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.
23 июня, 03:45

Why Boeing’s Block III F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Is About to Become a Reality

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Dave Majumdar Security, With the Navy officially requesting funding this year for the Block III, an advanced Super Hornet is no longer a notional project. With the United States Navy struggling to make up a shortfall in its strike fighter inventory, the future looks bright for Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler. The Navy plans to order at least 80 additional Super Hornets over the next five years including 14 jets in the fiscal year 18 budget request—and there could be more to come. Moreover, as it is becoming increasingly apparent that the F/A-18E/F will be serving in the fleet until at least 2040, the Navy has requested funding for an advanced Block III version of the venerable Super Hornet in the 2018 budget. Many of those modifications are also likely to be used onboard the EA-18G Growler variant too. The Navy needs enough aircraft in its inventory to have the capacity to fill out its air wings—particularly if the size of the fleet is increased. “Boeing thinks they probably need a few more airplanes in order to have the right number of tails to last out into the 2040s given the current force structure,” Dan Gillian, Boeing’s F/A-18 and EA-18G program manager told The National Interest. “So we weren’t surprised to see the ten Super Hornets added as the number one item on the FY18 unfunded priorities list.” Boeing is planning to build the F/A-18 at a rate of two jets per month—slower than it has historically—but the Navy is also purchasing fewer jets per year than during the program’s heyday in the 2000s. But given the projected Navy buy, a total of 80 new Super Hornets should keep the production line open into the mid-2020s. However, Boeing sees the need for more foreign and domestic F/A-18s, which Gillian said could drive the production rate back up. Indeed, the company projects that the Navy could order as many as 150 additional Super Hornets and 30 Growlers in total over the next several years in order to fill out its air wings. Moreover, if Trump’s defense expansion materializes, the Navy might need even more aircraft. Meanwhile, Boeing is working with the Navy to extend the life of its existing Super Hornets with the Service Life Modification Program. The SLMP will extend the F/A-18E/F airframe’s life from a projected 6000 hours out to 9000 hours. “That’s another way we can help them have the right capacity for the future,” Gillian said. Read full article

23 июня, 03:31

Congress Has a Bold Plan for a 355 Ship U.S. Navy

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Dave Majumdar Security, Codify it.  U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Congressman Rob Wittman, R-VA, have announced that they are putting forward new legislation that would codify the U.S. Navy’s requirement for 355 ships. The service currently has 276 ships in its battle fleet. “They [the United States Navy] have come back to us with a new requirement based on the threat that we have and they have told us the requirement for the size of our Navy fleet is 355 ships,” Wicker told reporters during a press conference on June 22. “We are introducing today the SHIPS [Securing the Homeland by Increasing our Power on the Seas] Act which would codify this requirement.” Based on what Navy officials have told Wicker and Wittman, the two men decided to put together legislation to make it so that it is the policy of the United States government to field a minimum 355-ship fleet. The goal would be the build the fleet up to that level “as soon practicable,” Wicker said. Wicker—who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Seapower subcommittee—said that the SHIPS Act is a bicameral and bipartisan bill where the Senate and the House are acting in concert. Wicker noted that there are already 16 co-sponsors in the Senate including Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), ranking member of Seapower Subcommittee. Indeed, every member of the Senate Seapower subcommittee is a co-sponsor of the SHIPS Act. Wittman—chair of the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee—noted that he too has strong bipartisan support for the SHIPS Act in the House of Representatives. Wittman pointed out that in addition to the Navy’s own evaluations, two independent studies have shown that the service needs more than 355 ships to meet its global commitments. “You were to take the demand just from our combatant commanders across the world, the Navy should be north of 600 ships and should have 17 or more aircraft carriers as part of that,” Wittman said. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), ranking member of Wittman’s committee also voiced his support. “The goal of a 355-ship Navy is a consensus strategy going back to 2015 when A Cooperative Strategy on 21st Century Seapower was jointly issued by the chiefs of the nation's sea services, and reinforced by the 2016 Force Structure Assessment and the February 2017 Accelerated Fleet Plan,” Courtney said in an email to The National Interest. Read full article

