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The National Interest online seeks to provide a space for vigorous debate and exchange not only among Americans but between U.S. and overseas interlocutors. This is the new home for informed analysis and frank but reasoned exchanges on foreign policy and international affairs.
22 ноября, 22:18

What's the Latest Direction of the Mueller Investigation?

Jacob Heilbrunn, Daniel McCarthy Politics, North America Jacob Heilbrunn and Daniel McCarthy discuss updates in the Russia investigation and American politics. Editor's Note: In our latest Facebook Live interview (please like our Facebook page to see more of these events) Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the National Interest, and Daniel McCarthy, editor at large of the American Conservative, discuss American politics, Trump and the Russia investigation. Daniel McCarthy recently wrote an article on Mueller’s investigation into Jeff Sessions. A portion of the article can be found below: Every week brings a new “gotcha!” moment from President Donald Trump’s critics in the media and Congress. Right now much of the buzz is all about what Trump and Jeff Sessions knew about campaign underlings’ contacts with Russia in 2016. Has the attorney general been caught lying, even perjuring himself? On Friday, CNN’s Chris Cillizza gave a rundown of Session’s supposed memory lapses or misrepresentations. Asked, “if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign,” Sessions testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January: “I’m not aware of any of those activities.... and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.” Later that month, Sessions responded in the negative to the question, “have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” Read full article

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22 ноября, 19:55

8 Million People Could Die in a Nuclear War with North Korea

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Harry J. Kazianis Security, Asia And that is just for starters.  The last war game, however, was the most shocking of them all. We assumed a similar scenario, with allied forces preparing for a possible invasion, but this time Kim decides to launch a preemptive attack on the U.S. homeland—to take as many people to the grave with him as possible, a goal the North Koreans have declared in the past. In this last war game, North Korea attacks the cities in the second scenario with atomic weapons, but also launches successful nuclear strikes on Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. We were shocked to discover that the combined body count, across Asia and America, came to over three million people—before America’s nuclear counterattack, which would add millions more. After North Korea retaliates with every weapon it has, launching more nuclear attacks along with chemical- and biological-weapons strikes, eight million people have lost their lives. A SPECTER is haunting Washington—the specter of nuclear war with North Korea. The idea that the Trump administration should endorse a military solution—and a full-blown war if necessary—to degrade or destroy North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program is acquiring a new prominence. Advocates of war argue that the time to hit North Korea is now. They say that time is running out, and that Pyongyang will soon perfect its ability to attack America. Their contention is that America can knock out North Korea’s nuclear program with some “shock and awe”–style bolt from the blue. Finally, they say that a war “over there” would be better than the death of innocent Americans “over here.” RECOMMENDED: North Korea Has 200,000 Soldiers in Its Special Forces  Read full article

22 ноября, 18:28

How the Middle East Became Russia's Game, Not America's

Nikolas K. Gvosdev Security, Middle East If Russia can show that its model of transactional bargaining can produce results, expect for Putin to see if he can replicate that success in East Asia. While the U.S. media continues its laser-like focus on the “Twitter battle” between the president of the United States and the father of a college basketball player who was released from detention in China after the personal intercession of Donald Trump with Chinese president Xi Jinping, the geopolitical destiny of the Middle East is being reshaped at Vladimir Putin’s dacha in Sochi. First, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad made a surprise visit at the beginning of the week, to thank Putin for Russian assistance and to pledge his cooperation to Russian-led efforts to produce a settlement—secure in the knowledge that his ouster from power is not one of the preconditions. Then, Putin phoned King Salman of Saudi Arabia, to brief him on the discussions—and to hear about Saudi efforts to support personnel changes in the roster of the leadership of the Syrian opposition, in an effort to remove or sideline the most vociferous opponents of any accommodation with Assad. Finally, the Iranian and Turkish presidents arrived in Sochi for a trilateral Russia-Iran-Turkey conclave to discuss the Syrian transition process. Putin did call Trump to provide the White House with a readout of events, but the tone was unmistakable: Moscow was briefing Washington as a courtesy, but not looking for American guidance or permission—or even participation. Reaction in the United States generally follows one of three predictable patterns: the “let them handle the problem if they want it” approach, which builds on the “America First” mindset; the “Russia is going to fail” prediction, which argues that the United States need not worry, because Moscow can’t get the job done; or the moralizing denunciations of any dealing with the butcher of Damascus. What all three of these approaches share in common is a recognition that the United States is not willing to invest serious skin in the Syrian endgame other than tinkering at the margins. What is more critical, however, is that the actors upon whom so much of U.S. policy in the past rested are changing their approach—and allegiance. Read full article

