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

17 July 2017

Why we need India in order to remain a global superpower

A US-India alliance could be key for the US to remain a global superpower

The Republic of India is the world’s second most populous country and largest democracy. It will also prove to be the key to the U.S.’s survival as the world’s sole global hegemon and the preservation of the current global power structure. 

The U.S. projects more power across the globe, both conventional and nuclear, than any other nation. It spends more on its military than its next eight rivals combined. Its economy is the largest in terms of nominal GDP by more than $7 trillion and has been the largest for more than a century. It exercises so much control in international affairs and trade it is often characterized as the "world’s policeman." Its currency is exchanged globally and is the basis for numerous currencies abroad, and it is home to earth’s premiere financial market. These factors solidify the U.S.’s status as a true superpower and appear promising for the maintenance of the global status quo. But one rising power threatens this world order. 

16 July 2017

The Terrifying Truth Behind the U.S. Military

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, isn’t much of a state anymore.

The Iraqi military have retaken the city of Mosul. Kurdish forces are pushing into Raqqa, Syria… both with help and direction of the U.S. military.

Rather than cheering the possible defeat of this brutal and violent terrorist organization, I’m worried.

Not about ISIS, in particular, but about the state of the U.S. military. It’s taken us far too long to earn these victories.

I’ve been speaking with military experts and researching the U.S. defense industry for months. What I found was surprising…

U.S. Military Spending: The Cost of Wars

By Anthony Cordesman

One of the striking aspects of American military power is how little serious attention is spent on examining the key elements of its total cost by war and mission, and the linkage between the use of resources and the presence of an effective strategy. For the last several decades, there has been little real effort to examine the costs of key missions and strategic commitments and the longer term trends in force planning and cost. Both the Executive Branch and the Congress have failed to reform any key aspect of the defense and foreign policy budgets to look beyond input budgeting by line item and by military service, and doing so on an annual basis.

The program budgeting and integrated force planning efforts pioneered towards the end of the Eisenhower Administration—and put into practice in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations—have decayed into hollow shells. The effort to create meaningful Future Year Defense Programs seem to have been given a final death blow by the Budget Control Act (BCA)—legislation originally designed to be so stupid that the Congress could not possibly accept it. Efforts to integrate net assessment with budget submissions were effectively killed by the Joint Staff decades earlier, during the Reagan Administration.
Critical Failures by Both the Executive Branch and Congress

11 July 2017

The Thucydides Trap Will America and China go to war?

ON JULY 2nd an American guided-missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles (22.2km) of Triton, a tiny Chinese-occupied island in the South China Sea. It was on a “freedom of navigation” operation, sailing through disputed waters to show China that others do not accept its territorial claims. Such operations infuriate China. But they have not brought the two superpowers to blows. So far.

Graham Allison, a Harvard scholar, thinks the world underestimates the risk of a catastrophic clash between China and the United States. When a rising power challenges an incumbent, carnage often ensues. Thucydides, an ancient historian, wrote of the Peloponnesian war of 431-404 BC that “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Mr Allison has examined 16 similar cases since the 15th century. All but four ended in war. Mr Allison does not say that war between China and the United States is inevitable, but he thinks it “more likely than not”.

This alarming conclusion is shared by many in Washington, where Mr Allison’s book is causing a stir. So it is worth examining his reasoning. America has shaped a set of global rules to suit itself. China has different values and different interests which it would like others to accommodate. Disagreements are inevitable.

5 July 2017

Truth Beyond the Brotherhood

Brahma Chellaney

With the passage of time, the transactional elements in the U.S.-Indian partnership have become more conspicuous than the geostrategic dimensions, compounding India’s security dilemmas.

U.S. President Donald Trump made it known during his presidential election campaign that he likes India and Indians. Yet, in office, Trump has taken a series of steps in the immigration and trade realms that have adversely impacted India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a good first-ever meeting with Trump, although it yielded few deliverables. The two will have another opportunity to meet soon when Germany hosts the annual G-20 summit in Hamburg. Yet it is still not clear how salient India will be in the Trump foreign policy. This is largely because Trump’s larger geopolitical policy framework is still evolving.

