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

16 September 2017

*** In Canada, Deep Divisions Brilliantly Managed

By George Friedman

I spent the past two weeks in Canada, north of a town called Nelson in British Columbia. One evening, while nearing sleep, I heard a rumbling that sounded like a train. In the morning, I woke and people were taking about an enormous fireball that had passed overhead. The rumbling had been the result a meteor crashing to Earth.

A bit later, I headed out for a hike. The country north of Nelson was beautiful and very lightly inhabited. That morning it was covered with what seemed like a thick and eerie mist. It was in fact the result of massive forest fires that had ravaged British Columbia.

Where I was, I had a sense of both extremes that nature presents in Canada and also its loneliness. A meteor could fall and not disturb anyone. I had been to Canada many times before, but always in the south. Here I got a sense of loneliness that I had never quite experienced in the United States. The roads were sparse, as were the people. It was that loneliness amid beauty that riveted me. I have, of course, visited most major Canadian cities and they are simply cities, as inviting and confining as most. Obviously, every country has the paradox between the rural and urban, but the first thing you notice about Canada is the profound division between human life and the absolute solitude of most of the country.


A Country Is Its People

15 September 2017

Does the U.S. Trade Deficit Matter?


President Donald J. Trump has made reducing the U.S. trade deficit, which has expanded significantly in recent decades, a priority of his administration. He and his advisors argue that renegotiating trade deals, promoting “Buy American” policies, and confronting China over what they see as its economic distortions will shrink the trade deficit, create jobs, and strengthen national security.

While some economists do not believe that trade deficits hurt the economy, others believe that sustained trade deficits are often a problem. There is substantial debate over how much of the trade deficit is caused by foreign governments, as well as what policies, if any, should be pursued to reduce it.

What is a trade deficit?

A trade deficit occurs when a nation imports more than it exports. For instance, in 2016 the United States exported $2.2 trillion in goods and services while it imported $2.7 trillion, leaving a trade deficit of roughly $500 billion. Services, such as tourism, intellectual property, and finance, make up roughly one third of exports, while major goods exported include aircraft, medical equipment, refined petroleum and agricultural commodities. Meanwhile, imports are dominated by capital goods, such as computers and telecom equipment; consumer goods, such as apparel, electronic devices, and automobiles; and crude oil. (The deficit in goods, at $750 billion, is higher than the overall deficit, since a portion of the goods deficit is offset by the surplus in services trade.)

14 September 2017

Trump and the Future of US Grand Strategy

By Jack Thompson for Center for Security Studies (CSS)
11 Sep 2017

According to Jack Thompson, US grand strategy is at a crossroads. Washington may continue to pursue internationalism, as most of the country’s conservative national security establishment would prefer. However, Donald Trump’s election and his embrace of populist conservative nationalism could mean that the US will turn its back on the liberal world order. Either way, suggests Thompson, the debates currently raging within the Trump administration will do much to determine which direction the US will eventually take, with significant consequences for the global order.

US grand strategy is at a crossroads. Will Washington continue to pursue internationalism, as most of the establishment would prefer, or does the election of Donald Trump and his embrace of populist conservative nationalism indicate that the US is about to turn its back on the liberal world order? The answer will play a significant role in determining the nature of world politics in the coming years.

US grand strategy between 1992 and 2016 was, in retrospect, remarkably consistent. Even though the foreign policy records of the post-Cold War presidents – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama – differed, sometimes dramatically, they shared fundamental assumptions about international politics and the strategy the US should pursue to maximize the safety and prosperity of its citizens.

Judging from each administration’s National Security Strategy reports – which are mandated by Congress – and other official documents, they all advocated a muscular version of liberal internationalism. This entailed the core objectives of military predominance – albeit paired with a network of security alliances and membership in international organizations – the lowering of trade barriers, and the spread of democracy. In addition, each administration viewed legal immigration as desirable economically and acceptable culturally.