22 ноября, 17:44

Lost World War I History: Mexico Nearly Invaded America in 1917

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Michael Peck Security, Did you know this?  Short of Kaiser Wilhelm’s spike-helmeted legions storming New York and Baltimore, there was no way Mexico could seized the southwestern United States. Yet this didn’t matter to Germany. What Mexico could do was tie down American troops and equipment that otherwise would have been sent to Europe. Not that many U.S. troops would have been needed to stop a Mexican invasion, though recent history warns that many, many troops would have been needed to occupy Mexico. But a second Mexican-American war could easily have triggered a disproportionate response, as the American public demanded that the troops stay home and defend the nation. It was one hundred years ago when Mexico almost invaded the United States. In January 1917, German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann dispatched a coded telegram to Heinrich von Eckardt, the German ambassador to Mexico. With Germany locked in bloody stalemate with the Allies in France, and Britain’s naval blockade strangling the German economy, Kaiser Wilhelm’s government was about to make a fateful decision: declare unrestricted submarine warfare, which would allow U-boats to sink merchant ships on sight. RECOMMENDED: North Korea Has 200,000 Soldiers in Its Special Forces  That also meant sinking the ships of neutral powers, most especially the United States, which would likely respond by declaring war on Germany. But Zimmermann had instructions for his ambassador: “We make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.” RECOMMENDED: How America Would Wage a War Against North Korea  (This first appeared several months ago.)  This was the famous Zimmermann Telegram. Decoded by the British, who passed it on to  the Americans, it became a justification—along with unrestricted submarine warfare—for the U.S. declaration of war on Germany in April 1917. Read full article

22 ноября, 17:34

This Is the Story of the Secret Ex-Nazi Army That Guarded West Germany

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Michael Peck History, Europe Facts you may not know.  The secret army was the brainchild of Albert Schnez, a former Wehrmacht colonel who later became an official in the Bundeswehr. Along with other German war veterans just after the war, he worried what would happen if the Soviets invaded. West Germany had no army until 1955, and America demobilized much its own military in 1945, leaving Western Europe vulnerable to Soviet conquest. If the Soviets had invaded West Germany in the early days of the Cold War, they would have found more than a hodgepodge of NATO troops waiting for them. They would also have confronted a secret army of Hitler’s former soldiers, waiting to settle scores with the Communists. Considering the brutal, take-no-prisoners warfare on the Eastern Front in World War II, former German SS troopers fighting vengeful Red Army troops—again—would have been the height of savagery. The German magazine Der Spiegel discovered a file buried for years in the archives of the BND, Germany’s spy agency. The documents reveal that in 1949, some 2,000 former officers of the SS and the Wehrmacht—the regular German military under the Third Reich—formed a secret paramilitary army that might have numbered as many as 40,000 fighters in the event of war. The Allied occupation forces didn’t know about it. If they did, they would have discovered the involvement of several former Nazi generals who would later become senior commanders in the Bundeswehr, West Germany’s army. RECOMMENDED: North Korea Has 200,000 Soldiers in Its Special Forces  The underground army was apparently supported by former Third Reich generals such as Hans Speidel, who became chief of NATO ground forces in Central Europe in 1957, and Adolf Heusinger, the first inspector general of the Bundeswehr. Read full article

