Can President Trump Get Back Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl Ring?

Now that Donald Trump has become President, perhaps he can prioritize a key foreign policy goal: Get back Bob Kraft’s stolen Super Bowl Ring!

And who stole it?

You got it — that rascal Putin.

Not only a hacker, and martial arts guru but a specialist in the hot swipe, Vladimir Putin stole the owner of the Patriots Super Bowl Ring from their third Super Bowl victory.

According to Dan Harris:

Given the the current state of world affairs, perhaps we should revisit the time Russian president Vladimir Putin stole Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring.

The incident occurred in 2005, when Kraft visited the Russian president in St. Petersburg not long after the Pats won their third Super Bowl title.

“I took out the ring and showed it to (Putin), and he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring,’ ” Kraft told the crowd at a gala at the Waldorf-Astoria in 2013, according to the New York Post. “I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”

Perhaps the new Secretary of State can put that on the agenda and get that puppy back to make the Pats Great Again!

After all QB Brady and Coach Belichik have been supporters of Trump along the way and which can show the way for New England to vote for Trump in 2020.

With Belichik going for post season win No. 25 tomorrow, this would be a load of his mind, knowing that the new Administration would support their efforts to win another ring while they got Ring 3 back from Putin!

That would mean two Rings in the same season!

Setting an NFL record.

 

Defining Victory Over ISIS

President-elect Trump has promised to destroy ISIS. President Obama is leaving office having had to confront ISIS, and whatever one thinks of his efforts, the results are clear: ISIS remains alive and well.

But before the new regime takes office, some cautionary notes can be taken from the just about to be past one – namely Obama ended up doing a lot of Bush-like activity which he clearly never intended to do upon taking office. And if Trump wants to avoid being the third Administration in succession to sink in the morass of the Middle East, it is essential to first ask what would declaring victory look like.

Part of the challenge is rooted in that ISIS is a brand, inside a religion and not just a terroristic military movement. It is a brand defining radical Islamic rejection of Western values and of the Western way of life.

It is very difficult to defeat a brand but how do you take it off the shelf? How do you make it marginalized? How do you reduce its shelf life?

You define victory as marginalization.

First, you marginalize ISIS in the world of ideas.

ISIS is a brutal force which asserts that only themselves have the right to rule in the Middle East and beyond. We can call them extremist; but that is not enough. We need to engage in the battle of ideas as well for it is Western secularism and tolerance which is the enemy, not “Jews” or “Christians,” Shiites or Sunni; it is about power dominance via exploiting ideological purity and mobilization of the “faithful” to achieve the purity of rule desired by the ISIS leadership and followers.

Information War is a crucial instrument in battling ISIS.

IW is but part of both a strategic vision and a tactical engagement.

There is a word describing German Army doctrine employed in their advance into neutral Belgium in World War II that resonates to this day: “Schrecklichkeit”. The word means “terror” or “frightfulness” a doctrine employed by the advancing German Army to subdue any opposition. ISIS are current truly world-class bad guys, as fanatical as the Khmer Rouge and their Killing Fields. They are using the brutality of the horror of psychological terror as a weapon to their advantage in their 21st Century way of war. This is just like Khmers and the WWII German Army.

In many ways, President-elect Trump is the first Information Warrior elected as President. Turning those skills into shaping IW against ISIS and exposing them for what they are is a crucial challenge, which requires focused attention and funding. Part of the reason for the defeat of the Soviet Union was Radio Free Europe and its key role in fighting against the Imperial Communist Regime. We need to formulate a IW strategy which of course includes an ability to fight with the online forces of ISIS as well.

Second, you marginalize ISIS financially.

A key dimension to a fight to victory is to focus on money and corruption. One of the authors was part of a Congressional Delegation to the Middle East in the late 1990s and met with Hanan Ashrawi,  a Palestinian legislator, activist, and scholar, shortly after she had resigned as Palastinian Authority Minister of Higher Education.

Dr. Ashrawi has a PhD from the University of Virginia, and is a Christian whose Physician father was one of the founders of the PLO. She provided a key insight in her breaking with Yasser Arafat over his dictatorial tendencies and the reel of corruption. She pointed out that often Western strategy only focused on the religious dimension involved in the problems of war and peace. In fact, often the total greed and corruption of some Islamic leaders is a major motivational influence to fomenting conflict and positioning themselves for wealth.

Taking her insight into a victory circle can mean not only cutting off ISIS revenue, from their taking over Oil Wells to robbing banks but treat their leaders as a global criminal enterprise in addition to a global terror organization. In doing so the U.S. and Allies need to prioritize on enforcing what is analogous to US RICO and Drug forfeiture asset seizure. So one marker of a victory is the global defunding and seizure of money and assets of those in support of ISIS.

An additional insight into huge corruption inside a theological Islamic-run state was raised during a session held at the Holocaust Museum in the Fall of 2014. The meeting focused on the moral threat from ISIS and one of those who spoke was Sarah Ahmed. Sarah Ahmed is a remarkable persons and a true hero. She is a Muslim assistant to Canon White known as the Vicar of Baghdad. And like Canon White she is in a city, Baghdad, where many are targeted for death because of their religious beliefs. She was fearless in speaking out about the impracticality of having a dominant religious leadership running a nation. Her comments highlighted the role, which Islam can play not just as a religion in the Western sense but as a political vehicle used by some for simply power, and personal greed.

http://www.sldinfo.com/conducting-an-information-war-against-islamic-extremists/

With the new administration focusing on US as a global force for energy self-sufficiency the additional point about money is the growing independence, which the U.S. and many of its allies have against Middle Eastern oil. President-elect Trump clearly has in mind expanding the energy independence of the United States from the Middle East, which expands U.S. options in dealing with the Middle East as well and the ISIS contaminant.

Third, you deploy forces to strike and kill any concentration of ISIS that you can find and kill.

It is impossible to eliminate the presence of ISIS on the face of the earth, but you can certainly provide a constant and vigilant strike force to undercut their concentration of force.

You also make it clear that you will deploy global forces, which will seek out and destroy any concentration of ISIS forces.

Here the new President-elect is significantly added by the expanding capabilities of the US and allied sea bases to show up off short and provide lightening strikes.

Forces can be moved around the point of attack to enhance unpredictability while reducing the vulnerability of needed ground forces by relying on insertion forces, leveraging the sea base.

