Biden’s National Security

President-elect Joe Biden is still in the process of picking his cabinet and advisers…..this time it is his NatSec team….

Declaring “America is back,” President-elect Joe Biden introduced his national security team on Tuesday, his first substantive offering of how he’ll shift from Trump-era “America First” policies by relying on experts from the Democratic establishment to be some of his most important advisers. “Together, these public servants will restore America globally, its global leadership and its moral leadership,” Biden said from a theater in Wilmington, Delaware. “It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it.” The nominees are all Washington veterans with ties to former President Barack Obama’s administration, a sign of Biden’s effort to resume some form of normalcy after the tumult of President Trump’s four years in office.

Biden’s nominees were a clear departure from Trump, whose Cabinet has largely consisted of men, almost all of them white, the AP reports. Biden’s picks included several women and people of color, some of whom would break barriers if confirmed to their new positions They stood behind Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris spaced apart and wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

  • The president-elect’s team includes Antony Blinken, a veteran foreign policy hand well-regarded on Capitol Hill whose ties to Biden go back some 20 years, for secretary of state; lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to be homeland security secretary; veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be US ambassador to the United Nations; and Obama White House alumnus Jake Sullivan as national security adviser.
  • Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, was picked to serve as director of national intelligence, the first woman to hold that post, and former Secretary of State John Kerry will make a curtain call as a special envoy on climate change. Kerry and Sullivan’s positions will not require Senate confirmation.
  • Biden said his choices “reflect the idea that we cannot meet these challenges with old thinking and unchanged habits.” He said he tasked them with reasserting global and moral leadership, a clear swipe at Trump, who has resisted many traditional foreign alliances.
  • Biden celebrated the diversity of his picks, offering a particularly poignant tribute to Thomas-Greenfield. The eldest of eight children who grew up in segregated Louisiana, she was the first to graduate from high school and college in her family. The diplomat, in turn, said that with his selections, Biden is achieving much more than a changing of the guard.
  • Mayorkas, who is Cuban American, offered a nod to his immigrant upbringing. “My father and mother brought me to this country to escape communism,” he said. “They cherished our democracy, and were intensely proud to become United States citizens, as was I.”

“Cannot change things with old thinking”?

Seriously?

Everyone there is old school Dems

Once again Biden proves that he has NO intention in “changing” things.

More bullshit from the president-elect.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

War On Terror

I remember after the 9/11 attacks and the beginning of the War on Terror…..do you?

The question was posed….are we better off today than we were in 2001?

$6 trillion (that is trillion with a “T”) and the answer in most quarters is ….NO!

After all these years…the ordinances used and the people lost and we are not any better off?

But the M-IC is pushing hard to keep troops around the world as a deterrent to terrorism….is it really worth the cost….in lives and equipment?

The national security establishment is pushing against the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan by President Trump following almost two decades of combat. Even Republicans are warning Trump that he is repeating one of the foreign policy mistakes of Barack Obama.

One of the most astonishing recent arguments against a withdrawal from Afghanistan was made by former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who said that terrorist groups that “pose a threat to us are stronger now” than they were before 9/11. He said the United States faces Al Qaeda and Islamic State alumni who are “orders of magnitude greater” than before and who “have access to much more destructive capabilities.”

How are we worse off than 2001? According to the Watson Institute, the war on terror has cost the United States over $6 trillion, 800,000 people have died as a direct result of the violence of these conflicts, and nearly 38 million people have been displaced or made refugees. According to the Washington Post, some 775,000 American forces have been sent to Afghanistan since 2001, and more than 2,000 of them died.

The United States poured billions of dollars into reconstruction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan under the notion that economic development would check the growth of terrorism. Yet after all this blood and treasure, one of the most senior American officials and a former combat general in the war on terror says Al Qaeda is stronger than it was before 9/11.

https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/518204-the-truth-about-the-war-on-terror

Let’s look at another one of those made up wars that has done little…..the War On Drugs.

By contrast that “war” has been raging for damn near 50 years and about $1 trillion wasted with no end in sight….we just keep wasting money chasing some imaginary victory.

In my opinion and others as well…the War on Terror has wasted lives and money and has not accomplished a victory after $6 trillion (that is trillion with a “T”)…..

