Part of the deal that avoided a U.S.-led military strike against the Assad regime for the use of chemical weapons was an agreement to secure or destroy Syria’s stockpile — something that many say will be nearly impossible to do in the midst of a civil war. But on Wednesday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said that it’s ‘feasible.’
“It’s a very challenging environment,” Dempsey said during a press briefing at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “Indicators are at this point, though, that the regime does have control of its stockpile. And so long as they agree to the framework which causes them to be responsible for the security, the movement, the protection of the investigators or the inspectors, then I think that the answer to your question is, it is feasible, but we’ve got to make sure we keep our eye on all of those things.”
The U.S. military is providing some planning assistance to the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, which is the lead agency in charge of securing, destroying or moving Syria’s chemical weapons.
“The framework calls for it to be controlled, destroyed, or moved, and I think, in some combination … it is feasible. But those details will have to be worked by the OPCW,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey and Hagel both brushed off criticism from former Defense Secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, who differ on whether to launch a military strike against Syria for using chemical weapons but agree that President Obama should not have consulted Congress first. The two spoke at a forum Tuesday night at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
“It would weaken him” if Congress voted no, Gates said. “It would weaken our country. It would weaken us in the eyes of our allies, as well as our adversaries around the world.” Panetta agreed and pointed out that “Iran is paying very close attention to what we’re doing. There’s no question in my mind they’re looking at the situation, and what they are seeing right now is an element of weakness.” But he went a step further saying Obama should haven’t “subcontracted” the decision to strike to Congress. “Mr. President, this Congress has a hard time agreeing as to what the time of day is,” Panetta said.
Still, the two former defense secretaries do not agree on what course of action to take in Syria. Gates, who famously said that any military leader who ever launches another large-scale ground war “should have his head examined,” said Obama’s plan to “blow a bunch of stuff up over a couple days, to underscore or validate a point or a principle, is not a strategy.” Gates said if the U.S. launches a military attack against Syria, “in the eyes of a lot of people we become the villain instead of Assad.”
“Haven’t Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya taught us something about the unintended consequences of military action once it’s launched?” he said.
But Panetta said “when the president of the United States draws a red line, the credibility of this country is dependent on him backing up his word.” Once Obama decided to attack Syria for using chemical weapons, “then he should have directed limited action, going after Assad, to make very clear to the world that when we draw a line and we give our word … we back it up.”
Hagel said his predecessors have a right to their opinion, but “obviously I don’t agree with their perspectives. And I again understand what they’re saying, but as I have said a number of times in the last two weeks on Capitol Hill, I was part of the decision and the process that led up to the president’s decision. I support those decisions.”
In the meantime, Dempsey said the U.S. military would “maintain the credible threat of force [against Syria] should the diplomatic track fail.”
Reprinted with permission from Defense One. The original story can be found here.
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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.”