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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.
18 сентября, 04:13

Can Washington Protect America's Electoral Process from the next Cyber Attack?

John Allen, Michael O'Hanlon Security, North America Congress needs to act on a major elections-security initiative this year. When one of us, after a four-decade career in the Marine Corps including nineteen months in command in Afghanistan, had the chance to address the National Association of Counties earlier this year, this was the key message: We in the military have always been the ones on the front lines in defense of this country and its democracy. Now, it is you as well—those who are manning the voting centers, maintaining the voter registries, tabulating the tallies. As Congress gets fully back to work this fall, the issue of how the federal government can help local and state election authorities secure the United States against an attack needs to be front and center on their agenda—because it has become a national-security issue of very high order. In particular, Congress needs to approve and appropriate funds for an initiative like that proposed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Lindsey Graham, and provide several hundred million dollars to make the country’s voting more secure. Last year, a hostile power reached straight past the most sophisticated military and intelligence services on the planet, across vast seas and over towering mountain ranges, and sought to affect the fundamental outcome of the American 2016 presidential election through a strategic-influence campaign, which included cyber intrusions into the heart of the American voting system. In essence, the Russians, apparently on the direct orders of Vladimir Putin, took direct aim at America’s ability to choose its own government and thus, ultimately, its own way of life—arguably with some success. Trump’s subsequent decision to build a national-security team that includes Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has mitigated the potential damage. Congress has also sought to ensure that Trump sustain a foreign policy in line with many bipartisan precepts of American national-security policy. So it could have been much worse. But the central fact remains that a foreign power sought to abuse America’s democratic system to create outcomes that would serve its own interests, and not necessarily those of the American people. How is this any less dangerous to U.S. national-security interests, and our country as a whole, than a direct military attack? Read full article

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18 сентября, 04:12

America May Push Iran Into Becoming the Next Nuclear Crisis

Ted Galen Carpenter Security, Middle East Using North Korea’s behavior as an excuse to trash the nuclear agreement with Iran is at best a dangerously simplistic reaction. It’s no secret that the Trump administration is busily building a case to have the United States repudiate the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran. Even when the president grudgingly conceded that Tehran was complying with the explicit terms of the accord, he groused that Iranian leaders were violating “the spirit” of the document. A cynic could easily have pointed out that a key reason why nations spell out the binding aspects of an agreement through written provisions—rather than relying on vague oral comments and handshakes—is that only the written clauses constitute true obligations. Disagreements about the “spirit” or intentions could be endless. The preponderance of evidence indicates that Iran has, in fact, abided by its legal obligations under the agreement. Unfortunately, administration officials and a vocal flock of hawks in the United States seem determined to sabotage the accord. The latest salvo was the speech that U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivered to the ultra-hawkish American Enterprise Institute on September 5. That address contained a multitude of distortions, all of which seemed designed to build a foundation for the administration to repudiate the agreement. Indeed, if Haley’s comments are taken seriously, a drive appears underway to go beyond that step and make the case for war against Iran. Read full article

18 сентября, 04:11

The Search for Crime and Justice on America's Indian Reservations

Maggie Ybarra Politics, North America “The federal approach” is usually a one-size-fits-all, take-it-or-leave-it deal, which may not seem very appealing to some tribes. New Mexico is quietly wild. Its multicolored sunsets, volcano-pocked terrain and unique cultural landscape attract tourists, inspire artists and mask its dark side. After all, one of the perks of the sparsely populated state is that it's wide-open spaces offer a makeshift sanctuary to those who seek isolation and freedom, but with that magnitude of freedom comes the danger of believing that the day-to-day social and legal restrictions that govern society no longer apply. Anything seems possible under the desert sun, and many people have gone out of their way to test that theory. Crime in the desert is like a flower on a cactus. It flourishes in unexpected places. It is not easily beaten back by brutal or unexpected elements. It does not shy away from the brink of extinction or the occasional danger. It is difficult to kill. This has sometimes been a harsh reality for the sprawling territories that are governed by the state’s twenty-three Indian tribes. New Mexico is no stranger to unusual crimes, so it is unlikely that authorities were shocked when they caught Loren Lloyd Wauneka and Lisa Benally stealing jewelry, furniture and firearms from a law-enforcement officer’s residence on the Navajo Nation reservation in January 2016. Both had criminal histories. Wauneka was convicted of the crime and sentenced to thirty-seven months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, according to an August 10 Department of Justice press statement. Benally is still awaiting her day in court. She faces ten years in federal prison. Read full article