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“lego ergo scribo”

Biden And NatSec

As usual the new president-elect will have to deal with the problems we face internationally and our National Security….continuing my series at the appearance of the Biden policies we all will have to live with for the next 4 years.

As a foreign policy/international relations geek I would like to take an early look at what Joe Biden may have planned for this policy…..

What better source to quote than that of the Military Times?

Biden, who was elected to the Senate exactly 48 years ago to the day he was named winner of the presidential election, is no stranger to international leadership and has a long track record on international relations and national security issues. Here are a few of his selected positions and how they differ from Trump.

The defense budget: Biden has said that Trump “abandoned all fiscal discipline when it comes to defense spending,” and while he doesn’t foresee major U.S. defense cuts if elected, he will be facing pressure from the left to scale back. To affordably deter Russia and China, Biden said he would shift investments from “legacy systems that won’t be relevant” to “smart investments in technologies and innovations — including in cyber, space, unmanned systems and artificial intelligence.” He also wants to boost neglected nonmilitary investments, such as “diplomacy, economic power, education, and science and technology.”

Personal relationship to the military: Biden, a Blue Star father whose son deployed to Iraq while he served alongside President Barack Obama, made national unity and international cooperation key tenets of his campaign, along with a vow to better handle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has killed more than 250,000 Americans. In recent weeks, he also promised better treatment and more respect for troops and veterans, arguing that Trump has dismissed and devalued their sacrifices through his actions in office.

(not to worry there is more….read more…..)

https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2020/11/07/where-president-elect-joe-biden-stands-on-national-security-issues/

I will be looking at Biden’s policies for his upcoming administration……this will let my readers know where he is standing and where his policies will lead this country.

Be Smart!

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I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–21Sep20

Those hated immigrants!

DoD cost cutting program…..

I am always going on and on about the money that is wasted by the Pentagon in the name of national security….but I never considered this as a way to do so…..

A Democratic lawmaker wants the Pentagon to buy American when it comes to its Military Working Dog program.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut included an amendment in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that would require the U.S. Air Force, which oversees the Pentagon’s program, to conduct a business case study on what it would take to purchase dogs from U.S. breeders instead of European sources.

“I was surprised to learn from the Air Force that the vast majority of our working dogs are actually born and bred in Europe, which raises costs and puts us in competition with other countries,” Blumenthal said in a statement to Military.com on Wednesday. Bloomberg News was first to report the story.

“I wanted to do what I could to help establish a strong program to breed working dogs here at home, where we already have an expert training program. Our provision in this year’s NDAA takes the first step toward that goal by assessing what resources are necessary for the Department of Defense to meet increasing demands for military working dogs by supporting American breeders,” he said.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/09/18/us-military-working-dogs-should-be-american-born-senator-says.html

You know I have a better idea and it will save a lot more cash than worrying about the immigrant status of our canine soldiers.

Try ending all these goddamn useless wars that we have been fighting for two decades…..this would save trillions not some piddling amount in the millions.  But as usual when it comes to the Pentagon it is chump change and not real cost cutting.

Just A Thought!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

He Is Just Not Qualified!

Closing thought–17Aug20

That seems to be a major theme running throughout the Trump administration…..at this point we could be talking about many within the White House

Trump has an actor from a TV show as an economic adviser….He has a family member that is his foreign policy adviser that would not recognize foreign policy if it bit him in has ass…..then there is a major donor that gets the Postal Service…….. and the list goes on and on…..

The latest unqualified person to get a seat at the big table in the White House is the newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf……

The top two officials in the Department of Homeland Security were improperly appointed to the posts under federal law by the Trump administration, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog said Friday. The Government Accountability Office says acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and his acting deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, are ineligible to run the agency under the Vacancy Reform Act, per the AP. GAO said it has asked the DHS inspector general to review the situation and determine if the violation affects decisions they have taken at a time when Homeland Security has been at the forefront of key administration initiatives on immigration and law enforcement. Both men should resign, said the Democratic chairs of the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

