Situation Report

FP's Situation Report: Afghanistan in an electoral crisis; U.S. gives up on anti-Castro "prop" plane; China targeted U.S. think tanks on Mideast; Jordan a sitting duck; Israel weighs a ground invasion; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold with Nathaniel Sobel

Afghanistan is now confronting a full-blown electoral crisis. The election earlier this year had brought high hopes that after years of sacrifice of blood and treasure the country could perhaps get on solid political footing. Abdullah Abdullah, one of the two front-runners and well-known to Washington, seemed poised to win. But in runoff results released yesterday it was his opponent, Ashraf Ghani, who appears to have won the second round. Now Abdullah is claiming widespread fraud, fanning the flames of protests in his favor, and the U.S. is warning it would withdraw financial and security support if either takes office illegally. Reuters this hour: "...Underscoring the magnitude of the crisis, Abdullah said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would visit Kabul on Friday. Kerry arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue. The U.S.-China talks finish on Thursday. Thousands of Abdullah supporters gathered in the capital on Tuesday, demanding their leader form a parallel cabinet and unilaterally assert his own rule - a dangerous move that would further fracture the fragile country. More here.

Reuters' Mirwais Harooni and Maria Golovinna reported last night that the Independent Election Commission on Monday announced that Ghani won the June 14 second round with 56.44 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results. The tally might change when the final official numbers come out on July 22. ...Officials warned this was not the final result, however. ‘The announcement of preliminary results does not mean that the leading candidate is the winner and there is possibly the outcome might change after we inspect complaints,' IEC chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani told reporters." More here.

John Kerry, in a statement released late last night, who noted reports of a "parallel government" with "gravest concern": "... The apolitical role of the security forces must be respected by all parties. We call on all Afghan leaders to maintain calm in order to preserve the gains of the last decade and maintain the trust of the Afghan people.  Any action to take power by extra-legal means will cost Afghanistan the financial and security support of the United States and the international community."

On Thursday, the man nom'ed to become the next ISAF commander, Gen. J.C. Campbell, will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee to explain how ISAF will transition in the coming months, how he can lead a command that is itself in transition, and how his experience as a regional commander in the East can help. But for an administration that had hoped to check another box and begin to depart Afghanistan amid so much upheaval in Iraq after the U.S. withdrew there, Campbell's job Thursday defending the administration's drawdown plans for Afghanistan won't be an easy one.

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to be one of our subscribers, we'd love to have you. Sign up for Situation Report by sending us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Like what you see? Tell a friend.  And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, you, send it to us early for maximum tease. And the more shovel-ready, the better. And hey! Follow us: @glubold and @njsobe4.

The U.S. finally gives up on its anti-Castro propaganda plane. FP's John Hudson, who wrote the piece a year ago that raised questions on the program: "The United States officially ended one of the most ineffective and widely criticized programs of the last decade aimed at undermining the Cuban government, the State Department revealed Monday. Foggy Bottom's inspector general released a report showing that AeroMarti, a multimillion dollar boondoggle that involved flying an airplane around Cuba and beaming American-sponsored content to the island's inhabitants, ended in April. Since launching in 2006, the program was plagued by a simple problem: Every day the plane flew, Havana jammed its broadcast signal, meaning fewer than 1 percent of Cubans could listen to its TV and radio shows." More here.

Sen. Robert Mendendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is seeking an inquiry into the source of claims that led to what is thought to be a Cuban plot to smear him. The WaPo's Carol Leonnig and Manuel Roig-Franzia, on Page One: "Sen. Robert Menendez is asking the Justice Department to pursue evidence obtained by U.S. investigators that the Cuban government concocted an elaborate plot to smear him with allegations that he cavorted with underage prostitutes, according to people familiar with the discussions.

"...According to a former U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of government intelligence, the CIA had obtained credible evidence, including Internet protocol addresses, linking Cuban agents to the prostitution claims and to efforts to plant the story in U.S. and Latin American media." More here.

Who's Where When today - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey appear before a closed door meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee today to talk Iraq and Afghanistan... Pentagon Pressec Rear Adm. John Kirby will brief reporters at the Pentagon at 2pm today.