23 июня, 03:18

To Deal with the Russians, America Must Think Like the Russians

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Bruce Allyn Security, Europe The risk of nuclear miscalculation is now higher than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. There’s a simple way to avoid it. THE CURRENT low point in U.S.-Russia relations echoes the worst days of the Cold War. In March 1983, President Ronald Reagan called the USSR an “evil empire,” provoking a bitter reaction from Soviet leader Yuri Andropov and the Politburo, which declared in June that the U.S. media was at the “highest, most hysterical pitch.” In September, a MIG fighter shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, which had strayed into Soviet airspace, killing 269 innocent people. In November, according to a declassified top-secret U.S. intelligence review, Andropov put Soviet nuclear forces on a “hair trigger,” fearing that the United States was about to launch a first strike under cover of the NATO military exercise “Able Archer.” Recent studies suggest that the November event was not as dangerous as often portrayed, but experts agree that the risk of inadvertent war was extremely high. Fear of a nuclear war unleashed by miscalculation, Russian insecurity or an accident in time of crisis was a factor that pushed Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to engage the Russians to end the Cold War. This June, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Vladimir Putin angrily denounced the “hysteria” in Washington and in the U.S. media. Again, bitter accusations and scorn abound. Both U.S. and Russian experts now agree that once again there is a heightened risk of unintended nuclear war—much higher than in the early 1980s—but this danger is not as widely perceived as it was back then. There is less awareness, less alarm. Few people know as much about nuclear policy as William J. Perry, a former secretary of defense. He has been on a crusade this year, warning, “We are starting a new Cold War. We seem to be sleepwalking into this new nuclear arms race. . . . We and the Russians and others don’t understand what we are doing.” Read full article

23 июня, 03:17

An Interview with Dana Rohrabacher about Russia, Turkey and Trump

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Dimitri Alexander Simes Politics, It's time to kick Turkey out of NATO. Editor’s Note: The National Interest reporter-intern Dimitri A. Simes spoke with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in his office. The following is a lightly edited transcript of their conversation: NI: Let’s start off with yesterday’s special elections. Obviously, the GOP won some major victories in Georgia and South Carolina. The one in Georgia was especially under scrutiny because many people viewed it as a referendum on President Trump. How much clout does Trump have on Capitol Hill after these victories? DR: I think his leverage has gone up now that people know that we can expect that at least Republicans in Republican seats will be reelected. I think this has given confidence to those people. There were a lot of Republicans worried that, “Oh my gosh, this Republican seat will be lost because of Trump!” We’ll see how this will affect people in competitive seats, but I think it ought to give Trump more leverage. NI: In addition to special elections, another important development has been the increase in tensions between the United States and Russia. There was the United States shooting down a Syrian government plane in Syria, several tense encounters between U.S. planes and Russian planes in the Baltics. What is your general assessment of the state of U.S.-Russian relations right now? DR: Right now, the Russian-American relations are as low as they’ve been since the end of the Cold War, and actually probably even lower than some of the latter portions of the Cold War. I think that there are faults on both sides, but I think there is a strong desire among a significant number of people on the left and right to have Russia as an enemy. Some of them, I believe, want to go to war with Russia. There are others who are just honestly concerned and have been caught up in what I consider to be a blizzard of false analysis. Some of it is true, but it is always done with a much more sinister tone than is necessarily required in those instances. We end up with a hostility that doesn’t need to exist. When you have planes in an area with the Russians on one side and us on the other, that is a very dangerous situation and we should not take it lightly. Read full article

23 июня, 03:16

Will America Wage War with a Nuclear-Armed North Korea?

