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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 января, 04:35

The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship Will Soon Be Armed with Hellfire Missiles

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Kris Osborn Security, Coming in 2020.  The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship will be armed and operational with deck-launched HELLFIRE missiles by 2020, a key step in a sweeping strategic move to expand the attack envelope across the entire fleet of surface ships, senior service officials said. Current HELLFIRE LCS testing and development, described as an integral part of the ship’s Surface-to-Surface Missile Module, has resulted in 20 successful hits out of 24 total attempted missile shots, Capt. Ted Zobel, Program Manager, PEO LCS, said recently at the Surface Navy Association symposium. Testing and integration, which embarked upon LCS 5 in August of 2017, is slated to continue this year as a lead into to formal production; The complete procurement of SSMMs will complete in 2023, Zobel said. Integrating the HELLFIRE onto the LCS is a significant strategic and tactical step for the Navy as it accelerates its combat posture transition toward the prospect of near-peer warfare. Recommended: 5 Places World War III Could Start in 2018 Recommended: How North Korea Could Start a War Recommended: This Is What Happens if America Nuked North Korea This kind of confrontation, naturally could span a wide envelope of mission requirements for the LCS, calling upon littoral, coastal patrol, surveillance and countermine mission technologies as well as anti-submarine operations and a fortified ability to wage “blue” or open water maritime warfare with longer-range strike weapons. While not quite the scope of the now-in-development over-the-horizon missile currently being fast-tracked for the emerging Frigate and, quite possibly, the LCS – a HELLFIRE offers a much wider offensive attack range to include enemy aircraft, helicopters, drones, small boats and even some surface ships. Read full article

22 января, 04:25

Do Russia and China Stand Any Chance Against the Navy's New Aircraft Carrier?

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Nikolas K. Gvosdev Security, The Ford-Class is amazing--and quite deadly.  The carrier air wing will form the carrier’s primary means of deploying both offensive and defensive firepower. The Ford class will embark two squadrons of ten to twelve F-35C Joint Strike Fighters, two squadrons of ten to twelve F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, five EA-18G Growler electronic attack jets, four E-2D Hawkeye airborne early-warning and control aircraft, and two C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery (COD) planes. It will also carry eight MH-60S Seahawk helicopters. Down the road, it will embark the MQ-25 Stingray refueling and intelligence collection drone, the eventual planned sixth-generation fighter to replace the Super Hornet, and, if Sen. John McCain has his way, a new long-range strike drone. The V-22 Osprey tiltrotor is also set to replace the C-2 Greyhound in the COD role. In 2009, the U.S. Navy finally began construction of the first new type of aircraft carrier in nearly thirty-five years. Named after former president and naval aviator Gerald R. Ford, the USS Ford fully takes the nuclear supercarrier into the twenty-first century. The technological innovations built into the new ship, while causing the inevitable delays involved in building a first-in-class vessel, will keep the Navy’s unique fleet of super flattops the largest and most advanced in the world for the foreseeable future. Recommended: Stealth vs. North Korea’s Air Defenses: Who Wins? Recommended: America’s Battleships Went to War Against North Korea Recommended: 5 Places World War III Could Start in 2018 Read full article

22 января, 04:15

No, the Tax Bill Will Not Help Republicans

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Jeremy Slevin Politics, Americas Republicans passed a bill over the objections of the American people that, in many cases, was designed to hurt their own constituents. Last month, weeks before signing into law the most sweeping changes to corporate and individual tax rates in decades, President Trump promised the tax bill would help Republicans politically. “I think people see that and they’re seeing it more and more, and the more they learn about [the tax bill], the more popular it becomes,” he told reporters. It was a refrain Republican leaders repeated ad nauseum: once people feel the effects of the tax bill, they’ll love it! “When we get this done . . . that’s what’s going to produce the results,”  House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters just before the bill passed. “And results are going to be what makes this popular,” he added. It was an argument many reporters bought, as evidenced by the Washington Post’s credulous headline, “The tax bill is likely to become more popular after passage. Here’s how Republicans plan to sell it.” But [a month] after the bill was signed into the law the prediction has yet to come true. And it shows no signs of changing anytime soon—threatening Republicans’ fragile majorities in both the House and Senate in this year’s midterm elections. A poll released [last week] by Quinnipiac University finds the tax bill remains the most unpopular major law passed in recent memory. Just 32 percent of voters support the plan, compared to 52 percent who disapprove. Two-thirds (accurately) think the wealthy will benefit most from the plan, while just 22 percent think the middle class will benefit most. By comparison, 52 percent disapproved in November and 55 percent approved in December—when Republicans refused to seat Sen. Doug Jones before voting on the tax bill. A Gallup poll found similar results: just 33 percent support the tax plan, within the margin of error of its December tax survey. Read full article

22 января, 04:13

Why Not Apply the Pakistan Precedent and Suspend Military Assistance to Lebanon?

