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06-02-2012, 06:57 PM
'More US warships in Asia-Pacific under new strategy'

By David Alexander, Reuters
Posted at 06/02/2012 3:48 PM | Updated as of 06/02/2012 3:48 PM


* Asia focus not an attempt to contain China, says US defense chief

* U.S. committed to six aircraft carriers in the region

* More exercises, expanding partnerships

SINGAPORE- The United States will keep six aircraft carriers in the Asia-Pacific and move a majority of its other warships to the region in the coming years, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Saturday as he offered details of a new U.S. military strategy for the first time.

Speaking to an annual security forum in Singapore, Panetta also sought to dispel the notion that the shift in U.S. focus to the Asia-Pacific was part of an American effort to contain China's emergence as a global power.

"I reject that view entirely. Our effort to renew and intensify our involvement in Asia is fully compatible with the development and growth of China," Panetta said in remarks prepared for the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual conference that draws senior civilian and military leaders from 30 nations.

Panetta's comments came at the outset of a seven-day visit to the region to explain to allies and partners the practical meaning of a U.S. military strategy unveiled in January that calls for rebalancing American forces to focus on the Pacific.

The trip, which includes stops in Vietnam and India, comes at a time of renewed tensions over competing sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, with Manila and Beijing in a standoff over the Scarborough Shoal near the Philippine coast.

China has downgraded its representation to the Shangri-La Dialogue compared to last year, when Defense Minister Liang Guanglie attended and met with then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. This year the Chinese military was represented by the vice president of Academy of Military Sciences.

Panetta, on the other hand, was accompanied by General Martin Dempsey, the U.S. military's top officer as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Admiral Samuel Locklear, the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, who leads U.S. forces in the region.

Panetta said he was committed to building a "healthy, stable, reliable and continuous" military-to-military relationship with China, but he underscored the importance of Beijing supporting a rules-based system to clarify rights in the region and help to peacefully resolve disputes.

"China has a critical role to play in advancing security and prosperity by respecting the rules-based order that has served the region for six decades," he said.

SIX AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

Fleshing out details of the U.S. shift to Asia, Panetta told officials attending the Singapore conference that the United States would reposition its Navy fleet in the coming years so that by 2020, 60 percent of its warships would be assigned to the Asia-Pacific region, versus about 50 percent now.

He said the Navy would maintain six aircraft carriers assigned to the Pacific. Six of the Navy's 11 carriers are currently assigned to the Pacific, but that number will fall to five when the USS Enterprise retires this year.

Panetta's announcement means the number of carriers in the Pacific will rise to six again when the new carrier USS Gerald R. Ford is completed in 2015.

The U.S. Navy had a fleet of 282 ships including support vessels as of March this year. That number was expected to slip to about 276 over the next two years before beginning to rise again toward the Navy's goal of a 300-ship fleet, according to a 30-year Navy shipbuilding projection released in March.

But officials warned that fiscal constraints and continuing problems with cost overruns could make it difficult to attain the goal of a 300-ship fleet over the course of the 30-year period.

Panetta underscored the breadth of the U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific, noting Washington's treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia as well as its partnerships with India, Singapore, Indonesia and other countries.

He said the United States would attempt to build on those partnerships with cooperative arrangements like the rotational deployment agreement it has with Australia and is working on with the Philippines.

Panetta said the United States also would work to increase the number and size of bilateral and multilateral training exercises it conducts in the region. Officials said last year the United States carried out 172 such exercises in the region.

The U.S. defense secretary also sought to address concerns that the Washington might be unable to meet its commitments to the region because of tightening defense budgets and fiscal uncertainty.

"The Department of Defense has in our five-year budget plan a detailed blueprint for implementing this strategy, realizing our long-term goals in this region and still meeting our fiscal responsibilities," Panetta said. (Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

danny
06-03-2012, 10:52 PM
This is old strategy. Part and parcel of the Project for the New American Century. Global dominatin with particular emphasis in Eurasia and the Pacific to counter and prevent the emergence of any power that will challenge their supremacy. It is indeed the end of the American century. Hubris. No more money so spend them all in the military for war.

Rome's decline took a century or two. Uk in 50 or less. The Soviet was in terminal decline when it was created. The US? If China pulls the financial plug by liquidating their treasury holdings, the US is dead overnight.

Sam Miguel
07-10-2012, 02:05 PM
^^^ Danny, in this age, can there really be an empire of any kind? Even after 1990, I don't think America was ever an "empire" even in the British sense, never mind the Pax Romana.

Even speaking of China, given all of their overt actions, can the Chinese erect a "Bamboo Curtain 2.0" in this day and age?

danny
07-11-2012, 04:28 AM
Not an "empire" in the classic Roman sense, but a politico-military empire nonetheless. Not from my own words nor reflection but even the mainstream US media can recognize the "American Empire".

Joescoundrel
09-12-2012, 11:32 AM
Shrinking defense budgets among its allies are a warning sign for the U.S.

The Los Angeles Times

By Gary Schmitt

September 11, 2012

When it comes to "hard power," the West is in steep decline. Virtually every nation in Europe is cutting its defense budget. Japan refuses to spend more than 1% of its gross domestic product on defense. And Australia is slashing its military budget, leaving it at just 1.5% of GDP, the smallest ratio in more than seven decades. Now add in the cuts of more than $800 billion in current and planned spending on U.S. defenses, with the prospect of nearly $500 billion more over the next 10 years. The result is a Western defense capability that is rapidly shrinking in size, has too little invested in future technologies and is increasingly wary of any conflict that would require sustained operations.

The situation is especially dire in Europe. In the early 1990s, NATO allies averaged 2.5% of GDP for defense expenditures — not great but passable. Today, it is closer to 1.5% — even though, a decade ago, members had agreed to a 2% minimum. According to NATO figures, last year only two countries were above that line: Britain at 2.6% and Greece at 2.1%. No doubt Greece no longer belongs in that club.

As Stephen Hadley, former President George W. Bush's national security advisor, has pointedly remarked: "Europe has become so enamored with soft power that it has stopped investing in hard power. In terms of hard security, it makes Europe a free rider." Strong words from someone who has been deeply committed to keeping transatlantic ties strong.

Nor is the picture much better in Asia. While China has been increasing its defense budget by double-digit rates annually for two decades, Taiwan and Japan have allowed their defense budgets to decline or to stay essentially flat. In Japan's case, it's the 11th consecutive year the defense budget has been cut. With the world's third-largest economy, Japan's 1% still buys a lot of capabilities, but, arguably, it isn't enough to keep up with China's growing military might. And although Australia cannot be said to have been a free rider given the sustained contribution it has made on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, the planned cuts to its military will mean a sharply reduced capacity to act as a force multiplier as the United States pivots to Asia. Even South Korea, which faces a nuclear-armed, unpredictable state on its doorstep, has not seen its defense burden rise above 3% of GDP for nearly 20 years.

Measuring defense spending as a percentage of GDP does not, of course, give you a perfect picture of the defense effort of a country because it cannot measure the quality of the existing force or the willingness of a country to use force. That said, the GDP measure does give you a generally accurate sense of the burden the government and its citizens are willing to sustain when it comes to the military and, as such, the priority a country gives to defense relative to other matters.

And here, "the tale of the tape" is revealing. According to the European Union's accountingfrom 1995 to 2010, French spending on defense — broadly defined as including the base defense budget, civil defense, R&D and foreign military aid — had risen by 33%. At the same time, spending on the environment increased 143%, on housing and community amenities by 103%, on health by 80% and on social protection (old age, disability, unemployment, etc.) by 81%. In Germany, while defense spending declined over the last two decades, Berlin's spending on health increased by 81% and on social protection by 70%. Germany also saw an approximately 50% increase in other areas, such as public services, education, recreation and culture. As for Britain, over the same time frame, expenditures for the environment, health, public services, education and social protection have exploded — each well over 100%, with health increasing by 188% and environmental spending almost tripling. In the meantime, defense spending was increasing by a little over a third.

In short, if there is a fiscal crisis among our allies, it has not been brought about by an untenable level of spending on defense.

As the figures indicate, spending decisions are political choices. The United States faces similar choices as the rise of entitlement benefits and healthcare begin to squeeze out other items, such as defense.

Compounding the problem, at least among NATO allies, is the perception that they face no significant conventional security threat. What's missing in this focus on immediate and obvious threats is the role the West's militaries play in maintaining a largely stable world order. It is the West, with the U.S. in the lead, that has both kept the great power peace for 60 years and kept rogue states from disrupting that order in critical areas. It is this stability that has allowed globalization to flourish and, in turn, help generate unprecedented economic growth around the world.

Of course, military power alone has not produced this prosperity. But take away the safety net the West's military predominance has established and everyone will be looking at, and planning for, a far more Hobbesian global environment.

The good news is that this predominance does not require a return to Cold War-era spending levels. Yet, given the uncertain consequences of China's rise, continued instability in large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia, and a revanchist Putin-led Russia, it does require more than is currently being budgeted. As then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said in his farewell address to allies in Brussels a year ago, "This imbalance in burden sharing is not sustainable in a world where projecting stability is the order of the day."

America's allies like to tell themselves that they can always spend their defense monies more efficiently, but that is true only up to a point. The fact is that smaller budgets almost always mean less capability and, implicitly, more loaded onto America's shoulders. Politically, this is getting more and more difficult to sustain in the United States. While the U.S. base defense budget — minus funds for the war in Afghanistan — amounts to 3.4% of GDP, current projections see it falling to less than 3% in the decade ahead.

If the Polish government can mandate that its defense budget not slip below 1.95% of GDP, it hardly seems unreasonable to ask that other allies meet that standard. Otherwise, we are headed for a strategic train wreck, with the U.S. looking for more help on the world stage and allies providing even less.

Gary Schmitt is a resident scholar and the director of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

Joescoundrel
09-12-2012, 11:50 AM
The Middle East remains in turmoil. The U.S. should boost its air and naval assets in Asia but leave the other military branches free to focus on other regions.

By Max Boot

The Los Angeles Times

July 2, 2012

Is there any organization outside of Hollywood more prey to intellectual fads than the Department of Defense?

A decade ago the buzzword around the Pentagon was "transformation." Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld wanted to force radical change to take advantage of information technology. So the individual services took to justifying every program, even hulking tanks and massive aircraft carriers, as "transformational."

Then, as the armed forces became more deeply embroiled in Iraq and Afghanistan, the buzzword became counterinsurgency, or "COIN." The Army and Marine Corps retooled themselves to fight insurgents. The Navy and Air Force felt left behind, so they took to rebranding everything they did as COIN-

related. I remember a fatuous briefing from an Air Force general in Afghanistan who solemnly informed me that his MPs were doing COIN around their own air base, which just happened to be located in one of the most insurgent-free areas of the entire country.

Now the buzzword du jour is "Pacific," as in "Pacific pivot." In January the White House released a new national security strategy, complete with italic emphasis: "While theU.S. militarywill continue to contribute to security globally, we will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region." Since then, Secretary of DefenseLeon E. Panettahas announced that 60% of theU.S. Navywill gradually shift to the Pacific.

Naturally the Army and Marine Corps have been compelled to march in step. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, seldom lets a speech pass without noting that "seven out of the 10 largest armies are in the Pacific, and 22 of the 27 nations in the region have an army officer as chief of defense." Hence, he argues, the Army has a vital role in building "relationships [that] will help us in the long run in the Pacific." Not to be left behind, the Marine Corps has already dispatched 2,500 Marines to Darwin, Australia, where the greatest danger they are likely to face is alcohol poisoning.

Building up U.S. forces in the Pacific makes sense. China is a rising power and a potential long-term threat. But we don't need a full-on "Pacific pivot," at least not for the ground forces, because we can't afford to neglect the Middle East, the center of our security concerns for more than three decades.

What should be rebalanced? Ships and aircraft. China, according to the U.S. Naval Institute, has been outbuilding us in submarines by 8 to 1 since 2005. A bipartisan commission calculated last year that the Navy would need 346 ships to meet its global commitments. But, as a result of budget cuts, the fleet is going to decline from 282 ships today to fewer than 250 in the next decade — and that's not counting "sequestration," the draconian mandatory budget cuts that are due in January unless Congress acts first. Similarly the Air Force has stopped buying the F-22, the most capable fighter in the world, and is steadily decreasing its planned buy of the next best, the F-35.

To be meaningful, the "Pacific pivot" would need to reverse the decline in procurement of aerial and naval weapons systems — and that, in turn, would require reversing the decline in the defense budget.

As for the Army and Marine Corps, shifting their focus to the Pacific would be ill-advised.

The only contingency that could call for a substantial deployment of ground troops to the region would be another Korean war or an implosion of North Korea — and even then, the large and capable South Korean forces would be in the lead, with the U.S. primarily providing intelligence and air power. Korea aside, the Army and Marines in the Pacific will in all likelihood be limited to exercises with allied ground forces. No one imagines U.S. troops marching on Beijing.

So does this mean that we have no need for a large ground force and can afford to cut Army and Marine Corps troop levels by 100,000, as currently planned? No, because the greater Middle East — a region stretching from Mali to Pakistan — remains in turmoil. U.S. troops are still fighting in Afghanistan, and it is not hard to imagine scenarios under which they may need to be sent to Pakistan, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia or other countries.

Groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are constantly plotting attacks on American aircraft and the American homeland. If even one of them succeeds, there could well be inexorable pressure to clean out the terrorist sanctuaries — and the Army and Marines could be sent into battle again.

Instead of pushing the Army and Marine Corps to pivot to the Pacific, the administration would be better advised to recognize that for the U.S., the Pacific will remain primarily an air and naval theater. By all means, increase our air and naval assets in Asia, but leave the Army and the Marines free to concentrate on the area where they have been so heavily engaged in the last decade and are likely to remain engaged for years to come.

Max Boot, a contributing editor to Opinion, is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming "Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present."

Joescoundrel
09-12-2012, 11:57 AM
Courting India as hoped-for 'strategic partner,' the U.S. has sold the nation $8 billion in arms over the last 10 years. In return, U.S. goals have been mostly frustrated while nuclear nonproliferation efforts have been undermined.

By Jonathan E. Hillman

The Los Angeles Times

June 12, 2012

There's a party in the Asia Pacific, and the United States wants India to be its date. As U.S. foreign policy "pivots" away from the Middle East and Europe and toward Asia, U.S. officials are doing everything they can to cozy up to the nation that Mark Twain once called "the cradle of the human race."

America's courtship — a bipartisan effort — has included the great-power equivalent of sending flowers (civil nuclear technology underGeorge W. Bush), chocolates (more than $8 billion in U.S. arms during the last decade) and love letters (India is the only state deemed a "strategic partner" in the Pentagon's most recent strategy review).

The flirting has lasted so long that U.S. officials are starting to recycle old pickup lines. Quoting former President Clinton, Defense SecretaryLeon E. Panetta said while visiting New Delhi last week: "India and America are natural allies, two nations conceived in liberty, each finding strength in its diversity, each seeing in the other a reflection of its own aspiration for a more humane and just world."

The attraction is undeniable. India is the world's largest democracy, a rising economic power and a potential counterweight to Chinese influence in Asia. There's only one problem with America's entreaties: India is nowhere near saying yes.

Before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sits down with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Wednesday in Washington for the third meeting of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, U.S. officials would be wise to take a hard look at the outcome of past overtures.

In our zeal to improve relations with India, we've undermined our own nuclear nonproliferation efforts. Giving India nuclear technology without making it a party to the nonproliferation treaty created a double standard that encourages a dangerous, alternative path for aspiring nuclear powers. In April, for example, as U.S. officials were warning North Korea against its planned missile launch and criticizing Iran for its lack of transparency, India launched its own long-range, nuclear-capable missile.

As India's nuclear capabilities grow, so doesPakistan'sparanoia. In response to India's April test, Pakistan launched its own nuclear-capable missile six days later and has since conducted four more tests. Worried about falling behind India in nuclear arms, Pakistan is racing toward the completion of its fourth nuclear reactor and has doubled the size of its nuclear arsenal since 2006, according to estimates by the Federation of American Scientists and the Institute for Science and International Security.

India has also made a habit of abandoning the United States at the international altar. In 2011, the year after President Obama announced support for giving India a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, India voted with the U.S. only about 33% of the time in the United Nations General Assembly. In its temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council, India often sides with Russia and China, who dismiss international efforts to protect human rights as meddling in other nations' domestic affairs.

To be sure, the United States and India have made progress on a number of strategic fronts, expanding joint military exercises and exchanges, for example. But overall, relations consistently fall short of the warm-and-fuzzy rhetoric that U.S. leaders of all political stripes have grown accustom to voicing.

Rather than continue their charm offensive, U.S. officials should push India to articulate its view of the U.S.-India partnership and India's larger role in the international community. The South Asian power has expressed its intent to become a leading global power, but it has shied from assuming responsibilities that come with the territory.

Getting a clearer picture of India's intentions will allow U.S. officials to recalibrate expectations about where the relationship stands and where it is heading. Like the overhyped "reset" in relations with Russia, unrealistic expectations about U.S. relations with India only make it harder to manage tensions when they arise. India is not Russia, of course, but neither is it a traditional ally like Britain, and when it comes to the Asia Pacific, it's also not Australia, Japan or South Korea.

If necessary, U.S. officials should also consider introducing some sticks into what has largely been a carrot buffet of diplomacy. The United States has significant leverage on a number of issues important to India, such as sharing aerospace and defense technology. Further U.S. assistance in these areas should be contingent upon India's support for top U.S. foreign policy priorities such as tightening sanctions against Iran and funding and training Afghanistan'ssecurity forces.

Approached correctly, India can still become a key ally in advancing U.S. strategy in the Asia Pacific. But forging a stronger partnership requires first admitting that America's love for India remains largely unrequited.

For the record, 11:50 a.m. June 12: The headline on a previous version of this article said the U.S. gave India $8 billion in arms over 10 years. The United States sold the arms to India.

Jonathan E. Hillman is a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Joescoundrel
09-12-2012, 12:12 PM
Squabbling Asian nations pose a threat to U.S.-led security efforts.

The Los Angeles Times

By John R. Deni

September 6, 2012

Recent disputes among some of the United States' closest Asian allies over largely uninhabited islands in the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea and the South China Sea underscore the challenges facing Washington in moving beyond the classic hub-and-spoke structure of its security system in the Western Pacific and in crafting a more collective approach. For some time — and as most recently reiterated in the 2010 National Security Strategy, the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review report and the 2011 National Military Strategy — the United States has sought to "multilateralize" its security relationships in the Pacific, similar to what exists in its ties to Europe.

American and Western European leaders have crafted a security architecture that relies on collective action. Decades before the phrase "pooling and sharing" came into vogue, the allies of the North Atlantic region pooled their security in the 1949 treaty that created NATO and shared, if somewhat unequally, the burdens and risks of defending against common security threats.

However, Washington has long proved unable to coerce or cajole its Pacific allies into a similar round-table or multilateral approach. Therefore, the United States adopted a hub-and-spoke system, with Washington at the center, connected by bilateral "spokes" to its key allies in the Pacific theater, such as Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia.

Unfortunately, efforts to move beyond this type of security structure in the Asia-Pacific region appear destined to fail, at least in the short run. Whether it's Taiwan versus the Philippines (and China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei) in the South China Sea, Japan versus Taiwan (and China) in the East China Sea or South Korea versus Japan in the Sea of Japan, many of Washington's key allies here have little interest in cooperating more closely on security issues.

If there is one thing America's Pacific allies do share, though, it's a collective anxiety over China's rise, and specifically over Beijing's increasingly overt ability and willingness to translate its economic power into political muscle. These factors have yet to compel in a resounding manner the kind of cooperation that spurred France and Germany to overcome decades, if not centuries, of mutual mistrust and resentment in the aftermath of World War II.

The prospect of key Pacific allies quarreling among themselves instead of collectively focusing on their common security challenges places the United States in a no-win situation. Washington may be able, through a kind of neutrality, to avoid getting dragged into such disputes, but this won't necessarily prevent those allies from clashing with each other. If the United States is drawn in on one side or the other, it risks seeing one of its allies — namely, the loser — unnecessarily weakened politically, militarily and/or economically, an unhelpful outcome in this era of American defense austerity at home and China's rising influence in Asia.

Indeed, the way ahead for the United States — and the best path by which to avoid the aforementioned risks — is unclear, in part because of the differing nature of the conflicts outlined above.

In those cases in which disputes have more to do with national pride and the weight of history, the United States has proved it has limited ability to prevent regional leaders from exploiting such disputes to stir nationalist sentiment for political advantage, at least as evidenced in the Western Balkans during the 1990s. During that decade, several political leaders in Serbia, Croatia and elsewhere who otherwise had limited domestic support exploited historical disputes that had largely faded from contemporary memory to gain or retain power. This ultimately and tragically resulted in multiple armed conflicts and tens of thousands of deaths.

Where Washington might find greater success in staving off such disasters is in exercising adroit diplomacy, and in playing the role of trusted arbiter in those conflicts among its Asia-Pacific allies that include economic or resource issues. Although such disputes might seem more intractable, since there appears to be more at stake, each of the disputants actually has a greater incentive to engage in give-and-take negotiation over potential economic benefits. Otherwise, the alternative to a negotiated settlement is to fight and potentially lose out on any potential gains — hence, better to get something rather than nothing.

Regardless of whether Washington can succeed in making this case with and defusing conflicts among its closest Pacific allies, the hub-and-spoke security system appears destined to stick around for the foreseeable future. Greater collaboration among America's allies in the Asia-Pacific theater is unlikely any time soon.

John R. Deni, a former advisor to the U.S. Army in Europe, is a research professor of joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational security studies at the Strategic Studies Institute. These views are his own.

Joescoundrel
09-12-2012, 12:17 PM
His defense numbers don't add up with the rest of his platform.

By Doyle McManus

June 24, 2012

Here's an issue that hasn't been debated much in the presidential campaign but ought to be: How much should we spend on defense?

President Obama has proposed keeping the Pentagon budget essentially flat for the next 10 years. Mitt Romney, by contrast, wants to increase defense spending massively — by more than 50% over current levels, according to one estimate. That could mean almost $2 trillion in additional military spending over 10 years.

Lots of flash, little substance Romney hasn't actually proposed a defense budget or offered any specific numbers for his military strategy. But he says he wants core defense spending to reach at least 4% of the nation's gross domestic product — a big increase over the current level of about 3.2%. And he says the country needs about 100,000 more active-duty military personnel than the current 1.4 million, even though U.S. forces have left Iraq and have begun to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Romney's argument is that only increasedU.S. militarypower can guarantee peace in the world. "A strong America is the best deterrent to war that has ever been invented," he told veterans in San Diego last month. He said his goal was "to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world.''

Of course, the United States already fields the strongest military in the world; U.S. core defense spending — that is, the amount we spend on our military excluding the cost of major wars — is already greater than that of the next 10 countries combined. The real questions are: How much is enough? How much can we afford? And in a time of shrinking federal budgets, how would we pay for it?

Let's start with what's enough. Romney's proposal for a defense budget of at least 4% of GDP isn't outlandish on its face; it's less than Ronald Reagan spent to help end the Cold War. But the number gives military strategists fits because it's based on an arbitrary economic benchmark, not an assessment of global threats.

The same is true of Romney's suspiciously round number of 100,000 for additional military personnel. Where did that number come from? Romney aides won't say, though they speak about the need for an enlarged Navy and Air Force to deploy in East Asia.

But the biggest problem with Romney's defense numbers is that they don't add up with the rest of his platform, which calls for decreasing federal spending overall while also lowering taxes — and, at the same time, balancing the budget.

"My administration will … make the hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts necessary to reduce spending to 20% of GDP by the end of my first term," Romney said in February. "And then, without sacrificing our military superiority, I will balance the budget."

A nice trick if he could pull it off, but it flies in the face of, well, arithmetic.

"It's just not realistic — and that's being generous," said Todd Harrison, an analyst at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. "It would require a dramatic increase in defense spending to reach these targets. If you combine it with tax cuts and a commitment to avoid cutting Medicare, there's no way to do it without creating a much higher deficit."

Harrison crunched the numbers on Romney's call for a 4%-of-GDP floor on core defense spending. Here's what he came up with:

Using Congressional Budget Office estimates for future GDP, Romney's plan would boost core defense spending to about $945 billion in 2021 — about 53% more than the $618 billion proposed in Obama's defense plan for that year.

One has to wonder, Harrison said, "if this is just a talking point, and if they have actually looked at these numbers themselves."

I asked a Romney advisor who should know: Dov S. Zakheim, who served as the Pentagon's chief financial officer in the administration ofGeorge W. Bush. Zakheim said Romney was serious about the goal but hasn't specified a date for reaching it — and as a result, no specific spending forecast is possible.

"It is a target," he said. "The sooner we reach it, the better. And we can build up faster as the economy grows."

"If you look at the last 10 years, 4% isn't exactly a lot," he added, noting that the Bush administration spent more when it went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

True, but that's not the issue Romney needs to address. He needs to explain how he plans to balance the federal budget while adding trillions in new military spending.

Romney has been careful all year to avoid being specific about what kind of spending he'd cut — presumably because at some point, he'd have to acknowledge that big budget cuts require reduced spending on Medicare, a dangerous subject to raise with older voters. His plans for a bigger defense budget only make that problem worse.

If Romney wants voters to take his promises seriously, he owes them more details, and soon.

Joescoundrel
11-08-2012, 11:59 AM
China’s Communist leadership set for change

Alexander F. Yuan/AP

The Washington Post Updated: Thursday, November 8, 9:21 AM

BEIJING — China’s once-a-decade leadership transition began Thursday with all the pageantry, security and behind-the-scenes political intrigue befitting the secretive Communist Party’s most sensitive event.

The usually crowded Tiananmen Square had been cleared, giving it an eerie, post-apocalyptic feel. Activists had been chased out of the capital, and buildings across the city were draped in flags, flowers and signs, all colored communist red.

But beneath the pomp of the 18th party congress, estimated to last one week, are deep implications for the U.S.-China relationship and the world at large.

China’s new leaders will take over at a critical moment. The country’s economy, the world’s second largest, has been growing for three decades, providing much-needed fuel for the regional and global economy and helping to ensure stability at home. But it has slowed in recent months, and many believe economic reform is desperately needed.