“GAO’s damning opinion paints a disturbing picture of the Trump Administration playing fast and loose by bypassing the Senate confirmation process to install ideologues,” Reps. Bennie Thompson and Carolyn Maloney said in a statement. DHS had no immediate comment. The GAO analysis traces the violation back to a tumultuous period at DHS in 2019 when Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned. It found that she was improperly replaced by Kevin McAleenan under the rules governing succession in federal agencies. McAleenan altered the rules of succession after he was subsequently removed, but GAO’s legal analysis concluded that the later appointments of Wolf and Cuccinelli were invalid. DHS is the third-largest Cabinet agency, with about 240,000 employees.

https://www.businessinsider.com/watchdog-says-acting-dhs-chief-not-legally-eligible-serve-role-2020-8

The only qualification one needs to be part of the Trump White House is to be an ass kisser and a yes man…

And now you know why our standing in the world sucks so bad….we have NO ONE capable of putting this country on the right path….or even to return it to it’s former self.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Flynn–The Case That Will Not Go Away

No that is not Errol Flynn…..this is that criminal the Trump tried to force onto the nation as a natsec adviser…..after pleading guilty he has decided that he will change his tune…..and there are several views of this situation…..

Michael Flynn is trying to get his case dismissed, with his lawyers arguing that newly released FBI documents show that agents set him up before interviewing him in 2017. “What is our goal?” reads one handwritten note. “Truth and admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” The former national security adviser eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the Trump transition to the White House. Here are some early takes on the new developments, from both sides:

  • Unfair: At Bloomberg, Eli Lake writes the FBI went after Flynn over obscure violations under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse, as they say, but at the same time justice demands that the law be applied fairly and consistently,” he writes. “Flynn was being squeezed for crimes that are rarely, if ever, enforced. He relented only under financial pressure and a promise that his son, who worked with him in his consulting group, would not be prosecuted.” Lake wonders if Democrats would be so quick to forgive the FBI tactics if the target were in the Obama administration.
  • Not unfair: The idea he was “set up” is absurd, writes Randall D. Eliason at the Washington Post.Any witness interviewed by the FBI has essentially three choices: tell the truth, lie, or assert the right to remain silent,” he writes. “The FBI had no way of knowing which option Flynn would choose when he walked into the interview. All Flynn had to do was tell the truth, or tell the agents he wasn’t comfortable talking to them. He chose instead to lie.”
  • Dismiss: Toss the case, writes law professor Jonathan Turley at the Hill. “These new documents further undermine the view of both the legitimacy and motivations of those investigations under former FBI director James Comey,” he writes. “For all of those who have long seen a concerted effort within the Justice Department to target the Trump administration, the fragments will read like a Dead Sea Scrolls version of a ‘deep state’ conspiracy.”
  • Business as usual: Actually, “framing what happened to Flynn primarily as a ‘deep state’ conspiracy to take down Trump obscures the reality that this is a routine and completely legal FBI practice that will continue unless there are serious statutory reforms,” writes at Scott Shackford at Reason. He points to a similar tactic used against Martha Stewart. “What the agency did to Flynn was wrong, not because he worked for Trump, but because it is wrong to induce an otherwise not-guilty person to break the law,” argues Shackford. “And it’s something FBI interviewers do regularly so that they can use their dishonesty as leverage when there’s little evidence of actual criminal behavior.”

Then there is the “pardon” by the president that is always dangling out there…..but if a person accepts the pardon then they are admitting that they are guilty of the crimes they have been charged with…..

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

What The Burning Hell Has Happened To National Security?

It is so very sad what is happening to this nation’s national security…..and the sad state of our NatSec can be blamed on the president…..

Bill Taylor, the US’s chief envoy in Ukraine, revealed on Wednesday that a member of his staff overheard a conversation in Ukraine between President Donald Trump and Gordon Sondland, the US’s ambassador to the EU.

According to Taylor, the conversation happened at a restaurant in Kyiv and the volume was apparently loud enough that they were overheard.

Sondland was almost certainly spied on while talking to the president in that restaurant, Politico reported. But this incident is just one out of many in which Trump or the people around him have compromised US national security.

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-trump-administration-puts-national-security-at-risk-2019-11

Then Newsweek takes a shot at Trump and his failure with our NatSec……

“The President is a threat to our national security, the integrity of our elections, and the rule of law. Every day he remains in office is an unacceptable risk,” Richard Primus wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night. Primus is a law professor at the University of Michigan.