18 сентября, 04:09

Here's How Private Contractors Can Help Win the Afghan War

Daniel G. Straub Security, Middle East History and incentives are on their side. The president has declared a “path forward” for Afghanistan. Given that the United States is at a nexus for strategic change, might there be an increased role for private contractors in positions previously held by U.S. troops? A proposal from Erik Prince, formerly the head of Blackwater Worldwide, claims that with the use of his “corporate warriors” he can end the war in Afghanistan. Can it work? History suggests that it can. But to be successful, it would require a level of commitment and integration not yet demonstrated. It also relies upon the imperatives of capability, capacity and efficiency, as well as the effectiveness of those chosen to perform the task that the U.S. military has been unable to accomplish: winning the war. First, though, there must be a real understanding of what private security contractors (PSCs) actually do, and how they can and will be held accountable for their actions. What We Are Doing Is Not Working As has been evident since the earliest forms of combat, exclusively conducting one method or way of war is rarely effective in the long term. Sustained victory requires an adaptable force that understands and adjusts to changing political, social and economic landscapes. This force does not need to be drawn only from national militaries, or provided by the UN or so-called “coalitions of the willing.” PSCs have been used effectively in the past to stop civil wars and to bring parties to the table in moves toward peace. Successful PSCs understood the physical terrain as well as the human terrain, something Erik Prince claims his warriors know from their years of experience in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts around the world. Where U.S. troops rotate every year to eighteen months, Prince says that if given the chance his forces will be there over the long term, and see the war to its conclusion. He contends that consistency of personnel and experience will make all the difference. In contrast, our current model of rotating soldiers (and leadership: seventeen commanders in sixteen years) through Afghanistan has not worked. A Baseline for Success Read full article

17 сентября, 22:20

Trump and the United Nations: Reform or Die?

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Zalmay Khalilzad Politics, North America President Trump is taking on a tough but necessary task at the UN. President Donald Trump will be hosting a meeting on Monday in New York on reforming the United Nations. With that, the president is taking on a very tough but very necessary task. The institution is in serious need of reform but achieving that will be very difficult. Yet, unless it reforms substantially, the UN faces the prospect of becoming less relevant and having its very mission and existence questioned. Promoting security, human rights, humanitarian assistance and sustainable development are the primary responsibility of the individual member states, and assisting members in these four areas is the core mission of the UN—including peacekeeping, assisting refugees, facilitating international agreements on important issues and prodding countries to carry out their obligation under international law. However, the UN apparatus has become unwieldy, bureaucratically overburdened, inefficient, ineffective and fiscally irresponsible. These problems need to fixed. Since becoming Secretary General, Antonio Guterres has emphasized reform—his focus of effort and the proposals he has developed do not pertain to adjusting the organization’s mission. Rather, they focus solely on how it carries its responsibilities, with the goal of increasing the organization’s capacity to implements its current mission more effectively by becoming more integrated, more transparent and more accountable. The meeting is aimed at boosting his initiatives. The Trump/Guterres event will be well received and there will be many positive statements in support of reform. However, the actual implementation of the reforms will face serious challenges. A key challenge is disagreement among member states on what needs to be done. When it comes to what reform actually means, different countries and voting blocs have varying priorities. The United States and its allies want the United Nations to take greater initiative in reforming management to increase transparency, accountability, effectiveness and efficiency. Rising powers are eager to join the Security Council as permanent members, but are unwilling to embrace the management reforms necessary to reduce waste and increase efficiency and effectiveness, because those moves are unpopular with the developing countries whose votes they will need to achieve their Security Council aspiration. Read full article

