National Security

FP’s Situation Report: Demands and more demands in Afg; IG takes a pass on Amos; On Iran deal, why doves should worry; Obama’s move to diplomacy over military might; Penty could cut Stripes; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

More and more demands: Karzai meets with Rice in Kabul. The WaPo's Tim Craig and Karen DeYoung: "Efforts by the United States and Afghanistan to finalize a long-term security arrangement appeared on the brink of collapse Monday as Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a new set of demands, and the Obama administration said it would be forced to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of 2014. In a two-hour meeting here, Susan E. Rice, President Obama's top national security adviser, told Karzai that if he failed to sign the bilateral security agreement by the end of this year, the United States would have "no choice" but to prepare for withdrawal, according to a statement by the National Security Council in Washington." More here.

The White House readout on Rice's visit: "...Ambassador Rice stressed that we have concluded negotiations and that deferring the signature of the agreement until after next year's elections is not viable, as it would not provide the United States and NATO allies the clarity necessary to plan for a potential post-2014 military presence. Nor would it provide Afghans with the certainty they deserve regarding their future, in the critical months preceding elections." More here.

Rand's Seth Jones: forget Karzai and move on. Jones, author of "In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan" and also a former special adviser to U.S. special operations forces, argues in the WSJ today that the U.S. should resist temptation to let Karzai's latest games force it out of a long-term relationship with the country. His BLUF: "As whimsical as Mr. Karzai can be, it would be imprudent to let a lame duck Afghan president undermine U.S. national security interests. And the stalled bilateral security agreement may not be the most significant problem. The administration hasn't yet made a forceful, public case for keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan past 2014, with specifics of what a U.S. commitment would look like. It needs to do that now." More here.

Lessons from the Taliban: Afghanistan looks at returning to stoning as punishment for adulterers, Aljazeera here.

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up for Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. And if you like what you see, tell a friend. Register free for Situation Report and other FP products here. As always, if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease, because if you see something, you gotta say something -- to Situation Report. One more thing: please follow us @glubold.

Major muscle movements: Obama says "tough talk and bluster" may be easier, "but it's not the right thing for our security." The NYT's Mark Landler on the White House's big shift after two wars: "...But it also reflects a broader scaling-back of the use of American muscle, not least in the Middle East, as well as a willingness to deal with foreign governments as they are rather than to push for new leaders that better embody American values. "Regime change," in Iran or even Syria, is out; cutting deals with former adversaries is in. For Mr. Obama, the shift to diplomacy fulfills a campaign pledge from 2008 that he would stretch out a hand to America's enemies and speak to any foreign leader without preconditions. But it will also subject him to considerable political risks, as the protests about the Iran deal from Capitol Hill and allies in the Middle East attest." Read the rest here.

Chuck Hagel praises Iran deal, worries aloud about Afghanistan. USA Today's Tom Vanden Brook: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in his first public statements about the high-stakes talks with Iran, said Monday that the deal to slow the country's nuclear ambitions poses "minimal" risks for the United States. ‘Yes, there's risk in this, of course,' Hagel said in an interview with USA TODAY. ‘Nothing worthwhile ever comes without some risk. But I think the risk is very minimal for us in this.' At his office at the Pentagon, Hagel also talked about the troubled negotiations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to reach a deal that would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 and discussed the military's sexual assault crisis." More here.

The Pentagon's watchdog takes a pass on allegations against Jim Amos. FP's Dan Lamothe: "When a Marine Corps lawyer accused the service's top general and his staff of misconduct in their handling of legal cases tied to an embarrassing war-zone video, it created a firestorm on Capitol Hill, in the active-duty ranks, and in national media. But eight months later, it's now clear the Pentagon's watchdog agency took a pass on investigating the whistle-blower's most serious allegations -- that senior Marine officials deliberately and unlawfully interfered in the legal cases of Marines accused of war crimes and classified information to cover up their manipulation of the military justice system." More here.