The kill and you tube video approach of our terrorist opponents becomes a lot more difficult if you can not find the Americans until they descend upon you with intent to kill.

Put bluntly, the new President will have the means to change how the battle is fought which need not repeat the mistakes of the last decade of land wars.

Insertion forces are a key tool set and with the changes in how amphibious task forces operate and with the coming of a whole new capability associated with the USS America, the sea base is adding to its capability for the insertion of force into a vector of assault, destroy and withdraw.

Changing the nature of the force being used against ISIS and reshaping the operational compass against a mobile force which likes to pop up across the region can meet its match – there is no place you can hide that we can not come and find you and kill you.

Fourth, we need to NOT go down the path of nation building and putting Western hostages and Forward Operating Bases and Airbases within easy reach of ISIS terrorists.

Training of friendly forces clearly has a role but not as a thinly disguised large scale presence force which can never win nor go away until defeat is assumed but not declared.

Ramping up the air and seabase operational capabilities – indeed investing in them as well – is crucial not just for the war against ISIS for ramping up relevant capabilities for the deterrence of peer competitors like Russia and China. Investing in ISIS specific operations to the expense of higher end warfighting capabilities is simply a prescription for Russian or Chinese expansion of capabilities vis a vis an America investing in and fighting in an endless “stability” operation as the way to defeat ISIS.

President Trump is part of a pattern of change in the West with a new British Prime Minister in place and a new French President to follow later this year. If it is Fillon, then there will be a community of interest to sort out a new working relationship with Russia. This means in part holding Russia accountable for Syria and for working to end the hemorrhage of refugees from the region.

Fifth, a key element of working for victory over ISIS is coming to terms with Russia in supporting the effort in the Middle East. And Russia may find themselves in a rather uncomfortable position as the Iran problem boils over into confrontation with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Sixth, Israel will certainly be expanding its activities in self-defense and being actively engaged in countering radical Islam, whether of ISIS or Iranian origin. ISIS and Iran are hardly birds of a feather, but the ability to ramp up the air war and sea-based strikes against ISIS will not be lost on Iran. And will reassure Israel that the United States is willing to act decisively in the region.

In the end, a complete victory against ISIS may be impossible, but inflicting a decisive defeat is not. But such a defeat should not come at the cost of bogging down in the stability operations of the Bush years and the airpower trickle campaign of Obama.

Cutting the Gordian knot of endless engagement is crucial; modernizing insertion forces that can strike at any concentrations of ISIS force is crucial as well.

It is about dramatically stopping their influence and impact from a force which claims to be a state and reducing them to an impoverished fleeing band seeking refuge, and having nowhere to go on the globe where they are welcome.

Editor’s Note: The original version of this article appeared on Breaking Defense with the title: Is Trump, Information War, Key to Defeating ISIL?

Is Trump, Information Warrior, Key To Defeating Daesh (ISIL)

Changing the Terms of Reference for Taiwan: Expanding the Strategic Options

This is the third of a three part series by Danny Lam on the way ahead for the “One China Policy.

When Chiang Kai Shek’s Republic of China (ROC) retreated to Taiwan in 1949, few Kuomintang (KMT) officials could have foresaw the extended stay in Taiwan, whose people they regarded as traitors and Japanese collaborators — Taiwanese having lived mostly peacefully under Japanese rule for close to a half century.

Taiwan as a former Japanese colony retained features to this day that are distinctly Japanese in origin, including the system of real property: measured and administered in Japanese derived units.   Many administrative systems at the local level are traceably Japanese.   Taiwan under Japanese rule was by no means an entirely negative experience, with many public works projects completed by the colonial administration and by Chinese standards, good public administration.

Opposition to the Japanese by Taiwanese nationalists was far less than that faced by the KMT.   Nationalist had no formal presence on Taiwan prior to the Japanese surrender of 1945.   When the KMT remnants flooded the island in 1949, came as ruthless occupiers.

Not surprisingly, the incoming ROC-KMT was regarded as oppressors by Taiwanese: replacing one set of oppressors (however benign), with another group of defeated KMT officials, soldiers, etc.

Thus, it is not surprising that when the KMT successor generation under President Chiang Ching-kuo relaxed controls and democratized, that the opposition coalesced around the pro-Taiwan Independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) despite the KMT’s iron grip on the instruments of power.

Taiwanese have now seen several changes and iterations of government through free elections, with the Presidency and Legislative Branches of government regularly changing hands between the KMT and DPP.

And surprise, things have largely stayed the same.

The ROC remains the formal name and organization for Taiwan, and there has been no serious effort at formal secession to become the Republic of Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the world has changed.

While the ROC is no longer explicitly competing with the PRC for formal international recognition as the government of “all China” as they did under Chiang Kai Shek, the institutional mechanisms and structures supporting that competition remains fully operative.

Taiwan invests hundreds of millions to maintain formal diplomatic recognition with a handful of states notable for their irrelevance.   Relations with a majority of the world’s most influential states are conducted “unofficially” as “economic or cultural” ties, and Taiwan is locked out of a majority of international organizations.   Efforts to alter the international status quo by the KMT and DPP, by governments from Presidents Lee Tenghui, Chen Shui-bian, Ma Ying-jeou have been proven to be ineffective.

At the heart of the failure by successive Taiwan regimes to change the international status of Taiwan is the persistence of the ROC / Chiang Kai Shek foreign policy goal of seeking formal recognition of ROC as it primary goal to the exclusive of all others. From George Kung-chao Yeh to the present day, Foreign Ministers of Taiwan have placed a premium on symbolic acts by foreign nations such as permitting the display of the ROC flag at the expense of substance.

The epitome of this colossal foreign policy blunder was the effort under President Lee Tenghui to join the UN and get a visa for a “private” visit to the United States, which rather than increasing the “space” for ROC, reduced it even as President Lee’s goal was achieved.

When President Lee visited Cornell University, he went out of his way to violate the negotiated understanding with the U.S. to limit the political fallout from the visit, resulting in sterner and strident protests by the PRC for violation of the “one China” policy than necessary. The Lee visit damaged relations with the U.S. for decades, resulting in the downgrading of relations with ROC that persist to this day including lowering Taiwan’s access to sophisticated weapons systems.

(Credit Image: Bigstock)

President Tsai can reflect on the policies under her predecessors and change course beyond the symbolic act of not acknowledging the 1992 consensus.

