Commentary: The New Nuclear Arms Race

President Joe Biden and Personal Aide Stephen Goepfert walk through the Colonnade, Friday, August 6, 2021, on the way to the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

The Defense Department just released its annual report on China’s military power, and the report undermines those in the Biden administration who are promoting nuclear arms reductions with Russia and the adoption of a policy of “no first use” of nuclear weapons — a policy that is opposed by most of America’s allies.

The Pentagon’s report could not be clearer: “Over the next decade, the PRC aims to modernize, diversify, and expand its nuclear forces.” It is “expanding the number of its land-, sea-, and air-based nuclear delivery platforms and constructing the infrastructure necessary to support this major expansion of its nuclear forces.” This includes the construction of “fast breeder reactors and reprocessing facilities” that will enable China to “produce and separate plutonium.”

The report projects that the PRC will have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027, and perhaps 1,000 by 2030, significantly more than the Pentagon projected in last year’s report. China has what the report calls a “nascent ‘nuclear triad,’” with the capability to launch nuclear missiles from land, sea, and air platforms. It has expanded its silo-based force and moved to a “launch-on-warning” posture. Last year, the PLA “launched more than 250 ballistic missiles for testing and training,” a number greater then the rest of the world combined. It is growing its inventory of DF-26 intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and those missiles are capable of launching multiple independent warheads — known as MIRV capabilities. The CCP has ordered the construction of “hundreds of new ICBM silos” and is “doubling the number of launchers in some ICBM units.” China’s CSS-10 Mod 2 ICBM has a range of 11,000 kilometers, which makes it capable or reaching most targets within the continental United States. China is also investing in space and counterspace capabilities, including kinetic-kill missiles, orbiting space robots, and ground-based lasers.

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Report: ‘They’re Not Oracles’: U.S. Intelligence Agencies Failed to Predict Fall of Kabul to Taliban

aerial view of Kabul

U.S. intelligence agencies failed to predict how quickly Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, would fall to the Taliban, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Four agencies tracked the Taliban’s gains around Afghanistan starting in the spring of 2020 up until Taliban insurgents overthrew the U.S.-supported government in the capital city of Kabul, according to classified materials reviewed by the WSJ.

Around two dozen of the reports the WSJ reviewed predicted the Afghan government would collapse after U.S. forces withdrew, though none of them thought the government would fall as quickly as it did or with American troops still deployed in the region.

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Commentary: America Needs to Decide How It Will Stand Up to China in Taiwan

USS Alabama at deck in Mobile, AL

According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently announced, “Just like the overwhelming majority of other countries, Russia views Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China. This is the premise we proceed from and will continue to proceed from in our policy.” At the time of this statement, Russian forces were conducting joint naval exercises with Chinese forces in the Pacific—culminating in a 10-ship joint formation sailing through Japan’s Tsugaru Strait on October 18. 

This, following a series of unprecedented Chinese military aircraft incursions into Taiwan’s airspace, has rattled Taiwan and America’s other allies in the region, namely Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia. During the first week of October, over 150 aircraft, including advanced SU-30 fighters and H-6 heavy bombers, flew into Taiwanese airspace. An unprecedented 56 tactical aircraft penetrated Taiwan’s airspace in a single 24-hour period on October 4, the highest single day total to date. 

China has already taken control of multiple islands claimed by these allies in an effort to access vast oil and natural gas resources, as well as project its military power in the contested territorial waters of the South China Sea. China’s ongoing trade dispute with Australia has also ratcheted up tensions in the region. 

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Commentary: Biden’s Possible Abandonment of Taiwan

Joe Biden

“Goodbye, great power competition and hello, strategic competition,” this is what the Biden Administration’s Pentagon spokesperson recently told Daniel Lipmann of Politico. According to analysts, these comments signal a shift toward a more cooperative, even conciliatory, American posture toward the Chinese Communist Party. Further, President Joe Biden told the media on October 6 that he had “spoken with [Chinese President Xi Jinping] about Taiwan. We agree that we will abide by the Taiwan Agreement.” 

The agreement that Mr. Biden was referring to was the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, an ambiguous agreement forged between China and the United States in which Taiwan would be treated by the United States as a foreign country without being formally recognized as such. While the 1979 agreement does allow for the provision of American military aid to Taiwan such that Taiwan can “maintain a sufficient self-defense capability,” the terms of this agreement allow for the Americans to shirk away from Taiwan whenever it is convenient for Washington do so.  

The Biden-Xi call came on the heels of China’s brazen violation of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) during the week of October 1. At that time, China deployed more than 50 warplanes to violate Taiwan’s ADIZ, testing Taiwan’s overworked air defense network and pushing the island’s military to the point of exasperation. At some point, a grave miscalculation will occur between China and Taiwan—a mistake that could spark another world war that Washington is not prepared or willing to fight.