The U.S. Navy can't meet its funding needs for surface warships and a new class of nuclear attack submarines from 2025 to 2034, according to the service's latest 30-year shipbuilding plan. By Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio, here.

Situation Report corrects - In our item yesterday on Shin Shoji of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, we made a typo. It's NHK, not whatever we wrote. Sorry for the confusion.

Jordan, one of Washington's staunchest allies in the Middle East and one on which it relies heavily, is a sitting duck for ISIS. The NYT's Ben Hubbard reporting from Maan, Jordan on Page One: "...Across the Arab world, the drive for democratic change has stalled, for the moment at least, and in its place has been a resurgence of strongmen and Islamic militants, both selling the promise of stability and order as counterpoints to the tumult that followed the Arab Spring. For many here, the radical Sunni jihadis of ISIS are seen as a force battling oppression, an unsettling prospect for Sunni rulers, like the king of Jordan, as much as for Shiites, like the prime minister of Iraq. As other Arab nations have fallen prey to protests, wars and Islamist insurgencies, Jordan has maintained its reputation as a pro-American bastion of stability better known for hosting reefugees than for civil unrest.

"But Maan has long challenged that image with a mixture of poverty, Islamism, criminality and neglect that has fueled recurrent clashes between the government and the town's heavily armed populace."

Maan's mayor, Majid Sharari: "There is no ISIS here, but there could be because there is oppression, frustration, high prices and unemployment... All that could lead to chaos." More here.

Robin Wright on the new way of war: killing kids.  Read it on the New Yorker blog, here.

Meantime, the Iraqi Parliament wobbles over forming a government. The NYT's Alissa Rubin and Suadad Al-Salhy: "...Even a senior leader in the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite party that now opposes Mr. Maliki, said that ‘replacing Maliki now could be seen as a victory for the terrorists, and it also could adversely reflect the security leadership's morale because if Maliki is not there anymore, they could be dismissed or accused of corruption.'

"The Sunnis are demanding an amnesty for the tens of thousands of Sunni imprisoned - unjustly, they say, in most cases - by the Maliki government and a bigger say in how the country is run, including its security services. While some Shiites might be willing to give that to them, others are adamantly opposed.

"The Kurds believe they have an absolute right to include Kirkuk and some surrounding disputed villages in the autonomous Kurdish region, but neither the Sunnis nor the Shiites want to cede that ground, especially since the Kurds have made it plain that their ultimate goal is independence." More here.

Is Baghdadi the new UBL? If the Middle East and the West have a new boogie man, they may have found it in the leader of ISIS. Abdulrahman Al-Rashed for Al-Awsat: "The emergence of the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has rekindled fears that a new figure has emerged capable of uniting Al-Qaeda's different branches under a single commander. The emergence of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has ended a dry spell for Al-Qaeda that has lasted for three years, following the death of Osama Bin Laden. The time and place of Baghdadi's emergence raises questions about what this group is, who controls it and who was able to break into it. ISIS emerged suddenly in Syria, at a time when the collapse of President Bashar Al-Assad's regime seemed inevitable. The emergence of ISIS saved the Syrian regime by frightening the rest of the world with the specter of a terrorist regime replacing Assad, and by fighting against his other opponents." More here.

Israel weighs a ground invasion. Michele Chabin for USA Today this morning: "Israel's military launched fresh airstrikes against targets in Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Tuesday in a bid to halt a barrage of rocket fire that has pummeled southern Israel in recent weeks. But it is not yet clear whether a full ground invasion of the Palestinian coastal enclave by troops will take place. Israel is seeking to "retrieve stability to the residents of southern Israel, eliminate Hamas' capabilities and destroy terror infrastructure operating against the State of Israel and its civilians," its military said in a statement." More here.

Israel calls up 1,500 reservists after rocket attacks from Gaza. LA Times' Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem: "Palestinian militants fired dozens of rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on Monday evening, officials said, as the Israeli military sent more forces to the border and called up army reservists in the escalating crisis... Capping a day of attacks, Palestinian militants fired 40 rockets in one hour late Monday, setting off air raid sirens in communities as far as 50 miles from the Gaza Strip, Israeli military officials said. A dozen rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system and about 30 struck open areas, officials said." More here.