China’s complicated and often-fraught relationship with the United States also has been stalled for much of the past year, with China-bashing figuring prominently during the U.S. presidential election.

At a news conference Wednesday, Communist Party spokesman Cai Mingzhao expressed hope that with his reelection, President Obama would “continue to build a positive China policy.”

In recent years, the Obama administration has invested time and energy into nurturing ties with the next generation of Chinese leaders. Vice President Biden, in particular, has tried to develop a rapport with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to replace President Hu Jintao as leader of the Communist Party and the country next week. Xi is expected to assume the title of president in March.

But whether that U.S. investment will translate into greater clout with China on thorny issues such as Syria, Iran, Taiwan or Tibet, or into better overall U.S.-China relations, is unclear.

Hope for reform

The highly scripted party congress carries serious domestic implications. Party officials are encountering growing criticism of corruption, their vested interests in state-owned enterprises, and the secrecy and democratic veneer used to cloak their iron grip on the country’s levers of powers.

In recent weeks, calls for reform have become louder, including some from within the party, prompting some analysts to say that a measure of change may be possible.

But experts caution that what party leaders see as reform could differ greatly from the outside world’s understanding of the word.

“It would not be political reform the West talks about,” said one intellectual with connections to party officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “It will not mean a real multiparty system or an elected leader, but rather reforms that help the party preserve credibility, strengthen the economy and, above all, keep its hold on power.”

A secretive process

The willingness of the new generation of leaders to undertake such reforms will depend on its makeup, which remains a mystery.

For weeks, speculative lists have circulated among party insiders — sometimes overlapping, at other times contradictory — of who may be named to the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee. Most experts believe that the decision has been made in secret by retired party elders and current leaders. But others say the list may be open to attack or change up to the last minute, given the fierce competition among party factions.

To distract the public from that closed and secretive process, party leaders have stuffed the next days with an array of events, including news briefings, the unveiling of official party reports, and countless meetings and group discussions among the party congress’s 2,270 delegates — all designed to promote the party as a vibrant, democratic organization.

Four news conferences also are scheduled in the coming week to address areas of mounting criticism: the party’s opaque system of internal promotions, environmental destruction, the economy, and government censorship and other restrictions on culture.

But answers to the most pressing questions will be gleaned mainly by reading between the lines. Provincial officials and analysts will be poring over a report that Hu is scheduled to deliver Thursday morning on the party’s recent work and accomplishments, parsing its meaning for clues to the party’s direction.

Other telling details include not just the names of the new Standing Committee members, but also the roles each person is assigned and whether Hu retains his position as head of China’s military, even as he cedes the party leadership to Xi.

None of this, however, will be made clear until the day after the party congress ends, when the lineup is expected to be announced.

And like most things related to the party, even the date of that final announcement, speculated by some to be Nov. 15, remains a secret.

Zhang Jie contributed to this report.

Joescoundrel
11-08-2012, 12:01 PM
A weary Afghanistan sighs at Obama’s second term

Posted by Pamela Constable on November 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm

KABUL — Najibullah, 32, a shopkeeper and law-school dropout who sells knock-off Chinese military garb in a crowded urban bazaar, followed the American presidential election closely on his small counter-top TV set.

Like many in the Afghan capital, he was happy when President Obama was elected in 2008, largely because he hoped it would bring about a change in U.S. military policy toward his country. But when he saw the news flash Wednesday afternoon about Obama’s re-election, his reaction was much more mixed.

“In one way I was happy he won, because he has a softer approach to the world than Romney, but I am also disappointed because he said so little about Afghanistan in his campaign,” said Najibullah, who uses only one name. “We don’t know what his plans are. All we know is that the American troops are going to leave, and everyone is very scared what will happen to us then.”

Across the capital Wednesday, people interviewed about the 2012 election immediately flashed forward to 2014, a year in which the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan will begin their final departure after a decade of war against Taliban insurgents, and in which Afghan presidential elections are scheduled to be held under tense and turbulent conditions.

Like Najibullah, many expressed deep ambivalence about the Obama administration’s past role in ratcheting up the war against Taliban insurgents and its current plan – now about to become official U.S. policy in a second Obama term – to get out of the conflict altogether except for a smaller role in training Afghan forces.

“As a Democrat, I’m happy for him. As an Afghan, I’m not,” said Shukria Barakzai, a liberal member of parliament who often visits the United States. “Everyone is worried about 2014. This is not a closed chapter. Obama promised us a responsible exit, and we hope he means it,” she said. “My message to him would be, please don’t step back and give up. Let’s begin a new relationship and work for a common vision. Please don’t ignore us.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose relationship with Obama has often been acrimonious, issued a lukewarm message of congratulations from Indonesia, where he is attending a conference. In a statement tweeted by his office, Karzai said he hoped Obama’s second term would lead to “an expanded relationship based on mutual interests.”

Karzai cannot legally run for another presidential term, and last week he formally announced the schedule leading to elections on April 5, 2014. But critics fear the election might be tainted by the same kinds of fraud that marred Karzai’s re-election in 2009, leaving Afghanistan with a weak, poorly credible government that must face a persistent insurgency without international military support.

The Taliban, in a statement e-mailed to Western media outlets Wednesday evening, urged Obama to rethink American foreign policy, saying the United States should “stop policing the world” and “further burning the flames of world hatred.

“Obama knows the American nation is fed up with war and faces a dire economic tragedy,” it said. “Therefore he needs to withdraw soon his invading troops from our country and prevent further losses of American soldiers.”

The dominant feelings expressed by dozens of people in Kabul Wednesday were worry, confusion and enormous ambivalence about the past and future U.S. role in their country. Many offered complaints about the behavior of foreign troops, especially their insensitivity to Afghan culture. Yet in the next breath, they pleaded for Obama to keep U.S. forces in the country until it can achieve a modicum of political stability and self-defense.

“Your American troops violated our traditions and customs. They burned our holy Koran, and Americans made the video that insulted our Islam,” said Mohammed Daoud, 25, a student who was snacking between classes at the national teachers’ college. “Now they will go and leave behind only fighting and insecurity.”

Jawad Qazimi, 35, a pharmacist in a neighborhood of West Kabul, said his family survived heavy rocketing but lost their home and possessions during the civil war of the 1990s that nearly destroyed the capital and led to the Taliban takeover.

“I am praying to God that the dark days do not return again,” he said Wednesday afternoon.

“I don’t watch TV and I don’t know about the American election,” Qazimi said. But I know one thing: we need the Americans to stay until our forces can defend us.”

Sam Miguel
11-20-2012, 09:45 AM
What if Israel bombed Iran? The view from Washington.

By Karim Sadjadpour and Blake Hounshell, Sep 21, 2012 07:41 PM EDT

The Washington Post Published: September 22

For months, Israel has threatened to strike Iran’s nuclear sites. The United States has urged restraint. If such an operation were launched, how might Washington react?

President Obama is enjoying a quiet dinner with Michelle, Sasha and Malia at the White House residence on a Thursday evening in October when he gets the call.

Two dozen Israeli fighter jets have just entered Jordanian airspace, apparently en route to Iran, chief of staff Jack Lew tells him. They will enter Iranian airspace, via Iraq, in approximately 85 minutes.

“Damn it,” Obama says under his breath. “Bibi told me he was going to hold off.”

Within 45 minutes, the president’s national security brain trust has convened in the Situation Room. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta informs the group that attempts to reach Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have so far failed but that Israeli military commanders are briefing the Pentagon on Israel’s targets.

Panetta lays out the United States’ options: either persuade Netanyahu to call it off, or shoot down the planes.

“Shooting down the planes is not an option!” Vice President Biden explodes. “Tell Bibi the president of the United States wants to talk to him now!”

Within minutes, Netanyahu’s voice is heard on the speakerphone, and he immediately preempts any attempts to call off the mission.

“I couldn’t wait any longer, Mr. President,” he says firmly. “I am responsible for the security of the Jewish nation.”

As Netanyahu explains the operation, Obama eyes the large electronic map of the Middle East on the Situation Room wall. The coordinates of the Israeli planes show that they’re nearing Iran.

“Mr. President,” Netanyahu says. “I hope we can count on your full support.”

Obama’s face masks his scorn. He pauses for several moments before responding. “You know I respect Israel’s right to defend itself,” he says, “but I need to do what’s in the interests of the United States.”

Panetta orders the head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. James Mattis, to activate Operation Gulf Shield, putting America’s military forces throughout the Middle East on their highest defensive posture, bracing for Iranian retaliation.

Obama surveys the room. “What do we tell the Iranians?” he asks. “They’re going to assume we’re behind this.”

The battle lines are quickly drawn. Susan Rice — the ambassador to the United Nations and a close Obama confidante, who is in the running to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state — is the first to chime in, via secure video teleconference: “We need to be clear that the Israelis acted without our knowledge. We need to urge Iran to exercise restraint while we restrain Israel.”

“With respect,” CIA Director David H. Petraeus says, “if we send them that message, they’ll think they can retaliate without us responding. The Iranians need to believe that if they respond, the United States will enter this war — and swiftly and decisively end it.”

“I agree with David,” Clinton says. “The Iranians need to know there is no daylight they can exploit between us and the Israelis.”

Sam Miguel
11-20-2012, 09:47 AM
^^^ Cont'd

Within hours, Twitter is alight with reports of explosions in various parts of Iran. All seemingly can be traced to one source: the Iranian opposition group Mujaheddin-e Khalq. Mainstream media outlets say they cannot corroborate the story, and Iranian state media is silent.

A few hours later, while Washington sleeps, the Saudi-owned satellite channel Al Arabiya confirms reports of massive explosions in Iran.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz alludes to an Israeli military operation in Iran but, citing national security restrictions, does not offer details. It appears that one plane has gone missing, but Israeli officials refuse to comment.

By the time Washington awakens, oil futures are up 20 percent to $110 a barrel.

At 6:30 a.m., Obama meets in the Oval Office with senior campaign adviser David Axelrod and former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who have flown in from Chicago.

Axelrod suggests that the White House’s message should be that Iran brought this upon itself.

“What the hell do I say,” Obama asks them, “when the press ask me whether I knew about this operation in advance?”

“Don’t answer yet,” Emanuel says. He scribbles a few sentences on a notepad, rips the paper out and hands it to Obama.

“If we need to,” Emanuel says, “we can leak the news that we weren’t given a heads up. But we shouldn’t disown it right away if there’s potential it was a successful operation.”

Obama shakes his head. “Voters don’t care about whether the attack was successful. They care about $5 gasoline.”

By 8 a.m., the White House has issued the terse statement Emanuel drafted, saying: “The United States is monitoring events in Iran closely. Israel has a right to defend itself, and America’s commitment to Israeli security is unwavering.”

Having long rehearsed this scenario, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is ready with a sharp, gaffe-free response.

While campaigning in Palm Beach, Fla., that morning, Romney pledges his “ironclad support” for Israel and attacks “Obama’s policies of appeasement that left Prime Minister Netanyahu no choice but to take exceptional measures.”

Romney adviser Dan Senor rips into the president on CNN: “Our strongest ally in the world, Israel, is facing an existential threat, and Obama is still leading from behind.”

Another Romney adviser, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, echoes this theme on Fox News. “Instead of doing his job as commander in chief, Barack Obama outsourced our national security to Israel,” he says. “The American public owes a debt of gratitude to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and we should be prepared to finish the job.”

By late morning, more details of the attack trickle out in the media. The strike reportedly caused extensive damage to Iranian nuclear facilities in Natanz, Arak and Isfahan, as well as to the country’s radar and command-and-control centers. But it’s unclear just how much damage has been done, and there’s no word on casualties.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) begins circulating a draft resolution on Capitol Hill expressing the Senate’s “unconditional support” for Israel. By noon, 99 senators — with Rand Paul the lone dissenter — have signed on.

J Street, a liberal Jewish advocacy group, issues a statement expressing “concern” that Israel acted preemptively.

China and Russia condemn Israel, urging restraint and calling for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — which in WikiLeaked State Department cables from 2010 appeared to support a military attack on Iran’s facilities — condemn Israel’s action but stop short of expressing solidarity with Tehran.

Unable to reach Obama again, Netanyahu tells Biden that it has been a “clean, successful operation,” with minimal Iranian casualties. “Frankly, we should have done this a long time ago,” he says.

But the first batch of satellite photos suggests that the Fordow nuclear plant outside Qom, buried under 300 feet of specially designed concrete, may have survived the raid. Unless Israel or the United States mounts a follow-up attack, Iran may be able to continue enriching uranium fairly quickly.

Iranian state television shows footage of the casualties, including women and children (though an opposition Web site later reveals that these images were actually of recent earthquake victims in northwestern Iran). Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vows revenge. “The blood of our women and children is on the hands of the Great Satan and its puppet master!” he says. “The Zionist entity has written its death certificate!”

When the stock market closes, oil prices are up nearly 40 percent, the largest 24-hour increase in history. CNN interviews Americans at gas stations in swing states such as Florida and Ohio; most blame Iran, not Israel or Obama, for the price jumps.

By Friday evening, leaks have emerged from within the U.S. government and military saying that the United States had no prior knowledge of Israel’s actions.

Obama manages to break away from his national security team to join his family for a quick dinner. Sasha and Malia are talking about their schoolwork.

“I don’t like physics,” Malia says. “It’s too complicated.”

“I know just how you feel, honey,” Obama says. “I’ve got a few problems like that, too.”

Sam Miguel
11-20-2012, 09:50 AM
The callousness of Hamas

By Richard Cohen, Nov 19, 2012 07:57 PM EST

The Washington Post Tuesday, November 20, 3:57 AM

Of all the points of disagreement between Israel and Hamas, maybe the most profound is this one: Israel cares more about sparing innocent lives — including those of Palestinians — than does Hamas. Not only have Hamas and other militant groups this year sent more than 700 rockets crashing haphazardly into southern Israel, but also Hamas instigated yet another war where the chief loser will certainly be its own people. If hell has a beach, it’s located in Gaza.

The Gaza Strip is a congested, fetid place. It is densely populated and in the slums and housing blocks, Hamas has hidden its weapons, explosives and rocket launchers. Israel has gone out of its way to avoid civilian casualties. Its air force has used new, highly accurate ammunition aiming for rocket-launching sites and government installations. For the most part, it has succeeded.

For Hamas, civilian casualties are an asset. Palestinians love and grieve as do other people, but Hamas leadership knows that the world has gotten impatient with Israel. Increasingly, many people now see Israel as the aggressor, as Gaza’s occupying power (never mind the 2005 pullout), and they overlook such trifles as the Hamas charter, which is repellently anti-Semitic and cites the discredited forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” In the Hamas cosmology, Jews are so evil that somehow “they also stood behind World War II, where they collected immense benefits from trading with war materials.” This, you would have to concede, is a wholly original take on the Holocaust.

Many in the West heroically ignore such nonsense. They embrace Hamas as the champions of a victimized Third World people. In recent days, some editorialists have bemoaned the war and Hamas’ role in inciting it. But then comes the inevitable “however.” “However, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu must also take much blame for stoking resentment among Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank for so long,” opined the Financial Times. The New York Times’ caveat came lower down in its initial editorial on the war: “But it would be easier to win support for retaliatory action if Israel was engaged in serious negotiations with Hamas’ rival, the Palestinian Authority.” Apparently, 700 rockets are not enough.

Look, let us stipulate: Palestinians have suffered greatly. They have legitimate grievances. Israel has at times been a bully, and the slow and steady march of West Bank settlements is both wrong and destructive of the (nonexistent) peace process. But for all this, it is insane to apply the Officer Krupke rule (from “West Side Story”) to Hamas: “We ain’t no delinquents, we’re misunderstood. Deep down inside us there is good.” There is little good in Hamas.

Hamas is not the passive party in this struggle. It rules Gaza by force. The other day it murdered — please don’t say “executed” — an alleged collaborator without the inconvenience of a trial, shooting the man on a crowded street. It chose to make war by allowing more militant groups to use Gaza as a launching pad for rockets and firing off the occasional rocket itself. No nation is going to put up with this sort of terror. The rockets do some, not a lot of damage, but that’s not the point. The point instead is that people who have the wherewithal will not continue to live in a place where even the occasional rocket can come down on your kids’ school. This is not a mere border problem. For Israel, this is an existential threat.

What various editorial writers and others seem not to understand is that the very peace agreement they accuse Israel of forestalling is, in fact, impeded by Hamas’ use of violence. Who wants to make peace with extremists? Who wants to give up land for the promises of peace offered by zealots who read Hitler for inspiration? Israel pulled out of Gaza once already. Abandoned greenhouses were refurbished by Jewish philanthropists in America. The greenhouses were trashed and with them what now seems like naive optimism. Soon, Hamas took control and the rockets started hitting Israel.

This war between Arabs and Jews, between Israelis and Palestinians, is well over 100 years old. Both sides have a case and both sides have proved to be indomitable. But both sides are not equally right in all instances. Hamas sent rockets into Israel, not caring if they hit a chicken coop or a group of toddlers jumping in and out of a sprinkler. You want balance? Here’s balance. Hamas didn’t care if its own people died either.

Sam Miguel
11-20-2012, 09:55 AM
In Gaza, status quo won’t do

By Eugene Robinson, Nov 19, 2012 08:52 PM EST

The Washington Post Tuesday, November 20, 4:52 AM

The drama unfolding in Gaza seems numbingly familiar. This time, however, there’s a big and potentially tragic difference: Not even the actors — Palestinians and Israelis — can possibly know how it will turn out.

How many times must they rehash this tired plot? Resentments build, tensions rise. A disputed border incident provides a spark. Israel reacts with sudden force. Palestinians fire rockets at civilian targets. Israel launches reprisal attacks — first justified, then disproportionate. Anguished women wail at the funerals of dead children. Men swear oaths of vengeance, solemn vows that honor and self-respect will never allow them to break.

The usual ending is a cease-fire and a return to the status quo. But the whole Mideast region is undergoing a process of tumultuous change, and there is no guarantee that the stasis considered “normal” in the occupied territories will ever return.

As President Obama noted, Israel has the absolute right to defend itself against rocket attacks whose sole purpose is to terrorize and kill civilians. Israel does not have a right, in my view, to keep Gaza’s 2 million residents under permanent blockade as punishment for choosing officials of Hamas, the Islamist group, as their leadership.

Hamas, of course, has no right to launch rockets at Israel knowing they may fall on schools, hospitals and playgrounds. But Israel has no right to use this flare-up as an excuse for what some commentators have called “mowing the grass” — assassinating Palestinian leaders who have proved particularly effective, destroying infrastructure for the sake of destruction, chalking up civilian casualties in Gaza as an unfortunate side effect.

Israel has the right to exist in peace. Palestinians have the right to an independent state. Each side insists on having its rights fully acknowledged before the other side’s rights are even considered.

Enough with rights. Someone has to start dealing with new and unfamiliar realities.

Henry Kissinger’s famous observation about Israel’s security was that there could be no war without Egypt, no peace without Syria. For more than three decades, Israel has had a peace treaty with Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous state, and a strictly observed truce with Syria across the Golan Heights. But then came the Arab Spring.

Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak is gone, replaced by an elected government whose leaders are members of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood — an organization that has nurtured and supported Hamas. The new government has pledged to honor the treaty, but it is likely to take the plight of the Palestinians much more seriously than did Mubarak, who saw them not as brothers and sisters but as pawns.

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, is fighting for his regime’s survival in a civil war. It is quite possible that the country will fracture — and with it, perhaps, the once-sturdy Golan truce.

Throughout the Arab world, religious parties are demanding — and attaining — new power and influence. There are many reasons for this Islamic ascendance, most of which have nothing to do with Israel. But is the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza a contributing factor? Yes, without a doubt, if only because it represents Arab humiliation and provides a focal point for a host of grievances.

Another factor to take into account is the influence Iran now has in Syria and Gaza. One of Israel’s aims in the current bombing campaign may be to degrade Iran’s ability to retaliate — with rockets fired from Gaza — in case of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. But does anyone really think the regime in Tehran is viewing these events with anything other than smug satisfaction? Perceived Israeli excesses in Gaza — more than 90 people have been killed so far — can only weaken international support for an attack on the nuclear sites.

There are far too many variables for anyone to be confident of what happens next. Perhaps Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh have an exquisite sense of how far they can push before things spin out of control. I hope so.

Both leaders say they want a cease-fire. Once the fighting stops, there must be renewed negotiations toward the obvious two-state solution. The Obama administration should use its power and influence to bring Israelis and Palestinians to the table, kicking and screaming if necessary.

Given the situation, a peace process is likely to be long, bitter and frustrating. But not undertaking one, as everyone should now realize, is much worse.

Sam Miguel
11-20-2012, 09:57 AM
Iran must be President Obama’s immediate priority

By Henry A. Kissinger, Nov 16, 2012 05:00 AM EST

The Washington Post Published: November 17

Henry A. Kissinger was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977.

In the aftermath of an exhausting reelection campaign, the most urgent decision facing the president is how to stop Iran from pursuing a military nuclear program. Presidents of both parties have long declared that “no option is off the table” in securing this goal. In the third presidential debate, the candidates agreed that this was a matter of the American national interest, even as they described the objective alternately as preventing an Iranian “nuclear weapon” or “breakout capacity” (President Obama), or a “nuclear-capable Iran” (Mitt Romney). As Iran continues to elaborate its enrichment capacity and move it underground, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a spring deadline for counteraction. In this fraught environment, what operational meaning should be given to America’s declared objectives?

The United States and Iran are apparently conducting bilateral negotiations through official or semiofficial emissaries — a departure from the previous procedure of multilateral talks. Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program do not have an encouraging record. For more than a decade, Iran has stalled, first with the “EU-3” (France, Germany and Britain) and then with the “P5+1” (the members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany). It has alternated hints of flexibility with periods of intransigence, all while expanding, concealing and dispersing its nuclear facilities. If no limit is placed on this process, Iran’s tech*no*logical progress will dominate events. But at what stage, and in what manner, should Iran be deprived of a military nuclear capability? This has been the essence of the argument over “red lines.”

Three stages are involved in the evolution of a military nuclear capability: a delivery system, a capacity to enrich uranium and the production of nuclear warheads. Iran has been augmenting the range and number of its missile systems since at least 2006. Its enrichment capacity — long underreported to the International Atomic Energy Agency — has been expanded to thousands of centrifuges (the instruments that enrich uranium to bomb-grade material). The level exceeds any reasonable definition of peaceful uses authorized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The inevitable culmination is a nuclear weapon.

To draw the line at proscribing an Iranian nuclear weapon — as some argue — would prove unmanageable. Once the requisite amount of fissile material has been produced, constructing and equipping a warhead is a relatively short and technologically straightforward process, almost certainly impossible to detect in a timely fashion.

If so ineffectual a red line were to emerge from a decade of diplomacy by the permanent members of the Security Council, the result would be an essentially uncontrollable military nuclear proliferation throughout a region roiled by revolution and sectarian blood-feuds. Iran would thereby achieve the status of North Korea, with a military nuclear program at the very edge of going operational. Each nation that has a nuclear option would compete to minimize the time to its own full military nuclear capability. Meanwhile, countries within the reach of Iran’s military but lacking a nuclear option would be driven to reorient their political alignment toward Tehran. The reformist tendencies in the Arab Spring — already under severe pressure — would be submerged by this process. The president’s vision of progress toward a global reduction of nuclear weapons would suffer a blow, perhaps a fatal one.

Some have argued that even in the worst-case scenario, a nuclear Iran could be deterred. Yet this ignores the immensely costly, complex and tension-ridden realities of Cold War-era deterrence, the apocalyptic strain in the Iranian theocracy and the near-certainty that several regional powers will go nuclear if Iran does. Once nuclear balances are forged in conditions where tensions are no longer purely bilateral, as in the Cold War, and in still-developing countries whose technology to prevent accidents is rudimentary, the likelihood of some nuclear exchange will mount dramatically.

This is why the United States has insisted on limits on Iranian enrichment — that is, curtailing access to a weapon’s precursor elements. Abandoning the original demand to ban all enrichment, the P5+1 has explored what levels of production of fissile material are compatible with the peaceful uses authorized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The higher the level of enrichment, the shorter the time needed to bring about militarily applicable results. Conventional wisdom holds that the highest practically enforceable limit is 5 percent The time available for a diplomatic outcome shrinks in direct proportion as the Iranian enrichment capacity grows and a military nuclear capacity approaches. The diplomatic process must therefore be brought to a point of decision. The P5+1 or the United States unilaterally must put forward a precise program to curtail Iranian enrichment with specific time limits.

This does not imply a red line authorizing any country to go to war. However respectfully the views of friends are considered, the ultimate decision over peace or war must remain in the hands of the president. Why negotiate with a country of such demonstrated hostility and evasiveness? Precisely because the situation is so fraught. Diplomacy may reach an acceptable agreed outcome. Or its failure will mobilize the American people and the world. It will clarify either the causes of an escalating crisis, up to the level of military pressure, or ultimate acquiescence in an Iranian nuclear program. Either outcome will require a willingness to see it through to its ultimate implications. We cannot afford another strategic disaster.

To the extent that Iran shows willingness to conduct itself as a nation-state, rather than a revolutionary religious cause, and accepts enforceable verification, elements of Iranian security concerns should be taken seriously, including gradual easing of sanctions as strict limits on enrichment are implemented and enforced. But time will be urgent. Tehran must be made to understand that the alternative to an agreement is not simply a further period of negotiation and that using negotiations to gain time will have grave consequences. A creative diplomacy, allied to a determined strategy, may still be able to prevent a crisis provided the United States plays a decisive role in defining permissible outcomes.

Sam Miguel
11-20-2012, 10:23 AM
End the outdated rules that led Petraeus to resign

By John Prados, Nov 16, 2012 10:16 PM EST

The Washington Post Published: November 17

John Prados, a senior research fellow at the National Security Archive, is the author of the e-book “Rethinking National Security” and the book “Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun.”He is working on a book about the CIA “Family Jewels.”

Because of an affair that had already ended, the nation this month lost the services of a highly skilled public servant. The hysterical reaction to the news of then-CIA Director David Petraeus’s liaison with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, has done more to harm national security than the affair itself.

Since early summer, the FBI had been, appropriately, investigating the harassing e-mails that Broadwell sent to another woman about Petraeus. Though the bureau eventually uncovered the affair, it found no reason to believe that the general had compromised anything related to security. Yet after the FBI informed the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper — mistakenly, in my opinion, because no evident crime had been committed — Petraeus resigned ahead of the inevitable wave of public controversy.

