FROM Gary Schmitt
Obama and Panetta Outline Defense Cuts President Obama today outlined the results of his national security review, calling for leaner forces to meet new threats in the 21st Century. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, despite reductions mandated by Congress, the US will still be able to conduct more than one action at the same time. There will be special emphasis on the Asia-Pacific Region and the Middle East. We hear about military and political consequences.
Obama's Two Fronts in the Afghan War At his re-confirmation hearing today, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said it's likely that commanders in Afghanistan will ask for more troops “very soon…”
Politics in America and Reality in Afghanistan At his re-confirmation hearing today, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated that commanders are likely to ask for another increase of troops in Afghanistan. But, after eight years, public support for the war is fading fast, and Democrats are suggesting that, if the President asks, they might have to say "no." Republicans, backed by militant neo-cons, insist that more force is the only way to win. What would "winning" look like? How long would it take? Will the White House have any options to seek common ground?
The Selling Job for Increasing Troops in Iraq An overnight poll by ABC News and the Washington Post shows that 60% of Americans are against the President's " New Way Forward " in Iraq. Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice elaborated on the rationale for increasing troops. But three members of the President's own Republican Party said they can't go along. Even White House supporters call this the President's "last chance" to rally support. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today that he doesn't know how long increased troop levels will last, but assured that before many additional soldiers arrive, there will be time to evaluate whether Iraq's government is fulfilling its obligations. Meantime, he signed orders authorizing the military to notify units and family members about new deployments. What is the mission of additional US troops? Are they trained and equipped to perform it? Are 21,500 enough? Is the Iraqi government really prepared to divide oil revenues and political power between Shiites and Sunnis as President Bush demands?
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.