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Robert E Kelly Security, Asia America is facing a countdown that ends with a verified North Korean ability to strike the continental United States with a nuclear weapon. It is increasingly clear that North Korea is driving toward a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which could strike the U.S. homeland. A central question for war and peace in East Asia, then, is how the Americans will respond if or when North Korea achieves this capability. America’s Tough Historical Reactions History suggests a tough American response. Major strategic changes tend to provoke an American effort. In 1962, the Soviet placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba provoked the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the U.S. response brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Rather than reading the Cuban missiles as Soviet equality with the U.S. ability to strike the Soviet homeland (as the Kremlin read the move), the Kennedy administration read the emplacement as a major challenge that must be rolled back, even at the risk of going to war. It is easy to imagine a similar American response to a North Korean nuclear ICBM. The North is practically a comic-book villain in American popular opinion and culture. In the last few years, North Korea invaded the United States (twice), captured the White House and produced a take-over-world Bond villain. In the war-scare of this spring, 53 percent of Americans supported striking North Korea to stop its nuclear program, even though North Korea does not even have the ability to strike the United States now. It is easy to see that already-majoritarian number rising as a North Korean ICBM comes into view. Read full article

23 июня, 03:15

When the Battle for Mosul Ends, the Fight for Iraq Begins

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Kawa Hassan Security, Middle East The future of Iraq hangs in the balance. Iraq is at a crucial crossroads. The Iraqi government, backed by the United States and its coalition partners, is on the brink of retaking all major urban territories once occupied by ISIS. While very encouraging, the global coalition’s focus on militarily defeating ISIS obscures the fact that Iraq is beset by worsening sectarian tensions and proxy wars, political dysfunction and growing humanitarian crises. These perils, left unaddressed, will not only cripple international and diplomatic efforts, but also plunge Iraq further into instability and conflict long after ISIS is defeated on the battlefield. The future of Iraq is important, not just for Iraqis but for the region and the international community. What the international community and regional states do or do not do will have a significant impact on that future. Today, by consolidating and capitalizing on the gains that the Iraqis, United States and international community have made in this second war against violent extremism in Iraq, the hope is that the same global coalition can avoid becoming entangled in a third and fourth and finally pave the way for rebuilding Iraq politically and economically. A Country Fragmented In brief, the reality on the ground is as follows: the loosely held anti-ISIS alliance—which includes the Iraqi army, Shia militias, Sunni tribal units and Kurdish peshmerga forces—will likely dissolve; Iraqi-Kurdish contention over oil and gas revenues, budgets and land disputes is growing; and intra- and inter-Iraqi competition between and within communities over power and influence is flaring. Additionally, corruption, falling oil prices, a declining economy, and high levels of devastation from cycles of ravaging war against the Islamic State will not only continue to undermine Iraq’s recovery and stability but will also be a key factor in disenfranchising Iraqi society, particularly the youth. This point is critical. Violent extremism flourishes in societies where state institutions are seen as oppressive, corrupt, ineffective and illegitimate. Unfortunately, all these factors are present in today’s Iraq. Read full article

23 июня, 03:13

If Russia Wants the Syria Mess, Let Them Have It

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Ted Galen Carpenter Security, Middle East American policy in Syria has been a string of embarrassing episodes. It’s time to cut the losses. Relations between Moscow and Washington continue to deteriorate over a variety of issues. Contrary to the expectations of Americans who favor a more conciliatory policy toward Russia (and contrary to the fears of those who believe that a confrontational stance is necessary), the frigid bilateral relationship during Barack Obama’s administration has not warmed under Donald Trump. The new president retreated from indications he gave during the 2016 presidential election campaign that he would reconsider the economic sanctions that his predecessor imposed following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s support for separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. Beyond the administration’s policy retreat, Congress is in a militant, anti-Russia mood. The Senate just voted 98-2 to impose additional sanctions on Moscow in retaliation to the Putin government’s alleged interference in America’s 2016 elections. An avalanche of vitriolic denunciations of Vladimir Putin and Russian behavior in general preceded that vote and have been a staple of the media for months. Russian officials are reacting with growing resentment and anger to Washington’s mounting displays of hostility. On one issue, Syria, bilateral tensions especially are flaring to an alarming extent. That animosity has been building for years. Obama administration officials openly backed the Sunni-dominated insurgency that has waged a war for nearly six years to oust Bashar al-Assad’s religious-minority (Alawite, Druze and Christian) regime. Moscow deeply resented the U.S. position, since the Assad family has been a long-time Russian geopolitical client. After seething for more than four years about Washington’s intrusion into a country that the Kremlin regards as part of Russia’s rightful sphere of influence, Putin deployed military forces in 2015 to back the beleaguered Assad government. With U.S. military personnel already operating in Syria to assist selected rebel factions, that move created an inherently dangerous situation. Read full article