That was a judgment call.

Petraeus’s downfall should prompt the intelligence community to make its own judgment call — to end the arbitrary and outdated rules that govern U.S. intelligence employees. These rules have damaged U.S. interests in the guise of protecting our security. On many occasions, they have resulted in the loss of the services, and even the loyalty, of experienced, highly trained people.

Two of the most egregious rules have been the CIA’s insistence on investigating foreigners engaged to agency employees and its own version of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” under which intelligence officers found to be gay lost their clearances or even their jobs. The latter policy was, fortunately, revoked in 1998 by executive order — not by the agency.

The security mavens will say that such rules have protected intelligence officers from blackmail. Since the passage of the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, the agencies’ security units have had the legal authority to enforce such proscriptions. But the thought that a prospective spouse would have to pass a security check must have led many valuable intelligence officers to quit. And the thought that sexual preferences could cost someone her or his job must have led to other departures — or to officers not working to the fullest extent of their capacities, keeping their heads down to avoid attracting attention.

It is impossible to determine how much talent has been lost because of such regulations. There is only anecdotal evidence.

Eric H. Biddle, a skilled operations officer who worked for eight years against the Soviets, resigned from the CIA in 1960 because he wanted to marry his Greek girlfriend. The Soviet Union was our main intelligence target at the time. In another damaging incident that year, National Security Agency officers William H. Martin and Bernon Mitchell defected to Moscow. Officials blamed it on their alleged homosexuality, although evidence was scant, and both went on to marry Soviet women. Nevertheless, the case resulted in dramatic changes in hiring practices, and other agents suspected of being gay were purged from the agency.

Fast-forward a couple of decades, and one has to wonder about the impact on Aldrich Ames, the notorious Soviet spy within the CIA, of the agency’s vetting of his Colombian wife.

Sam Miguel
11-20-2012, 10:24 AM
^^^ Cont'd

Intelligence officers often characterize the late Philip Agee, a spook who resigned to rail against his former colleagues, as the man most destructive to agency operations in the 1970s and ’80s. Agee’s revelations of the names of CIA officers and operatives forced the termination of a host of agency projects, even ones not related to his direct targets. U.S. policies disillusioned Agee, but the catalyst for his crusade was the CIA’s demand to investigate his Mexican girlfriend.

Compounding the effect of such regulations is the double standard often applied to senior officials vs. junior officers. The rules forced Agee out of the agency, but Petraeus stayed on, even as an investigation of his affair was underway. Later he was able to submit a “voluntary” resignation.

In the 1960s, CIA officer Hans Tofte was fired after he was found to have taken classified documents home to work on them. In the 1990s, CIA Director John Deutch, caught with classified material on his home computer, emerged unscathed.

Mary Margaret Graham, the agency’s counterintelligence chief, was driven out of the CIA in 2005 by Director Porter Goss after she put evidence of the bad behavior of Kyle D. Foggo, Goss’s preferred candidate for executive director, before his aides. Several years later, Foggo would be convicted of fraud in a tremendous embarrassment to the agency. This was a case of failure to enforce regulations because they involved a senior officer. Foggo was protected from allegations that would have ended the career of a lower-level employee.

The factors that contribute to a strong national security are not just the power and sophistication of military forces, or the reach of U.S. intelligence operations, but the morale and skill of the people who work for the system.

The core value is the U.S. national interest. And that interest is not served by security regulations that drive away talent. Redundant protections for secret information are important, but the system also relies on rules that are artifacts of the Cold War era and the social and political mores of that time.

The ostensible concern about the Petraeus affair was the potential for blackmail. Yet it is far-fetched today to think that a foreign government would contrive an operation to ensnare a CIA employee through an affair, a foreign-spy spouse or an allegation of homosexuality. Our enemies are unlikely to bother with such complicated schemes. Instead, they buy information — the method that has remained tried and true — or attempt to hack it from the data-rich computer networks that the government is spending billions to defend.

The agencies actually invite entrapment by maintaining archaic strictures that punish behaviors that may be considered objectionable but are in no way criminal. Doing away with double standards in enforcement is also vitally necessary.

Whatever the fallout from the Petraeus affair may be, it offers us the opportunity to revisit and revise the codes of conduct that pose dilemmas for our talented and irreplaceable intelligence officers.

Sam Miguel
11-20-2012, 10:28 AM
Israel’s Arab Spring problem

By David Ignatius, Jul 06, 2012 03:08 PM EDT

The Washington Post Published: July 6

JERUSALEM

Whatever else that might be said about the Arab revolutions, it’s obvious that they pose a problem for Israel. But how bad, and what should the Israeli government do to hedge its risks? I heard some interesting — but not very encouraging — ideas on this subject from top government officials last week.

To sum up: Most officials think that relations with the Arabs are gradually going to get worse, perhaps for decades, before democracy really takes root and the Arab public, perhaps, will be ready to accept the Jewish state. The challenge for Israel is how to avoid inflaming Arab public opinion, a newly important factor, while protecting the country.

The trouble ahead is symbolized by the election of Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, as president of Egypt. His inauguration prompted a wary message of congratulation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressing hope that *Israeli-Egyptian relations will be cooperative and based on mutual interest. The statement masked deep Israeli anxieties.

Netanyahu fears an erosion of the relationship with Egypt over time and wants to slow that process, if possible, while preparing for potential trouble. Netanyahu is said to view these precautions as the equivalent of putting up shutters before a storm.

The most obvious test will be Gaza, where the militant Hamas leadership is closely allied with the Muslim Brotherhood. Netanyahu has tried to de-escalate crises that have arisen, but if rocket attacks increase, they may draw a harsh Israeli military reaction — which could worsen relations with Cairo.

Efraim Halevy, the former Mossad chief, says Israel should face reality and begin talking with Hamas. But others stress the growing threat in Gaza: Israel has intelligence that militants there have tried to buy shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles from Libya, and the Israeli air force now operates on the assumption that such missiles are present in Gaza, in addition to the array of other rockets.

The Sinai Peninsula is another flash point. This vast desert is becoming a lawless area where al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups are trying to find a haven. Intelligence officials here believe the extremists’ strategy is to provoke an Israeli retaliation and thereby encourage an unraveling of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. I didn’t hear any clear formula for how Israel can respond to attacks without falling into this trap.

The chill in Israel’s relationship with Turkey adds to the dangers of instability in Egypt, Libya and Syria. Netanyahu has responded by seeking new allies, including:

● A “Balkan arc” anchored by newly closer relations with Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania. Some of those countries allow the Israeli air force to train in their airspace, providing an alternative to the now-unfriendly skies over Turkey.

● An implicit, if unspoken, alliance with Saudi Arabia and other gulf states against Iran and against Muslim Brotherhood extremism. In this silent courtship, the Israelis are offering an alternative to an America that’s no longer seen as a reliable protector of the conservative gulf regimes.

● New links with governments in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Kenya, Uganda and the Ivory Coast, which are worried that the rise of militant Islam in North Africa will spread south.

Israeli leaders know these new friendships, however useful, won’t alter the basic threat posed by an Arab awakening that, in most countries, has empowered militant Islamic groups. Within the government, there’s a range of views about just how bad the future will be, but nobody uses the congenial phrase “the Arab Spring” that has been common in the West.

Among the optimists, relatively speaking, is said to be Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He thinks Egypt and other neighbors will move toward a version of the “Turkish model” of Islamic democracy, which may be cool toward Israel but will also be pragmatic. Barak thinks Israel can’t simply wait for the storm to pass. The process of change is irreversible and may eventually be benign as the Arab societies mature.

A darker view is taken by some of the officials who know the Arab world best. They think that for at least the next several years, as Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders try to consolidate power, they may appear cooperative. But at the core of the Brotherhood’s ideology is rejection of Israel, and any compromises with Israel will be tactical moves, rather than real peace.

Israel’s existence, never easy, has gotten more complicated and unpredictable. “We are still inside this huge historical shift,” says one senior official, “and we don’t know where it’s going to take us.”

Sam Miguel
11-21-2012, 09:26 AM
Pivot to Asia

By Amando Doronila

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:22 pm | Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

US President Barack Obama’s first foreign policy trip abroad since his reelection to reassert American influence in Southeast Asia to counter China’s rising economic and military power in the region ran into strong head winds of tension churned by territorial disputes between Beijing and smaller littoral states in the South China Sea.

Tension flared up on Monday at the summit meeting of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Phnom Penh. Asean leaders plunged into heated discord over how the organization would handle conflicting claims between China and four Asean members—the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. The leaders had hoped to present a solid front on the territorial disputes but found themselves hopelessly fractured on the issue of how to deal with China.

The day before, on Sunday, they decided to ask China to start formal talks to draft a legally binding code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea (the Philippines’ name for the South China Sea) to avert armed conflict over the disputed territories. The decision proved provocative to China, which had earlier warned that the summit should not be overshadowed by a dispute, “as the situation is under control and countries involved can resolve differences themselves.” This warning underscored China’s preferred approach to conflict resolution—bilateral, rather than multilateral, talks, a mode that favors China, allowing it to bully weaker neighbors. It had also warned the United States against intervening in the disputes.

The Asean move to close ranks behind the multilateral approach crumbled in the face of China’s pressure and threats. It came as Asean wound down its two-day meeting and as it prepared to start a dialogue between Obama and outgoing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in another and related forum, the East Asia summit. The expanded-dialogue participants included Japan, India, Russia, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The move sparked a heated debate between President Aquino of the Philippines and Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, an ally of China. It also exposed the deep divisions in Asean on the issue of a unilateral or bilateral approach. The clash was provoked by a report of Cambodia, the summit host, on Sunday that Asean leaders had agreed not to “internationalize” the disputes and would continue negotiations between the bloc and China. Mr. Aquino heatedly disputed the report on Monday, insisting that no such consensus had been reached.

He took exception to Hun Sen’s remarks that the Asean countries had agreed to negotiate the West Philippine Sea dispute within an “Asean-China” framework. “The Asean route is not the only route,” Mr. Aquino said at the Asean-Japan summit, one of the side meetings. He understood the Hun Sen statement to mean the exclusion of other international forums to resolve territorial disputes, including the United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

At the Asean summit, Mr. Aquino also asked the United States to be involved in the discussions. He spoke at a session attended by Obama. “It is especially vital to have the world’s largest economy involved in the discussions considering the interconnectedness of our milieu,” he said. These remarks were expected to anger China. The fractures at the Asean summit opened the way to a tumultuous encounter between Obama and Wen at the East Asian summit, within the full view of Asean leaders and their dialogue partners.

Obama’s Asian swing, visiting Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), and Cambodia, is described by White House officials as demonstrating US clout in Asia. This is expressed through the foreign policy to “pivot” to Asia, a strategy shift aimed at expanding US presence in the Asia-Pacific, in the face of China’s rising economic and military power.

The East Asian summit will mark the first meeting of US and Chinese leaders after the US presidential election and the selection of Xi Jinping as secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party at its 18th national party congress last Thursday.

Obama’s trip closely followed the Chinese Communist Party’s congress, in which Hu Jintao, the outgoing president, called for China to become a “maritime power.” Hu told the opening session of the congress: “It should … resolutely safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests, and build China into a maritime power.” The Financial Times reported that Hu’s speech “will fuel concerns among its neighbors and in the US over how it deals with a host of territorial disputes.”

A recent article in Bloomberg explains Obama’s Asia pivot policy. It says Obama’s whirlwind visit to Asia takes place against a backdrop of tension and uncertainty. China and Japan are “at daggers drawn over a handful of rocky islets surrounded by potentially rich deposits of oil and gas.”

It also notes the “territorial tensions between China and a number of its Souheast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea.”

As US officials have taken pains to point out, however, America has reasons far beyond China’s military spending to seek a bigger presence in Asia. The region now accounts for 25 percent of US exports (supporting an estimated 2.4 million jobs) and 35 percent of its imports. By 2030, according to one estimate, it will account for 49 percent of the global population, 43 percent of the gross domestic product, 35 percent of trade, and 38 percent of market capitalization. “Failure to deepen US engagement with Asia would be strategic malpractice on a grand scale.”

Sam Miguel
11-22-2012, 08:08 AM
David Petraeus’s affair has damaged the nation

By Editorial Board, Nov 13, 2012 12:04 AM EST

The Washington Post Published: November 13

THE RESIGNATION of David Petraeus as CIA director is a serious blow to the nation’s national security leadership, and it comes at an unfortunate moment. With the expected departure of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and a possible reshuffling of senior officials at the National Security Council, President Obama could have benefited particularly from Mr. Petraeus’s knowledge and seasoning as he begins to grapple with second-term challenges in Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere. Mr. Petraeus understands those issues as well as any American, and his record of service as a military commander is without equal in his generation.

Given those facts, some have questioned whether Mr. Obama should have accepted Mr. Petraeus’s resignation. The CIA director was found to have committed no crime. Adultery, which he confessed to, is not uncommon, including presumably among his agency’s staff. However, in our view the president made the right call. Mr. Petraeus’s failing was not merely an illicit relationship; he recklessly used a Gmail account to send explicit messages and, as a result, was swept up in an FBI investigation of alleged cyberstalking. Such behavior would not be acceptable in the private sector, or in the military, as Mr. Petraeus recognized.

The suddenness of Mr. Petraeus’s downfall came as a shock to many in Washington, prompting unreasonable questions, as well as reasonable ones. After first doubting whether Mr. Petraeus should have resigned, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined with her House counterpart, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), in complaining that Congress had not been informed earlier about the FBI investigation. Others asked why it was not made public before last week’s election.

So far, the answers seem pretty straightforward: The FBI did not find a breach of security or evidence of criminality and so did not have a compelling reason to report the matter to Congress. Having concluded interviews with Mr. Petraeus and biographer Paula Broadwell days before the election, the agency briefed Mr. Petraeus’s immediate superior, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, on Nov. 6 — an appropriate action, given the nature of the case. Republicans who suggest that FBI Director Robert Mueller or senior Justice Department officials should have reported what they knew before the election seem to be faulting them for not politicizing a criminal investigation.

That said, aspects of the probe should still be clarified. One concerns the role of an FBI agent who, according to an account by the New York Times, is an acquaintance of the woman who reported receiving threatening e-mails from Ms. Broadwell. After helping to initiate the investigation, the Times reported, the agent later contacted congressional Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.); describing himself as a whistle-blower, he expressed concern — erroneously, it turned out — that a breach of national security had taken place. Whether those actions were appropriate may be a matter worthy of review. Mr. Mueller could also ease some legitimate congressional concerns by providing a more detailed account of the investigation, if necessary in a closed setting.

None of that will remedy the damage done by the loss of Mr. Petraeus’s service. It is a harm brought about by his own actions, for which he has taken responsibility. But it will hurt the country no less.

Sam Miguel
11-22-2012, 08:09 AM
Petraeus’s affair was no ‘scandal’

By Dana Milbank, Nov 21, 2012 12:30 AM EST

The Washington Post Published: November 21

Five years ago, when I covered David Petraeus’s triumphant visit to Capitol Hill after he salvaged the war effort in Iraq, I likened the reception he received to that of conquering generals of Rome, who were feted with laurels, purple robes, trumpets and animal sacrifice.

If anything, Petraeus’s reception may have been superior to the ancients’, I wrote, because he “didn’t even have to endure, as Roman generals did, the slave holding the crown over his head and whispering in his ear: Sic transit gloria mundi. All glory is fleeting.”

In retrospect, that might have been good preparation for Petraeus, who has now seen both irrational extremes in the Washington continuum — hero and goat. Just as he was worshiped blindly then, he has fallen from grace because of an equally disproportionate reaction to a personal failing.

Petraeus resigned as CIA director because an FBI probe uncovered an extramarital affair with his biographer. Lawmakers are demanding to know why the FBI didn’t tell them sooner.

Yet the investigation has found no smoking gun — just a few steamy e-mails. President Obama said he sees “no evidence” that national security was compromised, and there’s no serious allegation that the affair harmed Petraeus’s spy work, so it’s baffling that the director of national intelligence suggested, and the president accepted, Petraeus’s resignation.

In truth, Petraeus’s behavior doesn’t even merit the label “scandal.” L’affaire Petraeus lacks every element of the definition.

For those too easily scandalized, let’s review what makes a Washington sex scandal:

It’s illegal, or of dubious legality. Eliot Spitzer, a.k.a. Client 9, had to resign as governor of New York because he and the woman he met at the Mayflower Hotel got swept up in a prostitution sting. Idaho Republican Larry Craig had to resign from the Senate because the man he interacted with in the neighboring stall was a police officer. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) probably would have resigned if the evidence tying him to the D.C. Madam had been more specific than the presence of his phone number in her little black book.

Petraeus? Nothing illegal.

It’s non-consensual, or underage. Florida congressman Mark Foley resigned from the House after it was learned that he was engaging in Internet sex with congressional pages. Gary Condit and Bill Clinton rated higher on the scandal meter because the women involved were interns. Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.) lost his reelection bid because of allegations (later settled) that he had assaulted his mistress.

Petraeus? Consenting adults.

Fetishes or photos. Dick Morris’s tryst at the Jefferson Hotel was made memorable because it brought “toe-sucking” into the political discourse. Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) was doomed by his description of “tickle fights” with staffers. Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) resigned only hours after he sent a shirtless photo of himself to a woman on Craigslist. It took Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) somewhat longer to realize he had to resign after sending out photos of other parts of his anatomy.

Petraeus? He’s wearing fatigues or a chest full of ribbons in photos with his mistress.

Caught in flagrante delicto. Gary Hart’s presidential prospects were undone after he was photographed aboard the Monkey Business with Donna Rice in his lap. Arkansas Democrat Wilbur Mills’s reign as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee ended after his car was pulled over and stripper Fanne Foxe got out and jumped into the Tidal Basin.

Petraeus? He was so discreet he and his paramour communicated via a Gmail draft folder.

Hypocrisy or lies. Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) was doomed when it emerged that the family-values politician filmed an abstinence-only video with his lover, who had worked for him. Clinton’s lies made Ken Starr possible — and then-House Speaker-elect Bob Livingston resigned during the impeachment proceedings against the president because Hustler magazine was about to expose his own infidelities.

Petraeus? None alleged.

Money. Nevada Sen. John Ensign might have survived revelations of his affair had it not become known that his parents gave $96,000 to the family of the staffer who was his mistress. And former presidential candidate John Edwards might not be quite so reviled if not for the hush money collected from wealthy donors to keep his affair quiet.

Petraeus? His birthday present was to have been a bike ride with Lance Armstrong.

If Petraeus is guilty of anything, it’s the hubristic belief, endemic in this town, that he was too powerful to get caught. But in this case, what he got “caught” doing is his business and his wife’s — not the nation’s.

Sam Miguel
11-22-2012, 08:10 AM
The Petraeus affair’s resulting witch hunt

By David Ignatius, Nov 17, 2012 12:36 AM EST

The Washington Post Published: November 17

Washington superlawyer Joseph Califano once passed a message to a client being grilled by a congressional committee that read: “Keep cool in Kabul.” That phrase has a certain piquancy now, but Califano simply wanted to calm the witness, slow the process a bit and get everyone to chill out.

The “keep cool” advice seems especially useful now that Washington’s latest set of scandals is entering the phase of congressional investigation, righteous political indignation and public penance. At times like this, people tend to repeat the old bromide “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” But it can also be toxic under the wrong circumstances.

When you look at the various scandals entwined around leading national-security figures, they have a common feature, which is that they were all driven to the surface by the fear of political exposure. It’s worth considering for a moment the way in which politics — and the rush to get out ahead of anticipated disclosure — has driven this process and made it more damaging than it needed to be.

This political nexus was spotted by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker in a recent blog post. She noted that the dominoes began to fall when a self-appointed FBI whistleblower went to Republican members of Congress, first Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington state and then House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, to warn them of a possible coverup of an investigation of CIA Director David Petraeus. Cantor’s staff called the office of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and the fat was in the fire.

Knowing that the supersensitive investigation (which apparently was then winding down) had become a political football, Mueller’s deputy Sean Joyce called Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Nov. 6. Clapper summoned Petraeus, counseled him to resign and informed the White House. Three days later, Petraeus was gone.

Fear of political blowback also triggered the revelation that Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander in Kabul, had been exchanging possibly inappropriate e-mails with Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite, military liaison and, judging from what we’ve read, all-around busybody. The FBI had already reviewed Allen’s e-mails as part of the Petraeus investigation, but last Sunday the FBI decided to inform the Pentagon and turn over 20,000 to 30,000 pages exchanged between Allen and Kelley. On Monday afternoon, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta decided to go public, open a Pentagon investigation of Allen and suspend his confirmation as the next U.S. commander in Europe.

Why did the Pentagon suddenly and publicly drop Allen into limbo? We still don’t know what is in the e-mails, beyond some “sweetheart” language. But Panetta clearly was worried about political fallout. Allen was due to testify before Congress on Thursday and, as a senior Pentagon official explained: “If you don’t inform Congress of the FBI referral, that becomes a problem.”

In the aftermath of the McCarthy investigations in the 1950s, when Americans wondered how responsible officials could have allowed such a reckless “witch hunt” that ruined reputations on the flimsiest evidence, Arthur Miller wrote a play called “The Crucible” about the Salem witch trials of 1692. The genius of the play was that it explained how sensible early Americans could have been swept up in a process of public shaming and destruction of character.

Amazingly, many members of Congress talk as if the real outrage here was that they weren’t informed earlier about the investigations of Petraeus and Allen. “We should have been told,” said Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, last Sunday. To which an observer might respond vernacularly: Give me a break.

The idea seems to have developed that the CIA and the military work equally for Congress and for the executive branch. They don’t. They work for the president, who is commander in chief. Congress appropriates the money and has a legitimate role in overseeing how it’s spent. But the idea that these scandals demonstrate the need for greater congressional involvement in sensitive investigations is preposterous.

The day Petraeus resigned, I received an e-mail from an Arab intelligence contact who expressed what surely has been going through the minds of many people around the world. I will quote it precisely, punctuation and all: “He needs to resign cause he has an affair? What da hell??? He is brilliant!!!! Why like this????”

Petraeus is gone, but the hunt for miscreants is still gathering force. For a reminder of why it’s dangerous, take a look at “The Crucible” and the lessons of history.

Sam Miguel
11-22-2012, 08:30 AM
^^^ That's what happens when the political branches of government are given "oversight" power. They take it to mean "substitute our political interest for the better judgment of professionals".

Sam Miguel
11-23-2012, 11:39 AM
Is US breathing down neck of Asean leaders?

POSTSCRIPT

By Federico D. Pascual Jr.

(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 22, 2012 - 12:00am

ERAP PUEDE PA!: It is too late for sympathizers of Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim to question before the Sandiganbayan former President Erap Estrada’s running for city mayor in 2013 against the incumbent.

Two lawyers have asked the Sandiganbayan to rule if the presidential pardon given to Estrada after his conviction for plunder in 2007 allowed him to run again for elective office. When he ran (and lost) for president in 2010, nobody stopped him.

They said that in running, Estrada may have violated the conditions of the pardon granted by then President Gloria Arroyo after he was convicted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder in 2007 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The conditional pardon read in part: “I hereby grant executive clemency to Joseph Ejercito Estrada, convicted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder and imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is hereby restored to his civil and political right.”

There. His civil and political rights have been restored. Estrada can vote and run for public office. Challenge him at the polls, not before the Sandiganbayan.

* * *

AT THE SUMMIT: To whom does President Noynoy Aquino listen: to Palace advisers dabbling in foreign relations or to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and his seasoned diplomats at the foreign office?

Many observers are not comfortable seeing their President addressing his fellow summiteers at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations like he was talking to his Cabinet.

Tough talk, bordering on arrogance, has no place in such a multilateral conference where he cannot be sure the majority of fellow Asean leaders are with him on bilateral issues with China, the object of his indignation.

Just one dissenting vote can prevent the adoption of a crucial decision since the 10-member organization decides by consensus. It is risky antagonizing one or more fellow national leaders.

* * *

BIG BROTHER: Even with the United States behind him, President Aquino should be careful sounding like he can or must have his way always.

Foisting the US as a Big Brother ready to take on the Chinese neighborhood bully will not stampede other Asean members — co-equals of the Philippines — into adopting the US-Philippine position that China must face the group instead of talking with individual members separately.

Assuming the Philippines can convince in their coming meeting the minsters of Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei — other Asean members with territorial claims — it does not follow that the six remaining members will openly take a position antagonistic to China.

* * *

OBAMA WORD: Speaking at the 21st Asean summit in Phnom Penh last Tuesday, President Barack Obama himself pleaded for a reduction of the tension arising from conflicting territorial claims.

Obama did not openly follow the aggressive tenor of President Aquino, who at one point rebuked host Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, a known China sympathizer, for saying a consensus had been reached not to “internationalize” the territorial disputes.

The US, which has to cross the Pacific Ocean to validate its self-assumed role as sheriff of the South China Sea, is not likely to confront China and ruin this expansive market for American business.

Will Asean remain united and be able to withstand pressures being exerted by non-member powers with strategic interests in the region?

* * *

NOT INSTANT: Even with the Phl-US Mutual Defense Treaty, the US cannot be expected to spring into action in the event a Chinese vessel grazes a Philippine ship or a Chinese gunner fires a shot across the bow.

In that 61-year-old treaty, the US inserted its understanding that “mutual defense” action is not instant, but subject to the usual congressional processes. Unless US forces themselves are attacked, the US Commander-in-Chief will have to ask the Congress for permission to pull the trigger.

President Aquino must be dreaming if he thinks the US will take, almost by reflex, a shooting stance for the Philippines against China, especially at this time when Beijing is in a leadership transition.

* * *

HIGH STAKES: It is too early to assess the cumulative effect on other Asean leaders of President Aquino’s donning the US jersey and carrying the US ball in the Asean-US leaders meeting in the Cambodian capital.

In the context of China’s growing military assertiveness, Aquino told the gathering: “The United States understands this and, for this reason, has chosen to work with us to ensure the peace and continuous advancement of our region.”

How did it feel, we wonder, for Noynoy Aquino to have assumed the job of US spokesman? The stakes are high and our President, we hope, knows where his and his country’s interests lie.

* * *

SEC ON THE JOB: The Securities and Exchange Commission has earned points in its handling of the investigation of the alleged price manipulation involving shares of leading agriculture development firm Calata Corp.

