Gordon Adams

Don't Poke the Russian Bear

Putin is a bully but he’s not insane, and escalating a conflict with Moscow can only make things worse.

American policymakers don't get it; the politicians don't get it; Fox News certainly doesn't get it; the advocates for various flavors and colors of democracy don't get it. And in not getting it, they are pushing the United States down the road to confrontation with Russia. 

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The New Defense Budget Plan

The Pentagon's budget imagines spending levels that are not based on reality. This isn't just a problem for now, but a problem for the next five years.

It's budget season in Washington. Every year at this time I am hopeful that the Pentagon might finally escape Wonderland and wake up. And every year at this time, I am disappointed -- but not surprised -- when it does not.

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Great Expectations

Are the Pentagon budget planners encouraging bad behavior?

For the past three years, we have been bathed in pathos, hand-wringing, and garment-rending as the Pentagon faced declining budgets and the sequester cliff. But with the Ryan-Murray budget agreement for the next two years finalized last December and ratified in detail by the appropriators in January, it would seem the long nightmare is over.

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Deferring the Inevitable

Political and piecemeal Pentagon budget cuts can't hide the fact that there's no strategy behind the sequester drawdown.

Beyond the emotional and tragic tale of Army Ranger Cory Remsburg, President Barack Obama's State of the Union address didn't say much about defense, beyond an anodyne phrase: "And as we reform our defense budget, we have to keep faith with our men and women in uniform and invest in the capabilities they need to succeed in future missions." It has been clear that defense budgets have been going down for more than three years now, so why underline the obvious? Because it's unclear that the Pentagon has the message, or the defense industry, or Congress. The United States still doesn't have a defense plan that is strategically driven. And it has a super-human effort to avoid the inevitable by all players in the budget game -- the Pentagon, Congress, and the defense industry. No wonder they didn't get the memo yet.

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Echoes of 1914

A strange, dangerous, and oddly familiar era -- of declining American power, global rebalancing, and profound inequality -- is upon us.

We think we can predict the future -- though as physicist Niels Bohr noted years ago, prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. But in the first days of 2014 -- a year that happens to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I -- some of the coming conflicts and challenges are pretty clear. We will hear a lot about the Syrian civil war, the fate of the Iranian nuclear program, conflict in Iraq, the departure of U.S. forces from Afghanistan -- not to speak of what applecart Vladimir Putin plans to upset next, whether the North Korean regime will implode, and whether China and its neighbors intensify their conflict over the rocky outcroppings they all want to own.

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