Commentary - Security Assistance Monitor

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How to Arm a "Volatile" Planet

by William D. Hartung

TomDispatch, Jul-26-2016 |

Not surprisingly, since Hollywood rakes in billions of dollars annually from the rest of the planet for entertaining us all, weekly news about its business successes and failures is a regular feature of our world. And, oh yes, then there’s that other business, the one that actually makes things that go boom in the night. I’m talking, of course, about the weapons trade... Read More »

Obama Shouldn’t Trade Cluster Bombs for Saudi Arabia’s Friendship

by William D. Hartung

New York Times, Jul-19-2016 |

When President Obama visits Saudi Arabia this week for a meeting with representatives from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, he should avoid doing what he did at Camp David last May, the last time he met with them: promise more arms sales. Since Mr. Obama hosted that meeting, the United States has offered over $33 billion in weaponry to its Persian Gulf allies, with the bulk of it going to Saudi Arabia. The results have been deadly... Read More »

Congress Should Demand Wiser, Not More, War Spending

by William D. Hartung

Defense One, Jul-18-2016 |

There’s too much slush in the supplemental, as shown by the fourfold jump in spending per deployed servicemember... Read More »

Why Is the United States Still Backing Saudi Arabia in Yemen?

by William D. Hartung

LobeLog, Jun-30-2016 |

This month’s White House visit by Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) underscores the growing influence of the Saudi defense minister, who is the driving force behind the kingdom’s catastrophic war in Yemen. The Obama administration has provided crucial support for the Saudi campaign in Yemen, including arms, intelligence, and aerial refueling of Saudi aircraft... Read More »

Congress Is Right To Ground The Runaway Blimp

by William D. Hartung

Huffington Post, Jun-27-2016 |

When the JLENS air surveillance blimp cut loose from its moorings in Maryland and crashed in central Pennsylvania last fall, it raised serious questions about the future of the $2.7 billion program. The system is meant to detect cruise missiles, drones, and other low flying aircraft before they can attack the nation’s capital. But as David Willman noted in a piece in the Los Angeles Times last September, “Seventeen years after its birth, JLENS is a stark example of what defense specialists call a ‘zombie’ program: costly, ineffectual and seemingly impossible to kill.”... Read More »

Stop Playing Games With The Pentagon Budget

by William D. Hartung

Huffington Post, Jun-17-2016 |

Defending the United States and its allies is serious business. That’s all the more reason Congress should stop playing games with Pentagon spending. A good place to start would be to put aside proposals to add billions to the department’s already ample budget. The Senate took a step in the right direction earlier this month when it beat back an amendment by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that would have added $18 billion in Pentagon spending beyond the amount agreed to in last year’s bipartisan budget deal... Read More »

On Nuclear Dangers, Hillary Should Beat Trump Hands Down

by William D. Hartung

Huffington Post, Jun-02-2016 |

Today’s foreign policy speech by Hillary Clinton was designed to demonstrate that Donald Trump has neither the knowledge nor the temperament to serve as commander-in-chief. She succeeded. And as Clinton indicated at numerous points during her remarks, nowhere is this more obvious than on the question of who should have the power to decide whether to use nuclear weapons... Read More »

The Foreign Policy Blueprint Hillary Shouldn’t Follow

by William D. Hartung

Huffington Post, Jun-01-2016 | Article

Two weeks ago the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a report entitled “Extending American Power: Strategies to Expand U.S. Engagement in a Competitive World Order.” It could just as easily have been entitled “What Hillary Should Do When She Gets Elected, and Why She Should Hire Us to Do It.” The report’s authors run the gamut from interventionist Republican neocons like Robert Kagan to Democratic hawks like Michele Fluornoy, the co-founder of CNAS and a possible candidate for Secretary of Defense in a Hillary Clinton administration. There is not a fresh or independent voice in the lot. As Stephen Walt rightly points out in his take-down of the report in Foreign Policy, this is at best a status quo document, and at worst a doubling down on the failed policies of the past two decades. And why should we expect otherwise? After all, as Walt notes, “the report’s signatories helped create many of the problems they now seek to fix, so you’d hardly expect them to cast a critical eye on their own handiwork.”... Read More »

Obama After Hiroshima: From Words to Action

by William D. Hartung

Huffington Post, May-27-2016 |

President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima this morning was a piece of history. He rose to the occasion in his remarks, speaking eloquently not only of the need to eliminate nuclear weapons but also questioning the institution of war itself, all with a clear focus on the devastating human consequences of armed conflict. Now the President must use the visit as a starting point for taking concrete steps that will hasten the creation of a world free of nuclear weapons. He has eight months left to make a difference... Read More »

Pentagon Pork Revealed in Three Amendments

by William D. Hartung

Huffington Post, May-18-2016 |

Watching the House of Representatives debate Pentagon policy and budgeting isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, to put it mildly. But for those who have time and access to C-SPAN or the House’s own streaming service, watching these deliberations can be instructive. It’s democracy in action, and it’s a sight to behold - but not always in a good way... Read More »

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