There are at least two reasons: One, it completed the inquiry fast. Second, it was done without controversy.

As we mentioned last Sunday, the SEC has closed this chapter and will now endorse its findings to the Department of Justice. The commission’s Enforcement and Prosecution Department has tagged several traders as suspects in the alleged share price manipulation.

Another body, the Capital Market Integrity Corp., has concluded its own investigation much earlier and tagged several stockbrokers as being involved. It said fines and penalties have been imposed on the brokers.

Calata Corp. chair and CEO Joseph Calata, who asked for the SEC probe, also praised the quiet and speedy investigation.

The SEC can now focus on investigating the Aman Futures Group Inc. which allegedly ran away with P12 billion invested in it by ordinary Filipinos from the Visayas and Mindanao.

Sam Miguel
12-10-2012, 02:22 PM
End the war on terror and save billions

By Fareed Zakaria, Dec 07, 2012 01:12 AM EST

The Washington Post Published: December 7

As we debate whether the two parties can ever come together and get things done, here’s something President Obama could probably do by himself that would be a signal accomplishment of his presidency: End the war on terror. Or, more realistically, start planning and preparing the country for phasing it out.

For 11 years, the United States has been operating under emergency wartime powers granted under the 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force.” That is a longer period than the country spent fighting the Civil War, World War I and World War II combined. It grants the president and the federal government extraordinary authorities at home and abroad, effectively suspends civil liberties for anyone the government deems an enemy and keeps us on a permanent war footing in all kinds of ways.

Now, for the first time since Sept. 11, 2001, an administration official has sketched a possible endpoint.

In a thoughtful speech at the Oxford Union last week, Jeh Johnson, the outgoing general counsel for the Pentagon, recognized that “we cannot and should not expect al-Qaeda and its associated forces to all surrender, all lay down their weapons in an open field, or to sign a peace treaty with us. They are terrorist organizations. Nor can we capture or kill every last terrorist who claims an affiliation with al-Qaeda.”

But, he argued, “There will come a tipping point . . . at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al-Qaeda and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, such that al-Qaeda as we know it, the organization that our Congress authorized the military to pursue in 2001, has been effectively destroyed.” At that point, “our efforts should no longer be considered an armed conflict.”

Phasing out or modifying these emergency powers should be something that would appeal to both left and right. James Madison, father of the Constitution, was clear on the topic. “Of all the enemies to public liberty,” he wrote, “war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. . . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

If you want to know why we’re in such a deep budgetary hole, one large piece of it is that we have spent around $2 trillion on foreign wars in the past decade. Not coincidentally, we have had the largest expansion of the federal government since World War II. The Post’s Dana Priest and William Arkin have described how the U.S. government has built 33 new complexes for the intelligence bureaucracies alone. The Department of Homeland Security employs 230,000 people.

A new Global Terrorism Index this week showed that terrorism went up from 2002 to 2007 – largely because of the conflicts in Afghanistan/Pakistan and Iraq — but has declined ever since. And the part of the world with the fewest incidents is North America. It could be our vigilance that is keeping terror attacks at bay. But it is also worth noting, as we observe the vast apparatus of searches and screening, that the Transportation Security Administration’s assistant administrator for global strategies has admitted that those expensive and cumbersome whole-body scanners have not resulted in the arrest of a single suspected terrorist. Not one.

Of course there are real threats out there, from sources including new branches of al-Qaeda and other such groups. And of course they will have to be battled, and those terrorists should be captured or killed. But we have done this before, and we can do so in the future under more normal circumstances. It will mean that the administration will have to be more careful — and perhaps have more congressional involvement — for certain actions, such as drone strikes. It might mean it will have to charge some of the people held at Guantanamo and try them in military or civilian courts.

In any event, it is a good idea that the United States find a way to conduct its anti-terrorism campaigns within a more normal legal framework, rather than rely on blanket wartime authority granted in a panic after Sept. 11.

No president wants to give up power. But this one is uniquely positioned to begin a serious conversation about a path out of permanent war.

Sam Miguel
02-28-2013, 10:09 AM
Imperial Argument: Washington debates ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy

By Walden Bello

9:27 am | Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Over the last two years, the Obama administration has executed what the president has termed the “Pivot to Asia” strategy, whereby the US’ global military force posture is being reconfigured to focus on the Asia Pacific region as Washington’s central front.

Movement has been rapid, with Washington expanding its naval exercises with Japan, sending marines to Australia, conducting military exercises in the Philippines with its allies, and supporting the negotiating positions of the Philippines and Vietnam against China’s on the dispute over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, or what Filipinos now call the West Philippine Sea. 60 per cent of the US Navy’s strength has been deployed to the Western Pacific.

Containment of China is the aim of the Pivot strategy, and this has drawn criticism from liberal critics of the policy like Robert Ross, a professor of Political Science at Boston University and a China hand. Writing in November-December issue of Foreign Affairs, Ross acknowledges that China’s actions in the South China Sea, including claiming the whole area as Chinese domestic territorial waters, come across as aggressive. However, the Pivot, he claims, is based on “a fundamental misreading of China’s leadership, who are now given to “appeasing an increasingly nationalist public with symbolic gestures of force.”

For Ross, China’s increasingly bellicose rhetoric stems less from expansionist intent than from the insecurities brought about by high-speed growth, followed by economic crisis. Long dependent for its legitimacy on delivering economic growth, domestic troubles related to the global financial crisis have left the Communist Party leadership groping for a new ideological justification, and it has found this in nationalism. Countering its rhetoric with a military cordon sanitaire, says Ross, would deepen the “insecurities” of Beijing, leading to a truly belligerent posture on its part, heightening the possibility of an outbreak of conflict while losing China’s cooperation in managing conflicts such as the crisis in Syria.

The riposte to Ross came in the form of an article in the succeeding issue of Foreign Affairs authored by Shawn Brimley and Ely Ratner of the Center for New American Security. While not an official response of the Obama administration, the Brimley and Ratner article brings together in once piece what Obama’s lieutenants, like Secretary of Foreign Affairs Hillary Clinton, have said in defense of the Pivot to Asia strategy in different contexts. The aim of the strategy, say Brimley and Ratner is not to contain China but to promote adherence to international norms and rules of conduct. They write:

“…Washington is trying to construct a regional order undergirded by rules and institutions. US diplomacy regarding disputes in the South China Sea, for instance, is based on principles and has sought to prevent a conflict form breaking out by encouraging all countries concerned to adhere to international law. This effort mirrors the US strategy elsewhere in the world of protecting the global commons through a combination of US power and international initiatives. That this approach appears to favor certain countries—and that Beijing objects to multilateral cooperation that might constrain its ability to coerce its neighbors—says more about its bias than it does about any American bias.”

The credibility of Brimley and Shatner’s defense is, however, undercut by the reality that, to borrow Mao’s famous way of distilling policies, the Pivot is 70 per cent military and 30 per cent diplomacy. They themselves find it hard to conceal the aggressively militaristic thrust of the Pivot, noting that “the ending of the war in Iraq and the ongoing drawdown in Afghanistan are freeing additional military resources to be directed toward the Asia Pacific region in the form of new deployments, the prepositioning of military assets, and additional locations for the US military to train and exercise with long-standing allies and emerging partners.” They continue: “In the years ahead, the continued evolution of the US force posture in the region should be complemented by efforts to strengthen partners’ armed forces, carry out joint exercises, and pursue more ambitious military diplomacy.”

The truth of the matter is that, as in the Middle East and Latin America, there is more continuity than a break in the Obama administration’s approach toward Asia in relation to the policy of the administration of George W. Bush. Prior to Sept 11, the neoconservatives in power had redefined China as a “strategic competitor” from the “strategic partner” it was during the Clinton years. One might say that Obama’s Pivot is the resumption of Bush’s preferred Asia Pacific strategy that was put on hold by the necessity of enlisting China as a US ally in the War against Terror in the years after 9/11.

Yet the Pivot is not simply a question of taking up where Bush left off in 2001. It represents a retreat from the comprehensive global military dominance that the neoconservative faction of the US ruling class attempted under Bush. It really is a feint, a maneuver, to cover up a strategic retreat from the disastrous two-decades-long engagement in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. The Pivot is an attempt by Washington to retreat to an area for imperial power projection that it sees as more manageable than a Middle East that is running out of control.

Yet this maneuver faces two problems. First, the Middle East, with its explosive mix of oil, the Arab Spring, Israel, and Iran, will not allow Washington to disengage. Owing to its own past policies, the US is condemned to a condition of imperial overreach. Second, the US redeployment of military force to the Asia Pacific will, as Ross says, trigger a military competition with China that has the potential of running out of control as the Chinese leadership responds to what it sees as Washington’s effort to contain its rise to regional and global prominence as it races to become the world’s biggest economy.

Ross, thus, is largely right. However, his analysis of the sources of China’s flag-waving is a bit naïve. For him, the Chinese leadership’s bellicose rhetoric and moves in the Western Pacific reflect insecurity and are mainly an attempt to harness nationalism as a source to legitimacy to replace the ability to deliver economic growth and higher living standards as the Chinese economy enters into crisis. On the contrary, China’s push to claim the Senkaku Islands now controlled by Japan as well as the whole South China Sea reflects the cold calculation of a power seeking to stake a claim to an area rich in natural resources, including oil, that would support its drive to become a regional hegemon. While China faces many economic and political challenges, one cannot say that its foreign policy moves are feints to cover up economic and political weakness. Also writing in the January-February issue of Foreign Affairs, Eric Li, a Shanghai-based Chinese political scientist, has characterized the turnover of leadership in the Chinese Communist Party last November as a “smooth and well-orchestrated demonstration by a confidently rising superpower.” One can say the same of China’s demonstrations of power in the Asia Pacific region.

Does this mean then that there is all the more reason for the US to come in as a “balancer”? More likely, this is a prescription for the outbreak of destabilizing regional conflicts, such as the Korean War and the Vietnam War during the Cold War. In Asia as in Europe, balance of power regimes have often ended up in conflicts, as political one-upmanship and arms races ran out of control. China and its neighbors have legitimate territorial disputes. The US’s entering the equation, ostensibly to help the latter, will simply result in superpower dynamics marginalizing resolution of the territorial issues. For governments seeking to legitimize and legalize their territorial claims, this is no solution at all.

Washington’s military withdrawal from Asia is overdue. Instead of normalizing relations between China and its neighbors, the US presence has long prevented the emergence of mature post-Cold War relations among them. Left to themselves, China’s neighbors will be forced cooperate to come up with ways of dealing with the challenge posed by China. Though the search for a common stand vis a vis China will not be easy, it will eventually emerge out of regional and international diplomacy, the activation of existing regional institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and even the negotiation of new multilateral security alliances. A firm position against Beijing’s outrageous claims on the part countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, coupled with their employment of aggressive diplomacy at both a regional and international level, is the only route to stability and peace in the region, not balancing Beijing by calling in Washington.

Also, one must not forget that China’s foreign policy is the product of the experience of over two centuries of Western intervention, a history that is shared by other countries in the region. With the drawdown of the US military presence, one must not underestimate the capacity of China and its neighbors to work out a new regional order that does a better job of promoting peace, harmony, and respect for sovereignty than the current regime of US military hegemony.

Sam Miguel
03-20-2013, 10:52 AM
From Foreign Policy online - - -

Think of it like an iceberg: The top lies in plain sight, but a lot more hides beneath the surface.

In its annual appraisal of the Chinese military published last week, the U.S. Department of Defense seems to be describing an object it finds both familiar and mysterious. The report certainly answers many of the important issues concerning China's military, including its attempts to develop an anti-ship ballistic missile and its continuing fixation on Taiwan.

Yet for many crucial aspects of China's strategy, the Pentagon seems like it's just guessing. Here are the five most important questions about Beijing's defense strategy that remain stubbornly unanswered.

1. What are China's long-term defense spending plans?

Although China's official 2012 defense budget is $106 billion, an 11 percent increase over last year and a fourfold increase from a decade ago, the Pentagon places China's total military spending at somewhere between $120 and $180 billion. "Estimating actual PLA military expenditures is difficult because of poor accounting transparency and China's still incomplete transition from a command economy," the report notes, referring to the People's Liberation Army.

There have been no credible estimates of Beijing's long-term defense spending plans. On its current trajectory, China could overtake the United States as the world's biggest military spender in the 2020s or 2030s -- but there are too many unknown variables to accurately predict if this will happen. Is the PLA budget pegged to the growth of the wider economy, or have China's generals been promised double-digit growth even if the country suffers an economic downturn? Will growth slow once certain modernization milestones have been achieved, or are there no plans to close the PLA checkbook? What's clear is that the more funding the PLA receives, the closer it will come to achieving parity with the U.S. military.

2. What is China's nuclear strategy?

The Pentagon concludes that "China's nuclear arsenal currently consists of about 50-75 silo-based, liquid-fueled and road-mobile, solid-fueled ICBMs." The Pentagon doesn't attempt to estimate the total number of nuclear weapons that China possesses, although it's generally assumed to have a much smaller nuclear arsenal than the U.S. cache of over 5,000 nukes. Nonetheless, theories that Beijing possesses or plans to develop a much bigger nuclear weapons stockpile just won't die down. Speculation last year that China may have as many as 3,500 nuclear warheads -- predicated on rumors of a sprawling network of underground tunnels -- has been reliably trashed, but some still argue that Beijing sees a strategic opportunity in building a nuclear arsenal that could match or even exceed that of the United States in the coming decades.

China currently has only two Jin-class Type 094 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) in service, the Pentagon tells us, and the missiles designed to arm the subs are not yet operational (though when they are, they will be nuclear-capable). Two submarines aren't much of a strategic deterrent for an aspiring superpower, but the true scope of the SSBN fleet that China plans to build remains unknown.

3. What is the Chinese navy up to?

American analysts often use the term "string of pearls" to describe Beijing's supposed strategy of establishing a network of foreign naval bases, especially in the Indian Ocean, but the Chinese don't. The latest Pentagon report does not discuss whether China plans to create a U.S.-style network of permanent forward bases for the PLA Navy.

Nonetheless, there is no shortage of speculation that China will eventually deploy military forces to port facilities it has constructed in places like Burma, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Seychelles has invited China to use its ports as resupply points for Chinese ships, but Beijing has insisted that this is not the establishment of a first foreign base, unconvincingly calling it a "re-supply port." The "places or bases" debate has already been running for some years, and it will continue to rumble on while Beijing remains tight-lipped about its long-range ambitions.

The Pentagon report also struggles to shed light on China's future aircraft carrier program, beyond the existence of the single ex-Soviet carrier that is currently undergoing sea trials. "Some components of China's first indigenously produced carrier may already be under construction," it suggests, adding that "China likely will build multiple aircraft carriers and associated support ships over the next decade." That's guesswork. It's unknown whether China envisages merely a couple of working aircraft carriers as floating trophies designed to symbolize the country's arrival as a world power, a handful of combat-capable carriers to drive home its territorial claims in the South China Sea, or a larger number of U.S.-style carrier battle groups with a mission to project force globally.

4. What kind of space capabilities is China developing?

China is becoming increasingly proficient in space. The report mentions that China is assembling its own GPS-style satellite network, blasted the Tiangong-1 spacelab into orbit in 2011, and has developed a ground-launched anti-satellite missile to improve its counter-space capabilities. But the Pentagon neglects to mention one of China's most ambitious space programs: the development of the Shenlong spaceplane and the possible associated development of advanced propulsion systems, whose existence increases the risk of a military space race with the United States.

It is not yet known whether Shenlong is anything more than a hi-tech experiment. But because of Shenlong's military potential, any information about it could allay or exacerbate growing fears within the U.S. military that the PLA Air Force has more than a passing interest in space operations.

5. Paper tiger or fire-breathing dragon?

There are many other imponderables in China's military. Chinese cyber-espionage has been effective in obtaining foreign military secrets, but it's unclear how much of this know-how has been successfully and usefully absorbed into China's own military programs and doctrines. The overhaul of the Chinese defense industry has revolutionized the country's indigenous capabilities, but how close has China really got to ironing out the kinks in its military-industrial structures and processes?

All of the unknowns feed into one larger question: Is the PLA worth the hype? China's military is untested; it hasn't fought a major campaign since a disastrous war with Vietnam in 1979. In the event of conflict, would its performance live up to the nation's expectations, or would disadvantages like corruption and inexperience critically undermine its war-fighting capability? Is the 21st-century PLA even designed to be used, or does it exist to prop up and counterbalance the Communist Party domestically in a world where Beijing calculates that large-scale warfare is increasingly unlikely? Maybe the answers to these questions are buried in some secure vault at the Pentagon, but they're not in its latest report.

Sam Miguel
04-03-2013, 08:15 AM
Is the US Asian pivot for real?

DEMAND AND SUPPLY

By Boo Chanco

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2013 - 12:00am

For a while it was easy to dismiss the histrionics of the young North Korean leader as a temper tantrum to catch attention. Lately, however, it is easy to worry that his increasingly bellicose statements may force the 29-year-old leader to save face and indeed bring the 60-year-old truce in the peninsula back into a shooting war.

And what a horrifying shooting war that will be, given the nuclear capability of the hermit state. In a sense, the North Koreans have nothing much to lose. Their people are starving and the world community has isolated them with debilitating economic sanctions. Inflicting a first strike blow on a super power may just give their warped minds an endorphin rush… the political equivalent of an orgasm after a rape.

The North Koreans have threatened to strike Okinawa, Guam and Hawaii where US military forces are based. With well publicized visits of an armada of US warships here supposedly for Balikatan exercises, that may just be enough provocation for the North Koreans to target Subic as well.

And we are well within the reach of North Korean rockets as proven by recent “no fly zone” alerts our civil defense officials instituted during past rocket tests. All of a sudden, the idea of heavy US military presence here as a counterfoil to China’s predatory policies in the West Philippine Sea doesn’t seem like a very good idea.

Our only real hope now lies in the effectiveness of the US shield that we hope and presume covers us from any rockets coming from the hermit kingdom up North. One can never be too sure with the Americans if how they are treating us on trade matters is a gauge. We really ought to be more realistic about these so called friends.

Because of our location along key Pacific trading routes, relations with Manila should be important to any American president, American journalist Greg Rushford wrote from Washington DC in his blog The Rushford Report. The other good reason why the US must treat us better, according to Rushford is because “under Aquino’s leadership, the Philippines has come out of intensive care.”

Rushford noted how our economy is booming…

“Construction cranes dot Manila’s skyline. The areas just north of Manila that once housed major US military bases at Clark Field and Subic Bay are booming. Clark International Airport — where more birds used to land than airplanes just a few years ago— has taken off, with passenger arrivals skyrocketing from 50,000 in 2004 to 1.3 million last year. For anyone looking at the beneficial advantages that happen when foreign investments that foster Philippine economic growth are welcomed, this is it.”

Rushford recounts how the former US military bases have blossomed after the Americans left.

“Indeed, the former American bases have become models of the benefits of attracting foreign investment. Yokohama Tires and Texas Instruments have billion-plus dollar investments at Clark; Samsung also has an important semiconductor operation there. Korea’s Hanjin has the world’s fourth-largest shipyard at Subic Bay.

“In their Cold-War heyday, the former US bases employed perhaps 40,000 Filipinos. Now, under Philippine management, the number of jobs in the Clark-Subic corridor has shot up more than fourfold — more than 160,000. ‘I don’t think there has been a better time for the Philippines than today,” says Dennis Wright, a dynamic former US Navy captain who is now developing a $3-billion industrial park at the former Clark Field for a group of Kuwaiti investors.”

But the US, Rushford complains, isn’t even supportive in the economic and trade areas. “While the White House has supported enhanced US-Philippine security ties, Washington has not put serious energy into deepening trade ties.

“The Obama administration has not welcomed the Philippines into the TPP negotiations. The European Union is interested in negotiating a preferential trade agreement with the Philippines; the White House is not. Washington has no present plans to engage Manila seriously to promote trade liberalization anytime before 2016, when neither Obama nor Aquino will be in office.”

Rushford continued his report:

“The Filipinos have noticed. Last September, speaking to an influential audience in Washington that was convened by the US-Philippines Society and the respected Center for Strategic and International Studies, Finance secretary Cesar Purisima lamented that his country was not wanted in the TPP. That trade deal as presently constituted, including some Asian countries and ignoring others, the secretary explained, would distort regional trade flows and thus ‘hinder’ the laudable goal of promoting genuine trade expansion.

“Meanwhile, where the Philippines is concerned, the USTR is in full ‘enforcement’ mode.

“On March 28, the USTR’s trade police will preside over a hearing into complaints of labor-rights abuses from 2001– 2007 that were perpetrated during former President Gloria Arroyo’s watch — murders of union organizers, and such. The implied threat is that if President Obama personally determines that Aquino has not been diligent enough by way of cleaning up the mess he inherited, Obama could yank the Philippines’ duty-free privileges pursuant to the Generalized System of Preferences program.

“That would, of course, be ridiculous. After all, Aquino has put Arroyo — who never lost her GSP privileges when she ran the Philippines — under house arrest while she faces graft charges. Aquino’s labor secretary, Rosalinda Baldoz, is widely respected for her integrity and dedication in addressing the Arroyo-era abuses…

“Why would the USTR be holding such a hearing that by its nature is demeaning to an important American ally? While it’s tempting to blame the bureaucrats, the trade cops are essentially playing out their intended roles of ‘enforcement’ oversight that Congress mandated in the GSP legislation.

“Countries like the Philippines that sign up for the GSP program must agree to submit themselves to such oversight from Washington, notwithstanding the indignities. That’s one of the main reasons why the US Congress likes the GSP program — there is always an implicit understanding that economic privileges granted, can also be taken away. And no American president has ever complained that the generous GSP program is also a diplomatic lever that can always be pulled, if necessary to keep allies in line.

“The GSP program isn’t particularly generous to the Philippines anyway. To cite just one example: Philippine canned tuna exports are not eligible for the duty-free treatment, as they are politically ‘sensitive.’ The sensitivity involves American Samoa, which is an American territory.

“Official US policy has long discriminated against Asian tuna exporters like the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. The Asian tuna exporting countries face protective US tariffs of up to 12 percent. But American Samoa, because it is officially US territory, can export its canned tuna to the US mainland duty free. Without the protective tariffs, the Samoans could not compete.

“Obama inherited the economically indefensible US tuna tariffs from his predecessor, George W. Bush, who inherited them from his predecessors. Bush rebuffed Gloria Arroyo when she sought their removal. It’s safe to say that Obama will also kick the tuna-tariff can down the road.”

Last year, Rushford also reported about how Obama repudiated a request of P-Noy for some trade preferential treatment for our garments industry. As I reported it in this column June 15 last year, Greg Rushford’s op/ed piece for the Wall Street Journal explained what happened:

“On Mr. Aquino’s other goal—dropping US tariffs on his country’s clothing exports—the Obama administration sent the President home empty-handed. The Philippine leader urged Barack Obama to support a bill introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives to boost Philippine clothing exports to the US, which amounted to $1.7 billion last year. The SAVE Act—for Save Our Industries—would give Philippine garment manufacturers duty-free access to US clothing markets as long as they buy US fabrics to make their jeans, shirts and dresses.

“Instead, Mr. Aquino got the brush off… Chris Panlilio, the Philippine undersecretary of trade who came to Washington with Mr. Aquino, says it is unfair ‘given our historical relationship with America’ for the Philippines not to enjoy preferential trade.’”

What’s strange is what follows next as Rushford reports:

“Mr. Obama has been fighting tooth and nail to make Vietnam buy American fabrics in return for tariff reductions. The Vietnamese, sensibly, have pointed out the economic absurdities of this policy.

“Undeterred, the Obama White House vows to keep up the pressure until Vietnamese negotiators give in. The hypocrisy is too hard to ignore: Washington wants from Hanoi what it won’t give to Manila.”

Friend and ally? We should wonder.

As for the Asian pivot, I doubt if the guys in Washington know what that means beyond being a good PR line for over-trusting allies.

Child training

Teach a child to be polite and courteous, and when he grows up, he’ll never be able to drive in Manila.

Sam Miguel
07-31-2013, 01:43 PM
Strategic Horizons: To Build Future Military, U.S. First Needs Strategic Vision

By Steven Metz, on 24 Jul 2013, Column

The community of national security experts is consumed with debate on the appropriate size and configuration of the American military. Seldom does a week pass without some new report, commission or conference offering solemn advice on this complex issue. Policy journals and op-ed pages are awash with articles on it. Such vigorous discussion is a good thing, but it may be focused on the wrong issue—ultimately the size of the armed forces matters less than what they are asked to do.

There are analysts, though, who are grappling with the type of conflicts the U.S. military may be ordered to fight in the next few decades. U.S. Army Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster recently penned a powerful essay reminding Americans of what he calls the "pipe dream of easy war," in which easy victories are "achieved by small numbers of technologically sophisticated American forces capable of launching precision strikes against enemy targets from safe distances."

McMaster always deserves serious consideration: He is one of the U.S. military's most important strategic thinkers with a profound grasp of both the technicalities of warfighting and the politics of war. His reminder that armed conflict will remain complex, dirty and protracted is important. But that alone it is not enough to drive military force and concept development. Military leaders know that the defense budget and the size of the armed forces will decline. They know that sustaining existing military capabilities will be challenging and developing new ones will be difficult and time consuming. But the challenge is identifying which capabilities to develop and which to abandon.

The problem is politics. The American political system is based on civilian control of the military. Military leaders cannot and should not develop a national strategic vision—that is the responsibility of civilian political leaders in consultation with the public. But in the current political climate, civilian leaders are unable or unwilling to articulate a long-term strategic vision. Without one, the architects of the future military must speculate about what the armed forces will be ordered to do.

The roots of this problem lie deep in history. The American political system was not designed to develop, implement and adjust a coherent national security strategy. For much of its history, the United States was an insular, inward-looking nation. The Founding Fathers and most of the political leaders who followed them did not want the United States to be a great power in the European mode. Hence they did not build the institutions or mindset to do so, settling instead for reluctant and episodic involvement outside the Western Hemisphere.

