America’s top threats: China, Russia, North Korea and Iran
Sheetal Sukhija - Saturday 20th January, 2018
Defense Secretary James Mattis unveiled the Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy
Trump administration has taken a hard line against Russia and China
Trump himself has however, called for better relations with the two countries
WASHINGTON, U.S. - In Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy, unveiled on Friday by the Defense Secretary James Mattis, China and Russia were highlighted as top threats for the nation.
Mattis said in his statement that countering Chinese and Russian aggression is at the top of the Pentagon’s new Strategy.
Experts noted that despite Trump seeking and calling repeatedly for better relations with both the countries, his administration’s new strategy indicates it is taking a hard line against Russia and China.
Unveiling the 11-page version of the unclassified document in Washington, Mattis said, “We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia ... nations that do seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models.”
The new strategy is expected to drive future defense spending requests and even lays out the Defense Department’s strategy “to compete, deter, and win” in the complex security environment.
The National Defense Strategy notes, “China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea. Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors.”
In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and its military supports Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war - two issues that have become the bone of contention between U.S. and Russia.
Meanwhile, China holds an enormous amount of economic sway in the world and its military continues to push outward with man-made islands in the Pacific.
In fact, latest reports have revealed that China will build a military base in Afghanistan.
Mattis’ strategy document also highlights North Korea and Iran as other big international threats.
The document notes that Pyongyang’s “outlaw actions and reckless rhetoric,” will require a focus on U.S. missile defense.
Mattis said, “Rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran persist in taking outlaw actions that threaten regional and even global stability. Oppressing their own people and shredding their own people’s dignity and human rights, they push their warped views outward.”
On the other hand, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is no longer a top threat for America and the world even though it remains an issue despite its physical defeat of the caliphate last year.
In his statement, Mattis said, “Violent extremist organizations like ISIS or Lebanese Hezbollah or al Qaeda continue to sow hatred, destroying peace and murdering innocents across the globe.”
According to reports, the retired four-star general also warned that the U.S. military’s competitive edge “has eroded in every domain of warfare — air, land, sea, space and cyberspace — and it is continuing to erode.”
The erosion was partly blamed on defense spending caps and being forced to begin the last nine fiscal years on a stopgap spending measure due to “budgetary confusion” in Congress.
He said, “Let me be clear, as hard as the last 16 years have been on our military, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact” of spending cuts and lack of long-term funding.”
Meanwhile, the Defense Secretary added that the Pentagon will “modernize key capabilities, recognizing we cannot expect success fighting tomorrow's conflicts with yesterday's weapons or equipment.”
Mattis also highlight international alliances as a key piece of the strategy, stressing on burden-sharing.
He said, “We carried a disproportionate share of the defense burden post-WWII. The growing economic strength of today’s democracies and partners dictates they must now step up and do more.”
Commenting on the document, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) pointed out the strategy “gets the big decisions right, prioritizes the threats we face, and offers clear guidance for making tough choices.”
He also warned that Congress must “immediately reach a bipartisan budget agreement to provide the funding necessary to implement this strategy.”
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