Without a “clean out” of the foreign policy deadwood and reformulation of ROC on Taiwan’s foreign policy with new ideas, there is limited scope for the U.S. and Allies to improve Taiwan’s standing even as the threat from the PRC have become the major issue of our time.

The time has come for Taiwan under President Tsai to fundamentally rethink their place in the world and how to break the pattern of the past — that if unchecked — will more likely than not, lead to Taiwan’s absorption by the PRC in due course.

Formal declarations or moves toward independence as the Republic of Taiwan is an unworkable outcome that will result in a regime that will not have any improvement in international standing, and, risk a war with the PRC that Taiwan can lose.   Similarly, improved status for the ROC with its present foreign policy is unlikely to happen.

There is an alternative.

The ROC on Taiwan can unilaterally create a new domestic political system that meets the goal of ending the ruinous war for formal recognition of ROC with the PRC, and yet, at the same time, improves the ability of other states to improve their working relationship with Taiwan without any formal recognition of the ROC that they pledged not to under the “one China” policy with the PRC.

President Tsai’s ROC can unilaterally rewrite their constitution to replace the present Provincial Government of Taiwan with a new Province of Taiwan government that will be delegated all the powers of the ROC.

That is to say, all powers including taxation, administration, foreign affairs, justice, and defense except it is only limited to territories defined as within the Province of Taiwan.

Once that is done, the ROC can then vote themselves out of existence (or to become a vestigial organ like the appendix) with a constitutional amendment that ROC President (like the Governor General of the Crown) will only act on the advice and consent of the newly established Province of Taiwan, and have the power to override the legislative, judiciary and control branches of the government.

All but the President of the Executive branch of the ROC will be placed in suspended animation with officials and legislators except the ROC President tendering their resignation and not replaced. The ROC President is appointed by the Province of Taiwan and serves at the pleasure of the Province.   In effect, ROC will no longer exist for practical purposes and serves very much like a symbolic head of state.

This strategy will enable the ROC to exit from explosive issues like its 9 dash line claims in the South China Sea, and a host of issues related to ROC claims.

It will enable “diplomatic” relations to be conducted directly by the Province of Taiwan via their Provincial Representative Offices abroad.

The issue of ROC being a competing “China” to the PRC is entirely sidestepped and the U.S. and Allies will have a fig leaf to plausibly argue that extensive relations with the Province of Taiwan in no way challenge the “one China” policy.

There is a viable way ahead to allow Taiwan to expand its global role without the debilitating dominance of the PRC manipulation of a “one China policy.”

 

Captain Obvious Joins The Washington Post

The Washington Post has from the outset positioned itself as a virulent critic of Donald Trump.

I wrote a piece after their amazing “interview” of Trump last March.

I highlighted the pathetic questions which the editorial board asked, and noted that there seemed to be little hope that they would play a watchdog function as the motif was to be attack dogs trying to ensure the victory of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I concluded the following:

One does not even have to like Trump to understand the importance of something akin the recovery of real journalism as crucial to the future.

I really am not interested in having your values shoved down my throat, but I really would like to understand the dynamics of change in the big world out there, for we are in a very dynamic a period of history.

Journalism properly practiced can help in this journey by informing of what is going on, rather than informing me of what you believe.

For that I can go to church.

And although the Donald does not walk or talk like a well trained Inside the Beltway guy, when he speaks of putting the trade relationship with China on the table as part of redefining the competition or calls for a new bargain with NATO or questions where and when we use troops and try to have objectives worthy of their efforts, I think we probably need a bit more “bananas” in the conversation.

http://www.sldforum.com/2016/03/the-post-trumped-the-high-priests-of-washington-vet-a-candidate/

And to remind you, the owner of The Washington Post blogist/newspaper: Jeff Bezos who can be seen in the following photo of a meeting with Donald Trump on December 14, 2016.

President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with technology industry leaders at Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. From left are, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and Trump.
(Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)

It is probably a good idea to save his space business from the new regulator-in-chief.

Apparently to deal with the new challenges, the Post has decided that the Captain Obvious route might make sense.

Here are two examples.

The first is the “discovery” that the Washington Think Tanks, who are hardly that, are being marginalized.

For decades, Washington think tanks have been holding pens for senior government officials waiting for their next appointments and avenues of influence for sponsors of their research. Donald Trump’s incoming administration is bent on breaking that model.

Trump’s appointments have so far have been heavy on business executives and former military leaders. Transition sources tell me the next series of nominations — deputy-level officials at top agencies — will also largely come from business rather than the think tank or policy communities.

For example, neither the American Enterprise Institute’s John Bolton nor the Council on Foreign Relations’ Richard Haass is likely to be chosen for deputy secretary of state, while hedge fund manager David McCormick is on the shortlist. Philip Bilden, a private equity investment firm executive with no government experience, is expected to be named secretary of the Navy.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trump-could-cause-the-death-of-think-tanks-as-we-know-them/2017/01/15/8ec3734e-d9c5-11e6-9a36-1d296534b31e_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-c%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.41a395b7ef87

An even better question could be what will happen to the funding of Think Tanks if they can not deliver the access that gives their sponsor’s the outcome which they might want?

Of course, new funding could come into the marketplace to span a very different kind of approach – proactive reshaping and generation of alternative ideas to the endless continuation of the past answers in new forms.

The second example is even more amazing – critics of Trump who signed petitions against his elections are not being considered for key jobs.

Perhaps a comment from the Godfather could remind folks that elections have consequences.

They are some of the biggest names in the Republican national security firmament, veterans of past GOP administrations who say, if called upon by President-elect Donald Trump, they stand ready to serve their country again.

But their phones aren’t ringing. Their entreaties to Trump Tower in New York have mostly gone unanswered. In Trump world, these establishment all-stars say they are “PNG” — personae non gratae.

Their transgression was signing one or both of two public “Never Trump” letters during the campaign, declaring they would not vote for Trump and calling his candidacy a danger to the nation.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/never-trump-national-security-republicans-fear-they-have-been-blacklisted/2017/01/16/a2fadf54-d9a3-11e6-b8b2-cb5164beba6b_story.html?utm_term=.64607b1a2fc1

As shocking as this might be to the folks who signed these letters, it is blindingly obvious to the rest of us. And suggests just how insightful these folks are about anything at all.