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Commentary: To Save America, Durham Must Reveal the Whole Russiagate Story and Punish the Guilty

A bit more information has emerged from the John Durham investigation into Russiagate (or “Spygate,” as it is known hereabouts).

This is due to what is likely a leak from one or more of the targets to their loyal propagandists at CNN. (In the article, the reporters do their best to downgrade the scandal they fanned for years as no more than a trivial “dirty trick” that all campaigns do. There’s a well-known word for that adapted into the English language.)

The import of these leaks is usually to soften the impact on the target(s), but it also gives us another indication Durham is still active.

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‘We Will Use the Full Range of Tools’: Trade Representative Says U.S. Will Enforce Phase One Trade Deal with China

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, sign the U.S. China Phase One Trade Agreement Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the Biden administration would enforce the Phase One trade agreement negotiated by the Trump administration with China while giving a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Monday.

“For too long, China’s lack of adherence to global trading norms has undercut the prosperity of Americans and others around the world,” Tai said in prepared remarks. “China made commitments that benefit certain American industries, including agriculture, that we must enforce.”

China has fallen short on the purchase totals it agreed to as part of the agreement, increasing its purchases by only 69% as of July 2021, according to the non-partisan Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE).

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Commentary: Our Indispensable Man

Angelo Codevilla

“The graveyards are full of indispensable men,” goes the old saying, and who could argue? The sun rose this morning as it did yesterday and will again tomorrow. Life goes on, as always, for better and often for worse. But now it is a life bereft of the remarkable intellect and insight of Angelo Codevilla, a patriot who despised what he saw his country becoming and who sought to rouse and educate his fellow Americans to resist.

Truly, he was our indispensable man.

He was remarkable, too, for his energy. It isn’t quite correct to say he was indefatigable. At 78, he couldn’t help but slow down a bit. But this was a man who survived two heart transplants and a number of recent health challenges. Even when he was sick, he kept writing and working.

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Commentary: Epitaph for the ‘War on Terror’

Twenty years after the U.S. government declared war on terrorism, it consummated its own defeat in Kabul and Washington, in a manner foreseeable, foreseen, and foreshadowed in 9/11’s immediate aftermath. Fixation on itself and unseriousness about war are the twin habits of heart and mind that disposed the ruling class to defeat. The practical explanation for why and how it accepted defeat is found in the overriding interest each part of the ruling class has in doing what it wants to do. 

On the night of September 11, 2001, Muslim governments strictly forbade public celebrations of the carnage. The Palestinian Authority, anticipating that outraged Americans would destroy them to avenge the day’s events, even called the attacks al nachba—“the disaster.” But as the U.S. ruling class made clear that it was accepting defeat, the Muslim world’s media and streets celebrated.

Two decades later, after that defeat’s logic had worked its way through and transformed American life, and as the government’s self-humiliating exit from Afghanistan consummated it, much of mankind followed Muslim crowds in celebrating—including prominent Americans. 

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North Korea Restarting Nuclear Reactor Was Likely Inevitable, Expert Says

Nuclear power plant

North Korea was likely always going to restart its nuclear reactor regardless of which presidential administration was in office, an expert on the region told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in late August that North Korea had restarted a plutonium-producing 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon in July 2021, after previously shutting it down in 2018.

Bruce Klingner, the senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation, told the DCNF that while it’s unclear whether the timing of the restart was meant to send a message, North Korea probably was planning for the reactor to become operational again for a while.

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Commentary: Remember What Happened After the Soviets left Afghanistan, and Why

Red Forest near Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Exclusion Zone.

If you watched HBO’s recent docudrama about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, you may have been struck by the historic connection to the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan. The epilogue posited the theory that the need for helicopters to mitigate the nuclear disaster caused the Russians to pull the attack helicopters from Afghanistan, making the already pointless war impossible to continue. So in 1988, the Soviets cut their losses and withdrew from Afghanistan. 

The Afghan rebels did not seize control of Afghanistan until 1992. But the 1988 withdrawal also played a huge role in the loss of legitimacy for the Soviet system itself. The apparent juggernaut wielded terrifying power at its borders but remained frail and vulnerable to collapse from within. The very idea that the great Soviet evil empire could fail set off a series of dominoes that led to its collapse. The Afghan war, the struggling economy, and the Chernobyl disaster all combined to reveal the wise and powerful leaders in Moscow as incompetent despots.

