Toxic Nation: After Ramadi, USA Shows Itself to be the Worst Kind of Friend

Memorial Day, Arlington, America - 25 May 2015

On the fall of Ramadi, Ash Carter, the U.S. secretary of defense, had this to say on CNN: “What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight.” A few days earlier, Martin Dempsey, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a similar point to a group of reporters in Brussels: “The ISF was not driven out of Ramadi. They drove out of Ramadi.”

These remarks constitute the latest evolution of administration talking points on our failing campaign against the Islamic State. 

Not So Fast On Fighting Joe

Barack Obama, Joseph Dunford

It is not every general who can find himself praised at the website of the Weekly Standard and by President Obama himself on the same day. But a defining trait of Joseph Dunford, nominated this week to replace Martin Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the universality of the respect that he commands. I have never heard a credible source say a bad word about the man. Come to think of it, I have never heard an untrustworthy source speak ill of him.

Latest Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Jumps the Shark

Military Sexual Assaults

To get a sense of the politics underlying the Department of Defense’s latest major report on sexual assault—which, released Thursday, weighs in at 1136 pages—turn immediately to page 12, where you will find the following slightly desperate-sounding argument that the DOD is showing leadership on the issue.

Who On Earth Would Want to Replace Hagel?

Let's go, Chuck.

On the one hand, it makes sense why the White House needed to leak so emphatically this morning that Hagel’s departure was “under pressure” and not an amicable split. First, Hagel and his people were saying that he had initiated the split over his frustrations with the White House, and the president’s aides no doubt felt that such a narrative needed a strong response.

Reviews of U.S. Nuclear Forces Call for Changes

Chuck Hagel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Internal and external reviews of the U.S. nuclear arsenal show that significant changes are needed to ensure the security and effectiveness of the force, a Defense Department report said on Friday.

The Department of Defense Declares A War on Weather

Xerxes has the Hellespont whipped

Yesterday, speaking at an international confab of defense ministers in Peru, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel unveiled his department’s Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap. A letter from Hagel asserts at the beginning of the Roadmap that:

While scientists are converging toward consensus on future climate projections, uncertainty remains. But this cannot be an excuse for delaying action. Every day, our military deals with global uncertainty. Our planners know that, as military strategist Carl von Clausewitz wrote, “all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight.”

Clausewitz, indeed. Side note: this quotation from the great 19th century German theorist of warfare appears to come from the translation of Colonel J.J. Graham, who, sadly, passed away in 1883, his edition have since been superseded by numerous quality 20th century translations. I like to picture Secretary Hagel composing his introduction to the Roadmap late at night in an elegantly appointed Northern Virginia study, perhaps by a roaring fire—strike that: too much carbon—with a snifter of brandy near at hand, suddenly reaching for his dog-eared and much beloved Graham translation of On War. Sure, his aides make gentle fun of this stubborn refusal to consult more contemporary editions—but the old fox is set in his ways.