The U.S.-India strategic partnership is essentially founded on two pillars — a U.S. commitment to assist, in America’s own interest, India’s rise; and a shared interest in building an inclusive, stable, rules-based Asian order to help manage China’s muscular rise. The hope in India has been that the U.S. would assist its rise in the way it aided China’s economic ascent since the 1970s. President Jimmy Carter, for example, sent a memo to various U.S government departments instructing them to help in China’s rise. Even China’s firing of missiles into the Taiwan Strait in 1996 did not change that policy. If anything, the U.S. has gradually loosened its close links with Taiwan, with no U.S. Cabinet member visiting that island since those missile manoeuvres.

4 July 2017

Is the U.S. Getting Outmaneuvered at Sea?

Retired Admiral James Stavridis believes the Trump Administration fails to recognize the importance of our oceans. In his new book Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans, Stavridis is troubled by the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and a proposed budget that boosts military spending, but does little to increase naval capabilities.

The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder talked with Stavridis, who previously served as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander-Europe and is now Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University, about why the seas are important and what challenges the U.S. faces on the waters.

The Cipher Brief: Your new book Sea Power was recently released. Why did you write this book? Why now?

Admiral James Stavridis: One, in today’s world, there’s a huge economic component. Ninty-five percent of the world’s goods are moving on these oceans. Two, our alliances, in so many cases, are overseas and also interwoven with maritime, military, and security activities. Three, the challenges that are arising today on the oceans from Russia and China – who are building big, new, powerful navies – as well as the potential, in the long-term, of terrorist operations in the maritime space. Fourth and finally, the environment. I’m deeply concerned about acidification of the oceans and the potential to lose our source of oxygen. Seventy percent of the world’s oxygen comes from photosynthesis in the sea.



Editor’s Note: A recent article in Foreign Affairs by Ely Ratner has sparked a debate among Asia-watchers. Part of this debate has played out in The Interpreter, the online magazine of the Lowy Institute for International Policy, an independent, nonpartisan think tank based in Sydney. War on the Rocks is proud to be publishing select articles from The Interpreter, where Hugh White responded to Ratner, who then chimed in with a retort. We hope you learn from this debate as much as we have. 

Hugh White: For America, the Struggle in Asia Starts at Home

Earlier this month, in his speech at the Shangri La Dialogue, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis twice declared that China’s assertive conduct in Asia to be “unacceptable.” That is tough language – tougher then Washington has used before. This raises the question of what he plans to do about it.

He needs to do something much more effective than anything America has tried so far. Otherwise the gap between bold words and timid action will grow, U.S. credibility in Asia will shrink even further, and Mattis will have handed China another easy win in the contest for regional leadership.

2 July 2017

America’s War against ISIS Is Evolving into an Invasion of Syria

As ISIS crumbles, the chances for conflict with the Assad regime increase. There was always going to be a reckoning. When President Obama began the American war against ISIS in 2014 — a belated and necessary step to stop ISIS’s blitzkrieg across Iraq — there was a lingering question:

Then what? 

If and when we defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, what comes next?

Ideally, American allies would defeat the world’s most vicious terrorists, the warring parties in Syria would then have the space to reach a political settlement, and a genocidal civil war would finally end. Yet when ideals meet the hatred and confusion of the Middle East, ideals always lose. 

29 June 2017

How America Armed Terrorists in Syria


Three-term Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, has proposed legislation that would prohibit any U.S. assistance to terrorist organizations in Syria as well as to any organization working directly with them. Equally important, it would prohibit U.S. military sales and other forms of military cooperation with other countries that provide arms or financing to those terrorists and their collaborators.

Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” challenges for the first time in Congress a U.S. policy toward the conflict in the Syrian civil war that should have set off alarm bells long ago: in 2012-13 the Obama administration helped its Sunni allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provide arms to Syrian and non-Syrian armed groups to force President Bashar al-Assad out of power. And in 2013 the administration began to provide arms to what the CIA judged to be “relatively moderate” anti-Assad groups—meaning they incorporated various degrees of Islamic extremism.

Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, All War All the Time, or War American-Style

At 36% to 37% in the latest polls, Donald Trump’s approval rating is in a ditch in what should still be the “honeymoon” period of his presidency. And yet, compared to Congress (25%), he’s a maestro of popularity. In fact, there’s just one institution in American society that gets uniformly staggeringly positive votes of “confidence” from Americans in polls and that’s the U.S. military (83%). And this should be the greatest mystery of them all.

That military, keep in mind, hasn’t won a significant conflict since World War II. (In retrospect, the First Gulf War, which once seemed like a triumph beyond compare for the globe’s highest-tech force, turned out to be just the first step into the never-ending quagmire of Iraq.) In this century, the U.S. military has, in fact, stumbled from one “successful” invasion to another, one terror-spreading conflict to the next, without ever coming up for air. Meanwhile, the American taxpayer has poured money into the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state in amounts that should boggle the mind. And yet, the U.S. hasn’t been able to truly extricate itself from a single country it's gotten involved in across the Greater Middle East for decades. In the wake of its ministrations, nations have crumbled, allies have been crippled, and tens of millions of people across a vast region of the planet have been uprooted from their homes and swept into the maelstrom. In other words, Washington’s version of imperial war fighting should be seen as the record from hell for a force regularly hailed here as the “finest” in history. The question is: finest at what?

Trump’s Five Mistaken Reasons for Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership


President Donald Trump has recently reversed himself, endorsing Article 5 of the NATO Treaty and accurately calling the House of Representatives health care legislation “mean.” He should also reconsider U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a decision that was made with no serious analysis by the new administration of its significant economic and geopolitical benefits for the United States. Exiting the agreement was apparently based on five key assertions Trump made during the presidential campaign, none of which were accurate.

1) “The number of jobs and amount of wealth and income the United States have given away in so short a time is staggering, likely unprecedented. And the situation is about to get drastically worse if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not stopped.” —Donald Trump, “Disappearing Middle Class Needs Better Deal on Trade,” USA Today, March 14, 2016.

America's Military: Overcommitted and Underfunded


I confess up front to being a budget hawk. I basically believe that as long as the Pentagon is still buying two manned fighter planes after the unmanned revolution, there is more than enough money going to the Defense Department—because if money were really tight, one or both of those programs would be cancelled, and the military services would be undercutting each other's budgets to increase the funding available for their priorities. As long as adaptation to obvious next-generation platforms (like unmanned aerial fighters) remains this slow and the services placidly accept their budget shares, the topline is adequate.
But even I am now nervous about the widening gap between America’s military obligations and the resourcing we are committing. What’s worsening the situation is that the Trump administration is both expanding requirements and contracting spending.

28 June 2017

Modi and Trump Meeting Will Set the Tone for US-India Relations

 Walter Lohman

On Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Washington, D.C. to meet President Donald Trump face-to-face for the first time. While one cannot expect too much in terms of “deliverables,” there are specific things that should be discussed by the leaders, if not for any other reason than to establish a sense of direction and priority in the relationship. US-India relations have been on a relatively positive trajectory through the last three American administrations. This meeting will point to its potential and focus going forward. 

Washington’s outreach to India has been facilitated by a geopolitical calculation that a strong India is good for regional stability, and therefore, good for U.S. global interests. The perfect case in point is the 2008 US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. Business opportunity may have been an important engine behind its approval by Congress, but this was

MQ-9B drone sale for India to be OK’d

Aaron Mehta

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department is in the final stages of clearing the sale of 22 MQ-9 drones to India, with an expectation that U.S. President Donald Trump will announce the sale during the upcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi, who will meet with Trump for the first time on June 26, is expected to discuss a wide range of topics, including terrorism and visas, but is poised to walk away with an offer to purchase the unarmed MQ-9B Guardian design produced by General Atomics.

