26 March 2016

Grand Strategic Blowback for Neo-Imperial Wars

Last September 11, I posted an essay that argued the refugee flows triggered by the aftermath of our interventions in the Middle East were mutating, whether by design or by accident, into grand strategic weapon of mass destruction.  My argument was limited to the flows within the Middle East, but as I implied, they were also putting pressure on our allies in the European Union.  
Attached herewith is essay by Jonathan Marshall that expands on this latter issue.  Indeed, this is the best analysis of the E.U.’s grand strategic problem that I have yet read.  
 I am using the term “grand strategy" quite precisely.  New readers can go to Criteria for a Sensible Grand Strategy to see what I mean when I use this term.
Robert Parry, editor/publisher of Consortium News has graciously given me permission to repost Marshall’s piece on the Blaster website.
Chuck Spinney

Deadly Blowback from Neo-Imperial Wars
Exclusive: The E.U.’s crisis – with the post-World War II project to unify Europe spinning apart amid economic stress, refugees and terrorism – can be traced back to E.U./U.S. neo-imperial wars in the Arab world, says Jonathan Marshall.
By Jonathan Marshall, Consortium News, March 25, 2016
[Reposted with permission of the editor/publisher of Consortium News]
In what may be the most dramatic blowback yet from Western military intervention in the Middle East, terrorism and the mass influx of foreign migrants are now putting the very existence of the European Union at risk. Foreign wars fanned by European and American interventionists in the name of democracy and humanitarianism now threaten those same values in Europe as never before since the end of World War II.
This threat comes at a time of popular discontent over the region’s chronic economic weakness, caused by Germany’s austerity policies and the straightjacket of the euro monetary union. The region has been further buffeted by the rise of right-wing parties, confrontations with Russia over Ukraine and NATO expansion, and the potential withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the E.U. In short, Europe faces a perfect storm.
Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, warns, “We are threatened as never before.” The European Union’s chief executive, Jean-Claude Juncker, declared that Europe may be facing “the beginning of the end.” International financier and private statesman George Soros says, “The EU is on the verge of collapse.”
Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, said, “The challenge to the European project today is existential. The refugee crisis has brought that to light. What was unimaginable before now becomes imaginable, namely the disintegration of the European project.”
This is also a nightmare that keeps Secretary of State John Kerry up at night. If turmoil gets any worse in the Middle East, he told reporter Jeffrey Goldberg, “You could have a massive migration into Europe that destroys Europe, leads to the pure destruction of Europe, ends the European project, and everyone runs for cover and you’ve got the 1930s all over again, with nationalism and fascism and other things breaking out. Of course we have an interest in this, a huge interest in this.”
Yet remarkably few voices are stating the obvious: The crisis isn’t simply caused by foreign extremists bent on destroying Western values. Like Br’er Rabbit, Europe punched the Middle Eastern tar baby repeatedly, only to become hopelessly stuck. Whether Europe will prove as wise as its folkloric counterpart and find a way to get free remains to be seen.
Ganging Up on Syria
The crisis in the E.U. has many self-inflicted causes. One was President George W. Bush’s catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was opposed by France and Germany but supported most notably by the British government. That war gave birth to ISIS, whose bloodthirsty tactics now bring terror to millions in Europe as well as the Middle East. The Iraq War also drove 1.2 million refugees into Syria, ravaging its fragile economy and helping to trigger the outbreak of war in 2011.
Another contributor to E.U.’s crisis was the equally catastrophic NATO intervention in Libya in the spring of 2011. It was demanded most adamantly by the French government, with support from London and Washington. The intervention opened a major arms pipeline into Syria and propelled hundreds of thousands of North African refugeesincluding jihadists — into Europe.
The continued anarchy in Libya poses an ongoing threat of terrorism, drug smuggling, and human trafficking to the European Union. The E.U.’s foreign policy chief warned recently that nearly half a million displaced people in Libya “could be potential candidates for migration to Europe.”
Perhaps the single biggest cause of the Europe’s current crisis was the fateful decision of U.S. and European leaders to demand that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “step aside” in the face of escalating attacks by rebels, many of them extreme Islamists.
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany joined Obama in making that demand in August 2011, just a few months after violence erupted between Syrian security forces and protesters.
That Western demand was based on wishful thinking and hubris, not a well-informed estimate of Assad’s political support within Syria. Longtime United Nations diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi called the overconfident assessment of some Western intelligence agencies and politicians that Assad would quickly fall “utterly condemnable.”
Senior State Department officials said the joint statement was prepared in a rush to appease humanitarian critics and especially the French government, “based on a faulty and thoroughly unsupported, unsubstantiated assumption that this guy was going to be gone in 20 minutes.”
The alliance of Washington and major European capitals did not topple Assad but it severely weakened his regime, creating space for the rapid rise of disciplined Islamic insurgents — as experts warned from the beginning. The European Union contributed to this outcome by imposing tough economic sanctions on Assad’s government — while approving purchases from Syrian oil fields controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra, the powerful Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
Some E.U. nations also joined Washington in covertly arming radical rebel groups to overthrow Assad. Leading them was Syria’s former colonial master, France.
In 2012, just one year after the joint call for Assad to step down, the Guardian reported that “France has emerged as the most prominent backer of Syria’s armed opposition and is now directly funding rebel groups around Aleppo as part of a new push to oust the embattled Assad regime. . . . The money has been used to buy weapons inside Syria and to fund armed operations against loyalist forces.”
Despite CIA attempts to vet which opposition fighters received the arms, the paper reported that “Some of the French cash has reached Islamist groups who were desperately short of ammunition and who had increasingly turned for help towards al-Qaida aligned jihadist groups in and around Aleppo.”
Already, the Guardian noted, much of the rebellion against Assad was being led by “implacable jihadi organisations, such as Jabhat al-Nusra.” (That assessment was confirmed by a classified Defense Intelligence Agency report in August 2012.)
Last year, President François Hollande himself finally admitted that France began delivering weapons to Syrian rebels in 2012 — in violation of international embargoes and contrary to the French government’s public claims. The weapons included machine guns, rocket launchers, anti-tank guns and artillery, helping to turn Syria into a giant killing field.