Bahrain orders a senior U.S. diplomat to leave. The WaPo's Ernesto Londono: "The Bahraini government declared a visiting senior U.S. diplomat persona non grata Monday after he met with representatives of a Shiite opposition party, and it took the highly unusual step of demanding his immediate departure from the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom. Bahrain's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, had ‘intervened flagrantly in Bahrain's internal affairs' by meeting with a political party ‘to the detriment of other interlocutors.'

"The State Department said Malinowski remained in Bahrain on Monday evening while U.S. diplomats in the capital, Manama, sought clarification from Bahraini officials about the request." More here.

Germans are in another uproar over U.S. spying - but they shouldn't be surprised. FP's Shane Harris: "Revelations that a 31-year-old German intelligence service employee has allegedly been passing hundreds of classified government files to the United States for the past several years has prompted cries of shock and outrage from some of the Obama administration's closest allies in Berlin. But the Germans shouldn't have been surprised. Washington has been spying on Germany for decades, and that work will almost certainly continue well into the future." More here.

HRC in Spiegel Online: Surveillance on Merkel's phone was "absolutely wrong." Read that interview with Spiegel Online reporters and Hillary Rodham Clinton, here.

Social media producers alert: There's this from FP's Elias Groll: "@CIA Go home, you're drunk." A look at the CIA's new Twitter feed, here.

Chinese cyber spies targeted U.S. experts on the Middle East. The WaPo's Andrea Peterson: "Middle East experts at major U.S. think tanks were hacked by Chinese cyber spies in recent weeks as events in Iraq began to escalate, according to a cybersecurity firm that works with the institutions. The group behind the breaches, called "DEEP PANDA" by security researchers, appears to be affiliated with the Chinese government, says Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer of the firm CrowdStrike. The company, which works with a number of think tanks on a pro bono basis, declined to name which ones have been breached." More on that here.

For Inside Cybersecurity, Christopher J. Castelli looks at a State Department study that doesn't break much new ground: "A yearlong State Department study effort to craft a 'framework for international cyber stability' has produced a draft report endorsing ongoing work on international norms of behavior for cyberspace and urging industry involvement, though the document fails to break much new ground." Read that here.

ICYMI, FP's Shane Harris' exclusive last week on how a solar panel manufacturer wants the Commerce Department to go after China for cyberattack, here.

What will Putin do in Ukraine? The WSJ's James Marson in Kiev and Julian Barnes in Washington: "As Ukraine laid plans for a siege of pro-Russia separatists' remaining bastions Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin faced a critical decision on whether to answer rebel pleas for military help-a move that could determine what he gains or loses following a monthslong conflict that has roiled global powers... Mr. Putin has publicly ignored increasingly desperate appeals by militants to send in thousands of regular troops he has massed on the border-a force that would likely brush aside Ukraine's growing but relatively inexperienced forces.

"His choice boils down to coming to the aid of the separatists, keeping Ukraine off-balance and bolstering his nationalist credentials at home, or consolidating his gains so far-chiefly Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, which Russia annexed in March-and averting the threat of tougher Western sanctions that could do major damage to the Russian economy, as well the risk of further international isolation. U.S. officials said it was unclear why Mr. Putin hadn't responded more forcefully to Ukraine's advance, and said that the option to send in troops may remain on the table." More here.

Russian and American ships sail in competing Black Sea exercises. Military Times' David Larter: "It's the tale of the two maritime exercises: In the Black Sea, the U.S. and its allies are starting up multinational training while Russian warships separately maneuver in a large-scale war game. The cruiser Vella Gulf entered the Black Sea on Monday and is meeting up with Bulgarian, Italian, Greek and Turkish forces there for the Bulgarian-led annual exercise dubbed Breeze. A 6th Fleet news release said the cruiser was participating to reassure allies of the U.S. commitment to stability in the area." More here.

Where do America's remaining sources of power lie? Elbridge Colby and Paul Lettow: "...Within the United States, there is an ongoing debate about the appropriate uses of American power abroad. But whatever one's views on how U.S. power should be used, there is little reason to support its erosion. If one favors extensive American engagement, a resilient America will be better able to lead and intervene effectively. If one favors retrenchment and restraint, a more powerful America will be better insulated from outside threats. If one favors measured engagement, strength provides options and the firmest basis for sustained success. And, irrespective of foreign policy, an economically dynamic, growing America will benefit all its citizens, particularly the generations to come." More here.

