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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Thoughts on Israel, Iran, Daesh, Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and Racism(Opinion)

To those who pay attention to current events, it should be obvious that there is a widening rift between the United States and Israel.  The rhetoric between the Israel Administration and the US Administration has grown to a fevered pitch as the prospect of a nuclear deal with Iran in March 2015 becomes more possible. Behind all of the rhetoric lies a legitimate policy difference.


Israel rightly perceives Iran and its proxies (Hezbollah, Hamas) to be an existential threat.  Certainly the thought of Iran developing a nuclear warfare capability is frightening to Israel and its partisans.  Such a capability could blunt Israel's strategic military advantage.  It is not hard to imagine a skirmish with Hezbollah leading to nuclear blackmail or worse.  If I were an Israeli citizen, I would be worried about such eventualities.  I am, however, a US Citizen and my only national loyalty is to the United States.

The United States

The interests of the United States are often in concert with those of Israel; so it is no coincidence that the two countries cooperate in a very dangerous neighborhood.  It is possible, however, for those interests to diverge and at this point in time (2015), I believe that they are divergent.  The United States and its allies face a global threat from a loosely affiliated and sometimes competing array of Sunni groups that are either influenced by or closely in agreement with Wahhabism and or Salafism.  These groups include Al Qaida, Daesh (ISIS), Al Shabab, and Boko Haram.  Obviously, these groups also pose a threat to Israeli interests. All of these groups are blatantly Antisemitic.  It is equally obvious that Iran and its proxies are a potential threat to US Interests (Consider the Khobar Towers incident, for example).  I do not mean to make absolutist claims one way or the other.

In the current climate, however, detente between the US and Iran may be possible.  Assuming that my enemy's enemy is my friend is a strategy that can backfire too often, but strategic non-aggression for the short term is very likely to be in US interests in fighting Daesh in Syria and Iraq.  The nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers must be seen in that light.  While such non-aggression is in the short-term interests of the United States, it is not at all in the interest of Israel.  To the United States, Iran and its proxies are a regional threat.  Israel happens to be in the region, and to Israel, Iran and its proxies are an existential threat.  I suggest that this is a rational policy difference between the two countries, one that can and should be responsibly debated, but unfortunately that debate has taken a darker turn.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Proposal To Reduce The Defense Budget (Opinion)

Disclaimer: This post represents my opinion only and is no reflection on the views of my employer.

There is no question that the Department of Defense is a huge part of the National Budget.  I think that it is possible to make significant cuts in that budget without impairing our national capabilities.  There are many issues in the Defense budget to include Healthcare, size of the force, entitlements, compensation etc. that are important, but I am not going to discuss those issues.  Rather, my interest is in how the Department of Defense buys stuff.

A lot has been written about Acquisition Reform, and I am not going to write much about that topic except to say that every few years there is another reform effort that never seems to reach the vision of those who initiate it.  A lot of very smart people work on this issue and fail, and I am not convinced that I am any smarter or more earnest than they are.  Rather, I intend to propose fixing the system from the bottom up with a few radical policy changes that would greatly empower end users to get the goods that they need at effective prices.