The United Kingdom reportedly also provided covert military aid to rebel forces as early as November 2011, when British special forces allegedly met with Syrian guerrillas to assess their training needs. British intelligence services based in Cyprus provided timely news on Syrian government troops movements to help opposition fighters win tactical victories.
In 2013, the Independent reported that the British government had sent more than $12 million in “non-lethal” aid to Syrian fighters, including armed vehicles, body armor, trucks and SUVs, and satellite communications systems.
Last but not least, in 2015 France and the UK joined the United States in bombing Islamic State targets inside Syria — without permission from Syria’s legally constituted government. France had earlier demanded Western military action following a use of chemical weapons near Damascus in August 2013, which Western governments widely blamed on the Assad regime. However, President Obama balked when U.S. intelligence failed to confirm the culprit and Britain’s Parliament defeated a motion to approve military action.
By mid-2015, the fighting in Syria supported by these Western governments had generated more than four million external refugees — a record from any single conflict in the past generation, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Including internal refugees, half of Syria’s population was uprooted by the violence.
Blowback from Intervention
Rather than concede any responsibility for this tragedy, however, liberal interventionists in Europe blamed the humanitarian crisis on the West’s alleged failure to intervene.
As the Guardian newspaper editorialized in September 2015, “What appears on our TV screens as a sudden emergency is really the culmination of years of failure to confront Syria’s bloody collapse. . . The refusal to intervene against Bashar al-Assad gave the Syrian president permission to continue murdering his people . . . To begin restoring . . . hope will inevitably mean international intervention of some kind.”
This popular narrative — echoed at home by liberal and neoconservative critics of President Obama — makes Europe out to be the innocent victim both of the refugee crisis and of ISIS-directed terrorism. Make no mistake — ordinary Europeans are innocent victims, and nothing excuses terrorist violence against them or civilians in the Middle East. But key European governments do share blame for triggering the devastating blowback from Syria.
The terrorism inflicted on the people of Paris and Brussels is despicable but not random. The message of ISIS’s attacks, concedes French political scientist Dominique Moisi, is “You attack us, so we will kill you.”
University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape, a leading authority on suicide attacks, says they almost always represent a violent response to “a military occupation of territory that the terrorists view as their homeland or prize greatly. From Lebanon and the West Bank in the 80s and 90s, to Iraq and Afghanistan, and up through the Paris suicide attacks . . . that’s what prompts suicide terrorism more than anything else.”
A recently released police report on last November’s terror attacks in Paris quotes one gunman as threatening to kill his hostages unless France stopped its military strikes in Syria: “I want you to leave the country. I want you to remove your military. I want a piece of paper signed that proves it!”
ISIS had a sophisticated appreciation of what its terrorist attacks in Europe could accomplish. An ISIS newsletter, published shortly after the Paris attacks, predicted that they would create “a state of instability in European countries which will have long-term effects,” including “the weakening of European cohesion” and “demands to repeal the Schengen Agreement … which permits free traveling in Europe without checkpoints.”
Europe’s Refugee Crisis
The Schengen Agreement on open borders lies at the very heart of the European experiment and is a precondition for the common currency, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted in January. But free movement is threatened not only by fear of terrorism, but by popular opposition to the huge influx of foreign refugees.
The mass movement of more than half a million refugees into the E.U. through Greece and the Balkans last year “precipitat[ed] a refugee crisis on a scale unprecedented since the end of World War II,” writes Kemal Kiri?ci, director of the Turkey Project at the Brookings Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe.
As a result, he explains, millions of people now “sense that Europe has lost control of its borders, which has in turn fueled xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments. This has strengthened the hand of right-wing politicians with little regard for the EU’s hard-won liberal values.”
Illiberal and far-right parties have made gains across Europe, from Denmark to Greece, and control the governments of Hungary and Poland.
Secondly, Kiri?ci adds, “the crisis sent shockwaves across Europe and tested the EU’s solidarity at a time when the EU was barely recovering from the shock of the euro crisis. . . This breakdown of unity is forcing a number of member states to introduce border controls, effectively suspending the Schengen regime as well as restricting the free movement of both people and goods within the EU — two main pillars of European integration.”
Ironically, in its desperation to prevent the refugee crisis from tearing apart Europe’s liberal regime, the E.U. recently struck an agreement with the notoriously authoritarian regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to return migrants to Turkey — including promises to accelerate talks on making Turkey a member of the E.U.
“First morally, then politically, and finally structurally, the European Union is unraveling before our eyes, destroyed by its own contradictions and failures of solidarity,” writes Maria Margaronis, The Nation magazine’s London correspondent. “The discussion is now not even nominally about how to protect the refugees, but about how to keep them out. . . . Cutting that deal with Turkey means that the EU has to hold its delicate nose and turn a blind eye to President Erdogan’s increasingly blatant human-rights violations.”
Most discussions of how to save Europe focus on short-term remedies, ranging from better intelligence sharing to beefed up border enforcement. But Europe will never overcome its crisis until it faces up to the root causes, including blowback from its neo-imperialist ventures in Africa and the Middle East.
Back in March 2011, when France spearheaded NATO’s attacks in Libya, the pro-interventionist political scientist Dominique Moisi remarked that “the French, according to early polls, are proud again to be French.”
Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.
Moisi shared that pride: In Libya, he maintained, “the West is defending common values, such as freedom, respect for human life and the rule of law. . . France, together with Great Britain, and with the more distant support of the US, is undeniably risking much, for it is easier to start a war than it is to end one. But it is a worthwhile risk.”
Moisi was wrong on all counts. The French government chose to intervene not for noble ends but for crude economic and opportunistic political motives, as Hillary Clinton well understood. And the result, as everyone knows, was anarchy in Libya, the unleashing of jihadists and arms across northern Africa and the Middle East, and the start of Europe’s refugee crisis.
Western intervention in Syria was sold under equally fraudulent pretenses, with even more dire results. Now Europe must begin a serious debate — akin to America’s ongoing discussion of the Iraq debacle — over what price it is willing to pay for continuing to fuel wars and social upheaval in former colonial lands.

Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012). Some of his previous articles for Consortiumnews were “Risky Blowback from Russian Sanctions”; “Neocons Want Regime Change in Iran”; “Saudi Cash Wins France’s Favor”; “The Saudis’ Hurt Feelings”; “Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Bluster”; “The US Hand in the Syrian Mess”; and “Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War.” ]

23 March 2016

America’s Gravest Strategic Danger

Flush With Cash, Running on Empty (IV)
Chuck Spinney

[Reposted in Consortium News here.]
This the fourth in a series occasional essays describing the vacuous nature of the political debate over how much to spend on defense.
Pentagon spending has not really been an issue in the 2016 Presidential campaign.  With the exception of Ted Cruz, the positions of the remaining candidates have been vague about even the size of the defense budget.  As near as I can tell: (1) Clinton’s position on the size of the Pentagon’s budget is that she will establish a blue ribbon commission to review defense policy and spending levels; (2) Trump claims without detail he can make the military great again but cut the budget at the same time; (3) Cruz says he will copy President Reagan's spending spree by using tax cuts to stimulate the economy and ramping up defense spending to 4% of GDP (more on this plan in a subsequent blaster); and (4) Sanders seems to want to cut the Pentagon’s budget, but has not detailed how.  
No candidate appears to have noticed that President Obama has allowed the Pentagon to plant a defense budget time bomb in the form of modernization bow wave, although Obama's bow wave has been reported repeatedly in the defense circles, e.g., see 1, 2, 3, 4.  
Mr. Obama’s bow wave is similar to those planted during the exit from Viet Nam in the early and mid 1970s while Viet Nam was winding down and at the end of the Cold War in late 1980s thru the mid 1990s.  Each of those earlier budget time bombs blew up, the first  after 1978 and the second after 1997, albeit the latter explosion was masked over by the politics fear and budget gimmicks unleashed by 9-11.  The time bomb bequeathed by Mr. Obama is now being wired to explode during the next presidential administration, with ripple effects lasting perhaps to 2030.  
This essay introduces an early propagandistic aspect of the setting the fuse.  Job 1 is to set the foundation for budget future growth by building a psycho-political barrier to further budget reductions.  The Secretary of Defense’s recent testimony explaining President Obama’s defense budget to the Senate Armed Services Committee is a case in point. 
On 17 March 2016, President Obama’s fourth Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) to defend the Pentagon’s share of Mr. Obama’s budget request to Congress.[1]  Obama’s wants Congress to appropriate for the Pentagon a total of $583 billion in new Budget Authority (BA) for Fiscal Year 2017, which begins next October.  That money would be divided into two parts: (1) the so-called Base Budget of $524 billion; and (2) a separate appropriation for the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, or OCO, amounting to $59 billion.  
The Base Budget is the nuts and bolts budget that is supposed to sustain our military forces in peace time.  The OCO budget is a special gimmicky appropriation to pay for war fighting in the ongoing Global War on Terror (GWOT).  The OCO was invented in 2001 in response to 9-11 to fund the wartime operations in the GWOT, and it is a bit squirrelly, to put it charitably.  Prior to 9-11, all of America’s wars — for example, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the First Gulf War [2], Kosovo — were funded out of what we now call the Base Budget. 
It is important to understand that the request for Base Budget is the first year of a five year plan (see OMB Table 5.1). The four future years are supposed to account for the future consequences of appropriating the FY 2017 base budget.  The OCO, in contrast, is a one-year pay-as-you-go appropriation. There is no programmatic tail for OCO requests into the future years in the Pentagon’s plan.  Congress has no idea of the extent to which the OCO appropriation might imply any future spending commitments. This lack of planning transparency opens the door for all sorts budget hijinks. Even stalwart defenders of increased Pentagon spending, like Senator John McCain, have said the OCO is really a slush fund for hiding funding that would be more appropriately assigned to the Base Budget.
Defense Secretary Carter claims the Pentagon’s FY2017 base budget request has been tailored to meet the main threats facing  America, including  Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and Global Terrorism (see slide #1 of the 9 February Pentagon’s budget rollout briefing).  Nevertheless, at the 17 March SASC hearing, Carter told Congress and the American people  that America’s gravest strategic danger stems from the domestic politics surrounding the Constitution’s assignment of the power of the purse to Congress, and I quote:
"If the bipartisan budget agreement were to fall apart, as everyone has said, that is our biggest strategic danger because that would affect in future years our ability to recover full-spectrum readiness," …
"That is the greatest risk to the Department of Defense -- the reversion to sequestration. We very much hope to avoid that,"
Let’s examine the implications of Carter’s rather bizarre threat analysis.
I did not attend the SASC hearing, so I have not seen any budget slides Carter might have used in defense of this threat analysis.  But if he used slides, they were likely to be versions of those the Pentagon Comptroller released to the press in the Dept. of Defense’s rollout briefing on 9 February 2016.  Figures 1 and 2 below are reproductions of slides #2 and #5 used in that briefing.
Figure 1 places Carter’s defense budget request for FY 2017 in a short-term historical perspective by comparing it to the stream of actual budgets since Fiscal Year 2001. 
Figure 1

(click to enlarge)
Figure 1 depicts defense budget authority in current dollars. It includes the effects of inflation. It shows the Pentagon’s total budget peaked in FY 2010 at $691 billion and that the base budget peaked a few years later in 2012. Therefore, if one includes the OCO, the FY2017 budget request represents a total budget reduction of $108 billion from that 2010 peak.  However most of that reduction has been in the OCO account and, theoretically, should not impact the base budget.  The 2017 Base Budget $524B request is only $6 billion or 1.1% less than the peak Base Budget of $530 billion in 2012.  So Carter’s 2017 Base Budget request represents only a small reduction from the peak Base Budget of five years ago. 
So, where is the “biggest strategic danger” facing the future of “full spectrum readiness”?  
This question logically relates to five-year plan for the base budget and its relation to “sequestration,” because the OCO slush fund is programmed on a year by year basis, and it is exempt from sequestration and only relates to the GWOT.
The threat of sequestration is shorthand for the budget reduction implied by the spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA).  This federal statute was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on August 2, 2011. The caps were put into effect for 10 years, beginning with Fiscal Year 2012. The BCA is intended to control the federal deficit by limiting the discretionary spending in both social and national security programs. In theory, if spending exceeds these limits, brute force automatic across-the-board spending cutbacks would be triggered.  Such reductions are known as budget sequestrations. Let’s take a look at them.   
We can use Figure 2 (which replicates slide #5 of the 9 February Pentagon rollout briefing) to ascertain the strategic nature of Carter’s sequestration “threat.” 
Figure 2

(click to enlarge)

