Tag Archives: Foreign Relations

Vietnam And Modern Memory

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A member of the CIA helps evacuees up a ladder onto an Air America helicopter on the roof of 22 Gia Long Street April 29, 1975, shortly before Saigon fell to advancing North Vietnamese troops.

MILITARY TIMES By Edward F. Palm

Vietnam today is what we had tried to make it: a free-market consumer society. The tragedy of it is that over 58,000 Americans and some 2 million Vietnamese had to die just so that Vietnam could get there on its own timetable rather than ours.

The great majority of us served honorably and proved ourselves to be better than the muddle-headed politicians who had sent us. That’s something to be proud of.

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“Back in the mid-80s, an Army officer of my acquaintance succinctly summed up the mood of the post-Vietnam military: “It’s OK to be a Vietnam veteran in today’s military,” he observed, “so long as you don’t dwell on it or refer back to it.”

He was right. He had intuited the largely unspoken, but widely understood, politically correct attitude toward our humiliating defeat. Vietnam had been an aberration, the kind of war we would never fight again. And the less said about it, the better.

Ironically, this same spirit of denial and revision has spread to American society in general in recent years. It’s OK to be a Vietnam veteran in today’s America, so long as you remember that war the way President Reagan portrayed it, as a “noble crusade,” and so long as you profess utter admiration for our armed forces and unwavering support for our current crusades.

Thursday, April 30, marked the 45th anniversary of the fall of Saigon — and the end of our Vietnam misadventure. The Vietnam War I remember, and later studied, was anything but a “noble crusade.” It was a profoundly existential experience. Survival was the only moral touchstone, and getting through to our rotation tour dates the only goal we cared about. All the Marines I knew “in country” were profoundly skeptical of the official rationales for why we were there and increasingly embittered by the reluctance of the South Vietnamese to fight their own war.

My fellow Vietnam veterans seem to have forgotten how traumatized we were about all this. We have been co-opted, bought off with belated handshakes and glib expressions of gratitude. We have forgotten what really occasioned all the bitterness and fueled the post-traumatic stress of our generation.

It wasn’t that the country failed to welcome us home or to honor our service with parades. It was the discovery that our leaders had lied to us about the nature and the necessity of the war and that the conduct of the war put the lie to the ideals and values in which we had all been raised to believe.

Would that we all knew then what we know now. Ho Chi Minh was first and foremost a nationalist. Early on, he had appealed to us to help dissuade France from reclaiming its former colony at the end of World War II. But we needed France’s help in blocking communist expansion in Europe, and the ensuing Cold War clouded our judgment. We feared falling dominoes. By 1950, we were mired in Korea and bankrolling France’s Indochina War. With the fall of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, we took over. We sent in intelligence operatives to subvert the Geneva Accords, especially the plebiscite that would have reunited North and South Vietnam under whichever government the majority chose. Having defeated the French, Ho Chi Minh was the hands-down favorite to win. The South Vietnamese president we had installed, Ngo Dinh Diem, was almost as alien to his own people as we were. Ho Chi Minh had cornered the market on Vietnamese nationalism, and out in the countryside, most of the people seemed to want no part of what we were selling.

What’s worse, once we had taken over in our own right, we began to take that indifference personally. Contrary to popular belief, we weren’t forced to fight with one hand tied behind our back. We unleashed a greater tonnage of bombs on Vietnam than we did in all of World War II. We declared free-fire zones. We defoliated large areas with Agent Orange. We made liberal use of close-air support and indirect fire weapons with little regard for the so-called “collateral damage” such weapons inevitably inflict.

Racists that we were, we dehumanized the Vietnamese as “gooks” and “slopes.” Unable to distinguish friend from foe, we viewed them all as potential threats. Hence, the worst atrocity of the war — the My Lai Massacre. Hell hath no fury like a country scorned, especially one that considers itself to be exceptional and eminently deserving of admiration and emulation.