When World War II and the Cold War compelled the United States to become a great power, Americans cobbled together institutions and, importantly, the mindset needed for far-flung security commitments. This was made possible by the clear threat posed first by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and then by the Soviet Union manipulating global communism, anti-colonialism and the political awakening of repressed peoples. Americans argued over much of their security strategy but generally agreed that the long-term objectives and top priorities were the containment of Soviet power and the downfall of communism. When this finally happened, American strategy carried on as if by inertia, sticking with the goal of sustaining U.S. military dominance and maintaining the security system that had emerged during the Cold War.

This clarity of strategic vision shaped military force development. During the Cold War, the armed forces bought weapons systems and crafted operational methods specifically designed to counter the Soviet military and the Soviet-style militaries of "rogue states" like North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. This continued during the 1990s simply because there was no compelling reason to change. Then the Sept. 11 attacks forced a major shift in the evolutionary trajectory of the U.S. military. Defeating al-Qaida and countering terrorism and insurgency became the priorities. This was different than the earlier strategic visions but at least it was a strategic vision. So even while embroiled in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the U.S. military had a sense of the type of future capabilities it needed.

Now the post-Sept. 11 consensus on objectives and priorities has crumbled with little sign of a new strategic vision. Neither of the major political parties has a consistent worldview that structures their positions on America's world role. Up-and-coming political leaders pay little attention to foreign and national security policy. There are few foreign and national security policy lions in Congress, and those who do exist have little interest in bipartisan consensus. As always, the White House is focused on the short-term span of electoral cycles rather than the long-term future. And it is difficult to discern coherent schools of thought within the community of foreign and national security policy experts. The result is an obsession with the crisis of the day without the working consensus needed for an effective strategic vision.

All of this leaves the military hanging. Its leaders know that they must begin now to develop the forces, systems and concepts that the armed forces will need a decade or more down the road. But without a clear idea of what Americans may want their future armed forces to do, military leaders must speculate—even guess—about the capabilities they should be building. Will the priority be containing China or undertaking force projection against Iran using high-tech weaponry? Will it be internal wars, insurgencies and humanitarian disasters? The rebuilding of shattered societies after a nuclear exchange? Cyberwar? A clash of robots? All depends on how and why the United States intends to exercise power.

Thinkers like McMaster are harvesting insights about the future of war from its past. Unfortunately, the history of U.S. national security policy does not provide a road map to its future. With luck, military leaders may guess right about armed conflict in the coming decades. But they may not. Reinvigorating a national consensus and strategic vision would help them immeasurably. They deserve it. But until some new threat emerges to focus national attention, the best military leaders can do is prepare to respond as quickly and effectively as possible once Americans decide what they want their role in the world to be.

Steven Metz is a defense analyst and the author of "Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy." His weekly WPR column, Strategic Horizons, appears every Wednesday.

Joescoundrel
10-25-2013, 12:56 PM
US ‘pivot’ to Asia gaining strength—admiral

Agence France-Presse

12:56 pm | Friday, October 25th, 2013

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON—The United States has significantly increased its warships and aircraft deployed in Asia despite Washington’s budget woes, adding punch to its “pivot” to the region, a senior naval commander said.

Rear Admiral Mark C. Montgomery, commander of an aircraft carrier strike group homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, said the expanded military presence would have a calming effect on simmering tensions and territorial disputes in the region.

“The strategic rebalancing has resulted in an extremely higher number of surface combatants, cruisers and destroyers that support the strike group,” Montgomery told Agence France-Presse in an interview on Wednesday aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“What we’ve seen is an increase in surface combatant presence here in the Western Pacific… so these ships are spread throughout those areas,” he said, in the interview at the flag bridge of the nuclear-powered supercarrier as fighter jets took off and landed on the deck as part of drills.

“Having more ships gives us more presence. It allows us to have a greater force.”

Montgomery said US defense budget cuts and the recent 16-day partial US government shutdown have not affected his command.

The shutdown forced President Barack Obama to skip two Asian summits this month, triggering concerns about the extent of US commitment to the region as China becomes more assertive.

“Operations and maintenance decisions have not affected us. The strategic rebalance is continuing in earnest,” the admiral said.

“We have sufficient funds for our operations… there is in fact a strategic rebalancing in place that has resulted in more ships and aircraft being out here.”

Last year, then US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in Singapore that the Pentagon would shift 60 percent of US naval assets to the Pacific region by 2020 as part of an Asian “pivot” announced by Washington.

Montgomery, a 25-year veteran in the US Navy, said ships and planes from San Diego, California and Pearl Harbor in Hawaii are being deployed to Asia for up to eight months as part of the rebalancing.

“That gives me a lot more flexibility, a lot more presence,” he said.

US presence has ‘calming effect’

Montgomery commands Carrier Strike Group Five from the nuclear-powered George Washington, which was in international waters in the West Philippine Sea on Wednesday when journalists and other visitors were flown in from Singapore.

A carrier strike group packs a powerful punch as it comprises an aircraft carrier, backed by at least one guided missile cruiser, a destroyer, a supply ship and a fast attack submarine.

It is a key element in the US strategy of projecting its military power across the world.

The George Washington heads the US Navy’s largest carrier strike group and the only one homeported outside the US. It operates in three theatres, including the waters off the Korean Peninsula where tensions between North and South Korea are simmering.

It also operates in the sea off Japan where Tokyo and Beijing are locked in a territorial dispute, and in the West Philippine Sea, where China and four Southeast Asian states as well as Taiwan have overlapping claims over territories.

Montgomery’s carrier strike group held military exercises with South Korea and Japan off the Korean peninsula this month, sparking a sharp rebuke from Pyongyang which denounced the drills as a “serious military provocation” and an “attack on our efforts for peace”.

This week the group was cruising the West Philippine Sea while holding smaller military exercises with the Malaysian navy and air force and later in the month with its Singaporean allies.

“I’m an element of any contingency response. I think a carrier strike group is always a critical element of it,” Montgomery said, when asked about the role of his command in any military conflict in the region.

China claims almost all of the waters in the West Philippine Sea, including those approaching the shores of smaller countries like the Philippines, a former US colony with which Washington has a mutual defense treaty.

Manila, which is the most vocal in criticizing China’s alleged aggressive moves in the sea, and Washington are in talks over a deal that will expand US military presence in the Philippines, which evicted fixed US military bases in the early 1990s.

Montgomery said the increased US military presence in the region is a stabilizing factor.

“Presence always has an assuring and calming effect,” he said.

“I think the fact that we’re here (now) says a lot whether or not we will be here if there was a crisis.”

Joescoundrel
11-28-2013, 07:51 AM
US bombers enter China’s claimed air defense zone

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press

2:42 am | Thursday, November 28th, 2013

WASHINGTON—Days after China asserted greater military control over a swath of the East China Sea to bolster claims to a cluster of disputed islands, the US defied the move Tuesday as it flew two B-52 bombers through the area.

China, however, insisted Wednesday it has the capacity to enforce its controversial newly declared air zone over islands disputed with Japan, despite Beijing’s reluctance to intervene after American B-52 bombers flouted its rules.

The US said what it described as a training mission was not flown to respond to China’s latest military maneuver, yet the dramatic flights made clear that the US will not recognize the new territorial claims that Beijing laid out over the weekend.

The two unarmed US B-52 bombers took off from their home base in Guam and flew through China’s newly designated air defense zone, then returned to base, US officials said. The bombers were in the zone for less than an hour, thundering across the Pacific skies during midday there, the officials said, adding that the aircraft encountered no problems.

Beijing’s non-confrontational response elicited scorn from some Chinese netizens as weak in the face of defiance, but analysts said it may never have intended to impose the zone by force.

“The Chinese government has the will and ability to defend our national sovereignty and security,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular press briefing.

DISPUTED ISLANDS

Name: Senkakus (Japan);
Diaoyus (China)

Location: East China Sea, northeast of Taiwan, east of Chinese mainland, southwest of
Okinawa

Total area: 7 sq km

Description/Significance: Eight uninhabited islands and rocks, close to major shipping lanes, offer rich fishing grounds, believed to contain oil deposits

China’s claim:Islands have been part of its territory since ancient times.

Japan’s claim: Japan erected sovereignty marker on the islands in 1985, incorporating them into its territory as part of the Nansei and Shoto islands.

SOURCES: BBC, JAPAN
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

“We also have the ability to exercise effective control over the East Sea Air Defense Identification Zone,” (ADIZ) he said.

While the US insisted the training mission was long-planned, it came just days after China issued a map and a new set of rules governing the zone, which includes a cluster of islands that are controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.

US officials would not publicly acknowledge the flights on Tuesday, but State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said China’s move appeared to be an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea.

“This will raise regional tensions and increase the risk of miscalculation, confrontation and accidents,” she told reporters.

China said Saturday that all aircraft entering the new air defense zone must notify Chinese authorities and are subject to emergency military measures if they do not identify themselves or obey Beijing’s orders. US officials, however, said they have received no reaction to the bomber flights from the Chinese.

Rejection of China’s new rules

The bomber mission underscores Washington’s immediate rejection of China’s new rules. The US, which has hundreds of military aircraft based in the region, has said it has zero intention of complying. Japan likewise has called the zone invalid, unenforceable and dangerous, while Taiwan and South Korea, both close to the US, also rejected it.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest would not specifically comment Tuesday on the military flights. “It continues to be our view that the policy announced by the Chinese over weekend is unnecessarily inflammatory and has a destabilizing impact on the region,” he told reporters traveling with Obama in Los Angeles.

The US mission took place between about midnight Monday and 3 a.m. EST, said the officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak by name about the flights. The flights were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

China’s move to further assert its territorial claims over the islands is not expected to immediately spark confrontations with foreign aircraft. Yet it fits a pattern of putting teeth behind China’s claims and could potentially lead to dangerous encounters depending on how vigorously China enforces it—and how cautious it is when intercepting aircraft from Japan, the US and other countries.

While enforcement is expected to start slowly, Beijing has a record of playing the long game, and analysts say they anticipate a gradual scaling-up of activity.

The declaration seems to have flopped as a foreign policy gambit. Analysts say Beijing may have miscalculated the forcefulness and speed with which its neighbors rejected its demands.

At least in the short term, the move undermines Beijing’s drive for regional influence, said Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“It doesn’t serve Chinese interests to have tensions with so many neighbors simultaneously,” she said.

Mostly rhetorical

Denny Roy, a security expert at the East-West Center in Hawaii, said China’s enforcement will likely be mostly rhetorical at first.

“The Chinese can now start counting and reporting what they call Japanese violations, while arguing that the Chinese side has shown great restraint by not exercising what they will call China’s right to shoot, and arguing further that China cannot be so patient indefinitely,” Roy said.

China also faces practical difficulties deriving from gaps in its air-to-air refueling and early warning and control capabilities, presenting challenges in both detecting foreign aircraft and keeping its planes in the air, according to Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at Flightglobal magazine in Singapore.

Despite that, Beijing has shown no sign of backing down, just as it has continued to aggressively enforce its island claims in the South China Sea over the strong protests from its neighbors.

Tensions remain high with Tokyo over islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku by Japan and Daioyu by China. Beijing was incensed by Japan’s September 2012 move to nationalize the chain, and Diaoyutai by Taiwan, which also claims them.

Since then, Chinese and Japanese coast guard ships have regularly confronted each other in surrounding waters. Japan further angered Beijing last month by threatening to shoot down unmanned Chinese drones that Beijing says it plans to send on surveillance missions over the islands.

Beijing’s move was greeted rapturously by hardline Chinese nationalists, underscoring Beijing’s need to assuage the most vocal facet of domestic public opinion. Strategically, it also serves to keep the island controversy alive in service of Beijing’s goal of forcing Tokyo to accept that the islands are in dispute — a possible first step to joint administration or unilateral Chinese control over them.

Beijing was also responding in kind to Japan’s strict enforcement of its own air defense zone in the East China Sea, said Dennis Blasko, an Asia analyst at think tank CNA’s China Security Affairs Group and a former Army attache in Beijing.

The Japanese zone, in place since the 1960s, overlaps extensively with the newly announced Chinese zone. Japan, which keeps a public record of all foreign incursions into its zone, actually extended it westward by 14 miles in May.

Sam Miguel
11-29-2013, 08:00 AM
From the Inquirer - - -

More US allies defy China

2:06 am | Friday, November 29th, 2013

BEIJING—South Korean and Japanese flights through China’s new maritime air defense zone added to the international defiance Thursday of rules Beijing says it has imposed in East China Sea but that neighbors and the US have vowed to ignore.

While China’s surprise announcement last week to create the zone initially raised some tensions in the region, analysts say Beijing’s motive is not to trigger an aerial confrontation but is a more long-term strategy to solidify claims to disputed territory by simply marking the area as its own.

China’s lack of a response so far to the flights—including two US B-52s that flew through the zone on Tuesday—has been an embarrassment for Beijing. Even some Chinese state media outlets suggested Thursday that Beijing may have mishandled the episodes.

“Beijing needs to reform its information release mechanism to win the psychological battles waged by Washington and Tokyo,” the Global Times, a nationalist tabloid published by the Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily, said in an editorial.

Without prior notice, Beijing began demanding Saturday that passing aircraft identify themselves and accept Chinese instructions or face consequences in an East China Sea zone that overlaps a similar air defense identification zone overseen by Japan since 1969 and initially part of one set up by the U.S. military.

But when tested just days later by US B-52 flights—with Washington saying it made no effort to comply with China’s rules, and would not do so in the future—Beijing merely noted, belatedly, that it had seen the flights and taken no further action.

South Korea’s military said Thursday its planes flew through the zone this week without informing China and with no apparent interference. Japan also said its planes have continuing to fly through it after the Chinese announcement, while the Philippines, locked in an increasingly bitter dispute with Beijing over South China Sea islands, said it also was rejecting China’s declaration.

Technical ability questioned

Analysts question China’s technical ability to enforce the zone due to a shortage of early warning radar aircraft and in-flight refueling capability. However, many believe that China has a long-term plan to win recognition for the zone with a gradual ratcheting-up of warnings and possibly also eventual enforcement action.

“With regard to activity within the zone, nothing will happen—for a while,” said June Teufel Dreyer, a China expert at the University of Miami. “Then the zone will become gradually enforced more strictly. The Japanese will continue to protest, but not much more, to challenge it.”

That may wear down Japan and effectively change the status quo, she said.

The zone is seen primarily as China’s latest bid to bolster its claim over a string of uninhabited Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea—known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Beijing has been ratcheting up its sovereignty claims since Tokyo’s privatization of the islands last year.

But the most immediate spark for the zone likely was Japan’s threat last month to shoot down drones that China says it will send to the islands for mapping expeditions, said Dennis Blasko, an Asia analyst at think tank CNA’s China Security Affairs Group and a former Army attache in Beijing.

Awkward time

The zone comes at an awkward time. Although Beijing’s ties with Tokyo are at rock bottom, it was building good will and mutual trust with Washington following a pair of successful meetings between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, the zone feud now threatens to overshadow both the visit by Vice President Joe Biden to Beijing next week and one by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop expected before the end of the year.

China’s defense and foreign ministries offered no additional clarification Thursday as to why Beijing failed to respond to the US Air Force flights. Alliance partners the US and Japan together have hundreds of military aircraft in the immediate vicinity.

China on Saturday issued a list of requirements for all foreign aircraft passing through the area, regardless of whether they were headed into Chinese airspace, and said its armed forces would adopt “defensive emergency measures” against aircraft that don’t comply.

Beijing said the notifications are needed to help maintain air safety in the zone. However, the fact that China said it had identified and monitored the two US bombers during their Tuesday flight seems to discredit that justification for the zone, said Rory Medcalf, director of the international security program at Australia’s Lowy Institute

“This suggests the zone is principally a political move,” Medcalf said. “It signals a kind of creeping extension of authority.”

Along with concerns about confrontations or accidents involving Chinese fighters and foreign aircraft, the zone’s establishment fuels fears of further aggressive moves to assert China’s territorial claims—especially in the hotly disputed South China Sea, which Beijing says belongs entirely to it.

Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun confirmed those concerns on Saturday by saying China would establish additional air defense identification zones “at an appropriate time.”

For now, however, China’s regional strategy is focused mostly on Japan and the island dispute, according to government-backed Chinese scholars.

China will continue piling the pressure on Tokyo until it reverses the decision to nationalize the islands, concedes they are in dispute, and opens up negotiations with Beijing, said Shen Dingli, a regional security expert and director of the Center for American Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University.

“China has no choice but to take counter measures,” Shen said. “If Japan continues to reject admitting the disputes, it’s most likely that China will take further measures.”—Christopher Bodeen

Sam Miguel
12-17-2013, 10:21 AM
US ups security aid to SE Asia, criticizes China

By Matthew Lee and Matthew Pennington

(Associated Press) | Updated December 17, 2013 - 10:05am

HANOI, Vietnam — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered harsh words for China and new maritime security assistance for Southeast Asia on Monday to bolster countries facing growing Chinese assertiveness in a region where the two world powers are jockeying for influence.

Tensions are running high after a near-collision of U.S. and Chinese naval vessels this month and an air defense zone China has declared over an area that includes territory controlled by Japan, a U.S. ally. Those actions have raised fresh alarm as Beijing modernizes its military and claims a wide swath of ocean and disputed islands across the East and South China Seas.

Kerry used his first visit to Vietnam as America's top diplomat to reiterate support for diplomacy between Southeast Asia's regional bloc and Beijing over the territorial disputes, and to provide aid for Southeast Asian nations to defend waters they claim as their own.

Kerry pledged $32.5 million, including up to $18 million for Vietnam that will include five fast patrol boats for its Coast Guard. With the new contribution, U.S. maritime security assistance to the region will exceed $156 million over the next two years, he said.

"Peace and stability in the South China Sea is a top priority for us and for countries in the region," Kerry told reporters at a news conference with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh. "We are very concerned by and strongly opposed to coercive and aggressive tactics to advance territorial claims."

The next stop on his Asian trip will be the Philippines, which lost control of a disputed reef in the South China Sea last year after a standoff with China. The U.S. is also helping equip the Philippines with ships and radar, and is in negotiations with Manila to increase the American military presence there.

Kerry said the new assistance was not a "quickly conceived reaction to any events in the region" but rather a "gradual and deliberate expansion" of U.S. support as part of the Obama administration's broader decision to refocus attention on the Asia-Pacific.

But the step is almost certain to anger Beijing, which bristles at what it sees as U.S. interference in areas it views as China's "core interest." Beijing looks dimly on Washington's push to increase the U.S. military presence and strengthen its alliances in Asia as it ends a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, calling it an attempt to contain China.

In a reminder of the high stakes in play, U.S. and Chinese naval vessels came close to colliding in the South China Sea on Dec. 5, the most serious incident between the two navies since 2009.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet said Saturday that USS Cowpens was operating in international waters and had to maneuver to avoid hitting China's lone aircraft carrier. The Liaoning, a symbol of China's ambition to develop a navy that operates further from its own shores, only entered service last year and was on its first-ever sea trials in the South China Sea.

Beijing has not formally commented on the incident, but the state-run Global Times newspaper reported on Monday that the U.S. ship had first harassed the Liaoning and its group of support ships, getting too close to a Chinese naval drill and entering within 30 miles of the Chinese fleet's "inner defense layer."

As China expands its navy's reach and starts to challenge decades of American military predominance in the region, it's becoming more common for vessels of the two nations to operate in close proximity. The Obama administration has made it a priority to seek closer military cooperation with China to prevent misunderstandings that could spark a clash — part of a broader push to foster friendly ties between the established world power and the emerging one.

Beijing's unilateral declaration in late November of its East China Sea air defense identification zone was a setback, and has ratcheted up tensions with Japan over disputed islands within that zone. All aircraft entering the zone must notify Chinese authorities beforehand, and China has said it would take unspecified defensive measures against those that don't comply.

The U.S., Japan and South Korea have said they will not honor the new zone, and in a show of defiance soon after China announced it, the U.S. flew two B-52 bombers through the area.

The issue loomed large during meetings in Beijing between Vice President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in early December, and Kerry offered harsh words about the zone in Hanoi Monday. He said it "clearly increases the risk of a dangerous miscalculation or an accident." He called for intensified diplomacy to address the issue.

"The zone should not be implemented, and China should refrain from taking similar unilateral actions elsewhere, particularly in the South China Sea," Kerry said, reiterating that such moves by Beijing would not affect U.S. military operations in the region.

Three years ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also in Hanoi, raised hackles in Beijing by declaring that the U.S. had a national interest in the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea, where China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam have competing claims. Those disputes have occasionally flared, including a 1988 naval battle between China and Vietnam that left 70 Vietnamese sailors dead.

Washington has supported efforts by Southeast Asia's regional bloc to negotiate collectively with their larger neighbor China on a legally binding code of conduct to manage the disputes. Stressing U.S. neutrality on the competing sovereignty claims, Kerry again called for quick agreement on the code and peaceful resolution of disputes.

Those efforts have made some headway in the past year, but Beijing would still prefer to negotiate with each country separately. It regards the entire South China Sea and island groups within it as its own and interprets international law as giving it the right to police foreign naval activity there.

Sam Miguel
12-18-2013, 01:03 PM
US does not recognize China air defense zone

By Pia Lee-Brago

(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 18, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Washington does not recognize China’s air defense identification zone over the East China Sea, visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday.

“The United States does not recognize that zone and does not accept it,” Kerry said during a news conference yesterday with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

“The zone should not be implemented and China should refrain from taking similar unilateral actions, particularly in the South China Sea,” he said.

He also announced $40 million in new assistance in part to help the Philippines protect its territorial waters amid rising tensions with China even as he urged nations involved to “lower the intensity.”

The money, from a US program known as the Global Security Contingency Fund, will be spent over three years and will be split between improving the Philippine Coast Guard’s maritime security abilities and boosting counterterrorism capacity for the Philippines National Police in Mindanao, where Washington has also backed a decade-long Philippine government campaign against al-Qaeda-linked local militants.

The new aid is intended to complement a $32.5-million assistance package, which Kerry announced Monday in Vietnam, that will help Southeast Asian nations protect their territorial waters. Up to $18 million of that money will go to provide the Vietnamese Coast Guard with five new fast patrol boats.

Both Vietnam and the Philippines have competing claims with China over territory in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea and are concerned with growing Chinese assertiveness after Beijing’s unilateral declaration of the air defense zone.

“China, in doing this, effectively is attempting to transform an air zone into its own domestic airspace, and we think that this could lead to compromising freedom of flight, in terms of civil aviation, and also compromise safety and security of affected nations,” Del Rosario said.

If China establishes an air defense zone in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea, Del Rosario said, “that for us will be a problem.”

Kerry urged all parties to “avoid provocations” that could potentially escalate into conflict. “We should be long past the time of unilateral assertion and the use of coercion to back up that assertion,” he said.

Kerry stressed the need for negotiated resolutions to the disputes.

“The United States will stand with our friends in this region who are asserting their efforts through that kind of legal, peaceful process,” he said.

“I hope that ultimately the leaders in China will see the wisdom of engaging,” he added.

Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Kerry’s visit to Manila provided a chance for the Philippines and the US to broaden cooperation on various fronts – from trade to security cooperation, diplomatic ties, to humanitarian and disaster response cooperation.

“The visit presents an opportunity for the two countries to discuss the broadening of economic and security cooperation, strengthening of people-to-people ties and humanitarian assistance and disaster response and cooperation on regional issues,” Coloma said.

Kerry was scheduled to pay a courtesy call on President Aquino at Malacañang.

The Philippines lost control of Panatag Shoal last year after a standoff with China. The US is also helping equip the Philippines with ships and radar, and is also in negotiations with Manila to increase American military presence in the country.

However, officials have stressed they have no plans to reopen former military bases.

Kerry’s announcements in the Philippines and Vietnam are almost certain to anger Beijing, which bristles at what it sees as US interference in areas it views as China’s “core interest.”

Beijing looks dimly on Washington’s push to increase US military presence and strengthen its alliances in Asia as it ends a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, calling it an attempt to contain China.

In a reminder of the high stakes in play, US and Chinese naval vessels came close to colliding in the South China Sea on Dec. 5, the most serious incident between the two navies since 2009.

The US Pacific Fleet said Saturday that the USS Cowpens was operating in international waters and had to maneuver to avoid hitting China’s lone aircraft carrier.

The Liaoning, a symbol of China’s ambition to develop a navy that operates farther from its own shores, only entered service last year and was on its first sea trials in the South China Sea.

Beijing has not formally commented on the incident, but the state-run Global Times newspaper reported Monday that the US ship had first harassed the Liaoning and its group of support ships, getting too close to a Chinese naval drill and entering within 30 miles of the Chinese fleet’s “inner defense layer.”

As China expands its navy’s reach and starts to challenge decades of American military predominance in the region, it is becoming more common for vessels of the two nations to operate in close proximity.

The Obama administration has made it a priority to seek closer military cooperation with China to prevent misunderstandings that could spark a clash – part of a broader push to foster friendly ties between the established world power and the emerging one.

Beijing’s declaration of the East China Sea air defense identification zone was a setback, and has ratcheted up tensions with Japan over disputed islands within that zone. All aircraft entering the zone must notify Chinese authorities beforehand, and China has said it would take unspecified defensive measures against those that don’t comply.

The US, Japan and South Korea have said they will not honor the new zone, and in a show of defiance soon after China announced it, the US flew two B-52 bombers through the area.

Kerry is in the Philippines on the last leg of a trip to the Middle East and Asia. Before heading for home today he will visit Tacloban, which was hard hit by last month’s Super Typhoon Yolanda.

The US was a major contributor of relief after the disaster and Kerry is expected to announce additional support during a brief inspection tour of the storm-ravaged area.

He called off his original scheduled visit to the country in October due to the threat of another typhoon before Yolanda. AP, Delon Porcalla

Sam Miguel
04-01-2014, 10:31 AM
US accuses China of provoking Philippines

Agence France-Presse

9:11 am | Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

WASHINGTON, United States—The United States criticized China as provocative Monday after its coast guard tried to block a Philippine vessel that was rotating troops in the tense South China Sea.

The attempted Chinese blockade, which led to a two-hour standoff with the Philippine ship, is “a provocative and destabilizing action,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

Harf said that the Philippines had permission to resupply troops to the remote reef, the Second Thomas Shoal, because it has kept a naval presence there since before a 2002 declaration of conduct in the South China Sea.

“As a treaty ally of the Republic of the Philippines, the United States urges China to refrain from further provocative behavior by allowing the Philippines to continue to maintain its presence at Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin Shoal),” she said.