It would be useful to have a well designed and well executed watchdog function from the press for this or any Administration.

But playing the role of compliant supporter of the political opposition or Captain Obvious is not going to cut it.

The Case of the Dodgy Dossier

Donald Trump has always seen the Main Stream Media (MSM) as his competitors and frequently enemies.

The press was the most vilified target during his raucous Presidential campaign. Attacking the press always drew the loudest and most popular response from his followers, other than attacking “crooked Hillary ” which was always meet with enthusiastic chants of “lock her up.”

But the MSM was also Donald Trump’s most effective bull horn, for they seem always ready to give him free publicity.

Trump is also a master at the use of Twitter, and he has used his “tweets” to communicate directly with the general public.

He is not the first political leader to use direct communication with the public. The legendary Mayor of New York City, Fiorello La Guardia, used comic books to get his message across to the public, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used his radio “fireside chats” during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

But no-one has matched Donald Trump’s “tweet” blizzard.

And Donald Trump has consistently outflanked the traditional media gatekeepers: the news editors and columnists.

But this has infuriated them, and they seem constantly looking for ways to get revenge.

The “dirty dossier” of unsubstantial allegations collated about Trump and his connections to Russia by a former British MI6 spy, Christopher Steele, who co-found Orbis Business Intellegence in Belgravia, and who had worked at the UK embassy in Moscow in the early 1990s, has provided the most recent opportunity to play this game.

Steele’s 35 page dossier was first funded by anti-Trump Republican lobbyists, and later by Democrats, and had been circulating in Washington since July.

It was published by BuzzFeed, a New York City based internet company, which has also ironically faced accusations of plagerism and unreliability.

But the “leaking” of the Steele dossier, and the timing of the leak, has emboldened the enemies of Donald Trump on Capital Hill, most notably Republican Senator John McCain, who apparently gave the dossier to the FBI director James Comey, and who is demanding a probe into the Russians role in the U.S. election.

And it also encourages other Republican Trump critics and competitors like Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Marco Rubio.

There is no loser like a sore loser.

The dossier is explosive precisely because it gets to the heart of the allegations about Trump’s cosy relationships with Vladimir Putin.

And it contains unverified and salacious allegations about Trump covorting with prostitutes while in Moscow which opens him to alleged potential blackmail. And is part of the ongoing allegations about Russian interference in the hacking and release by Wikileaks of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta’s e-emails during the Presidential campaign which adversely impacted the democratic candidate’s reputation.

Trump has clearly argued that the dossier notably by being published on website like Buzz Feed is less than credible.

And he has upped his attacks on the US intelligence “community”  accusing them at his first press conference since July of behaving like “Nazi Germany.”

There is little doubt that as he comes to power reform of the intelligence community is part of what will change in Washington.

The dossier goes to the heart of the most serious allegations about Russian interference on the U.S. electoral process and became, also predictably, the principal topic at the news conference held at Trump Tower in Manhattan on January 11, just a week before his inauguration on 20th January.

The press conference had been intended to discuss Trump’s plans to shift control of Trump enterprises to his two adult sons. Instead Trump was able to level Jim Acosta of CNN who he accused of purveying “false news.”

Buzz-feed he claimed was spreading an “unverified piece of garbage.”

But the problem for the MSM is simply that they are not in control of the public agenda, and the reported reforms coming where the White House Press Corps will be moved out of the White House, is certainly part of a process where the MSM is not gaining ground on being a credible “watchdog for the incoming Administration.

But the ongoing conflict can hurt Trump as well.  He can get snared into in a critical response cycle where his positive impacts are attenuated.

It is ironic, that Trump’s preferred communications methodology, the internet, and leaks, tweets and unverified accusations, are being used by the MSM as part of the arsenal of ongoing attacks, but rather than becoming a credible watchdog they are being reduced to targets of the Tweet arsenal of the incoming President.

Editor’s Note: There is a clear challenge with regard to the use of Tweets for foreign audiences certainly.

In an editorial published in The Australian on January 13, 2017, the concern was expressed that the President-elect needs to rise above scurrilous attacks and focus on the need to reassure the world. The editorial noted that much of the U.S. media has turned feral and BuzzFeed was characterized as a “click bait factory” that boasts that when in doubt about whether claims are true or not one should simply publish anyway.

The point was that although Trump has every right to bash the feral quality of the MSM, it comes at a cost.

“Mr. Trump needs to do much more to look, act, and sound presidential.”

 

The Trump Presidency: Its Potential Impact on India

New Delhi. The election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States left people around the world surprised, if not stunned. With no previous experience in administration and given the tenor of his campaign rhetoric, Trump’s election created an element of uncertainty, leaving stock markets tumbling, initially, and foreign offices and leaders scrambling to understand the path his policies would follow.

India’s ties with the United States have been on the upswing, particularly since the beginning of the millennium and a positive factor in the recently concluded and otherwise bitterly contested and vicious electoral campaign was the uniformly bipartisan support for continued improved relations with India.

Mr. Trump had, in fact, said India and the US would be “best friends.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to greet the President-elect, calling to congratulate Mr. Trump on his election.

“We look forward to working with you closely to take India-US bilateral ties to a new height,” Mr. Modi said on November 9 in a congratulatory message to the newly elected President on Twitter, hours before the two spoke on the phone.

New Delhi has been hopeful that Mr. Trump would also be able, as he had forcefully reiterated throughout his campaign, to make Pakistan more accountable towards curbing terrorism emanating from that country. The President-elect’s reported phone conversation at the end of November with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif however sent more conflicting signals about what his policies could look like.

Mr. Modi also sent Foreign Secretary Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, a former Indian envoy to the U.S., to Washington, to establish contact with Congressmen and the transition team, and to set an early date for a meeting between the two leaders as soon as possible after he assumes office on January 20, 2017.

“Foreign Secretary did visit the United States as part of regular bilateral consultations,” Vikas Swarup, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman said. “He met with the members of the current administration and had meetings in the US Congress. It is also my understanding that Foreign Secretary interacted with very senior levels of the Trump transition team,” Swarup said.

India formally and officially keeps away from the electoral process in other countries, although the effort is to have good relations with the contestants as is diplomatically appropriate. Now that the elections are over, policymakers in New Delhi hope that the new President will commit to protecting the US-led international order, and continue to strengthen the US-India strategic partnership.

India has traditionally always maintained a distance from the American political transition process even while trying to build relationships with an incoming administration.