The dashed line in Figure 2 depicts how the Pentagon’s share of the original BCA spending caps relate to three past budget plans as well as the 2017 budget plan Mr. Carter briefed to the SASC on 17 March (i.e., the green line labeled PB 2017 — PB meaning President’s Budget).  The red line shows how, to date, the caps have been relieved by a pair of two-year bipartisan budget deals between Congress and President. The red line shows that, absent another budget deal, the caps will return to their original levels between FY 2018 and FY 2021.
The difference between the Pentagon’s three earlier budget plans and the caps reveals that the internal Pentagon planning process pretended the caps do not exist. It is also clear that Carter’s 2017 budget simply is simply another round of the Pentagon just saying NO to the budget caps.  (Note: Figure 2 shows PB’s 2013, 2015 and 2016, but 2014 is missing.  PB2014  did not violate this “just say no” pattern.)  
Figures 1 and 2 enable the reader to quantify the size of Defense Secretary Carter’s claim that the “biggest strategic danger” facing the United States is a “reversion to sequestration” — i.e. the magnitude of this “reversion” is simply measured by the vertical distance between the green line and the red line in Figure 2.
But note the axes of Figure 2; let’s put Carter’s “threat of reversion” into a better perspective to get a feel for the calibration of Carter’s threat meter.
The scales of the “x” and “y” axes of Figures 1 and 2 are constructed to magnify the impression of the size of the sequestration threat relative to past budgets and past budget plans.  Historically, Figure 2 only compares historical budgets from 2010 to 2016 to compare with those projected in PB2017 to 2021 and the vertical scale for defense budget is limited to between $470 billion and $590 billion, whereas the vertical scale of Figure 1 does start at “0” but the horizontal scale only goes back to 2001. 
Let's place the the current plan in a longer view.  Also, let’s take a cut at estimating how the effects of inflation might shape our view of Carter’s definition of “strategic danger.” 
I constructed Figure 3 to this end, by comparing the Pentagon’s base budget request to the Pentagon’s historical budgets, including the OCOs, dating back to the dawn of the Cold War in 1951. All this data comes from the March 2015 edition of the Pentagon Comptroller’s Greenbook updated with data from President Obama’s February 2016 budget submission Congress (OMB tables 5.1 and 10.1)
Figure 3

(click to enlarge)

The left hand graphic in Figure 3 places current dollar number for PB 2017-21 (blue line) and the original BCA sequester levels. The yellow and purple bars depict the historical data for the Base Budget and the OCO respectively (similar to the Figure 1). The lines are the same as those in Figure 2. The middle graphic, removes the effects of past and future inflation by assuming the rate of inflation for the Pentagon’s sub-economy is the same as that for the general economy (using the official GDP deflators in OMB table 10.1).  The rightmost graphic uses the Pentagon’s special deflators.  The Pentagon's deflators are clearly biased to make the earliest budgets look larger, thereby reducing the perception of long-term growth in the Pentagon’s budget.[3]  Most defense think tanks and contractors like to use a variation of the data in the right hand chart, for obvious reasons.
Defense Secretary Carter’s measure of strategic risk is the tiny vertical difference between the “blue” and “purple” lines in Figure 3.  By his own testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carter said this tiny difference is the greatest strategic threat facing the Pentagon!   
Regardless of if or how one accounts for inflation,Carter’s assertion rests on a degree of precision that is obviously vanishingly small. In terms of annual variations in past budgets, it vanishes altogether, when one melds it with the uncertainties surrounding any predictions of future budgets. (I will address the question predictive accuracy and the role the bow wave plays in the boom-bust nature of defense spending in a subsequent essay.)
This definition of strategic risk becomes wildly bizarre, when one adds the obvious fact that DoD’s accounting, finance, and program planning systems are a shambles that cannot be audited.  (I described the nature and consequences this shambles as a witness in a congressional hearing in 2002.)  
Annual audits are required by law in accordance with the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act of 1990. These audits are intended to put teeth into the Accountability and Appropriations Clauses of the Constitution.  Every member of the federal government, including Mr. Carter and Senators take a sacred oath to uphold the Constitution. The CFO Act requires the Inspector General of each executive agency to issue an annual audit of that agencies bookkeeping systems.  Yet the DoD has never passed an audit — in effect making a mockery of the Constitution everyone has sworn to uphold.  So each year, the DoD IG has been has been issuing a string of “disclaimers of opinion” since the mid-to-late 1990s.  Moreover, deadlines for cleaning up the Pentagon’s books have been repeatedly shifted further into the future. The current deadline is 2017, or 27 years after the passage of CFO Act!  
And that deadline is still a fantasy. 
A recent email to Senator Charles Grassley’s office from a very knowledgeable ranking official the DoD’s Comptroller’s Office stated unequivocally that the 2017 deadline cannot be met, to wit:
“What I see and know tells me that the department is not on a fast track to meet the 2017 deadline. In fact, the goal seems unattainable.  And current trends are not encouraging. I keep coming back to the same old root cause problem: the department does not have control at the transaction level. Transaction data is unreliable and incomplete. That is the problem that leads to persistent disclaimers.”
Yet, despite the wildly large uncertainties implicit in the auditing shambles, Carter asserted Congress that the tiny reductions caused by moving future budgets from moving blue line down to the BCA line in Figure 3 are the gravest strategic threat facing the United States. 
And there is more to Carter’s weird claim.  
If the threat of a budget sequester is a grave strategic threat, it stands to reason that level of spending by our adversaries must also relate in some way to an appreciation of this strategic threat. 
Figure 4 depicts total defense related spending for each of the top 25 countries in the world. In addition to the United States, it includes allies (green), adversaries (red) and neutral countries (yellow).[4]  In effect, The Secretary of Defense just told Congress that the tiny difference between the budget plan and the budget caps in Figure 3 erases any comparative advantage we and our allies might have from the fact that the US and its allies are spending a far greater amount of dollars on our defenses than any of our potential adversaries or any potential combination of those adversaries.  