The incident was the latest in the South China Sea, where China claims a vast area that overlaps with several neighbors’ claims.

On March 9, China successfully turned away a similar resupply boat from the Philippines.

The United States has been warning China against taking more drastic action in the South China Sea after it declared an air defense identification zone in November over much of the East China Sea, including islands administered by Japan.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:25 PM
Beyond the Crimea Crisis: Comprehensive Next Steps in U.S.–Russian Relations

By Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., Jack Spencer, Luke Coffey and Nicolas Loris

Abstract

On February 28, Russian troops, aided by pro-Russian local militia, occupied important sites across the Crimean Peninsula under the pretext of “protecting Russian people.” Now Crimea is under Moscow’s de facto control and the Russian parliament has voted to annex the region into the Russian Federation. The failure of the Obama Administration’s Russian “reset,” the unilateral disarming of Europe, and the U.S. reduction of forces and disengagement from Europe have led Russia to calculate that the West will not respond in any significant way. The Administration can demonstrate America’s commitment to its NATO allies and support for the Ukrainian people by bolstering the defenses of NATO countries in the region, lifting restrictions on energy exports to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas, and enacting meaningful sanctions.

After three months of mass street demonstrations, the Ukrainian people succeeded in ousting their corrupt and incompetent president, the Kremlin-backed Viktor Yanukovych. On February 22, the Ukrainian parliament acted in favor of the people it represents by granting amnesty to all political prisoners, bringing back the constitution of 2004 (which reduces the powers of the president), and announcing an early presidential election in May.[1]

This was more than Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing to tolerate. On February 28, Russian troops, aided by pro-Russian local militia, violated Ukraine’s territorial integrity by occupying important sites across the Crimean Peninsula under the pretext of “protecting Russian people.” Soon after Russia’s invasion, an illegitimate referendum took place on March 16 to allow the people of Crimea a vote to determine whether they wanted to join the Russian Federation. This illegal referendum was denounced by the countries of the G-7 as well as the member states of NATO and the European Union (EU). Furthermore, it took place without international monitors and under armed occupation.

The outcome of this dubious referendum was obvious from the start. Over 96 percent of voters backed Crimea’s leaving Ukraine and joining Russia. Keeping in mind that this referendum took place under the watchful eye of thousands of Russian troops in Crimea, the outcome was not a surprise to many.[2]

On March 17, Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as a “sovereign and independent state…taking into account the will expressed by the people of Crimea.”[3] Two days later, Russian troops took control of Ukraine’s naval headquarters at a base in Sevastopol, raising the Russian flag. On March 20, the Russian Duma (lower house) voted 455 to 1 to approve a treaty incorporating Crimea into the Russian Federation. On March 21, the Russian Federation Council (upper house) approved the treaty by a vote of 155 to 0.[4] Later that day, Putin signed the treaty into law, formally making Crimea part of Russia as far as Russia is concerned.

Pro-Russian protests continue in Ukraine’s eastern Oblasts. The Russian media are starting to refer to a broad belt of land in southern Ukraine as Novorossiya, or New Russia, the Tsarist-era name for the region.[5] It appears that Russia may well have further designs on Ukraine.

Failure of the Russian Reset and Collapse of the Obama Doctrine

Regrettably, the Obama Administration has attached little importance to transatlantic relations, and Europe has barely figured in the Administration’s foreign policy. Europeans are left questioning America’s commitment to transatlantic relations.

Almost from the beginning, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy has been an empty shell masking a spectacular lack of American leadership on the world stage. This flawed approach, with a fundamental rejection of the notion of American exceptionalism, is amply on display in the Ukrainian crisis, where America’s voice has barely been heard. As the latest developments over Crimea have shown, the Russian reset has backfired spectacularly, resulting in staggering complacency in Washington over Moscow’s ambitions.

The Obama Doctrine has been a monumental failure because it fails to protect and advance U.S. interests. It is the antithesis of Ronald Reagan’s bold approach, which was based on powerful American leadership on the world stage, including a willingness to stand up firmly to America’s adversaries. Perhaps even worse, many of America’s traditional allies are questioning America’s resolve with respect to transatlantic relations and NATO’s security guarantee.

It is becoming clearer that the West in general and the Obama Administration in particular face the current situation with Russia in part thanks to several false assumptions about 21st century geopolitics. Specifically, it is erroneously assumed that:

Europe is now a stable and secure area that requires less attention from the United States.

Russia is willing to be a credible and responsible partner for the West and that Putin can be trusted.

The world is sufficiently safe that real military capability is no longer a requirement for global influence.

As recent events have demonstrated all too clearly, these false assumptions have translated into policy choices on both sides of the Atlantic that have encouraged Russia’s current behavior. These choices and their consequences include:

The U.S. disengagement from Europe in almost every policy area.

The removal of more than 10,000 U.S. troops from Europe in just two years. For the first time in 70 years, there is not a single American tank available for combat operations in Europe. The few that are currently in Germany are there only for training.[6]

A U.S. Navy that will soon be the smallest since World War One, an Army that will be the smallest since before World War Two, and an Air Force that will be America’s smallest ever—at a time when Russian defense spending has increased 31 percent since 2008 and European defense spending has decreased by 15 percent.

A unilateral self-disarmament of Europe that has left many European countries incapable of defending themselves. Only four out of 28 NATO members (the U.S., the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Greece) spend the required 2 percent of GDP on defense.

A so-called Russian reset that has yielded no benefits at all either for America or for the Administration. On issues where Russia has shown a degree of cooperation, as with Afghanistan, it has done so only because it has a national interest at stake.

Nothing indicates that Russia is on a path to reform. Democratic freedoms are in retreat, corruption is endemic, and the future is bleak. The same failings of the Soviet Union a quarter of a century ago are starting to reappear in Putin’s Russia today.

While the Russian economy is still growing, it continues to rely on the export of hydrocarbons, other raw materials, and weapons. Russia’s population is declining due to aging, rampant alcoholism and drug addiction, widespread disease, and low fertility rates. Expressions of ultranationalism are on the rise, fortifying the government’s quest for a new sphere of influence. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall caught many by surprise. Western leaders should not allow a resurgent Russia or the instability deriving from a degenerate Russia to catch them by surprise as well.

What the West is witnessing today is not a resurgent Cold War Russia, as commentators frequently claim, but an Imperial Russia. Putin’s behavior is like that of the Russian Tsars who built the Imperial Russian Empire nation by nation, khanate by khanate, and kingdom by kingdom.

In the eyes of Russians at the time, the 17th and 18th century territorial gains that in part defined Imperial Russia were regarded not as “annexations” but as taking what was already theirs. At the time, Russia’s imperial conquests were popularly characterized as acts of liberation of fellow Orthodox Christians from Polish Catholic rule.[7] Take out the religious dimension and replace it with the need to protect—to paraphrase Vladimir Putin—Moscow’s fraternal ties with ethnic Russians and we have a similar situation.

Today. just as in the 19th century, Russia’s leaders see themselves as taking what is already theirs. Whether it is Transnistria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Crimea, the creation of the proposed Eurasian Union, the Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, or what amounts to the suzerainty of Armenia in all but name, the empire is being rebuilt.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:29 PM
^^^ (Cont'd )

U.S. Needs to Show Commitment to Central and Eastern Europe

Russia’s anachronistic irredentist behavior is unacceptable. Understandably, Moscow’s behavior has made many NATO partners nervous. Ukraine does not enjoy the security guarantees afforded to America’s NATO allies, nor should the U.S. give any impression that it does. However, there are steps that can be taken to keep America’s NATO allies safe while demonstrating to Russia that its behavior is unacceptable.

While U.S. relations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe may seem healthy to some, many NATO allies in the region have concerns about the future of the transatlantic relationship. There is a general view among officials in the region that the U.S. is relegating its relations with Europe to a lower priority. That this concern is not unfounded is demonstrated by:

A lack of European focus in the U.S. Department of Defense guidance document. Issued in January 2012 and titled “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” the guidance document contains barely a mention of Europe. In the whole 16-page document—one designed to give the U.S. armed forces and the civilians supporting them the Defense Secretary’s broad vision and policy priorities—Europe and NATO receive one short paragraph, and neither Europe nor NATO is mentioned in President Obama’s foreword to the document.[8]

A lack of U.S. enthusiasm for NATO enlargement. This is a particularly important issue to the Baltic states, which have experienced the benefits of NATO enlargement firsthand and see NATO’s open-door policy as critical to mobilizing Europe and its allies around a collective transatlantic defense. President Obama is on track to be the first U.S. President since the end of the Cold War not to oversee NATO enlargement on his watch.

The so-called pivot to Asia. The way this policy announcement was handled has left many government officials and commentators in Europe, especially Central and Eastern Europe, wondering what the policy means in practice for America’s commitment to transatlantic security. Although there has been little if any net increase in U.S. military capability in Asia, there is a perception that any such increase will come at the expense of NATO and Europe.

The cancellation of key missile defense components. When the Obama Administration abruptly cancelled the emplacement of missile defense components in the Czech Republic and Poland (commonly referred to as the Third Site) in 2009, those two countries felt as if the rug had been pulled out from underneath them. This was especially the case after both had offered unwavering support for missile defense in spite of staunch Russian opposition.[9] In 2013, the Administration announced that it was cancelling the fourth phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) planned for Eastern Europe. Neither decision was received well in the region.

The reduction of U.S. forces in Europe. In April 2011, the White House announced that it was cancelling a George W. Bush Administration–era decision to bring two Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) back from Europe and would remove only one BCT—in part to ensure that the U.S. could meet its commitments to NATO. Only nine months later, the Obama Administration did an about-face and announced the removal of two BCTs. The NATO allies in the region view the presence of U.S. troops in Europe as a deterrent to any potential adversary in the region.

Lack of U.S. participation in NATO’s Steadfast Jazz exercise. NATO’s Steadfast Jazz exercise is considered to be one of the most important Article 5 training exercises since the end of the Cold War. There is a concern by many in Poland and the Baltics that the U.S. did not take NATO’s Steadfast Jazz exercise seriously. Part of the White House’s justification for removing so many troops from Europe is that they will be replaced with rotational forces from the United States. Of the 6,000 NATO troops participating in the exercise, only approximately 200 are U.S. soldiers. Of these, about 40 are part of the rotational brigade based in the U.S. The remainder come from U.S. forces already in Europe.[10]

A Divided Europe

It is also time for Europe to get united on how best to deal with Russia. President Obama should use his current trip to Europe to get the West on the same sheet of music when dealing with Russia.

On March 17, the European Union sanctioned 21 Russian and Crimean officials linked to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The EU’s initial sanctions targeted members of the Russian parliament and military members, imposing travel bans and asset freezes on their accounts. The initial EU sanctions targeted lower-level officials than U.S. sanctions did and were a fairly weak response to Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine. On March 21, the EU imposed a new second round of sanctions that targeted more senior Russian officials. A total of 12 additional individuals were sanctioned, but there is still a gap between the U.S. and EU sanctions.

It was a challenge for the EU to reach an agreement on how strong the sanctions should be. This is a result of the EU’s lowest-common-denominator approach to foreign policy making, which required all 28 member states to find a consensus. This presented obvious problems when dealing with Russia. For example, it has been reported that Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Cyprus are too concerned about their close economic or energy ties to Russia to back any really effective sanctions.[11] Since the EU receives 30 percent of its natural gas from Russia, any sanctions that hurt the Russian state-owned Gazprom’s bottom line would result in adverse economic effects in the EU.

Looking at it from a NATO point of view, Moscow can also see fractured Europe sending inconsistent messages. On one hand, the NATO Secretary General says that the situation in Crimea is “the greatest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War.”[12] On the other, France is committed to selling the two amphibious assault ships for use by the Russian navy.[13] (In a twist of geopolitical irony, one of the two ships has already been named the Sevastopol.) Furthermore, Spain allows the Russian navy to use its bases in North Africa.[14] On a positive note, the U.K. announced that it was suspending its military cooperation with Russia.[15]

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:32 PM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Loosening Russia’s Energy Grip Is Vital

While there are many tools at America’s disposal when dealing with Russia and its invasion of Ukraine, one must not discount the impact that free markets and free trade can ultimately have on the situation. Much of Russia’s power in the region is the result of its control of energy supplies and distribution systems. Diminishing Russia’s economic leverage in the region should be a key component of America’s response. This could be accomplished to a large extent simply by liberalizing global energy markets. The U.S. has antiquated and unnecessary restrictions on exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude oil, and Congress should make lifting these restrictions a priority.

Ukraine understands that energy diversification is a key to its own future. In 2013, the Ukrainian government reached agreements with Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron to explore and develop the country’s two large shale gas fields in Yuzivska and Olesska. Chevron’s 50-year contract consists of a $350 million exploratory phase that could result in $10 billion in investment. Shell’s investment is of similar size, and both would yield significant natural gas supplies in a few years’ time.[16] Abundant shale reserves also exist in Estonia, the United Kingdom, Poland, and other parts of Europe. As the private sector explores ways to develop these resources,[17] the increased production could fundamentally alter the energy landscape in Russia.

To truly diminish the power that a nation garners from its control of energy markets and supplies, however, the U.S. needs to lead broad liberalization of global energy markets. This means not only encouraging private-sector development around the world, but also allowing for market-driven increases in production in the U.S.

The U.S. could maximize its influence by increasing opportunities for exports. To some extent, this is already occurring as the U.S. is now a net exporter of refined petroleum products, doubling its exports to Europe from 2007 to 2012.[18]

Given the five to seven years that approving, engineering, permitting, and constructing a new LNG terminal takes, lifting gas export restrictions might not have a direct impact on the Ukraine crisis in he near term,[19] but it would send an important signal to Russia and the rest of the world. It would show any leader from any country that derives power from controlling energy interests that such strategies will no longer be effective.

Despite the lengthy time needed to permit and build an export facility, an import terminal in the United States is being retrofitted to serve as a bi-directional export terminal and will likely be online by the end of 2015. The exporting company, Cheniere, has already entered into long-term contracts with Spain and the United Kingdom. Along with exports from countries like Qatar, Australia, Indonesia, and others, international markets will put pressure on Russia and reduce its ability to use energy as a political bargaining chip.

Opening markets would provide a diversity of suppliers and greater energy supplies for the global market. This would likely result in lower prices and would certainly mean more choice for countries like Ukraine in the not so distant future. Ultimately, providing that choice would be what diminishes Russian power. Establishing free-market reforms now and increasing energy supplies would help to prevent future incidents and price shocks not just in Ukraine, but across the globe.

A critical component of opening markets is keeping domestic production in America open. The Obama Administration has failed to open up federal lands and waters to exploration and development of natural gas, is implementing federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing when the states have already regulated it effectively, and is significantly limiting the ability to mine and use the abundance of coal under America’s soil under the premise of fighting climate change.

Secretary of State John Kerry called climate change “another weapon of mass destruction” and one of the world’s biggest security threats in a recent speech in Indonesia. Evidence shows, however, that the Earth is not heading toward catastrophic climate change, and we have not seen more frequent and intense extreme weather events. Further, any changes in the climate will occur gradually over decades, and there will be ample time to adjust national security and humanitarian assistance instruments to accommodate future demands. The reality is that poverty is a much greater threat to security than is climate change, and the Administration’s climate policies will drive up energy prices and do more to worsen poverty than they will to mitigate global temperatures.

Increasing domestic energy production and lifting bans on energy exports would help both the U.S. economy and Ukraine. By increasing energy supplies to the global market and diversifying global supplies, these reforms also would diminish the ability of any nation, including Russia, to use energy as a weapon to impose its will in the future. For these reasons, Congress should open access to America’s energy resources and allow for the free trade of energy resources.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:33 PM
^^^ (Cont'd)

Aid to Ukraine Should Not Be Held Hostage to IMF Politics

The Obama Administration is insisting that before Congress can support the Ukrainians, it must first reduce the power of the United States at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).[20] The White House wants Congress to attach its approval of an IMF governance “reform package,” which has been pending for three years, to any legislation providing urgently needed U.S. financial assistance to Ukraine. That certainly gives a new and strange meaning to the concept of “IMF conditionality.”

As Heritage reported in January,[21] there are significant “moral hazard” issues in the 2010 IMF reform package that must be considered on their own merits. Decisions about the reform package should not be taken in the crisis atmosphere surrounding the situation in Ukraine. Congress should insist that the Obama Administration remove the unnecessary linkage between adoption of urgently needed
IMF assistance to Ukraine and the larger questions raised by the IMF reform package.

At the root of the problems in Ukraine are the lingering effects of the corrupt and inefficient post-Soviet economic systems in the heavily industrialized eastern, Russian-speaking areas and throughout the country. Despite repeated urgings, many of these problems in Ukraine have never been seriously addressed, nor have enough necessary reforms been adopted in the 20-plus years since the fall of the Soviet Union.

These failures can be seen in Ukraine’s score in The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal 2014 Index of Economic Freedom: 49.3.[22] That means its economy remains in the bottom Index category (“repressed”)—even lower than Russia. Ukraine is the 155th freest out of 178 countries ranked in 2014 worldwide; it is last among the 43 countries measured in the European region. After former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych took office in 2010, the country registered steadily deteriorating scores on property rights, corruption, financial freedom, and investment freedom.

An IMF program for Ukraine could use these Index of Economic Freedom categories as a guide to shape the many reforms and conditions that will be needed to help put the Ukrainian economy on a sustainable path to recovery. For example, the Ukrainian currency (the hryvnia) should be permitted to float to avoid further depletion of the nation’s foreign currency reserves. Another huge drain on resources can be plugged by phasing out the unsustainable and wasteful system of state energy subsidies, which amount to more than 7 percent of Ukraine’s gross domestic product.

In 2010, the IMF board, with support from the Obama Administration, proposed a series of reforms that would increase the voting power of certain emerging-market nations and double the amount of member countries’ national “quota” contributions, which are the primary source of funding for IMF loans.[23] The U.S. has the largest quota of any country in the world and also the largest single-nation voting share (16.75 percent). It has been the only country with veto power at the IMF. Due to the constitutional role of Congress and U.S. veto power, this IMF reform package must therefore be approved by Congress before it can go into effect.[24]

The reform package would change the rules for election of the IMF executive board, and the U.S. would lose the right it has heretofore enjoyed to appoint its own representative to the executive board—and that is where all the power is at the IMF.[25] The reform package would also reduce U.S. control of certain “supplementary” IMF funds that can be tapped when demand for IMF resources is particularly strong, such as during major financial crises. There are two supplementary funds: the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) and the General Arrangements to Borrow. The U.S. currently funds the largest portion of the NAB—about $103 billion, or about 18 percent.[26]

It is clear that the U.S. has benefitted—and will continue to benefit—from the existence of the IMF. In fact, Ukraine is almost a textbook example of a nation that needs a lender of last resort, the sort of situation for which the IMF was created more than 70 years ago.

On the other hand, many conservatives have rightly pointed to the IMF as an enabler of moral hazard. They are concerned that American tax dollars are being used for IMF programs that bail out other governments that follow reckless fiscal and monetary policies (e.g., the flawed policies that Ukraine pursued under Yanukovych until 2011 when the IMF ended its previous program for the country).
The IMF has been functioning effectively for the three years since the IMF governance reforms were proposed in late 2010. There is no reason why the U.S. government cannot immediately put together an emergency aid program of loans, grants, and technical assistance for Ukraine using existing congressional development assistance appropriations without Congress first having to adopt the IMF reform package.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:33 PM
^^^ (Cont'd)

U.S. Missile Defense Policy After Russia’s Actions in Ukraine

Currently, the Administration’s policy is not to affect the “strategic balance” with Russia in terms of ballistic missiles.[27] In reality, there is no strategic balance between the two countries. Given Russia’s demonstrated willingness to use force to alter nations’ boundaries and act against U.S. interests, it is clear that the U.S. should expand its ballistic missile defense to protect itself and its allies from Russia’s ballistic missiles.

Russia is currently engaged in the largest nuclear weapons buildup since the end of the Cold War. It is planning to spend over $55 billion on its missile and air defense systems in the next six years, compared to about $8 billion a year that the U.S. spends on its missile defense programs.[28]

Russia has over 1,400 nuclear warheads deployed on long-range ballistic missiles. These missiles can reach the U.S. within 33 minutes. It is also engaged in ballistic missile modernization and is reportedly developing intermediate-range ballistic missiles that are prohibited under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with the U.S.[29] These missiles are most threatening to allies in the European theater.

In 2009, the Obama Administration canceled President George W. Bush’s plan to deploy two-stage ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) interceptors to Poland and highly capable X-band radar to the Czech Republic while also launching a “reset” policy in an effort to placate Moscow. To replace Bush’s missile defense plan for Europe, the Obama Administration proposed a four-phased missile defense plan, the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), consisting of two missile defense sites in Poland and Romania and forward-deployed radars. Phase Four—deployment of SM-3 Block IIB interceptors capable of shooting down medium-, intermediate-, and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles—would likely provide the U.S. and allies with better capability than the 10 GMD interceptors that were supposed to be deployed to Poland under the Bush Administration’s missile defense plan, but the Administration unwisely canceled Phase Four of the EPAA last year.

At this time, it would be unwise to cancel the EPAA. U.S. allies in Poland and Romania are already politically invested in missile defense sites on their territories, and Poland has already been snubbed by the Obama Administration’s surprising change in U.S. missile defense policy. It is also likely that costs and timelines involved in returning to the original plan would be high.

Rather, the geopolitical realities of the Russian aggression in Ukraine present an opportunity to assess how the current missile defense plan can be improved and where it would be suitable to add capabilities to it. An X-band radar in Europe would massively improve U.S. tracking capability, which would benefit both European allies and the U.S. homeland.

Russia’s actions also underscore the importance of maintaining U.S. missile defense resources. Currently, the budget of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), which is responsible for developing and acquiring U.S. missile defense architecture, is less than 1.5 percent of the Pentagon’s overall budget. These investments are highly cost-efficient, especially considering that a successful ballistic missile attack would cost the U.S. significantly more in lives and treasure. The value of what is being defended matters, as do the costs of escalation after the attacked nation is compelled to defend itself by other means.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy After Ukraine

Russia’s willingness to challenge the status quo and its disregard for its arms control obligations have important implications for U.S. nuclear weapons policy. There are many steps that the U.S. can take to improve and strengthen its overall nuclear posture, regardless of Russian actions in Ukraine.

The Administration has made many concessions to improve relations with Russia.[30] Some of the most significant of these concessions are in the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (New START). Among them are the absence of a strong verification regime, limits on U.S. missile defense options, and mandates that require the U.S. to shoulder a majority of the nuclear weapons reductions. These conditions have resulted in a treaty that is grossly lopsided in Russia’s favor.

In addition, Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty have been widely reported.[31] Russian violations and circumventions of the INF Treaty pose a threat to U.S. allies in Europe due to the undeniable fact that they fall within the range of these systems. It would be unwise to ignore the danger these missiles pose to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Current U.S. nuclear weapons policy is based on the notion that Russia is no longer an adversary. Russia has invaded two countries in the past six years and just this month has illegitimately changed Ukraine’s borders. It is violating its arms control obligations, increasing the role of nuclear weapons in its national security, and extensively modernizing its nuclear forces, including building new nuclear weapons.

The U.S. remains the only nuclear weapons state that is not modernizing its nuclear forces. The U.S. should reassess its nuclear weapons posture to deal more effectively with the realities of the 21st century.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:36 PM
^^^ (Cont'd)

U.S. Needs a Strategy, Not a Reaction

The difference between Russia and the West right now is that Russia has a strategy that it is willing to follow and the West is hoping the problem disappears.

Recent events have confirmed what many already knew: The so-called Russian reset is dead. Crimea is under the control of Moscow, and it does not appear that Russian troops will be leaving anytime soon. Russia has used the illegal referendum as a way to justify its imperial annexation of part of a neighboring country. Russia’s behavior is a direct violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

However, a number of steps can be taken to keep America’s NATO allies safe while demonstrating to Russia that its behavior is unacceptable. The United States should:

Show solidarity with the Ukrainian people. President Obama should offer his and America’s public support to the people of Ukraine during this difficult period. It should be made crystal clear that Russia’s irredentist behavior cannot go unchecked.

Stop holding aid to Ukraine hostage to IMF politics. The White House wants Congress to attach its approval of an International Monetary Fund governance “reform package” that has been pending for three years to any legislation providing urgently needed U.S. financial assistance to Ukraine. Congress should refuse the Obama Administration’s attempt to link urgent assistance to Ukraine to approval of this package. Furthermore, Congress should insist that the 2010 reform package be revised so that the U.S. retains the unilateral right to appoint its own representative to the executive board and so that the NAB supplemental facility cannot be used as an additional source of potentially morally hazardous lending during future “crises.”

Commit to a speedy and robust ballistic missile defense in Europe. Central and Eastern European countries view NATO’s ballistic missile defense system as a fundamental part of the alliance’s defense. It is essential that the Administration uphold missile defense commitment to America’s allies in Europe, especially after its loss of credibility following the abrupt cancellation of the third site in 2009.
Establish a permanent military presence in the Baltic region. There are strong indications that the Baltic states desire a permanent U.S. military presence in the region. This would offer more opportunities for joint military training and demonstrate U.S. commitment to transatlantic security.

Consider establishing a Baltic Sea Rotation Force. The U.S. Marine Corps currently operates a Black Sea Rotational Force that consists of a special-purpose Marine air-ground task force (SPMAGTF). Although the Black Sea SPMAGTF carried out a training exercise in Lithuania in 2012, the main focus of the task force is the Black Sea and Caucasus regions. The U.S. should consider the value of establishing a similar task force for the Baltic Sea region. Such a task force would offer more opportunities for joint military training for the Baltic states as well as for Poland, Finland, and Sweden. Such a task force would also demonstrate U.S. commitment to transatlantic security.

Show U.S. commitment to NATO. The U.S. should be reassuring NATO members in Central and Eastern Europe that their defense is guaranteed and that spillover from any possible conflict will be contained. This could mean temporarily deploying assets to the region that are required to defend the territorial integrity of NATO countries near Russia.

Reiterate America’s commitment to NATO’s Article 5. There is a perception in parts of Europe that transatlantic security is a lower priority for the Obama Administration than it was for previous Administrations. It should be made clear to Russia that any armed aggression toward a NATO member will immediately cause the U.S. to call for NATO to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. The Obama Administration could demonstrate America’s commitment to NATO’s Article 5.

