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Trump faces hurdles to military build-up

The passage of the NDAA shows an “appetite for more defense spending if you don’t have to make any difficult compromises,” said Katherine Blakeley, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “Republicans are going to have make difficult compromises because the Democrats in the Senate hold all the cards.”

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Avoiding the ‘Thucydides Trap’

From Ukraine to the South China Sea, the past several years have reminded us that international peace and stability are not givens. The great issues of war and peace, order and disorder, are returning to the forefront of global affairs. My end-of-year reading list is thus made up of books that help us understand the causes and consequences of global upheaval -- and that underscore the exceptional role America has played in holding back the forces of chaos over the past 70 years.

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Pentagon Eases Restrictions on Cluster Munitions

Ryan Boone, an analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, says the policy revision mostly keeps with the 2008 memo, including the dud rate of 1% or lower, but widens the scope by retaining existing inventory, permitting their use after 2018. It also allows the use of modern techniques for disabling submunitions and reducing potential harm to noncombatants. To not change course would result in a “self-imposed capability gap,” he says.

“It’s a stop-gap measure, buying time for the Army and other services to develop and field more compliant counters to some of the capabilities now being fielded by Russia and others,” Boone explains. “The new measures correct what was perhaps an overly stringent previous interpretation of UXO: that anything left behind that did not explode would count as UXO. This ignored technologies that could disarm the bomb or otherwise render it inert, even if it did not explode.”

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Turkey Places Bounty on Two Former U.S. Government Officials

Eric Edelman, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, told the Free Beacon the latest bounty on Rubin and Fuller represents a "continuation of Erdogan's effort to export authoritarian lawlessness and lack of respect for due process."

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Republicans want $700 Billion in Defense Spending Next Year

President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act today. It calls for around $700 billion in defense spending for fiscal year 2018. That would blow right through the spending caps Congress agreed to back in 2011. Congress has to vote to modify those caps, if it wants to spend this much money on defense. And it’s not clear Republican leaders have the votes to do that.