22 ноября, 15:42

Why North Korea Is Destined to Test More ICBMs and Nuclear Weapons

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Asia Times Security, Asia The next step for the Kim regime is to test its ICBMs further, as the Hwasong-14 has only undergone one ballistic launch and is pending a full-scale, full-range test to ensure its reliability. The North Korean regime seems to have been unusually quiet lately, as it has been more than two months since it reportedly detonated its first hydrogen bomb on September 3, in its sixth nuclear test this year. But the rogue country’s capricious leader Kim Jong-un could resume his missile launches and nuclear buildup any day. Concerned nations should brace themselves before he sends another shockwave across the globe. So, what’s next for Pyongyang after its astounding announcement that it has developed a miniaturized H-bomb prototype small enough to fit into the warheads of its indigenous intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)? RECOMMENDED: North Korea Has 200,000 Soldiers in Its Special Forces  A close examination of Pyongyang’s defiant tests over the past years reveals that it wants everything, from solid-fuel-propelled short-to-medium-range missiles, ICBMs and atomic bombs all the way to H-bombs, and ultimately, thermonuclear weapons that can be fired with powerful rockets to hit targets in the contiguous United States. The next step for the Kim regime is to test its ICBMs further, as the Hwasong-14 has only undergone one ballistic launch and is pending a full-scale, full-range test to ensure its reliability. RECOMMENDED: How America Would Wage a War Against North Korea  Step 2 is to develop multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles with more than one warhead, each capable of being aimed to hit a different target. If that is the case, then Tokyo can expect more North Korean missiles piercing its airspace and hitting targets in the northwestern Pacific, since any missile fired from North Korea with a range of more than 3,000 kilometers will fly over Japanese territory, either across northern Hokkaido or Honshu or even directly over Tokyo, should Kim favor a showdown with Japan, as noted in a Kanwa Defense Review analysis. RECOMMENDED: How the U.S. Navy Could Crush China in a War Read full article

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22 ноября, 15:30

F-35: Soon To Be The Ultimate Tank Killer?

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Kris Osborn Security, The Air Force is already working on an emerging 4th F-35 "software drop" designed to enable the stealth multi-role fighter to fire an even wider range of emerging weapons. The Air Force is already working on an emerging 4th F-35 "software drop" designed to enable the stealth multi-role fighter to fire an even wider range of emerging weapons such as the new, high-tech Small Diameter Bomb II. Following the drop of the now-operational 3F, the aircraft will incorporate new software drops in two-year increments in order to stay ahead of new threats - and service developers say a 4th software drop will be ready by 2020 or 2021. Block 4 will include some unique partner weapons including British weapons, Turkish weapons and some of the other European country’s weapons that they want to get on their own plane, service officials explained. A big part of the developmental calculus for Block 4 is to work on the kinds of enemy air defense systems and weaponry the aircraft may face from the 2020’s through the 2040’s and beyond. RECOMMENDED: North Korea Has 200,000 Soldiers in Its Special Forces  In terms of weapons, Block 4 will eventually enable the F-35 to fire cutting edge weapons systems such as the Small Diameter Bomb II – an air-dropped bomb able to destroy targets on-the-move. While the Air Force currently uses a laser-guided bomb called the GBU-54 able to destroy moving targets, the new SDB II will be able to do this at longer ranges and in all kinds of weather conditions. In addition, the SDB II is built with a two-way, dual-band data link which enables it to change targets or adjust to different target locations while in flight. RECOMMENDED: How America Would Wage a War Against North Korea  The Small Diameter Bomb II uses a technology called a tri-mode seeker, drawing from infrared, millimeter wave and laser-guidance. The combination of these sensors allows the weapon to track and eliminate moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions from long distances. A tri-mode seeker provides a range of guidance and targeting options typically not used together in one system. Millimeter wave radar gives the weapon an ability to navigate through adverse weather, conditions in which other guidance systems might encounter problems reaching or pinpointing targets. Read full article

22 ноября, 04:59

Russia's Army Just Upgraded Some of Its 'Big Guns' That Once Fired Nuclear Weapons