This is not to say that, because we were wrong, the other side was wholly righteous. They resorted to terror. They mistreated our POWs. They were hardly magnanimous in victory. But the irony is that we seem to have won after all.

So how then should those of us who served in Vietnam feel about participating in such an unnecessary and misguided war? While so many of our contemporaries sat in self-indulgent safety and comfort, we put ourselves on the line. Some of us went in believing. Others suspended judgment or even went against our better judgment. But the great majority of us served honorably and proved ourselves to be better than the muddle-headed politicians who had sent us. That’s something to be proud of.”

https://www.militarytimes.com/opinion/commentary/2020/04/30/vietnam-and-modern-memory/

Edward Palm

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A native of New Castle, Delaware, Edward Palm served as an enlisted Marine with the Combined Action Program in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in English literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Returning to the Marine Corps in later life, Palm served as the Marine Officer Instructor with the NROTC unit at University of California, Berkeley and taught English at the Naval Academy before retiring as a major in 1993. His civilian academic career included appointments as a tenured professor and college dean. He now lives in Forest, Virginia. Contact Ed Palm at majorpalm@gmail.com

GAO Finds Foreign Ownership In Government Contract Awards

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U.S. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE (GAO)

Foreign-owned contractors have received Defense Department contracts for which they are ineligible due to opaque ownership structures that have gone unnoticed by contracting officers.

Such awards have led to leaks of sensitive information to foreign-owned companies and the acquisition of defective parts, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office.

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“The Department of Defense (DOD) faces several types of financial and nonfinancial fraud and national security risks posed by contractors with opaque ownership. These risks, identified through GAO’s review of 32 adjudicated cases, include price inflation through multiple companies owned by the same entity to falsely create the appearance of competition, contractors receiving contracts they were not eligible to receive, and a foreign manufacturer receiving sensitive information or producing faulty equipment through a U.S.-based company.

DOD has taken some steps that could address some risks related to contractor ownership in the procurement process but has not yet assessed these risks across the department. DOD, in coordination with other agencies, revised the Federal Acquisition Regulation in 2014 to require contractors to self-report some ownership information. DOD has taken steps to identify and use ownership information—for example, as part of its supply-chain risk analysis when acquiring critical components. DOD has also begun a department-wide fraud risk management program, but it has neither assessed risks of contractor ownership across the department nor identified risks posed by contractor ownership as a specific area for assessment. Assessing risks arising from contractor ownership would allow DOD to take a strategic approach to identifying and managing these risks, make informed decisions on how to best use its resources, and evaluate its existing control activities to ensure they effectively respond to these risks.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD generally accounts for about two-thirds of federal contracting activity. Some companies doing business with DOD may have an opaque ownership structure that conceals other entities or individuals who own, control, or financially benefit from the company. Opaque ownership could be used to facilitate fraud and other unlawful activity.

The House Armed Services Committee report on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018 included a provision for GAO to examine the risks posed by contractors with opaque ownership and DOD’s processes for identifying ownership. This report identifies types of fraud and other risks that opaque contractor ownership poses to DOD in the procurement process and assesses whether DOD has taken steps to address those risks. GAO reviewed applicable laws and regulations and interviewed DOD officials, including procurement staff and criminal investigators. GAO researched cases from 2012–2018 where contractors may have concealed or failed to disclose ownership information. GAO compared DOD’s efforts to leading practices in GAO’s Fraud Risk Framework. This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in September 2019. Information that DOD deemed sensitive involving ongoing investigations and certain internal controls and vulnerabilities has been omitted.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that DOD assess risks related to contractor ownership as part of DOD’s ongoing efforts to assess fraud risk. DOD should use this information to inform other types of risk assessments, including national security concerns. DOD concurred with GAO’s recommendation.

