Category Archives: U.S.

Can the Center Hold? State Fragility Comes to the U.S. and France

For a society to function stably and peacefully, the center must hold. Most of the time it does—until it doesn’t, often for reasons that resist logical explanation. When it gives out, the result is often messy and always uncertain. The center has given out in Syria and Libya, and is faltering in Venezuela and Brazil. But it is also being sorely tested in France and the U.S., in ways that suggest difficult times ahead.

Sponsored Ads

Can the Center Hold? State Fragility Comes to the U.S. and France

Duterte declares upcoming Philippines-U.S. war games ‘the last one’ | Reuters

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte plunged one of the United States’ most important Asian alliances deeper into uncertainty on Wednesday by declaring upcoming U.S.-Philippines military exercises “the last,” and ruling out any joint navy patrols.

The firebrand Duterte pledged to honor a longstanding security treaty with the United States, but said China opposed joint marine drills in the Philippines starting next week and there would be no more war games with Washington after that.

“I am serving notice now to the Americans, this will be the last military exercise,” Duterte said during a visit to Vietnam. “Jointly, Philippines-U.S.: the last one.”

Duterte declares upcoming Philippines-U.S. war games ‘the last one’ | Reuters

Obama Officials Wonder: Why Won’t the Boss Stand Up to Putin? – The Daily Beast

There is an unspoken understanding within the administration that despite the many provocations Russia has carried out in Syria, there will be no major American response, a position that increasingly is drawing the ire of top national security officials, three U.S. officials told The Daily Beast.

Adding to these officials’ frustration is that Russia’s aggression isn’t just contained to Syria. There is mounting evidence that Russia has been behind a series of computer hacks that intelligence officials believe are designed to meddle with U.S. elections in November.

Officials said they feared that the White House’s inaction could devolve into acquiescence in Syria, in Ukraine, and in cyberspace. On Wednesday, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations reportedly laughed when asked about the hospital attack.

Obama Officials Wonder: Why Won’t the Boss Stand Up to Putin? – The Daily Beast

White House tells the Pentagon to quit talking about ‘competition’ with China

The White House has barred Pentagon leaders from a key talking point when it comes to publicly describing the military challenges posed by China.

In February, Defense Secretary Ash Carter cited the “return to great power of competition” in the Asia-Pacific, “where China is rising.”

Similarly, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson characterized China and Russia as rivals in this “great power competition” in his maritime strategy.

White House tells the Pentagon to quit talking about ‘competition’ with China

4-star admiral wants to confront China. The White House says not so fast.

The U.S. military’s top commander in the Pacific is arguing behind closed doors for a more confrontational approach to counter and reverse China’s strategic gains in the South China Sea, appeals that have met resistance from the White House at nearly every turn.

Adm. Harry Harris is proposing a muscular U.S. response to China’s island-building that may include launching aircraft and conducting military operations within 12 miles of these man-made islands, as part of an effort to stop what he has called the “Great Wall of Sand” before it extends within 140 miles from the Philippines’ capital, sources say.

4-star admiral wants to confront China. The White House says not so fast.

US Air Force Set to Replace Intercontinental Nuke Arsenal | Military.com

Hidden underground in steel-and-concrete silos across rural America, more than 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles point to the skies, poised for launch — and ready to obliterate cities across the world.

First designed in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War, the Minuteman nuclear weapons are starting to show their age, and replacement parts are difficult to find for the weapons designed in an analog age.

Also aging are their silos, many built in the 1950s and now rusting as water seeps through the decaying concrete.

US Air Force Set to Replace Intercontinental Nuke Arsenal | Military.com

Making a US-Sino War ‘Thinkable’? | The Diplomat

In all four scenarios the report assumes that because China has next to no capabilities to strike the U.S. homeland, and because the war is assumed to be confined to the Western Pacific and to conventional forces, that China will suffer much more from the war than the U.S. The authors add:

“In sum, the economic harm caused by a Sino-U.S. war, unless brief or mild, would be substantially greater to China than to the United States, an asymmetry likely to persist if not grow by 2025.”

The authors explicitly state that they have not included the effects of a possible nuclear war in their analysis [p.29]. They argue that China is unlikely to resort to use of its nuclear arms, even if it will be losing what the RAND authors call a long and severe war, and they describe the possibility of the U.S. initiating a nuclear conflict as “far-fetched” [p.31]. The probability of this kind of escalation may indeed be small, but it is certainly not nil, and the disutility is so immense that it merits greater consideration than it is given in this report. One further notes as both sides are developing very high yield conventional explosives and low yield nuclear ones, the line between these two kinds of arms is blurring and the danger that it will crossed is increasing.

Moreover, as someone who has been to war, I join the many who observe that all assumptions and scenarios about how a war will unfold, hold only until the first missile is lobbed.

Making a US-Sino War ‘Thinkable’? | The Diplomat

Skeptical of Russia, Clinton seen going toe-to-toe with Putin | Reuters

With U.S. relations with Moscow already plumbing post-Cold War lows, the aides and veteran Russia watchers said she would likely take a harder line than Obama or Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has praised Putin as a strong leader.

Dealing with Putin, who is flexing his geopolitical muscle from Ukraine to Syria to cyberspace, will be among Clinton’s biggest foreign policy challenges — one made more daunting by the personal bad blood between them.

Skeptical of Russia, Clinton seen going toe-to-toe with Putin | Reuters

Duterte Signals Shift in U.S.-Philippine Military Alliance – WSJ

He said Monday he wanted the U.S. military to leave Mindanao, the site of a strategic base set to host American forces.”

“There are two camps in Washington—one that thinks Duterte is about to push the alliance off a cliff and there is nothing U.S. policy makers can do about it, and one that continues to argue that the alliance is just too important to both countries and so a way forward must be found,” said Gregory Poling of the Center for International and Strategic Studies. “But that latter group is losing the argument day by day as Duterte continues this anti-American rhetoric.”

Duterte Signals Shift in U.S.-Philippine Military Alliance – WSJ

I guess it’s time for the US to pull out of Philippines and let China have the South China Sea.

US military: Iranian behavior getting worse in Persian Gulf | TheHill

The Navy has counted at least 31 interactions with Iranian naval forces deemed “unsafe,” “unprofessional,” or both, according to a defense official.

That’s about as many such interactions that occurred all of last year, according to statistics provided to Fox News.  

And those are also only counting interactions that have met the criteria of “unsafe” or “unprofessional.” 

Overall, there were more than 300 interactions between U.S. and Iranian forces last year. 

That figure includes incidents in which Iranian vessels waited for and followed U.S. ships transiting in the Persian Gulf, or sailed by with their weapons uncovered, in addition to other incidents of muscle flexing considered routine. 

US military: Iranian behavior getting worse in Persian Gulf | TheHill