10 September 2017

The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election

By SCOTT SHANE

Sometimes an international offensive begins with a few shots that draw little notice. So it was last year when Melvin Redick of Harrisburg, Pa., a friendly-looking American with a backward baseball cap and a young daughter, posted on Facebook a link to a brand-new website.

“These guys show hidden truth about Hillary Clinton, George Soros and other leaders of the US,” he wrote on June 8, 2016. “Visit #DCLeaks website. It’s really interesting!”

Mr. Redick turned out to be a remarkably elusive character. No Melvin Redick appears in Pennsylvania records, and his photos seem to be borrowed from an unsuspecting Brazilian. But this fictional concoction has earned a small spot in history: The Redick posts that morning were among the first public signs of an unprecedented foreign intervention in American democracy.Photo

A Facebook post, by someone claiming to be Melvin Redick, promoting a website linked to the Russian military intelligence agency G.R.U.CreditThe New York Times

The DCLeaks site had gone live a few days earlier, posting the first samples of material, stolen from prominent Americans by Russian hackers, that would reverberate through the presidential election campaign and into the Trump presidency. The site’s phony promoters were in the vanguard of a cyberarmy of counterfeit Facebook and Twitter accounts, a legion of Russian-controlled impostors whose operations are still being unraveled.

The Russian information attack on the election did not stop with the hacking and leaking of Democratic emails or the fire hose of stories, true, false and in between, that battered Mrs. Clinton on Russian outlets like RT and Sputnik. Far less splashy, and far more difficult to trace, was Russia’s experimentation on Facebook and Twitter, the American companies that essentially invented the tools of social media and, in this case, did not stop them from being turned into engines of deception and propaganda.

5 September 2017

America's Strategic Partnership with India Is about More than Afghanistan

Walter Lohman

The United States and India should work together to reinstate the quadrilateral security dialogue.

In the process of making his case for America’s commitment to Afghanistan, President Donald Trump called for a strategic partnership with India. He is absolutely right about that, but as he allowed in the speech, the need is bigger than a common vision for Afghanistan. It is just as important to integrate India into a strategy capable of addressing broader region concerns and to house it in an institution capable of incorporating the views of America’s other allies and friends. To this end, the United States and India should work together to reinstate the quadrilateral security dialogue (or “quad”).

The truth is, as serious as American and Indian interests are in Afghanistan, the longer-term, more difficult, more consequential challenge is the rise of China. President Trump is right to focus on the global terrorist threat that could once again emerge from the Af-Pak region. The United States cannot allow Afghanistan to again become a lawless safe haven for terrorists able to wreak destruction half a world away. But as much as 9/11 and America’s (and its allies’) response to it changed the world, the rise of China as a major economic, political and diplomatic power—with its own ideas about the international order—will have an even farther reaching, deeper impact.

3 September 2017

Fascism, American Style

Source Link
Paul Krugman

As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.

Once Latinos were arrested, bad things happened to them. Many were sent to Tent City, which Arpaio himself proudly called a “concentration camp,” where they lived under brutal conditions, with temperatures inside the tents sometimes rising to 145 degrees.

And when he received court orders to stop these practices, he simply ignored them, which led to his eventual conviction — after decades in office — for contempt of court. But he had friends in high places, indeed in the highest of places. We now know that Donald Trump tried to get the Justice Department to drop the case against Arpaio, a clear case of attempted obstruction of justice. And when that ploy failed, Trump, who had already suggested that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job,” pardoned him.

By the way, about “doing his job,” it turns out that Arpaio’s officers were too busy rounding up brown-skinned people and investigating President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to do other things, like investigate cases of sexually abused children. Priorities!

2 September 2017

Time to Terminate Washington's Defense Welfare

Doug Bandow

The spectacle of South Korean president Moon Jae-in proclaiming that the United States cannot attack North Korea without his permission is an embarrassment for a country that believes it has taken its place among the nations. He undoubtedly realizes that no American president, especially the present one, would give another nation a veto over U.S. security.

