Monday, July 27, 2015

Russia – An Existential Threat

Military leaders have a tendency to go off script and actually say what they think. Marine General
Joseph Dunford in a confirmation hearing for head of the Joint Chiefs before the Senate Armed Service Committee said that he believed Russia posed the greatest threat to U.S. national security and could be “an existential threat.”

Needless to say, the Administration went into hyper drive to characterize the General’s views as his own. Secretary of State Kerry managed to break from the Iran negotiations long enough to state he did not share the assessment. Obviously, part of Kerry’s urgency to disavow the view is that he needed Russia’s cooperation on the Iran-nuclear agreement.

Kerry and the White House stated that those views do not reflect the “consensus analysis of the President’s national security team.” Hence, it’s probably correct to say that dealing with the Russian threat will be an issue in the presidential election and a primary responsibility of the next administration.

Dunford also disagreed with the Administration’s views on providing weapons to the Ukraine government and armed forces. Ash Carter, the Secretary of Defense, shared Dunford’s view during his confirmation hearing, and he still supports arming Ukraine.

A major European Pew Research poll released in June at the time of the last G-7 Summit that featured discussion of President Putin and the Ukraine crisis shows that one of the most significant challenges for the next American administration is reviving support for NATO and joint action against an aggressor, like Russia, especially among the German public. When asked if they would support their country using force to defend a NATO ally, only 48 percent of Western European citizens said “yes” and only 38 percent of Germans.

Also, there is little appetite in Europe for defending or arming Ukraine again, especially in Germany.

CNN: Joint Chiefs nominee: Russia greatest threat to U.S.
Washington Post: At G-7 meeting, Obama’s primary task is confronting his Putin problem

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