17 сентября, 16:36

The Terrifying Tale of How Russia Exploded the Biggest Hydrogen Bomb Ever

Steve Weintz Security, It makes North Korea's latest test look small.  Big Ivan was a one-off, essentially a technical stunt. There are hints that the clean 50-megaton design was considered for weaponization, but nothing concrete. Curiously enough, at about the same time American nuclear weaponeers had, according to Alex Wallerstein, arrived at breakthrough high-yield bomb designs. Had atmospheric nuclear testing continued the US might have tested a 100-megaton weapon half the weight of Big Ivan—light enough to actually fight with. On July 10, 1961 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev summoned the USSR's top nuclear weaponeers and told them to promptly resume nuclear testing. After roughing up America's young new President Kennedy at a Vienna summit in June, Khrushchev was in a mood, according to Andrei Sakharov, to “show the imperialists what we can do.” For two years while their country joined the United States and the United Kingdom in a voluntary moratorium on nuclear tests, Soviet nuclear scientists, including Andrei Sakharov, the “father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb,” developed and refined new weapon concepts and designs. Now they had to deliver big results in very short order. Khrushchev wanted a political spectacle to shock and awe the West, and it had better go right. The Communist Party's 22nd Congress in October 1961 required something special. It isn't clear who proposed a 100-megaton bomb—Khrushchev or the weaponeers—but at the premier's command the most powerful nuclear weapon ever built had to be ready in only four months. Such a huge bomb came about only because Soviet scientists had a good idea about how to proceed. As Carey Sublette of the Nuclear Weapons Archive website explains, “It is safe to assume that the 100 Mt bomb was a very conservative design - one that pushed no technical envelopes save for size. The two principal reasons for thinking this are the extremely compressed development schedule, and the very high profile of the test.” High-profile indeed. Khrushchev's next move came on August 13, 1961, when East Germany began erecting the Berlin Wall. On August 31 the Premier announced the giant new bomb and the abrupt end to the USSR's voluntary moratorium; a Soviet atmospheric nuclear test followed the day after. The US responded in kind within the month. Read full article

17 сентября, 15:29

Why America's Missile Defenses Might Not Work Against North Korea

Dave Majumdar Security, Asia And that's a huge problem.  Late last week, the United States tracked a North Korean intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) test that once again overflew Japan before landing in the Pacific. The IRBM is the latest in a series of North Korean provocations this year that has included the test of a hydrogen bomb and an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) among other events. There is little the United States and its allies can do in response except to deter Pyongyang. Suggestions that the United States and Japan shoot down North Korean missile tests—an option often bandied about by certain political commentators are fanciful. Neither the United States or Japan likely has such a capability—even if they were so inclined. “U.S. Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a single North Korean ballistic missile launch at 11:57 a.m. (Hawaii time) Sept. 14. Initial assessment indicates the launch of an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM),” U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Cmdr. Dave Benham wrote in a Sept. 14 email. “The launch occurred in the vicinity of Sunan, North Korea and flew east. The ballistic missile overflew the territory of northern Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean east of Japan. We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment and we will provide a public update if warranted.” Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association told The National Interest last month that intercepting such tests would be extremely difficult. Other experts also agreed with Reif’s assessment. “Shooting down a North Korean missile on a test trajectory—as was the case with the 8/29 HS-12 test—is an entirely different and even more difficult challenge,” Reif said. “Our BMD systems are not designed or postured to defend the open ocean. And we couldn't rely on THAAD, since there are no THAAD batteries in the Japan. Patriot is also a no go, since it is designed to defend against slower short-range missiles during their terminal phase.” Read full article