For more information, contact Seto J. Bagdoyan at (202) 512-6722 or bagdoyans@gao.gov.”

https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-20-106#summary’

China, Russia And South Korean Firms Ranked Within 2019 Top 100 World Defense Companies

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Image: Business Korea.com

“DEFENSE NEWS

“The additions have caused a reshuffling of positions relative to last year’s Top 100, but the absence of Chinese enterprises had painted an incomplete picture of the structure of the global defense sector. https://people.defensenews.com/top-100/

Some planners and analysts may scoff at the inclusion of Chinese firms, or for that matter enterprises of other countries that don’t have markets open to U.S. and European firms. But this raises the first of three lessons that can be learned from the Top 100: Pay attention to China.

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“The U.S. Defense Department and other defense ministries have been paying a lot of attention to China for more than a decade, and contractors have undeniably benefited from spending to counter China’s emerging defense capabilities.

The data listed in the Top 100 for eight Chinese enterprises raises a host of questions: Are these firms profitable? How much do they spend on research and development? What are management incentives and goals? How do these firms benefit from commercial enterprises that are often part of their business portfolios?

A recent McKinsey & Company study observed that the largest 100 Chinese firms in all sectors generated approximately 18 percent of sales internationally, compared to 44 percent for U.S. firms in the broad S&P 500 market index.

The same relationship may hold for China’s defense contractors. China’s major defense export customers have tended to be relatively small in number — Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar and some African states.

There are harbingers of change, however, with a Chinese firm selected in 2013 to supply Turkey with an air defense system (the deal fell through) and more recent UAV and ballistic missile sales as well as local development for Saudi Arabia. It’s likely that companies listed in the Top 100 will see more Chinese enterprises in global markets in the years to come.

The second lesson from the Defense News rankings is that it’s difficult for contractors to make significant moves on organic sales growth alone. Lockheed Martin has been the No. 1 ranked company since 2003; Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics and BAE Systems have been ranked between No. 2 and No. 6.

There are two possible exceptions to this rule, however, in SpaceX and General Atomics, neither of which appear on the Top 100. There’s been a general dearth of new entrants in defense that have reached scale. Big moves in relative position have typically resulted from divestitures, or mergers and acquisitions .

For contractors that are on the list, this leads to a third lesson: The things you can’t see may kill you, or at least trip up your well-laid plans.

SpaceX is possibly an anomaly, as there are not that many billionaires with very different business models and goals targeting specific defense segments. But defense customers will continue to demand new and innovative products and services, and the number of potential competitors is far greater than those listed in the Top 100. The threats here may come from smaller firms that can rapidly scale up in new market segments — such as space, cyber or artificial intelligence — or protracted forays by large commercial technology firms into markets dominated by traditional contractors.

There are other companies not listed in the Top 100 that will play impactful roles in defense market segments. The initial public offering of Parsons raises its profile in defense. Kaman’s plan to sell its distribution business and concentrate on engineered products is another change, and the agreement between AeroVironment and Kratos announced in 2019 is another factor to weigh.”

https://www.defensenews.com/top-100/2019/07/22/3-lessons-for-industry-from-the-defense-news-top-100-list/

Japan And Australia – A Security Alliance Independent of the U.S.

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Image: DAVID MAREUIL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

STRATFOR WORLDVIEW

The countries would act as cornerstones in a future regional security alliance that could include European and Asian partners, but not depend on U.S. support.

Concerns about the direction of U.S. foreign policy in the region is catalyzing action on a tighter defense partnership.

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“Despite their locations on opposite ends of the Pacific, Australia and Japan share many concerns: the safety of their shipping via sea lanes, the increased pressure put on them by China’s rise in power and a complicated alliance with the United States. As Washington’s reliability and effectiveness as an ally diminish, it’s logical that a more robust relationship between Australia and Japan would extend beyond the economic realm into the security sphere. To that end, Australia and Japan have been working to develop a security structure independent of their alliance with the United States intended to eventually bring in additional allies, both Asian and European.

Australian-Japanese Relations

The long diplomatic relationship between Japan and Australia began under Japan’s Tokugawa government in 1854. After the countries’ military confrontation during World War II, a strong trade relationship bloomed. Today, the foundations are being set for an Indo-Pacific security structure with both nations as its cornerstones. 

