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  • Commentary posted October 6, 2014 by Jim Talent America’s Strategic Drift

    America’s national-security policy is strategically adrift. But that’s nothing new. The ambiguity began more than 20 years ago, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, the threat posed by the Soviets’ conventional and nuclear forces drove Washington’s defense programming and budgetary decisions. The collapse of the USSR, coupled with the failure of…

  • Commentary posted September 3, 2014 by Jim Talent The U.S. Giant Slumbers

    The leaders of the Chinese Communist party (CCP) want China to achieve hegemonic control over East Asia extending at least throughout the East and South China Seas. They have claimed sovereignty over those waters and the islands they contain, and they are developing the means to enforce their claims by a massive military buildup that is shifting the balance of hard power…

  • Commentary posted September 2, 2014 by Jim Talent China Rising

    China recently conducted its third land-based missile-intercept test. These tests, most likely designed to facilitate “hit to kill” technologies critical for China’s missile defense and anti-satellite programs, are part of a well-planned, enormous military buildup in which the Chinese have been engaged for nearly 20 years. Here are some features of that effort: …

  • Commentary posted July 8, 2014 by Jim Talent Over the Brink

    What is happening in Iraq now has a nightmarish quality. Three years ago, the United States had defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq and set up a fledgling democracy in Iraq. I understand those who believe that Prime Minister Maliki could never have been trusted and Iraq would never have become a real democracy. But the United States didn’t need a democracy in Iraq, or even a…

  • Commentary posted January 2, 2014 by Jim Talent From Russia with Love

    Vassily Kashin, who is a Russian senior research fellow and China expert at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, recently posted an article on the website of the Voice of Russia, in which he discusses the shifting balance of power in the Pacific. An account of his commentary was reported here on the Taiwanese website Want China Times. For…

  • Commentary posted December 20, 2013 by Jim Talent Power and Purpose

    Recently I posted here on China’s unprecedented military buildup and the reasons for it. The Chinese Communist leaders are pursuing a “coercive but non-kinetic” policy – essentially bullying the smaller countries in the region with the threat of armed conflict – and rapidly developing the means to deny the American military access to the East and South China Seas, which…

  • Commentary posted December 5, 2013 by Jim Talent The Equilibrium of East Asia

    Last week China escalated, yet again, the conflict over the Senkaku islands. It announced an air-defense identification zone over the islands, and indeed over much of the East China Sea; according to the announcement, aircraft must get permission from China before entering the zone and must obey the rules China has established, or face “defensive emergency measures.” The…

  • Special Report posted October 31, 2013 by Jim Talent, Honorable Jon Kyl A Strong and Focused National Security Strategy

    Executive Summary When President Obama took office, the armed services of the United States had already reached a fragile state. The Navy had shrunk to its smallest size since before World War I; the Air Force was smaller, and its aircraft older, than at any time since the inception of the service. The Army was stressed by years of war; according to Secretary of Defense…

  • Commentary posted September 10, 2013 by Jim Talent Weak, Late

    On balance, the president did a good job making the weak case for military action over the violation of his red line. Perhaps the administration has now learned why presidents typically don’t draw such lines: They encourage would-be aggressors to believe they can take any action short of the line with impunity, and they deprive the United States of operational flexibility…

  • Commentary posted June 14, 2013 by Jim Talent Carter and Obama Militaries Quickly Becoming Synonymous

    As the military absorbs round after round of defense cuts, congressional and Pentagon sources have frequently invoked the specter of a “hollow military.” The term came from General Shy Meyer during a 1980 House Armed Services subcommittee hearing, at which Meyer declared: “Right now, as I have said before, we have a hollow Army. Our forward deployed forces are at full…

  • Commentary posted May 24, 2013 by Jim Talent Not Doing 'Whatever It Takes'

    Shortly after the president’s speech yesterday, a friend of mine who is an expert on counterterrorism e-mailed me the following: “That speech was pretty much every constitutional-law class he ever taught. A moral argument with himself.” I couldn’t have said it better. The speech raises more questions than it answers. Herewith, some observations: AL-QAEDA The speech…

  • Commentary posted April 22, 2013 by Jim Talent Necessary Spending

    This year’s defense budget is coming into focus, and the picture isn’t pretty. Congress and the president will probably agree to increase defense spending by a small amount, but they will probably also take money away from future defense budgets. This will allow them to say that they have increased defense spending while in reality the wholesale unraveling of American…

  • Commentary posted April 8, 2013 by Jim Talent Strength Will Deter Provocations by North Korea

    There’s a reason rogue regimes such as North Korea try so hard to acquire nuclear capability. It empowers their conventional aggression by protecting them from reprisals that threaten to remove them from power. That’s because the civilized world knows that, if pushed too far, the regimes can use nuclear weapons against undefended targets. Even if the threat to launch is a…

  • Commentary posted April 1, 2013 by Jim Talent Our Growing Security Risks

    The last few months have made crystal clear what was increasingly evident anyway: that every category of primary risk to American security is growing. In January, a Chinese vessel locked a radar fix on a Japanese ship. That’s equivalent to a sniper fixing a laser sight on the forehead of a prospective target. It was a deliberately provocative act, and it comes on the…

  • Commentary posted February 12, 2013 by Jim Talent Failing to Fund Defense Will Have Consequences

    The United States typically maintains two carrier groups in the Persian Gulf at the same time. That number was not picked out of a hat; it turns out that, among other important missions, it is much easier to protect the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping lane, with one carrier group inside the Strait and another positioned in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, or nearby…