Ensure that security cooperation will continue with NATO allies after withdrawal from Afghanistan. One of the biggest concerns of NATO partners is that transatlantic military cooperation will be reduced when the mission in Afghanistan winds down. The U.S. must work with its European partners to find new areas of military cooperation.

Continue joint training exercises. There is an old military adage that you should train like you fight. General Philip Breedlove told The Army Times in a recent interview that the U.S. has canceled 45 percent of military-to-military training events with European partners.[32] In light of recent Russian aggression, the Department of Defense should prioritize U.S. training missions in Central and Eastern Europe over others in Europe.

Ensure that NATO remains a nuclear security alliance. NATO’s 2012 Deterrence and Defense Posture Review stated that the strategic nuclear forces of the alliance provide the supreme guarantee of the allies’ security. The U.S. should not underestimate how important this issue is to its allies in Central and Eastern Europe. As long as the West could face a nuclear threat from any part of the world, NATO needs to remain a nuclear alliance.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:37 PM
^^^ (Cont'd)

Lift natural gas export barriers. As a result of Ukraine’s reliance on Russian energy, policymakers have called for lifting restrictions on natural gas exports. Companies must obtain approval from both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) before exporting natural gas. A facility is automatically authorized if the recipient country has a free trade agreement (FTA) with the U.S. In the absence of such an agreement, the DOE can arbitrarily deny a permit if it believes the total volume of natural gas exported is not in the public’s interest. The decision to export natural gas should be a business decision, not a political one. There are numerous non-FTA nations with which the U.S. trades regularly. Natural gas should be no different and should be treated as any other good traded around the world is treated.[33]

Lift the ban on crude oil exports. In 1975, the U.S. government banned crude oil exports (with limited exceptions). Allowing crude exports to flow to their most valued use would increase economic efficiency, grow the economy, and demonstrate America’s commitment to free trade. Concerns over resource scarcity and gas price increases in the U.S. are unsubstantiated. Further, whether the U.S. is a net importer or net exporter has no bearing on price volatility: Petroleum is a fungible commodity traded on a world market. Crude oil exports could drive down prices as more supplies reach the world market and more efficient refiners.

Open domestic production and reduce onerous regulations on energy in America. The government should open up leasing, exploration, and production in more areas in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and the Alaskan Coastal Plain, which includes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It should also reduce onerous regulations that drive up the cost of energy for little environmental impact.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions for future power plants and plans to finalize standards for existing plants by the summer of 2015. These regulations would significantly reduce the use of coal as a power-generating source in America. As more coal generation is taken offline, the marketplace must find a way to make up for that lost supply, which would largely be done through a combination of decreasing energy use as an adjustment to higher prices and increased power generation from other sources, most notably natural gas.[34] As the U.S. experiences a renaissance in energy-intensive industries and builds export capacity as a result of the shale revolution, the Administration’s war on coal could adversely affect America’s competitive advantage.

Enact meaningful sanctions on Russia. Currently, only 20 people linked to Putin and former Ukrainian President Yanukovych have been sanctioned. The Obama Administration needs to go further. Washington should implement more targeted sanctions aimed directly at Russian officials responsible for violating Ukrainian sovereignty, including freezing financial assets and imposing visa bans.

Enforce the Magnitsky Act. The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act denies U.S. visas to and places financial sanctions on Russian officials and individuals guilty of human rights violations. It should be swiftly enforced against any Russian officials involved in the incursions into Crimea and any human rights violations in Ukraine. In addition, the U.S. should consider long-term and comprehensive economic sanctions aimed at ending Russian aggression.

Work with European partners. The President himself should take the lead in urging European allies to adopt a robust stance against Russian expansionism and join the U.S. in a tough sanctions regime that will directly affect those in Russia’s government who are involved in any aggression in Ukraine. For example, it is unacceptable that France will continue to sell two amphibious assault ships to Moscow or that Spain continues to allow the Russian navy access to its territories in North Africa.

Withdraw immediately from New START. New START is a fundamentally flawed treaty that dramatically undercuts the security of the U.S. and its allies. It is an extraordinarily good deal for the Russians, as it significantly limits Washington’s ability to deploy an effective global missile defense system. It does nothing at all to advance U.S. security while handing Moscow a significant strategic edge.
Withdraw from the INF Treaty. As a result of Russian violations, the INF Treaty has lost its relevance and has created a false sense of security in the U.S. Washington should not implement any arms control agreements that Russia has repeatedly violated.

Stop unilateral nuclear weapons reductions. The U.S. is projecting weakness by reducing its own arsenal as Russia builds up its forces. There is a fundamental disparity between U.S. and Russian obligations to international security. The U.S. provides nuclear security guarantees to over 30 countries around the world, while Russia, rather than safeguarding other nations, threatens them. It is imperative that the Administration recommit to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s function as a nuclear alliance and sustain and modernize U.S. and NATO forward-deployed systems, including dual-capable aircraft, B-61 tactical nuclear weapons, and the dual-capable long-range stand-off missile.

Conclusion

Recent events have confirmed what many already knew: The so-called Russian reset is dead. Furthermore, it is looking increasingly likely that part of Ukraine is now under de facto Russian control.

Russia’s behavior in Crimea was made possible by the failure of the Russian “reset,” the disarming of Europe by European politicians, and the reduction and disengagement of U.S. military forces in Europe. Russians respect strength and consistency, neither of which has been displayed by President Obama or his European counterparts.

For many, the annexation of Crimea will be seen as a game changer in international norms. The annexation of a neighboring country by force is unprecedented in the 21st century. The last time it happened was when Saddam Hussein annexed Kuwait in 1990 to make it Iraq’s 19th province.

With strength and consistency, Russia’s recent actions could have been prevented or at least mitigated. It might be too late for Crimea, but the U.S. cannot allow the contagion to spread.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:39 PM
U.S. Missile Defense Policy After Russia’s Actions in Ukraine

By Michaela Dodge

Russia has invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea in blatant disregard of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and international law. Russia’s crude steps carry important implications for U.S. missile defense policy.

Currently, the Administration’s policy is not to affect the “strategic balance” with Russia in terms of ballistic missiles.[1] In reality, there is no strategic balance between the two countries. Given Russia’s demonstrated willingness to use force to alter nations’ boundaries and act against U.S. interests, it is clear that the U.S. should expand its ballistic missile defense to protect itself and its allies from Russia’s ballistic missiles.

The Threat from Russia

Russia is currently engaged in the largest nuclear weapons buildup since the end of the Cold War. It is planning to spend over $55 billion on its missile and air defense systems in the next six years, compared to about $8 billion a year that the U.S. spends on its missile defense programs.[2]

Russia has over 1,400 nuclear warheads deployed on long-range ballistic missiles. These missiles can reach the U.S. within 33 minutes. It is also engaged in ballistic missile modernization and is reportedly developing intermediate-range ballistic missiles that are prohibited under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with the U.S.[3] These missiles are most threatening to allies in the European theater.

Administration’s Missile Defense Policy: The Good and the Bad

In 2009, the Obama Administration canceled President George W. Bush’s plan to deploy two-stage ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) interceptors to Poland and highly capable X-band radar to the Czech Republic while also launching a “reset” policy in an effort to placate Moscow.

To replace Bush’s missile defense plan for Europe, the Obama Administration proposed a four-phased missile defense plan, the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), consisting of two missile defense sites in Poland and Romania and forward-deployed radars. Phase Four—deployment of SM-3 Block IIB interceptors capable of shooting down medium-, intermediate-, and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles—would likely provide the U.S. and allies with better capability than the 10 GMD interceptors that were supposed to be deployed to Poland under the Bush Administration’s missile defense plan. However, the Administration unwisely canceled Phase Four of the EPAA last year.

Nonetheless, at this time, it would be unwise to cancel the EPAA. U.S. allies in Poland and Romania are already politically invested in missile defense sites on their territories, and Poland has already been snubbed by the Obama Administration’s surprising change in U.S. missile defense policy. It is also likely that costs and timelines involved in returning to the original plan would be high.

Rather, the geopolitical realities of the Russian aggression in Ukraine present an opportunity to assess how the current missile defense plan can be improved and where it would be suitable to add capabilities to it. An X-band radar in Europe would massively improve U.S. tracking capability, which would benefit both European allies and the U.S. homeland.

Russia’s actions also underscore the importance of maintaining U.S. missile defense resources. Currently, the budget of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), which is responsible for developing and acquiring U.S. missile defense architecture, is less than 1.5 percent of the Pentagon’s overall budget. These investments are highly cost-efficient, especially considering that a successful ballistic missile attack would cost the U.S. significantly more in lives and treasure. The value of what is being defended matters, as do the costs of escalation after the attacked nation is compelled to defend itself by other means.

What Should the U.S. Do?

To address U.S. vulnerability to an international ballistic missile threat, including that from Russia, the U.S. should:

Develop a layered, comprehensive missile defense system capable of shooting down ballistic missiles, including salvo launches in quantities that Russia is capable of launching. Space-based interceptors provide the best opportunity to accomplish these tasks at the best cost-per-interceptor ratio.

Deploy an X-band tracking radar to a European host nation that is a member of NATO. The Czech Republic was previously assessed to be the best to track incoming ballistic missiles from Iran. The radar would improve the capability of U.S. homeland missile defense systems.

Make a public statement to Moscow that “strategic stability” is no longer a basis for U.S.–Russia relations due to Russia’s extensive nuclear weapons modernization programs and investments in ballistic missile defense technologies. Rather, the U.S. should emphasize the defensive nature of its force posture and consider ballistic missile defense an essential element of this posture.

Increase investments in its missile defense programs, which have been underfunded and have lagged behind the ballistic missile threat for years. Any ballistic missile attack on the territory of the U.S. or its allies would carry enormous costs in lives and treasure, especially if the adversary’s missile is fitted with a nuclear or electromagnetic pulse warhead.

Encourage NATO allies to enhance their ballistic missile and air defense capabilities, including making their ships (where applicable) compatible with the U.S. Aegis weapons system.

An Opportunity and a Threat

Russian aggression affords the U.S. an opportunity to take a new look at its missile defense policy. It also demonstrates that Russia is willing to use force to change the status quo and act against U.S. interests. If the U.S. does not pay attention to this threat, it may pay a huge price later.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:45 PM
U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe: Critical for Transatlantic Security

By Michaela Dodge

Abstract

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear weapons posture has undergone a dramatic change. The U.S. has withdrawn about 90 percent of its forward-deployed nuclear weapons from Europe. In 2013, the Obama Administration initiated the Life Extension Program (LEP) for the B61 tactical nuclear weapon, which is the last nuclear weapon the U.S. keeps in Europe, and the only remaining tactical nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal. The LEP will extend the life of the B61 by 20 to 30 years, and could cost over $8 billion. The U.S. and NATO have a continued interest in maintaining the U.S. nuclear presence in Europe since U.S. weapons contribute to the cohesion of the alliance. The U.S. must maintain a strong position in order to protect its national security interests, assure allies, and deter adversaries. It must increase U.S. military strength and develop capabilities that allow it to pursue a “protect and defend” strategy. The B61 LEP is a part of that strategy. The LEP and B61 are important for maintaining a science and technology base that allows the U.S. to keep its weapons safe, secure, and reliable. It will also maintain a U.S. commitment to transatlantic security.

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear weapons posture has undergone a dramatic change. The U.S. has withdrawn about 90 percent of its forward-deployed nuclear weapons from Europe. In 2012, the Obama Administration initiated the Life Extension Program (LEP) for the B61 tactical nuclear weapon, which is the last nuclear weapon the U.S. keeps in Europe and the only remaining tactical nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal. The program will extend the life of the B61 by 20 to 30 years, and could cost over $8 billion.[1] The U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have a continued interest in maintaining the U.S. nuclear presence in Europe since U.S. weapons contribute to the cohesion of the alliance.

Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Great Equalizer

In 1953, the U.S. and European allies made a conscious decision to forward-deploy U.S. tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) in order to counterbalance a massive Soviet conventional superiority.[2] American TNWs in Europe were linked with U.S. strategic weapons that would be employed if the use of TNWs was not enough to stop advancing Soviet forces. In the following years, NATO struggled with devising a concept of TNW operations that would be credible and not lead to an absolute destruction of allied territories.[3]

The U.S. TNW arsenal peaked at 7,000 in the 1960s.[4] The weapons were supposed to provide “firepower with less manpower.”[5] The arsenal included nuclear mines, artillery, short-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and gravity bombs for an aircraft delivery.[6] During the Cold War, these weapons were deployed to Greece, the U.K., Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey, and the U.S. has developed an elaborate nuclear-sharing framework within NATO itself. Today, all these states except for the U.K. and Greece host U.S. TNWs.[7]

The Soviet Union did not want to stay behind. While the exact number of Soviet TNWs is not known, experts believe that the Soviet Union deployed between 15,000 and 25,000, if not more, TNWs in the late 1980s and early 1990s.[8] The Soviet arsenal, just as diverse as that of the U.S., consisted of TNWs of various ranges, delivery modes, and yield.

The Davy Crockett, one of the smallest U.S. TNWs ever built, weighed about 76 pounds and had a maximum range of 6, 800 feet to 13,000 feet.[9] TNWs are highly mobile and relatively easy to conceal. Great diversity of weapons and delivery systems (some of which could be used in conventional roles) complicated agreements on their meaningful definitions for arms control purposes. Additionally, effective verification of any TNW arms control agreement required intrusive procedures, including short-notice on-site inspections and improved capabilities of national technical means. Some of these problems, such as lack of transparency on the Russian side, mobility, and need for an intrusive verification regime, continue to plague arms control efforts to this day. Even if a violation is detected, it is not at all clear that the U.S. and the international community would be able to bring the violating nation back into compliance.[10]

End of the Cold War and U.S. Loss of Negotiating Leverage

The end of the Cold War brought tremendous geopolitical and economic changes between the U.S., NATO, and the Soviet Union. The latter collapsed under its own weight. The newly freed Eastern and Central European countries were eager to leave their Soviet legacies behind and integrate into Western security and democratic structures. As the Soviet planners watched NATO’s mighty performance in the First Gulf War, which included participation of some soldiers from the former Soviet bloc, the alliance found itself ideologically and militarily superior to the Soviet Union.

Changes in the U.S. defense posture in Europe followed and resulted in the reduction of the U.S. forward-deployed presence, both conventional and non-conventional.[11] On September 27, 1991, President George H. W. Bush announced that the U.S. would:

Eliminate all of its ground-launched short-range theater nuclear weapons;

Bring home and destroy all U.S. nuclear artillery shells and short-range ballistic missile warheads; and
Withdraw all TNWs from its surface ships and attack submarines, as well as all TNWs associated with U.S. land-based naval aircraft.[12]

President Bush also announced: “Many of these land- and sea-based warheads will be dismantled and destroyed. Those remaining will be secured in central areas where they would be available if necessary in a future crisis.”[13] The President called upon the Soviet leadership to reciprocate his unilateral efforts. The President’s initiatives led to an 85 percent reduction in U.S. operationally deployed TNWs between 1991 and 1993.[14]

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev reciprocated the speech and announced:

The Soviet Union would destroy all nuclear artillery ammunition and warheads for tactical missiles; remove warheads for nuclear anti-aircraft missiles and destroy some of them; destroy all nuclear land-mines; and remove all naval non-strategic weapons from submarines and surface ships and ground-based naval aviation, destroying some of them.[15]

Subsequently, Russian President Boris Yeltsin promised to continue and even broaden President Gorbachev’s initiative.[16] The statements of Presidents Bush, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin on the issue of TNWs are collectively known as the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNI).

On TNWs, the former Soviet Union and its Russian successor state have never agreed, with the U.S. or any other government, on meaningful transparency and verification measures. It is, however, clear that Russia has not fulfilled its commitments under the PNI.[17] Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. and NATO further decreased the importance of TNWs in their strategic doctrines and failed to modernize their TNWs. Russia, on the other hand, has modernized its TNWs. The Clinton Administration denuclearized the surface fleet and the George W. Bush Administration reportedly withdrew TNWs from the U.K., Greece, and from the U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany.[18]

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:46 PM
^^^ (Cont'd)

In 2004, Stephen Rademaker, then Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, observed that “considerable concern exists that the Russian commitments have not been entirely fulfilled.”[19] In 2006, Rademaker indicated that while the U.S. fulfilled all of its obligations under the PNIs, “Russia has not completely fulfilled the Russian side of the [PNIs].” He further asserted that “no Russian official with responsibility for this matter has ever claimed to me that Russia has fully implemented the [PNIs].”[20]

Russia’s inability to deliver on its political commitment, and efforts of successive U.S. Administrations to deliver on U.S. commitments, have left the U.S. with as much as a 10-to-1 disadvantage in TNWs in the European theater. Gary Samore, President Obama’s Senior Director on the National Security Council Staff, stated:

I think there are big challenges, because there’s a disparity between the U.S. and Russia when it comes to tactical nuclear weapons. The U.S. has a very small number—only a few hundred tactical nuclear weapons—and we don’t really have a strong military reliance on them as far as European security goes. In contrast, the Russians have a much larger number—probably a few thousand nuclear weapons—and they say that they need those tactical nuclear weapons to counteract NATO’s conventional superiority.[21]

As Samore’s statement illustrates, while the U.S. has decreased the role and importance of its strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, Russia has done the opposite. In fact, Russia is investing significant resources into the development of new TNWs and considers the use of TNWs as de-escalatory.[22] In May 2012, Nikolai Makarov, the Russian Chief of General Staff, stated that a “decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation [U.S. missile defense deployments to Europe] worsens.”[23]

Since deterrence and assurance in the European theater are intimately interwoven, it is appropriate to point out another source of emerging disparity between the U.S. and its allies and Russia. U.S. strategic weapons are part of extending deterrence and assuring allies not only in Europe, but around the world. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), signed by the Obama Administration in 2011, is a flawed treaty that allows Russia to build up while the U.S. must bear most of the nuclear weapons reductions.[24] The Administration is already falling short on its nuclear weapons infrastructure funding promises, and its policy precludes any new nuclear weapons, new missions or capabilities for the weapons currently in U.S. possession.[25] Russia is taking a different approach to the maintenance of its nuclear stockpile. Not only did Moscow launch the most substantive nuclear weapons modernization program since New START was signed, it has also conducted yield-producing experiments allowing its workforce to maintain technical proficiency and to possibly improve its nuclear weapons designs.[26]

This disparity might result in allies questioning the U.S. commitment to their security, since requirements of deterrence and assurance might vary significantly depending on the situation.[27] During the New START ratification debate, the Senate was aware of the problem caused by a massive difference in the number of TNWs. Its resolution of ratification contains a condition that the U.S. will seek to initiate, following consultation with NATO allies but not later than one year after the entry into force of the New START Treaty, negotiations with the Russian Federation on an agreement to address the disparity between the non-strategic (tactical) nuclear weapons stockpiles of the Russian Federation and of the United States and to secure and reduce tactical nuclear weapons in a verifiable manner.[28]

President Obama’s 2013 speech in Berlin included the statement that the U.S. will seek “bold reductions in U.S. and Russian tactical weapons in Europe,” leaving the question of massive disparity between the two states aside.[29]

The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Posture in Europe

The U.S. nuclear posture in Europe is part of the U.S. overall strategic posture that should be guided by principles stemming from damage limitation and “protect and defend” strategies. At the heart of these concepts is a U.S. posture that discourages nuclear weapons developments by decreasing the number of weapons that pose the greatest threat to civilian populations.[30] The posture also recognizes the need to develop and deploy ballistic missile defenses as a means to strengthen deterrence and protect life and property in the event that deterrence fails.[31] This posture is essential since there are more nuclear-armed states today than at any point in history. Today’s vastly different international environment warrants a departure from the Cold War thinking rooted in the philosophy of mutually assured destruction (MAD).

Today, the need for a credible mix of conventional and nuclear weapons, offensive and defensive weapons, and active and passive defenses is underscored by a fundamental asymmetry when it comes to what the U.S. on the one hand, and U.S. adversaries and likely future adversaries on the other hand, value. The U.S. values its citizens’ lives and the economic means that foster their prosperity. Russian, North Korean, Iranian, and Chinese leaders have demonstrated time and again that they care more for their own power than the well-being of those they rule.

As The Heritage Foundation’s Baker Spring put it,

[I]t is a morally dubious proposition that the U.S. should respond to a nuclear attack by the North Korean regime by incinerating a large number of half-starved North Korean peasants who are also victims of the regime. Given that the North Korean regime is not particularly concerned about the well-being of the North Korean population, it is not likely to be deterred by retaliatory threats against that population.[32]

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:47 PM
^^^ (Cont'd)

Conventional weapons and active and passive defenses are an essential part of the protect and defend strategy. The U.S. should focus on developing weapons that can credibly threaten what U.S. adversaries value most: their leadership’s survival, their means of internal oppression, and their means of external attack. The U.S. values life, its institutions, and instruments of economic well-being, so there is a fundamental deterrence asymmetry between the U.S. and its adversaries. It should also pursue defensive measures, both active and passive, to protect what the U.S. values in the case deterrence fails.

A credible U.S. strategic posture is an essential component of allied assurance and deterrence.[33] It is also prudent to recognize that U.S. allies in Asia, especially Japan and South Korea, are concerned with U.S. security guarantees in Europe as well as the credibility of U.S. extended deterrence. As Keith Payne, former deputy assistant secretary of defense, points out:

[M]any allies confronted by Russia, China or emerging nuclear powers North Korea and Iran do not believe that their security problems are mainly in their minds. They confront real external threats and want the assurance of security that resides in the U.S. nuclear extended deterrent.[34]

According to Heritage Foundation estimates, the U.S. should increase its number of deployed TNWs in Europe from a few hundred[35] today to a minimum of 800 weapons so that it is able to meet requirements of the protect and defend nuclear targeting strategy with respect to the Russian TNWs.[36] These weapons should be modernized for rapid delivery. Heritage’s approach also recognizes that the U.S. targeting list will continually evolve in accordance with the threat to U.S. interests and allies.[37]

Currently, the U.S. has around 200 B61 free-fall gravity bombs in Europe. The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) establishes tenets of the Administration’s policy regarding U.S. TNWs policy. The document states that the presence of U.S. nuclear weapons—combined with NATO’s unique nuclear sharing arrangements under which non-nuclear members participate in nuclear planning and possess specially configured aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons—contribute to Alliance cohesion and provide reassurance to allies and partners who feel exposed to regional threats.[38]

It also emphasizes that any changes to NATO’s nuclear posture “should only be taken after a thorough review within—and decision by—the Alliance.”[39]

Regarding the systems themselves, the NPR states that the U.S. will “retain the capability to forward-deploy U.S. nuclear weapons on tactical fighter-bombers and heavy bombers”; “proceed with full scope life extension for the B61 bomb”; and “retire the nuclear-equipped sea-launched cruise missile.”[40]

The NPR also establishes a policy of three “nos”: (1) The U.S. will not develop new nuclear warheads; (2) will not support new military missions; and (3) will not provide new military capabilities for the weapons the nation currently has (both strategic and TNWs).[41] Instead of advancing U.S. nuclear weapons modernization, the Administration has opted to pursue the Life Extension Program. For B61 weapons currently deployed in Europe, the LEP is supposed to increase the operational life of these weapons by 20 to 30 years.

Allied Considerations

Since the end of World War II, NATO allies have been split on the issue of U.S. TNWs in Europe. Ambivalence has been related to uncertainty regarding how limited-strike TNWs would be employed or what the actual consequences of their use would be. From ideological protests in the 1980s to more recent efforts to persuade the U.S. to withdraw its TNWs from Europe, TNWs have been somewhat divisive within NATO. The removal of U.S. TNWs from Europe would eliminate one of the most visible signs of U.S. commitment to European security. The 1997 NATO–Russia Founding Act, the political document signed two years before Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO, states that “the member States of NATO reiterate that they have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, nor any need to change any aspect of NATO’s nuclear posture or nuclear policy—and do not foresee any future need to do so.”[42]

The alliance’s latest Strategic Concept commits NATO “to the goal of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons” but also “reconfirms that, as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear Alliance.” It also promises to “seek to create the conditions for further reductions in the future.”[43] The Strategic Concept states that deterrence is based on an appropriate mix of conventional and nuclear capabilities and that the strategic nuclear forces of the U.S., U.K., and France, provide the “supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies.”[44] The document also elevated capabilities to defend populations and territories against ballistic missile attack as a core element of NATO’s collective defense.[45] In 2012, NATO declared that American TNWs will remain in Europe, but did not give any details.[46]

It is essential that NATO maintain its “nuclear culture.” As a part of burden sharing, NATO allies should maintain their dual-capable aircraft in addition to providing personnel and space for TNWs.[47] In 2012, the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies found that 54 percent of participants in a survey would support Turkey obtaining its own nuclear weapons capability in reaction to a possible threat from a nuclear-armed Iran.[48] According to the same survey, only 8.4 percent believe that NATO’s security umbrella is sufficient.[49] British Prime Minister David Cameron recently defended his government’s decision to modernize and retain the Royal Navy’s Vanguard-class submarine, a sea-based nuclear deterrent, on these grounds: “Furthermore, trying to save money by just relying on the United States to act on our behalf allows potential adversaries to gamble that one day the U.S. might not put itself at risk in order to deter an attack on the U.K.”[50]

For the U.S., it is important that its TNWs in Europe uphold the principle that Washington can deploy nuclear weapons on other nations’ territory. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out, “Unlike Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons, U.S. weapons are deployed outside the country.”[51] He implied that U.S. TNW withdrawal from Europe is a precondition for continuing talks on Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. In 2012, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov demanded that the U.S. dismantle its TNW infrastructure even before negotiations begin.[52] While Russian TNWs can reach the European theater even when deployed outside Europe, U.S. TNWs would not be able to reach the European theater in similar time lines should it withdraw its TNWs to its territory.
NATO members expressed their desire for an agreement that reduces the disparity in this class of weapons and relocates Russian TNWs away from the territory of NATO member states.[53] If the U.S. withdraws its TNWs from Europe before negotiations even start, it will effectively eliminate Russia’s incentive to negotiate in the future.[54] The most recent National Research Council report on nuclear weapons testing states that Russia could field low-yield nuclear weapons without new nuclear explosions tests, if these weapons are based on previous designs.[55] This, and a lack of Russia’s transparency regarding this class of weapons, may further complicate any future TNW arrangements.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:48 PM
^^^ (Cont'd)

Perceptions matter and at the time when all the nuclear powers have a robust nuclear weapons modernization program and would-be nuclear powers are trying their best to obtain their own nuclear weapon capabilities, current U.S. withdrawal of TNWs from Europe would be ill-advised. It could be misinterpreted as U.S. indifference to the transatlantic alliance and increase Europe’s vulnerability to other nations’ blackmail. Even worse, should a conflict break out, it would place Europe’s posture at disadvantage.[56] In such a situation, re-introduction of TNWs to Europe could be interpreted as an escalatory step and would likely be opposed by both Americans and Europeans.