In June 1976, Japan and Australia signed the Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, laying out their bilateral relations for the first time since World War II ended. Their relationship, especially in the economic realm, has increased in scope and complexity ever since. Australia is now Japan’s fourth-largest trading partner — and its top supplier of energy and mineral resources. The two countries signed the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in 2015, and Australia lists Japan as its second-largest trading partner. Together they organized the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the original Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in 2016.

On the security front, their relationship is deepening as well. The “2+2” talks involving Japanese and Australian defense and foreign ministers started in 2010. Out of those came the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), calling for increased bilateral military cooperation. That agreement would allow access to each other’s territory by their respective military personnel. As reported in The Diplomat on April 10, a major sticking point remains rules over capital punishment for military personnel. Japan allows soldiers to be executed, but Australia does not. Negotiations over that point continue, however. Interestingly, the RAA allows provisions for additional allies to be brought on board at a later date.

A Loss of Trust in the United States

In a July 2018 essay titled “With Trump at large, Australia needs a Plan B for defense,” Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a traditional booster of the U.S.-Australian alliance, argued for measures boosting Australian security. While the piece made clear that the Australian defense relationship with the United States should continue, it said that the country should increase defense spending, consider security ties with Japan, develop nuclear submarines and add to its military ranks.

In March 2019, Hiroyuki Akita, a writer and editor for the Nikkei Asian Review, referenced Jennings’ call in his article advocating that Japan form a security alliance that includes not only Australia but also France, England and even Belgium. Like Jennings, he stressed the importance of maintaining the current treaty with the United States but noted that it was “not inconceivable” that the alliance could unravel.

Reading the Writing on the Wall

Japan is currently involved in the Talisman Sabre war games organized by Australia. Although its participation in this exercise was set for some time, in June, Tokyo dramatically scaled up its security forces’ planned participation. Japanese warships and amphibious troops will be joining the war games for the first time.

This is an obvious sign Japan is taking security ties with Australia more seriously, but the Japanese government has been laying the groundwork for that relationship for some time. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has been developing a legal framework to allow for the transfer of military assets between the two. In its annual paper published February 2019 regarding permits for the transfer of military equipment to foreign lands, the ministry not only details the issuance of permits for military equipment and technology to Australia but also calls for a stronger overall security relationship. The ministry had been working on this project since October 2014, the paper indicated. The Japanese government is not only diplomatically but institutionally setting the course for a military relationship with Australia.

Canberra is actively encouraging the Australian public to support deeper ties with Japan. Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne in January 2019 publicly supported Japan’s increased defense spending despite worries articulated about the implications for the stability of the Indo-Pacific region. In July, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Australian media that he regretted not being able to secure a contract with Japanese developers in 2016 to help develop Australia’s new class of submarine. Tokyo had coveted the contract, which ultimately was awarded to French developers in 2015. Those and an increasing number of other public comments by Australian leaders concerning their country’s relationship with Japan show a growing willingness on their part to accept a new security framework with Japan as a cornerstone.

A Long-Term Trend Accelerates

A tighter security relationship between Japan and Australia has been developing since the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Talks in 2014. Talks between the Australian and Japanese defense ministers began in May 2010 at the 2+2 negotiations. The countries’ prime ministers released the Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation in 2007, the first such declaration outside of their relationship with the United States. Both Australia and Japan have eyed one another as a strategic partner now for 12 years and have been acting accordingly.

The Reciprocal Access Agreement did not spring from a void, but rather is a product of years of relationship-building between two Pacific middle powers with much at stake: the stability and security of the Indo-Pacific region in face of a rising China and a declining and increasingly unreliable United States.

Doubts about U.S. direction have deepened in both countries, especially so in the wake of the Group of 20 summit in June. The repercussions of Trump’s musings about ending the U.S. security pact with Japan and of his visit to the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone and embrace of leader Kim Jong Un have yet to fully play out. But it’s certain that decision-makers in Japan and Australia alike could read the president’s actions in the context of the standing Pacific security framework as discouraging. 