No love: The WaPo put on its Page One today a story about how the CIA will likely retain most drone operations instead of relinquishing them to the Defense Department. But the story in the WaPo, which can be notoriously bad at giving credit when it's due, never mentioned one fact: Foreign Policy broke that bit fair-and-square three weeks ago. The WaPo piece here. Our story with Shane Harris Nov. 5, "The CIA, not the Pentagon, Will Keep Running Obama's Drone War," here. 

Ted Cruz on FP: the dangerous, wrongheaded deal with Iran and his BLUF: "The administration has gotten it backwards and it is time to reverse course before any further damage is done." More here.

FP's David Rothkopf on why hawks should love the deal with Iran - and why doves should worry. Rothkopf: "The reflexive reaction of Iran hawks to condemn the interim accord struck in Geneva this weekend is as wrongheaded as the triumphal assessments of those suggesting it ushers in a new, more hopeful era in the region's history. This deal, hard-won as it has been, is just a tentative if hopeful step down a long and twisting road fraught with dangers. For the hawks to suggest that the deal freezing Iranian uranium-enrichment efforts above the 5 percent level, halting work on the heavy-water reactor near Arak, and granting daily inspections to Iran's centrifuge-laden facilities at Natanz and Fordow makes matters more dangerous in the short term is just indefensible on its face. Absent such a deal, all enrichment and technological advancement efforts would continue unabated and without inspections. Iran would almost certainly move more quickly toward having a bomb without this deal than with it." More here.

FP's Colum Lynch on how Iran could be the cause - or the solution - to Syria's humanitarian crisis: "The United States and Iran, having clinched a landmark interim deal suspending some aspects of Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, turned their attention this week to addressing the humanitarian crisis in Syria. The long-standing adversaries were scheduled to attend a dinner tonight hosted by Britain's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and participate tomorrow in U.N.-sponsored conference at the Palais de Nations aimed at persuading Syria's combatants to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid. The conference -- which will bring key regional and international powers together -- will provide the first major test of whether progress on the nuclear front can be converted into political progress and an improvement in living conditions for millions of needy civilians in Syria." More here.

The Marines beef up embassy security post Benghazi, Politico's Kate Brannen, here.

Asian airlines to acknowledge China's new "air defense identification zone." Reuters: "...An official at the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau said Japanese airlines flying through the region to non-mainland Chinese destinations would likely need to inform China of their plans. "Airlines have been advised to take greater care in the area," said another bureau official. Singapore Airlines and Qantas Airways Ltd said they would keep Chinese authorities informed of their flights through the area. Korean Air said its flight plans would be delivered to Chinese authorities but the routes its pilots took would not be affected. Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings also said the zone had not affected their flights." More here.

An Air Force one star goes to three. Air Force Times' Jeff Schogol: "...Yes, you're reading that right: Air Force Brig. Gen. Christopher Burne has been nominated to catapult over his second star and get his third star as the next judge advocate general of the Air Force. If confirmed by the Senate, Burne would start his new job in February, replacing Lt. Gen. Richard Harding, whose retirement is expected but the date has not been announced, according to the Air Force. ‘Though uncommon, it's not unheard of for senior leaders to be selected in this manner,' Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Allen Herritage said. ‘Our sister services have done this on occasion as well.' More here.

An American sailor will appear in an Australian court in January after being arrested for an alleged aggravated sexual assault on a woman in Darwin. Stripes: "The unidentified sailor, who was stationed aboard the USS Denver, was arrested by Australian police Sept. 11 on suspicion of assaulting the woman but was released to the Navy two days later. The case was reported by Australian media for the first time this week."