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Shimon Arad Security, Middle East Duplicity that undermines America’s regional policy should not be supported with U.S. resources. The administration’s decision to suspend military assistance to Pakistan is a bold move that may have detrimental consequences for the U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan. Though uncertain whether it will change Pakistan’s behavior, it sends a strong message that U.S. military assistance is not unconditional. This message is very pertinent to the government in Beirut, which accommodates a status quo that serves the Iranian interests in Lebanon. The U.S. military assistance to Lebanon affords a measure of respectability to the duplicity of Beirut and undermines the cohesiveness of the administration’s counter-Iran strategy in the region. Lebanon has become the fifth largest recipient of U.S. security assistance, having received over $1.4 billion since 2005. Recently, the United States has provided the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with self-propelled 155 millimeter artillery pieces, armed Cessna aircrafts, armed HUMVEES and heavy machine guns. Given the budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration that zero out the foreign-military financing for Lebanon from the budget of the State Department, the present-day assistance is coming from Pentagon funds. The U.S. security assistance to Lebanon has aspired to promote three main goals: to bolster Lebanon’s ability to safeguard its border with Syria; to promote the LAF as the sole defender of Lebanon and to weaken Hezbollah; and, to support the Lebanese effort to enforce United Security Resolution 1701. All of these goals have been muffed along the way. Bolstering Lebanon’s Ability to Defend Its Border with Syria With the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, countering the spread of ISIS and other extremist elements into Lebanon, become a primary U.S. interest. Accordingly, enhanced U.S. military assistance to bolster the LAF’s border protection and internal security capabilities were provided. Read full article

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22 января, 04:12

The Trump Trick: How to Make Iran Look Like It Is Complying with U.S. Demands

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Jason Brodsky Security, Middle East Iran will be loath to rock the boat with an increased tempo in its usual regional meddling and support for terrorism. With President Trump’s decision last week to lay down a red line on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and at the same time slap more onerous nonnuclear sanctions on Iran, its clerical establishment has vowed a “severe response.” But while Tehran’s rhetoric has been threatening, its riposte is likely to be restrained due to three inconvenient realities: the Iranians need the JCPOA more than Washington; the United States has limited equities in Iran; and Iran is overextended in the region. Iran Won’t Walk Away from the JCPOA Read full article

22 января, 04:10

Russia's Presidential Election Runs Into Reality

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Nikolas K. Gvosdev Politics, Russians—and the world—will wake up on March 19 to find that not much has changed. But the clock counting down towards domestic and international crises will be running. Two months before Russians go to the polls for the country’s seventh presidential election, the news reports could already be written in advance. Barring an act of God, Vladimir Putin will be elected for a fourth term in office, making him the leader with the longest tenure in executive authority of any of the world’s major powers. Before a single ballot is cast, a majority of the U.S. political establishment will already consider the results of this poll to be illegitimate. No matter the fact of Putin’s genuine base of support in Russia, the ways that the Kremlin has managed the election process and the inevitable gap that will emerge between actual voter turnout and number of votes cast for Putin with the published results—especially if the target of 70 percent turnout/70 percent in favor of Putin is reached amidst reports that some degree of fine-tuning was required to meet these goals—will be cited to deny that Putin has any popular mandate to continue to govern. So the election will solve nothing: those in the Russian elite who believe that Americans (and some Europeans) must concede the “reality” of Putin and start doing business with the Kremlin will be disappointed. Also, those in the West who maintain that all anyone needs to do is wait for the inevitable color revolution to depose Putin, that in turn will solve all the outstanding issues that have led to the deterioration of Russia’s relations with the West. So, on March 19, 2018, nothing will have changed. But the two looming problems that the election will not solve will still be there. Read full article

22 января, 04:06

Should Americans Care More about South Korea than America?