Japan and Australia have begun work on a Pan-Asian, Indo-Pacific security structure that would include Western Europe but not the United States. Though this structure does not currently exist, the framework of what it would take to build it does. Both countries still wish to maintain security ties with the United States, and publicly state so. However, given their uncertainty about the direction that the current White House will take, neither side appears comfortable with the status quo. As a result, both countries will continue to move forward with alternative means to guarantee their security in the Pacific.”

https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/japan-and-australia-set-stage-security-alliance-independent-us-great-power-competition-china


 

Global Arms Trade Experiencing Greatest Boom Since Cold War

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IMAGE: RENATE HOFFMANN / EYEEM / GETTY IMAGES

“TRUTHOUT.ORG”

“The revolving door between public officials and defense contractors has long distorted U.S. foreign policy to serve war profiteers at the expense of the public interest and basic humanitarian norms.

From U.S. weaponry ending up in the hands of ISIS, to supplying arms fueling civil conflict and therefore contributing to the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, the lack of oversight on arms deals has enabled human rights atrocities.”

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“In their most recent report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute revealed a 44 percent increase in arms sales from 2002 to 2017. The United States is the world’s biggest arms exporter by far, holding 34 percent of total market share — a 58 percent lead on Russia, its closest competitor. From 2017 to 2018, U.S. arms sales to foreign governments increased 33 percent, in part due to the Trump administration’s diminished legal restraints on supplying foreign militias.

The Project on Government Oversight released a detailed analysis of the defense sector, revealing 645 instances of federal employees working for the 20 largest Pentagon contractors in fiscal year 2016, the latest year with complete data. Of the 645 instances of former public servants transitioning to work for private defense corporations, 90 percent were hired to work as lobbyists, where they seek to influence public policy to benefit their private employers.

After the resignation of Gen. James Mattis, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan filled the post as interim head of the Defense Department.

Shanahan spent three decades working for Boeing — a blatant conflict of interest for the person responsible for overseeing federal contracts with private defense contractors. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, called Shanahan “a living, breathing product of the military-industrial complex,” and asserted that “this revolving door keeps the national security elite very small, and very wealthy, and increasing its wealth as it goes up the chain.”

One egregious example of that revolving door is Heather Wilson, who has been secretary of the Air Force since 2017. In 2015, Lockheed Martin paid a $4.7 million settlement to the Department of Justice after the revelation it had used taxpayer funds to hire lobbyists for a $2.4 billion contract.

One of the lobbyists was former New Mexico Representative Wilson, ranked as one of the “most corrupt members of Congress” by the nonprofit government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Wilson was later confirmed as Air Force secretary in the Senate by a 76-22 vote.

Mark T. Esper, the secretary of the Army, worked as vice president of government relations for Raytheon before joining the Administration in 2017. The Hill recognized Esper as one of Washington’s most powerful corporate lobbyists in 2015 and 2016, where he fought to influence acquisition policy and other areas of defense bills. Esper’s undersecretary, Ryan McCarthy, is a former Lockheed executive.

The State Department’s updated Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy Implementation Plan was released in November 2018 and detailed loosened restrictions on the sale of drones and other weapons, new financing options for countries who can’t afford U.S. weaponry, and aims to put pressure on diplomats to put arms deals at the forefront of their mission. Rachel Stohl, an arms trade expert with the Stimson Center, described the updated policy, saying, “If you read between the lines, it could be a green light for the U.S. to sell more with less restraint.”

A glaring example of the arms industry’s influence on State Department policy is demonstrated by a September 20, 2018, report from The Wall Street Journal. According to the report, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was convinced to continue support for the Saudi campaign in Yemen for the sake of a $2 billion arms deal with U.S.-based defense contractor Raytheon. The State Department’s legislative affairs staff, who influenced Pompeo’s decision, is led by Assistant Secretary of State Charles Faulkner, a former Raytheon lobbyist.