Speaking of Stripes newspaper, the Pentagon may de-fund them. Stripes: "The Pentagon, under intense pressure to maintain American military might in an era of sequestration and falling budgets, is considering the elimination of Stars and Stripes and the Pentagon Channel as well as programming cuts to American Forces Network. The Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, which answers to the secretary of Defense, has been tasked with reviewing spending on all such media products. The Pentagon typically refuses comment on budget studies while in process, and when asked for information on the scope and intent of the review, officials would only say all of DOD is currently the subject of a top-to-bottom spending review ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. ‘In this budget environment, we're looking at everything,' said Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban, spokesman for the cost assessment office." More here.

Our story about the Pentagon thinking about defunding the Pentagon Channel, Sept. 20, here.

 

 

 

National Security

FP’s Situation Report: Are DOD’s personnel costs skyrocketing – or shrinking?; Karzai won’t sign the dotted line; What’s next in the Iran deal; Rice arrived in Afghanistan two days ago; A new doc for Marines; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

The Pentagon has for years said that personnel costs are going up, but oh by the way, Military Times' Andrew Tilghman has some context for you. Tilghman: "To hear the top brass talk sometimes, you might think the biggest threat to national security is your paycheck. It's become a common refrain: Military personnel costs are soaring, changes are needed. And, oh by the way, that will probably mean less money going to the men and women in uniform... according to the comptroller's office, military and civilian personnel costs have grown by 78 percent between 2001 and 2012, the most recent year for which finalized budget numbers are available.

"Yet the overall defense budget has been growing even faster. The base budget is up 85 percent since 2001, and when funding for overseas contingency operations are factored into the mix, total military spending is up more than 104 percent. From that perspective, personnel costs are actually shrinking as a share of the entire defense budget. Decrying the nominal rise in personnel costs without that important bit of context and comparison has been common for years." More here.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is launching a "high-priced effort" to create its own production pipeline for vaccines and biodefense drugs - despite duplication and advice to the contrary.  The LA Times' David Willman: "Despite intense pressure to hold down federal spending, the Defense Department is launching a high-priced effort to create its own production pipeline for vaccines and biodefense drugs - an initiative that defies the advice of government-hired experts and duplicates what another agency is doing. Construction began in late October on a plant in north Florida that will produce flu vaccine and specialized medicines for the Pentagon to protect military personnel against germ warfare agents. To begin paying for the initiative, the Obama administration has quietly shifted millions of dollars that had been budgeted for better masks, boots, early-warning sensors and other equipment for troops at risk of exposure to chemical or biological weapons, according to government documents and defense specialists. The Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, is on track to spend billions of dollars to produce the same types of medicines in collaboration with private drug companies and university researchers." More here.

Welcome to Monday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up for Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. And if you like what you see, tell a friend. Register free for Situation Report and other FP products here. As always, if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease, because if you see something, you gotta say something -- to Situation Report. One more thing: please follow us @glubold.

Signed, sealed and delivered in Iran? Reporting from Geneva, FP's own Yochi Dreazen: "...The negotiations between the two sides have been going on in stops and starts for nearly a decade, but the actual unveiling of the deal was strangely muted. The text of the agreement itself was signed at roughly 3:30 AM in Geneva's Palais des Nations in a quiet ceremony open to only a small number of reporters and not televised or otherwise broadcast electronically. Lady Catherine Ashton, the European Union's chief diplomat and one of the prime architects of the deal, didn't participate in the public rollout of the agreement or take any questions from reporters." More here.

The CS Monitor's Scott Peterson, also in Geneva: "...The accord gives Iran up to $7 billion in sanctions relief in exchange for curtailing uranium enrichment and other steps to prevent expansion of its nuclear program. It is the first fruit of nearly two years of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group (the  United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany). In Washington, President Barack Obama hailed the deal as "significant and tangible," saying that "diplomacy opened up a new path to a world that is more secure." Mr. Obama has faced fierce criticism over any deal from a hawkish Congress preparing new sanctions measures, the pro-Israel lobby, and US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, which fear a resurgent Iran.