23 июня, 03:11

Panama Has Ditched Taiwan. Here's Why It Matters for America.

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John Hemmings, Janjan Sun Security, Asia America can prevent a Panama Canal crisis by supporting conventional deterrence in Taiwan. Last week’s sudden announcement by Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela that Panama would henceforth be shifting its diplomatic relations from Taiwan to mainland China was not entirely unexpected in Taipei. Tsai Ing-wen had deliberately avoided visiting the country during her visit to the region after Panamanian leaders had delayed the acceptance of Taiwan’s new ambassador there for more than six months. For Taipei, it was clear that the writing was on the wall. Varela’s decision to favor Beijing came as another hit for Taiwan after it lost two other allies in the past year. So what lies behind the recent moves of Taiwan’s allies to recognize Beijing instead? Part of the story relates to Taiwanese president Tsai. Coming from the independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party, President Tsai’s decision not to affirm the 1992 Consensus (on One China) and her congratulatory telephone call to president-elect Donald Trump in December of last year were poorly received in Beijing. Shortly after the telephone call, one of Taiwan’s African allies, Sao Tome and Principe, suddenly announced that it was dumping Taipei in favor of Beijing. According to Zhang Baohui, an academic at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, the shift by the small African country indicated that “Beijing has a new Taiwan strategy: they’re going back to their confrontational style, and the truce with Taiwan over the past eight years is over.” Read full article

23 июня, 03:11

Why Britain Can’t Afford a Brexit Adventure

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Patrick Porter Politics, Europe Britain has better things to do than spend two panicked years scrambling to appease a version of the popular will. Britain’s parliament should overrule the people and cancel Brexit. There, I’ve said it. By “stop Brexit,” I don’t mean water it down. I don’t mean finding a “soft” variant, or holding a second or third referendum until the people make the desired choice, or leave with no deal at all. I mean, literally, stop it. Parliamentarians, pass legislation now to annul the referendum result, and do your damnedest to reverse Article 50. And while you do it, stiffen your sinews, summon up your blood and prepare for the outcries to come. When you overrule the referendum, also resolve to cancel this disastrous experiment in direct democracy, which is disfiguring our civic space and national life. Take us back from the toxic mythology of a fixed, unitary, unanswerable people’s will, to what our political settlement is supposed to be, a parliamentary government, a mediated and negotiated universe. Why stop it? Not for any sophisticated reason. As a Eurosceptic at heart, I never bought the ambitious claims of people who against the European Union, also known as EU-philes. It is hard to accept that the EU is a the decisive force for European peace or the pacification of the continent. There were few potential wars that were waiting to erupt in the EU’s absence. Also, an early EU could hardly have arrested the monstrous forces that delivered up Nazism and Fascism in the interwar period. Nuclear weapons, NATO and the sheer deterrent effect of experience are enough to keep European states from the brink, thank you very much. Neither is Brexit tantamount to an attack on internationalism or Britain’s technical edge. There are plenty of internationalist and dynamic democracies—think of Singapore, Canada, India or Australia—that aren’t part of single markets or political unions. And before the EU was born, there was collaborative international innovation. British scientists had the nerve and skill to develop the radar and discover penicillin long before the European Coal and Steel Agreement. Read full article

22 июня, 22:32

Could America Really Stop a North Korean ICBM?

