign-assistance effort in history, totaling $13 billion over four years. (As a percentage of GDP, that would be about $900 billion now.) To this day, politicians and policymakers invoke the plan as both model and inspiration. It has come to represent American power at its best—generous, bold, and wise. And Marshall himself stands as a founding father of American global leadership, the stoic embodiment of a better time—a time when “we used to win,” as U.S. President Donald Trump puts it, and when we built transatlantic alliances, sent our tax dollars to help devastated countries, and accepted that we could not rely on America-first policies to keep us safe. As a general, Marshall had helped his country win World War II; as a statesman, he helped it win the peace.

9 June 2017

** Avoiding Apocalypse on the Korean Peninsula

Why Diplomacy Is Not Naïve Appeasement in the Korean Crisis
By Rajan Menon

Defense Secretary James Mattis remarked recently that a war with North Korea would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.” No kidding. “Tragic” doesn’t even begin to describe the horrors that would flow from such a conflict.

The Korean peninsula, all 85,270 square miles of it, is about the size of Idaho. It contains more soldiers (2.8 million, not counting reserves) and armaments (nearly 6,000 tanks, 31,000 artillery pieces, and 1,134 combat aircraft) than any other place on the planet. The armies of North and South Korea face each other across the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, and Seoul, South Korea’s capital, is a mere 35 miles away as the artillery shell flies. More than 25 million people inhabit that city’s greater metropolitan area, home to about half of South Korea’s population. Unsurprisingly, untold numbers of North Korean missiles and artillery pieces are trained on that city. Once the guns started firing, thousands of its denizens would undoubtedly die within hours. Of course, North Koreans, too, would be caught in an almost instant maelstrom of death.

Trump’s Selective Responses to Terror

ALEX WAGNER

It is no secret that the President of the United States is a quick draw when it comes to expressing indignation or anger in response to news of the day. This is especially true when it comes to certain acts of terror—in the immediate aftermath of the Paris, Manchester and London attacks, Trump expressed his feelings within hours. And indeed, the American public has seen its commander in chief at turns combative, sneering, dyspeptic and outraged when extremists maim and kill in the name of Islam.

Very often there is some policy prescription laced in his responses, as well—a push for “extreme vetting” or a renewed call for his original and apparently not-politically correct version of a ban targeting Muslim travelers. These are Trump’s targeted solutions to what he calls the problem of “Islamic extremism,” dished out with the same munificence and gusto as his often emotional responses.

And yet in other, equally horrific instances, when innocents have been attacked or killed in the name of a different sort of extremism, President Trump has remained mostly quiet. Either he has said nothing at all, or he has waited days to respond—and when the responses have been issued, they are missing Trump’s signature fury and attendant solutions. Sometimes, these responses don’t even sound like the president.

6 June 2017

Getting the Pentagon´s Next national Defense Strategy Right

By Shawn Brimley for War on the Rocks

What process will the Trump administration use to craft its first National Defense Strategy? It appears that Secretary of Defense Mattis will be personally involved in directing the efforts of a small staff that will provide ‘provocative’ interim products for widespread comment and debate. Here’s why this approach is music to Shawn Brimley’s ears, although he has four important recommendations of his own.

A small Pentagon team has started working on the next National Defense Strategy that, if properly scoped and staffed, will be an important tool for Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to positively shape the Pentagon’s strategy and spending.

For every first-term administration, the development of a cohesive statement of U.S. defense strategy and policy is among the most important steps a new Pentagon team can take. In addition to conveying the new administration’s strategic approach, a good strategic planning process will produce effective mechanisms for guiding the long-term evolution of the U.S. military, and can help shape healthy civilian-military relations along the way.

In late 2015 and early 2016, a series of hearings by the Senate Armed Services Committee explored how the Pentagon develops strategy. These hearings ultimately informed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which replaced the legislative foundation of the Quadrennial Defense Review with a much clearer and well-defined set of expectations for a National Defense Strategy. The 2017 NDAA outlineswhat the strategy must include: 
The priority missions and key force planning scenarios; 

2 June 2017

At Least Some of America's Nuclear Weapons Will Be Underwater Until 2080

Kris Osborn

The Navy is modernizing its arsenal of Trident II D5 nuclear missiles in order to ensure their service life can extend for 25 more years aboard the Navy’s nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet, service leaders said.

