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[ 17 ] January 14, 2017 |
USS Forrestal, lead ship of her class of supercarriers

USS Forrestal By USN – Official U.S. Navy photo NH 97657-KN from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command, Public Domain

The second part of my piece on the CNAS “Future Foundry” project is now available:

Comparative context would be helpful. “Capability monocultures and an ever-dwindling variety of weapons systems, procured at higher prices and in lower quantities than ever before” isn’t “failure to adapt to global trends”; it is a global trend, not apparently dependent on the specifics of the U.S. defense industry or on U.S. defense procurement strategy. The United States, China, Russia, and the European Union are all spending more to field fewer front line systems, supporting fewer front-line soldiers and sailors.



Sanders FP Machine

[ 60 ] January 13, 2017 |

Matt Duss (left) appears at wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Long-time friend of the blog and occasional guest poster Matt Duss is making waves:

Bernie Sanders is adding some serious firepower to his Washington Senate operation as he heads into a year during which he’s expected to anchor both the liberal resistance to Trump and the fight to re-center the Democratic Party around his brand of economic populism. Sanders’ office has hired liberal activist and talk show host Ari Rabin-Havt, a veteran of Harry Reid’s office and Media Matters, to head up a new leadership outreach operation, and foreign policy wonk Matt Duss, most recently the president of the Foundation on Middle East Peace, as a foreign policy advisor. And joining Sanders’ Budget Committee staff as an investigator is former Wall Street Journal reporter Alicia Mundy, who has written extensively about the pharmaceutical industry, a focus for Sanders.

Foreign policy was something of an afterthought to Sanders’ 2016 effort, but he began to develop some infrastructure as the campaign went on. Indeed, the decision to not develop a strong FP critique of Hillary Clinton, precisely the strategy that had allowed Barack Obama to defeat her in ’08, was what made me think that Sanders had initially conceived of himself as an issue/protest candidate rather than a serious challenger. Looking to the future, however, it will be interesting to see how Sanders develops this infrastructure into a genuinely leftish foreign policy platform. Matt will have a very important role to play in that process.

But then Matt also DJed my wedding, and I’m not even married anymore.  So clearly he has a long track record of failure.

Reliable Expectations

[ 21 ] January 11, 2017 |

53855893Look, the last thing you want from a Presidential administration is a coherent, unambiguous position on relations with a fellow nuclear power:

And hey, all of those things have the benefit of being true (probably with the exception of Ukraine’s military response; there were serious escalation concerns that Kiev would have struggled to manage). The problem is that the guy at the top seems to have a different view on all of this than the guy he selected as his Secretary of State.  This matters if conflict develops between Russia and any of its neighbors; Moscow needs to have a firm sense of what the United States will do if it decides to eat more of Ukraine, or of the Baltics.

Bowl Mania “Victor”

[ 5 ] January 11, 2017 |
Chauveau -  - 03-11.png

Fables de La Fontaine by François Chauveau

A champion for our degraded times…

1 631 97.7
2 630 97.6
3 608 94.5
4 597 92.2
5 593 91.3
6* 584 89.1
6* 584 89.1
8 575 86.4
9 572 85.5
10 568 84.2

dlanoue3 should contact me regarding prize info; address on the far right sidebar…


[ 92 ] January 11, 2017 |

53855893I have little substantive to add to Scott’s post, beyond affirming his recommendation of Lawfare’s treatment. Josh Marshall also outlines what I think is a careful, judicious approach.

Regardless of the veracity of the claims (which originated from outside the US intelligence community), I think it’s fair to say that we’ll open the Trump administration with an unprecedented level of hostility between the President and the IC. One way to read this is deep concern on the part of the IC on just how compromised Trump may be; discussion of the leaks, and of Russian hacking efforts, works to reduce his policy latitude and minimize the degree of Russian influence.  Another way to read it is deep concern over the degree of his outreach to Russia; the leaks and the hacking work to prevent Trump from carrying out policies that he would otherwise prefer, but that the IC loathes.

There’s clearly a middle ground.  Trump sees the prospect for friendly relations with Russia because he’s done business with Russians before, because he has some personal admiration for Putin’s governance style, and because he shares some ideological priors with the Putin government. Those factors serve both as the foundation for Russian support during the election, and as the basis for potentially sketchy relations between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

An interpretation that strains credulity is the one we find on the pro-Russia right and the pro-Russia left; that the IC has manufactured these claims from whole cloth in order to discredit Trump and start a NEW COLD WAR.  In addition to running contrary to publicly available, non-IC evidence, this would go well beyond any precedent in the history of the US IC (and yes, this includes WMD, Operation Northwoods, COINTELPRO, etc.) as well as against what we know about current divisions in the US IC over the prospects of the Trump administration.  While not many in the IC see strong relations with Russia as a positive, there are big factions that see Flynn’s more kinetic approach to Islamic terrorism as a big plus.

I would also add that for the Department of Defense and the US defense industry, Russia is almost completely irrelevant to the NEW COLD WAR. Although Moscow has clearly displayed its effectiveness at non-military operations, and showed up more effectively than many (including myself) expected in Syria, Russia is not the major driver for defense innovation and defense expenditure.  If you want a bigger, more expensive US military, you talk China, and Trump has already demonstrated that he’s quite capable of driving tensions with Beijing.


[ 271 ] January 10, 2017 |
Jeff Sessions by Gage Skidmore.jpg

By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Cory Booker is apparently testifying against Jefferson Beauregard Sessions out of some combination of ruthless ambition and Neoliberal Sellout-itude.  Doesn’t Booker understand that the genuine socialist move, at this moment in American history, would be to pen an angry diatribe against Meryl Streep?

For shame!

NYC Meetup Wrap

[ 30 ] January 9, 2017 |

15826031_10154172900689327_6754893592248409957_nDespite the snow and frigid temperatures, the NYC LGM Meetup came off fabulously.  Fool’s Gold was an outstanding venue.  See some photos here. More such things should be held in the future; whenever we can expect two or more front pagers to be together in a metro area that has a significant number of LGM readers…


DNI Report

[ 322 ] January 6, 2017 |

dniHere ya go. Have at it.

LGM NYC Meetup Reminder

[ 37 ] January 6, 2017 |


Last reminder! We’ll be meeting tomorrow afternoon at Fool’s Gold, 145 E. Houston St., at 3pm. It should not be hard to find us.

Hold Off on “Verified”

[ 56 ] January 6, 2017 |

Well this, from Julian’s “support” account, is not freakishly creepy in any way:

And the mission of the WL Task Force:

US-China Relations

[ 25 ] January 5, 2017 |
H-6K 20211 20151127.jpg

PLAAF H-6K Bomber By 日本防衛省·統合幕僚監部 – , CC BY 4.0

Given that President Trump has decided that China is where he’ll demonstrate his toughness and resolvitude, here are five areas of potential conflict between Beijing and Washington:

Even prior to his inauguration, President Trump has (for good or ill) unsettled the relationship between the United States and China. While Trump’s dovish instincts on Russia are well known, he (and his team) have suggested a far more controversial stance in the Asia-Pacific. Here are five areas in which both Washington and Beijing will need to tread carefully:


Plan Z

[ 19 ] January 4, 2017 |


The National Interest asked me to contribute a piece on Plan Z:

In the mid-1930s, the Nazi government began to plan in detail for the reconstruction of German naval power. The destruction of the German High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow remained central to the mythology of German betrayal and defeat in World War I; rebuilding the fleet would be a grand achievement worthy of the Nazis, but also in accord with long-term German foreign policy goals.

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