Recent developments by the Administration have clarified the nature of the relationship between defense contractors and the federal government, but it would be erroneous to place the majority of the blame on him for the greater trend in global arms sales. Under President Barack Obama, arms exports doubled compared to President George W. Bush, reaching more than $200 billion in total approved deals (approved deals don’t represent actualized contracts, as deals can take years to be ordered and completed). The rapid increase in exports was part of a broader strategy to replace U.S. soldiers with surrogates in allied countries, as well as to placate allies in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — countries incensed by the administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Despite brokering more arms deals than any administration since World War II, President Obama did enforce holds on arms exports to some countries deemed guilty of human rights abuses, including Bahrain, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. All of these holds were lifted shortly after the Trump administration took power.

The Administration’s priorities on arms sales were further demonstrated after the CIA confirmed Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in ordering the savage execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. resisting calls to punish the Saudi prince on the grounds that punitive action would jeopardize lucrative arms deals with the kingdom. The claims vastly overstated the amount of jobs and money to be lost if the U.S. withdrew support for Saudi military adventurism.

Research from Brown University shows domestic investment in education and health care creates more than twice as many jobs as military spending. Arguments that we have to provide Saudi Arabia or the UAE with bombs that land on school buseshospitals and weddings in order to preserve jobs is unconscionable and demonstrates a warped sense of priorities. We don’t have to contribute to what a United Nations Children’s Fund official has labeled a “war on children” to maintain what accumulates to a total of less than 0.5 percent of U.S. jobs. We can invest in productive sectors of the economy like renewable energy and create jobs that truly serve our society.

A real debate on the arms trade is nearly absent from public conversation because the industry can only thrive in secrecy and duplicity. Consider former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s final move as a public official, in which he snuck a provision to curtail debate on Saudi support in Yemen into the U.S. farm bill in December.

Fortunately, Ryan’s manipulative tactics would fail to prevent the House from finally passing a resolution to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen on February 13. Trump has indicated the Yemen resolution will be his first veto, as it represents a major check to executive power and a direct rebuke to his arms export-based style of diplomacy.

After pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, defense companies enjoyed an immediate boost to their stock. This is because demand in the arms trade surges alongside geopolitical instability. Heightened volatility encourages higher arms sales, and the dissemination of weapons to despotic regimes increases volatility, creating a vicious cycle further entrenched by a revolving door of defense contractors who influence public policy to benefit private weapons manufacturers.

In his famous farewell speech, President Dwight Eisenhower warned the U.S. public of this exact predicament, what he called the “military-industrial complex.” President Eisenhower’s warning remains prescient nearly 60 years later, as the failure to regulate the defense sector has led the U.S. to arm its enemies, enable humanitarian crises and desecrate its values. While the historic House resolution to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen is proof we can take concrete action to confront the military industrial complex, greater public awareness is needed to transform U.S. foreign policy in a profound manner. Just as President Eisenhower suggested, it is time for an alert and knowledgeable citizenry to challenge the reasoning behind the U.S.’s endless wars and fight for a more peaceful future.”

America Sold $55.6 Billion In Weapons Abroad in FY 18 — A 33 Percent Jump

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Foreign Arms Sales 2018

“DEFENSE NEWS”

“Included in that total are $3.52 billion for cases funded by the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program; $4.42 billion for cases funded under Defense Department authorities; and $47.71 billion funded through pure FMS cases, per the State Department.”


“The U.S. inked $55.6 billion in foreign military sales during fiscal year 2018, easily smashing past the previous year’s total — and the Pentagon’s point man for security cooperation expects more in the future.

“This is a 33 percent increase over last year and I’m very optimistic that this positive trajectory will continue,” said Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, the head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, during a speech at the AUSA conference. “Our partners know a good thing when they see one.”

In FY17, the U.S. sold $41.93 billion in FMS deals, and the Pentagon has not been shy about hyping the final dollar total for this year. In July, Hooper said the department had already inked $46.9 billion in deals, and a Pentagon report released last year said that the U.S. had inked $54.45 billion through the end of August.