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Dave Majumdar Security, Should NATO be worried?  The Russian Ground Forces have taken delivery of the first batch of modernized 2C4 Tulip self-propelled 240mm mortars. The 1960s-era weapons were upgraded with new datalinks, communications gear and fire control systems. Russia eventually hopes to modernize all 500 of the vehicles it has in storage. “In the course of deep modernization, modern control and communication facilities are installed in the combat vehicles,” reads a Russian Ministry of Defense statement. “Before being sent to the troops, all of the examples were inspected under the supervision of military officers.” Though the 2C4 has a nuclear mission in the past, it is primarily an infantry support weapon designed to destroy fortified positions. RECOMMENDED: North Korea Has 200,000 Soldiers in Its Special Forces  “It had a nuclear mission, but realistically this is a heavy mortar for destroying fixed positions,” Mike Kofman, a research scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses specializing in Russian military affairs, told The National Interest. “Its main advantage is that it can bring a very high explosive mortar round to the fight from a distinctly advantageous angle of attack.” RECOMMENDED: How America Would Wage a War Against North Korea  Modernizing an existing weapon is cheaper than building an entirely new vehicle to so the same job. “Russia is upgrading these heavy mortars and probably taking them back from the reserves to active service,” Vasily Kashin, a senior fellow at the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics told The National Interest. Read full article

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22 ноября, 04:39

Trump Should Avoid Believing the Myths of the JCPOA

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Mahsa Rouhi Security, Middle East Trump should embrace the fundamental merits—and not be distracted with the myths—of the JCPOA. President Trump’s recent presidential “decertification” of the nuclear agreement with Iran—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—has reignited the debate over its merits. As a result of President Trump’s move, Congress is now tasked with determining the critical next steps on whether or not to reimpose sanctions on Iran. Last month, Senator Bob Corker released a statement, calling for a bipartisan effort toward “fixing the Iran deal.” These assessments of the Iran nuclear deal as being flawed are centered on two myths: (1) the JCPOA contributed to more aggressive Iranian regional behavior; and (2) the agreement’s sunset clauses diminish its current value. Regarding the first myth, many in Washington argue that JCPOA unleashed Iran on the region, and that the Obama administration held back its responses to avoid jeopardizing the negotiations and ultimate deal. However, a closer examination of recent regional developments since the JCPOA reveals a different picture. The changing scope—the increasing influence and involvement—of Iran in regional affairs is unrelated to the JCPOA. If anything, the JCPOA shifted Iran’s foreign-policy strategy in a less assertive direction, since Iran acted more aggressively to garner more leverage throughout nuclear deal negotiations. The U.S. response to Iran is also better explained by changes in U.S. strategy. With the Obama administration, U.S. grand strategy shifted its focus toward Asia before the negotiations ever got underway. Moreover, President Obama was interested in avoiding escalating conflict and war as well as decreasing U.S. involvement in the Middle East due mostly to the domestic political environment with an American public growing more and more weary of U.S. interventions in the Middle East. Despite Trump’s tough rhetoric (he has repeatedly stated that he does not want to start another war in the Middle East), and though he would be loath to admit it, on this point, his inclinations are much closer to President Obama’s than they are to George W. Bush. Read full article

22 ноября, 04:36

Israel's Greatest Fear: An Arms Race Sparked by the F-35

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Shimon Arad Security, Middle East The release of F-35s to the Gulf states is a fundamental military game-changer. In a June 2017 article in the National Interest, I advocated that the United States provide Israel a long-lasting regional monopoly on the F-35 joint strike fighter. My line of argument was that since Israel’s aerial superiority—which remains critical to its Qualitative Military Edge (QME)—is already being seriously eroded through the sale of large quantities of advanced U.S.-made fighters and munitions to the Gulf states, Israel’s only real advantage would be through the exclusivity of its F-35 “Adir” fighters. The Israeli belief that it would be, for a considerable amount of time, the sole regional recipient of the fifth-generation F-35 played a significant role in its acquiescence to the sale of large numbers of advanced fourth-generation fighters to the Gulf states under the Obama administration. Time and time again, Israel was reassured that the sale of F-35s to the Gulf states was not on the table. Now, however, it appears that the Trump administration is actively considering the potential sale of the F-35 to the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. Air Force’s vice chief of staff, Stephen Wilson, recently confirmed that the Department of Defense has begun preliminary talks with the UAE on this issue. RECOMMENDED: North Korea Has 200,000 Soldiers in Its Special Forces  While a final decision on any such sale is still far off, recent reports based on what appears to be orchestrated off-the-record briefings by the administration and/or industry officials, represent the opening shot in the drive to gain approval for the sale. Read full article

