Defense policy

Don’t shoot the messenger

Featured image Walter Pincus, the Washington Post’s long-time voice of conventional liberal thinking on national defense issues, is unhappy with Robert Gates’ new book. He complains that, although Gates devotes nearly half of the book to his two years at the Pentagon under President Bush, he provides “no embarrassing anecdotes or acidic comments.” No doubt, there were embarrassing moments at the Pentagon while Gates was serving Bush there. But Gates’ high-profile revelations »

Whatever happened to Chuck Hagel?

Featured image Earlier this year, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel took over the top jobs at the Department of State and the Department of Defense, respectively. Since then, Kerry has been hyper-active. But whatever happened to Hagel? He has impinged on our consciousness only once, as Kerry’s sidekick during congressional hearings on authorizing an attack on Syria. The impingement was slight. Kerry and Gen. Dempsey did almost all of the talking. Hagel »

Who serves in the military?

Featured image Peter Robinson at Ricochet directs attention to a study by the Heritage Foundation of military enlistment to population ratios by region. It tells us that, generally speaking, folks from Red States are much more inclined to serve in the military than folks from Blue States. The most over-represented region consists of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The most under-represented region is the Northeast from Pennsylvania upwards. The Mountain West — »

Politico gets carried away

Featured image Politico suggests that our friend Rep. Tom Cotton is “the last, best Hope for GOP hawks.” The idea is that, with even conservatives moving away from an interventionist mindset, Tom now carries the banner for those like Bill Kristol who hold out for the post-9/11 Republican consensus on foreign and national security policy. There is some truth to this narrative. But the story’s author, Alex Burns, falls into the Washington »

Defense spending cuts — a “paradox” for the left; a conundrum for the right

Featured image The Washington Post reports that the defense cuts mandated by the sequester are proving to be a “paradox” for the left. Keith Ellison, the ultra-leftist congressman from Minnesota, says he “feels torn” by the cuts because they further his goal of reducing the money available to the military, but contradict his goal of maximizing government spending. When in doubt, the left these days will tend to opt for government spending, »

The sequester, jobs, politics, and national security

Featured image The White House, through economist turned flack Alan Krueger, wasted no time in blaming yesterday’s lousy jobs report on the sequester. It’s a ridiculous claim. As we observed, government employment held steady, and the sequester is too recent to have affected the private sector. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, who is frequently cited by the Obama administration, agrees that the sequester is not yet in play. Zandi told CNBC: »

SDI 30 Years On (With Video Update)

Featured image Earlier this month Paul Kengor and others brought to our attention the 30th anniversary of Reagan’s famous “evil empire” speech, which was, keep in mind, chiefly a domestic policy speech where Reagan slipped in the evil empire reference that his foreign policy apparatus had managed to strip out of previous foreign policy speech drafts.  But there was no getting around the objections of both the State and Defense Departments to »

Missile Defense, Then and Now

Featured image Readers of a certain age will recall the battles over missile defense that raged during the Reagan administration. Virtually all Democrats opposed all forms of missile defense, deeming the concept not only unfeasible–“like hitting a bullet with a bullet,” as though that were impossible–but destabilizing as well. John Kerry’s denunciations of missile defense were typical: “a dream based on illusion, but one which could have real and terrible consequences,” As »

Women in the infantry?

Featured image Our friend Mac Owens, of the Naval War College and Orbis, writes: You all know Jim Webb–bona fide Vietnam war hero, prize winning novelist, secretary of the Navy, assistant secretary of defense, Senator from Virginia. He is a man of conviction who says what he means. It turns out that his son–also Jim–is cut from the same cloth. Webb the younger gave up a promising college baseball career to join »

Containing Hagel

Featured image Mark Steyn’s weekly column is posted at NRO as “Containing Hagel.” Subhead: “Tehran is pleased that we aren’t.” Steyn does the Steynian thing with Hagel’s almost unbelievable performance before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week. Among other things, Mark rescues a few of Hagel’s quotable quotes before they are overlooked by Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and recede into the mists of the Age of Obama. Iran figured prominently in Hagel’s »

The Hagel hearing, Part Five (Sen. Graham takes Hagel to the woodshed)

Featured image Now it’s Lindsey Graham time. Are will still at war, Graham wants to know. After some stammering, Hagel says “Yes.” Graham’s next question is “name one person in Congress who has been intimidated by the Jewish lobby.” Hagel can’t do it (or won’t). Now Graham wants Hagel to name one dumb thing Congress has done in response to pressure from the Israeli lobby. Hagel can’t do it (or, actually, won’t). »

The Hagel hearing, Part Four (Sens. Ayotte and Fischer take Hagel to the woodshed)

Featured image Sen. Hagan of North Carolina extracts another pledge from Hagel to support the “special relationship” with Israel. These repeated statements by Hagel are self-serving and probably not sincere. But it’s salutary to have Hagel make them over-and-over. Part of President Obama’s reason for nominating Hagel was, I believe, the desire to stick it to Israel and the pro-Israel lobby. If so, that purpose is undermined, to some extent, whenever Hagel »

The Hagel hearing, Part Three (Sen. Wicker gently takes Hagel to the woodshed)

Featured image Sen. McCaskill (the luckiest politician in America) is asking a laundry list of questions to enable Hagel to state his support for preventing Iran from obtaining nukes, keeping the military strong, baseball, and apple pie. These questions are meaningless, of course, without a discussion of Hagel’s past votes and statements. So far, Hagel is zero for two in answering targeted questions (those of McCain and Sessions) that focus on his »

The Hagel hearing, Part Two (Sen. Sessions takes Hagel to the woodshed)

Featured image With Sen. McCain having ripped into Hagel (see post below), Sen. Nelson of Florida tries to give Hagel a breather by asking him about his service in Vietnam. But Hagel, clearly stung by the exchange with McCain, wants to talk about the Iraq surge (the issue he ducked when McCain asked about it). So Hagel uses the Vietnam question to return to the surge. His view of the surge, Hagel »

The Hagel hearing, Part One (Sen. McCain takes Hagel to the woodshed)

Featured image The hearings on Chuck Hagel’s nomination are under way. Former Senator Sam Nunn is droning on with a 99 percent content free, generic endorsement of Hagel, his pal. Nunn isn’t going anywhere near the controversial issues raised by Hagel’s nomination, such as Israel and Iran. A wise move. Now it’s time to hear from Senator Foghorn himself, John Warner. He will likely make Nunn’s platitudinous statement sound like a PhD »

The third shoe drops

Featured image Mackubin Thomas Owens served as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. Mac now teaches on the faculty of the Naval War College as Professor of National Security Affairs. He is also a senior fellow at the Program on National Security of the Foreign Policy Research Institute while serving as editor of its journal, Orbis. He is a long-time student of »

Why Hagel?

Featured image David Brooks argues that President Obama selected Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense because he wants Hagel to supervise the beginning of a generation-long process of defense cutbacks. The theory is that such cutbacks will go down better with a Republican, and a war hero, at the Pentagon to provide political cover. Brooks may be right, but I doubt it. During Hagel’s “trial balloon” period, it became clear that »