More than 30 years later, American planners may have felt they had years or at least months during which residual civilians could make an orderly departure from Afghanistan as needed. The Soviet puppet government lasted almost four years (ironically, longer than the Soviet Union continued to exist), so why wouldn’t an American-sponsored government be able to hold on at least that long? The American planners probably believed that they were prolonging the longevity of the puppet regime by leaving nearly $80 billion in military equipment in the hands of the American-aligned Afghan government.

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44 Afghan Refugees Brought to the U.S. Flagged as Potential National Security Risks

Afghan men

Some 44 Afghan refugees who were brought to the U.S. were flagged as potential national security threats in the last two weeks, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

Over 60,000 Afghans have been evacuated to the U.S. and around 13 of them are waiting to go through additional counterterrorism screening measures in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, according to the Post. Fifteen others were transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody and returned to processing stations in Europe and the Middle East or allowed to enter the U.S. after further screening.

Another 16 Afghans are waiting to see whether they’ll be cleared for travel at U.S. processing sites in countries overseas, the Post reported. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documents reportedly show officials raised concerns about multiple refugees for potential ties to terror organizations including suspicious information on their electronic devices.

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‘Huge Hole’: Congressman Says Feds Aren’t Vetting Social Media Posts of Afghan Refugees

Tom Tiffany

Acongressman from Wisconsin, where thousands of Afghan evacuees are being temporarily resettled, says the Biden administration is creating a significant security risk by failing to aggressively vet refugees’ social media before allowing then to reach U.S. destinations.

Rep. Tom Tiffany, a Republican, told Just the News that the failure to vet social media posts for possible extremism is just one of several byproducts of a chaotic Biden administration exit strategy that has moved immigrants to U.S. installations in third countries before adequate security checks could be completed.

“They said, get them on the planes, and we’ll sort the immigration status out later,” Tiffany said during a wide-ranging interview on the John Solomon Reports podcast. “And Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken acknowledged that this last weekend, on the Sunday news shows that that’s exactly what they did. That is a terrible way to handle national security.”

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Commentary: The Unchanging Telos of the Democrats

Afghan people

Watching the Biden Administration bring into the country tens of thousands of unvetted Afghans, who are neither U.S. citizens nor native Afghans who assisted American troops, I am coming to wonder whether Biden was actually wrong to describe the withdrawal of American forces as an “immense success.” It was, in fact, exactly what Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and other Democratic operatives said it was: a success that will move the Democrats toward their goal of creating a one-party state. 

Like the illegal aliens streaming across our southern borders and the efforts to remove restrictions against voting fraud, the influx of Afghan refugees is intended to increase the number of votes that will likely go to the Democratic Party, no matter how badly they mismanage the country. 

Looking at these coordinated steps, I am reminded of an idea put forth by Aristotle in book six of the Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle famously insisted on a distinction between technical expertise (e.g., building a house) and deeper, more foundational forms of knowledge. The most primal wisdom is sophia, which deals with universal knowledge that underlies all other true modes of knowing. But Aristotle also raises the question of whether there are not forms of techne that are so well developed that they reflect sophia. The two examples that he cites are Phidias’s work as an architect and Polykleitos’s achievements as a sculptor. According to Aristotle, the excellence that characterizes their technical skills indicates their creators are truly wise.

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Pakistani Ambassador Doubts U.S. Intelligence Taliban Is Seeking ‘Retribution’ Against Afghans

Asad Majeed Khan

The Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. said he does not believe the Taliban is seeking “retribution” against Afghans, contrary to American intelligence, according to emails obtained by Politico.

Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan said in exchanges between the U.S. and Pakistan that the Taliban “were not seeking retribution, and in fact were going home to home to assure Afghans that there will not be reprisals,” based on “ground observations,” Politico reported.

U.S. State Department official Ervin Massinga noted that “he has seen reporting to the contrary and hopes the Taliban do not seek revenge.”

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Airbnb Offers Free Temporary Housing Across the World to 20,000 Afghan Refugees

Airbnb, a vacation home rental site, is offering free temporary housing to around 20,000 Afghan refugees across the world, the company announced Tuesday.

“As tens of thousands of Afghan refugees resettle around the world, where they stay will be the first chapter in their new lives,” Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said in a statement. “For these 20,000 refugees, my hope is that the Airbnb community will provide them with not only a safe place to rest and start over, but also a warm welcome home.”

Around 3.5 million people living in Afghanistan have been displaced, including around 270,000 due to Taliban advances since January, the U.N. reported on July 13. Around 10,400 people were evacuated by U.S. military flights from Afghanistan Sunday and another 6,660 were taken Monday, according to the Associated Press.

