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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Senator Marco Rubio on: Today at 12:24:18 AM
Reagan's speech supporting Ford in '76 had that effect.
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary ineligible on: May 30, 2016, 02:42:13 PM
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary ineligible on: May 30, 2016, 02:41:52 PM
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Australia on: May 30, 2016, 12:37:30 PM
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Male Gender Gap on: May 30, 2016, 10:59:51 AM
Does anyone pay attention to Bill Kristol? Last I saw of him he was sent down to the minors some years ago after playing on the panel for FOX's "Special Report with Britt Hume".

6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Elizabeth "Forked Tongue" Warren, Fauxcahontas, Harvard's first woman of color on: May 30, 2016, 10:56:11 AM
Some great snark in the article too.  I particularly liked "Lieawatha" and "Chief Spreading Bull".
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Why the Korean War? on: May 30, 2016, 09:13:55 AM
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: May 30, 2016, 09:11:52 AM
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: May 30, 2016, 09:03:18 AM

The last few posts would have been better in other threads e.g. Politics, 2016 Election, etc. 
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Elizabeth "Forked Tongue" Warren and the Art of the Sweetheart Deal on: May 30, 2016, 09:01:17 AM
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Memorial Day on: May 30, 2016, 08:55:21 AM
 I ran across one last night that resonates with me:

"Honor the fallen by living a Life worthy of their sacrifice."
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DHS releasing criminals on: May 30, 2016, 12:55:28 AM
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 29, 2016, 02:55:56 PM
Can't say that his doing so in this case did not serve the cause of Truth. 
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Britain:Knife jihadi hits four women on: May 29, 2016, 02:54:13 PM
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A sea change in Israeli politics? on: May 29, 2016, 01:06:48 PM
Long article,seems significant:
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Harvard's first woman of color on: May 28, 2016, 11:48:49 AM
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rubio surprises on: May 27, 2016, 10:30:41 PM
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newet on the IG report on: May 27, 2016, 07:08:22 PM
The Worst Thing in Hillary’s Email Report
Originally published at the Washington Times

It’s difficult to choose the most disturbing aspect of the State Department Inspector General’s report this week on Hillary Clinton’s email practices, but near the top of the list must surely be this: virtually everything Clinton has said about her email has been a lie, and she knew it all the time.

Her first explanation was that she set up the secret server in her private home as “a matter of convenience” so she didn’t have to carry two devices.
Then she told us she was “not willing to say it was an error in judgment because...nothing that I did was wrong. It was not – it was not in any way prohibited.”

The whole thing, she promised, was “fully above board.”

“The truth is” she told CNN, “everything I did was permitted and I went above and beyond what anybody could have expected in making sure if the State Department didn't capture something, I made a real effort to get it to them.”

And there was no indication, she assured us, that the server was ever hacked. “Not at all.”

Now, with the State Department IG report, we know it was all untrue. And Hillary knew it when she went on TV and said those things -- lying to us again and again.

Contrary to Clinton’s claims that she set up her complicated server scheme to avoid carrying two phones, the Inspector General’s report proves that it really had nothing to do with “convenience,” and everything to do with avoiding public disclosure of her emails. The report shows that when Huma Abedin, the Secretary’s deputy chief of staff, suggested “putting you [Hillary] on state email...”, Hillary responded, “Let’s get a separate address or [second] device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.” In other words, her priority wasn’t to limit the number of phone she carried, but to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests.

That arrangement certainly was not “fully above board” nor was it “permitted,” according to the IG report. The IG states flatly, “She did not comply with the [State] Department's policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.” Instead, her practices were “not an appropriate method of preserving any such emails that would constitute a Federal record.” So much for her claim that “nothing that [she] did was wrong.”

Clinton was equally dishonest when she said she “went above and beyond” and “[made] sure if the State Department didn’t capture something, [she] made a real effort to get it to them.” As the IG report points out, “Secretary Clinton’s production was incomplete.” For instance, she has produced no emails at all from her first several months in office -- “from January 21, 2009, to March 17, 2009 for received messages; and from January 21, 2009 to April 12, 2009 for sent messages” -- even though we know she was using email during that period. This months-long gap is in addition to the roughly 30,000 supposedly “personal” emails that Clinton deleted before handing the rest over to the State Department nearly two years after she left office.

Finally, the report revealed that despite Hillary’s insistence that her server was not hacked, she was in fact aware of repeated attacks on it. The server administrator, who worked for Clinton personally, advised Clinton aide Huma Abedin that “he had to shut down the server because he believed ‘someone was trying to hack us and while they did not get in I didnt want to let them have the chance to.’ Later that day, the advisor again wrote to [Abedin], ‘We were attacked again so I shut [the server] down for a few min.’”

The next day, according to the IG report, Abedin “emailed the Chief of Staff and the Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and instructed them not to email the Secretary ‘anything sensitive’ and stated that she could ‘explain more in person.’” This suggests Clinton and her aides were at the very least seriously concerned that the server could have been hacked -- far from having “no indication” that it might have been.

The fact that virtually everything Clinton has said about her secretive email system has proved to be a lie is probably no big surprise to the American people. In a recent Quinnipiac poll, the word most mentioned by respondents in association with Hillary Clinton was “liar.” The runners up were “dishonest” and “untrustworthy” -- offered by a combined 394 people. The next most common term, “experience,” was offered by 82.

But while the lies revealed in the Inspector General’s report may not be surprising, they do deal with sensitive issues of national security -- and that should be disqualifying for the job of commander-in-chief.
A normal person would be chastened by such a report. Having everything he or she said revealed as a lie might elicit some apology, for “an error in judgement” at the very least. But then again, a normal person would never have had such reckless disdain for the law to begin with, nor continued the dishonesty when caught. So now we watch uncomfortably, as Hillary goes on lying about lying -- as if we didn’t already know.

Your Friend,
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: May 27, 2016, 06:59:25 PM
Respect that Trump did not flinch on this.

Trump: Cameron “not willing to address the problem” of Islamic terror


“We have a tremendous problem with radical Islamic terror. The world is blowing up and its not people from Sweden that’s doing the damage okay. So we have a real problem.”

It’s amazing that after 9/11 and 7/7 and Fort Hood and Boston and Chattanooga and Garland and San Bernardino and Paris and Brussels and tens of thousands of other jihad attacks worldwide, and numerous boasts of imminent destruction and conquest from al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and other jihad groups, that such a statement would be controversial at all.

