Obama's "Hot Mic" and America's Pointless European Missile Defense System

By now the GOP national security establishment is sufficiently apoplectic over President Obama’s off-the-cuff statement at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul to outgoing Russian President Dimitry Medvedev that he’d have more “flexibility” on missile defense after November’s election.  There have been the usual accusations of Obama’s appeasement of Moscow and his selling out of American national security.  Fortunately Jacob Heilbrunn at the National Interest responds to the wailing with a cold dose of reality:

The good news would be if Obama really was prevaricating—if he was secretly prepared to jettison an expensive and worthless missile-defense program that is . . .
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Some Thoughts on the New Defense Strategy

It’s hard to say a lot about the new strategic guidance released by the Pentagon on Thursday since the document (pdf), titled “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” doesn’t say all that much.  A more detailed assessment may be possible when the defense budget is released in February.  It’s noteworthy that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted that the new defense plan did not factor in the $500 billion is cuts over the next decade mandated by the supercommittee’s failure to reach a deal late last year.  According to Panetta, if a compromise isn’t reached and . . .
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CNAS Gets in on the Defense Cut Circuit

Someone remarked on Twitter recently that when the ‘coindinistas’ at CNAS are advocating defense spending cuts you know the cause has hit mainstream. While reducing the entire CNAS organization to one topic is a bit unfair (they work on a lot more than just COIN), there is some truth to that statement. The public debate has shifted immensely over the past few years, with lots of task forces and commissions offering their own proposals for cutting the U.S. defense budget over the next decade or so.* Earlier this month CNAS added their contribution to the debate with the report . . .
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The Debt Deal and the Alleged Defense Cuts

I am tempted to comment on the political process that finally resulted in a debt ceiling deal this week, but there is just too much crazy to come up with a coherent observation. Instead I’ll note what Walter Russell Mead said to me on Twitter yesterday (one of my favorite pastimes is to tweet strangers with random comments). In his book Special Providence from 2001, Mead argued that it might be “the very sluggishness and unresponsiveness” of the American political system that has made the United States into a superpower and kept it there for so long. I asked . . .
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Using Straw Men and Questionable Strategic Assumptions to Defend Profligate Defense Spending

Max Boot is Unamerican! OK, that might be pushing it a bit too much, but it never ceases to amaze me how weak these so-called hawks think the United States is. Any strategic restraint is a French surrender, and every minor budget cut is a disaster. This blog post could be written about Max Boot just about anytime, but I was particularly inspired to write something today because Boot is at it again. This time it's 'weak' Republicans who are in his sights–Republicans who are considering making substantive, though far from brutal, cuts to defense spending over the next . . .
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WaPo Worries Unnecessarily about Necessary Choices

This post is a guest contribution from H.A. For professional reasons, the writer is using a pseudonym.

In yesterday’s Washington Post, the editors fret over the possibility that budget hawks will have their way with the Defense Department and thus restrain the United States’ global role:

What will then happen if the United States is forced into more conflicts like those of the past decade — if it must intervene to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon or respond to aggression by North Korea, for example?

Note the passive voice. By making our foreign policy the subject of . . .
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Trapping the Magically Evasive Military Budget

After weeks, if not months, of high stakes negotiations, the Democrats and Republicans reached a budget deal and prevented a government shutdown. The deal includes several significant cuts, but once again Congress has failed to reign in defense spending, despite the extremely high fiscal pressure on the federal government. The deal includes some cuts to the Pentagon budget, but only about $3 billion (the White House is using the figure $18 billion, but that might include previously announced savings and cuts). While Democrats might tout this as a ‘win’ given the Republicans’ reluctance to cut a single cent from . . .
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The Weekly Standard’s Weak Standards

Two items from this week’s edition of the Weekly Standard are striking—not so much for what they argue but for the weak cases they make.  The articles, by Max Boot and Thomas Donnelly and Gary Schmitt, respectively, argue for regime change in Libya and raising the defense budget because of the current operations taking place in Libya.

Boot is up first with a call for deposing Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi.  He asserts that displays of American military power will most likely “shock and awe” Qaddafi’s supporters into submission and surrender.  Boot believes the regime change operation should be modeled . . .
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The Pentagon’s budget promises savings without cuts

On Monday the White House released its proposed budget for next year, fiscal year 2012. The Pentagon is asking for a $553 billion base budget, a slight increase from the $549 billion estimated budget this year (budget overview can be found here). On top of that is a request for $118 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, which basically means the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That number is down from an estimated $159 billion this current year.

The one interesting note in the budget is the pooling of civilian and military funds for OCO. $126 billion is sought for . . .
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The Pentagon: Budgeting without priority

Next week the Pentagon will unveil the largest budget in its history, a whopping $553 billion dollars. Trying to justify the record-level budget, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said it “represents, in my view, the minimum level of defense spending that is necessary, given the complex and unpredictable array of security challenges the United States faces around the globe,” writes McClatchy.

Pressure is building on the Pentagon to save money, both in and out of Washington, and Gates has been trying to preempt demands for larger cuts by proposing his own plan to save $100 billion over the next . . .
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