The 44-foot long submarine-launched missiles have been serving on Ohio-class submarines for 25 years,service leaders explained.

The missiles are also being planned as the baseline weapon for the Ohio Replacement Program ballistic missile submarine, a platform slated to serve well into the 2080s, so the Navy wants to extend the service life of the Trident II D5 missiles to ensure mission success in future decades.

Under the U.S.-Russia New START treaty signed in 2010, roughly 70-percent of the U.S.’ nuclear warheads will be deployed on submarines.

The Navy is beginning the process of evaluating additional upgrades and technical adjustments to the sub-launched Trident II D5 nuclear weapon such that it can serve for decades well beyond its current service life extending to 2040.

1 June 2017

Something is not right


By Ruth Marcus
Many of us these days find ourselves channeling our inner Miss Clavel. 

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, for one. In Dexter Filkins’s profile of Mattis for the New Yorker, the most striking moment comes when Mattis is asked what worries him most in his new role. Filkins expected to hear about the Islamic State, or Russia, or the defense budget. 

Instead, Mattis went to a deeper, more unsettling problem: “The lack of political unity in America. The lack of a fundamental friendliness. It seems like an awful lot of people in America and around the world feel spiritually and personally alienated, whether it be from organized religion or from local community school districts or from their governments.” 

Something is not right. If anything, Mattis’s diagnosis seems understated. This national distemper, the sour, angry mood infecting the body politic, was evident before Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body-slammed a reporter for daring to ask a question; then had his campaign lie about it; then failed to apologize — until after he won the election. 

It was evident before Gianforte’s current allies and future colleagues were muted, to put it mildly, in the face of his audio-taped assault. “We all make mistakes,” said Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who chairs the House Republicans’ campaign arm. This was not a mistake; it was an assault on a reporter doing his constitutionally protected job. 

31 May 2017

James Mattis, a Warrior in Washington

Jacquelyn Martin

The former Marine Corps general spent four decades on the front lines. How will he lead the Department of Defense?

30 May 2017

** Colin Powell: American Leadership — We Can’t Do It for Free


By COLIN POWELL

At our best, being a great nation has always meant a commitment to building a better, safer world — not just for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren. This has meant leading the world in advancing the cause of peace, responding when disease and disaster strike, lifting millions out of poverty and inspiring those yearning for freedom.

This calling is under threat.

The administration’s proposal, announced Tuesday, to slash approximately 30 percent from the State Department and foreign assistance budget signals an American retreat, leaving a vacuum that would make us far less safe and prosperous. While it may sound penny-wise, it is pound-foolish.

This proposal would bring resources for our civilian forces to a third of what we spent at the height of Ronald Reagan’s “peace through strength” years, as a percentage of the gross domestic product. It would be internationally irresponsible, distressing our friends, encouraging our enemies and undermining our own economic and national security interests.

29 May 2017

Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence


By Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima 

President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials. 

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election. 

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president. 

Trump sought the assistance of Coats and Rogers after FBI Director James B. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 that the FBI was investigating “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.” 

28 May 2017

*** Guarding the Guards at the CIA

By George Friedman

Over the weekend, The New York Times published a report detailing the discovery and systematic degradation of the U.S. espionage network in China from 2010 to 2012. The report cites 10 officials, former and current, who describe the penetration of the network and speculate on the reason for its failure. Some claim there was a Chinese mole in the CIA. Others claim that lines of communication between assets and the agency had been breached.

The timing of the report is as interesting as the content itself. CIA officials, after all, have already been accused of leaking information designed to weaken President Donald Trump. And now, not only have a handful of officials revealed a massive intelligence failure, but they have done so, apparently in concert, five years after it happened.

One explanation is that a faction in the CIA means to weaken the agency’s credibility by revealing the failure. (I have no evidence for this, but then again, evidence to substantiate charges is optional in Washington.) This would, in effect, undermine the credibility of those claiming to know about secret Russian plots. “You claim to know about them, but you are actually not very good at intelligence,” or so the argument would go.