“Donald Trump Slams Cameron And Khan On Islam Comments: ‘Don’t Pretend It’s Not A Problem,’” Reuters, May 16, 2016:

Donald Trump has said he is unlikely to have a good relationship with David Cameron because the British prime minister cast the U.S. presidential candidate as “divisive, stupid and wrong” for proposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.  After Trump’s call for an entry ban on Muslims, Cameron criticised Trump in the British parliament and suggested that Trump, who is now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, would unite Britain against him if he visited.

“It looks like we’re not going to have a very good relationship, who knows,” Trump told Britain’s ITV television station in an interview aired on Monday when asked how ties would be if he won power in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

“I hope to have a good relationship with him but it sounds like he’s not willing to address the problem either,” Trump said, although earlier in the interview he said he didn’t care about the Cameron comments.

The United States is Britain’s closest ally and political leaders from both nations often speak of how the countries’ enjoy a special relationship.  Cameron earlier this month refused to retract his “divisive, stupid and wrong” comment but said that Trump deserved respect for making it through the gruelling Republican primary process.

“We have a tremendous problem with radical Islamic terror,” Trump told ITV when asked about the proposed ban on Muslims. “The world is blowing up and its not people from Sweden that’s doing the damage okay. So we have a real problem.”…
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: May 27, 2016, 04:27:26 PM
Good follow up.
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bill's personal aide, with no security clearance, operated EDC's server! on: May 27, 2016, 04:25:57 PM

Bill Clinton's Personal Aide -- With No Security Clearance -- Operated Hillary's Email Server

Published on on May 26, 2016

Buried in a footnote and text of the scathing report by the State Department's Inspector General (IG) about Hillary's emails is evidence that the private email server that carried America's top secret information to and from the Secretary of State was installed, maintained, and partially operated by a civilian aide to Bill Clinton who lacked any security clearance and did not even work for the government.

This extensive reliance on a close assistant to Bill Clinton raises questions about the handling of classified material by the Secretary of State.  If General David Petraeus was held accountable to passing secret information to his biographer and mistress, what are we to make of the routine access to potentially all secret information granted to Hillary's husband's aide?

While not named in the report itself, the "non-Department" aide referred to is apparently Justin Cooper, longtime aide-de-camp to the former president. Cooper had no security clearance and no expertise whatsoever in safeguarding computers. He helped Bill Clinton research two of his books, frequently traveled with Clinton, was involved in Clinton Foundation fundraising, and, at the same time, worked for Teneo -- the sprawling investment banking, political consulting, and PR firm that started on Hillary's tenure.  Teneo paid Bill Clinton, Huma Abedin, Doug Band, Justin Cooper. The firm was founded by two former State Department employees and then hired four more. 

It was Cooper who initially opened and registered the private server and it was he who apparently maintained its security. But that wasn't the end of it.

The Inspector General report indicates that on two occasions, Cooper suspected that the server had been hacked and that, on one of them, he actually took it upon himself to shut the entire server down.  (Hillary's aides deny that it was ever hacked, but emails from Cooper belie that assertion).  Indeed, both hacking attempts came while Hillary was traveling abroad in locations of dubious security -- the UAE, Bosnia, Serbia and Algeria.  Her server was especially vulnerable to hacking on her foreign travels when she carried and used her Blackberry which was linked to her server.

The IG Report states that on Jan. 9, 2011, the Bill Clinton aide who registered the domain -- who was Justin Cooper -- "notified the Secretary's Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations [Huma Abedin] that he had to shut down the server because he believed 'someone was trying to hack us and while they did not get in I didn't [sic] want to let them have the chance to.'"

Cooper wrote another email to Abedin later in the day stating that, "We were attacked again so I shut [the server] down for a few min." Abedin emailed another top Clinton aide the next day urging them to not email "anything sensitive" to Clinton. She also offered to "explain more in person." Abedin did not report any of the hacking issues to anyone at the State department, as was required.

Cooper obviously had the authority, access, and ability to access and shut down the server used by State Department employees, diplomats, and ambassadors to communicate with the Secretary of State. And apparently the server was also used by Bill Clinton's aides for his business, as we reported last September.

The Clintons are very interested in Cooper's legal issues. Columnist Monica Crowley reported that the Clintons are now paying Cooper's legal bills. That's interesting, isn't it?

The "all in the family" approach of the Clintons to the operation of the private server makes a mockery of security.  Not only could anyone with even minimal levels of skill hack into her server through her Blackberry (that she carried with her into high risk countries despite the explicit warnings of security officials that she wrote about in her own books), but an aide who worked for a former president, who was aggressively courting foreign countries for donations and for a private consulting firm soliciting foreign governments as clients had access to the State Department email server.

But the broader implications of the IG Report about Cooper's intimate connection with the Secretary of State's email server suggest that the Hillary and the former president operated an off-the-shelf rogue operation out of Bill Clinton's office -- and possibly the Clinton Foundation -- that had the potential access to all the government's secrets that passed through the Secretary of State. 

Hillary went to great lengths to keep the server secret and out of the reach of the State Department and the Freedom of Information Act.

What's even more astounding is that Bryan Pagliano, who is obviously the second "technical adviser, "a political appointee" of the Secretary referred to in the Report, kept his work on the Secretary's server a dark secret from his State Department bosses.

Remember, Pagliano was granted immunity by the Department of Justice in exchange for his testimony.

But whatever he actually did for Hillary was on the QT, because according to the Report, his direct supervisors said: "they did not know that he was providing ongoing support to the Secretary's email system during working hours. They also told the IG that they questioned whether he could support a private client during working hours, given his capacity as a full time employee."

Yet Hillary's attorney, David Kendall, said that Pagliano performed technical assistance for the Clinton family and was compensated in various amounts at various times by wire or check.

So what was he doing?

This massive conflict of interest opens up an important new line of investigation:  Did Cooper -- or anyone else in the Bill Clinton orbit -- access any of the actual emails, and, if so, did they share the content with Bill Clinton or anyone at Teneo? These are the kind of questions that the indiscriminate sharing of the email server with the Clintons' entire official family invites.

The OIG Report raises lots of questions beyond its unequivocal conclusion that Hillary did not seek permission for the use of a private email server and would not have been granted permission in any event. Moreover, the Report certifies that she violated Federal Records requirements and failed to protect the server from cyber strikes.