At most the Seoul government could forbid the Pentagon from using bases in the Republic of Korea, but Washington has multiple options for launching military operations. And Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke for many Americans when he declared that a war would be awful for the South Korean people, but at least “it will be over there.” The ROK, not the United States, would provide the battleground if full-scale war erupted as a result of American strikes. So why should the Trump administration worry?

No wonder President Moon is almost frantic over the possibility of a unilateral U.S. attack. The late President Kim Young-sam claimed to have dissuaded President Bill Clinton from assaulting the North’s nuclear facilities. An attack plan was drafted with the assistance of former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, when he was serving as an assistant secretary under Defense Secretary William Perry, though Clinton aides denied it was put in motion.

1 September 2017

*** Iran, the Gulf, the JCPOA, and American Strategy

Anthony H. Cordesman

The U.S. cannot afford to treat its nuclear agreement with Iran lightly, or ignore the fact that Iran poses a serious strategic threat to vital U.S. interests. No one in the United States can afford illusions about Iran. It does not have modern conventional military forces, and it does not have nuclear weapons. It is, however, a major regional threat for ten key reasons: 

Its Supreme leader, hardline clerics and politicians, and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) remain hostile to the United States and its Arab strategic partners in the region.They have fed the Shi'ite side of the growing tension between Sunnis, Shi'ites, and other sects of Islam, which has been driven on the Sunni side by movements like al Qaida and ISIS. They have made Iran a steadily growing threat and shown little real interest in pursuing other options. 

Iran is developing massive conventionally armed missile forces and seeking to give them the kind of precision guidance that could successfully attack key military, economic, and infrastructure targets throughout the Gulf region and beyond. Iran has the potential to create ICBMs, but its major real-world threat consists of a current capability to strike at area targets throughout the region and an active effort to acquire the kind of precision ballistic and cruise missile strike capability over time that can destroy key targets to the point where it can substitute "weapons of mass effectiveness" for weapons of mass destruction. 

Afghanistan-Pakistan-US: Radical Redirection – Analysis

By Ajai Sahni*

There has been a tremendous and polarizing response to US President Donald Trump’s announcement of a “new integrated strategy for the U.S. approach to South Asia”, in particular, his approach to the Afghanistan-Pakistan conundrum. However, most commentary, other than that of Trump’s committed partisans, has been dismissive of this new approach, abruptly writing it off as ‘old wine in new bottles’; pointing to its commonalities with past and demonstrably failed strategies – particularly including those of the precedent administration of President Barack Obama; criticizing it for its excessive reliance on use of force, when ‘history’ has apparently demonstrated that ‘military solutions don’t work’, and so forth.

But Trump’s strategy deserves close attention because it does, in fact, contain radically original elements, and also because, irrespective of its actual implementation and eventual probabilities of success, it will – indeed, has already begun to – dramatically alter the geo-strategic environment of South Asia and the wider Asian region.

Broad-stroke counter-terrorism options with regard to the AfPak region are, of course, limited. Simply put, they are exhausted by the choice between reliance on use of force, on the one hand, and negotiated settlements, on the other. Both have been tried fitfully – or have been indiscriminately mixed in – over the past decades, and it is not just the ‘military solution’ that has been unsuccessful; negotiations have gone nowhere as well.

The Secretary’s Rebuke 77.5k 2.5k 566 James Mattis tells the troops that their president is failing them.

By Fred Kaplan

President Trump has left us so numbed by his deceit and dishonor that it’s hard for anything said by or about him to shock us. Even so, the remarks this past weekend by two of his top Cabinet officers should sound the alarm bells louder than usual.

On Fox News on Sunday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was asked about a U.N. committee’s recent warning about racism in America, which criticized Trump’s wavering attitude toward the neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia. Tillerson replied, “I don’t think anyone doubts the American people’s values,” including those touting “equal treatment of people the world over.” But when asked whether Trump shared those values, he replied, “The president speaks for himself.”

