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
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—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.***
WASHINGTON, DC—In response to the recently released White House FY2019 budget, Defense Priorities President Edward King offers the following statement:
“Our $20-trillion debt is a threat to our national security, yet proposed government spending continues the reckless addiction of deficit spending. To the Trump administration's credit, the overall budget seeks to keep the debt from exploding relative to the status quo.
“The defense budget states that it reflects the recent National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, yet neither of those summaries provides details on relative priorities.
“If major powers are a renewed focus, what current, lower-priority missions will the administration forego? Might we stop dumping the $45 billion per year into nation building in Afghanistan or avoid sliding into a similar no-win situation in Syria? What is our strategy to ensure our rich allies share the burden of common defense? What efficiencies can be implemented within the Pentagon?
“The budget and related strategies should do more to review U.S. military activities around the world—reasonable alternatives must be explored for those that do not provide benefits to American taxpayers commensurate to their costs, especially in a time of $1-trillion annual deficits.”
WASHINGTON, DC—The New York Times today published an opinion editorial by Barry R. Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of Security Studies Program at MIT and author of Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy. In this piece, Posen outlines the sacrifices the United States would have to make in order to deprive North Korea of its nuclear capabilities and missile systems. He concludes that the complexity, risks, and costs of preventive war against North Korea are too great—thus deterrence paired with diplomacy is the best available policy option.
The key problem for the United States is the likely possibility that North Korea has the missiles to deliver nuclear bombs to South Korea and Japan. If one of these weapons were to reach its target, an entire city would be annihilated.
And even if an American first strike knocked out North Korea’s nuclear capacity, millions of South Korean civilians, and American and South Korean soldiers, would be vulnerable to retaliation with conventional or chemical weapons. Pyongyang could devastate Seoul and kill tens of thousands of people.
North Korea may have as many as 250 mobile missile launchers, some of which could fire nuclear-tipped missiles. If some of these mobile units were dispersed at the time of an American attack, it’s unlikely that the United States could destroy all of them before one fires a missile.
An American attack that truly caught North Korea by surprise could minimize the effectiveness of a North Korean counterattack—but not eliminate the possibility. And surprise would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.
The complexity, risks and costs of a military strike against North Korea are too high. A combination of diplomacy and deterrence, based on the already impressive strength of South Korean and United States conventional and nuclear forces, is a wise alternative.
Read the entire op-ed in The New York Times.
WASHINGTON, DC—In case you missed it, The Atlantic has featured an editorial by Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of Security Studies Program at MIT Barry R. Posen in which the current states of affairs in Afghanistan is examined. According to Posen, from a strategic perspective, a dramatic reduction of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan—or even a complete drawdown—would likely realign regional behavior in ways that would drive current U.S. adversaries apart, force them to deal with difficult local problems, and encourage other regional powers to seek better ties with Washington. From an American perspective, it is a win-win.
As Posen explains in The Atlantic:
Afghanistan is a good place to create problems for America’s adversaries. And the best way to do that is to get out.
Those who instead advocate a dramatic increase in the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan would say that the best way to fight terrorists is to remain on the offensive. The problem with that argument is, of course, that America has been on the offense for 16 years in Afghanistan and elsewhere and victory remains elusive. Terrorist groups motivated by a particularly toxic interpretation of Islam remain strong, and in fact have emerged in new places. Nothing about this strategy, by the way, need prohibit U.S. raids on known terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan.
Some may also argue that Washington cannot afford to undermine its prestige by leaving Afghanistan in the lurch. Given the lives, money, and time that it has poured into building a stable Afghanistan, it is Afghans who have let the U.S. down, not the reverse—pouring more resources into a losing effort won’t enhance confidence in U.S. judgment or its staying power.
Read the entire editorial HERE via The Atlantic.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—This evening, President Trump announced his "new strategy" for America's longest war, the war in Afghanistan. Both President Trump and Secretary of Defense Mattis admit we are not winning the war in Afghanistan, yet they believe doubling down on failed, status quo strategies will lead to different results. Defense Priorities could not disagree more.
Defense Priorities Founder and President Edward King issued the following statement:
"President Trump successfully campaigned on a more realistic foreign policy—one that abandons failed nation-building efforts, decreases U.S. involvement in Middle Eastern civil wars, and instead prioritizes American security.
"What the president announced tonight is not a 'new strategy,' but rather a continuation, or expansion, of the failed status quo—a seemingly endless commitment to stay in Afghanistan and the region.
"This is now President Trump's war.
"After more than 15 years and 3 presidents, nearly 10,000 American troops are still in Afghanistan, and even the Administration admits that the U.S. is not winning the war. It's long past time for new thinking to enhance American security."