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Doug Bandow Security, Asia A “splendid little war” overseas could result in Americans sharing in the consequences. Hawaii’s embarrassing missile alert should remind Americans of the increasing price they may pay for treating the security of allies as if it were more important than their own security. The purpose of alliances should be to better protect the United States. Yet the defense commitment to South Korea soon could result in a nuclear attack on America’s homeland. The “mutual defense treaty” with the Republic of Korea grows out of the Cold War, at a time when the United States and Soviet Union were competing globally. For America to lose anywhere in the world was seen as a Soviet victory. The ROK mattered not because the Korean Peninsula was inherently important for U.S. security, but because South Korea was part of the superpowers’ Great Game. That ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then the struggle between the two Koreas was just another regional confrontation. The costs of war would be higher than most local conflicts, but even so would not be unique: Iraq’s invasion of Iran and the collapse of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) both unleashed extraordinary horror. Nevertheless, Washington never considered adjusting its Korean commitment and deployment to reflect America’s much-reduced stake. Even more important, long ago the South raced past its northern antagonist. Today the ROK possesses roughly forty-five times the economic strength, twice the population, and a vast edge in technology, international status, global connections, and most every other measure of national power. It beggars belief that South Korea could not defend itself against its impoverished, isolated neighbor. And without the slightest chance that either China or Russia would back a North Korean invasion, Seoul does not require outside support. So why does Washington continue to promise the full faith and credit of the United States—backed by Americans’ abundant wealth and lives—toward the South’s defense? Foreign policy should reflect an ever-evolving security environment. An American defense promise made in 1953 has little relevance to 2017. It is foolish to treat a treaty made more than six decades ago as permanent and unchangeable, irrespective of changing circumstances. Read full article

21 января, 18:14

Russia Tests New "Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle" in Near Combat Conditions

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Dave Majumdar Security, Should NATO be worried?  Russia’s Kalashnikov Group has tested a new unmanned ground combat vehicle called the Soratnik under “near” combat conditions. The Russian development points toward a future where armies will increasingly field unmanned systems during future conflicts. "The Soratnik automated fighting vehicle has been tested in conditions maximally close to a real combat environment. These trials confirmed the vehicle’s characteristics and proved the possibility of using the robotic system at air temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius," Kalashnikov Group told the TASS news agency. There is no hard evidence that the Russians have tested unmanned ground vehicles in actual combat other than relatively basic explosive ordnance disposal/mine-clearing robots. While TASS says that the Soratnik was tested in Syria, available photographic evidence makes it very difficult to say one way or the other if that is indeed the case. Recommended: Stealth vs. North Korea’s Air Defenses: Who Wins? Recommended: America’s Battleships Went to War Against North Korea Recommended: 5 Places World War III Could Start in 2018 “Soratnik testing in Syria may have in fact taken place considering the mine clearing  UGVs that Russia has tested there and is planning to use from now on,” Samuel Bendett, a researcher at the Center for Naval Analyses who specializes in Russian robotics. “The absence of clear photographic evidence about Soratnik testing may have to do with the combat mission of that UGV as opposed to peacekeeping/de-mining missions of other UGVs.” Read full article

21 января, 18:03

Get Ready, Russia: 34 More F-35s Could Be Headed to Europe

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Dave Majumdar Security, If the sale goes through, the deal would be worth some $6.53 billion. The U.S. State Department has notified the U.S. Congress that it has approved the possible sale of some 34 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Belgium. If the sale goes through, the deal would be worth some $6.53 billion. “The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Belgium of thirty-four (34) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take Off and Landing aircraft for an estimated cost of $6.53 billion,” the State Department said in a statement released on Jan. 19. “The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.” The arms package would include not only the 34 jets, but also thirty-eight Pratt & Whitney F-135 engines—34 installed and four spares.  The potential sale would also include various electronic warfare systems; command, control, communications, computer and intelligence/communications, navigational, and identification (C4I/CNI) hardware; Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS); Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); Full Mission Trainer; Weapons Employment Capability, and other Subsystems, Features, and Capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; Reprogramming center; F-35 Performance Based Logistics; software development/integration and other ancillary equipment and services. Recommended: Stealth vs. North Korea’s Air Defenses: Who Wins? Recommended: America’s Battleships Went to War Against North Korea Recommended: 5 Places World War III Could Start in 2018 The F-35 sale is not a done deal however. The stealthy jet is in a head-to-head competition with rival fighters to win the Belgian contract. The pan-European Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale are also in the running to replace Belgium’s 59 Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons. Read full article

