Defining Defense Down

Across the spectrum of military technologies, the U.S. is losing its edge as competitors gain ground.

This, combined with America’s failure to build its own fortified islands in the South China Sea and line their shores with a gauntlet of antishipping missiles, will amount to the de facto surrender of international waters to a covetous competitor.

.. If the U.S. cedes international waters, watches as parts of Europe fall away (as in Crimea and the Donbas), deploys a defenseless fleet, and by default opens vulnerabilities in its nuclear deterrent, the international system will shatter as allies defect to rivals for whom American capitulationists will arise to do the rivals’ bidding and adopt their principles. We have seen the dawn of such things in the Iran deal, “strategic patience,” apology tours and fundamental transformation.

.. it isn’t merely a question of money but of its proper allocation, of strategic clarity and of political will. According to Rep. Adam Smith (D., Wash.), “We are not in a position to have the defense budget that a lot of people envision when they start spelling out these nightmare scenarios.”
.. But that is not all. The unremediated military decline in relation to potential enemies is the cause of a dangerous alteration in doctrine, which in itself is a form of early, if unconscious, appeasement. The new doctrine is expressed by Gen. John Raymond, chief of Air Force Space Command, who stated in April that the U.S. will respond to an attack on its assets in space “at a time, place, manner, and domain of our choosing.” He called this “a huge change in our overall strategy,” and it is.
.. These are admissions that the U.S. cannot proportionally and equally defend itself in space, cyber, and response to tactical nuclear weapons except through the threat of escalation and intrusion into other domains. At the beginning of the nuclear age, American withdrawal of conventional forces in Europe led to reliance on strategic nuclear weapons as a response to Soviet invasion. As the Soviets acquired their own nuclear arsenal, doctrine matured and it became obvious that a flexible response, restricted as much as possible to matching methods and means of the challenge, was necessary to avoid disastrous escalation.
.. As Michael Griffin, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for research and engineering, succinctly warns, if the U.S. fails to shape up in regard to, for example, defense against hypersonics alone, China and Russia will “hold at risk our carrier battle groups . . . our entire surface fleet . . . our forward deployed forces and land-based forces,” with the only choice “either to let them have their way or go nuclear.”
.. Thus the U.S. will have put itself in the position of Russia, which has continued the promiscuous and dangerous Soviet nuclear doctrines upon which it relies because of weakness in its conventional forces and a dearth of “soft” powers. In short, American failures in vigilance may force a doctrinal step up the escalation ladder, and a step back into a more perilous nuclear age.
.. Save for the near miracles of ingenuity that have in the past served the U.S. so well, the only way to prevent this is with a massive, properly directed, long-overdue infusion of funds that will allow us to avoid the knife edge of risk upon which otherwise we will soon be dancing.

I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration

I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

.. The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.
.. To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.
.. But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.
That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.
The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.
.. Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives:
  • free minds,
  • free markets and
  • free people.
At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.
.. In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture:

  • effective deregulation,
  • historic tax reform, a
  • more robust military and more.

But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is

  • impetuous,
  • adversarial,
  • petty and
  • ineffective.

From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

.. Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.

“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.

The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.

The result is a two-track presidency.

Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.

Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

.. On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.

.. This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.

Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.

.. The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

.. Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.

.. We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.

.. There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.

Why Republicans Stick With Trump

It’s all the things he hasn’t done. On key issues, the president has come around to conservative positions.

it’s instructive to examine what Mr. Trump hasn’t done. Since the campaign, Mr. Trump has abandoned many of his previous positions and embraced traditional conservative views.

Spending and taxes. During the election, Mr. Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Some Republicans feared his first initiative on taking office would be a pork-laden spending package reminiscent of Barack Obama’s stimulus bill. They also worried he would cut a deal with Democrats to raise taxes. “I am willing to pay more,” Mr. Trump said in May 2016. “And do you know what? The wealthy are willing to pay more.” Instead, the reverse happened: There’s no infrastructure plan in sight, except for the border wall, and Mr. Trump signed a sweeping bill to reduce personal and corporate taxes.

• Court nominees. In 2015 candidate Trump said his sister, a liberal federal judge, would be a “phenomenal” Supreme Court justice, though he claimed he had been joking. After Justice Antonin Scalia died, Mr. Trump decided to release a list of potential replacements. This was a central reason many conservatives voted for him. In appointing Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Trump made good on his promise. Since then, constitutionalists have cheered the quality and sheer quantity of his appointments to all levels of the judiciary.

• Abortion. In a successful effort to win the Iowa caucuses, Sen. Ted Cruz attacked Mr. Trump’s “New York values.” A Cruz TV ad showed Mr. Trump years earlier calling himself “pro-choice in every respect.” Yet President Trump has reinstated Reagan’s “Mexico City policy,” which prohibits federal funds from going to international groups that provide or promote abortions. Mr. Trump is also moving to require a hard division between abortion providers and clinics that take federal Title X funds, which would be a significant hit to Planned Parenthood.

• Israel. In February 2016, Mr. Trump claimed he would not take sides between Israel and the Palestinians, saying he would be “sort of a neutral guy.” Sen. Marco Rubio labeled this “an anti-Israel position.” Yet in December 2016, when the United Nations considered a resolution calling for an end to Israeli settlements, including in East Jerusalem, Mr. Trump said it was “extremely unfair to all Israelis” and pressed the Obama administration to veto it. Then this year Mr. Trump made good on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there. Time and again, he has proved to be a reliable ally for Israel.

• Guns. In a 2000 book, Mr. Trump wrote: “I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.” After the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., earlier this year, President Trump did briefly suggest expanding background checks and raising the age limit to buy certain guns. But he quickly reverted to strong Second Amendment rhetoric, while saying that massacres could be prevented by fixing mental-health services and arming teachers.

 Health care. In 2015, candidate Trump told “60 Minutes” that his plan would provide universal health coverage paid for by the government. “I am going to take care of everybody,” he said. Campaigning in New Hampshire a few months later, he said Medicare could save an unrealistic $300 billion if the government negotiated with drug companies to lower prices. But as president, Mr. Trump has pursued more-conventional Republican policies, such as adding work requirements to Medicaid, expanding short-term insurance plans, and broadening association health plans.

• Defense. In a 2013 interview, Mr. Trump seemingly supported the sequestration cuts to defense spending—only complaining that, as “a very small percentage of the cuts that should be made,” sequestration wasn’t big enough. In 2015 he suggested, unworkably, that by eliminating waste he could strengthen the military while still reducing spending. Yet in his first address to Congress as president, he proposed a 10% increase to the Pentagon’s budget, which he later called “historic.”

It isn’t unusual for a politician to change positions. Unsurprisingly, voters tend to be more forgiving of flip-flops when they agree with the final result. This explains why Mr. Trump is forgiven for abandoning Republican orthodoxy on free trade and entitlement reform: those convictions were always held more by donors than voters. The same is true of support for “comprehensive immigration reform.” If he were to cross his party on issues like taxes, abortion or guns, it would be quite another story. But in the meantime, begging Republicans to ditch Mr. Trump is a waste of time.

 

 

Tech companies can now bid on the Pentagon’s $10B cloud contract (techcrunch.com)

AWS was originally awarded this contract but Safra Catz (co-CEO Oracle) is on Trump advisory committee. She planted the seeds that Bezos can’t be trusted due to his ownership of Washington Post and what that publication has been saying about Trump.

Fully expect Oracle to make a huge run at this business. And don’t forget, Oracle was started as a company from an initial contract with the CIA. There’s not a single tech company more aligned with the US government than Oracle.

https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2018/04/16/pentagon…