The Guardian design is a variant of the Predator B drone, equipped with several radar systems specifically useful for maritime searches. 

“We are pleased that the U.S. government has cleared the way for the sale of the MQ-9B Guardian to the Indian Government,” said Linden Blue, CEO of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, in a statement to Defense News. “Guardian provides the endurance and capability required to significantly enhance India’s sovereign maritime domain awareness in the Indo-Pacific. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is standing by to support the US and Indian Governments throughout this process” 

27 June 2017

When Modi meets Trump: Where do U.S.-India relations stand?

Tanvi Madan

Trump’s election brought uncertainties for India. Given the investment it has made in the U.S. relationship, the Modi government reached out swiftly to the president-elect and his transition team. It has since kept up that outreach, including with three phone calls between Modi and Trump.

On visits to the United States, the Indian finance minister, petroleum and natural gas minister, national security advisor, and foreign and commerce secretaries have met their counterparts, as well as the secretaries of commerce, defense, homeland security, and state. U.S. national security advisor H.R. McMaster, in turn, has traveled to India. In addition, Congressional engagement has been more of a priority. Indian officials have been meeting regularly with members of Congress, particularly those in leadership positions, and welcoming delegations of members and staffers to Delhi.

Working-level cooperation has continued in a number of spheres. And while a number of India-related positions await nominees, the appointment of Lisa Curtis as senior director at the National Security Council and the potential nomination of Kenneth Juster as ambassador to India—both familiar faces, who know the region—are welcome in Delhi.

Nonetheless, in the absence of a crisis or of Indian relevance to key immediate U.S. concerns (North Korea, Syria) or of a cabinet member with a keen interest in India, it has largely been off Washington’s radar. When the country has been in the American spotlight, the attention has been of the unwanted kind: related to attacks against Indians, criticisms from Trump himself over climate issues, or reports on the president’s businesses in India. There has been some sense of relief that the country has been missing from presidential tweets, but being missing from the priority list is problematic.

The upcoming trip has been action-forcing to some extent, and brought India some attention; Delhi will also hope it’ll bring greater clarity on certain bilateral, regional, and global issues where there is continued uncertainty—and in some cases greater concern—about the administration’s approach.

The Trump–Modi Summit Big Meeting, Low Expectations

By C. Christine Fair and Bharath Gopalaswamy

On June 26, U.S. President Donald Trump will hold talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At first glance, the two might seem aligned. Modi heads the Hindu nationalist Bharitya Janata Party, which has sustained criticism at home and abroad for its divisive rhetoric about India’s Muslim citizens, who number some 189 million. The Trump campaign was likewise anti-Muslim, which motivated at least some Hindus in India and the United States to support Trump’s bid for the presidency with the expectation that contempt for Muslims would translate into harsher policies toward Pakistan and other Muslim states. Moreover, both Trump and Modi are populist leaders who have capitalized on their polities’ demands for political upheaval. Both also have surrogates who have pushed divisive identity issues to the forefront of politics, and they have been described by journalist Ashok Singh as “theatrical and… narcissistic.” He is not alone in making such comparisons. Yet despite their posited—if contested—similarities, the two have remained at odds for several reasons.

First, Trump ran on the premise that immigrants are “taking American jobs.” (In fact, robots are taking American jobs, and they will continue to do so.) Trump recently signed an executive order that would make it more difficult for Indians to obtain H-1 visas, which are highly sought after and comprise an important source of remittance revenue in India. Modi, in response, urged Washington to keep an open mind on admitting skilled Indian workers, as the Hindustan Times reported.