21 января, 17:53

North Korea Almost Started a Nuclear War When It Captured a U.S. Spy Ship

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Sebastien Roblin Security, The story of the USS Pueblo.  Many of the Pueblo’s crew went on to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and lifelong physical injuries. Over time, however, the crewmembers put up their own website testifying to their experiences, successfully lobbied for status as prisoners of war after it was initially denied to them, and sued North Korea in U.S. court for their treatment. As for the Pueblo itself, technically the second oldest ship still commissioned in the U.S. Navy, it remains in North Korean custody to this day. It is currently moored off the Potong River in Pyongyang, where it serve as an exhibition of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum. A U.S. Army light freighter launched during World War II, the fifty-four-meter-long Pueblo had been recommissioned by the Navy in 1966s to serve as an “environmental research ship,” with two civilian oceanographers on board. This was a flimsy cover for the truth: the Pueblo was a spy ship, charged with intercepting and recording wireless transmissions and monitoring electronic emissions. Periodically, the Pueblo would transmit its findings using a sixteen-foot parabolic antenna on its deck to beam a signal towards the moon, where it would reflect back to the Earth for reception by Navy antennas in Hawaii and Maryland. Recommended: 1,700 Planes Ready for War: Everything You Need To Know About China's Air Force Recommended: Stealth vs. North Korea’s Air Defenses: Who Wins? Recommended: America’s Battleships Went to War Against North Korea Read full article

21 января, 16:34

Wanna Conquer Some Territory? This New Study Can Show You How to Do It.

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Zachary Keck Security, China and Russia...don't...click...on...this.  A new study on how states have conquered new land over the last century has important implications for global politics from Asia to Europe. The new study was published by Daniel Altman in the the December 2017 issue of International Studies Quarterly, an academic journal. Using a new data source of all “land grabs” since 1918, Altman finds that states have overwhelming used fait accompli rather than coercion to conquer new land. “From 1918 to 2016, 112 land grabs seized territory by fait accompli, with Crimea being the most recent. In that same span, only thirteen publicly declared coercive threats elicited cessions of territory,” Altman writes. These numbers are slightly misleading, however. For starters, there were only eighty-four distinct cases of a fait accompli during this time. Altman reports 112 of them because in twenty-eight cases the target of the attack tried to immediately retake the land, which he counts as twenty-eight separate land grabs. Moreover, his database does not include times when states conquered others through brute force—such as when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Recommended: 5 Places World War III Could Start in 2018 Recommended: How North Korea Could Start a War Recommended: This Is What Happens if America Nuked North Korea Still, the results point to a definitive trend as coercion has becoming an increasingly uncommon strategy for conquering new land, while instances of fait accompli are on the rise. “From 1945 onward, coercive threats have only resulted in territorial acquisition twice, as compared to eighty-two land grabs in this period,” Altman writes. Read full article

21 января, 16:32

Why Did America Bomb France in World War II?

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Warfare History Network History, Europe The frequent bombing of the beautiful medieval city caused widespread death and destruction and resentment to the Allies. By any standard, the ancient city of Rouen, in Upper Normandy, is a historical treasure. Within its magnificent High Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral (which was portrayed in a famous series of paintings by the Impressionist Claude Monet as well as by his contemporary Camille Pissarro) is a tomb containing the heart of Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199) who had been King of England and the Duke of Normandy. A few streets away is Vieux-Marché, the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on May 30, 1432. Unfortunately, like many French cities that felt the weight of Allied bombs during the course of the war, Rouen was particularly hard hit. The city on the Seine, which existed even before the Romans reached Gaul, was and is a tangle of narrow, winding streets lined with quaint, half-timbered, medieval homes and shops. Many books and articles about World War II tend to focus solely on the battles, the movement of troops, and the territories won and lost. Several recent books have given us a picture of what life was like for the German people in the wake of defeat. But not many dwell on the impact of the war on the French people who, after all, bore the brunt of two invasions—the German invasion in 1940 and the 1944 invasions in Normandy and the Riviera by the liberating Allied armies. And even fewer works concentrate on the suffering caused by American and British aerial bombing. Recommended: The Colt Python: The Best Revolver Ever Made? Recommended: Smith & Wesson 500: The Gun That Has As Much Firepower As a Rifle Recommended: Smith & Wesson's .44 Magnum Revolver: Why You Should Fear the 'Dirty Harry' Gun The Bombing of France Read full article