A senior Defense Department official on Monday said the U.S. approach to the conflict in Syria has been “consistent” with a just-updated Pentagon strategy for countering weapons of mass destruction.
At a Pentagon press conference, the senior official — speaking on condition of not being named — was asked whether the juxtaposition in the Syria case might someday make other rogue leaders think twice about giving up their nuclear, chemical or biological arms.
“I feel that our effort — and the entire effort — to eliminate Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile is consistent from this [strategy],” the official said. “We’ve taken the ideas as we’ve been developing the strategy, and we’ve been applying it to the Syria problem. So it’s actually been an iterative experience.”
The figure did not elaborate specifically on any ramifications of the timing of bolstered aid to rebels, but alluded broadly to some of the complexities involved.
“This is a countering-WMD strategy,” the official said. “It’s not a regional strategy. It won’t solve problems outside of the WMD lane.
“Our goal there is to try to take the WMD problems, reduce them, eliminate them where we can, take them off the table wherever possible, so that we can get about the business of solving other problems,” the senior official added.
Last Monday, an international coalition announced it had completed the removal of approximately 1,300 metric tons of chemical-warfare materials from the Mideast country. President Bashar Assad’s regime agreed last year to hand over the stockpile, following a nerve-gas attack near Damascus that killed hundreds and spurred talk of Washington’s direct intervention in the Syrian civil war.
The new Defense Department “Strategy for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction,” released Monday afternoon, replaces 2006 Pentagon guidance for combating these most sensitive arms around the globe.
It emphasizes taking a wider range of preventive actions aimed at reducing and mitigating WMD threats earlier, rather than grappling militarily with crises after they occur. The senior official said the approach is already being implemented, but the document should help to guide planning and investments going forward.
“What steps can we take earlier, as we often say, ‘left of the problem, left of crisis, left of boom, left even of acquisition, left of a country actually acquiring a capability’?” the official said in describing the planning approach that the new strategy seeks to inspire. “What can we bring to bear to shape that environment?”
In the event that non-state actors seize control over weapons of mass destruction somewhere around the globe — as some fear could occur someday in Pakistan, North Korea or elsewhere — the Pentagon would pursue “rapid and decisive action,” according to the new strategy.
Under such a scenario, the Defense Department “will act in coordination with partners whenever possible, but will act unilaterally if necessary,” the document states.
The senior Defense official on Monday rejected the idea that the strategy lays the groundwork for “pre-emptive” action to counter weapons of mass destruction, while noting that the U.S. president always retains such options.
The updated strategy puts “a focus on prevention and a focus on taking steps to make sure that risks don’t fully emerge,” the official said. “I would not in any way correlate that to any presumption on use of force.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”