Around the same time, a recent video emerged on Facebook of Secretary of Defense James Mattis telling a small group of American troops, “You’re a great example of our country right now.” He went on, “Our country, right now, it’s got problems that we don’t have in the military. You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it.”

30 August 2017

A BUSINESS APPROACH TO AMERICA’S WARFIGHTING MODEL

BENJAMIN JENSEN, NEIL HOLLENBECK AND ARNEL DAVID

It is 2020. North Korea crosses the Rubicon. With intelligence estimates indicating the imminent launch of missiles against South Korea, Japan, and possibly the United States, Korean and allied officials opt to launch a limited spoiling attack. Special operations forces attack high-value targets and sabotage critical lines of communication, using a network of quadcopters for intelligence, attack missions, and secure communication. Manned-unmanned teams of Apache attack helicopters and Gray Eagle drones attack artillery, command and control, and air defenses on the forward edge of the battlefield, freeing up artillery units, including long-range missiles, and fifth-generation aircraft for deep interdiction missions. An artificial intelligence-enabled command network helps staff prioritize missions and anticipate resupply issues. Missile defense and cyber protection teams protect assembly areas. Civil Affairs teams use biometric kits and big data platforms to register refugees, coordinate humanitarian relief, and map the human terrain.

23 August 2017

China vs. America Managing the Next Clash of Civilizations

By Graham Allison

As Americans awaken to a rising China that now rivals the United States in every arena, many seek comfort in the conviction that as China grows richer and stronger, it will follow in the footsteps of Germany, Japan, and other countries that have undergone profound transformations and emerged as advanced liberal democracies. In this view, the magic cocktail of globalization, market-based consumerism, and integration into the rule-based international order will eventually lead China to become democratic at home and to develop into what former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick once described as “a responsible stakeholder” abroad. 

Samuel Huntington disagreed. In his essay “The Clash of Civilizations?,” published in this magazine in 1993, the political scientist argued that, far from dissolving in a global liberal world order, cultural fault lines would become a defining feature of the post–Cold War world. Huntington’s argument is remembered today primarily for its prescience in spotlighting the divide between “Western and Islamic civilizations”—a rift that was revealed most vividly by the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. But Huntington saw the gulf between the U.S.-led West and Chinese civilization as just as deep, enduring, and consequential. As he put it, “The very notion that there could be a ‘universal civilization’ is a Western idea, directly at odds with the particularism of most Asian societies and their emphasis on what distinguishes one people from another.”

21 August 2017

An ominous how-to for a terrorist attack in America

By Marc A. Thiessen 

The terrorist attack in Barcelona follows a pattern that has left more than 100 people dead and hundreds more injured in Nice, Berlin, London, Stockholm and Ohio State University — a terrorist takes a van or truck and plows through innocent pedestrians on a crowded thoroughfare, turning the vehicle into “a mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah.”

Those words come from an article called “The Ultimate Mowing Machine” in the 2010 edition of the glossy online al-Qaeda magazine Inspire, which provided detailed instructions for how to carry out vehicular attacks, urging would-be terrorists to “pick up as much speed as you can while still retaining good control . . . to strike as many people as possible in your first run.”

A Tunisian terrorist followed these instructions when he drove a tractor trailer into a Christmas market in Berlin in December; as did the British terrorists who mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London in March and London Bridge in June; as did an Uzbek terrorist who drove a truck into pedestrians and shoppers in Stockholm in April. And now we have seen this technique used by terrorists in Barcelona, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 100. And it is not just Islamist terrorists who are inspired by these tactics. Last weekend, an allegedly neo-Nazi domestic terrorist, James Alex Fields Jr., used a car to mow down a crowd in Charlottesville.

