Cops and soldiers, and why they’re different

There’s 35,000 of them, but they’re not an army. (Photo: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)

So, it’s a new year, and we’re already hip-deep in horrors. I can’t even begin to write about the Charlie Hebdo massacre; I’m not an expert on terrorism or on France, and in general I agree with Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor, who’s made a good point recently on Twitter that there are too many of these “what’s it all mean” pieces and all far too soon.

Instead, I want to go back to one of the stories we were all arguing about before the Paris massacre: the tension between a significant part of the New York City police department and its mayor, Bill de Blasio. Here’s something we all need to remember, as we predictably take sides with cops, demonstrators, or politicians:

Cops are not soldiers. Continue reading →

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What did Ashton Carter actually say about North Korea?

Alex Wong/Getty

Five second warning? (photo Alex Wong/Getty)

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is going to be President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense. (Yes, that will once again make him my superior in the Defense Department, about a million steps removed. This is a good time to remember that my blog posts are my own opinions, and to review whom I speak for and for whom I don’t. Spoiler: no one but myself.)

Now that he’s headed for confirmation hearings, of course, media attention is turning to Carter’s views and previous writings. One that’s raised a few eyebrows is a piece he co-wrote with former Secretary of Defense William Perry in 2006, in which he and Perry argued for striking the North Korean ICBM prototype, the Taepodong, if all else failed to stop the North Koreans from testing it. Continue reading →

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Bipartisan cooperation on nuclear weapons? Yes, it’s possible.

movies-star-trek-spock-3In today’s National Interest, I suggest the “rule of opposites,” in which only conservatives can really take on reforms in defense policy, and only liberals can really approach reforms in domestic policy.

The 2014 midterms are over…but when it comes to the future of America’s nuclear deterrent, will it matter? The answer is almost certainly “no.” And that’s unfortunate, because the Republican takeover of the Senate, ironically, means there might be room for significant progress on nuclear issues.

“There is an old Vulcan proverb,” Star Trek’s Spock told his captain when advising him to make peace with an adversary. “Only Nixon can go to China.” As it is in the interstellar Federation, so it is in American politics. This is the rule of opposites, in which only conservative politicians can tackle the reform of national defense (think of George H.W. Bush unilaterally slashing nuclear inventories in 1992), while liberal politicians have the edge in reforming domestic programs and entitlements (such as Bill Clinton’s efforts at welfare reform in 1994).

Where nuclear weapons are concerned, a Republican Congress and a Democratic president are likely to leave things right where they are: without a clear direction, without a strategy and without any budgetary logic.

I suggest three areas where the GOP and the White House can work together:

1. A test ban treaty.

2. A “no first use” policy.

3. Dumping the last of our tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

For more, read the entire piece here.

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