Sales totals are volatile year over year, depending on what partner nations seek to buy. In FY16, sales totaled $33.6 billion, while FY15 totaled just more than $47 billion and FY14 totaled $34.2 billion.

While this year’s total still falls short of FY12’s all-time record, there is reason for Hooper to be optimistic this is not a one-time boost.

In FY18 the State Department cleared roughly $70 billion in potential FMS deals, spread over 70 individual requests. Those are not hard dollars, but rather a listing of the potential agreements that the State Department has ok’d; if Congress does not object, those potential deals then go into negotiations. Among those requests are a Saudi request for THAAD ($15 billion) and a Polish request for Patriot PAC-3 batteries ($10.5 billion), either one of which would give a massive boost for a potential FY19 total if completed on time.

In addition, the Trump administration has made pushing foreign weapon sales a key part of its economic growth strategy, pushing out a new conventional arms transfer policy to make it easier to sell defense articles abroad.

And Hooper is not alone in his optimism. Speaking to reporters in September, Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said, “I would anticipate — I am an optimist and a realist — that next year’s numbers will be higher than this year’s numbers.”

https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/ausa/2018/10/09/america-sold-556-billion-in-weapons-abroad-in-fy18/

 

 

What the Big U.S.-China Climate Announcement Means

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Solar_Blog_Photo-NEW-e1389128842298Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

“COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS”

‘This is a serious diplomatic breakthrough after years of unsuccessful efforts to do something big and joint that goes beyond clean energy cooperation and gets to one of the most sensitive parts of climate policy. Very loosely speaking, a mere one-year shift in the Chinese peaking year could matter at least as much to global emissions as the difference between the various U.S. targets that have now been announced.

Barack Obama and Xi Jinping surprised even the closest climate watchers last night when they jointly announced new emissions-cutting goals for the United States and China.

What it ultimately means for emissions, of course, will be determined over many years.

What exactly is the significance of the news? It will take time (and fleshing out of details) to fully assess the two countries’ proposals. But there are already three big takeaways that can be discerned.

China is now approaching international climate diplomacy differently from – and more constructively than – before. The Chinese announcement promises to peak emissions “around” 2030 and to try to beat that deadline. It also articulates a goal of boosting non-fossil energy to twenty percent of Chinese fuel. People will pore over these numbers (and I’ll say something about them below). But perhaps the most striking thing about them is simply that they’re genuinely new. In 2009, when China announced a goal of cutting emissions intensity by 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, many analysts (myself included) noted that they contained no ambition to move beyond “business as usual” estimates for future Chinese emissions. Not this time around: for China to peak its emissions by 2030, it would need to depart significantly from the path that most analysts currently expect. That alone is a big deal.

The way that the Chinese goals were developed and announced, though, is as important as their substance.

China has typically gone out of its way to assert its independence in anything climate-related. That approach would usually have led it to announce major goals like these in a clearly unilateral context – even if they were developed in tandem with the United States. Rolling them out together with the United States says that China is increasingly comfortable being seen to act as part of an international effort.

Indeed that may be part of the point here. Xi appears at least somewhat sensitive to historical patterns of conflict between established and rising powers. Amidst broad tensions between the United States and China, climate change is increasingly an area of relatively constructive dialogue, which makes it worth highlighting. A joint announcement does exactly that.

One also has to wonder what domestic dynamics are at work here. One plausible theory for why Xi made the announcement in an international context is that the transformations he seeks in order to achieve Chinese climate goals are also ones he wants to pursue for other economic, environmental, or strategic reasons anyhow (for example, reducing local air pollution). Making a firm and international commitment to this can strengthen his hand against those at home who oppose such moves.

The U.S. target looks like it’s going to be really tough to meet without new laws. The United States promised to cut emissions 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and to try to get to a 28 percent cut. (Notice a pattern – baseline and stretch goals – between the United States and China?) If the United States hits its current target – 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 – on the head, it will need to cut emissions by 2.3-2.8 percent annually between 2020 and 2025, a much faster pace than what’s being targeted through 2020. That is a mighty demanding goal. It will be particularly challenging to meet using existing legal authority – which the administration says can be done.

