12 Sep 14. Hawks reclaim lost ground in America. In the space of weeks, Washington has been transformed from the capital of a reluctant imperium into a cheerleader for the recommitment of the US military to another potentially intractable conflict in Iraq. The astounding turnround, in Washington and in US public sentiment, has appeared to catch Barack Obama short, and returned ascendancy on foreign policy to the capital’s hawks after years on the defensive following the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“I think the combination of Ukraine and Isis have created a springtime for neoconservatives – they are feeling their oats,” said Jacob Heilbrunn, of the National Interest, in Washington. The new politics of US foreign policy are already flowing into the early stages of the 2016 presidential contest, where the debate is shifting to how Washington can go on the offensive rather than withdraw from overseas conflicts.
“Mr Obama’s call for the US to lead an international military campaign in the Middle East has the potential to begin a departure from the isolationism that he and Hillary Rodham Clinton have advocated during their years in office,” said Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who may seek the Republican 2016 nomination. The Cook Political Report on Friday noted the return of the “security Mom”, voters once focused exclusively on domestic issues but who shifted after the 9/11 attacks to worry about the “safety” of their children in an unstable world. The turning point was the beheadings last month of two US journalists by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or Isis. Once videos of their killings were posted on the internet by Isis, their deaths amounted to virtual public executions. Bill McInturff, a Republican-aligned pollster who along with a Democratic colleague conducts the closely watched Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, said the change in public opinion had been “sudden”. That poll showed 61 per cent of respondents thought military action against Isis was in America’s national interest. Although he admits it may be “harsh” to say, “when foreign policy matters, it is when American lives have been lost”.
The beheadings had the biggest impact of any news story followed by Americans in the past five years of his polling. “This was a big deal,” he said. (Source: FT.com)
12 Sep 14. The Pentagon is pushing its strategy to develop new technologies and capabilities alongside allies to drive down costs and foster innovation, the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering said on Wednesday. With the Obama administration’s defense strategy prioritizing reliance on allies as opposed to unilateral US action, Pentagon R&D chief Alan Shaffer said he is working on strategies to “use our alliances to drive down the cost of development” of new technologies. This would ensure “enhanced mutual reliance” between allies and offset some of the costs of development and experimentation. It would also allow the United States “to rely on others for expertise … and integration” of those systems. This shared approach is also being designed to make it easier for US and partner forces to share critical battlefield information, rather than developing ad hoc workarounds to allow the forces to communicate and maneuver together. The strategy can be seen as an arm of the larger national strategy the Obama administration has outlined over the past several years that prioritizes multilateral action such as in the Libyan conflict, where NATO forces took the lead in launching airstrikes. More recently, NATO allies helped destroy Syrian chemical weapon materials, and the UK, France and Australia have joined the expanding humanitarian mission in northern Iraq. In a speech at the West Point military academy in May, Obama stressed that in future conflicts the United States “should not go it alone.” Instead, the United States must “mobilize allies and partners to take collective action” to meet the threats of both terrorism and any pe