 

 

National Security

FP's Situation Report: Obama admin goes after former SEAL and No Easy Day author for book profits; Afg. election results out today; Are neocons returning as neoneocons? Shin Shoji's worst moment in 'this town'; And a bit more.

 

By Gordon Lubold

Hamas vows to avenge the deaths of its fighters. There was a new, deeper cycle of violence in the Middle East this morning that darkened the prospect of peace anytime soon. The NYT's Isabel Kershner this morning: "Hamas's military wing said on Monday that seven of its fighters from Rafah in southern Gaza had been killed in Israeli airstrikes, its heaviest losses in months, and vowed to avenge their deaths, warning on its website that 'the Zionist enemy will pay a heavy price.' More than 20 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel late Sunday and early Monday. One reached deep into Israeli territory, crashing into open ground near Beersheba, about 25 miles from the border with Gaza. The cycle of violence has continued in the wake of the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month and the grisly revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem last week." More here.

Al Jazeera: "Israeli airstrikes killed at least nine Palestinian fighters Sunday in the deadliest exchange of fire since the latest round of attacks began weeks ago. Seven fighters from the Al Qassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were killed when an air strike hit a tunnel at Rafah, in the south of Gaza. Two of the men from the Al Hussinin brigade, a military group belonging to Fatah, were targeted by drone strikes east of the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza on Sunday, witnesses said. Four civilians were wounded when Israeli jets fired a rocket at a field near their house in the northern Gaza Strip in Beit Hanon." More here.

The U.S. chides Israel for the treatment of the American teen. FP's Kate Brannen, this morning: "The State Department said Sunday that it was 'profoundly troubled' by Israel's treatment of a Palestinian-American who was detained and allegedly beaten by Israeli security personnel, unusually harsh words from the Obama administration that point to a growing divide between the American and Israeli governments. Tariq Khdeir, a high school sophomore visiting Jerusalem from Tampa, Fla., was arrested Thursday and held for three nights in Israeli before being released Sunday under house arrest after his family posted bail.

"A video posted online appears to show Israeli police officers hitting and kicking him before the arrest. In addition to the video, there are photos of Khdeir's face, disfigured with a black eye and swollen lip. It sparked outrage among Palestinians, who are already up in arms over the killing of Khdeir's 16-year-old cousin, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, whose body was found beaten and burned in a Jerusalem forest on Wednesday.

"...Combined, these events have thrown Israel into a new cycle of violence that threatens to further unravel any chance of restarting the peace talks that collapsed in April. 'The focus of diplomacy now needs to be crisis management and a prevention of a further deterioration of conditions of the ground,' said Robert Danin, a senior fellow at the Center on Foreign Relations. 'There is no real prospect of bringing the parties back to the negotiating table for the foreseeable future.'" More here.

Meantime, an Iraqi general is killed during an operation west of Baghdad, AP reports this morning. AP: ..."Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan Ibrahim said Iraqi army Sixth Division commander Maj. Gen. Najim Abdullah Ali was overseeing a raid Monday outside the village of Karma when a mortar round exploded nearby, killing him. The Sixth Division is deployed in the Sunni-dominated areas west of Baghdad, which is one of the most active fronts in the government's fight against militants led by the Islamic State extremist group. The Sunni militants seized control of the city of Fallujah, near Karma, and parts of the provincial capital of Ramadi earlier this year." More here.

Airstrikes slam into Mosul the day after ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdad made that big speech over the weekend. The WaPo's Abigail Hauslohner: "Warplanes carried out multiple bombing raids in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Sunday, a day after the leader of a powerful al-Qaeda-inspired militant group appeared online in a video from the city's main mosque. Residents of the city, reached by phone, said airstrikes shook the city at least three times Sunday, starting at dawn. It remains unclear what force carried out the airstrikes. The U.S. Defense Department said that it had no knowledge of the airstrikes and that U.S. forces were not involved. An Iraqi government official in Baghdad said he had no information about any airstrikes near Mosul." More here.