Figure 4

(click to enlarge)

To be sure, the data in Figure 4 is two years old, but in a relative sense not much has changed since then. Note that North Korea, Iran and global terrorism did not even make the top 25.  
So, while the difference between the PB 2017-21 and the current budget caps is a little like counting the fairies on the head of pin, Carter wants Congress and the American people to believe those fairies outweigh the effects of any dollar differences in Figure 4.   Or conversely, using Carter’s metric of choice — spending levels — Carter wants Americans to believe that each dollar of Russian and Chinese spending is far more efficiently spent than each dollar of the Pentagon’s spending -- and therefore we need more than twice as many dollars to defend ourselves.
Secretary Carter’s threat meter may be calibrated to count the number of fairies on the head of pin, but his bullshit meter is off the scale. 
Given the contents of the debate over defense spending, one wonders if the defense members of the Armed Services Committees in Congress or any of the four remaining Presidential candidates have a clue about or an interest in what it will take to defuse the budget time bomb President Obama is bequeathing to his successor?
To answer this question is to answer it.
 [1] The total national security budget (OMB budget category 050) includes the Pentagon’s budget, nuclear weapons programs in the Dept. of Energy and other programs in the State Dept., FBI, and elsewhere.  Carter’s testimony related only to the Pentagon’s share, technically known as budget category 051.  Another technicality is that Carter’s budget numbers are for discretionary New Budget Authority, or BA.  That does not include a small amount of non-discretionary budget authority carried over from previous years.  BA therefore represents the annual amount to be added to the Pentagon’s checkbook.  That money can be spent, or outlayed, over a number of future years.
[2] The US share of funding for the 1st Gulf War was thru the Base Budget, but most of the funding for US activities in that war was paid for by our allies, esp. Saudi Arabia. The money was transferred into a unique account set up for that purpose.
[3] Estimates of inflation are traditionally based on the idea of supply and demand driven price changes for a market basket of goods in a competitive economy of made up of thousands of buyers and thousands of sellers.  The Pentagon is a single buyer in planned economy where prices are negotiated. Moreover, the cost-plus negotiated nature of defense contracting (even in fixed price contracts) makes the idea of an objectively determined, market based inflation calculation absurd.  This is particularly true for budgets prior to 1976, which was the first year the Pentagon even incorporated inflation estimates into the entirety of its five-year plans.  So applying special defense deflators to defense spending before 1976 is completely meaningless.

[4] Total defense spending in the US includes nuclear weapons programs in the Dept. of Energy and a variety of defense related programs in the Dept of State, FBI, etc.  By some estimates it could have been as high as $1 trillion per year in 2014-2015

21 March 2016

NATO Expansion: A Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone in Action

Expand east => overextension creates critical vulnerabilities => increase forward presence and $$$$ flow => magnify overextension => modernize tac nucs & Triad => Voila: a New Cold War to fuel the merchants of death and increase tensions => loop back and recycle.

Attached herewith is the Marshall Fund's roadmap so you don’t get lost:

Executive Summary

“To successfully adapt NATO to a rapidly changing security environment, the Warsaw Summit should consider the following recommendations in its overall assessment:
• Place two rotating brigades on NATO’s Eastern Flank. Russia has adjusted to NATO’s Readiness Action Plan by implementing an effective anti-access / area-denial strategy from the High North, to the Baltics and the Black Sea. In the Baltics and in Poland, Russian military capabilities are sufficiently advanced to prevent NATO from easily reinforcing its Allies in case of a crisis. The Warsaw Summit must therefore shift Alliance strategy from small, mobile reinforcement to a larger, more autonomous forward presence with key capabilities in air defense, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare. Considering the overwhelming Russian military force ratio in the region, rotating a force the size of an allied brigade, one in the Baltics and one in Poland, would be a start.
• Develop a more robust role in the South. In Warsaw, NATO can take a number of steps to strengthen its southern posture. First, beyond the tasks in the Aegean, NATO can create a stronger capacity for warning, surveillance, and response against trafficking in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean by deploying Global Hawk RPAs as NATO assets from the Naval Air Station in Sigonella. Second, new initiatives must be created to deter risks to Turkey’s security and territorial integrity, including the growing Russian military presence in the region. Finally, greater political support and resources must be devoted to NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. In general there is substantial — and often unrecognized — openness and willingness in the Arab region for greater cooperation with NATO.
• Increase NATO’s preparedness regarding hybrid threats. Today a majority of NATO member states, if not all, are confronted with new forms of warfare based on criminal or hybrid operations. Strong NATO engagement on non-linear threats is therefore critical because NATO cannot present a united front if certain allies feel inadequately protected in this domain. The Warsaw Summit can set the Alliance on the right path by increasing human capital and financial resources for NATO’s various civil and military intelligence units, by granting the Supreme Allied Commander Europe more powers to authorize some of the preparatory response procedures, and by seeking a NATO-EU Memorandum of Understanding for closer cooperation on hybrid warfare.
Update NATO’s nuclear policy. The doctrine and conditions for crisis management enshrined in the 2012 Deterrence and Defense Posture Review, plus a number of other basics of the previous nuclear debate, are no longer valid. The Alliance should proceed in two steps. At the Warsaw Summit, Allies should agree on wording that highlights the need for nuclear deterrence against any threat to NATO territory in order to reassure the most exposed member states. After the Summit, NATO should enter into a nuclear debate comparable to the process that led to the 2012 Deterrence and Defence Posture Review, in order to redefine the contribution of NATO’s nuclear forces.
Revitalize the partnerships and Open Door policy. NATO partnerships and enlargement must be reassessed. The Alliance would see its action radius beyond its borders drastically reduced if it allows many of its partnership connections to wither on the vine; this includes status of force agreements, overflight rights, and intelligence-sharing arrangements.
NATO enlargement must be understood as a political project, and the process cannot be reduced to a negotiation over legal conditionality or technical criteria. Concluding NATO integration in the Balkans should be a priority. Placing the Open Door back at the heart of allied policy will project NATO’s credibility and resolve beyond its borders.” [emphasis added]
         To continue Download PDF of Report  -

Now what was it that Bismarck said about the bones of Pomeranian Grenadiers?

