Blogs: The Skeptics

Libertarianism and Restraint

America Is About to Expand Its Missile Defenses Dramatically (But There is a Problem)

Attacking Terrorism Overseas May Debilitate America's Military

The Skeptics

Despite this oft-validated reality, Washington policymakers persist on trying to use conventional U.S. military power abroad in anti-terror operations. Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced last week that even after ISIS had been driven from Syria, U.S. troops would remain to prevent the emergence of “ISIS 2.0.” Regardless of the fact ISIS has been driven from Iraq—and despite the demonstrated abilities of the Iraqi Security Forces and Shia militia to defend their own country—U.S. troops also will remain in Iraq.

And though it is a certainty that fifteen thousand U.S. troops will not be able to bring the Taliban and other terror groups in Afghanistan to the negotiating table when one hundred thousand troops couldn’t do it during the Obama surge, the White House has signaled that it will leave those troops there indefinitely. Perpetual fighting in Afghanistan where few, if any, terrorists striking in the West in the past decade have originated, will likewise not improve our security over here.

In 2014, ISIS was restricted to Syria and Iraq. Today it has affiliates in Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Philippines and Indonesia. It has also allegedly inspired people to launch attacks in no fewer than twenty-nine different countries. Fighting ISIS over there has succeeded only in spreading its members around the globe, boosting its overall numbers and increasing the terror threat to the United States.

Using conventional military power abroad to solve violent, internal political problems is not effective, and it squanders the limited resources available to the U.S. military for modernization on peripheral concerns instead of core interests.

Focusing U.S. military power on so many terror threats abroad costs hundreds of billions of dollars a year and prevents America’s armed forces from training and equipping for other things that may one day pose an existential threat to the United States. If the White House will not recognize these truths, then the last line of defense may be Congress reimposing its constitutional authority over the executive branch.

If Congress continues to fail America, however, the threats to the country will only expand until one day it suffers an egregious attack, possibly from a well-funded and organized terrorist. Perhaps its military may even discover when it fights a major power that it is insufficiently prepared to defend itself.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after twenty-one years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.

Image: A U.S. soldier in Dragon Company of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment celebrates a direct hit during a mortar exercise near forward operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan December 26, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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Libya Is a Failed State (and It's America's Fault)

The Skeptics

Despite this oft-validated reality, Washington policymakers persist on trying to use conventional U.S. military power abroad in anti-terror operations. Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced last week that even after ISIS had been driven from Syria, U.S. troops would remain to prevent the emergence of “ISIS 2.0.” Regardless of the fact ISIS has been driven from Iraq—and despite the demonstrated abilities of the Iraqi Security Forces and Shia militia to defend their own country—U.S. troops also will remain in Iraq.

And though it is a certainty that fifteen thousand U.S. troops will not be able to bring the Taliban and other terror groups in Afghanistan to the negotiating table when one hundred thousand troops couldn’t do it during the Obama surge, the White House has signaled that it will leave those troops there indefinitely. Perpetual fighting in Afghanistan where few, if any, terrorists striking in the West in the past decade have originated, will likewise not improve our security over here.

In 2014, ISIS was restricted to Syria and Iraq. Today it has affiliates in Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Philippines and Indonesia. It has also allegedly inspired people to launch attacks in no fewer than twenty-nine different countries. Fighting ISIS over there has succeeded only in spreading its members around the globe, boosting its overall numbers and increasing the terror threat to the United States.

Using conventional military power abroad to solve violent, internal political problems is not effective, and it squanders the limited resources available to the U.S. military for modernization on peripheral concerns instead of core interests.

Focusing U.S. military power on so many terror threats abroad costs hundreds of billions of dollars a year and prevents America’s armed forces from training and equipping for other things that may one day pose an existential threat to the United States. If the White House will not recognize these truths, then the last line of defense may be Congress reimposing its constitutional authority over the executive branch.

If Congress continues to fail America, however, the threats to the country will only expand until one day it suffers an egregious attack, possibly from a well-funded and organized terrorist. Perhaps its military may even discover when it fights a major power that it is insufficiently prepared to defend itself.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after twenty-one years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.

Image: A U.S. soldier in Dragon Company of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment celebrates a direct hit during a mortar exercise near forward operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan December 26, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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North Korea Is a Bad Actor—but That Doesn't Make It a State Sponsor of Terrorism

The Skeptics

Despite this oft-validated reality, Washington policymakers persist on trying to use conventional U.S. military power abroad in anti-terror operations. Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced last week that even after ISIS had been driven from Syria, U.S. troops would remain to prevent the emergence of “ISIS 2.0.” Regardless of the fact ISIS has been driven from Iraq—and despite the demonstrated abilities of the Iraqi Security Forces and Shia militia to defend their own country—U.S. troops also will remain in Iraq.

And though it is a certainty that fifteen thousand U.S. troops will not be able to bring the Taliban and other terror groups in Afghanistan to the negotiating table when one hundred thousand troops couldn’t do it during the Obama surge, the White House has signaled that it will leave those troops there indefinitely. Perpetual fighting in Afghanistan where few, if any, terrorists striking in the West in the past decade have originated, will likewise not improve our security over here.

In 2014, ISIS was restricted to Syria and Iraq. Today it has affiliates in Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Philippines and Indonesia. It has also allegedly inspired people to launch attacks in no fewer than twenty-nine different countries. Fighting ISIS over there has succeeded only in spreading its members around the globe, boosting its overall numbers and increasing the terror threat to the United States.

Using conventional military power abroad to solve violent, internal political problems is not effective, and it squanders the limited resources available to the U.S. military for modernization on peripheral concerns instead of core interests.

Focusing U.S. military power on so many terror threats abroad costs hundreds of billions of dollars a year and prevents America’s armed forces from training and equipping for other things that may one day pose an existential threat to the United States. If the White House will not recognize these truths, then the last line of defense may be Congress reimposing its constitutional authority over the executive branch.

If Congress continues to fail America, however, the threats to the country will only expand until one day it suffers an egregious attack, possibly from a well-funded and organized terrorist. Perhaps its military may even discover when it fights a major power that it is insufficiently prepared to defend itself.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after twenty-one years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.

Image: A U.S. soldier in Dragon Company of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment celebrates a direct hit during a mortar exercise near forward operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan December 26, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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