International Implications

The principle that the U.S. can deploy its TNWs on foreign territory is crucial for an uncertain future. If the U.S. withdraws these weapons, it would be difficult to reintroduce them to Europe, for both political and technological reasons. South Korea, for instance, might demand a visible demonstration of U.S. nuclear security guarantees, including deploying weapons on its territory, if North Korea continues or expands its aggressive actions and rhetoric toward South Korea. Following North Korea’s third nuclear weapons test in February 2013, a public opinion poll conducted by the Asan Institute, a South Korean think tank, found that 66 percent of South Korean citizens supported development of a nuclear weapons program.[57] In a separate poll conducted by Mono Research, only 8.3 percent of South Koreans said that U.S. nuclear weapons “were sufficient to preclude the need for South Korea’s own nuclear weapons.”[58]
These numbers should be alarming. If the U.S. is faced with a choice between dealing with a new nuclear-armed ally and re-introducing its TNWs on the Peninsula, relations with European nuclear powers, especially with the United Kingdom, or European states where U.S. TNWs are currently deployed, could be a model for responding to what would be a new nature of relationship. Similar discussions, albeit on a smaller scale, are being held in Japan. “Having nuclear plants shows to other nations that Japan can make nuclear weapons,” stated former Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba in July 2013.[59]

Benefits to U.S. Nuclear Science

Introduced in the 1970s, the B61 bombs are the oldest weapons family in the U.S. nuclear stockpile. The B61-3, B61-4 and B61-10 are free-falling gravity bombs currently deployed in Europe.[60] These weapons are deliverable by allied aircraft, provided appropriate certifications are in place. According to Don Cook, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA): “The B61 has been in service a decade longer than planned, and our refurbishment program is a scientific and engineering challenge.”[61] Aside from the B61 LEP’s importance for extended deterrence, the U.S. “strategic arsenal depends, in part, on the B61 bomb.”[62] The B61 LEP is essential to “retain the viability of the B-2 within the nuclear role.”[63] Current U.S. policy directs these weapons to be refurbished without conducting any yield-producing nuclear weapons experiments.[64]

To be able to meet and uphold the U.S. commitment to NATO, Washington must proceed with the B61 LEP. In May 2012, General William Chambers, assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration at the U.S. Air Force headquarters in Washington, D.C., underscored the program’s importance for allied assurance: “This weapon will produce effective deterrent capability for the bomber force, particularly for extended deterrence roles, and that will happen starting later this decade.”[65] Essential components of this weapon will be reaching the end of their service life soon.[66] The LEP affects four of five of its variants: B61-3, B61-4, B61-7, and B61-10.[67] The LEP would upgrade the reliability of the arming, fusing, firing, and also add improved security features.[68] According to the Administration’s plan, these four B61 weapons types will be refurbished and consolidated into one: the B61-12.[69] This approach is expected to save long-term weapons maintenance costs and allow further reductions in the non-operationally deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile.

General C. Robert Kehler, former Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, stated that the LEP program is “absolutely necessary,” and that due to previous deferrals “we don’t have the luxury of waiting.”[70] Deferrals and a lack of commitment to sustain U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure partly reflect the price tag for this LEP.[71] In fiscal year 2014, the Senate’s Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill recommended a $168 million decrease for the B61 LEP, citing cost and risk concerns.[72] It is unclear whether this decrease will translate into increased costs in the long term, or delay the program, or perhaps both. In addition, the NNSA, just like the Department of Defense, will bear the burden of sequestration under the Budget Control Act of 2011. These cuts are likely to cause further problems for the B61 LEP as well as for the already underfunded nuclear weapons complex.

The Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office estimates that the LEP program will cost approximately $10 billion.[73] This assessment is $2 billion higher than the NNSA’s own assessment.[74] The longer the U.S. waits to invest in its nuclear weapons infrastructure (and to sustain and advance technology allowing the U.S. to maintain its nuclear weapons without having to conduct yield-producing experiments), the more expensive it will be to keep the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal safe, secure, reliable, and effective. The B61 LEP is the start of a relatively robust sustainment effort envisioned by the Obama Administration. This effort includes strategic warheads W78/W88-1, W87/W88, and W76-1 refurbishments.[75] Unless the current policy changes and the U.S. decides to develop new nuclear weapons, the LEPs are one of a few ways to preserve at least some science and engineering capabilities necessary to sustain the current stockpile.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2014, 01:49 PM
^^^ (Cont'd)

A Way Forward for the U.S.

To maintain the credibility of its assurance and deterrence over the next several years, the United States should:
Sustain U.S. TNWs in Europe. For reasons associated with strategic and extended deterrence, the U.S. must not further delay the B61 LEP. Execution of this program is important to sustaining the U.S. science, technology, and engineering base within the nuclear infrastructure complex. U.S. TNWs have dissuaded allies from pursuing their own nuclear weapon capabilities or enlarging their nuclear weapons arsenals. They will continue to serve this important role in the future, as other nations are vigorously modernizing their nuclear weapons arsenals and new nuclear-armed states emerge. U.S. TNWs in Europe are a sign of a visible political commitment to NATO and the security of its members.

Pursue effectively verifiable negotiations with the Russian Federation as a treaty. The PNIs and Russian disregard for fulfilling its obligations under this non-formal agreement show that it is essential that any further agreement regarding U.S. nuclear weapons reductions be pursued as a treaty. The treaty must be subject to the Senate’s advice and consent. The agreement must be effectively verifiable and address the disparity between U.S. and Russian TNWs.

Pursue active and passive defenses in Europe. The spread of ballistic-missile and weapons-of-mass-destruction technologies continues to undermine regional stability in areas vital for U.S. and allied national security interests. NATO must continue its development, testing, and deployments of ballistic missile defense systems. Passive defenses are also worth pursuing because NATO territory faces a diverse set of security challenges, including terrorist attacks originating on NATO’s territory.

Reiterate U.S. commitment to maintaining TNWs in Europe. U.S. TNWs have served, and will continue to serve, as a visible demonstration of U.S. commitment to the security of the transatlantic region. This commitment and assurance provided by U.S. TNWs are likely to become more important in the future, especially as new nuclear-armed states emerge and threats to the alliance continue. The commitment should also be backed by full funding for the B61 LEP.

Pursue targeting policy and advance capabilities that are in accordance with the protect and defend strategy. This targeting policy would advance counterforce strategic capabilities and emphasize the role of active and passive defenses, including ballistic missile defense. While the U.S. and its allies most value the well-being of their populations and their continued social and economic viability, adversaries view their means of strategic attack and internal repression as their most valuable assets. NATO and the U.S. must account for this asymmetry in their strategic planning.

Seek Allied support in addressing Russian arms control violations. Russian violations of the PNIs and its violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty must not go without a response. The U.S. has a range of diplomatic and military tools with which to address the Russian cheating, including advancing the U.S. missile defense program, conditioning implementation of arms control agreements with Russia, reviving the Senate Arms Control Observer Group, and modernizing its own nuclear weapons arsenal.[76]

Conclusion

The U.S. must maintain a strong position in order to protect its national security interests, assure allies, and deter adversaries. It must increase U.S. military strength and develop capabilities that allow it to pursue a protect and defend strategy. The B61 LEP is a part of that strategy. The program and the B61 are important for maintaining a science and technology base that allows the U.S. to keep its weapons safe, secure, and reliable. It will also maintain U.S. commitment to transatlantic security.

Joescoundrel
04-25-2014, 08:19 AM
Obama: US will defend Japan vs China

4:15 am | Friday, April 25th, 2014

TOKYO—Showing solidarity with Japan, US President Barack Obama on Thursday affirmed that the United States would be obligated to defend Tokyo in a confrontation with Beijing over disputed islands but urged all sides to resolve the long-running dispute peacefully.
Wading cautiously into a diplomatic minefield, Obama insisted the United States takes no position on whether the islands in the East China Sea are ultimately in the dominion of China or Japan.

But he noted that historically Japan has administered the islands, triggering America’s treaty obligations to defend its ally should tensions escalate militarily.

“We do not believe that they should be subject to change unilaterally,” Obama said at a news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “What is a consistent part of the alliance is that the treaty covers all territories administered by Japan.”

Territorial dispute

The dispute over the islands, called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China, has badly strained relations between the two Asian powers. Some observers warn they might come to blows over the islands, where ships from both sides lurk to press claims for ownership.

Abe’s position on historical issues also annoys the Chinese, who accuse him of playing down Japanese atrocities. They are particularly upset by visits he and his cabinet ministers have paid to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among other fallen warriors.

In another sign of history influencing the present, China on Thursday said it had released a Japanese ship seized after its owner paid $28-million compensation in a business dispute dating to Japan’s occupation of swaths of the country in the 1930s.

Tokyo warned earlier this week that the seizure could have a chilling effect on the huge trade relationship between China and Japan.

Ministers fear a flood of Chinese compensation claims over wartime wrongs, which they say were all dealt with under the 1972 normalization of ties.

Japan and other Western-leaning countries say China is also throwing its newfound economic and military weight around in pursuit of territorial claims in the East and South China Seas.

US assurance

Although Obama has sought to avoid getting dragged into territorial disputes an ocean away, Japan and other US allies see the disputes through the broader lens of China’s growing influence in Asia, where Obama arrived on Wednesday at the start of a four-nation, eight-day tour.

China is not on Obama’s itinerary but concerns about the Asian powerhouse are trailing him nonetheless.

Beijing is watching closely for signs that the United States is seeking to limit China’s rise while smaller nations are looking to Obama for affirmations that his vaunted push to increase US influence in Asia hasn’t petered out.

Obama’s advisers insist that the trip—and the White House’s broader Asia policy—is not designed to counter China’s growing power, and they say the president is not asking Asian nations to choose between allegiance to Washington or Beijing.

Trans-Pacific trade

“We want to continue to encourage the peaceful rise of China,” Obama said.

Seeking to inject fresh urgency into trade talks, Obama said the time is now to resolve issues hindering the completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The United States has been leading the 12-nation negotiations but an end-of-2013 deadline was missed and there are few signs of progress toward resolving conflicts with Japan over tariffs and access to Japan’s auto market.

At the same time, as Obama pressed his case in Tokyo, he was unable to convey the full backing of Congress, which would have to ratify any such pact. Lawmakers, including many of Obama’s Democratic allies, have thus far refused to give Obama the fast-track authority needed to ensure an up-or-down vote on the final agreement.

“Abe’s got to deal with his politics, I’ve got to deal with mine,” Obama said.

On the island dispute, Obama encouraged the parties to work through the issue “through dialogue” and urged both sides to “keep the rhetoric low.”

He played down the US commitment to defend Japan as a matter of historical fact rather than a rebuke to China.

“The treaty between the US and Japan preceded my birth, so obviously this isn’t the red line that I’m drawing,” Obama said.

Firmly opposed

China has said it firmly opposes the application of the US-Japan treaty to the dispute over the islands, which sit in strategically important waters to China’s east.

China’s government said this week that “the so-called Japan-US alliance” should not harm China’s territorial rights, urging the United States to play a constructive role in promoting regional stability.

Abe said he and Obama agreed to cooperate on engagement with China and other issues, including Okinawa, where the US military presence remains a source of tensions.

“The Japan-US alliance is more robust than ever before,” Abe said through a translator.
North Korea

Tackling another source of tension in the region, Obama said he was not optimistic that North Korea would change its behavior in the near future.

But he said he was confident that by working with Japan, South Korea and others—especially China—the United States could apply more pressure so that “at some juncture they end up taking a different course.”

Underscoring his concerns about Pyongyang’s behavior, Obama met on Thursday with relatives of Japanese citizens that the White House said were abducted by North Korea.

Obama recommitted to working with Japan to deal with the North’s “deplorable treatment of its own people,” the White House said.

Later on Thursday, Obama planned to return to the Imperial Palace for a state dinner. He also planned to visit the Meiji Shrine, which honors the emperor whose reign saw Japan emerge from over two centuries of isolation to become a world power.

Obama’s Asia swing is aimed at reaffirming his commitment to the region even as the crisis in Ukraine demands US attention and resources elsewhere.

The ominous standoff between Ukraine and Russia threatens to overshadow the trip, as Obama weighs whether to levy new economic sanctions on Moscow.

Asian do-over

Obama’s stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines serve as something of a do-over after he canceled a visit to Asia last fall because of the US government shutdown.

The cancellation provided fresh fodder for those in the region who worry that the White House’s much-hyped pivot to Asia is continually taking a backseat to other foreign and domestic priorities.

Obama began his day with a call on Japanese Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace, a lush, park-like complex surrounded by modern skyscrapers where he was greeted by a military honor guard and children holding US and Japanese flags.

After taking in the scene, the president, emperor and empress walked along a maze of red carpet into the palace for a private meeting, with US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and other aides trailing behind.

When Obama pointed out that the last time he met the emperor, he didn’t yet have any gray hairs, the emperor offered the president a gracious excuse: “You have a very hard job.” Reports from AP and AFP

Sam Miguel
12-22-2014, 08:33 AM
Escape from North Korea: 'How I escaped horrors of life under Kim Jong-il'

Yeonmi Park, a young woman who fled North Korea after seeing friends and family tortured and killed, tells her harrowing story

By Tom Phillips

11:19AM BST 10 Oct 2014

Yeonmi Park was nine years old when she was invited to watch her best friend’s mother be shot.

Growing up in North Korea, Yeonmi had seen executions before. She remembers her mother piggy*backing her to public squares and sports stadiums to watch the spectacles used by Kim Jong-il’s Workers’ Party to silence even the slightest whisper of dissent.

But this killing lodged in her mind. Yeonmi watched in horror as the woman she knew was lined up alongside eight other prisoners and her sentence was read out. Her crime was having watched South Korean films and lending the DVDs to friends. Her punishment in this most paranoid of dictatorships was death by firing squad.

As the executioners raised their weapons, Yeonmi covered her face. But she looked up again, just in time to see an explosion of blood and the woman’s body crumple to the ground. ‘It was a shock,’ she remembers. ‘It was the first time I felt terrified.’

Yeonmi is recounting the horrific incident over a milkshake in Seoul, the ultra-modern capital of South Korea that is only 35 miles from the North Korean border but, with its luxury cars and 10-lane motorways, feels like another planet. Twelve years have passed since that day, and Yeonmi, now 21, is one of tens of thousands of North Korean defectors who have escaped one of the world’s most reclusive and repressive regimes.

Yeonmi has become a globetrotting activist intent on raising awareness about the plight of her people. She appears on South Korean television and uses Facebook, Twitter, Skype and WeChat to spread the word about the human rights abuses inside North Korea. She has travelled the world to talk about her experiences. And next month she will attend the annual One Young World Summit in Dublin, where she will appear alongside figures including Kofi Annan, Sir Bob Geldof, the former Mexican president Vicente Fox, and Dame Ellen MacArthur, the world record-breaking sailor.

Yeonmi was born on October 4 1993 in Hyesan, a notoriously cold river port along North Korea’s 850-mile northern border with China. The following year, on July 8, Kim Il-sung, the country’s 82-year-old founder and ‘Great Leader’, died of a heart attack. Hopes that he might have been ready to gradually open North Korea to the world evaporated as his son Kim Jong-il took power and set about transforming the hermit nation into a member of George W Bush’s notorious ‘axis of evil’.

Meanwhile, the economy was collapsing and the Great Famine, which would eventually claim up to 2.5 million lives, according to Andrew Natsios, the former head of USAID, was beginning to take hold. As Barbara Demick describes in Nothing to Envy, her definitive book on the period, those too young, too poor or too honest to find food quickly died. ‘The killer targets the most innocent, the people who would never steal food, lie, cheat, break the law or betray a friend.’

Yeonmi’s father was a mid-ranking civil servant and Workers’ Party member who worked at the Hyesan town hall. He kept his family afloat through an illegal sideline in selling gold, silver and nickel (which he had acquired through middle men in Pyongyang, the capital) to Chinese over the border. That income helped insulate his family from the worst of the suffering as North Korea was plunged into famine. But the bodies Yeonmi saw at the railway station: ragged, skeletal waifs collapsed on the pavement and slumped against walls, told her something was badly wrong. She caught a glimpse of corpses in the river, too. ‘I think they were trying to escape,’ Yeonmi says matter-of-factly. ‘But they didn’t succeed.’

Initially shielded from the effects of the famine, Yeonmi’s world started to disintegrate when, in 2002, her father was arrested for illegal trading. ‘Everything changed,’ she recalls. Yeonmi’s father was taken to a prison near Pyongyang and given a 17-year sentence. Her mother visited him once but that was enough to see the toll that the brutal torture had taken on her husband. He was beaten. Guards placed sticks between his fingers and crunched them together. He was made to sit in excruciating stress positions for interminable periods. Prisoners were deprived of water and food. ‘The environment was crazy. So many bugs and lice,’ Yeonmi says. ‘They treated them like animals. He was a really brilliant man. He was my hero, and the country just beat him. I couldn’t believe it.’

Yeonmi’s father was luckier than many North Koreans who were spirited off to the country’s Soviet-style gulags, never to return. According to a Human Rights Watch report in January this year, up to 120,000 political prisoners, among them children, are currently being held in secretive labour camps known in Korean as the kwan-li-so. Torture including ‘sleep deprivation, beatings with iron rods or sticks, kicking and slapping, and enforced sitting or standing for hours’, is routine, the group found.

After three years Yeonmi’s father managed to bribe his way out of jail. But by then he had been diagnosed with colon cancer. When Yeonmi saw him on his release, the once strapping figure had been transformed into a ghost of a man. ‘He had changed so much. He was so small. He spoke differently. I couldn’t believe it was my father,’ she says.

The Park family had been ruined by the imprisonment of Yeonmi’s father. Shortly after his arrest they were forced to move from a comfortable house in Hyesan to a minuscule apartment. After his release they almost immediately began plotting their escape into China to start a new life. But before the family could put its plan into action, Eunmi, Yeonmi’s 16-year-old sister, fled across the border with a friend without telling them. Terrified about how she might fare on her own, Yeonmi and her mother decided to follow her over the border and bring her home. Once reunited, the family would attempt a second escape altogether.

Sam Miguel
12-22-2014, 08:34 AM
^^^ (Cont'd)

And so, on the night of March 30 2007, Yeonmi and her mother made their way towards the border with the help of a people smuggler. Yeonmi’s father stayed behind, to minimise the risks. They crossed three mountains and finally came to a frozen river that separated the two countries. It was desperately cold, Yeonmi says, and she remembers feeling terrified that the ice beneath them would give. But they eventually made it to the other side. On dry land, they ran. ‘I ran so fast. The only thing I could think was that I could get shot. I ran and ran and ran.’

When Yeonmi stopped she found herself in the Chinese province of Jilin. Here, Yeonmi and her mother set about trying to find her sister. But she was nowhere to be found and the local people smugglers refused to help. One even threatened to turn them in to Chinese authorities unless he was allowed to have sex with Yeonmi. Yeonmi’s mother implored the man to leave her daughter alone and offered herself instead. ‘She had no choice,’ Yeonmi says. ‘Literally, in front of me, he raped her.’

A few days later Yeonmi’s father, who had become concerned about their lengthy absence, slipped across the border and managed to join them. But the family’s slide continued. Yeonmi and her parents still had not managed to track down Eunmi but they decided to remain in China rather than attempt a potentially dangerous return to North Korea. A great-aunt who lived on the Chinese side of the border found them shelter in a filthy, cobweb-filled room in the countryside outside the city of Shenyang. ‘There was no electricity. We couldn’t pay for water,’ Yeonmi said. Her parents would collect water from a dripping tap.

It was an experience familiar to the tens of thousands of other North Korean refugees who have escaped to China, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, only to discover a new world of poverty and exploitation. ‘Even in China we were hungry,’ Yeonmi says.

The year 2008 was an exciting time to be in China. A construction boom was under way in Beijing as it geared up to host the summer Olympics. But for the Park family the new year brought more misery. At 7.30 one cold January morning, Yeonmi’s father died. Without documents and facing arrest and deportation if they were caught by Chinese police, his family were forced to bribe a local crematorium to destroy his body by night. At three the following morning, Yeonmi and her mother took his remains to a nearby mountain and secretly buried them. ‘There was no funeral. Nothing,’ Yeonmi says. ‘I couldn’t even do that for my father. I couldn’t call anyone to say my father had passed away. He was 45 – really young. We couldn’t even give him painkillers.’

For Yeonmi and her mother, the death signalled an end to their time in China. They took a bus south for two days and spent a short period at a Christian shelter run by Chinese and South Korean missionaries in the port city of Qingdao, which has a large Korean population. When a chance to flee to South Korea via Mongolia arose they seized it, even though they had still not been reunited with Eunmi.

In February 2009 Yeonmi and her mother found themselves deep in the Gobi desert, searching the night sky for the Plough to guide them over the border into Mongolia and towards freedom. Once there, they could request help from South Korean diplomats who were known to help refugees from the north escaping to Seoul.More than 1,500 North Koreans fled their country in 2012, hoping to build a new life away from the regime of Kim Jong-un, who became Supreme Leader after Kim Jong-il, his father, died in 2011. Their motives for fleeing are understandable. Earlier this year a UN inquiry concluded that the human rights abuses being committed by Kim Jong-un’s regime were ‘strikingly similar’ to those perpetrated by the Nazis during the Second World War. Torture, mass starvation, rape, forced abortion and execution were used as everyday weapons against its 24 million inhabitants, the report claimed.

While a growing number of foreign tourists and international celebrities including Dennis Rodman, the American basketball star, and Pras Michel, the rapper, have recently visited the country, the freedoms of movement, information and belief are still almost non-existent for ordinary North Koreans. ‘The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,’ the UN report argued.

But escaping North Korea is far from easy. Refu*gees who make it to China face discrimination, the constant threat of arrest and, in the case of women, sexual violence, activist groups say. Those who attempt to reach a third country from which to fly to South Korea face deportation if caught, and the penalty for those forced to return is execution or life imprisonment.

That appeared to be Yeonmi’s destiny when Mon*golian border guards surrounded her group as it meandered through the Gobi desert. They told them they would be immediately sent back to China. Yeonmi and her mother begged for their lives. When that failed, they tried something altogether more radical. They grabbed the small knives they had brought and thrust them to their throats, threatening to commit suicide unless the guards let them stay in Mongolia. ‘I thought it was the end of my life. We were saying goodbye to one another,’ Yeonmi says.

Their actions, though, proved effective. Yeonmi and her mother were taken into custody and after 15 days were transferred to a detention centre in Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital. Several weeks later they were handed over to South Korean officials and on April 1 2009 – just over a year after the death of her father – Yeonmi stood at Ulan Bator’s Chinggis Khaan airport preparing to board a plane for Seoul. It was her first time flying and her new-found freedom had not yet sunk in. ‘Oh my God,’ she thought when Mongolian customs officials waved her through. ‘They didn’t stop me.’

A few hours later the plane touched down at Incheon airport in Seoul. Yeonmi stepped off the passenger jet wearing a shabby prison uniform. She remembers gasping at the sight of the moving walkways – a contraption unimaginable in her broken and impoverished homeland – and the immaculate lavatory facilities. ‘It was the first time I had seen a fancy rest room. I thought, “It’s so clean. Do I wash my hands in the [lavatory bowl]?’’ ’ she says. ‘Every*thing was shiny. I’d never seen anything like it.’

At least 20,000 North Korean refugees have sought shelter in South Korea over the past two decades, and while adapting is far from easy, Yeonmi has fared better than most. She and her mother both worked (as a shop assistant and waitress) so Yeonmi would be able to pay to go back to school. Five years after she arrived, Yeonmi is a third-year student of criminal justice at Dongguk University, one of the city’s best, and is a regular guest on South Korean television programmes. She uses her fame to spread the word about the situation in North Korea and in her spare time has learnt to speak fluent English, with the help of YouTube and the Friends DVD box set. In April she was finally reunited with the sister she had long feared was dead; Eunmi, now 23, had reached South Korea via China and Thailand.

Still Yeonmi feels she has not entirely escaped the clutches of Kim Jong-un’s regime. South Korea allocates local detectives to keep an eye on all newly arrived defectors, and in May Yeonmi received a call from the official handling her case. He warned her that her name had been added to a ‘target list’ of outspoken defectors that the North Korean regime wanted to eliminate. The revelation made her more angry than scared, Yeonmi says. ‘I crossed the Gobi. I lost my father. But I am still not free. They still have power over me. They still try to control me. Until I can be really free, I will keep going.’

The detective and Yeonmi’s mother urged her to stop criticising Kim Jong-un. But she ignored them, convinced that she, as someone who had suffered the same fate, now had a moral obligation to draw attention to the thousands of women risking sexual violence and murder as they tried to escape North Korea. ‘I thought about quitting,’ she says, with a grin that suggests she did not entertain the idea for very long at all. ‘When I was crossing the Gobi desert I thought nobody really cared, you know? Even though I was dying there nobody was going to remember me. These girls too. They are dying. They are being raped. But nobody is going to remember them. Nobody is going to care for them. That is why I thought, “I’m going to do this and there is no way I will stop doing this.’’ ’

The day we meet, Yeonmi is wearing a startling red dress and a near permanent smile. But the anger she feels towards those who have destroyed her country is clear. ‘Kim Jong-un and the regime don’t just oppress,’ she says, ‘they play with human lives. Kim Jong-un should be punished. He must be brought to justice. How many people did he kill?’

One day, she hopes to return home to rebury her father’s ashes in a free North Korea. ‘It was his dream,’ she says. ‘It is hard to imagine that day coming but maybe my daughter or my son will be able to do it. Kim Jong-un thinks he can keep going on being a king there. But nothing is for ever.’