Dir. Vivek Lall, a distinguished U.S. industry leader and defence analyst, says that Mr. Trump will be a dynamic leader taking into account the realities of the international order, as seen by the naked eyes of an administration and also as enunciated by the Departments of Defense and State.“ And the fact that there is strong, bipartisan support in both the Houses of the US Congress as well as within the two Departments.”

The strategic communities in both Washington and New Delhi are convinced that Mr. Trump will be well disposed towards India.

Many countries, India certainly, also hope that positive relations likely to emerge between Washington and Moscow will help Russia maintain an objective distance from China. Some of Mr. Trump’s campaign pronouncements, like his warmth towards Russian President Vladimir Putin, may have a significant bearing on the international order.

China’s aggressive assertions are generating global concern, and its attempt to annex South China Sea and build a strong presence in the Indian Ocean through Gwadar in Pakistan has added fuel to the fire. The US Department of State and Navy officials have periodically expressed voices of protest.

Nonetheless, Beijing has warned of war if Washington attempts to disrupt its forays in the South China, of which it claims some 80 percent despite protests from all its littoral neighbors.

As for Indo-U.S. relations, the President-elect has named Indian-origin Nikki Haley as his choice for the next US Permanent Representative at the United Nations. She is both the first woman appointed to the top level of the Trump administration, and the first person of Indian origin ever to hold a cabinet-level post in any US administration. The 44-year old lady, who is currently Governor of South Carolina, will have a crucial responsibility to try and steer the global organization in a favorable direction (India hopes) on pressing issues, including UN reform and terrorism.

“Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country,” Trump said about Haley.

Said Vikas Swarup: “We know Governor Haley well and recognise her as a very strong and committed advocate of close India-US ties,” the spokesman said. “We warmly welcome her appointment as PR to UN,” said Swarup.

Meanwhile, New Delhi has appointed Navtej Sarna, a career diplomat, as its new man in Washington. Sarna arrived in the US a month before the Trump inauguration and is getting acquainted with members of the new administration.

A report in The Washington Post has named Ashley Tellis as a possible successor. Tellis is well connected with the Indian strategic community, defence and foreign affairs included, and has been a regular face at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), an autonomous think tank funded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). A Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment, Tellis is a known supporter of strong partnership between the US and Indian defence industry.

The US Ambassador in New Delhi, Richard Verma, who was appointed by President Obama, will leave the Indian capital before Mr. Trump is sworn in.

The U.S. India relationship has been on an upward trajectory from President (George W) Bush to (Barack) Obama from PM (Manmohan) Singh to PM Modi. I see that trajectory continuing with the upcoming Trump administration,” Sanjay Puri, Chairman of the influential Washington-based US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), told India Strategic.

“This is due to shared interests, values and opportunities. PM Modi has made this is a key relationship for India politically, economically and strategically,” Puri said.

“USINPAC has had experience in working with Vice President Pence for quite some time and he has had a very good perspective about the US India relationship and Indian Americans,” he said.

USINPAC has supported candidates for local, state and federal office and encourages political participation by the Indian- American community, and reacted with pride to the appointment of Haley (born Nimrata ‘Nikki’ Randhawa) and of Seema Verma, the founder and CEO of a health policy consulting firm, as the new Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Verma will help reshape the health services program in the US, a key Trump objective.

“The Asian-American Gala, as part of President Trump’s Inaugural, symbolizes the success achieved by Indian and Asian Americans,” observed Vivek Lall, who has been a leading US corporate figure working with many governments globally.

“Under Trump’s Presidency, we can foresee a stronger America with enhanced substantial partnerships in trade and active diplomacy across the globe,” he said, asserting that US-India cooperation will further deepen on multiple fronts during the incoming administration.

Republished with permission from our partner India Strategic.

The Trump Presidency: Signals for India

 

The Historical Origins of The “One China” Policy

This is the second of a three part series by Danny Lam on the way ahead for the “One China Policy.

2017-01-15 By Danny Lam

The Beijing Regime’s strident advocacy of “One China” Policy dates from 1949 when the PRC was proclaimed after the competing Republic of China (ROC) retreated to Taiwan.   Between 1949 and 1971, both regimes competed as the internationally recognized legitimate government of “all China”, with the prize of the UN Security Council Permanent Seat for China being held by ROC until October 1971 before the representatives of Chiang Kai-Shek was expelled and the PRC assumed the seat.

Historically, this was no different than when the Republic of China was “founded” in 1911 against the Ching Dynasty after nearly a century of rebellion with many insurgent regimes like the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, Boxer Rebellion, and the many other local revolts that became competing powers, or states in the western parlance, to the Chings.   All of these competitors, particularly the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, either did or could have become the founder of a new Dynasty.

Indeed, the ROC could just as easily have transformed itself from a Republic to a Dynasty, as General Yuan Shikai, the Second President of ROC did in proclaiming himself Emperor of China in 1915.   Any of these competing regimes could have become the successor government to the Ching had they been militarily successful.

This is the context to which Chinese regimes attach great importance to foreigners acknowledging them to be the sole government of “all China.”  

Because they know how perilously they cling onto power and how illegitimate they are to the “Chinese” they claim to represent.

Such as it was for the ROC, their authority was uncertain for much of its history, competing with the power of local warlords that had their own military.     In this context, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and the subsequent war with ROC in 1937 was a continuation of the competition by the ROC against local authorities.

Japanese was no more an alien order than any other number of ethnic groups that have been lumped together as “Chinese” like the Chings (Manchus are an alliance of northeastern tribes), the Hui (Chinese Muslims), or Mongols (an alliance of nomadic tribes), etc.

Proclamation of the Republic of China in 1911 did not end the competition for power. The abdicated Emperor of the Chings, did not formally collapse for good until Emperor Puyi was expelled from the Forbidden city in 1924, that led to him allying with the Japanese. It only ended when Emperor Puyi of the Kingdom of Manchuko was captured by the Soviets in 1945 and handed over to the Chinese Communist Party after they won against the ROC.

The framing of Japanese vs. Chinese is a fictional construct, at first of ROC propaganda, and then later CCP propaganda that have no basis in fact.   It was created to present an illusion of a united “Chinese people” defined by race that in fact, does not exist.   The Japanese are just the latest well organized minority group to attempt to conquer China no different from the Chings, or the Mongols, etc.   The only difference is the Japanese failed spectacularly when they took on the Western powers before the conquest of China succeeded.

