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

19 October 2017

What it Means to Be an Ally: A Vietnamese-American’s View on the US in the Vietnam War Image Credit: US Department of Defense What it Means to Be an Ally: A Vietnamese-American’s View on the US in the Vietnam War Strategic calculations can vary, but commitment to an ally must be steadfast. By Tom Le October 11, 2017 My mother was a teenager when she made her perilous journey to America as a “boat person.” Undoubtedly hiding from me many of the ugly realities of the Vietnam War, she instead loved to tell me the story of how American soldiers had given two dogs to my grandfather. He became so attached to them that after one of the dogs died protecting my mother from a snake, he used what little money he had for a proper burial. For many South Vietnamese, stories like this reveal their feelings about the war. America was a friend that, for various reasons, could not prevent Vietnam from losing its chance at true freedom. South Vietnamese mourn what could have been, but appreciate Americans for fulfilling the obligations of an ally. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War has been a gift because its even-handed retelling of the war has generated renewed discussion of a turning point in world history. The reaction among academics and in the mainstream press, though, has been disheartening with scant diversity of opinion, and almost no input from Vietnamese. Typical of the response has been that of historian Andrew Bacevich, arguing that despite its strengths, The Vietnam War lacked the willingness to interpret and render moral judgments of a war that was “beyond all reason.” Bacevich contends the documentary does not go beyond the truism that the war was a great tragedy. Others argue U.S. intervention was duplicitous (Newsweek) or a crime (The Intercept).

By Tom Le

My mother was a teenager when she made her perilous journey to America as a “boat person.” Undoubtedly hiding from me many of the ugly realities of the Vietnam War, she instead loved to tell me the story of how American soldiers had given two dogs to my grandfather. He became so attached to them that after one of the dogs died protecting my mother from a snake, he used what little money he had for a proper burial.

17 October 2017



His first volume, The Gathering Storm, recounted many instances of failure among the leading figures of the 1930s to appreciate the growing danger of Hitler’s rise to power. Churchill’s history highlighted how the good intentions and virtuous character of Britain, France, and the United States hindered them from taking actions that could very well have prevented a war that claimed the lives of some 60 million people. He marveled at

16 October 2017

When the Commander in Chief Disrespects His Commanders

James Stavridis

Recently, at President Trump's first of these dinners, it was surprising to see him use those senior officers and their spouses as a backdrop for a cryptic comment to the press: "You guys know what this represents? Maybe it's the calm before the storm." When asked what the "storm" was, he responded equally oddly: "You'll find out." Speculation ran wild. Was it a military strike on North Korea? Iran? Venezuela? The White House refused to clarify, citing a desire to keep the enemy guessing. 

15 October 2017

An unabashed defense of the Trump administration’s favorite object of ire.


The defining epithet of the Age of Trump is “globalist.” This is the all-purpose term of abuse that the president and his most fervent supporters hurl at anyone who dissents from their populist agenda. During last year’s campaign, Donald Trump tweeted that the choice was “between Americanism” and Hillary Clinton’s “corrupt globalism.” His former strategist Steve Bannon, who thinks that “the globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia,” was said to call economic advisor Gary Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs, “Globalist Gary.”

Waltzing Toward a Two-Front Global War


A few years ago, a Heritage Foundation analysis argued that the sine qua non of a superpower was the ability to fight two major campaigns in different regions of the globe nearly simultaneously. That same report noted that reduced defense investment and a decade of counterinsurgency campaigns had left the U.S. military unprepared to do so.

13 October 2017

The Ties That Bind: Germany and the United States in a New Era

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel enters her fourth term in office, this publication examines four key areas that could present opportunities for closer cooperation between the US and Germany. More specifically, the topics covered include 1) Washington and Berlin’s roles in NATO as well as burden sharing within the Alliance; 2) the transatlantic community’s response to increased Russian assertiveness; 3) US-German trade relations, including Washington’s trade deficit with Berlin; and 4) how there is significant untapped potential to increase energy sector ties between the two countries.

3 October 2017

Pork Chop Hill: When America and China Went to War in Korea

The tennis-shoed soldiers emerged from the darkness on July 6, 1953, like a “moving carpet of yelling, howling men [with] whistles and bugles blowing, their officers screaming, driving their men” against the Americans as they swept up Hill 255, recalled Private Angelo Palermo.

1 October 2017

The Who, Where, and When of Secession


National self-determination, the principle that US President Woodrow Wilson put on the international agenda in 1918, is generally defined as the right of a people to form its own state. The independence referendums in Iraqi Kurdistan and Catalonia are the latest examples showing why that principle is so often difficult to apply. 

CAMBRIDGE – This week, Kurds in northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence for the country’s Kurdistan Region. With some 30 million Kurds divided among four states (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran), nationalists argue that they deserve the world’s recognition. In Spain, some 7.5 million Catalans have raised the same question.

16 September 2017

*** In Canada, Deep Divisions Brilliantly Managed

By George Friedman

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

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

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

A Country Is Its People

15 September 2017

Does the U.S. Trade Deficit Matter?

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

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

What is a trade deficit?

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

14 September 2017

Trump and the Future of US Grand Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

10 September 2017

The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election


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

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

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

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

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

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

5 September 2017

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

Walter Lohman

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

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

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

3 September 2017

Fascism, American Style

Source Link
Paul Krugman

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

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

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

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

2 September 2017

Time to Terminate Washington's Defense Welfare

Doug Bandow

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

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

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

1 September 2017

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

Anthony H. Cordesman

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

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

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

Afghanistan-Pakistan-US: Radical Redirection – Analysis

By Ajai Sahni*

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

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

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

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

By Fred Kaplan

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

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

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

30 August 2017



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

23 August 2017

China vs. America Managing the Next Clash of Civilizations

By Graham Allison

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

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