20 March 2016

The Kurdish Genie - A Case of Complexity Papered Over by Arrogance and Ignorance

Chuck Spinney

One of the unintended consequences of the US invasions of Iraq in 1991 and 2003 and their aftermaths has been the unleashing the Kurdish nationalist genie in the Middle East.  Today, a de-facto Kurdish statelet exists in northeast Iraq, one is emerging in northern Syria, and, after a period of attempted reconciliation, the Kurdish-Turkish violence is metastasizing again throughout Turkey.  Only the Kurdish region in northwestern Iran is quiet.
The Kurdish genie has its origin in the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, in ideas for self-determination in President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points,  and in the failure (see pgs. 5 & 6)  of the Versailles Peace Conference (1919) to entertain the question of Kurdish national aspirations.  The Versailles Conference made a mockery of Wilson’s ideas, particularly in the Middle East.  In truth, the question of an independent Kurdish nation has been bottled up since the (1) Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916) proposed to carve up the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire in the interest of the European colonial powers, (2) Treaty of Sèvres (1920) tried to effect that division, and (3) the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) undid the proposed partition of Anatolia by establishing the borders of modern Turkey, scotching Kurdish national aspirations in southeast Turkey by incorporating that part of Kurdistan into the Turkish Republic.  The modern multi-ethnic states of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, as well as Jordan, and Israel emerged from the confused detritus of the interaction of Wilson’s naive idealism [1] with the cynical machinations of the European colonial powers. Today the Kurds remain the world’s largest ethnic group without a national home, but to attain one, requires the continued destruction of the existing national structure in Syria, Iraq, and perhaps Turkey or even Iran. Given that the national structures of Turkey and Iran are very strong, Kurdish nationalist ambitions to move beyond a rump status in Syria and Iraq are likely to run into bloody roadblock.
The attached report by Florian Neuhof in the excellent Middle East Eye newsletter illustrates the growing complexities of the ongoing emergence of an oil rich Kurdish statelet that is part of the larger partitioning of Iraq.  Together with the emerging partition of Syria, the spillover into oil-poor Turkey and possibly Iran are unknowable. One thing is clear, however, idiotic macho statements like sending 30,000 US troops into Iraq to “knock the hell” out of ISIS (Trump) and carpet bombing Islamic militants in Syria to see if we can make “sand glow in the dark” (Cruz), or colossally ignorant statements about intervening by applying more “smart power at its best,” like we did in Libya (Clinton) do not augur well for America’s future role in the Middle East.
[1] A hilarious example of the ignorance surrounding the Kurdish Question at Versailles can be found in Dr. E. J. Dillon’s contemporary account, The Inside Story of the Paris Peace Conference, February 1920.  The book is in electronic format, courtesy of Project Gutenberg, and all you have to do is google the word “Kurd” to get a contemporary feel for how people viewed the Kurdish Question at the Versailles Peace Conference. 

On Iraq's faultline: Kirkuk governor calls for vote on Kurdish autonomy
Kirkuk's ties with Iraq's Kurdish region are building, but its governor says he will not turn his back on Baghdad without securing best deal for city
Florian Neuhof, Middle East Eye, Last update: Sunday 20 March 2016 11:35 UTC

Kirkuk, IRAQ - On the streets of Kirkuk, a heavy security presence is keeping a lid on terrorism attacks tearing apart other areas of Iraq, but a palpable sense of tension remains.
Uniformed men are stationed at almost every junction, traffic slows at checkpoints and flows past blast walls protecting police stations and public buildings. The busy roads contrast with empty pavements lined with run-down houses and shabby convenience stores.
On the city's rim, the Kurdish Peshmerga have established themselves in bases once housing the Iraqi army, feeding men and material into the front lines holding the Islamic State group at arms length.
Cut loose from Baghdad's control, subject to competing claims, and eyeing autonomy, few cities embody the creeping disintegration and uncertain future of Iraq better than oil-rich but decaying Kirkuk.
The city and wider province is part of the so-called disputed territories that Kurdish troops were able to occupy when the Iraqi army collapsed under the IS onslaught in 2014. 
These territorial gains and the weakness of the government in Baghdad emboldened the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in its quest for an independent state. It is the stated objective of long-time President Massoud Barzani, who has called for a referendum on Kurdish independence to be held this year.
For Kirkuk's governor Najmaldin Karim, this represents a chance to force a decision on city's future. But a referendum on whether Kirkuk should become part of the KRG, outlined in Iraq's constitution, has failed to get off the ground, and the governor believes that the two mooted votes should be merged.
"If there is a referendum for Kurdistan, that should include Kirkuk as well," Karim tells Middle East Eye during an interview in his heavily guarded compound in the city centre.
After the fall of the Saddam Hussein in 2003, the city became part of the territories claimed by both the KRG and the central government in Baghdad, which straddle the autonomous Kurdish region and stretch from the Iranian to the Syrian border.
Sometimes referred to as the "Kurdish Jerusalem", the city is integral to Kurdish nationalism and a central plank in secessionist aspirations.
Karim is quick to downplay suggestions that a break up of Iraq is imminent. He doubts whether the referendum will be held this year, but is adamant that the disputed territories need to be part of it, as it would otherwise "exclude 40 percent of Kurdistan".
"In that case it's a useless referendum," said Karim.
The governor does not hide his frustration with the Iraqi government.
"We have a lot of grievances with Baghdad. It’s a strong, centralised and inefficient, incompetent administration. Baghdad is very controlling, and the constitution says Iraq should be federal," said Karim.
Local autonomy features highly on the governor's list of priorities, not least as a way to assure the diverse population of the city.
"Even if Kirkuk becomes part of KRG, it has to have a special status within the KRG, because Kirkuk is multi-ethnic, multi-sect, multi-religion," he said.
Kirkuk's demographic composition is hotly debated and difficult to assess, as previous censuses under the Saddam regime are thought to be politically motivated.
Based on his reading of statistics from Iraq's parliamentary elections in 2010 and 2014, Karim believes that Kurds make up between 53-55 percent of Kirkuk's population, while Arabs and Turkmen contribute around 33 percent and 14 percent respectively.
"If Kirkuk was to become part of the KRG there is no doubt that locals would want Kirkuk to be treated in a different manner to Sulimani, Erbil, Dohuk and Halabja," said Sam Morris, an analyst at the Middle East Research Institute.
As part of his Arabisation efforts of Kurdish territories, Saddam Hussein changed demographics by resettling Arabs from the south to Kirkuk, and redrawing the borders of the governorate, excluding Kurdish and adding Arab areas.
The spread of IS has also led to a huge wave of displacement, with millions fleeing areas occupied by the group.
Kirkuk took about 600,000 refugees, mainly Sunni Arab's from the Hawija and Salaheddin provinces to the south of the city.
Less than 50,000 have returned since IS was expelled from parts of those provinces, said Karim.
Weary of a creeping Arabisation of Kirkuk, Karim insists that the refugees will have to leave the city as soon as it is safe for them to do so.
"We are not going to allow demographic changes. They have to go back, these people are not from Kirkuk," he said.
The ethnic mix, typical of the disputed territories, requires a transition period even if the city would eventually join the Kurdish region.
"Initially it would be difficult to be part of the KRG, as you need some consensus and that's not available," said Karim.
"[We need a] transition before we become part of the KRG, three or four years to administer Kirkuk by itself. When people see that, they can make a better judgment by themselves: do they want to keep that or do they want to join the KRG?"
While a Kurd himself, Karim is not willing to commit too heavily to an eventual union with the KRG or a future Kurdish state. Instead, he is keeping his options open, keen to get the best possible deal for the province.
"We may go for our own region ourselves," he said in a warning to both Erbil, the KRG's capital, and Baghdad.
Oil draws Kirkuk closer to Kurdish Iraq
But there are signs that Kirkuk is shifting away from Iraq and drawing closer to the Kurdish orbit.
Already protected by Peshmerga, Kirkuk's economic ties with the KRG were strengthened by a deal that remunerates the city for its oil.
The bulk of Kirkuk's oil production - about 325,000 and 350,000 barrels a day according to Karim - is now under Kurdish control and finds its way either to the KRG or to the international markets via a pipeline running through Kurdish territory to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.
Since 2013, Baghdad has not paid $1-a-barrel fee that Kirkuk is entitled to. Under the agreement with the KRG, the city will receive $10mn a month for its oil.
The deal, which was revealed earlier this month, is backdated to June 2015, and payments for January and February have already been made, said Karim.
"KRG’s payments of $10mn a month strengthens its influence in the governorate. Not only are they able to provide security in the form of Peshmerga, they are able to assist economically, areas where the government in Baghdad failed," said Morris.
As much as Kirkuk tries to insulate itself from Baghdad's failings, it is impossible to ignore the war that is still being played out on its doorstep, and IS continues to menace.
On 9 March, IS launched a chemical attack on Taza, a small Shia Turkmen town just behind the Kurdish front, raining down mortar shells filled with poison gas in the latest of such attacks in Iraq.
Hundreds of locals were reportedly treated after inhaling the gas, and a three-year-old girl was killed. IS fired more gas into the town three days later.
Only a few kilometres from Kirkuk lies the Kurdish frontline. Earthen mounds has been thrown up in an seemingly endless lines, each topped with defensive fortifications.
A ditch, several metres wide and deep, has been dug in front, its earth formed into an embankment that joins up the forts.
They are manned by about a dozen Peshmerga, armed with heavy machine guns and a generous supply of rocket propelled grenades that can take out suicide bombers driving armoured cars into their lines.
Behind, a huge blast wall is being erected, and has been completed in some sections of the front. A concrete barrier stretching out across the flat farmland resembles a misplaced Berlin Wall.