"In Tehran, Mr. Rouhani said the "enemy [failed] to promote Iranophobia," and that the world "came to understand that respecting the Iranian nation would bear results." Rouhani drew support from family members beside him of assassinated nuclear scientists, and wrote a letter of congratulations to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - whose "victory" in the talks was hailed on Iranian state TV."

Also, Dreazen writes about the low-profile British dip who helped salvage the nuclear deal, here.

Now what? Matthew Kroenig, writing on FP: "...The interim pact is a step in the right direction. It puts strict ceilings on all aspects of Iran's program, including: centrifuge production, number and types of operating centrifuges, stockpiles of low- and medium-enriched uranium, numbers of enrichment facilities, and the start-up of the Arak reactor. In addition, these measures are to be verified by more intrusive inspections. In exchange, the United States offered relatively modest sanctions relief to the tune of roughly $7 billion. The deal will leave the most important aspects of the sanctions regime in place and, if Tehran honors its end of the bargain, prevent Iran from inching ever closer to a nuclear weapons breakout capability while negotiations continue. But we are not out of the woods yet." More here.

Did the U.S. just grant Iran the right to enrich? FP's Elias Groll, here.

Is China playing a game of chicken? Our report (Lubold and FP's Dan Lamothe): China just upped the ante over a territorial dispute with Japan. But in doing so, it seems to be sending a message to the United States as it pivots east: Stay out of our way. China's announcement Saturday that it had created an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) coupled with a demand that any non-commercial air traffic would have to submit flight plans prior to entering the area, represented by all accounts a significant provocation. China is attempting to assert its authority over a group of uninhabited islands south of Japan and just east of the Chinese mainland in the East China Sea. But the creation of the new zone is probably less about the islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus by China, as it is China's desire to flex its muscles in its own backyard as the U.S. rebalances its own strategy east. China's decision will complicate relations as the United States seeks to build a more trusting relationship with the Asian giant and develop diplomatic efforts on a number of fronts. And it will pose a challenge to Vice President Joe Biden, who is expected to make a stop in China on a trip through Asia next month. White House National Security spokesperson Caitlin Hayden wouldn't say if the development would affect Biden's trip. "We are very concerned about this escalatory development which increases regional tensions and affects U.S. interests and those of our allies. We have conveyed our strong concerns to China and are coordinating closely with allies and partners in the region," she said in a statement.

Virginia Republican Rep. Randy Forbes, to Situation Report: "It is increasingly clear to me that politely conveying to China our continued frustration with their willingness to use military coercion and forms of legal warfare to bully their neighbors is just not enough," Forbes said. "It is time we explore imposing new forms of diplomatic and strategic costs on Beijing for this behavior, including an increase in our operations and exercises in the East and South China Seas." More here.

First trip: Rice is in Afghanistan. National Security Adviser Susan Rice arrived in Afghanistan Saturday and will be there through tomorrow, the White House announced just this morning. It is her first trip as national security adviser, and she's there to "visit our troops and civilians around the holidays while also assessing the situation on the ground," according to a statement from the White House. And: "She will hear directly from U.S. troops, diplomats, and development professionals about our efforts as we move toward the responsible conclusion of our combat mission at the end of 2014 and as we continue to strengthen Afghanistan to ensure that it can provide security, governance, and opportunity for its people.  Ambassador Rice will also meet with Afghan civil society leaders and Afghan officials, as well as visit U.S.-supported assistance projects."

Noting:  typically the administration announces the arrival of Cabinet members in a place like Afghanistan as soon as they land. The WH didn't announce the National Security Adviser's arrival until two days after she arrived, citing security concerns; she will remain there until sometime tomorrow.

Karzai rejects the will of the loya jirga, a group he has said reflects the will of the Afghan people, and refuses to sign the agreement. The NYT's Rod Nordland: "Even though he had convened the assembly, or loya jirga, to ratify his decision to sign the agreement, Mr. Karzai told the assembled elders that he would do so only after further negotiations. He also demanded that American forces cease raids on Afghan homes immediately, saying that he would nullify any bilateral security agreement if there was even one more such raid.