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‘This Is a Massive F*** Up’: Team Organizing Private Flights out of Afghanistan Says the Biden Administration Has Been an ‘Impediment’ to Their Evacuations

Joe Biden

The Biden administration has been an “impediment” to a private effort to get people out of Afghanistan, Robert Stryk, who is arranging privately chartered flights to get Americans and vulnerable Afghans out of the country, exclusively told the Daily Caller News Foundation Monday.

“The Brits and South Africans have been fucking awesome and heroic in getting people through the Mil Gate,” Stryk told the DCNF.

Stryk, whose Washington-based lobbying firm was in 2017 paid by the government of Afghanistan for “US Government affairs and commercial sector advice. Executive Branch and Legislative Branch Engagement; Defense consultation; strategic advice pertaining to extremism/terrorism; and promotion of democracy and foreign direct investment,” said he had reached out to the administration “dozens and dozens” of times and had yet to hear back.

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Biden’s Green Energy Plan and Botched Afghan Withdrawal Boost China’s Rare Metals Monopoly

At first blush, it may not seem that the Democrats’ $4.5 trillion infrastructure and spending plans and President Joe Biden’s bungled exit from Afghanistan have a nexus. But they do in China’s rare metals monopoly.

Beijing already dominates the rare metals market needed for electronics, electric car batteries and computers, a reality made more painfully obvious with the current computer chip shortage that is slowing production of new U.S. cars.

And now with the haphazard U.S. withdrawal from Kabul, one of the world’s largest untapped deposits of lithium — estimated by some at $1 trillion in Afghanistan — is poised to fall into China’s hands just as Biden has ordered that half all U.S. cars be electric by 2030 and congressional Democrats prepare to vote to invest tens of billions of dollars more to push that goal further.

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Commentary: Between Afghanistan and Joe Biden, It Is a Struggle to See Which Fell Faster

Joe Biden

While the disadvantages of aging are often lamented and discussed, there are a few perks. One of which is having actual memories of events about which younger people can only read about or view on YouTube. For me, one of those memories etched indelibly in my mind is that of American helicopters airlifting diplomats and workers off of rooftops in Saigon as it fell.

I watched Vietnam fall with the voice of Walter Cronkite narrating. The symbolism of that long and failed endless American war was so vivid and so devastating that for me, like others in my generation, I was left to hope that the United States would never let something like that happen in the future.

Now, as I watch the scenes out of Afghanistan, I am put in mind of the immortal line given to us by New York Yankee legend Yogi Berra: It’s déjà vu all over again.

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Report: Terrorist Released by Obama in Exchange for Bowe Bergdahl Played Key Role in Taliban’s Return to Power

Taliban insurgents turn themselves in to Afghan National Security Forces at a forward operating base in Puza-i-Eshan

One of the five Taliban commanders who was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2014 by former president Barack Obama in exchange for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, is emerging as a key figure who helped the insurgents seize power in Afghanistan.

Khairullah Khairkhwa, along with the other freed detainees, used Qatar as a base to form a Taliban regime in exile, and eventually became an official negotiator for peace talks with the Biden regime, the New York Post reported.

Khairkhwa previously served as Spokesperson of the Taliban regime, Governor of the Kabul Province of the Taliban regime, and Minister of Internal Affairs of the Taliban regime, according to the United Nations National Security Council.

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Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction Says 20 Year Effort is Marked by ‘Too Many Failures’

Special IG for Afghanistan ReconstructionFollow Inspector General John F. Sopko Testifies before Congress

The special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is calling the two-decade effort to rebuild the country a failure. The August 2021 report details the areas in which the American effort to rebuild the country came up far short of the initial goal.

“The extraordinary costs were meant to serve a purpose – though the definition of that purpose evolved over time,” reads the 140-page report, alluding the United States’ changing goals in the region over the course of its 20-year military presence in Afghanistan.

“After 13 years of oversight, the cumulative list of systemic challenges SIGAR and other oversight bodies have identified is staggering,” reads the report.

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Biden Admin, Echoing Trump, Warns That a Chinese Attack on the Philippines Will Draw Military Response

Large group of United States Military soldiers standing in straight line at a base

The Biden Administration continued the Trump-era rejection of almost all of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, warning the communist country that an attack on the Philippines would draw a significant U.S. response.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the U.S.’ message in a statement Sunday, which was also the fifth anniversary of an international tribunal ruling in favor of the Philippines and against China’s maritime claims. China has rejected the ruling since it was first made.

“Nowhere is the rules-based maritime order under greater threat than in the South China Sea,” Blinken said, accusing China of attempting to “coerce and intimidate Southeast Asian coastal states, threatening freedom of navigation in this critical global throughway.”

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