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Kris Osborn Security, Asia What happens after launch?  While the initial development of MOKV is aimed at configuring the “kill vehicle” for a GBI, there is early thinking about integrating the technology onto a Standard Missile-3, or SM-3, an interceptor missile also able to knock incoming ICBMs out of space. The SM-3 is also an exo-atmopheric "kill vehicle," meaning it can destroy short and intermediate range incoming targets; its "kill vehilce" has no explosives but rather uses kinetic energy to collide with and obliterate its target. The resulting impact is the equivalent to a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 mph, Raytheon statements said. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefed members of Congress at the White House on the review President Donald J. Trump ordered of U.S. policy toward North Korea, Pentagon statements said. After the briefing, Tillerson, Mattis and Coats released a joint statement: North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and a top foreign policy priority, the statement said. “Past efforts have failed to halt North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests,” the statement said. “With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the U.S. homeland.” The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the leaders said. “We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies,” they added. (This first appeared back in April.) North Korean Threat Read full article

22 июня, 19:43

ISIS Warns Russia: You’re Next

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Russ Read Security, This can't be good.  Islamic State militants in Afghanistan threatened to conduct attacks inside Russia in the group’s most recent propaganda video. The ISIS militants, known locally as Islamic State-Khorasan province (IS-K), claimed they were aware that Russia’s Federal Security Service Bureau (FSB) had infiltrated the terror group, according to Circa News’ Sara Carter. The video featured the interrogations of several alleged spies who are forced to admit that they were working for Russia. ISIS militants later executed the accused men, warning “we will take our revenge on Russia” for the country’s involvement in military operations in Syria. ISIS has attacked Russia only once since its rise in 2013. The group targeted FSB headquarters in Khabarovsk, a city in Russia’s far eastern region in April. Russian officials claimed that A.V. Konev, a local 18-year-old resident, opened fire inside the headquarters’ lobby, killing two. An ISIS fighter featured in the video, who claims to be Russian, said that many native Russians are flocking to Afghanistan to join IS-K. Russia has a significant Muslim population, generally located in the North Caucasus region. Law enforcement officials in Chechnya believe that as many as 4,000 Chechens have joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Russia has taken a hard line against ISIS in its rhetoric, but has limited its attacks against the group. The Kremlin sent forces to Syria under the guise of protecting its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, against ISIS forces, but a study in October revealed that Russian strikes were focused mostly on Syria rebel targets in the early part of the month. Read full article

22 июня, 19:23

5 Weapons Russia and America Would Have Used in a Superpower War

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Kyle Mizokami Security, If the Cold War went hot... The Chieftain was an evolution of the Centurion tank, which had appeared at the end of World War II.  Chieftain had considerably better armor than the Centurion and an improved engine. What really stood the tank apart from its contemporaries, however, was the 120mm main gun. The L11A5 rifled gun was much larger and more powerful than the 105mm gun equipping American M60 tanks and 115mm gun equipping Soviet T-62 tanks. The Chieftain served with British forces, including the 1st Armored Division. Part of the British Army of the Rhine, 1st Armored Division was tasked with defending the North German Plain against Soviet invasion. Chieftain tanks also served with the Iranian Army during the Iran-Iraq War. The Cold War was a uniquely dangerous period in human history. Vast ideological differences, large standing armies and nuclear weapons on hair triggers meant the end of civilization was an ever-present threat. For much of the era, there was genuine fear that war between the West and the Soviet bloc might break out any time. Such fears pushed the rapid development of weapons to give each side an advantage should the Cold War suddenly turn hot. The result was not one but many arms races pursued concurrently, from infantry small arms to nuclear weapons. New equipment and capabilities were rapidly fielded by both sides. By the 1950s, most air forces had traded in propeller-driven aircraft for jets. Armored vehicles, submarines, and missiles saw huge gains in effectiveness. Nuclear weapons in particular were made smaller and exponentially more powerful. Above all, weapons were made more lethal to give each side an edge in what might very well have been the last war humanity would ever fight. USS George Washington: The pace of nuclear weapons development during the Cold War was breathtaking. Construction began on the first true ballistic nuclear missile submarine, USS George Washington, just 12 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Read full article