This very concerned strategic assessment — “China is gaining on the United States. What are the US doing about it?” — was written by an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) analyst after the Trump administration’s first National Defense Strategy was released by Secretary of Defense Mattis — but before the sequester was set aside and increased funding allocated to the military.
Was the subsequent funding increase adequate? Not according to another AEI analyst (“How the defense budget falls short of strategic demands“).
Meanwhile, China is delighted to see US-South Korean disagreement in the wake of the North Korean-South Korean lovefest at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
China expert Joseph Bosco defends the Trump administration for withdrawing the nomination of Victor Cha as US ambassador to South Korea. Cha was against the President’s threatened “bloody nose” warning to North Korea. While praising the administration for being more aware of the duplicitous role that China and Russia have been playing vis-a-vis North Korea, Bosco nevertheless complains that “China and Russia are still paying a woefully insufficient diplomatic and economic price for enabling the North Korean regime as it creates an existential threat to America and its allies.”
Russia’s limited nuclear war doctrine
Russia thinks it can use smaller tactical nuclear weapons in a European combat and not face massive retaliation. The US is responding to this threat by adding smaller nuclear arms to its arsenal. But Defense Secretary warns Russia and potentially others that “There Is No Such Thing as a ‘Tactical’ Nuke.”
The reason the US military has been starved for funds is that year by year its allocation has been declining relative to the federal budget as a whole and as a percentage of GDP. Although federal responsibility for defense is the prime reason the country came into being after fighting and defeating Great Britain during the American Revolution — and is a responsibility defined in the Constitution — in post-Franklin D. Roosevelt budgets it has become a discretionary afterthought. Welfare transfers which are not mentioned in the Constitutional at all (social security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, education) — and thus left by the Constitution to the states — have instead been unlawfully assumed by the federal government, made mandatory, and now occupy almost three-quarter of the federal budget and growing.
Interesting developments in the Mideast
Modernization continues apace in Saudi Arabia. A top cleric has declared that women in the kingdom no longer need to wear the hated abaya in public. The Saudi-based World Muslim League meanwhile has rejected Holocaust denial in a letter to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Israel has not only carried out a large-scale attack in Syria after one of Israel’s jets was downed. It also, with the secret agreement of Egypt, is carrying out attacks on jihadists in the Egyptian Sinai.
The Trump administration has provided important assistance to Israel in squashing an Irish attempt to boycott Israel and criminalize trade with it.
Click here to go to yesterday’s Founders Broadsheet (“Despite export boom, US tax cuts and deficit will increase imports over exports, threatening ill-considered administrative protectionism”)