“I’m a big reasonable-disagreement guy. But sometimes there’s a right side and wrong side. Now is one of those times,” he added.

https://www.newsweek.com/trump-threat-national-security-constitutional-professor-says-1462631

I know that rabid Trump supporters will take exception to these points……but think about it….blind faith has destroyed a many empire…..

I read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Let’s Talk National Security

National Security is always a good reliable political prop….my favorite is “all options are on the table”…..

From here on we shall call it NatSec…

What is it? This NatSec thing.

National security is a corporate term covering both national defense and foreign relations of the U.S. It refers to the protection of a nation from attack or other danger by holding adequate armed forces and guarding state secrets. The term national security encompasses within it economic security, monetary security, energy security, environmental security, military security, political security and security of energy and natural resources. Specifically, national security means a circumstance that exists as a result of a military or defense advantage over any foreign nation or group of nations, or a friendly foreign relations position, or a defense position capable of successfully protesting hostile or destructive action.

Or another look……

National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic power, diplomacy, power projection and political power. The concept developed mostly in the United States of America after World War II. Initially focusing on military might, it now encompasses a broad range of facets, all of which impinge on the non military or economic security of the nation and the values espoused by the national society. Accordingly, in order to possess national security, a nation needs to possess economic security, energy security, environmental security, etc. Security threats involve not only conventional foes such as other nation-states but also non-state actors such as violent non-state actors, narcotic cartels, multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations; some authorities include natural disasters and events causing severe environmental damage in this category. Measures taken to ensure national security include: ⁕using diplomacy to rally allies and isolate threats ⁕marshaling economic power to facilitate or compel cooperation ⁕maintaining effective armed forces ⁕implementing civil defense and emergency preparedness measures

Matters not which definition one prefers….the fact is we will soon pick a president and so far NatSec has not shown its head in the debates….if it is so damn important then why not?

… national interests are the DNA of strategy and the underlying structure upon which every nation bases its strategic thinking.  To understand America’s current actions on the international stage requires a look deeper than the partisan-inspired rhetoric in the headlines. One way to approach this is to elevate the discussion beyond threats and adversaries to an analysis of national interests.  Interests drive political decision-making and help us understand U.S. foreign policy. They describe the “why,” reveal the underlying logic, and provide the standards of measurement upon which to base decisions.

Strategic thinkers with military backgrounds often tend to fixate on threats.  Without question, at the tactical and operational level, threats provide a valuable lens.  However, when facing strategic-level complex adaptive problems, such as great power competition and trans-regional violent extremism, a focus solely on threats could quickly lead to miscalculation and loss of focus.  If this occurs, the U.S. could find itself trying to chasing competitors everywhere, thereby remaining reactive instead of proactive, hence, strategically adrift.   

Beyond this, discussion of interests is valuable because it helps strategic thinkers approach problems with a more open mind.  Fundamentally, if strategic thinkers focus on interests it helps move beyond one-dimensional discussions on positions.  Positions change, interests are less dynamic and remain more stable over time.  Where positions are solutions, interests reveal the concerns, desires, and motives that underpin those positions.

https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/starting-why-national-security-strategy-and-americas-national-interests

Maybe if candidates put more emphasis on NatSec we could start a real conversation about it…instead of platitudes.

https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2020/01/14/national-security-has-barely-made-the-debate-stage-here-comes-the-iran-crisis/

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–17Jan20

I think most Americans agree that this Iranian general was a “bad guy”….and it is a matter opinion on whether he deserved assassination….my opinion is that he did not especially since he was carrying some peace offering to the Saudis.

There seems to be a disconnect between the officials and the American people…..a new poll shows the divide…..

A new poll from Politico-Morning Consult shows the American public substantially less on board with escalatory violence against Iran than media coverage of the situation would generally lead one to believe.

The poll showed the decision to assassinate top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was highly controversial. Despite weeks of vilifying Soleimani, only 44% support his killing, and 38% continue to disapprove.

There was a lot more unity on the response to Iran’s retaliation for the killing, with 71% approving of not responding militarily to that, and only 14% disapproving. It seems further escalating the conflict is something almost nobody wanted.

