We must live with the Russians, whether we like it or not. As much as the U.S. and our European partners may despise Putin personally, the West has very little choice but to decide whether to work with him—or oppose him—based on a clear-eyed assessment of core interests.
The Iraq War, the war of my youth, broke my heart, damaged the republic and fractured the Middle East. So why do some in Washington insist it was a “victory”?
The White House is cloaking a policy of regime change in Syria under the guise of fighting terrorism and preventing the Islamic State from returning—a policy that the American people neither want or were consulted on. The United States is dangerously setting new missions that have absolutely no connection at all to combatting ISIS.
The senators are right in their elucidation of Congress’ constitutional war powers. Washington must recognize its support for the Saudi coalition is a counterproductive “government failure,” as the senators wrote, and it would be wise to change course. While May is busy raising concerns, Congress may finally act.
A military alliance is a commitment to another party that we will sacrifice American sons and daughters for their benefit. To make such a significant sacrifice, there must be a vital national interest at stake for America. As important, entering into an alliance requires that the other side be willing to sacrifice for our security, and that the ties result in a benefit to the United States. None of those factors exist in this case. The benefit is all to Kiev—and America absorbs risk without the potential for reward.
President Trump shocked the world with the announcement that he would personally meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Fortunately, he has so far resisted numerous calls to use military force, and this move now opens the door to potentially solve the nuclear dispute short of war. Hopefully Trump’s actions will cool the war-talk advocated by some in Washington.
hat to make of President Donald Trump’s acceptance of a face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program?Before answering, it’s important to remember what’s most important for the United States: To make sure that North Korea never uses its nuclear weapons. Thankfully, our overwhelming conventional and nuclear deterrent ensures America’s security.
Seoul, not Washington, must now work with Beijing and Tokyo to solve the problem. For Washington, step one is to signal American support for President Moon’s initiative of an inter-Korean dialogue.
Moon is right, in the long run, about “a need for talks between the United States and North Korea,” but conversation between the two Koreas is more achievable and more likely to be effective in the near term. If Seoul is willing to talk to Pyongyang, Washington must get out of the way.
It’s long past time to pay attention to the world as it is. This much is certain, after 16 years, when no sector of even Kabul is safe, and U.S. operations have drifted to bombing obscure Chinese separatists, it is time to immediately explore extricating the U.S. from this entire endeavor.
The latest two-year budget deal that skyrockets Pentagon and domestic spending by at least $320 billion is laying the foundation for a major economic disaster for our future. Perversely and counterintuitively, the spike in defense spending won’t solve the military’s readiness problems.
President Trump took to Twitter Monday morning to hype the plan’s release, and he chose to do so by contrasting this program with the reckless spending of the past 17 years of U.S. foreign policy. “This will be a big week for Infrastructure,” the president wrote. “After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!”
The U.S., however, cannot let fear overtake logic or insist on goals that are unnecessary and simply not possible, at least in the short run. Washington’s national security community should push for an honest, inter-agency debate about the reality in front of us. A nuclear North Korea has been deterred for the last 11 years—there is no evidence it won’t be deterred far into the future.
The security of Europe simply cannot matter more to Washington than it does to the people who live there. Changes are both appropriate and necessary with regard to the obligations of our NATO allies.
Engaging with North Korea in a productive manner is essential. The more we directly interact with them on our terms, and on U.S.-friendly territory, the better. The 2018 Olympic games have presented us with that opportunity. Let’s hope all U.S. representatives use it to the advantage of the American people they are sworn to represent.
It is long past time to stop believing in surges, leadership changes, and other tired old approaches from the interventionist Washington elite. In Afghanistan policy there is, truly, nothing new under the sun.
President Trump and members of Congress should give substantial and sober consideration to the risk they would be taking with the health of the U.S. military before ordering any ground action—including the so-called “bloody nose” option—on the Korean peninsula.
A budget impasse doesn’t have to mean that government stops working. The alternative is a continuation of the status quo through an “automatic continuing resolution.” If appropriations legislation can’t be agreed to, programs would simply carry on as before.
