EXPERTS AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT & APPEARANCES
Defense Priorities—a conservative think tank focused on promoting a realistic national defense strategy—is making several foreign policy analysts, military experts, and defense fellows available for comment and broadcast media interviews. View our available specialists below. Read Politico’s profile on Defense Priorities.
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Andrew J. Bacevich
Daniel L. Davis
BENJAMIN H. FRIEDMAN
WASHINGTON, DC—In response to a breaking report from The Washington Post, Defense Priorities Senior Fellow and Defense Scholar Benjamin H. Friedman issued the following statement:
“The reported decision by the Trump administration to stop aerial refueling of Saudi bombing flights in Yemen is welcome but insufficient.
“U.S. military support for this conflict is something President Obama should have never started. The military campaign launched by the Saudis and UAE in 2015 against Yemen’s Houthi rebels is a humanitarian disaster that does nothing to advance U.S. security—if anything it undermines it.
“The United States should end the other forms of intelligence and logistical support provided to the Saudis, including the arms sales aiding their bombing campaign. America should recalibrate its relationship with the Gulf monarchies, treating them as neither adversaries nor allies, but as normal autocracies that we can work and trade with without endorsing their illiberal actions.
“Houthi rule of part or all of Yemen may be undesirable, but it is no threat to the United States. Nor do the other stated reasons given for aiding our Gulf allies withstand scrutiny. Saudi oil, a diminishing asset, will flow because the kingdom depends on its profits—and the Saudis do nothing useful to balance Iran that they do not have a self-interest in doing, with or without U.S. support.
“By backing the Saudi and UAE war in Yemen, Washington has exacerbated a civil war that has given refuge to anti-American terrorists, enabled a humanitarian crisis, and tarnished our standing as an exemplar of liberal values. These costs are not justified by any potential gains from our involvement in this civil war.
“The Trump administration is right to press for an overdue settlement to the war. Limiting support for the Saudis advances encourages them to settle.”
WASHINGTON, DC—Defense Priorities President Edward King issued the following statement following the passing of Sen. John McCain:
“Throughout his life, Sen. John McCain personified patriotism and service to country. He defined himself by his character, unflinching conviction, and willingness to stand strongly for the things in which he believed, including a lifelong opposition to torture. We had our disagreements with the senator, too, but now is not the time to rehearse those. I honor Sen. McCain’s life and legacy of service and pray for his family during this difficult time.”
WASHINGTON, DC—In response to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Indo-Pacific policy address today at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Indo-Pacific Business Forum, Defense Priorities senior fellow Benjamin H. Friedman issued the following statement:
“Secretary Pompeo’s remarks today are a welcome respite from the misguided approach U.S. leaders often take in discussing the region, which is to treat it as an arena for military competition against China with trade as an afterthought.
“The Secretary rightly focused on how U.S. investment can open business opportunities and enhance prosperity on both sides of the Pacific. That is worth emphasizing at time when North Korea’s missiles and China’s ambitions dominate most discussions of U.S. policy in Asia. Even China's growth, for all the concern it generates, is more an opportunity for the United States to profit than a threat. We can get far greater return on our investment in Asia if we can heighten trade with China and lessen the cost of our military posture there, by shifting some the cost of our alliances from U.S. taxpayers and service-members to our rich allies.
“Pompeo’s emphasis on promoting a ‘free and open’ Indo-Pacific is also useful. Hopefully, that language indicates a shift for the administration away from counterproductive trade policies and toward free-market economic engagement and exchange. That’s the best way to enhance America’s security and prosperity, as well as promote our shared values in the region.”
WASHINGTON, DC—Following today’s summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Defense Priorities president Edward King issued the following statement:
“While everyone should remain skeptical that Kim Jong-un will denuclearize anytime soon, I am hopeful that today’s historic summit marks the beginning of the long diplomatic process necessary for sustained peace on the Korean Peninsula.
“In the meantime, there is no doubt about America’s enduring security, which is guaranteed by our overwhelming conventional and nuclear capabilities. Our unmatched deterrent will keep us safe indefinitely from North Korea, as it does far greater powers.
“I commend President Trump for seizing this opportunity for increased diplomatic engagement and remind him that the U.S. wins as long as we avoid an unnecessary war on the Korean Peninsula.”
WASHINGTON, DC—Today is the deadline for millions of Americans to file their federal income tax returns. At Defense Priorities, we believe that economic prosperity and national security go hand-in-hand. With that in mind, Edward King, president of Defense Priorities, has issued the following statement:
“America’s economic prosperity is the foundation of our national power. With an ever-growing debt burden and continued reckless increases in federal spending, our national security is at risk. Today, we must acknowledge the fiscal consequences of our undisciplined foreign and domestic policies.
“The federal government cannot spend beyond its means forever. A tax system should place as little burden on productive activities while raising revenue for the necessary programs of government.Congress is obligated to make the critical decisions to protect our long-term prosperity and preserve our status as the world’s strongest economic, diplomatic, and military power.
“Serious leadership and thoughtful initiative are required to put our nation’s defense on a sustainable and fiscally responsible foundation. Pursuing a realistic grand strategy and operational efficiencies—increasing allied burden sharing, reducing excess basing capacity, auditing the Pentagon, and updating authorizations based on a sober assessment of U.S. interests—would improve our military’s capabilities, strength, and effectiveness.”
Read more about opportunities for federal government savings in The Washington Times editorial by Defense Priorities policy advisor Robert Moore.