Second, Trump’s anti-Muslim vitriol may have been greeted enthusiastically by some Hindus, but racists in the United States have also assaulted Hindus and Sikhs. Many Indians now fear for their safety and are reconsidering working and studying in the United States. More recently, Trump snubbed India when he suggested that India’s commitment to the Paris climate accord was motivated by financial incentives rather than dedication to decelerating climate change. India’s Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj, retorted that "anyone who says we have

Modi can shape Trump’s views on Pakistan: New colours of the White House

Shashank Joshi 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have an opportunity to shape President Trump’s basic views on Pakistan

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to meet President Donald Trump for the first time, today in Washington, there is a sense that the favourable winds that carried the India-U.S. relationship over the past 10 to 15 years may be changing. In its first six months, the Trump administration’s radical and nationalistic approach to international affairs has already touched India in important areas, from visas for skilled workers, to climate change, to Iran policy. After an era in which successive American Presidents were persuaded to forego short-term pay-offs for longer-term economic and diplomatic investment in India, we now have an incumbent whose foreign policy imperative is to secure a pound of flesh — and to do so in the here and now. “The world is not a “global community’,” noted two of Trump’s advisers in a Wall Street Journal oped this month, summarising the President’s worldview, declaring that they embraced “this elemental nature of international affairs”. This undoubtedly throws up new challenges for India. Yet there are three important things to keep in mind when looking at the path ahead.

Three indications

First, the India-U.S. relationship has its own mass and momentum. While the grand gestures of the past decade may be more difficult to achieve, the relationship is likely to remain robust. While the whims of the President and his most radical advisers will buffet particular areas — such as trade, immigration, and climate change — more pragmatic cabinet ministers are not without influence. Most significant here is the so-called Axis of Adults, comprising Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defence James Mattis, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

U.S. Strategic Interests and the Rise of Prince Mohammed bin Salman

By Anthony Cordesman

It does not take much vision to predict that making Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the new Crown Prince, and removing Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from any position of power, will lead to a flood of new speculation about the possible tensions with the Saudi royal family, the motives involved in changing the succession, and how the resulting changes will spill over into a host of changes in less important positions. 

It takes even less vision – just reading the reporting during one or two prior major changes in succession will provide all the necessary examples – to predict that the vast majority of this reporting will be pure speculation and wrong. Guessing about the Saudi royal family went from a national to an international sport at the time of Nasser, and the game – like all other forms of phantom sports leagues – is likely to continue indefinitely. This is particularly likely because the past shows that the full circumstances and facts behind many shifts within the Saudi royal family never do become fully known, and any really good conspiracy theory can live forever. 

In any case, what is done is done and America has far more serious priorities. What is far less speculative is the fact that Saudi Arabia is a key strategic partner of the United States at a time of great uncertainty, and finding the best ways to serve common strategic interests is already a critical challenge. 

They Brushed Off Kamala Harris. Then She Brushed Us Off.


Last week, Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, made headlines when Republican senators interrupted her at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee while she interrogated Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The clip of the exchange went viral; journalists, politicians and everyday Americans debated what the shushing signified about our still sexist culture.

The very next day, Senator Harris took her seat in front of us as a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. We were there to testify about the ideology of political Islam, or Islamism.

Both of us were on edge. Earlier that day, across the Potomac River, a man had shot a Republican lawmaker and others on a baseball diamond in Alexandria, Va. And just moments before the hearing began, a man wearing a Muslim prayer cap had stood up and heckled us, putting Capitol police officers on high alert. We were girding ourselves for tough questions.



IN ONE OF his first public statements on his priorities as president, Donald Trump promised to develop a "comprehensive plan to protect America's vital infrastructure from cyberattacks." That has not yet materialized. And as new evidence has emerged that a piece of sophisticated malware caused a blackout in the Ukrainian capital last December, one group of senators wants answers now about the threat of Russian grid-hacking.

In a letter to the presidentThursday, 19 senators have called on the White House to direct the Department of Energy to conduct a new analysis of the Russian government's capabilities to disrupt America's power grid. They also want an exploration of any attempts the Kremlin may have already made to compromise America's electric utilities, pipelines, or other energy infrastructure, all within 60 days. While they made a similar request in March–to which the White House never responded–forensic reports that surfaced last week about a piece of malware known as CrashOverride, which briefly took out about a fifth of the total energy capacity of Kiev, have given their query renewed urgency.