Third Way Perspectives
Archive for the ‘National Security Program’ Category
March 10th, 2014
The ancient Greek military historian Thucydides famously noted that in war, “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Today, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, concurs.
“It’s a dangerous world, and we’re making it more so by cutting defense,” said McKeon, responding to the president’s defense budget. “We weaken ourselves, and that is how you get into wars. You don’t get into wars if you’re strong.”
The idea that “weak” countries must fight to uphold their status might seem self-evident. However, while McKeon’s logic might have made sense in the Bronze Age, it makes little sense in the modern age.
February 24th, 2014
What happens when you’re the meanest player on a team with a history of violence (say, the Philadelphia Flyers from the 1970s), but you disobey the coach too many times? No matter how good on the field, pitch or ice you may be, the head office has no choice but to cut you from the roster.
This happened recently in the world of international terrorism, where al-Qaida Central became fed up with one of its franchises and disavowed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, or ISIS. This is the first time al-Qaida cut ties with one of its regional groups — surprisingly so since ISIS has been successfully driving the jihadist agenda in the heart of the Middle East.
This split is good news for the U.S. and its allies. Here’s why:
February 13th, 2014
The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, or LCS, program was dealt a death blow last month when the Pentagon advised the Navy to purchase only 32 of the small, fast and much maligned ships that were originally designed to combat three distinct threats — submarines, mines and groups of small boats.
This was absolutely the right move for at least three reasons.
The first, and most glaring, deficiency of the LCS is that, as a recent Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation report states, the “LCS is not expected to be survivable in high-intensity combat.” While the Pentagon has used similar language in previous reports, the level of detail explaining why the boat wouldn’t survive a real fight is unprecedented.
The report indicates the ship’s vulnerability is inherent in its design. In dry Pentagonese, the LCS does “not require the inclusion of survivability features necessary to conduct sustained combat operations in a major conflict as expected for the Navy’s other surface combatants.” Thus, despite having “combat” in its name, the LCS is pretty lousy at fighting enemies.
February 3rd, 2014
Olympian Roberto Carcelén wouldn’t be competing in Sochi if it weren’t for his wife, Kate. She was the one who introduced him to skiing after he gave up elite surfing in Peru to move to Seattle and marry her. She convinced him that it was like surfing on frozen water.
“I’m going to be up training in the mountains, while the family would be down in the city outside the Olympic rink,” Carcelén told CNN. “So that puts a lot of pressure on me as an athlete.”
January 29th, 2014
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, recently had a disturbing opinion about the personal risk of attending this year’s Olympic Games, saying on CNN, “I would not go, and I don’t think I would send my family.” When a senator who sits on both the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees tells Americans it is unsafe to attend an international event in Russia, people should take note. Despite the threat, Moscow, which is spending some $2 billion on security, or almost $118 million a day, for the 17 days of the 2014 Games, would prefer to freeze out America’s efforts to help secure the Winter Olympics.
Putin should think twice if he thinks the Olympics are secure. Russia’s preeminent jihadist group, the Caucasus Emirate, or CE, intends to disrupt the games, even if Russian forces may have killed its leader, Doku Umarov. GivenCE’s decentralized cell structure, terrorist violence in or around Sochi is still likely to occur and revenge can be a powerful motivator.
January 28th, 2014
Representatives of the Syrian regime and rebel groups currently meeting in Geneva face an arduous task: ending a bloody civil war that has lasted three years, cost 130,000 lives, displaced nearly 9 million people and turned a developed,middle-income state into a failed one. Syria’s problems — ethnic and sectarian tensions, weak institutions and little rule of law — aren’t uncommon in the international arena. What is common among failed states is the international community’s inability to effectively deal with them. According to the 2013 Failed State Index, there are 35 states that have already failed or are in serious danger of failing.
State failures rarely occur in a vacuum; they can destabilize entire regions, as Syria has already done. Some on the right and the left argue that military intervention is the best way to hasten a peaceful political solution and restoration of order. Perhaps they are correct, but only in the short-term; even if a political solution is found, it would be built upon an unsteady foundation of poor civilian institutions. Fixing failed states involves a long-term effort to help them build better, more inclusive institutions. Otherwise, a political solution will only prolong the inevitable. Read the rest of this entry »