By Peter Roff • Townhall
The Trump administration budget document recently released projects an increase in security and defense spending of more than $50 billion. It’s a needed shot in the arm, provided it’s spent wisely and on things actually necessary.
It’s important the defense community realize the days of blank checks are over. There’s no problem in government that can be solved just by throwing more money at it. This includes the vital functions performed by the Pentagon, the service branches, and the Department of Homeland Security. They too need to understand they have to find ways to do more with less just like every other part of the federal government even if the Congress and the president are willing, at the start, to give them more.
The higher number in Trump’s initial budgeting is due not just to the threat posed by ISIS but by the increasing belligerence of rogue states like North Korea (which is consistently testing missiles they argue will go farther and farther once in the air) and Iran. Continue reading
A Chinese company, Ant Financial, largely owned by the government of China, is intent on taking over MoneyGram, a leading US-based financial payments company. This planned acquisition raises serious questions as to whether ownership of MoneyGram would be part of China’s strategic plan to obtain sensitive personal and financial information of Americans and westerners worldwide as well as to undermine American economic strength. This acquisition should be stopped for that reason.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) exists to review the national security implications of foreign investments in US companies. CFIUS is comprised of representatives from a number of US agencies or departments — including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Commerce. CFIUS can block foreign sales and investments that would result in a foreign power acquiring assets and intellectual property that would harm America’s national security.
There are a number of important national security and strategic reasons that CFIUS should reject Ant Financial’s proposed takeover of MoneyGram. Continue reading
Most Americans are worried about our domestic crises. Obama left office after doubling the debt to $20 trillion. Near-zero interest rates over eight years have impoverished an entire generation of seniors — and yet remain key to servicing the costs of such reckless borrowing.
Over the last eight years, GDP never grew at 3 percent annually, the first time we’ve seen such low growth since the Hoover administration. Obamacare spiked health-care premiums and deductibles while restricting access and reducing patient choices. Racial politics are at a nadir and make one nostalgic for the environment before 2009.
Red-blue tensions are at an all-time high, and suddenly there is talk of 1860s-like Confederate nullification of federal laws. It’s now the norm for prominent commentators to call for the murder, forced removal, or resignation of the current president. A New York Times columnist asked the IRS to commit a felony by sending him Trump’s tax returns, and then he boasts by providing his own address. Continue reading
by Mackubin Owens • American Greatness
President Trump’s selection of Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to be his national security adviser has been widely praised, and rightly so. McMaster is a remarkable man cut from the same cloth as the new secretary of defense, Jim Mattis. Both are inspirational leaders. Both are thoughtful, well-read “soldier-scholars.” Both are clear thinkers and straight talkers. Indeed, McMaster’s intense, fierce outspokenness has not always endeared him to his superiors.
McMaster’s story has been recounted many times in recent days. A native of Philadelphia, he is a 1984 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point. Later, he earned a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying under Richard Kohn, the eminent military historian and civil-military relations expert. His doctoral dissertation became Dereliction of Duty, a withering critique of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Vietnam War.
As a captain commanding an armored cavalry troop during the first Gulf War, McMaster proved himself to be an aggressive, fearless leader. Continue reading
by Jeremy Lott • The Federalist
The foreign policy consensus in Washington DC is so stubbornly pro-intervention that our most recent president—who dragged the country into several foreign entanglements and whose military dropped 26,171 bombs last year alone—is seen as, at best, a ditherer. The World Politics Review summed up his legacy by saying, “The problem with Obama’s foreign policy has been inaction, not weakness.”
Get outside of DC and the estimation of what we ought to be doing is much different. Americans who are actually stretched to pay for those wars and whose children may be serving in the military are not as gung-ho about going there.
That is my takeaway from the latest Charles Koch Institute/Center for the National Interest poll of American attitudes toward foreign policy. A majority of those surveyed in late January turned out to be deeply skeptical that what America has been doing has been working. It’s hard to argue they don’t have a point. Continue reading
by Natalie Johnson • Washington Free Beacon
U.S. adversaries are rapidly catching up to America’s fifth generation fighter aircraft capabilities—a risk that has exacerbated given ongoing cyber vulnerabilities in the F-35 fighter jet program, according to an Air Force major general.
Maj. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr., the vice commander of Air Combat Command at the Langley, Va., base, said Thursday that while the United States maintains an advantage in the stealth and weapons capacities inherent in fifth generation fighter aircraft models, adversaries are “quickly closing the gap.”
“We are trying to maximize our ability to procure fifth generation airplanes and go from a 100 percent fourth generation fleet to a significant mix of fifth generation [planes] so that we have the opportunity to operate in these hostile environments against these threats that are catching us faster than we thought they would,” Harris testified before the House Armed Services Committee. Continue reading
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
Four Russian military aircraft conducted low passes against a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea last week, the first such military provocation since the new Trump administration took office.
The incident took place Feb. 10 and involved the USS Porter, a guided missile destroyer, fending off low flights by what the commander of the ship regarded as potentially dangerous flybys.
“There were several incidents involving multiple Russian aircraft,” said Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez, spokesman for the European Command. “They were assessed by the commanding officer as unsafe and unprofessional.”
The first buzzing involved two Russian Su-24 jet fighters followed by a single Su-24 and, in a third incident, an IL-38 transport aircraft. Continue reading
by Morgan Chalfant • Washington Free Beacon
The government of Afghanistan lost almost 15 percent of its territory last year, as Taliban insurgents continued to launch attacks amid declines in U.S. and allied military personnel.
