The Military and the Shutdown: Assessing the Damage

The National Interest October 22, 2013 With the government back in business, it’s worth reflecting on the toll the sixteen-day shutdown inflicted on the nation’s defense. While most of the media attention went to relative trivialities like service-academy sports and the closure of war memorials, we wasted enormous resources that could otherwise have gone toward…

Obama’s Goldilocks Syria Plan

The National Interest September 11, 2013 In a speech to the nation, President Obama warned that if the United States does not launch a punitive strike against Syria, Iran will pursue nuclear weapons, Al Qaeda will try to kill Americans, and bad men will do bad things. Despite “a brutal civil war” in which more…

Smart Wars Don’t Need Selling

The National Interest September 10, 2013 President Obama is pulling out all stops in a thus-far failing bid to convince the American people and their representatives in Congress to back military action in Syria. His secretaries of state and defense have been everywhere talking up the horrors of chemical warfare and the price to be…

No More Baby Steps: DoD Needs a Real Strategic Review

Barry Pavel and James Joyner Defense News September 8, 2013 The United States must fundamentally rethink its defense strategy in light of major changes in both funding and the security challenges we face in the world. The Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review is just beginning. This strategic review must offer the president and Congress a clear-eyed assessment…

Why Obama’s Plan to Strike Syria Makes No Strategic Sense

The Atlantic August 30, 2013 Having backed himself into a corner by declaring a “red line” that has now been crossed, President Obama is by all appearances ramping up for military action in Syria. As best we can tell from the not inconsiderable leaks coming from Washington and elsewhere, the planned strikes would use aerial…

NSA: Three Hops and You’re Out

The National Interest July 24, 2013 Revelations that the government’s ability to access American citizens’ phone records without probable cause is much broader than previously contemplated got Congress’ attention last week, drawing rebukes and warnings from both sides of the aisle. The startling new insight came from NSA Deputy Director John Inglis, who testified before…

Why Should Congress and the Courts Care About Snooping If Citizens Don’t?

The Atlantic  June 13, 2013 The New York Times editorial board complains, “Except for a few leaders and members of the intelligence committees, most lawmakers did not know the government was collecting records on almost every phone call made in the United States or was able to collect anyone’s e-mail messages and Internet chats.” Further, it adds, “since…

Ignoring the Hagel Hearing Farce

The National Interest February 1, 2013 The Senate confirmation hearings over Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next secretary of defense were a classic case of garbage in, garbage out. Sadly, they were par for the course in the American national-security debate. The hearings literally broke Twitter in the early going, and the tweets with…

A Drone Strike on Democracy

New York Daily News December 6, 2012 As a theoretical matter, remotely piloted vehicles are simply a tool of warfare, morally indistinguishable from manned aircraft. The more efficiently the U.S. can target and kill its enemies, the better. And drones are cheaper to operate, carry far less risk for American military personnel and make it…

America’s Scandalous Drone War Goes Unmentioned in the Campaign

The New Republic, September 26, 2012 *Republished by The Australian  as “Drones Backfire as Civilian Toll Mounts,” October 3, 2012) A new study released this week by researchers at Stanford and NYU has found that American drone strikes in Pakistan are killing far more civilians than advertised, taking out few high value targets, and have become the…