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5 NatSec Things - 06 Feb 2018

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Today's things: Nuclear standoff; militia murders; bombing the s*#! out of Yemen; Beijing building in
 
February 6 · Issue #28 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: Nuclear standoff; militia murders; bombing the s*#! out of Yemen; Beijing building in Wakhan.

Trump and Putin gearing up for game of nuclear chicken
Ever wonder what Trump thinks about when he thinks about Vladimir Putin? Does he ever see a shirt and think, “I know he’d never wear it, but it would look good on him.” Or when Trump thinks about the Mueller investigation, does he get angry, thinking about how that whole mess makes it impossible for Trump to even mention his shirtless BFF during the State of the Union? 
Or when he’s touring a nuclear facility, does he think, “I wish my missile was a big as his”? Because as a new nuclear treaty goes into effect, the Russians are modernizing their nuclear arsenal, starting a race Trump can’t lose.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has accelerated a dangerous game that the United States must match, even if the price tag soars above $1.2 trillion. That is the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, one that many experts think is low by a half-trillion dollars.
Real quick: How are you off by $500,000,000,000 dollars? Yeah. I wrote it out because those kinds of figures lose me. 
Both sides are trying to get better at nuclear chicken without violating terms of the treaty. Key to the new US nuclear strategy? So-called “low yield” nukes. I say “so-called,” because while they won’t obliterate swathes of countries, they’re still…nukes.
And it’s these smaller nukes that have some analysts worried. 
That a man who regularly uses his smaller-than-average thumbs to send the US careening down another dark alley of policy dumpster fires might be OK with using those same thumbs to drop a nuke. 
Just a small one. But still the best most stable nuke, like, you’ve ever seen.
Ain't no terrorist like a homegrown terrorist Ain't no terrorist like a homegrown terrorist
Putting this one here with a picture because militia groups like this are terrifying in how widespread they are becoming. Even though the issue here isn’t one of racial motivation, only anti-government sentiment, the concern still stands. The most violent terrorists in America today are homegrown.
And this quasi-human is colder than others. 
According to court documents, Aguigui used his wife’s $100,000 death gratuity and $400,000 Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance checks to recruit and arm his militia, Forever Enduring, Always Ready — or FEAR.
The group of disaffected service members had come together to plan the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, starting with attacks like poisoning Washington state’s apple crops and bombing a public park in Savannah, Georgia, the Associated Press reported in 2013.
Killing your wife, then using the money you received from her death to fund a militia group is just straight cold blooded.
Some crack Army investigating meant it took months for them to figure out that Aguigi had killed his wife. 
The families of his victims have just been awarded $4m, but the case had been thrown out of court before. The argument? What’s known as the Feres doctrine, a Supreme Court ruling that the US government can’t be sued for civil damages because something bad happened to a service member while on active duty, not on furlough. 
Fortunately another court saw differently, and the case proceeded.
That has nothing to do with militias.
It’s time we stopped trying to build a wall, and time to start countering homegrown extremists like this. Because the kid waving a tiki torch today is telling all of us he’s willing to take it further tomorrow. 
U.S. dropping 6 times more bombs on Yemen
The people of Yemen would like to thank President Trump for his gift of 600% more explosives in 2017 than in 2016.
Soon after the Trump administration took office, it declared parts of Yemen as well as neighboring Somalia to be “areas of active hostilities,” giving the U.S. military more leeway to target terrorists from the air and on the ground without White House approval.
“Areas of active hostilities” - as a former teacher, let me tell you: I’ve seen some playgrounds that could be classified that way. 6th graders are mean.
We’re all focused on Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Meanwhile Yemen’s getting the crap blown out of it by American airstrikes. Countering various factions of Al Qaeda. 
We can’t bomb our way to peace. 
We need to stop trying.
DLA turns over couch cushions in search for $800m
The article calls DLA the military’s Walmart. I’m guessing Walmart keeps better books. 
In one part of the audit, completed in mid-December, Ernst & Young found that misstatements in the agency’s books totaled at least $465 million for construction projects it financed for the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies. For construction projects designated as still “in progress,” meanwhile, it didn’t have sufficient documentation — or any documentation at all — for another $384 million worth of spending.
How do you lose track of several hundred million dollars? That’s not malfeasance, it’s just gross carelessness. Can we shoot someone for carelessness?
It’s numbers like this that make it hard to sympathize when the Pentagon complains its budgets aren’t big enough. Because bigger budgets lead to bigger errors. I don’t even have anything that snarky to throw in here, because the sheer magnitude of the incompetence has me speechless.
China may be moving into the neighborhood
In a place called the Wakhan Corridor, where the people are effectively cut off from the rest of Afghanistan, the Chinese seem to be interested in maybe building a military base there. And the people that live there are at least kinda cool with the Chinese so far. 
With little access to the corridor, Kabul provides almost no services to those who live there – but the Chinese, Boi said, have been bringing “a lot of food and warm clothes”.
“They are very good people, very kind,” he told AFP.
Chinese officials have only gone on record as saying that they’re interested in building Afghan capacity. Maybe that capacity’s for building military bases. Not clear.
Afghan officials insist the plan is going forward. This would have no impact on the security situation there. It’s barely part of the rest of the country. What it would impact is Chinese aims in the region.
Which aims are broad and long-term. And this is just one of many steps Beijing is taking to increase its influence across that part of Asia.
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