From this historical perspective, it can be seen that the core concern of the PRC with respect to “one China” policy is the regime’s explicit and public acknowledgement of Beijing’s lack of legitimacy in its own territory and its uncertain grip on power within territories they claim for China.

A review of the history of Chinese civilization shows an official record where few Dynasties make it past 300 years, with many Dynasties succumbing sooner, often in as short as 50 years.   Sinophiles are fond of bragging that China has a thousand year old civilization yet this is a fictional construct that has awed foreigners who projected Western notions of continuity of governance onto that history.

Reality is quite different.

When Western scholars speak of a government (e.g. Third Republic of France), it is acknowledged and assumed that there is continuity of government between prior and successor regimes.   Britain, for example, has been continually ruled by a government traceable to the Norman Conquest with continuity in administration that is recognizable today.   Key administrative systems such as systems of property rights, currency, debt, etc. are carried over despite regime change.   Thus, a British pound note from 1694 remains legal tender today.   To this day, the British Crown honor treaties signed with sovereign native tribes centuries ago in territories still under their jurisdiction.

Chinese regimes, however, do not share these characteristics.

This flag of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom reminds us of the ongoing historical use of an asserted one china policy which continues with the current Beijing based regime. Credit Graphic: Wikimedia

The PRC does not recognize the debts and other obligations incurred by previous regimes like the ROC or the Chings, and to date, despite amassing foreign exchange reserves of $3 trillion dollars, refused to settle past obligations incurred by predecessor regimes like ROC and the Ching.

Likewise, the PRC eliminated / confiscated / altered property rights, refused to acknowledge prior treaty obligations, terming them “unequal treaties”.

A fundamental characteristic of Chinese regimes is their explicit denial of continuity of government and rejection of the idea of treaty or contractual obligations that bind successor, or for that matter, current regimes over time.

Contrast this with other regimes that have collapsed but ultimately, accepted their obligations as a successor regime and settled: Germany, Japan, Russia.   West Germany settled their Nazi and prior era debts and expressly acknowledged their obligation as the successor regime despite being divided for much of the cold war era.   Japan settled their World War II debts.   Russia, post USSR, settled their legal obligations dating from Imperial Russia.

The PRC is the only major regime that has to date, failed to settle their past obligations, putting them in the same category as Argentina.   Chinese regimes, cannot be counted on to accept their lawful obligations regardless of their express accession and ratification to the terms of treaties.

However, Chinese regimes can be counted on to demand their treaty or contractual rights from other states irrespective of whether they fulfill their side of the bargain.

When it comes to claiming privileges and rights, however, the PRC (as the ROC) is not hesitant at all to assert claims based on their version of history, for example, asserting that the PRC own much of the South China Sea, despite the PRC signing and ratification of UNCLOS that expressly extinguished those claims.   On the bright side, at least the PRC have not termed UNCLOS an “unequal treaty” to date.

This pattern of denying the obligations of a lawful successor regime (e.g. settling outstanding debts incurred by previous regime), while demanding the benefits of a lawful successor regime (i.e. claiming the ROC’s expansive claim to the South China Sea) is a feature of PRC governance that Western scholars have given them a “pass” on.

Generations of Western “China scholars” have glossed over these issues and concealed or downplayed the reality from their understudies.

One wonders what would the world’s reaction be when the PRC argues that territories ceded to Russia in the 19th Century, outer Mongolia, and vast stretches of the former Mongol empire are all “Chinese” territories.

PRC can readily do this by producing “historical records” like they have done to support their claim to the South China Sea.

To this date, the West has not explicitly recognized that they are dealing with a regime that fundamentally rejects core principles behind Western governance: continuity of government and acceptance of both the benefits as well as obligations of prior regimes, and the sanctity of contracts and treaties.

Sometimes, the PRC antics lead to outcomes that are humorous and lead the regime to shortchange themselves.   During the negotiations for the PRC to rejoin the international trade community, they asserted that the ROC withdraw from GATT in 1950 was illegal and demanded that they resume membership in the GATT as a founding member.

When this argument was made, the international trade community recognized the implications, and quietly decided to foreclose the opportunity by creating a new organization called the WTO.   GATT members who were in good standing had one year to transfer their membership to WTO before the GATT became defunct.   Because the PRC failed to follow through their assertion of the illegality of ROC’s withdraw from GATT by paying the back dues owed to GATT, the PRC was not a member in good standing, and thus, could not join WTO without a fresh application.   A fresh application meant substantial concessions that would otherwise not have to be made if the ROC withdrawal was illegal.

On the day the one year period for transfer of GATT membership in good standing to WTO ended, the world trading community breathed a sigh of relief.   The frightful scenario that the PRC would have presented payment (roughly USD $100m) for back dues to GATT and demanded resumption of membership would have meant the PRC would be a full member with their regime circa 1995 without any concessions being made — a disaster scenario to world trade.

To sum up, “One China” Policy must be a core interest of the PRC because the regime have no illusions on how perilous and weak their grip on power is within China.

For now, there is only one competitor (ROC) that officially competes with Beijing as the government of “all China”.

But there are many others waiting in the wings, awaiting the moment when the Beijing regime’s grip weakens that will emerge.

 

Beijing’s Many “One China Policies”

This is the first of a three part series by Danny Lam on the way ahead for the “One China Policy.

President Xi Jinping of People’s Republic of China will be promoting “free trade” at Davos later this month.   If it is the case that Chinese President is acting in good faith and has the capacity to deliver, it represents an incredible opportunity for the world to reap the benefits of free trade since the original “opening” of China by Deng Xiaoping.

“One China Policy” is the rallying cry of the Beijing based PRC regime and their western “China expert” priesthood.     By that, they mean that Beijing should be the sole channel through which foreign relations between the Chinese civilization and the rest of the world should be conducted to the exclusion of other authorities irrespective of whether Beijing have the capacity to contract.

Imagine being able to negotiate with President Xi’s Beijing and gain access to a market of 1.3 billion people in one stop!

For centuries, the West uncritically accepted such “One China” policies, dealing with the Republic of China, and before that, the Ching Dynasty and its predecessor the Yuan Dynasty, as if the regime had the legitimacy and authority to conduct business for “China” regardless of the facts on the ground.

