Recently very little has been going on in the world. The faux conflict in Syria and Iraq has continued while the US has increasingly relied on Iran to support its round mission there. The Pentagon continues to live under some fantasy that Shiites will suddenly agree to share power with Sunni former ISIS Daesh subjects. Expect atrocities, published or not, to occur as Shiite militias occupy more territory. Still this issue will continue to drag on.
The same is true of Ukraine where the Russians have made some progress but not enough to set the world on edge. Major European leaders meanwhile seem one part uninterested and another part impotent.
The Pentagon is continuing to languish under sequestration even as it comes up with new designs to make ever higher budget overruns possible. New defense secretary Ashton Carter will have to wrestle with these issues.
The US détente with Cuba has made initial progress but is being held up by differences on matters of substance rather than pride for the first time. With a presidential race dependent on swing state Florida beginning, don’t expect major changes any time soon.
This time of international doldrums is a perfect chance for the US to look around and rework its approach to the world. With both America and conflicts around the world temporarily stable it is now a perfect time to make progress towards a still elusive free trade deal with the EU. The lack of headlines also represents an excellent opportunity to respond to events in the South China Sea and around the Senkaku islands to continue to make China look belligerent and unpredictable.
Finally the US must rethink its military policies especially around new weapons systems. It will soon become necessary to spend massive amounts on replacing the entire US aircraft carrier fleet with its Gerald R Ford class replacements. This necessitates the simple question of whether decades from today aircraft carriers will still be the crucial tools they are today. In an era of light weight unmanned aerial systems, full size aircraft simply may no longer be necessary. Similar questions ought to be answered before the US invests billions in a replacement to the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. At this rather fortunate time in world history we must think.
Jeffrey Schulman writes TFO’s weekly security column “In Defense of Defense” and is a former writer for The Varsity. His blog Thoughts can be found at jeffreyeschulman.blogspot.com