The Report verifies what we already knew: Hillary is a chronic liar who deliberately lied about her email server cover-up.

Let's hope the FBI picks up where the OIG left off.
Molon Labe
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: May 27, 2016, 01:06:38 PM
Why not?

Because it goes beyond your mastery of snark into something that lowers the quality of the conversation.
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Has Superbug arrived? on: May 27, 2016, 01:24:33 AM
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China reopening Silk Road? on: May 27, 2016, 12:15:01 AM
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: May 26, 2016, 09:42:00 PM
C'mon GM  tongue tongue tongue
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: May 26, 2016, 09:41:06 PM
 shocked shocked shocked cheesy
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: social justice wars , SJ warriors, gender warriors , victimhood on: May 26, 2016, 09:37:39 PM
Two good posts, but I'm not seeing that we need a new thread.  We have the Fascism thread and we have the Race thread on the SCH forum.  Please post them there.
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: May 26, 2016, 07:12:13 PM
"As GM reminds us, the Chinese appear to have the capacity to simply shut our grid down."


We too can shut down theirs I believe but the consequences for us would be many, many, many times worse.
29  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Buying Sticks Riverside or Hermosa Beach on: May 26, 2016, 02:01:53 PM
There is a place where you can leave a message with the order.  Explain to my wife Cindy, and email me at so you and I can arrange a mutually convenient time.
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Stand down" on: May 26, 2016, 01:58:22 PM

31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / California's bullet train to nowhere stalled on the tracks , , , again. on: May 26, 2016, 11:44:08 AM
32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AZ Indian Reservation on Mexican border locks out Border Patrol on: May 26, 2016, 09:42:00 AM
I have been on this reservation.  It is a VERY low population density place with no signs of man at all most of the time as one drives along , , , though I did see a drunken Indian (please forgive the stereotype, but it is the fact here) hit and run by a car.  I saw an owl, several coyotes, eagles, and tons of prairie dogs.

Anyway, an IDEAL place for smuggling and given the narcos credo of "Plata o plomo?" (Meaning "silver or lead" i.e. Take the money or we kill you) I can't picture anyone giving the slightest of resistance.
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Even WaPo piles on on: May 26, 2016, 01:18:28 AM

34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pay to play Arms Deals approved by DoS under Hillary on: May 26, 2016, 12:58:39 AM
 shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: May 26, 2016, 12:40:13 AM
My response on FB to Big Dog in response to his piece:

Sorry, as the serious read it is, it took me a few days to get to it. Certainly a very interesting piece, but IMHO entirely too sanguine.

For example, it suggests that China lacks the motivation to create the infrastructures necessary for being a true superpower that the US had in its adversary of the Soviet Empire.

1) China is a fascist state and does not need the assent of the people as we do here;
2) As a fascist state with a military deep in the political power structure with deep internal contradictions (both economic and demographic, foreign adventurism will have great appeal.

The piece does not even consider the slow moving Russian invasion of East Europe or its expansionism into the Arctic; the end of the era of nuclear non-proliferation; the 4th Generation War with Islamic Fascism; the likelihood of Europe to cease being what it has been-- perhaps via Balkanization; the impending financial crisis of the US government; the diminished hollowed out state of the US military, etc etc.

Instead it compares who is generating more patents. Relevant I suppose, but with the Chinese stealing out trade secrets and ignoring our patent rights to our face, just how significant is that really?

Nonetheless the piece does make many interesting points and I thank you for it.
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sanders, the King of Amendments? on: May 26, 2016, 12:37:36 AM

37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: May 26, 2016, 12:31:12 AM
Kind of unfair to blame Baltimore crime increase on anything other than the political leadership and the riots.
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: May 25, 2016, 11:45:35 PM
Judge Napolitano said today's IG report PROVES mens rea on Hillary's part and unambiguously predicts the FBI will recommend prosecution before the convention.
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: May 25, 2016, 11:44:03 PM
That would be better in the "politics" thread.
40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McAuliffe, the Chinese, and the Clintons in the 90s on: May 25, 2016, 11:38:35 PM
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fed Judge blasts lying DOJ lawyers on: May 25, 2016, 05:30:49 PM
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pasted on: May 25, 2016, 10:17:24 AM
The Once and Future Superpower
Why China Won’t Overtake the United States
By Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth

Purchase Article

After two and a half decades, is the United States’ run as the world’s sole superpower coming to an end? Many say yes, seeing a rising China ready to catch up to or even surpass the United States in the near future. By many measures, after all, China’s economy is on track to become the world’s biggest, and even if its growth slows, it will still outpace that of the United States for many years. Its coffers overflowing, Beijing has used its new wealth to attract friends, deter enemies, modernize its military, and aggressively assert sovereignty claims in its periphery. For many, therefore, the question is not whether China will become a superpower but just how soon.

But this is wishful, or fearful, thinking. Economic growth no longer translates as directly into military power as it did in the past, which means that it is now harder than ever for rising powers to rise and established ones to fall. And China—the only country with the raw potential to become a true global peer of the United States—also faces a more daunting challenge than previous rising states because of how far it lags behind technologically. Even though the United States’ economic dominance has eroded from its peak, the country’s military superiority is not going anywhere, nor is the globe-spanning alliance structure that constitutes the core of the existing liberal international order (unless Washington unwisely decides to throw it away). Rather than expecting a power transition in international politics, everyone should start getting used to a world in which the United States remains the sole superpower for decades to come.

Lasting preeminence will help the United States ward off the greatest traditional international danger, war between the world’s major powers. And it will give Washington options for dealing with nonstate threats such as terrorism and transnational challenges such as climate change. But it will also impose burdens of leadership and force choices among competing priorities, particularly as finances grow more straitened. With great power comes great responsibility, as the saying goes, and playing its leading role successfully will require Washington to display a maturity that U.S. foreign policy has all too often lacked.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, March 2016.
Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Washington, March 2016.


In forecasts of China’s future power position, much has been made of the country’s pressing domestic challenges: its slowing economy, polluted environment, widespread corruption, perilous financial markets, nonexistent social safety net, rapidly aging population, and restive middle class. But as harmful as these problems are, China’s true Achilles’ heel on the world stage is something else: its low level of technological expertise compared with the United States’. Relative to past rising powers, China has a much wider technological gap to close with the leading power. China may export container after container of high-tech goods, but in a world of globalized production, that doesn’t reveal much. Half of all Chinese exports consist of what economists call “processing trade,” meaning that parts are imported into China for assembly and then exported afterward. And the vast majority of these Chinese exports are directed not by Chinese firms but by corporations from more developed countries.