Xi Jinping is consolidating his control over the Beijing faction. And follows the “multiple” China policy when governing a country with significant regional dynamics. Credit Photo: Mark Ralston /AFP/Getty Images

Unfortunately, this ended badly when the West discovered, ex post facto, that Chinese regimes they are dealing with in fact, do not possess the Western attributes of a legitimate regime: “monopoly on the legitimate use of violence over a defined territory” (Gewaltmonopol des Staates) that is central to the definition of a legitimate regime in the West from Bodin, Hobbes to Weber.

The PRC regime based in Beijing is no different.   Beijing had a tenuous hold on power that for much of its history, and today, does not enjoy a monopoly on violence in territories Beijing claims as its own.

Today, the PRC does not exercise jurisdiction in any Western sense in territories held by Taiwan (ROC), or in territories it claims like Arunachal Pradesh, Aksai Chin, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, over and above maritime territories claimed by PRC that including the South China Sea, East China Sea, Japan, etc.

The PRC Regime tacitly acknowledge that territories that Beijing regard as exercising “indisputable sovereignty” like the South China Sea can, in fact, be both in name and in fact under the dejure and defacto jurisdiction of other sovereign states or other entities, and that the PRC is powerless to enforce its sovereignty claims against armed foreign vessels operating in its “indisputably sovereign” territory.

In other words, the PRC regime do not necessarily exercise sovereignty in the Western sense in territories Beijing considers as theirs with “indisputable” sovereignty, let alone the capacity to enforce trade deals it makes on behalf of their “local” governments.

Since the Beijing regime does not consider a monopoly on violence a necessary and essential feature of “indisputable sovereignty”, there is no reason for Western analysts to project onto the Beijing regime Western notions of what sovereignty means and abide by Western rules that Beijing in fact, does not subscribe to themselves.

Few Western observers recognize that the PRC in fact practices many “one China” policies that no Westphalian state would have accepted.

The PRC has accepted the international recognition of the existence of Taiwan, the Republic of China exercising jurisdiction over Taiwan; and, a similar arrangement for Hong Kong, codified by United States laws like the Hong Kong Policy Act (P.L. No. 102-383m 106 Stat. 1448), and the WTO membership of “Chinese, Taipei” and “Hong Kong, China” that gave international legal recognition to them as a distinct jurisdictions from Beijing that have their own membership and voting rights.

Beyond these examples, the PRC regime’s monopoly on legitimate power is internally constrained by their proclamation of “autonomous regions” that include vast stretches like Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Xinjiang, and “Special Economic Zones” that include many cities and provinces.

Ostensibly, Beijing is a “unitary state” that has no formal, constitutional division of powers between the central government and local authorities like Provinces and in theory, Beijing is supreme.

The reality is Beijing is a very weak center that more often than not, in most matters, act on a quasi-advisory basis to local authorities as long as they display the symbols of obedience and acknowledgement of PRC rule such as displaying the PRC flag.

Beijing’s power to appoint a handful of top officials to “local” governments is not sufficient to ensure that the local authorities do not do their own thing when the Beijing appointees are not looking — which is most of the time.

There is no clear federal or constitutional boundary as to what are the divisions of power between the Beijing regime and the “local” governments or “autonomous regions”.

In practice, it is as much what the “local” or “autonomous” authority can get away with.

That brings us to the problem as to just what powers Beijing have to, a) negotiate on behalf of their “local” authorities, b) enforce any obligations assumed by Beijing (e.g. removing local tariffs and trade barriers).

It is not at all clear that an agreement or treaty signed with the Beijing regime is any more binding than a treaty signed with the Republic of China like the United Nations Charter of 1945 or the GATT signed in 1947.   Any sensible observer would have recognized that GATT signed with the ROC made no sense in 1947 when the ROC was not in control of large swaths of China.   Yet GATT negotiators had no problem with ROC’s accession to GATT.

The West is now in the process of repeating this mistake.

The recent behavior of the PRC in the South China Sea suggests that UNCLOS signed by Beijing in 1982 and ratified in 1996 in fact, are not binding on either Beijing or the Southern Chinese Provinces or Theater Military Commands.   If these deals that are fundamental and core to freedom of navigation upon which free trade rest are not adhered to by the PRC, why should such petty issues as “free trade” obligations by the PRC be adhered to by highly autonomous local governments?

A deal made with Beijing cannot be assumed to be either enforceable at the local authority level or via Beijing.

At least not in the relevant timeframe for commercial deals of months and at most, a few years, and without resorting to military force as was done in the past. To presume the PRC, especially Beijing’s regime will uphold their side of the bargain in a trade deal requires a leap of faith akin to ecclesial beliefs when the authority to negotiate and abide by contractual, or treaty obligations is clearly not effectively monopolized by the Beijing regime over the vast territories it claims sovereignty.

Why should the world be constrained by a “one China” policy making deals when Beijing themselves do not believe in it or rely on it in their exercise of power?

An Open Letter to the President of Columbia University: Plagiarism is an Academic Crime

I remember the excitement with which I entered Columbia University and started my studies which led to a PhD in Political Science. I loved my time at Columbia where I met a number of interesting students, many foreign, and studied with several first rate scholars. When it came time to write my dissertation, I chose a very un-dissertation like topic, namely shaping a way to understand historical change.

To say the least it was original; probably too much so. Yet the work done on that effort has provided a solid framework for understanding strategic developments, no more so than now as we enter yet another period of profound global change.

But none of this would have been possible without doing original research and asking fundamental questions a process supported by a premier global strategist, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, and a premier political theorist, Dr. Herbert Dean.

So it is with profound sadness that I learn that a recent political appointee who is a graduate of Columbia University paved her way to success by publishing a dissertation and then a book with plagiarized materials.

“Monica Crowley, President-Elect Donald J. Trump’s pick for a top National Security Council job, numerous passages in her Ph.D. dissertation, Politico Magazine has found.

An examination of the dissertation and the sources it cites identified more than a dozen sections of text that have been lifted, with little to no changes, from other scholarly works without proper attribution. In some instances, Crowley footnoted her source but did not identify with quotation marks the text she was copying directly. In other instances, she copied text or heavily paraphrased with no attribution at all.”

