House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon doesn’t look like an insurgent. The quintessential Californian – a man of Reaganesque optimism whose congressional district now includes the Gipper’s presidential library – McKeon has been a steadfast supporter of House speaker John Boehner in turbulent times. Yet, to the green-eyeshade editorialists of the Wall Street Journal, McKeon is leading a “rebellion” of defense hawks, an “act of masochism” threatening the Holy of Holies: the sequestration provision of the Budget Control Act (BCA). McKeon’s crime is that he’s hoping for a 2014 budget deal that would reduce the amount of defense sequestration by half.Read more
It’s Congress’s fault if there’s a war with Iran, says the White House. Last week administration officials showed their frustration with lawmakers who seek to impose another round of sanctions on the Iranians. "It is important to understand that if pursuing a resolution diplomatically is disallowed or ruled out, what options, then, do we and our allies have to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?" said White House spokesman Jay Carney. "The American people do not want a march to war."Read more
Next month’s meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in China will feature a familiar ritual. American negotiators will face intensified pressure for Washington to lift restrictions on the sale of military and dual-use technology to China. Over time, the perennial drip-drip of Beijing’s complaints against U.S. trade discrimination in this area, bolstered by American business desires to close the trade gap, has proved effective.Read more
The week started with the White House seemingly determined to punish Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for his use of chemical weapons, but on Wednesday Obama let the air out of the ball. Last night on the PBS Newshour he explained he may yet choose not to pull the trigger. “I’ve not made a decision,” said Obama. “I have gotten options from our military, had extensive discussions with my national security team.”Read more
The man who bears the ultimate responsibility for the gassing of his countrymen in Syria has been told by the White House that the bell does not toll for him. The Americans are coming and people will die. But he will not be one of them. Not this time, anyway.Read more
The British launched the opening attack of the 3rd battle of Ypres on July 31, 1917. The objective was to destroy a rail junction on which the German army depended for Western Front supplies. The plan included British naval as well as amphibious assaults on the nearby Belgian coast. The naval action was to have loosened Germany’s grip on continental ports whose danger to England—in the hands of an enemy—hearkened back to Napoleon and foreshadowed Hitler’s Operation Sea Lion both of which British dominance at sea decisively turned back.Read more
This morning President Obama announced that he is cancelling this year’s joint military exercise with Egypt, Operation Bright Star. It’s a symbolic gesture intended to show that, should the army continue to pursue its present course, the White House may eventually decide to suspend military aid. But cancelling Bright Star also underscores American impotence. The administration reportedly warned Egypt’s military regime against a violent crackdown, an admonition to which, with 638 now confirmed dead after yesterday’s nationwide confrontations with Muslim Brotherhood supporters, the army obviously turned a deaf ear.Read more
The Pentagon just released this statement to the press, announcing "Same-Sex Spouse Benefits" to "uniformed service members and Department of Defense civilian employees."
Today, the Department of Defense announced its plan to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of uniformed service members and Department of Defense civilian employees.Read more
"When word of a crisis breaks out in Washington, it's no accident that
the first question that comes to everyone's lips is: 'Where's the nearest carrier?'"
(President Bill Clinton, March 12, 1993, aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt)
Twenty years later, it appears that the answer to that question will soon be, "The carriers are in mothballs." Rusting away. We can't afford them any longer."Read more
On Thursday, Republican senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Democratic senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri joined with several female veterans of the armed forces to speak out against a proposal that would create a new justice system for serious military prosecutions, independent of military commanders.Read more
In 2012, the Department of Defense spent a total of $651 billion, including the costs of fighting in Afghanistan. According to the budget plan submitted by the White House a few months ago, projected 2014 spending will be $547 billion. If, as seems nearly inevitable, the “sequestration” provision of the Budget Control Act is triggered, that figure will fall below $500 billion, a loss of more than 20 percent in just two years.Read more
Since forcing Egypt’s first elected president from office two weeks ago, Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has become a folk hero. Popular songs praising the 58-year-old head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces fill the airwaves, while hagiographic portraits of the man who saved the revolution stir the emotions of his newly minted fans. They affectionately call him “Field Marshal of the People”—even though the career military officer is not a field marshal but holds the rank of colonel general. The fact that Egyptians are so eager to lavish him with titles and other adornments fit for a culture hero suggests that we are watching the birth of a personality cult.Read more
The Obama administration has worked diligently to shrink, underfund, and demoralize the military. Now, Politico reports, two Republican senators, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, are joining an effort led by New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand that goes beyond where even the Obama administration is willing to go in weakening the military.Read more
On the first weekend in June and for the twelfth year in a row, senior foreign policy makers, military officials, politicians, and defense industry representatives flocked to an exclusive hotel resort in this Southeast Asian city-state for the Shangri-La Dialogue Asian Security Summit. The event now draws a Who’s Who of global military power personalities: Asian, European and U.S. defense ministers; regional military commanders, including a high-level delegation of strategists from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) military.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had some words about the cyber threat from China while speaking today in Singapore. But a Chinese general, in the room for the speech, immediately responded by saying, "China is not convinced."
"Even as we seek to uphold principles in well-established areas, we must also recognize the need for common rules of the road in new domains," Hagel said, according to an official transcript of his remarks.Read more
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