When looking at measures of technological prowess that better reflect the national origin of the expertise, China’s true position becomes clear. World Bank data on payments for the use of intellectual property, for example, indicate that the United States is far and away the leading source of innovative technologies, boasting $128 billion in receipts in 2013—more than four times as much as the country in second place, Japan. China, by contrast, imports technologies on a massive scale yet received less than $1 billion in receipts in 2013 for the use of its intellectual property. Another good indicator of the technological gap is the number of so-called triadic patents, those registered in the United States, Europe, and Japan. In 2012, nearly 14,000 such patents originated in the United States, compared with just under 2,000 in China. The distribution of highly influential articles in science and engineering—those in the top one percent of citations, as measured by the National Science Foundation—tells the same story, with the United States accounting for almost half of these articles, more than eight times China’s share. So does the breakdown of Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology or Medicine. Since 1990, 114 have gone to U.S.-based researchers. China-based researchers have received two.

Precisely because the Chinese economy is so unlike the U.S. economy, the measure fueling expectations of a power shift, GDP, greatly underestimates the true economic gap between the two countries. For one thing, the immense destruction that China is now wreaking on its environment counts favorably toward its GDP, even though it will reduce economic capacity over time by shortening life spans and raising cleanup and health-care costs. For another thing, GDP was originally designed to measure mid-twentieth-century manufacturing economies, and so the more knowledge-based and global­ized a country’s production is, the more its GDP underestimates its economy’s true size.

A giant economy alone won’t make China the world’s second superpower.

A new statistic developed by the UN suggests the degree to which GDP inflates China’s relative power. Called “inclusive wealth,” this measure represents economists’ most systematic effort to date to calculate a state’s wealth. As a UN report explained, it counts a country’s stock of assets in three areas: “(i) manufactured capital (roads, buildings, machines, and equipment), (ii) human capital (skills, education, health), and (iii) natural capital (sub-soil resources, ecosystems, the atmosphere).” Added up, the United States’ inclusive wealth comes to almost $144 trillion—4.5 times China’s $32 trillion.

The true size of China’s economy relative to the United States’ may lie somewhere in between the numbers provided by GDP and inclusive wealth, and admittedly, the latter measure has yet to receive the same level of scrutiny as GDP. The problem with GDP, however, is that it measures a flow (typically, the value of goods and services produced in a year), whereas inclusive wealth measures a stock. As The Economist put it, “Gauging an economy by its GDP is like judging a company by its quarterly profits, without ever peeking at its balance-sheet.” Because inclusive wealth measures the pool of resources a government can conceivably draw on to achieve its strategic objectives, it is the more useful metric when thinking about geopolitical competition.

But no matter how one compares the size of the U.S. and Chinese economies, it is clear that the United States is far more capable of converting its resources into military might. In the past, rising states had levels of technological prowess similar to those of leading ones. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for example, the United States didn’t lag far behind the United Kingdom in terms of technology, nor did Germany lag far behind the erstwhile Allies during the interwar years, nor was the Soviet Union backward technologically compared with the United States during the early Cold War. This meant that when these challengers rose economically, they could soon mount a serious military challenge to the dominant power. China’s relative technological backwardness today, however, means that even if its economy continues to gain ground, it will not be easy for it to catch up militarily and become a true global strategic peer, as opposed to a merely a major player in its own neighborhood.

Jo Yong-Hak / REUTERS A man looks at the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in Busan, South Korea, July 2008.


The technological and economic differences between China and the United States wouldn’t matter much if all it took to gain superpower status were the ability to use force locally. But what makes the United States a superpower is its ability to operate globally, and the bar for that capability is high. It means having what the political scientist Barry Posen has called “command of the commons”—that is, control over the air, space, and the open sea, along with the necessary infrastructure for managing these domains. When one measures the 14 categories of systems that create this capability (everything from nuclear attack submarines to satellites to transport aircraft), what emerges is an overwhelming U.S. advantage in each area, the result of decades of advances on multiple fronts. It would take a very long time for China to approach U.S. power on any of these fronts, let alone all of them.

For one thing, the United States has built up a massive scientific and industrial base. China is rapidly enhancing its technological inputs, increasing its R & D spending and its numbers of graduates with degrees in science and engineering. But there are limits to how fast any country can leap forward in such matters, and there are various obstacles in China’s way—such as a lack of effective intellectual property protections and inefficient methods of allocating capital—that will be extremely hard to change given its rigid political system. Adding to the difficulty, China is chasing a moving target. In 2012, the United States spent $79 billion on military R & D, more than 13 times as much as China’s estimated amount, so even rapid Chinese advances might be insufficient to close the gap.

Then there are the decades the United States has spent procuring advanced weapons systems, which have grown only more complex over time. In the 1960s, aircraft took about five years to develop, but by the 1990s, as the number of parts and lines of code ballooned, the figure reached ten years. Today, it takes 15 to 20 years to design and build the most advanced fighter aircraft, and military satellites can take even longer. So even if another country managed to build the scientific and industrial base to develop the many types of weapons that give the United States command of the commons, there would be a lengthy lag before it could actually possess them. Even Chinese defense planners recognize the scale of the challenge.

Command of the commons also requires the ability to supervise a wide range of giant defense projects. For all the hullabaloo over the evils of the military-industrial complex and the “waste, fraud, and abuse” in the Pentagon, in the United States, research labs, contractors, and bureaucrats have painstakingly acquired this expertise over many decades, and their Chinese counterparts do not yet have it. This kind of “learning by doing” experience resides in organizations, not in individuals. It can be transferred only through demonstration and instruction, so cybertheft or other forms of espionage are not an effective shortcut for acquiring it.

    This is not your grandfather’s power transition.

China’s defense industry is still in its infancy, and as the scholar Richard Bitzinger and his colleagues have concluded, “Aside from a few pockets of excellence such as ballistic missiles, the Chinese military-industrial complex has appeared to demonstrate few capacities for designing and producing relatively advanced conventional weapon systems.” For example, China still cannot mass-produce high-performance aircraft engines, despite the immense resources it has thrown at the effort, and relies instead on second-rate Russian models. In other areas, Beijing has not even bothered competing. Take undersea warfare. China is poorly equipped for antisubmarine warfare and is doing very little to improve. And only now is the country capable of producing nuclear-powered attack submarines that are comparable in quietness to the kinds that the U.S. Navy commissioned in the 1950s. Since then, however, the U.S. government has invested hundreds of billions of dollars and six decades of effort in its current generation of Virginia-class submarines, which have achieved absolute levels of silencing.

