Estonia, a tiny nation whose population is less than that of Phoenix, Ariz., can show the U.S. why the NATO alliance is in America’s best interest despite President Trump’s criticisms.
In short, Estonia is the best U.S. ally that most Americans have never heard of — they even sent combat forces to Afghanistan where their troops have one of the highest casualty rates per capita of any nation in the NATO contingent.
My piece is long-form news analysis and commentary with reporting that includes interviews with Estonia’s commander-in-chief of their Defense Forces, the commander of their largest land force who is also the EDF’s new chief of staff, a defense ministry official, a former president of Estonia, and two Baltic think tank experts on defense issues involving Estonia and the United States (one is British, the other American).
You can read it here at Arc Digital.
According to the Associated Press, White House and Iraqi government officials are quietly negotiating increasing the number of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq — a reversal after both the Bush and Obama administrations reduced U.S. forces there.
The attitude can be summed up in a simple phrase now popular with the Trump administration national security team: The U.S. left Iraq too soon. The withdrawal of U.S. troops six years ago authorized under the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi governments led to political chaos and gave Daesh the opportunity to launch its insurgency.
My recent column for NRT English explores the questions raised by this development and continues my coverage of the issue.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What was it that Winston Churchill said about Russia? “It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
If that’s the case, Russia has been downright transparent — or at least boastful — when it comes to various weapons developments in recent months.
Last month, there was the Kremlin’s swagger regarding the new RS-18 Sarmat a.k.a. Son of Satan because of its links to the long-deployed SS-18 Satan. It is an ICBM so powerful it will be capable of hefting 12-15 MIRVs each with a 750 kiloton yield. (That’s more than 20 times the yield of the Hiroshima bomb.)
Now, there is news that the Russians will shield their SA-21 Growler in containers that will block electromagnetic signatures created by operating electronic equipment, presumably to escape detection that would compromise their positions. Propaganda publications like Sputnik claim it will make the missiles invisible. I give what I hope is a more balanced assessment here.
Sometimes its easy to dismiss the Russians and what seem to be their outlandish claims. After all, isn’t Russian leadership even claiming that European football hooliganism by Russian fans was provoked?
It’s worth noting that in defense matters all the Russians are telling us is how they are living up to the military goals set by the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin has made it clear repeatedly that Russia will not be No. 2 to any nation, including the United States. Some say he has a long way to go before accomplishing that goal. If your metric is just manpower and hardware, maybe. If its willpower and achievements, just look at how the Russian Federation has supplanted the United States in terms of influence in the Middle East.
Most people forget Churchill’s own answer to his statement about Russia:”…But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” Putin has reinvigorated the cause of protecting and expanding the fortunes of Slavic peoples while embracing the belief in a unique worldwide role for Mother Russia. It’s in Russia’s national interest to brag about its military might, even if its claims are perhaps more powerful than some of its military hardware. Its boasts remind the world that Russia is still a force to be reckoned with. The political leadership of the United States, our military, and our intelligence community dismiss that fact at their peril.