Those U.S. ships “would be in a good position to engage medium-range ballistic missiles going into the Sea of Japan, which is where the previous North Korean test shots have gone,” said Bryan Clark, a naval analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, who previously served as a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations. That presence off of Japan means that “when the Vinson gets there, it will not need to bring additional BMD capability,” Clark added, referring to ballistic missile defense.
The Trump administration is nearing its 100-day marker, a useful milestone for reflecting upon what the president has done and where he is going. There is certainly much to consider: President Donald Trump came to Washington pledging to break dramatically with American foreign policy as we have known it for decades, and his early presidency has been a whirlwind of activity, controversy, and chaos. So what do we know about foreign policy in the Trump era? There are six key takeaways so far.
There is enough political support for the Coast Guard to prevent massive cuts along the lines of what appeared in the predecisional budget draft, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. But that doesn’t mean the service will receive the money it was aiming for in its five-year budget plan. “You may find that they do end up with some kind of reduction because the negotiated result ends up being between the two” numbers proposed by the White House and the Coast Guard, he said. “Then the question will be: can they make the cuts in such a way that they [don’t] take it all out of procurement or modernization? … They are in a very, very vulnerable position right now having three major programs in the procurement pipeline,” he added.
Primarily, the challenge is how to address the onset of great power competition and how to deter great power conflict with revisionist and increasingly aggressive states like China and Russia. But it’s not only deterrence, in practical value it’s what kind of deterrence. In the ‘90s our understanding of deterrence was essentially deterrence by compellence – if you invade this country then we will come in, and after three or four months of assembling our forces, we will go in and kick you out of that country. Given the anti-access/area denial networks developed by the Chinese, Russians, and Iranians, for example, which threaten our ability to project power globally and come to the defense of our allies, that approach may not effectively deter such powers from aggression. In a globalized era, that approach could prove prohibitively costly as well. Political and economic interests are intertwined and the world so interconnected, so even if we’re the victor, the economic and political effects of any kind of conflict would range from problematic to catastrophic. How then do you reshape how you do deterrence? One of the things that we argue for in “Restoring American Seapower” is a “deny-and-punish” approach. Instead of a delayed, but massive response to aggression, what I’m going to do is position more offensively equipped, more networked, and more globally arrayed and regionally savvy naval forces in areas of likely aggression to deny the threat’s goals and as well as punish the aggressor there and around the rest of the world. Those are the kinds of primary challenges that we’re looking at, from both an operational and strategic angle.
The history of the twentieth century is littered with the carcasses of failed revolutions. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, and Hitler all tried to master modernity—to curb or accelerate it—and all failed. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, it appeared the most consequential revolutionary of the last century might turn out to be Mustafa Kemal Pasha, better known as Atatürk, founder of the secular Republic of Turkey. Amidst the wreckage of the multinational Ottoman Empire, Atatürk emerged victorious, using bourgeois nationalism as a basis for reforming a Muslim country in an attempt to demonstrate that popular sovereignty and Islam could successfully coexist. That proposition remains to be disproven, but the Atatürk revolution itself died on April 16, 2017—the day Turkey's current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, succeeded in his longstanding effort to transform the country's parliamentary government into an executive presidency.
Kate Blakeley, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments who previously worked at the Congressional Research Service, said Democrats are in a good negotiating position. “Democrats have some leverage, because you need eight Democrats to pass this spending bill in the Senate,” she said. “The Democrats are keeping mum, but they would have a hard time not passing a relatively clean bill that keeps non-defense discretionary spending at the [2011 Budget Control Act] level, without deep cuts. Democrats might also accept more OCO money than the $5 billion in the House appropriations bill if that’s the price of a good, clean bill.”