Finally, it takes a very particular set of skills and infrastructure to actually use all these weapons. Employing them is difficult not just because the weapons themselves tend to be so complex but also because they typically need to be used in a coordinated manner. It is an incredibly complicated endeavor, for example, to deploy a carrier battle group; the many associated ships and aircraft must work together in real time. Even systems that may seem simple require a complex surrounding architecture in order to be truly effective. Drones, for example, work best when a military has the highly trained personnel to operate them and the technological and organizational capacity to rapidly gather, process, and act on information collected from them. Developing the necessary infrastructure to seek command of the commons would take any military a very long time. And since the task places a high premium on flexibility and delegation, China’s centralized and hierarchical forces are particularly ill suited for it.


In the 1930s alone, Japan escaped the depths of depression and morphed into a rampaging military machine, Germany transformed from the disarmed loser of World War I into a juggernaut capable of conquering Europe, and the Soviet Union recovered from war and revolution to become a formidable land power. The next decade saw the United States’ own sprint from military also-ran to global superpower, with a nuclear Soviet Union close on its heels. Today, few seriously anticipate another world war, or even another cold war, but many observers argue that these past experiences reveal just how quickly countries can become dangerous once they try to extract military capabilities from their economies.

But what is taking place now is not your grandfather’s power transition. One can debate whether China will soon reach the first major milestone on the journey from great power to superpower: having the requisite economic resources. But a giant economy alone won’t make China the world’s second superpower, nor would overcoming the next big hurdle, attaining the requisite technological capacity. After that lies the challenge of transforming all this latent power into the full range of systems needed for global power projection and learning how to use them. Each of these steps is time consuming and fraught with difficulty. As a result, China will, for a long time, continue to hover somewhere between a great power and a superpower. You might call it “an emerging potential superpower”: thanks to its economic growth, China has broken free from the great-power pack, but it still has a long way to go before it might gain the economic and technological capacity to become a superpower.

China’s quest for superpower status is undermined by something else, too: weak incentives to make the sacrifices required. The United States owes its far-reaching military capabilities to the existential imperatives of the Cold War. The country would never have borne the burden it did had policymakers not faced the challenge of balancing the Soviet Union, a superpower with the potential to dominate Eurasia. (Indeed, it is no surprise that two and a half decades after the Soviet Union collapsed, it is Russia that possesses the second-greatest military capability in the world.) Today, China faces nothing like the Cold War pressures that led the United States to invest so much in its military. The United States is a far less threatening superpower than the Soviet Union was: however aggravating Chinese policymakers find U.S. foreign policy, it is unlikely to engender the level of fear that motivated Washington during the Cold War.

Chinese soldiers in the Spratly Islands, in the contested South China Sea, February 2016.

Chinese soldiers in the Spratly Islands, February 2016.

Stacking the odds against China even more, the United States has few incentives to give up power, thanks to the web of alliances it has long boasted. A list of U.S. allies reads as a who’s who of the world’s most advanced economies, and these partners have lowered the price of maintaining the United States’ superpower status. U.S. defense spending stood at around three percent of GDP at the end of the 1990s, rose to around five percent in the next decade on account of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has now fallen back to close to three percent. Washington has been able to sustain a global military capacity with relatively little effort thanks in part to the bases its allies host and the top-end weapons they help develop. China’s only steadfast ally is North Korea, which is often more trouble than it is worth.

Given the barriers thwarting China’s path to superpower status, as well as the low incentives for trying to overcome them, the future of the international system hinges most on whether the United States continues to bear the much lower burden of sustaining what we and others have called “deep engagement,” the globe-girdling grand strategy it has followed for some 70 years. And barring some odd change of heart that results in a true abnegation of its global role (as opposed to overwrought, politicized charges sometimes made about its already having done so), Washington will be well positioned for decades to maintain the core military capabilities, alliances, and commitments that secure key regions, backstop the global economy, and foster cooperation on transnational problems.

The benefits of this grand strategy can be difficult to discern, especially in light of the United States’ foreign misadventures in recent years. Fiascos such as the invasion of Iraq stand as stark reminders of the difficulty of using force to alter domestic politics abroad. But power is as much about preventing unfavorable outcomes as it is about causing favorable ones, and here Washington has done a much better job than most Americans appreciate.

For a largely satisfied power leading the international system, having enough strength to deter or block challengers is in fact more valuable than having the ability to improve one’s position further on the margins. A crucial objective of U.S. grand strategy over the decades has been to prevent a much more dangerous world from emerging, and its success in this endeavor can be measured largely by the absence of outcomes common to history: important regions destabilized by severe security dilemmas, tattered alliances unable to contain breakout challengers, rapid weapons proliferation, great-power arms races, and a descent into competitive economic or military blocs.

    A world of lasting U.S. military preeminence and declining U.S. economic dominance will test the United States’ capacity for restraint.

Were Washington to truly pull back from the world, more of these challenges would emerge, and transnational threats would likely loom even larger than they do today. Even if such threats did not grow, the task of addressing them would become immeasurably harder if the United States had to grapple with a much less stable global order at the same time. And as difficult as it sometimes is today for the United States to pull together coalitions to address transnational challenges, it would be even harder to do so if the country abdicated its leadership role and retreated to tend its garden, as a growing number of analysts and policymakers—and a large swath of the public—are now calling for.


Ever since the Soviet Union’s demise, the United States’ dramatic power advantage over other states has been accompanied by the risk of self-inflicted wounds, as occurred in Iraq. But the slippage in the United States’ economic position may have the beneficial effect of forcing U.S. leaders to focus more on the core mission of the country’s grand strategy rather than being sucked into messy peripheral conflicts. Indeed, that has been the guiding logic behind President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Nonetheless, a world of lasting U.S. military preeminence and declining U.S. economic dominance will continue to test the United States’ capacity for restraint, in four main ways.