"In practical terms, that would mean an end to the last remaining combat missions American troops are regularly carrying out: raids by elite units aimed at capturing high-profile insurgents. ‘From this moment on, America's searching of houses, blocking of roads and streets, military operations are over, and our people are free in their country," Mr. Karzai said, his voice filled with emotion. ‘If Americans raid a house again, then this agreement will not be signed,' he said, with the American ambassador, James B. Cunningham, in the audience. Afghan political leader Abdullah Abdullah: "I have no doubt in my mind there are politicians thinking back in the U.S. about the zero option" [- a complete American military withdrawal] - "and this will further strengthen their argument. There's a possibility that will backfire and the price will be paid by the people of Afghanistan." More here.

Did James Kirk get command of the Navy's new Zumwalt destroyer because of his name? Probably not, but still - it doesn't hurt. AP's David Sharp: Capt. Kirk's futuristic-looking vessel sports cutting-edge technology, new propulsion and powerful armaments, but this ship isn't the Starship Enterprise. The skipper of the stealthy Zumwalt is Navy Capt. James Kirk, and, yes, he's used to the jokes about the name he shares with the TV starship commander played by actor William Shatner. Kirk takes it in stride. Kirk: "I don't take any offense... If it's a helpful moniker that brings attention to help us to do what we need to do to get the ship into the fleet and into combat operations, then that's fine." More here.

Underreported: More than half of military sexual assault cases are men-on-men.  Former Airman Michael Matthews, now creator of "Justice Denied," a doc on male military sexual assault, writing in the NYT this morning: "It was early spring and I had finished working in the Minuteman missile complex at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Tired and dirty, I'd just made it to the chow hall before it closed for the evening. On the way back to my dormitory, as dusk fell, I took a shortcut through a construction site. Something struck my head and I was knocked unconscious. When I came to, there were two men holding me. At first, I thought that an object had fallen and hit me, and that these people were trying to help me. I soon realized they were holding me down. When I struggled, they started punching me in the head. They told me to shut up or they'd kill me.

A third man grabbed my pants and pulled down my underwear. ‘I bet you're going to like this,' he said. The pain was unbearable, but what I thought about was all the things I hadn't done in my life because I believed they were going to kill me when they were done. When they'd finished, all three started kicking me as I lay on the ground, curled in a fetal position to protect myself. ‘You tell anyone, we're gonna come back and kill you,' they said. All I knew at that moment was intense relief that I was going to live." More here.

The Experts, which employed the Navy Yard shooter, pulled his clearance for two days in August - then restored his access to classified material without telling the Navy. AP's Lita Baldor:  "The officials say Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based The Experts ordered computer contractor Aaron Alexis back to Washington, D.C., after a police incident in Rhode Island in August, then pulled his secret-level access for two days. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information in their own name. Less than six weeks later, the former Navy reservist gunned down 12 civilian workers at the Navy Yard. He was shot dead by police." Slightly more here.

Keith Alexander was about to resign.  The WSJ's Siobhan Gorman:  "Shortly after former government contractor Edward Snowden revealed himself in June as the source of leaked National Security Agency documents, the agency's director, Gen. Keith Alexander, offered to resign, according to a senior U.S. official. The offer, which hasn't previously been reported, was declined by the Obama administration. But it shows the degree to which Mr. Snowden's revelations have shaken the NSA's foundations-unlike any event in its six-decade history, including the blowback against domestic spying in the 1970s." More here.

Facebook's Zuckerberg said the U.S. "really blew it" when it on surveillance. He appeared on ABC's This Week Sunday. Read about it here.

New documentary: "A Day without a First Sergeant." Marines preview new doc, in theaters now (JK!) ... on the Duffel Blog, here.