IS has found these defences near impossible to breach. So too will the Iraqi army and its allied Shia militias should they try and take back Kirkuk by force once the IS threat has been banished.

11 March 2016

Unveiled: Cockburn's Theory of Cost-Plus Politics

Attached herewith is Andrew Cockburn’s* fabulous debunking of neoclassical political science.  He dissects the microeconomics of contemporary American politics, and in so doing uncovers what one might call a General Theory of Employment, Self Interest, and Money.  But unlike most critics, his research reveals a lower-cost, easily-tested alternative hypothesis.
This is a MUST READ blaster.  Before reading it, however, I urge you to take the following multiple choice quiz: 
Who are the Suckers in contemporary politics? 
(a) the people  
(b) the politicians  
(c) the big donors  
(d) the small donors  
(e) the people living off the money moving thru the political system
Now read the article (i.e., follow the money) and take the quiz again.
Chuck Spinney
* Caveat: I am biased, Cockburn a friend of over 30 years.

--------Excerpt --------

LETTER FROM WASHINGTON — From the April 2016 issue
Down the Tube
Television, turnout, and the election-industrial complex
By Andrew Cockburn, Harpers
“I never met a politician who started out to be a fund-raiser,” remarked Mike McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist and recipient of constant pleas for cash from lawmakers. For years, he has watched them dial for dollars and endure nightly gatherings convened for the extraction of donations — “grim affairs,” in his phrase — because they have been convinced such efforts are vital for survival at the polls. “Most of them run for office because they want to achieve something,” he told me. “But once they get there, they spend their time raising money. I don’t know a single one who enjoys it.” Ironically, he explained over a beer on K Street, most of the money they raise is wasted, especially on expensive TV campaigns that do nothing to move voters. The principal effect of these labors, he insisted, is to “feed the consultant class.”
My companion was referring to the strategists, pollsters, TV-ad makers, media buyers, direct-mail specialists, broadcasters, and other subcategories of what we should properly call the election-industrial complex. Amid an economy that has bumped along since the 2008 crash, this industry has enjoyed a staggering growth curve, barely matched in percentage terms even by its military counterpart, as candidates and campaigns rattle their begging bowls ever more furiously with each cycle.

Such manic spending is driven by a core belief of modern American politics: the votes can be bought if the check is big enough. “You now have the potential of two hundred people deciding who ends up being elected president every single time,” Barack Obama told a select group of donors gathered in Medina, Washington, in February 2012. “I mean, there are five or six people in this room tonight [who] could simply make a decision, ‘This will be the next president,’ and probably at least get a nomination.” Obama’s audience, which included several billionaires, had each paid $17,900 into his reelection coffers to attend. According to Ken Vogel, indefatigable chronicler of political money flows, the president’s jeremiad contained the obligatory reference to the brothers Koch and their famously bottomless war chest — an ever-reliable bogeyman, of course, for Democratic fund-raisers. (continued)

03 March 2016

Why the Neoconmen are Pivoting to Hillary Clinton

Yesterday, sixty self-proclaimed  members of the "Republican national security community," including many prominent necons  portentously signed an open letter to the GOP and the world calling on the GOP to dump Donald Trump or else they would work "energetically" to prevent the election of that GOP candidate for president -- a not so subtle threat that they would support Hillary Clinton for President, a position that ought to give pause to those antiwar Democrats supporting Hillary Clinton.
My friend Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute, explains below why the War Party is running from Trump and pivoting toward Hillary Clinton.  Clearly, the neoconmen view Trump as a loose cannon and potential a serious threat to their permanent war machine.  
Attached herewith is McAdams' analysis; the "open letter" is attached beneath it.
Chuck Spinney
Panicked Neocon Armchair Warhawks Penning Harshly-Worded Letter on Trump Foreign Policy
Daniel Mcadams, Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, March 2, 2016