First is the temptation to bully or exploit American allies in the pursuit of self-interested gain. U.S. allies are dependent on Washington in many ways, and leaning on them to provide favors in return—whether approving of controversial U.S. policies, refraining from activities the United States opposes, or agreeing to lopsided terms in mutually beneficial deals—seems like something only a chump would forgo. (Think of the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s frequent claims that the United States always loses in its dealings with foreigners, including crucial allies, and that he would restore the country’s ability to win.) But the basic contract at the heart of the contemporary international order is that if its members put aside the quest for relative military advantage, join a dense web of institutional networks, and agree to play by common rules, then the United States will not take advantage of its dominance to extract undue returns from its allies. It would be asking too much to expect Washington to never use its leverage to seek better deals, and a wide range of presidents—including John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Obama—have done so at various times. But if Washington too often uses its power to achieve narrowly self-interested gains, rather than to protect and advance the system as a whole, it will run a real risk of eroding the legitimacy of both its leadership and the existing order.

A silk factory in Sichuan Province, China, July 2013. Even if China's economy overtakes the United States' its military power won't, at least not soon.
China Daily / REUTERS

A silk factory in Sichuan Province, China, July 2013.

Second, the United States will be increasingly tempted to overreact when other states—namely, China—use their growing economic clout on the world stage. Most of the recent rising powers of note, including Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union, were stronger militarily than economically. China, by contrast, will for decades be stronger economically than militarily. This is a good thing, since military challenges to global order can turn ugly quickly. But it means that China will mount economic challenges instead, and these will need to be handled wisely. Most of China’s efforts along these lines will likely involve only minor or cosmetic alterations to the existing order, important for burnishing Beijing’s prestige but not threatening to the order’s basic arrangements or principles. Washington should respond to these gracefully and with forbearance, recognizing that paying a modest price for including Beijing within the order is preferable to risking provoking a more fundamental challenge to the structure in general.

The recent fracas over the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a good example of how not to behave. China proposed the AIIB in 2013 as a means to bolster its status and provide investment in infrastructure in Asia. Although its criteria for loans might turn out to be less constructive than desired, it is not likely to do major harm to the region or undermine the structure of the global economy. And yet the United States responded by launching a public diplomatic campaign to dissuade its allies from joining. They balked at U.S. opposition and signed up eagerly. By its reflexive opposition both to a relatively constructive Chinese initiative and to its allies’ participation in it, Washington created an unnecessary zero-sum battle that ended in a humiliating diplomatic defeat. (A failure by the U.S. Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership as negotiated, meanwhile, would be an even greater fiasco, leading to serious questions abroad about U.S. global leadership.)

Third, the United States will still face the temptation that always accompanies power, to intervene in places where its core national interests are not in play (or to expand the definition of its core national interests so much as to hollow out the concept). That temptation can exist in the midst of a superpower struggle—the United States got bogged down in Vietnam during the Cold War, as did the Soviet Union in Afghanistan—and it clearly exists today, at a time when the United States has no peer rivals. Obama has carefully guarded against this temptation. He attracted much criticism for elevating “Don’t do stupid stuff” to a grand-strategic maxim. But if doing stupid stuff threatens the United States’ ability to sustain its grand strategy and associated global presence, then he had a point. Missing, though, was a corollary: “Keep your eye on the ball.” And for nearly seven decades, that has meant continuing Washington’s core mission of fostering stability in key regions and keeping the global economy and wider order humming.

Finally, Washington will need to avoid adopting overly aggressive military postures even when core interests are at stake, such as with China’s increasingly assertive stance in its periphery. It is true that Beijing’s “anti-access/area-denial” capabilities have greatly raised the costs and risks of operating U.S. aircraft and surface ships (but not submarines) near China. How Washington should respond to Beijing’s newfound local military capability, however, depends on what Washington’s strategic goals are. To regain all the military freedom of action the United States enjoyed during its extraordinary dominance throughout the 1990s would indeed be difficult, and the actions necessary would increase the risk of future confrontations. Yet if Washington’s goals are more limited—securing regional allies and sustaining a favorable institutional and economic order—then the challenge should be manageable.

    By adopting its own area-denial strategy, the United States could still deter Chinese aggression and protect U.S. allies.

By adopting its own area-denial strategy, for example, the United States could still deter Chinese aggression and protect U.S. allies despite China’s rising military power. Unlike the much-discussed Air-Sea Battle doctrine for a Pacific conflict, this approach would not envision hostilities rapidly escalating to strikes on the Chinese mainland. Rather, it would be designed to curtail China’s ability during a conflict to operate within what is commonly known as “the first island chain,” encompassing parts of Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Under this strategy, the United States and its allies would employ the same mix of capabilities—such as mines and mobile antiship missiles—that China itself has used to push U.S. surface ships and aircraft away from its coast. And it could turn the tables and force China to compete in areas where it remains very weak, most notably, undersea warfare.

The premise of such a strategy is that even if China were able to deny U.S. surface forces and aircraft access to the area near its coast, it would not be able to use that space as a launching pad for projecting military power farther during a conflict. China’s coastal waters, in this scenario, would turn into a sort of no man’s sea, in which neither state could make much use of surface ships or aircraft. This would be a far cry from the situation that prevailed during the 1990s, when China could not stop the world’s leading military power from enjoying unfettered access to its airspace and ocean right up to its territorial border. But the change needs to be put in perspective: it is only natural that after spending tens of billions of dollars over decades, China has begun to reverse this unusual vulnerability, one the United States would never accept for itself.

While this area-denial strategy would help solve a long-term problem, it would do little to address the most immediate challenge from China: the military facilities it is steadily building on artificial islands in the South China Sea. There is no easy answer, but Washington should avoid too aggressive a reaction, which could spark a conflict. After all, these small, exposed islands arguably leave the overall military balance unchanged, since they would be all but impossible to defend in a conflict. China’s assertiveness may even be backfiring. Last year, the Philippines—real islands with extremely valuable basing facilities—welcomed U.S. forces back onto its shores after a 24-year absence. And the United States is now in talks to base long-range bombers in Australia.

To date, the Obama administration has chosen to conduct so-called freedom-of-navigation operations in order to contest China’s maritime claims. But as the leader of the order it largely shaped, the United States has many other arrows in its quiver. To place the burden of escalation on China, the United States—or, even better, its allies—could take a page from China’s playbook and ramp up quasi-official research voyages in the area. Another asset Washington has is international law. Pressure is mounting on China to submit its territorial disputes to arbitration in international courts, and if Beijing continues to resist doing so, it will lose legitimacy and could find itself a target of sanctions and other diplomatic punishments. And if Beijing tried to extract economic gains from contested regions, Washington could facilitate a process along the lines of the proportional punishment strategy it helped make part of the World Trade Organization: let the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in The Hague, determine the gains of China’s illegal actions, place a temporary tariff on Chinese exports to collect exactly that much revenue while the sovereignty claims are being adjudicated, and then distribute them once the matter is settled before the International Court of Justice. Whatever approach is adopted, what matters for U.S. global interests is not the islands themselves or the nature of the claims per se but what these provocations do to the wider order.