17 сентября, 15:14

Why Russia and China Will Hate America's New Super Tank

Kris Osborn Security, Lots of new tech, for starters.  Advanced networking technology with next-generation sights, sensors, targeting systems and digital networking technology -- are all key elements of an ongoing upgrade to position the platform to successfully engage in combat against rapidly emerging threats, such as the prospect of confronting a Russian T-14 Armata or Chinese 3rd generation Type 99 tank. The SEP v4 variant, slated to being testing in 2021, will include new laser rangefinder technology, color cameras, integrated on-board networks, new slip-rings, advanced meteorological sensors, ammunition data links, laser warning receivers and a far more lethal, multi-purpose 120mm tank round, Army developers told Scout Warrior. The first MIA2 SEP v3 tank, built by General Dynamics Land Systems, is slated to arrive as soon as this month – as part of a delivery of initial prototype vehicles, developers said. “The Army's ultimate intent is to upgrade the entire fleet of M1A2 vehicles -- at this time, over 1,500 tanks,” Ashley Givens, spokeswoman for PEO GCS, told Scout Warrior. The first v3 pilot vehicles will feature technological advancements in communications, reliability, sustainment and fuel efficiency and upgraded armor. This current mobility and power upgrade, among other things, adds an auxiliary power unit for fuel efficiency and on-board electrical systems, improved armor materials, upgraded engines and transmission and a 28-volt upgraded drive system.   “The Abrams has been around since early 80s, and the original designers were forward thinking to build in the provisions for continual upgrade. Over the years, there have been significant improvements in sensor capabilities, power generation, mobility, lethality, survivability, armor and situational awareness,” Donald Kotchman, Vice President, Tracked Combat Vehicles, General Dynamics Land Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview. In addition to receiving a common high-resolution display for gunner and commander stations, some of the current electronics, called Line Replaceable Units, will be replaced with new Line Replaceable Modules including the commander’s display unit, driver’s control panel, gunner’s control panel, turret control unit and a common high-resolution display, developers from General Dynamics Land Systems say. Read full article

17 сентября, 15:08

The U.S. Army's Potential Helicopter Replacement Is Ready to Take Flight

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Task and Purpose, Jared Keller Security, North America Bell Helicopter’s advanced V-280 Valor tiltrotor prototype is “100 percent” complete and ready for its maiden flight. Bell Helicopter’s advanced V-280 Valor tiltrotor prototype, developed to replace the iconic AH-64 Apache attack chopper and UH-60 Black Hawk utility copter in the Army’s fleet of rotary aircraft, is “100%” complete and ready for its maiden flight before the end of 2017, the company announced on Sept. 6. The Valor was first unveiled by Bell and partner Lockheed Martin at the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow after the company was selected in 2014 to develop an aircraft Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator, the program that will eventually feed into the Department of Defense’s broad Future Vertical Lift program. If deemed suitable for the Army’s needs, the V-280 is expected to offer a major upgrade to the branch’s rotary aircraft fleet. Read full article

17 сентября, 15:06

This Is the Story of a U.S. Soldier Who Fought World War II in His Tank

Warfare History Network History, Europe From North Africa to Sicily to Normandy to the heart of Germany, bow gunner Irving Bromberg fought the war in a Sherman tank. Private First Class Irving Bromberg saw a huge puff of smoke erupt from the German tank’s cannon muzzle as it headed straight for his M4 Sherman tank. The round streaked past and missed. Bromberg sat next to the driver in the bow gunner’s seat manning a .30-caliber machine gun. His turret gunner fired the tank’s 75mm cannon, also missing, but the American cannon had an advantage: an automatic breech-loader. The spent shell quickly popped out of the breech and the loader shoved in another round. The gunner fired a second round before the German could reload. The second round blasted the enemy tank. The Americans kept firing. The loader called for more shells, and Bromberg passed them up. The German tank stopped but it did not catch fire. Then its crew bolted out of its hatches. “Get them!” the gunner shouted to Bromberg, who squeezed his machine gun’s trigger and sprayed fire into the enemy, killing them. Bromberg’s tank sped off. The brief tank battle in the Tunisian desert in the spring of 1943 was Bromberg’s first. Although Bromberg wore the triangular 2nd Armored Division shoulder patch, he was serving as a replacement with the 1st Armored Division, which had taken heavy casualties during the six-day Battle of  Kasserine Pass in late February. After the mauling, the division went back on the offensive, pushing the Germans east. So desperate was the division for replacements that Bromberg did not know the rest of his crew. “I didn’t even know where I was,” he admitted. As the bow gunner, Bromberg often switched positions with the driver to give him a rest. When not in battle, Bromberg kept his head out of the hatch, but when ordered to “button up” he closed the hatch and peered through a periscope. “I remember it had pretty wide vision,” he recalled. “It was good.” Besides the driver and the bow gunner, the Sherman also had a commander, gunner, and loader, all three of whom worked in the turret. Shells were kept in the turret, but during battle, Bromberg would pass up extra rounds stored behind him. Read full article

