The Buzz

Should America Build a Smaller, More Lethal U.S. Army?


In the Old Testament book of Judges, the Almighty tasks Gideon with leading the Israelites against their oppressor, the Midianites. In assembling an Israelite army, the Almighty commands Gideon to reduce his numbers. Gideon obeys and ultimately triumphs with the remaining force of three hundred men employing an elaborate ruse. Reducing the size of an armed force seems counterintuitive, but, as the story illustrates, organizational design, and not end strength, is critical to military effectiveness.

Tough Domestic Politics Behind Iran's OPEC Snub

The failed outcome of Sunday’s summit in Doha by top oil exporters was no surprise. Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Zangeneh, from the outset considered it to a politically toxic event to be avoided. He did not go nor did he send a replacement. As Zangeneh put it to Iranian state television, “It [does not] make sense to send any representative from the Islamic Republic, as we are not part of the decision to freeze output.”

Texas Gov. Predicts Supreme Court ‘Politics’ Will Prevent States’ Outright Win on Obama Immigration Actions

The governor of the state leading the legal fight against President Barack Obama’s executive actions protecting illegal immigrants from deportation predicted today that “the best we can hope for” is a deadlocked decision by the Supreme Court.

That’s the difference the vacancy on the court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia makes, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during a briefing for reporters at The Heritage Foundation.

It Takes Two to Thucydides

There has been a lot of talk of late in the security and international relations community about the Thucydides trap, and more specifically that China and the United States find themselves in one. But there are two important problems with the way the maxim is being used that have more than just academic implications.

Raytheon’s JLENS: Building an American Anti-Access/Area Denial Capability

Admittedly, what went wrong with the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) last October was, in one sense, pretty spectacular. One of the two tethered blimps that carry the JLENS sensors aloft broke free from its leash and, due to a failure of its auto-deflate system, traveled some 150 miles from Aberdeen, Maryland to southern Pennsylvania. As a consequence, Congress cut the funding for the program in the FY 2016 defense spending bill from $40 million to a little more than $10 million.

U.S.-Saudi Relations: Salman Snubs, Obama Shrugs

There has been a lot of parsing of yesterday's reputed snub of President Obama by King Salman of Saudi Arabia. It certainly was a snub. In 2009 the late King Abdullah greeted Obama off the plane during the U.S. president's first to the Kingdom; yesterday King Salman sent the governor of Riyadh to welcome the U.S. president while he received his Gulf counterparts a few hundred meters down the runway.