FROM Robert Zarate
The Pentagon, 'Sequester' and National Security In August, when the White House and Congress failed to agree on taxes and spending, they compromised on what's called "sequester." That means an automatic 10 percent across-the-board cut in domestic spending and in the Pentagon, effective on the first day of next year. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says that would be "a disaster" for the Pentagon. How much defense spending does the United States really need? How much can it reasonably afford? Will it really happen or will the White House and Congress kick the can down the road once again?
The Pentagon, 'Sequester' and National Security The US plans to spend more on defense next year than the next 17 countries combined. So why is Washington so worried about an automatic 10 percent cut? That's part of what's called "sequester," the deal made by both parties in August, when they failed to agree on an overall federal budget. Now, facing a deadline at the end of this year, Democrats and Republicans call it, "unthinkable," "devastating" and "deeply destructive." Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says that would be "a disaster" for the Pentagon. Republican John McCain agrees, and so do both President Obama and Mitt Romney. Why, at a time when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down and many Americans tell pollsters the US can't afford to be the "world's policeman?" Would the US suddenly be weaker? What about jobs? Is this the political club that could finally knock financial sense into the "military-industrial complex?"
Trump's Russia ties intensify with Comey firing Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe contradicted the Trump White House today, insisting the Bureau had not lost faith in former Director James Comey. He promised to notify the committee of any interference into investigation of the Trump campaign's contacts with Vladimir Putin's Russia. What do we know about those contacts… and how they relate to Trump's business interests and those of his family?
A New York Times op-ed on climate change sparks uproar The New York Times is embroiled in a public furor over a new columnist, who wrote that scientific uncertainty is reason for debate about climate change. Many conservatives are delighted. Is America's leading liberal newspaper fostering climate denial? This is the latest in our series, "The Emotional States of America."
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?
Future of the Palestinians as Trump welcomes Abbas President Trump says there's "no reason there can't be peace" between Israel and the Palestinians… but the first step will have to be unity between the West Bank and Gaza. Are the Palestinian Authority and Hamas any closer to speaking with one voice?