As U.S. sanctions on Iran are re-imposed, questions loom within and outside the United States. Past unilateral sanctions against Iran have been perceived as unsuccessful, and the Trump administration’s resumed reliance on this controversial economic tool as the main driver of its strategy raises several questions. Are these sanctions doomed to fail? Is hinging U.S. strategy almost entirely on economic sanctions the most effective way to counter the Islamic Republic? Will Iran find ways to subvert not just economic sanctions but other U.S. countermeasures as well?
Without a negotiated political settlement with the Taliban, which is still a longshot, a U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan would have serious risks. Chief among them would be the resurgence of terrorism and the deterioration of human rights—including women’s rights—that come with a Taliban victory. A precipitous exit from the country might be worse than the status quo.
The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, preceded by wide debate, is enjoying a honeymoon of sorts. Domestically, it received strong support and close to full funding while internationally, it has received strong support from allies. However, controversy over the NPR may be just around the corner. There needs to be strong bipartisan commitment to nuclear infrastructure and delivery system modernization as well as arms control.
Now in its fifth year of implementation, there is enough evidence to suggest that Belt and Road Initiative is much more than a liberal economic development plan. The United States needs a more comprehensive counterstrategy to BRI that looks after the interests of vulnerable nations and hedges against the geopolitical advantages China is gaining.
Actions by the administration further endanger the already tenuous relation between the U.S. and Pakistan, risking repeating past mistakes and undoing civil/military progress. Punitive measures have been unsuccessful in Pakistan – by exploring policy options like restoring CSF funding, IMET opportunities for Pakistani officers, and leveraging other partners, the U.S. may be able to influence Pakistan in a positive direction.
The Trump administration increased spending for defense by $95 billion between FY 2016 and FY 2019, but even with such a large increase, there was no escaping the trade-off among readiness, modernization, and force structure. Readiness came first so that forces could meet a minimum standard. The next priority was to increase modernization by expanding…
The industrial base review coupled with policy and strategy documents gives DoD and its inter-agency network a great deal of homework for the upcoming year. While it is clear that the Department will be rigorously working toward supporting and reinvigorating industries as well as deeply engaging with its partners and allies, it will have to overcome the challenge of the competing interests associated with these two core strategic goals.
Space capabilities are already an indispensable component of U.S. military power, and the threats posed to U.S. space systems by China, Russia, and others are growing by the day. A Space Force is needed to consolidate authority and responsibility for national security space in a single chain of command; to build a robust cadre of space professionals who can develop space-centric strategy and doctrine; and to avoid the conflicts of interest inherent in the other Services that have short-changed space programs for decades.
Establishing a Department of the Space Force by 2020 is rushing into an end solution without proper consideration. Although there have been several space reorganization studies in the past two decades, a comprehensive public debate of our current space capabilities and their organization is just beginning. An incremental approach to developing a comprehensive organization for our national security space enterprise is a smarter decision.
The 2018 National Defense Strategy elevated security cooperation in stressing the importance of “Strengthening alliances and attracting new partners.” This has typically been an area of strength for the United States in ensuring U.S. superiority in an era of strategic competition. However, countervailing priorities in the current U.S. administration challenge this formulation.