It’s time for hard decisions and realistic analysis. The U.S. military may have already accomplished all it can (and needs to) in Syria. It is now wading into treacherous waters as the mission expands to countering Iran, forcing a diplomatic solution in Geneva, and quietly nation-building in the northeast. The U.S. may, understandably, desire all of those things, but none rank as truly vital national security interests worthy of hefty military investment. Realism demands the U.S. weigh the immense commitments with the paltry plausible payoffs.
The U.S. should always be vigilant in protecting Americans from terrorism. If the U.S. intelligence community discovers an imminent plot being planned in Afghanistan, Syria, or anywhere else, it should take action and do so without apology or reservation. U.S. officials, however, will have to apologize to the American people if they continue to implement the same basic strategy, supported by the same stale assumptions, with the same overzealous goals, delivering only repeated failure.
The Trump administration has shown itself willing to question political orthodoxies, and Afghanistan policy is an area where Mattis must put that skepticism to good use. If he doesn’t—if he is content to allow Afghanistan to remain our forgotten forever war, constantly recycling old failures and futilities—then we are like to find ourselves in the same place 18 years hence, still pouring blood and treasure into a hole that will never be filled.
We deterred the former Soviet Union and China under the likes of Stalin and Mao, both of whom were considered crazy and irrational in their time, and we can deter North Korea under Kim Jong-un. Deterrence is the more prudent and rational course of action because there is no such thing as a limited military option or a “bloody nose” strike that doesn’t escalate in unpredictably lethal ways—including the use of chemical or biological agents that the regime is believed to possess. It would be the equivalent of Washington starting a war on the Korean Peninsula that would be catastrophic for U.S. security and prosperity.
Trump would do well to give that speech another read amid reports his team is considering nationalizing the United States’ 5G wireless network on grounds of national security. A Sunday evening Axios report, sharing a leaked memo and PowerPoint presentation authored by a senior National Security Council member, describes a potential plan for Washington to build and control the next generation in wireless connectivity, “an unprecedented nationalization of a historically private infrastructure.”
As the Trump administration enters its second year, there is a risk that the good instincts and good policy expressed by Trump on the campaign trail morph into bad policy because of military advisors wholly committed to the status quo that Trump meant to challenge. Doing any more than assisting the Kurds in Syria, for example, amounts to “fighting two wars at one time.”
The U.S. must stop picking winners and losers in the Middle East’s centuries-long sectarian fights; stop providing Saudi Air Force with the munitions, aircraft, and fuel it needs to continue a military strategy that has failed; help shock a U.N.-led diplomatic process back to life; draft a more impartial Security Council resolution outlining in general terms a possible power-sharing settlement the international community would support; and last but certainly not least, start being more far more selective in when and where and on behalf of whom America deploys its military assets.
It is long past time to distance ourselves from Saudi actions inconsistent with American values and interests. What America needs is sober strategy that avoids counterproductive ethical and strategic decisions that draw the U.S. military ever further into the Mideast abyss. In this case, doing good is consistent with doing well.
The Trump administration has a prime opportunity to start the long journey of negotiating an improved text with its allies and giving Congress more of a role that befits its status under the Constitution. Just as walking away from the Iran nuclear deal, or blowing it up, would not serve the U.S. national security interest, letting its clauses expire without something to replace it would be irresponsible.
If the Trump administration hopes to change America’s focus in Syria, its first step ought to be following the Constitution and persuading lawmakers that an evolution in the focus of the campaign is in the nation’s interest. Lawmakers can no longer defer to the executive branch to make these decisions on its own. For the sake of the country’s democratic fabric, Congress must get off the bench and back into the war-making conversation.
A military alliance is only as strong as the states that contribute to it. Burden sharing is therefore not only an act of fiscal fairness to those like the United States which has carried NATO on its shoulders ever since the organization’s establishment in 1949, but a military necessity if the alliance is to deter aggression before it happens or win a war if deterrence fails.
To inform citizens, thought leaders, and policy makers of the importance of a strong, dynamic military—used more judiciously to protect America's narrowly defined national interests—and promote a realistic grand strategy prioritizing restraint, diplomacy, and free trade to ensure American security.