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/monica-crowley-plagiarism-phd-dissertation-columbia-214612

Harper Collins has pulled her book from the bookshelves, “until she makes revisions”. This is a nice way of saying that her book contains plagiarized materials.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/business/harpercollins-pulls-monica-crowley-book-for-plagiarism.html?_r=0

Columbia University needs to take significant action as well.

The University should rescind her PhD and administratively punish her dissertation advisor and her dissertation committee.

Nothing less can restore the credibility of Columbia University.

After all the University does not want to be perceived to have as much credibility as CNN.

And if the leadership of Columbia University is confused about what plagiarism is all about then can look at their own library for this definition:

Derived from the Latin word plagiarius ( “kidnapper”), plagiarism refers to a form of cheating that has been defined as “the false assumption of authorship: the wrongful act of taking the product of another person’s mind and presenting it as one ’s own” (Alexander Lindey, Plagiarism and Originality [New York, Harper, 1952] 2).

Plagiarism involves two kinds of wrongs.

Using another person’s ideas, information, or expressions without acknowledging that person’s work constitutes intellectual theft.

Passing off another person’s ideas, information, or expressions as your own to get a better grade or gain some other advantage constitutes fraud.

Plagiarism is sometimes a moral and ethical offense rather than a legal one since some instances of plagiarism fall outside the scope of copyright infringement, a legal offense. (Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook. 6th ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2003. 66.)

 

This piece first appeared on Breaking Defense.

Strip Trump’s NSC Spox Of Her Thesis: Open Letter To Columbia University

Meeting the Defense Challenges of 2017

As we end 2016 and look forward to 2017, it is difficult not to believe that we face a year of upheaval.

Several dynamics in play at the same time and these dynamics will interact with one another to generate profound change in the world as we know it.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, we had a period up to 9/11 where the world was characterized by the increasingly power of the United States and Europe while China emerged as a global economic power.  The Islamic-Western conflict was already there but with the 9/11 crises it emerged full blown.

As we end 2016 and look forward to 2017, it is difficult not to believe that we face a year of upheaval. Several dynamics in play at the same time and these dynamics will interact with one another to generate profound change in the world as we know it.

As we end 2016 and look forward to 2017, it is difficult not to believe that we face a year of upheaval. Several dynamics in play at the same time and these dynamics will interact with one another to generate profound change in the world as we know it.

And then the two decades of the war on terrorism entered the Western agenda, with the strikes in Afghanistan and the ill fatted invasion of Iraq.  As the Middle East began to resemble the 12th century landscape of the crusades (a period which generated even more intra-Muslim conflict than that between Christians and Muslims), the ability to manage the geopolitical landscape became secondary to the struggle against various brands of Jihad, something not reducible to geopolitics.

The new phase of global development sees the continuing influence of the conflict with the Jihadists for sure, but with the inevitable collapse of the “deal” with Iran, the Israelis and key Arab states are very likely to confront the Iran leadership directly.

How violent the confrontation will be is anybody’s guess, but the challenge for the outside powers is direct: who is supporting whom and for what purpose?

The anti-terrorism paradigm and the flawed from the start policy of putting Western forces into the Middle East to reform societies that do not share Western values is over.

It has FAILED and both the military which has been sent on these missions and the citizens that support them recognize this, although many American strategists somehow think this will go on.

Certainly, Europe and the United States will accelerate their efforts at energy independence from the Middle East which poses significant challenges as well for the Middle Eastern and Russian oil producers.

What Western policies will be crafted to deal with the Iran conflict and with other Muslims and the Israelis?

And how best to define one’s interests in the Middle East when you are not largely dependent on energy imports from the Middle East?

Also changing are the global macro-economics as industry is starting to come back from Asia to the West, and both the Chinese and Russian leaders face significant economic challenges.

Their response to failure to meet these challenges are that they very likely to use military means to gain domestic support in the face of declining economic performances at home.

Europe is in fundamental change.

With the Brexit negotiations to start this year and with a new French Preisident for certain and a new German Chancellor probably, the Prime Minister of the UK will look to those two leaders for shaping what form Brexit actually takes.

At the heart of the change certainly will be the end of the free flows of people which was never part of the Treaty of Rome in any case.

Domestic security will return with a vengence with states having to demonstrate to one another that the proteciton of the lives of their citizens matters more than excessive protection of individual privacy rights.

Europe could divide on this issue and as it does, Britain could work with those states serious about domestic security and be part of a new European coalition.

The Euro will not survive in its current form, and how growth will be generated will be a serious issue in the period ahead.

It is into this world where Mr. Trump is becoming President of the United States.

His election should provide cautionl to those over confident in their predictive abilities.

One book which I just read is Imperium by Robert Harris which is the first of a trilogy which I now will have to acquire and read all of the volumes.

It is a book from the perspective of Cicero’s (slave) secretary and tells the story of Rome in the period of the late Republic and early Empire, in other words, the time where the public life of Rome’s most famous lawyer and orator unfolded.

There are many good comments throughout the book but this seems especially relevant now:

“You can always spot a fool, for he is the man who will tell you he knows who is going to win an election.

But an election is a living thing you might almost say, the most vigorously alive thing there is — with thousands upon thousands of brains and limbs and eyes and thoughts and desires and it will wriggle and turn and run off in directions no one ever predicted, sometimes for the joy of proving the wiseacres wrong.”

Trump is more of an independent than a Republican and has come to power promising significant change.

But then again so did President Obama (Remember Change You Can Believe In?)

But Trump certainly is different in that he ran against the leadership of the party whose nominee he eventually became.

It is somewhat akin to the Progressive era in the late 19th century where both parties where in meltdown over corruption and other issues and the election of President Theodore Roosevelt opened a new era.

In this sense, Trump is somewhat akin to his New York predecessor, although TR was known for his famous statement about speaking softly and carrying a big stick.

TR came to power by accident and in a period of Western ascendancy and self-confidence and relative calm.

Trump is not coming to power in such a period of history.  

And although to date his discourse about defense seems to revolve around cost, he will quickly find that capability and skill will matter more and are in short supply.

After a long period of fighting land wars against locals and jihadists expeditionaries, neither the U.S. military nor diplomatic elite are well prepared for the decade ahead.

This is one in which armed conflict with peer competitors has already started and skill in maneuver warfare and diplomacy will be learned or not.

Contemporary history is learned on the fly; it is not about inherited skills; it is about shaping skills appropriate to one’s age and with an old one ending a new one opening we shall see if we are up to the challenge.