(antiwar.com)

That said….the president and his boyz have said that the US embassies were in danger is one reason he was taken out…..okay but so far their explanations have been far short of convincing…..and since their story has fallen apart the Pentagon has decided that Congress does not need that briefing they were promised…..

The State Department’s cancellation of two classified congressional briefings to address embassy security and Iran policy sparked lawmakers’ ire in Wednesday, according to Politico.

“This briefing is required by law every month, and today’s was the most important we’ve had scheduled in a long time,” a House aide told the publication. “The State Department has given us no explanation whatsoever.”

Several senior Foggy Bottom officials — including Brian Hook, special envoy for Iran, and David Schenker, assistant secretary of State for the Middle East — were scheduled to brief the Senate Foreign Relations Committee prior to the cancellation, Politico reported, citing a Senate aide.

Initially the embassy security briefing was to address conditions in the East African nation of Burundi, but the topic was broadened to general facility security amid U.S./Iran tensions following the U.S. killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike.

The White House initially claimed the strike was in response to an unspecified imminent threat posed by Soleimani, but President Trump later told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that Soleimani was plotting attacks on four U.S. embassies, which contradicted a briefing that administration officials gave lawmakers in the aftermath of the strike. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday conceded that he had not seen intelligence showing an imminent embassy attack.

(thehill.com)

Just thought you might like to know the rest of the story……

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Rest Easy, We Have A NatSec Adviser

With Bolton gone there is the hope (by some me not included ) that there will be a reset of American foreign policy…..

Tom Wright makes the case that Trump is about to make a “foreign policy pivot”:

Trump wants to write a new chapter, closing the one marked “Militarism and Maximum Pressure” and opening one called “Dealmaking and the Pursuit of the Nobel Peace Prize.” He wants a summit with Iran’s leaders and deals with the Taliban, Kim Jong Un, and Vladimir Putin on arms control. He does not care about most of the details, as long as he gets the credit.

Few of his officials are particularly enthusiastic about this pivot, but led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, they accept it and will seek to shape it.

The pivot metaphor has been used many times during Trump’s presidency to describe an impending change in direction, but the pivots never seem to take place. Like the expectation that Trump will eventually grow and learn while in office, the expectation that the president will become more responsible in his policies is always disappointed. It would make sense for Trump to deescalate tensions with Iran after creating the current crisis, but I see no evidence that he really intends to do this. Trump absolutely should extend New START, and without Bolton acting as an anti-arms control gremlin he could do this, but there has been no sign of interest in keeping the treaty alive. Trump should conclude negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan, but he just blew up the negotiations earlier this week. Negotiating with Iran requires ending “maximum pressure,” but so far the post-Bolton line from the administration is that “maximum pressure” isn’t going anywhere:

A Foreign Policy Pivot? I Wouldn’t Bet On It

A reset?  Not a chance!

The village peasants may now rest easy.

The revolving door at the NatSec desk is still working….Bolton Out now O’Brien in…..

President Trump has named hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien to be his new national security adviser, reports the AP. Trump tweeted Wednesday that he has “worked long & hard” with O’Brien and that “he will do a great job!” Trump’s announcement about O’Brien comes a week after he ousted John Bolton from the national security adviser’s post, citing policy disagreements. Bolton was Trump’s third national security adviser

He is a professional….maybe not my idea of a good choice but Hell NO one asked me….but that said where does he stand on some of the major issue of the day?

O’Brien – a fierce critic of former President Barack Obama – published a collection of his national security essays in 2016 called “While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis.”

Here are passages from his book that shed light on some of his views:

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-trump-adviser-obrien-factbox/factbox-trumps-new-national-security-adviser-in-his-own-words-idUKKBN1W32P2

While he may be a pro he is in direct opposition to Trump’s ideas for making American great again….will he adjust his opinions to conform with the president or will he be a short lived adviser?

Since the only thing on Trump’s mind these days is KSA and Iran and O’Brien fits nicely with Trump’s position…..

O’Brien was a critic of the Iran nuclear deal, and sees Iran’s nuclear programme as a major threat.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world and is building an archipelago across the Middle East using proxies and Revolutionary Guard forces from Yemen to Syria to Lebanon.”

We will see if he makes the transition from Neocon to Trump thug.

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“Lego Ergo Scribo”