In Latin America, Populism Is Alive And Well


Populism is frequently diagnosed as the root cause of Latin America's greatest political and economic ills. But just as the human body reacts to an infection by entering a feverish state, many consider populism to be the public's response to a society in disarray. By understanding the underlying conditions that enabled the rise of strongmen like Argentina's Juan Domingo Peron or Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, we can more easily spot the early signs of populism flaring in the region once again.

Men of the People

In the centuries following its independence, Latin American history has been marked by economic cycles of boom and bust. Periods of political volatility and upheaval accompanied these ups and downs, further adding to the stress that financial uncertainty places on regional governments. It is little surprise, then, that powerful leaders gained a reputation in Latin America as the glue holding society together in times of great strain.

The first of these strongmen - known locally as caudillos - emerged after the region's decolonization during the 19th century, establishing a trend that was to become prominent in the 20th century. From Juan Manuel de Rosas in Argentina to Simon Bolivar in Venezuela, charismatic rulers proceeded to capture the public's attention and, more often than not, their support - a style of leadership today founded on populism.

Let’s try a defensive strategy in America’s wars, and win.



Summary: So many posts here describe how we are losing. Since we’ve forgotten, I’m reposting explanations of why and how we are losing — and how we can win in the age when 4th generation warfare (4GW) is the dominant mode of war. Step one: adopt a rational grand strategy. The original version was posted in June 2008. Since we have learned nothing since then, it is as true now as then.

“We should cultivate a reluctance “to travel a long distance to kill foreigners at great expense” unless we have great need.”

Contents 
Can America do a grand strategy? 

First, lose the baggage in our minds. 

Second, some simple recommendations. 

Make more friends and fewer enemies. 

Don’t gamble. Adopt slow but sure tactics. 

Survive until we win. 

More about a defensive strategy for America. 

For more information. 
(1) Can America do a grand strategy?

“The {Athenian} masses voted …to kill every adult male citizen of Mytilene… to spare every adult male citizen of Mytilene… to put Alkibiades in charge of the Sicilian expedition… to put Nikias in charge of the Sicilian expedition. The Athenian demos voted for *everybody* at different times.”

20 August 2017

Create a Channel for a U.S.-China Dialogue on South Asia


The real danger of an explosive conflict and potential nuclear war lingers in South Asia. Relations between India and Pakistan remain distrustful, confrontational, and highly volatile as the result of decades-long hostility. War plans are being refined on both sides – a war that could be triggered by terrorist attacks launched by Pakistan-based groups. Escalation control seems to be assumed by both sides, but miscalculation of intentions and reactions could ignite a catastrophic nuclear war.

Despite these risks, the United States and China do not regard crisis management in South Asia as a top priority in their bilateral foreign policy agendas. Cooperation on crisis management in the past has been ad hoc. The level of attention, dialogue, and preparation devoted to the proper management of a potential crisis between India and Pakistan is highly disproportionate to the risks and stakes at hand. Therefore, the United States and China might well consider the establishment of a routine dialogue at the sub-cabinet level that could become a crisis management mechanism to enhance preparedness for and effectiveness of crisis management to prevent a nuclear disaster in South Asia.

The Problem

The nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan has accelerated in recent years. Both countries possess well over 100 warheads and credible missile delivery systems.[i] Pakistan’s rising nuclear stockpile is widely believed to be the fasting growing in the world.[ii] Pakistan has continued to develop tactical nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield that it threatens to deploy in the event India implements its “Cold Start” doctrine.[iii] India has completed its nuclear triad by inducting a strategic nuclear submarine into service.[iv] India’s aim is to reduce the gap between its nuclear capabilities and China’s.[v] The nuclear arms race in the region reflects the geopolitical competition between China and India and between India and Pakistan.

18 August 2017

State Department quietly establishes new cybersecurity office

BY MORGAN CHALFANT 

The State Department quietly established a new office earlier this year within its Diplomatic Security Service to safeguard against and respond to cybersecurity threats.