Although China can “pose problems without catching up,” in the words of the political scientist Thomas Christensen, the bottom line is that the United States’ global position gives it room to maneuver. The key is to exploit the advantages of standing on the defensive: as a raft of strategic thinkers have pointed out, challenging a settled status quo is very hard to do.
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Despite China’s ascent, the United States’ superpower position is more secure than recent commentary would have one believe—so secure, in fact, that the chief threat to the world’s preeminent power arguably lies within. As U.S. dominance ebbs slightly from its peak two decades ago, Washington may be tempted to overreact to the setbacks inherent in an admittedly frustrating and hard-to-manage world by either lashing out or coming home—either way abandoning the patient and constructive approach that has been the core of its grand strategy for many decades. This would be a grave mistake. That grand strategy has been far more successful and beneficial than most people realize, since they take for granted its chief accomplishment—preventing the emergence of a much less congenial world.

One sure way to generate a wrong-headed push for retrenchment would be to undertake another misadventure like the war in Iraq. That America has so far weathered that disaster with its global position intact is a testament to just how robust its superpower status is. But that does not mean that policymakers can make perpetual blunders with impunity. In a world in which the United States retains its overwhelming military preeminence as its economic dominance slips, the temptation to overreact to perceived threats will grow—even as the margin of error for absorbing the costs of the resulting mistakes will shrink. Despite what is being said on the campaign trail these days, the United States is hardly in an unusually perilous global situation. But nor is its standing so secure that irresponsible policies by the next president won’t take their toll.
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Inspector General: Hillary violated StateDept. rules, did not cooperate w IG on: May 25, 2016, 09:53:13 AM
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pakistani with face Ecuadorean passport enters US many times on: May 25, 2016, 09:22:10 AM
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The latest from Judicial Watch on: May 25, 2016, 09:20:35 AM
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From Big Dog: The Once and Future Superpower on: May 25, 2016, 08:25:22 AM
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Christopher Hitchens rips Hillary apart on: May 25, 2016, 01:02:23 AM
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US behind the curve; Icebreakers on: May 24, 2016, 09:47:25 PM*Editors%20Picks

The United States is scrambling to catch up with a big, global push to build icebreakers as the melting Arctic opens the once-frozen north to oil drilling, new shipping and cruise routes, and intensified military competition.

Countries from Russia to China and Chile are all muscling ahead to build a new generation of icebreaking ships. The United States, despite a belated polar effort last year by the Obama administration, has struggled to upgrade its tiny and aging icebreaker fleet, potentially leaving it at a disadvantage in the race for influence in the Arctic.

But on Tuesday, a Senate Appropriations subcommittee earmarked $1 billion for a new polar icebreaker — a potentially big step forward toward building at least the first new ship of its kind in more than a generation.

If passed by Congress, that would fund nearly the entire cost of the ship’s construction, avoiding contentious and yearly fights over money. But it also essentially puts any larger American ambitions in the Arctic on ice for at least a decade while the ship is being built.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which operates the icebreaking fleet, has said it needs six big ships to handle all its missions in the Arctic and in Antarctica. Building fewer than that will make it harder for Washington to police those open waters, escort commercial and cruise shipping, and carry out search-and-rescue missions, among other things.

“It’s unfortunate that our nation, an Arctic nation, has fallen so far behind with this capability, particularly as the Arctic enters an extremely dynamic geopolitical and environmental period of rapid change,” retired Adm. David Titley, who set up the U.S. Navy’s task force on climate change, told Foreign Policy.

    “Icebreaking capacity is a very good hedging strategy, and our capacity is very limited.”

“Icebreaking capacity is a very good hedging strategy, and our capacity is very limited.”

The newly proposed funding would ease budgetary pressure on the Coast Guard, which has a total ship acquisition budget of less than the cost of a single new icebreaker. And it’s a throwback to the way the United States funded and built its last Arctic workhorse, the Healy, beginning in 1990.

To judge by bustling shipyards, plenty of other countries are preparing for increasing activity in the Arctic and the Antarctic, even countries far from the poles. Russia, which already has the world’s biggest icebreaking fleet, is building a dozen more ships, including several nuclear-powered icebreakers. China just launched its second icebreaker and has a third under construction. Finland is currently constructing the world’s first icebreaker to be powered by liquefied natural gas, or LNG. A Korean shipyard is building a fleet of ice-capable LNG shipping tankers in anticipation of the coming Arctic gas boom. Norway and the Netherlands are building ice-capable cruise ships. And several countries — France, Britain, Chile, and Australia — are all building new ships to operate in Antarctica, and Argentina just refurbished its single icebreaker to restore its polar capability.

Most of the activity is in response to a record-setting melt of Arctic sea ice. This past winter, the Arctic again set a record for the lowest amount of winter ice coverage and is on track this year to shatter the summertime minimum as well. The Arctic is warming so fast that the U.S. Navy this spring had to call off its annual Arctic exercise a week early, after the ice began to crack.

That is literally opening what amounts to a new ocean at the top of the world. Countries and companies, especially in China, are eyeing new shipping routes. Beijing said recently it intends to promote more shipping through the Northwest Passage, via Canada, while Chinese shipping giant COSCO plans greater use of the Northern Sea Route, along the top of Siberia. The opening Arctic is creating a new market for tourists, as well: This summer, for the first time, a cruise ship will sail from Anchorage, Alaska, to New York City, through the Northwest Passage.

And while oil companies have bailed out of the U.S. Arctic for now, exploration and drilling for oil and gas continues apace in Europe and especially in Russian waters.

“We’re in a situation where the global icebreaking fleet is not meeting demand,” said Tero Vauraste, the president and CEO of Arctia, a Finnish shipbuilder specializing in icebreakers.

But the United States is lagging behind. It currently has a single heavy icebreaker nearing the end of its operational life and a medium icebreaker used in the Arctic. For years, despite pleas by the Coast Guard, Congress was loath to fund new ships, which can cost upwards of $1 billion each.