My understanding is that the numbers were arrived at through careful bottom-up analysis of the U.S. economy and of legal authorities over an extended period of time. But technically possible and politically likely are two different standards. One useful point of comparison is the Waxman-Markey legislation. That bill would have required a 30 percent emissions cut by 2025, but a large slice (perhaps more than half) of the reduction was expected to be met through international offsets. The new targets thus far exceed Waxman-Markey in domestic ambition.

That doesn’t prove, of course, that the new targets will be tough to meet; the world has changed a lot in the last five years. So let’s drill down on some details.

One thing that’s straightforward to infer from the announcement is that any effort to meet the new goals will need to lean disproportionately on measures to reduce emissions of non-CO2 gases and increase the U.S. carbon sink (the latter of which is mostly beyond the influence of policy). This is clear once one observes that a 26 percent cut in CO2 emissions in energy alone would require slashing power plant coal use by somewhere around 75 percent by 2025 (barring some sort of radical and unexpected change in the transportation sector). I would normally sound a major warning note on reliance on cutting non-CO2 gases, since it’s wrong to trade cuts in carbon dioxide for cuts in shorter-lived forcers. In this case, though, it’s probably wrong to look at this as a set of tradeoffs; instead the administration appears to be putting forward the most it thinks it can do on all fronts.

It’s also worth observing is that achieving these goals will almost certainly require changes to the implementation of the EPA power plant regulations. This would be particularly true if the automobile fuel economy rules are relaxed when they’re reviewed in a few years. The EPA power plant rules as they’re currently proposed are already spurring plenty of pushback; pressing them further will be a tall political and technical task. In particular, it’s near-impossible to imagine achieving these goals simply with actions taken during the Obama administration. President Obama’s administration may have developed and negotiated these numbers, but his successor will determine whether they’re achieved.

One last note on the U.S. numbers: The fact that they’re a stretch doesn’t mean that they’re bad. Stretch goals can motivate policymaking. And few people thought, back in 2009, that the United States could cut emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 using existing authorities, something that’s now seen to be perfectly feasible. Big numbers can, however, create big backlash, which is something to watch out for.

The potential scale of the Chinese plan, though, dwarfs all of this – as do the associated uncertainties. The difference between a 26 and a 28 percent cut in U.S. emissions is on the order of 120 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. That’s smaller than the EIA’s projected annual growth in Chinese energy emissions for each year between 2025 and 2030.

And then there’s the matter not of when Chinese emissions peak but where they peak. Do they peak 25 percent above current levels? 15 percent? 10 percent? That makes an enormous difference for global emissions. I suspect that one can make some inferences from the target for zero-emissions energy that the Chinese announced; perhaps more on that in another post. At least one big hint at where Chinese leaders hope to land should come next year if they announce a carbon intensity target (something they seemed to indicate was in the works at the UN in September). One way of getting some insight might be from a recent MIT-Tsinghua study that models a scenario with Chinese peaking in 2030. It uses a $38/ton carbon tax to get there and peaks at 17 percent above current levels. It would not be a surprise if that analysis was one of many that informed Chinese decision-making.

I wouldn’t expect much more negotiation over either U.S. or Chinese targets, even though European leaders may want to have a discussion. Over the next year, rather than focus on any haggling over emissions numbers, it will be worth watching three things. What will the remaining details of the Chinese plan look like? How will the U.S. goals be received politically – and could they spook a Congress currently considering how much to try to interfere with pending EPA regulations? And, perhaps most important, could this display of pragmatic U.S.-China diplomatic cooperation be a sign of more to come in international climate change diplomacy – which will need to go well beyond target-setting – over the coming year?”

http://blogs.cfr.org/levi/2014/11/12/what-the-big-u-s-china-climate-announcement-means/