On Thursday at the Pentagon, Hagel and Dempsey talked Iraq and left open the door that U.S. troops could fight there. FP's Kate Brannen, here.

Welcome to Monday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to be one of our subscribers, we'd love to have you. Sign up for Situation Report by just sending us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Like what you see? Tell a friend.  And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, you, send it to us early for maximum tease. And the more shovel-ready, the better. And hey! Follow us: @glubold and @njsobe4.

The Obama administration is finally going after the former Navy SEAL who wrote the bestseller No Easy Day about the bin Laden raid. Lubold exclusive: "...The Justice Department and the Pentagon are in settlement talks, which have not previously been reported, with No Easy Day author Matt Bissonnette, who wrote the book in 2012 under the pseudonym Mark Owen. The book bumped Fifty Shades of Grey from the top of the USA Today best-seller list when it was first published and has gone on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. The book infuriated many at the Pentagon and in the secretive Special Operations community because Bissonnette didn't submit it for a pre-publication review designed to prevent the disclosure of any top-secret information about the raid.

A Pentagon spokesman: "The department continues to assert forcefully that Mark Owen breached his legal obligations by publishing the book without pre-publication review and clearance... Settlement negotiations continue with an intent to pursue litigation if talks break down."

"The Pentagon has long said that 'all options are on the table' when it came to the book. But defense officials have only hinted that the government would go after the proceeds of the book if Bissonnette didn't participate meaningfully in settlement negotiations.

Pentagon officials hadn't said, until now, that the administration was actively seeking to seize the funds from the book and would pursue charges against the author if those negotiations failed."

Bob Luskin, the attorney for Owen/Bissonnette: "We are indeed in discussions with the DOD about a possible resolution of this matter and I'm optimistic that they will be successful... Beyond that, I really don't want to comment." Read more here.

Clashes in Yemen between rebels and tribesman kill 35. AP's Ahmed Al-Haj, on some of the worst fighting there in months, here.

And Yemeni air force bombs Houthi rebels after ceasefire collapses, in Asharq al-Awsat over the weekend, here.

Today in Afghanistan, election authorities are expected to unveil preliminary results of the presidential run-off. Bloomberg's Eltaf Najafizada early this morning: "...Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister who won the first round of voting in April, is boycotting the results after accusing the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan of stuffing ballot boxes in favor of Ghani, a former World Bank economist. His camp wants today's announcement delayed again. 'We will not accept the preliminary results until clean votes are separated from fraudulent votes,' Abdullah told reporters in Kabul yesterday. 'The international community wants a government based on legitimate votes.'" More here.

Germany wants answers from the U.S. on the spy. The whole U.S. monitoring Merkel's calls thing was bad enough for German citizens. But then, on Friday, there emerged the story of the German citizen accused of spying for the U.S. Countries spy on each other all the time. Yet this one was troubling for many in German. The NYT's Alison Smale: "With mystery enveloping a German intelligence service employee accused of spying - reportedly for the United States - German officials and commentators on Sunday angrily demanded a response from Washington, warning that an already troubled relationship was at risk of deteriorating to a new low. The demands for a statement from the United States were nevertheless couched in cautious terms, suggesting that the scandal, which exploded on Friday when Germany's federal prosecutor reported the arrest of the 31-year-old employee of the Federal Intelligence Service, might not be as bad as initially feared." More here.

How it's seen over there: "Enough!" say Germans over spying, from Germany's The Local, here.

And, Merkel of course takes it all very seriously. Deutche Welle: "...German-US relations have been on the rocks since revelations of mass surveillance not only on German citizens, but also on Chancellor Angela Merkel and other politicians made headlines last year. Chancellor Merkel's spokesperson, Steffen Seibert... described [the situation] as 'very serious.' Espionage is 'not something we take lightly,' Seibert told reporters in Berlin." More here.