The figure is included in a government watchdog’s latest assessment of the security situation and reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. The assessment comes as the Donald Trump administration grapples with how to move forward in what has become America’s longest war.
“Analysis of the most recent data provided by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) suggests that the security situation in Afghanistan has not improved this quarter,” states the latest quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR. “The numbers of the Afghan security forces are decreasing, while both casualties and the number of districts under insurgent control or influence are increasing.” Continue reading
by Natalie Johnson • Washington Free Beacon
Europe serves as a “launching pad” for ISIS jihadists to initiate attacks against the United States due to the absence of a cohesive information-sharing strategy among Western nations, former acting CIA director John McLaughlin said Wednesday.
McLaughlin, a 30-year CIA employee who served as acting director under the George W. Bush administration, warned that the absence of effective coordination between European intelligence agencies exposes the United States to greater risk of attack.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, McLaughlin said the Trump administration must work with European allies to establish an intelligence-sharing platform that coordinates Europe’s extensive network of security services. Continue reading
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
In a vast departure from the Obama White House, the Trump administration went on record Wednesday to accuse Iran of being in violation of the landmark nuclear agreement as a result of its recent test of ballistic missile technology, according to a senior White House official, who said that Iran has officially been put “on notice.”
Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, accused Iran of breaching international accords governing the nuclear agreement. He lashed out at the Islamic Republic for threatening American military assets in the Persian Gulf region.
Flynn’s remarks represent a break with the previous administration, which worked to hide Iranian transgressions and declined to publicly state that Iran’s behavior violated the nuclear deal. Continue reading
by Morgan Chalfant • Daily Caller
The U.S. Army’s ground combat systems risk being surpassed by those being developed by foreign countries such as Russia and China, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
The Army is currently using main battle tanks, tracked infantry fighting vehicles, tracked self-propelled artillery, and multiple launch rocket systems developed during the Soviet era. Billion-dollar plans to modernize the force’s ground combat systems have been cancelled over the last decade.
Meanwhile, potential adversaries have prioritized funding new weapons systems and technologies for their forces, raising concerns among American experts about the shrinking capability gap between the United States and other nations. Continue reading
by Morgan Chalfant • Washington Free Beacon
Criminal and terrorist networks are evolving “out of view” of U.S. intelligence and increasingly cooperating to achieve their goals, according to a new document from the U.S. military that calls for a better coordinated effort between the Pentagon and other government agencies to counter threat networks.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for the United States to deter threats from transnational networks such as terrorist organizations and groups trafficking illicit goods, according to the document from the Joint Chiefs of Staff published in late December.
The Joint Publication 3-25, which was recently highlighted by the Federation of American Scientists, evaluated the United States’ efforts to counter networks threatening U.S. interests at home and abroad, calling for more interagency work and partnerships with international organizations and allies to deter them. Continue reading
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Two airlines sanctioned by the United States for enabling Iran’s global terrorist operations appear to have played a central role in moving illicit missile components from Ukraine to the Islamic Republic, according to information obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Ukrainian authorities confirmed this week they had seized a shipment of missile system components bound for Iran, which could put the Islamic Republic in violation of international bans prescribed under the nuclear agreement.
Video of the seizure show Ukrainian authorities uncovering 17 boxes of missile parts bound for Iran and meant to be used in its Fagot anti-tank guided missile system.
Sources familiar with the incident told the Free Beacon that the airlines involved in this illicit activity have long been sanctioned by the United States for providing support to Iran’s global terror network. Continue reading
by Dimitri K. Simes and Paul J. Saunders • National Interest
One need not admire Benjamin Netanyahu or Vladimir Putin or, for that matter, approve of Israeli or Russian conduct, to see Barack Obama’s recent efforts to punish the two states for what they really are. Indeed, Mr. Obama’s efforts seem directed more at his successor than at any serious U.S. foreign policy objective. The outgoing president’s efforts to tie President-Elect Donald Trump’s hands in both domestic and foreign policy appear particularly un-presidential after his petulant complaints that America should have only one president at a time—a rule he apparently sees as applying in only one direction as he defiantly disregards the deference typically shown to an incoming commander-in-chief.
On Israel, Mr. Obama had to know that America’s abstention in voting on a United Nations Security Council Resolution critical of Israel would neither change Israeli settlement policy nor undermine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political standing in his country. Continue reading
Poor Syria. Strategically located at the northern edge of the Middle East on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, with its archeological finds dating back nearly eight thousand years, is perhaps the oldest continually inhabited place of the world. Its two most important cities Aleppo and Damascus had been the capitals of numerous empires dating back at least to the thirtieth century BC. Throughout its history, ancient Syria was blessed with productive agriculture, profitable trade as well as thriving urbanized culture that created religions and philosophies, and invented the very first alphabet. On the other hand, ancient and modern Syria had been also cursed and shaped by never ending cycles of religious and sectarian violence.
The roots of the civil war that started in the beginning of 2011 go back to the mid-9th century when Ibn Nusayr declared himself the “Bab” – the “gateway to truth.” Proclaiming his teachings to be the only true religion, Ibn Nusayr preached the Holy Trinity of Muhammad, his cousin and son in law Husayn ibn Ali, and Salman al-Farisi, a freed Persian slave of Muhammad’s. Ali was also elevated to be the Jesus-like incarnation of divinity. Borrowing further from Christianity, he made the symbolic presentation of bread and wine an integral part of religious services, in which wine represents God himself. Moreover, the Nusayris, also called Alawis or Ansaris, celebrate almost all Christian festivals and holidays, and worship most of the Christian saints. Finally, Ibn Nusayr denied the five pillars of Islam and rejected the Shari’a in its entirety.