22 ноября, 04:35

Why Trump Will Have to Pay for Winning the War Against ISIS

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John Richard Cookson Security, Middle East Significant progress has been made against ISIS, but the goal for the Trump administration now is to add to that accomplishment. Praise between members of opposing political parties is so rare these days that it should be highlighted when it does occur. Last month, President Obama’s foreign-affairs adviser, Ben Rhodes, was asked at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs what he thought President Trump’s biggest success abroad was so far. Rhodes, a sharp critic of the president and Republicans, thought for a moment, then responded: “There has been significant progress against ISIS.” He’s right, and he could go even further. The campaign against ISIS is something of an anomaly. So far, nearly all of the Trump administration’s foreign-policy initiatives fall into one of two buckets: “in progress” or “not yet in progress.” The NAFTA negotiations and State Department restructuring, both ongoing, both fall into the first bucket. A raft of new bilateral trade deals, recommended but queued up for consideration behind NAFTA, would fall into the second bucket. This division is to be expected only a few months into office. Foreign policy takes time. But it also means that, to date, the Trump administration has not had to deal with the consequences of success—with the outcome of policies planned, implemented, done and dusted. That is, except for with ISIS. Categorically, ISIS has not yet been defeated in Syria and Iraq. But the so-called Islamic State has been degraded to an astounding extent in the last few months. Iraqi and Syrian forces are steadily pushing toward their shared border. ISIS holds a dissolving sliver of land. With a whimper, the terrorist group is falling apart as fighters surrender or desert. At the same time, each of the major players in the region—Damascus, Baghdad, Riyadh and Tehran, as well as Washington and now Moscow—is increasingly shifting its attention and resources elsewhere. As a focal point for nearly all sides to rally against, the Islamic State’s time has come and gone. Nor is the degradation of Islamic State due solely to a stepped-up U.S. military effort. Bashar al-Assad’s regime, supported by Russia and Iran, wrought much of the violence and destruction in Syria. In Iraq, Baghdad’s army carried out most of the on-the-ground fighting against ISIS, even when trained and aided by U.S. troops. Kurdish forces in both countries have also been essential. Read full article

22 ноября, 04:32

The U.S. Army Is Selling Some of Its Most Powerful Guns (and You Can Buy One)

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Task and Purpose, Jared Keller Security, The U.S. Army plans on selling off its remaining arsenal of M1911 pistols. The .45 ACP M1911A1 pistol has served the U.S. armed forces for more than a century in every war zone and hotspot on the planet — and thanks to this year’s federal defense budget, it will serve civilians for the foreseeable future. The $700 billion 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that Congress sent to President Donald Trump’s desk on Nov. 16 included an amendment that required the Secretary of the Army to transfer a cache of small arms and ammo “no longer actively issued for military service” to the government-sponsored Civilian Marksmanship Program, including the M1911 and M1911A1 pistols, the M–1 Garand, and .22 rimfire rifles. The 1911 semiautomatic pistol, invented by legendary firearms inventor John Moses Browning, proved extremely reliable in the hands of American Expeditionary Forces during the opening years of World War I. According to the National Interest, Army Sergeant Alvin C. York neutralized six German soldiers who charged him with fixed bayonets using nothing but his 1911, earning the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor and heroism. Although the 1911A1 variant that emerged in the U.S. after WWI was phased out of regular military service in favor of the Beretta 92 pistol (aka the M9) starting in 1985, its power persists. The Marine Corps ordered 12,000 M45A1 Close Quarter Battle Pistols, a 1911-modeled firearm from Colt Defense in 2014; the pistols went to MARSOC Raiders, with a handful going to special operations-capable Marine Expeditionary Units. Read full article