17 сентября, 05:24

Af-Pak, India and Beyond: The New Underpinnings of Washington's South Asia Policy

Puneet Ahluwalia, Prateek Joshi Security, Asia American national interest lies in reaching out to the smallest of the nations, which may prove crucial to “America First” domestic concerns. Strategic circles in South Asia have been obsessed with Washington since August 21, when President Trump addressed the nation from the Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Virginia, and laid out America’s military plans for Afghanistan. The speech had been interpreted as his vision for South Asia, given the Af-Pak dynamic and the potential role he envisaged for India to play in stabilizing her neighborhood. Describing India as a “key security and economic partner of the United States,” Trump expressed his vision to elevate India as a key stakeholder in the Af-Pak issue. A recent estimate by Anthony Cordesman of Center for Strategic and International Studies pegs the total cost of the sixteen-year-long war at $841 billion, along with 2,400 soldiers killed. It was in this regard that the president, for the first time, repeatedly stressed that sixteen years had passed and yet the Afghan imbroglio was far from being resolved. The consistency in the new administration’s stance on the Af-Pak imbroglio is too serious to be ignored. Ever since President Trump assumed power, Indo-U.S. relationship has got the much needed push across the entire spectrum of factors that drive the bilateral relationship. Prime Minister Modi’s U.S. visit in June was dubbed successful not only in the domain of tangible achievements—such as the Guardian drone deal and a joint statement pointing towards strong future defense cooperation and anti-terror initiatives—but also in terms of the chemistry the two leaders shared. New Delhi is decked up for welcoming Ivanka Trump in November. Read full article

17 сентября, 05:22

Why Isn't There a Debate about America's Grand Strategy?

Christopher A. Preble Politics, North America There has been neither a major retrenchment, nor even a debate over whether such a retrenchment is warranted or wise. “The United States needs a new set of ideas and principles to justify its worthwhile international commitments, and curtail ineffective obligations where necessary,” argue Jeremi Suri and Benjamin Valentino, in the introduction to their edited volume Sustainable Security: Rethinking American National Security. “Balancing our means and ends requires a deep reevaluation of U.S. strategy, as the choices made today will shape the direction of U.S. security policy for decades to come.” Though rarely spelled out in such stark terms, this question would appear to be at the core of America’s grand strategy debate—if such a debate were actually occurring. We should ponder why it isn’t, and therefore why an arguably “unsustainable” strategy persists. (As the economist Herb Stein famously said, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”) I foresaw this problem not quite two years ago. “U.S. foreign policy is crippled,” I warned in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee: by a dramatic disconnect between what Americans expect of it and what the nation’s leaders are giving them. If U.S. policymakers don’t address this gap, they risk pursuing a policy whose ends don’t match with the means the American people are willing to provide. And I concluded as follows: the military’s roles and missions are not handed down from heaven. They are not carved on stone tablets. They are a function of the nation’s grand strategy... That strategy must take account of the resources that can be made available to execute it. Under primacy, in the current domestic political context, increasing the means entails telling the American people to accept cuts in popular domestic programs, higher taxes, or both, so that our allies can maintain their bloated domestic spending and neglect their defenses. It seems unlikely that Americans will embrace such an approach. The best recourse, therefore, is to reconsider our global role, and bring the object of our foreign policy in line with the public’s wishes. Read full article