For Ukrainian forces battling Russian separatists, a feeling of accomplishment. The NYT's David Herszenhorn on Page One: "When pro-Russian rebels first fanned out across eastern Ukraine in April, seizing public buildings, ousting local officials and blockading streets and highways, the government's security forces - a ragtag lot of poorly equipped and understaffed military and police units - were largely paralyzed by dysfunction and defection... In the past week, however, after President Petro O. Poroshenko called off a cease-fire and ordered his troops to end the rebellion by force, an entirely different Ukrainian military appeared to arrive at the front.

"Soldiers retook an important checkpoint at the Russian border, routed insurgents from the long-occupied city of Slovyansk, and, on Sunday, began to tighten a noose around the regional capital of Donetsk ahead of a potentially decisive showdown... the recent success, however tentative, reflects what officials and analysts described as a remarkable, urgent transformation of the military and security apparatus in recent months." More here.

What's on your summer reading list? Here's what David Petraeus, chairman of KKR Global Institute and visiting professor of public policy at the City University of New York's Macaulay Honors College told Politico magazine: "I recommend the just-published Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman, by Robert O'Connell-a superb examination of the many facets of the iconic Union general who emerged as Ulysses S. Grant's most trusted battlefield commander. O'Connell's biography of Sherman brings to life an enigmatic, fascinating figure who emerged a brilliant strategist and a master of maneuver, and whose victories in 1864 helped to ensure Abraham Lincoln's re-election and ultimately turned the tide of the Civil War." 31 more folks tell Politico magazine what they're reading this summer, here.

Speaking of Politico and retired senior officers, Denny Blair's take on Japan's military-muscle flexing in Politico, here.

Stepping back: Shin Shoji, a Washington-based producer with NJK, Japan's Broadcasting Corporation, is returning to Japan. But we asked him what his best and worst moments were during his experience here over the last few years being a reporter in Washington. His best moment in DC reporting:  "As an international affairs professional, it is a huge dream come true for anyone to be in the frontlines where global events develop and evolve on a daily basis. To be able to witness huge policy developments and to develop relationships with real people who are hands-on on those issues is a huge privilege that people outside of Washington will not get so easily. Washington is in a league of its own, well above any cities in that regard, including New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Beijing."

His worst moment in DC reporting, and he even uses the term "this town": "Information asymmetry at its worst. People in this town are assessed on being at the right place at the right time, with the right person for a particular information significantly more often than knowing the significance or long-term implication of that information as an analyst. If anyone complains about a bell curve grading in undergraduate exams as being unfair, information asymmetry in Washington reporting makes pre-med science exams a cakewalk." It was good to get to know Shin and we wish him well.

A Native American veteran's battle with PTSD; Read that bit in Al Jazeera, here.

The neo-neocons: Are the they courting HRC? Good Monday reading ICYMI on Sunday in the Times' Sunday Review section by Jacob Heilbrunn: "...Even as they castigate Mr. Obama, the neocons may be preparing a more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver's seat of American foreign policy. To be sure, the careers and reputations of the older generation of neocons... and not all of them are eager to switch parties... But others appear to envisage a different direction - one that might allow them to restore the neocon brand, at a time when their erstwhile home in the Republican Party is turning away from its traditional interventionist foreign policy." More here.

Larry Summers, the former treasury economic adviser to Obama, writes today about the erosion of U.S. leadership, in the WaPo's op-ed pages today, here.

And this morning, the story of how Hillary is moving away from Obama pre-2016. The WSJ's Peter Nicholas on Page One, here.

Hey, can you pass a U.S. citizenship test? Might be a good question. Take it here.

A little help here... Southern Command's John Kelly urgently needs Congress' help to stem the flow of illegal drugs, weapons and people from Central America. Defense One's Molly O'Toole: "... [Kelly] has asked Congress this year for more money, drones and ships for his mission - a request unlikely to be met. Since October, an influx of nearly 100,000 migrants has made the dangerous journey north from Latin America to the United States border. Most are children, and three-quarters of the unaccompanied minors have traveled thousands of miles from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras."

Kelly to O'Toole: "In comparison to other global threats, the near collapse of societies in the hemisphere with the associated drug and [undocumented immigrant] flow are frequently viewed to be of low importance... Many argue these threats are not existential and do not challenge our national security. I disagree." More here.

In the Daily Caller, total recall of the Greatest Generation by 9/11 era Army Rangers. Contributor Alex Quade, here.