Now, the rapidly melting Arctic and new geostrategic battleground are seemingly changing that calculus. U.S. President Barack Obama visited Alaska last year and called for rebuilding the icebreaker fleet. Earlier this year, the Coast Guard asked for $150 million in funding to design two new planned icebreakers and hopes to award a production contract by 2019. If the defense appropriations bill passes Congress, the construction of at least one new ship is guaranteed.

A few years ago, the changing conditions in the Arctic “weren’t seen as the wolf closest to the sled,” said Sherri Goodman, a former deputy undersecretary of defense and a fellow at the Wilson Center. “It’s still not the closest, but it’s getting closer.”

But building two new ships would simply replace the two currently in service and would still leave the Coast Guard short of the six-strong fleet it says it needs. What’s more, it will take at least a decade to build the first of the new heavy icebreakers, even if funding is guaranteed. That leaves a dicey window in the meantime.

    “We’re very mindful that, as vulnerable as we are today, our vulnerability will only increase over time,” until the new ships are built, Adm. Paul Zukunft, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told FP.

“We’re very mindful that, as vulnerable as we are today, our vulnerability will only increase over time,” until the new ships are built, Adm. Paul Zukunft, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told FP.

Some lawmakers have railed for years against Washington’s bureaucratic infighting and go-slow approach to Arctic issues.

“I get very impatient because I don’t see us prioritizing icebreakers as a national asset,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who formed an Arctic caucus last year to push for greater U.S. involvement in the region. And that, she said, has implications as the Arctic becomes a focus of economic and geopolitical competition.

“People can quibble about what we have versus what Russia has versus what China is building. All I can tell you is we are not in the game right now,” Murkowski said. She and colleagues from across the aisle pushed through the defense appropriations bill this week in a bid to resolve the long-standing fight over who will pay for the new ship.

Other lawmakers are also pushing the administration to make new icebreakers a broader priority. Alaska’s other senator, Dan Sullivan, a Republican, compared Russia’s huge fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers that open new routes through the Arctic with the aging U.S. ships stretched among several missions.

    “Right now, the Russians have superhighways, and we have dirt roads with potholes,” Sullivan said.

“Right now, the Russians have superhighways, and we have dirt roads with potholes,” Sullivan said.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and its panel that oversees the Coast Guard, is usually an outspoken critic of the White House. But he has become an unlikely booster of the Obama administration’s Arctic push, worried that the cash-strapped Coast Guard can’t purchase the pricey new ships on its own. Hunter this week had called on the U.S. Navy to help pay for the new ships.

“It’s more of a Navy issue,” he said, which requires “getting the Navy to realize they’re the ones who are going to benefit from this; the Coast Guard can’t do it.”

Despite the possible funding through the defense budget, the U.S. Navy insists icebreaking is not its mission: It can go through the Arctic anytime it wants with nuclear submarines.

“U.S. Navy submarines regularly use the Arctic as a transit route between the Atlantic and the Pacific, greatly improving mission agility and flexibility. Only submarines can do this,” Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins said.

But Titley, the former Navy admiral, says the United States needs the ability to operate on the ocean’s surface as well. “Virtual presence is physical absence,” he said. “It’s all well and good to say you have interests in the Arctic, but if you can only be on the surface where there is little or no danger of ice, then your presence is very restricted.”

Canada may be in an even tougher bind: It has greater Arctic responsibilities than the United States but faces many of the same constraints on new icebreaker construction. As part of its joint Navy-Coast Guard $37 billion shipbuilding plan, Canada currently aims to construct a new polar ship over the next decade at a cost of about $1.2 billion. But it won’t start construction until the Vancouver shipyard where it will be built has finished new support vessels for the Royal Canadian Navy. In the meantime, a Canadian Coast Guard spokesperson told FP, Ottawa will refurbish its sole existing icebreaker to keep it in service for another decade.

Other countries have been floating possible solutions to help both the United States and Canada bridge their icebreaker gaps. Finland, for example, built more than half of the worldwide icebreaking fleet and has plenty of shipyards with specialized design and construction experience. Finnish government representatives reportedly met with U.S. and Canadian government officials this year to propose collaborating on the design and construction of new icebreakers, and they bent the ear of U.S. lawmakers at a recent summit between the United States and Nordic leaders on the same issue.

Vauraste says Arctia can build a heavy icebreaker in Finnish yards for about 250 million euros, far cheaper than the proposed price tag for new U.S. and Canadian ships. And Arctia could also help the United States design its new ship, he said, given U.S. shipyards haven’t built an icebreaker in 20 years or a heavy icebreaker in 40. “There is increasing interest” in Washington, he said. “It’s definitely not a non-starter.”

Murkowski said international collaboration, whether for co-design, building, or leasing existing ships, “needs to be on the table.”

Zukunft of the Coast Guard said he has held lots of conversations about collaboration with other nations, including Finland, but that it’s “too early” to make any commitments. The Coast Guard does have partnerships with Finland and Canada to share best practices on icebreaking acquisition.

But there are legal and political restrictions in both the United States and Canada that prohibit relying on foreign shipbuilders. Under U.S. law, no major component of a Coast Guard ship can be built in a foreign shipyard. And U.S. shipbuilders are gearing up for billions of dollars in local contracts, especially Huntington Ingalls Industries, which manufactures the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutters and built the last U.S. icebreaker in 1997. And there are no heavy icebreakers currently available to lease, even if that were an option, said Zukunft.

That means, for the foreseeable future, both the United States and Canada could well find themselves short-handed when it comes to being able to operate in the Arctic, just as the region is opening up to new economic and even military activities. Finding a way to patrol U.S. waters, respond to oil spills and stranded cruise ships, or police a flurry of shipping activity through the Bering Strait will likely strain America’s tiny and aging icebreaking fleet, especially if there’s no will or ability to lease ships from other countries to help fill the gap.

“That’s the near-term risk that needs to be addressed, and that’s why it’s urgent to develop that capability now,” Goodman said. “Because those risks are only going to increase as there is more activity in the Arctic.”

FP reporter Molly O’Toole contributed to this article.
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: May 24, 2016, 02:39:50 PM
I just took a stab at editing in paragraph breaks.

Also, I think that it might better fit in the Foreign Policy thread, nothing to do with the Clintons' corruption in it.
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reagan on American Foreign Policy on: May 24, 2016, 02:36:03 PM
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