Neocon Max Boot's nervous breakdown...
The neocons are renowned for their courage on the battlefield. There is no keyboard they are afraid to finger. No pen they won't commandeer. When the battle cry is sounded, they unhesitatingly push the "on" button at their computers and saddle up for battle. Off with the loafers and under the desk! "Caution to the wind! Bring in a wine spritzer, dammit, I'm off to waaar!" 
While this Institute and this column most definitely do not take a position on any candidate and in fact your correspondent views voting itself with disdain in today's corrupt US political system, it is impossible to avoid viewing with extreme amusement the collective neocon hysterical breakdown over the possibility that voters of the Republican Party -- a party neocons crashed en masse starting in 1972 and especially 1976 -- may be sending as their nominee for president a man who has committed the cardinal sins of:
1) Stating the obvious that the Iraq war was brought to us by the liars of the neoconservative movement and has been a total disaster for the rest of us who are forced to pay for their fantasies of world domination.
2) Suggesting that he might actually speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin to see if US/Russia differences can be worked out without a potentially world-ending nuclear war.
3) Though arguing that he is hugely pro-Israel, nevertheless suggesting that if the US is to play a role in the Israel/Palestine issue (this Institute would argue that it should not), the US side should, in the interests of any chance of success, take a neutral role in the process.
4) Wondering why on earth Obama listened to idiotic neocon advice and overthrew Libya's strongman leader only to see the red carpet laid down for ISIS.
5) Suggesting that it may be a good thing that Russia be bombing ISIS into oblivion and that we might want to just sit back and let that happen for once.
These positions are mortal sins in the Church of the Neoconservative and the only penance is an intense round of Stalinist self-criticism and ultimately political exile because one is never trustworthy again once one violates the neocon commandments. There is no purgatorio in the neocon Inferno.
So in Politico today, Michael Crowley writes that the "Neocons Declare War on Trump." How do they propose to prosecute their war? As usual, with their well-known bravery. They are planning a mass exodus from the Republican Party to support their sister-in-arms Hillary Clinton, who as president plans to change the official motto of the United States from "In God We Trust" to "We Came, We Saw, He Died."
Tomorrow the neocons plan to launch their version of a nuclear missile -- the dreaded "strongly-worded letter" -- to warn Republican voters that if they continue to flirt with the foreign policy apostate Trump, the neocons will take their toys and go home to the Democratic Party. Republican voters at that point are supposed to wail and gnash their teeth at the prospect of supporting a party without bloodsucking neocons calling the shots.
Leading the strongly-worded letter campaign is Dov Zakheim, who as George W. Bush's Comptroller of the Pentagon somehow lost track of a trillion or so dollars. It's a safe bet Zakheim is not spending his retirement from government service in a double-wide trailer somewhere. Top military officers will retire, screams Zakheim, if under Trump the US abandons the neocon vision of "American exceptionalism." Perhaps so. And what would they do without enormously well-paid positions in the military-industrial complex to retire to? 
The neocons are gambling that the American voter's fury at Washington does not extend to their foreign policy adventurism. They are gambling that another PNAC-style harshly-worded letter will awaken America from its temporary dalliance and shock it back into its abusive relationship with the soft-skinned and well-perfumed keyboard warriors who eagerly send America's sons and daughters to be slaughtered in wars that achieve nothing but the ascendence of new "bad guys" used to justify ever-more wars. And all of it pays very nicely for them.
Will voters again try to kick that football? Or will they kick the neocons instead?
Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given

WOTR STAFF, War on the Rocks, MARCH 2, 2016
We the undersigned, members of the Republican national security community, represent a broad spectrum of opinion on America’s role in the world and what is necessary to keep us safe and prosperous. We have disagreed with one another on many issues, including the Iraq war and intervention in Syria. But we are united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency. Recognizing as we do, the conditions in American politics that have contributed to his popularity, we nonetheless are obligated to state our core objections clearly:
His vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle. He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence.
His advocacy for aggressively waging trade wars is a recipe for economic disaster in a globally connected world.
His embrace of the expansive use of torture is inexcusable.
His hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric undercuts the seriousness of combatting Islamic radicalism by alienating partners in the Islamic world making significant contributions to the effort. Furthermore, it endangers the safety and Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of American Muslims.
Controlling our border and preventing illegal immigration is a serious issue, but his insistence that Mexico will fund a wall on the southern border inflames unhelpful passions, and rests on an utter misreading of, and contempt for, our southern neighbor.
Similarly, his insistence that close allies such as Japan must pay vast sums for protection is the sentiment of a racketeer, not the leader of the alliances that have served us so well since World War II.
His admiration for foreign dictators such as Vladimir Putin is unacceptable for the leader of the world’s greatest democracy.
He is fundamentally dishonest. Evidence of this includes his attempts to deny positions he has unquestionably taken in the past, including on the 2003 Iraq war and the 2011 Libyan conflict. We accept that views evolve over time, but this is simply misrepresentation.
His equation of business acumen with foreign policy experience is false. Not all lethal conflicts can be resolved as a real estate deal might, and there is no recourse to bankruptcy court in international affairs.
Mr. Trump’s own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world. Furthermore, his expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States. Therefore, as committed and loyal Republicans, we are unable to support a Party ticket with Mr. Trump at its head. We commit ourselves to working energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to the office.

David Adesnik
Michael Auslin
Robert D. Blackwill
Daniel A. Blumenthal
Max Boot
Michael Chertoff
Patrick Chovanec
Eliot A. Cohen
Carrie Cordero
Patrick M. Cronin
Seth Cropsey
Tom Donnelly
Daniel Drezner
Colin Dueck
Eric Edelman
Richard A. Falkenrath
Peter D. Feaver
Aaron Friedberg
Jeffrey Gedmin
Christopher J. Griffin
Mary R. Habeck
Rebeccah Heinrichs
William C. Inboden
Jamil N. Jaffer
Robert G. Joseph
Robert Kagan
David Kramer
Matthew Kroenig
Frank Lavin
Philip I. Levy
Mary Beth Long
Matthew McCabe
Bryan McGrath
Paul D. Miller
Lester Munson
Andrew S. Natsios
Michael Noonan
John  Noonan
Roger F. Noriega
Robert T. Osterhaler
Everett Pyatt
Martha T. Rainville
Stephen Rodriguez
Daniel F. Runde
Richard L. Russell
Kori Schake
Randy Scheunemann
Gary J. Schmitt
Kalev I. Sepp
David R. Shedd
Kristen Silverberg
Michael Singh
Ray Takeyh
William H. Tobey
Frances F. Townsend
Jan Van Tol
Dov S. Zakheim
Roger Zakheim
Philip Zelikow
Robert B. Zoellick

The statement above was coordinated by Dr. Eliot A. Cohen, former Counselor of the Department of State (2007–8) and Bryan McGrath, Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group, a defense consultancy. They encourage other members of the Republican foreign policy and national security communities wishing to sign the declaration to contact them