WASHINGTON, DC—Following the most recent chemical attack in Syria, President Trump vowed that those responsible will have a “big price to pay.” Tonight, without congressional authorization, Trump announced military strikes targeting the Bashar al-Assad regime in response.
In response, Edward King, president of Defense Priorities, issued the following statement:
“The undeniably heinous chemical weapons attack in Syria is one of many atrocities from that country’s ongoing civil war. But outrage does not necessarily mean unauthorized military strikes are the appropriate response.
“We must think through our policy more carefully, otherwise the U.S. response to Assad killing people in Syria will simply be killing more people in Syria, the opposite of our intended result. Does a U.S. military strike actually do anything to lessen the suffering of those people? No, of course not.
“The most important policy question now is: ‘What comes next?’ Sometimes, as in this case, no good military option exists. The best possible option for America is to not get further involved in Syria's civil war, an intractable and complex conflict disconnected from our safety.
“President Trump was right when he announced his intention to withdraw U.S. soldiers from Syria’s long-running civil war. U.S. foreign policy should be guided by a realistic grand strategy, not dictated by the ebb and flow of local events in this brutal conflict.
“These strikes threaten to get the United States more deeply involved. We risk inadvertently prolonging the conflict and potentially clashing with nuclear-armed Russia or with Iran, rather than minimizing Syrian death and destruction. Another is getting dragged into a counterproductive, costly regime-change and nation-building operation.
“When it comes to foreign policy, outcomes matter, not intentions. As we have painfully learned over the last decade and a half, we should ignore the advice of those who are today clamoring for increased intervention. With no direct interests at stake and no good military options available, using other tools of statecraft is the wisest course of action.”
Kurt Couchman, Vice President of Public Policy at Defense Priorities, issued the following statement:
“Only Congress may authorize the use of military force in our constitutional republic, except to defend against actual or imminent attacks on the United States. The president acted without proper legal authority and without serious debate or decision from the people’s representatives. If Congress does not stand up for the rule of law, its continued erosion will undermine not only our security, but ultimately also our freedom and prosperity.”
WASHINGTON, DC—President Trump surprised many today by instructing military leaders to prepare to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Defense Priorities commends President Trump for making this decision and affirms that by withdrawing our troops, we are improving our national security.
Edward King, President of Defense Priorities issued the following statement:
“Syria remains embroiled in a civil war with scores of groups and militaries trying to attain various and competing objectives. The remaining fight there belongs to them, not the United States. Our national security is neither enhanced, nor placed at increased risk, regardless of how the Syrian war is eventually resolved.
“By withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria and foregoing an unnecessary, ineffective, and costly nation-building campaign, President Trump is prioritizing America’s interests.”
WASHINGTON, DC—In March 2003, the U.S. began its mission in Iraq, titling the invasion Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The U.S. military remains to this day. To acknowledge our 15 years of entanglement, Defense Priorities fellow and military expert Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, USA, Ret.—who served two tours in Iraq—has issued the following statement:
“It was my duty—and my honor—to serve in the U.S. Army and protect the American homeland and our vital interests.
“As an Iraq War combat veteran, on the 15-year anniversary, it is important to acknowledge that the regime-change and nation-building effort in Iraq was a strategic mistake for which we have paid with the blood of our dearest—and are still paying today. Operation IRAQI FREEDOM is perhaps the most egregious case of Washington's misguided employment of military power to solve complex political problems, but it is not an isolated failure of our post-Cold War foreign policy.
“Fifteen years later, a majority of American civilians and veterans agree that our efforts have failed to make us safer or more prosperous. Through my time on the ground, especially as a trainer for an Iraqi border battalion in 2009, I can confirm our efforts to reform the Iraqi military also largely failed. Americans deserve a realistic, balanced, sustainable, and effective foreign policy guided by a sober analysis of U.S. interests. Only by abandoning the status quo thinking in Washington can the U.S. develop a more enlightened and constructive foreign policy and avoid another Iraq.”
WASHINGTON, DC—With the recent announcement of potential talks between President Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, Defense Priorities president Edward King issued the following statement:
“The top priority for the United States is to ensure that North Korea never uses their nuclear weapons, which is why we must maintain our overwhelming conventional and nuclear superiority. While everyone should be extremely skeptical Kim Jong-un will give up his nuclear deterrent, talking is critical to avoid miscalculation and accidents and ensure North Korea never crosses any red lines.
“President Trump is smart to take advantage of this opening. Everyone recognizes a war on the Korean Peninsula would gravely harm American security and prosperity, which is why deterrence and diplomacy are the best available options.”
WASHINGTON, DC—TODAY, Defense Priorities senior fellow and military expert Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, USA, Ret. will testify before the Congressional Progressive Caucus Peace and Security Task Force and the House Liberty Caucus for an ad-hoc hearing on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).
In 2016, the Congressional Research Service issued a report showing that, since its enactment, this authorization has been cited as the statutory authority for military or related actions at least 37 times in 14 countries. Lt. Col. Davis will testify and answer questions about the current AUMFs and the implications from a new congressional authorization.
WHAT: AD-HOC CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON AUMF
DATE: TODAY, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2018
TIME: 2:30 PM — 3:30 PM EST
LOCATION: Room 2358-C, Rayburn House Office Building
- Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, USA, Ret.
Senior Fellow & Military Expert, Defense Priorities
- Rita Siemion
International Legal Counsel, Human Rights First
- Michael McPhearson
Executive Director, Veterans For Peace
***LIVE STREAM AVAILABLE HERE.***