The State Department officially launched the new office, called the Cyber and Technology Security (CTS) directorate, on May 28, a department official confirmed. The establishment of the directorate was first reportedby Federal News Radio last week. 

The directorate “facilitates the conduct of global diplomacy by protecting life, property, and information with advanced cybersecurity programs and risk-managed technology innovation,” the State official told The Hill. 

“CTS provides advanced cyber threat analysis, incident detection and response, cyber investigative support, and emerging technology solutions,” the official said. 

The new directorate does not appear to have a place on the department’s website and was not accompanied by an official press release at the time of its establishment. 

A government official told Federal News Radio that the new directorate essentially gives the State Department’s chief information officer one point of contact to make sure that embassies, consulates and foreign affairs officers are adequately protecting against cyber threats. 

Is Trump Militarizing U.S.-Africa Policy?


‘The US is waging a massive shadow war in Africa … The war you’ve never heard of,’ the online journal VICE News recently announced. ‘Today, according to U.S. military documents obtained by VICE News, special operators are carrying out nearly 100 missions at any given time – in Africa alone.’

It was the latest sign of the military’s ‘quiet but ever-expanding presence on the continent’, one that represented the ‘most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops to any region of the globe’, it said. Donald Bolduc, the US Army general who runs Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA), says Africa’s challenges ‘could create a threat that surpasses the threat that the United States currently faces from conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria’, according to VICE News.

‘He went on to cite a laundry list of challenges with which he and his personnel must contend: ever-expanding illicit networks, terrorist safe havens, attempts to subvert government authority, a steady stream of new recruits and resources,’ says VICE News. ‘At the same time, Bolduc says the U.S. is not at war in Africa. But this assertion is challenged by the ongoing operations aimed at the militant group al-Shabaab in Somalia.’

17 August 2017

Will The U.S. Strike North Korea?

By Minghao Zhao

BEIJING – Donald Trump is running out of patience with North Korea. Using heated language unusual for a US president, Trump recently warned that if Pyongyang threatens to attack the United States again, the US will respond with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Whatever action Trump decides to take, he must recognize that the stakes – not just for the Korean Peninsula, but also for America’s relationship with China – could not be higher.

North Korea’s two latest intercontinental ballistic missile tests, carried out last month, suggest that the country now has the capability to hit the continental US. The US Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that North Korea may well have already developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be delivered on such a missile. Experts from Johns Hopkins University anticipate a sixth nuclear test at any moment.

The United Nations Security Council has now unanimously passed the harshest sanctions yet against North Korea, in the hope of pressuring the small country to renounce its nuclear-weapons program. The resolutionbans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, and seafood products, which together account for one third of the country’s already meager annual export revenue of $3 billion. It also prohibits countries from issuing new permits to North Korean workers abroad, whose wages, it is suspected, help fund nuclear and missile programs.

A Roadmap for U.S.-Russia Relations


At a time when tension between the US and Russia is higher than it has been in decades, we cannot forget that the relationship between these two countries is among the most important for global security. On any number of issues, from arms control to the Middle East, failure of the U.S. and Russia to communicate will make things much, much worse, with repercussions that will last for generations and affect the entire world. For this reason, CSIS and RIAC convened some of Russia’s and America’s top experts to think through the future of the bilateral relationship. The result is a series of papers that identify both the spheres where coordination is crucial and those where it may be possible, responding to mutual interests and potentially helping to stabilize the relationship and buffer against conflict in the future. For both, they offer concrete recommendations and a clear-eyed take on what can, and what cannot be done.

The analyses that follow examine prospects for Russia-U.S. cooperation in several crucial regions and fields: economics, energy, the Arctic, Euro-Atlantic security, the Middle East, strategic stability, cybersecurity, and countering terrorism and extremism. They offer actionable recommendations in each area, some of which can, and should be undertaken today, and some of which should be considered by policymakers in Moscow and Washington as they chart a course through dangerous and uncertain times.