Once upon a time, Donald Trump disdained U.S. international involvement and criticized his predecessors for what he considered a reckless and adventurous foreign policy. Now, his administration talks openly about the “international community” in the wake of Syrian gas attacks on its own civilians and Kim Jong Un’s threats of further nuclear tests. There is even the question of how the U.S. will continue to offer its services as a protector state to Syrian Kurds — an issue that is particularly timely because of Turkish airstrikes against the YPG. Here is my column about the evolution of Donald Trump and how it will shape American engagement in the international order.
More U.S. Bases in Iraqi Kurdistan Are Inevitable
It’s not about cruise missile strikes or Strykers rumbling into Daesh-held towns. Wherever the United States goes in the Middle East it plants its flag — and that means bases that allow U.S. fighting men and women to operate in places like northern Iraq and Syria. Here is my article on the inevitability of more U.S. bases in Iraqi Kurdistan. It’s my latest column for NRT English.
ICYMI, The U.S. Just Invaded Syria
Well, I am being a bit snarky. U.S. Special Forces have been in Syria since 2014 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. But the recent uptick in conventional forces there is significant — and under-reported in my opinion. Here is my round-up of the units now in Syria and their probable missions in the fight against Daesh/ISIS.
WaPo reveals Trump’s Anti-ISIS Plan
It’s great reporting, I’ll say that much. An article in Saturday’s Washington Post outlines many of the specifics in a plan to militarily defeat ISIS that is under review by the Trump administration. The article describes the plan as the preferred military option. There’s no word on whether it will receive final approval, but as Strykers flying U.S. flags bear down on Manbij in northern Syria it looks like there is already a more overt U.S. military presence in the fight to destroy Daesh. Here’s my analysis of the plan at NRT English.
Is there a “Trump Way of War”?
Many argue that Donald Trump does not have a coherent strategic outlook for the United States. I disagree. In fact, American history inspires his efforts to develop a grand strategy for the nation. Trump’s newly acquired fascination with the presidency of Andrew Jackson seems to shape many of his attitudes. In addition, the president seems to possess a talent for sensing and addressing the Jacksonian impulses that are part of U.S. culture. My latest column at NRT English suggests that if you want to understand the Trump Way of War, consider the presidency of Andrew Jackson.
Don’t Be Fooled: The U.S. Is Getting Tougher With China
The Trump administration probably won’t take a new strategy toward China. It will follow through on old policies, including long-promised increases in U.S. naval presence in the contested South China Sea. That means more potential for conflict between the U.S. and the PRC. But more decisive action by the U.S. toward the PRC will deter China from expanding its claims and give hope to America’s allies in the region. Here’s my story on what it all means at Arc Digital Magazine.
The Kurds are no easy ally
Probably no other group has taken the fight to ISIS like the Kurds. They are staunch allies of the United States — and quite frankly, their numbers so far have kept U.S. military presence in Syria to a minimum of Special Forces advisers. But what is the future of that alliance during a Trump administration? Our support of Syrian Kurds drives Turkey (a NATO ally) nuts. Furthermore, the Russians play the U.S. and Turkey against one another over the issue. My article in Arc Digital Magazine explores everything you need to know about what comes next for the Kurds.
The Rifle That Made Soldiers Long-Distance Killers
Long guns have been in the hands of soldiers for centuries. There are even medieval illustrations of European armored knights with “hand gonnes” dating from the 14th Century — proof that people have been using metal tubes loaded with gunpowder to shoot projectiles for quite some time.
The rifle is quite another matter. Despite the fact it is far more accurate than the smooth-bore muskets that dominated European warfare for 300 years, it is a relative newcomer to the battlefield.
But it was the Baker Rifle that convinced many generals that the rifle should be an infantryman’s weapon, not just the firearm of specialists. My article at War Is Boring tells the story of the Baker Rifle and how it transformed the ordinary soldier into a long-distance killer. The battlefield was never the same afterward.
An unlikely debut for the AK-47
One of the little-known results of the tragic Hungarian Revolution in 1956 is the world’s first real look at the AK-47 assault rifle. Issued to both Hungarian security forces and Red Army soldiers, the Kalashnikov was used in combat for the first time as troops squashed efforts to overthrown communist rule in the East Bloc nation. However, revolutionaries who used captured Kalashnikovs were photographed by journalists whose publications carried the images around the world, introducing the public to a weapon that would soon become the symbol of guerrillas and insurgents. My story at We Are The Mighty outlines the circumstances behind this unlikely debut.
Russia and Pakistan: BFFs?
Russia and Pakistan continue to grow chummier by the day. My latest story at We Are The Mighty describes a live-fire, “anti-terrorism” exercise held by the two countries through October 10. The joint exercises are a first — and one more example of how Russia wants to change the balance of power in South Asia to its advantage.