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The Deal Trump Shouldn’t Make With Russia Trading Ukraine for Syria would legitimize Moscow’s conquest and endanger Europe’s security.By Mark Helprin

The new administration may be sorely tempted to close a showy diplomatic “deal,” the origins of which are President Obama’s extraordinary policy failures in the Middle East. With American financing rather than resistance, Iran has thrown a military bridge from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, a feat the U.S. could not equal at the height of its powers when it unsuccessfully tried to construct the Central Treaty Organization in the 1950s. Worse still, Mr. Obama’s “executive agreement” with Tehran gives it a U.S.-guaranteed path to nuclear weapons.

As Mr. Obama denuded the Mediterranean of armed American naval vessels and backed off supposed red lines, Russia re-established itself in the Middle East after having been almost completely excluded during the previous nine presidential terms. The result of such astounding American incompetence has been genocidal wars and the metaphorical transformation of the regional security situation from gunpowder into nitroglycerin.

It threatens to become even worse, in that with the presence of rival great powers, the processes at work may leap the bounds of their containment in the Middle East and unravel the long peace of Europe. Because of the March 7 meeting of the American, Russian, and Turkish military chiefs, and simultaneous Russian signals that it is ready, for a price, to abandon its support of Iran, Iran—as documented by the Middle East Media Research Institute—is in a state of “shock.” It knows that it cannot stand against the might and favorable geographic position of a combination of these forces and the proximate Sunni states. President Hassan Rouhani recently rushed to Moscow, but his meetings there were conspicuously opaque about the future of Iran in Syria.

Excluding Iranian troops and arms from Syria and Lebanon would be a major achievement, which could have been a feature of the Obama foreign policy before Russia reinforced in Syria. American, Saudi, Turkish, and Jordanian air power might easily have laid an air blockade across the 1,000 miles from Tehran to Damascus, and kept the few roads in wide-open country clear of overland supply. Needless to say, Iran would have found the sea route unavailing.

Even now, with a Russian air component in western Syria, it is unlikely that Moscow would risk breaking a blockade any more than it attempted to breach the 1962 quarantine of Cuba, for the reason that it could not then and cannot now project power into the area of contention with even a small fraction of the force that would resist it. As the Soviets did in the Cuban crisis, Russia might resort to nuclear bluffing, but it would be only that. Its interests in the Levant, which, given its lack of power projection and capable allies, it cannot exploit, would not be worth an empty threat that it would then have to withdraw.

White House Formally Announces Sisi Visit Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi will meet with President Trump in Washington on April 3 By Felicia Schwartz

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will host Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi at the White House on April 3 to discuss the fight against Islamic State and regional peace and stability, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

Mr. Sisi’s visit is the first official meeting between the leaders since Mr. Trump took office. They met during the campaign last fall and officials said earlier in March that they expected the Egyptian leader to visit.

“President Trump and President Al Sisi will use the visit to build on the positive momentum they have built for the United States-Egypt relationship,” Mr. Spicer said. “They will discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues, including how to defeat ISIS and pursue peace and stability in the region. ”

The meeting would come ahead of a summit between Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida, likely later in the week. A senior State Department official said Tuesday the meeting would be held late next week and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will join Mr. Trump.

Weighing Aspirations, Trump Argues for Increased Defense Spending : Herbert London

Dr. Herbert I. London is the President of the London Center for Policy Research and is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has written or contributed to 30 books and as a social critic, his work has been published in many prominent publications.

The post-Cold War ‘military industrial complex’ isn’t applicable to today’s terrorist enemies

During President Trump’s recent address to Congress, he said we must add $54 billion of spending to the defense budget in order to bolster the nation’s defense capabilities. Considering the $1 trillion in defense sequestration during the Obama years, this number may be relatively modest. The problem is making an assessment of what’s adequate and necessary.
Defense spending in the age of advanced military hardware is an exercise in reading tea leaves. The number of variables in any equation often overwhelms the serious analyst.
Take the F-35 as an example. The head of the program said that the cost of the aircraft will be reduced to $85 million by 2018. But that number has significance only if seen against a backdrop of lifetime use. An aircraft with an 8,000 to 10,000 flight hour cycle is more expensive than one with a 5,000 hour life.
Then, there’s the question of mission. An aircraft designed to perform a single mission—e.g. the A-10 Warthog—is cheaper to build than an aircraft capable of multiple missions. However, single mission planes will necessitate a larger than anticipated force and arguably a budget increase.
In today’s environment, it’s also appropriate to ask whether the aircraft is manned or unmanned. Perhaps it’s wise to spend more on anti-air weapons and less on fighters and interceptors. Could stand-off platforms be less expensive in the long term than fighters and interceptors? Could stand-off weapons render Russian and Chinese airplanes irrelevant?