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5 NatSec Things - 14 Feb 2018

Since it's Valentine's Day, today's things are all about love: love lost, love scorned, and the kind
February 14 · Issue #32 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, today’s things are all about love: love lost, love scorned, and the kind of love you have for someone that just gave you the biggest defense budget in history. 
Such on that, Russell Stover. 
For those of you with a soul, Russell Stover is a chocolate candy company. An awful, terrible, no good candy company. 
On to the things.

Mattis: No, the Koreas aren't going to kick the US out of the house
If there’s a nightmare for the xenophobes, it’s a love fest between Pyonyang and Seoul. Because then Koreans are doing it for themselves. And another bunch of Asians may not need the Noble Order of Western Defense Contractors as much as they once did. 
That’s what this question is about: keeping defense contractors awake, particularly now that Seoul is helping fix that trade deficit by buying more American military equipment. After all, nothing says “Be Mine,” like millions of dollars of things that kill people dead. 
A united Korea could be the best thing for the world at large, at least in the near term. In theory the two governments working together could mean that everyone eases back from taking that lover’s leap into a full out nuclear war. Longer term, questions still loom. 
If I was smarter on Korea, here’s where I’d put all those questions. 
Since I’m not, let’s wrap up this little Valentine by saying that concerns about a unified Korea feels terribly Orientalist. Like in the awful people way, not in the rugs and furniture way. 
Nothing says "Be Mine," like $700 billion
So the Pentagon just got the best/worst Valentine’s Day gift ever: the biggest budget in history. It’s still far below WWII spending in terms of percentage of overall GDP. But $700 billion is a fuck ton of chocolates.
You’ve seen me muttering about smaller budgets and austerity measures here before. Looks like that’s all gone. If it even existed in the first place.
For the big brains and bigger lobbyists in the defense industry, more is always better. And anything less than more is cause for alarm. So of course any decrease, even if it means a net increase, terrify everyone.
This means the Defense Department can do everything Secretary Mattis wants it to do and more. Which is probably important, given that the military is gearing up toward big power confrontation instead of just focusing on countering terror.
Pilots to Air Force: We should break up
A lot of Air Force pilots want to break up with the service. And trade in those godawful blue uniforms for something spiffy while they drive a commercial airplane for a living. 
Which is kinda like trading in the younger girlfriend/boyfriend for an older model, but one that won’t make you take icky desk jobs.
I’m not sure how I feel about this particular analogy.
Part of being an officer in the air force means that you end up spending time doing non-flying things. Which pilots don’t like to do. Plus they don’t make as much money in the air force as they do for the airlines. So they leave. 
The pilot shortage is going to be more of a problem if the current budget means more aircraft could be available for said pilots to drive. Assuming, of course, they haven’t all left for that more stable model. So the USAF is having to get creative.
One way to fix pilot flight would be for the airlines to raise the age for mandatory retirement. That could help keep pilots in Air Force seats longer. Or to open actual flying billets to non-officer types, like they’ve done with drones.
Duterte/Trump bromance still going strong
One of the messier bromances in international politics is the one between Duterte and Trump. There’s nothing positive about a repressive temperamental tyrant and the guy who runs the Philippines getting together to work out their feels. 
Less bromance-y? Duterte and Trudeau.
Because Ottawa wants reassurances that Duterte’s not going to use the choppers they want to sell him to get all repressive on the people. Which the man’s doing quite well in the name of countering terrorism. 
So he’s thinking about pulling the whole deal, and canceling an order for US weapons for the same reason: lots of conditions. 
As hypocritical as it sounds for the Americans to put conditions on what a sovereign nation does with the guns it sells them, DC still has concerns.
Duterte’s gonna Duterte, and that probably means a continued war on drugs that seems to be targeting the shit out of the worst off in the country. Since it’s easier to gun down low level dealers than deal with someone further up the food chain who might have some real power in the country.
Chinese cops are watching you...through sunglasses
The love Chinese cops has for catching perps shines so bright, they have to wear shades. 
I’m sorry, I ran out of ideas on this one.
But the Chinese do love them some surveillance state, and sunglasses that through facial recognition software can tell cops whether someone in the crowd is a wanted fugitive? Right up Beijing’s alley. 
I want to get fired up about someone’s privacy being invaded, and this could certainly be adapted for less good reasons. But a tool that makes it possible for cops to get eyes (and handcuffs) on actual bad guys faster seems like a not terrible idea. 
In theory, too, the application could make apprehension safer for all concerned, since it cuts down on running people down. Instead as a cop you’re just walking right up to whoever you’re looking for. 
Still, this kind of integrated tech terrifies me a little.
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