Archive for the ‘GLOBAL CIVIL WAR’ Category

PENTAGON: NEW REVIEW OF US NUCLEAR POSTURE

April 27, 2017

Fox News on April 17, 2017, reported that the United States will begin a new review of its nuclear posture. Excerpts below:

Pentagon chief spokesperson Dana W. White said in a statement that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will ensure the U.S. military’s nuclear force is “safe, secure, effective, reliable and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies.”

The U.S. military has roughly 450 long-range nuclear missiles in underground silos at various bases in the Midwest. It also maintains a fleet of ballistic missile submarines as well as long range B-2 and B-52 bombers also capable of launching nuclear weapons. Smaller nuclear weapons can be carried by U.S. Air Force fighter jets.

According to the latest Pentagon statement, “Secretary Mattis directed the commencement of the review, which will be led by the deputy secretary of defense and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and include interagency partners. The process will culminate in a final report to the president by the end of the year.”

[The statement comes after] the latest failed North Korean. On [April 17] he visited the Demilitarized Zone on the border between North and South and warned the rogue communist regime against conducting further tests.

“There was a period of strategic patience. But the era of strategic patience is over. President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out, and we want to see change,” Pence said.

THE RISE OF GERMANY 1871 – 1914 – A VIEW FROM CHINA

April 18, 2017

Washington Times on April 9, 2017, published a review by Martin Rubin of a book by the deputy director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at Beijing’s National Defense University, Xu Qiyu on the rise of Germany from the uniting of the German states to the World War I (”Fragile Rise: Grand Strategy and the Fate of Imperial Germany, 1871 – 1914”, The MIT Press, 341 pages). At this point it is of interest that there is interest in Beijing in this fateful European development leading to world war. Excerpts below:

Inevitably, though, given the current geopolitical scene and the common feeling about the threat posed by China’s extraordinary rise to the future of the United States as the world’s dominant superpower, its discussion of Germany’s challenge to the Pax Britannica, which had held sway for a century, will be read as a kind of allegory of today’s situation.

Lest anyone miss this in Xu’s own text — and despite his suppleness as a writer few American readers will do so — the foreword by Graham Allison, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, makes it plain:

“Although Xu refrains from stating them explicitly, ‘Fragile Rise’ holds a number of important lessons for the rise of China in our own time. China’s rapidly growing economic and military power will inevitably create structural stress between China and the United States Whatever the intentions of leaders of both nations, they will have to recognize and manage the risks that inevitably accompany changes in the international balance of power.

‘Fragile Rise’ provides an important clue for Chinese leaders hoping to negotiate the structural stress created by their country’s ascendance.”

…the book’s translator, Joshua Hill, an assistant professor of history at Ohio University, lays it on…plainly:

“Make no mistake — ‘Fragile Rise’ is profoundly about contemporary. China As Xu Qiyu wrote on the original cover ‘When it is difficult to see clearly into the future, looking back to history, even the history of other peoples, might be the right choice.’

The reference to Bismarck is telling, for I think it is fair to say that if “Fragile Rise” has a hero it is Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who created the German Empire and whose wise leadership and diplomatic skills took it from strength to strength under its first Emperor Wilhelm I for nearly two decades.

China with its rigid party structure shares the authoritarianism which may well have — and had — inherent seeds of catastrophic choices.

There are at least as many differences and similarities between the past and present challenges to the prevailing ones. As we see in the sad end of “Fragile Rise,” the complex intertwined familial connections between the rulers of the monarchies that went to war in 1914 counted for little when push came to strategic shove. Common adversaries and different sorts of links between the United States and China may well prove to be similarly irrelevant.

Martin Rubin is a writer and critic in Pasadena, California.

Comment: The U.S. relationship with China was during the Cold War influenced by geostrategic interests. President Ronald Reagan once stated that the Red Chinese were a bunch of murdering bums. But there was a big chess game going on.

Since the fall of the Soviet empire interests have almost become altogether commercial.

National security interests have not counted for much during Democratic administrations post-1991. There have been some efforts by America to focus more on the rise of China but greater efforts are needed. One can only hope that the present U.S. administration is learning from history. It is not only the experience of the past rise of Germany (once predicted by American geopolitician Homer Lea). The rise of Japan was to a great extent neglected by the United States. Homer Lea also brought up the Japanese threat. His book on the subject was ignored. The Pearl Harbor happened.

The blind financing of China in the hope that this communist regime will voluntarily give up power can one day come back to haunt the United States and the rest of the West.

EMPIRE FOR LIBERTY – PURCHASING ALASKA 150 YEARS AGO

April 2, 2017

”We should have such an Empire for Liberty as [the world] has never surveyed since the Creation…” wrote Thomas Jefferson to James Madison on April 27, 1809. After the defeat of Soviet communism in 1991 the United States has been an unchallenged hegemon in the world. Now it is challenged by three empires on the World Island: China, Russia and Iran/Persia. As America is promoting liberty it must not sacrifice the liberties it has at home. To continue to function as the strong defender of the West America must also heed the warnings of Jefferson. It must not be entangled in a profusion of treaties and institutions that will serve only to hinder it from defending its moral and national security interests. That is why the Iran deal of Obama was wrong and could only strengthen Iran to continue its attacks on the United States (and Israel).

The purchase of Alaska in 1867 (celebrated in 2017) marked the end of Russian efforts to increase its imperial and colonial expansion to the East. For America it was the beginning of its rise in the Asia-Pacific. In 1725 Peter I sent the Dane Vitus Bering to explore the area around the strait that would later be named the Bering Strait. America had expanded over the continent to the west during the first half of the 19th century. It then had to compete with Russian traders. Fortunately the Russian empire lacked the financial resources to establish a heavy military presence in what was called Russian America.

Russia therefore in 1859 wanted to sell Alaska to the United States in 1859 but the American Civil War delayed the sale. It was not until after the war that Secretary of State William Seward agreed on March 30, 1867, to purchase Alaska for $7.2 million. The Senate approved the treaty of purchase and President Andrew Johnson signed the treaty on May 28.

It was however not until October 18, 1867 that United States formally took posession of the new territory in a ceremony in Sitka, Alaska. In 1884 a civil government was constituted. It was not until 1896 that a major gold deposit was discovered in the Yukon and made Alaska into a gateway to the goldfields.

The strategic importance of Alaska was discovered during World War II and the Cold War. In 1959 the territory joined the United States as a state.

This contribution will be followed by a sketch of the influence of admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan and his classical geopolitical works on the policy of the United States after 1890 to secure the Empire For Liberty of Jefferson.

VARFÖR UTEBLEV UPPGÖRELSEN MED KOMMUNISMEN I SVERIGE EFTER BERLINMURENS FALL?

March 30, 2017

I mars 2017 publicerades en betydelsefull svensk akademisk avhandling : ”Det omstridda arvet – Den kommunistiska erfarenheten i dansk och svensk historiekultur” av Valter Lundell (Lunds universitet). Författaren tar där bland annat upp en väsentlig fråga, nämligen den socialdemokratiska åsiktselitens och vänstermedias framgångsrika försvar för kommunismen. I svensk historiekultur har nazism och kommunism helt olika ställning. Sverige har inte med någon större entusiasm stött EU:s beslut att göra dagen för undertecknande av Molotov-Ribbentrop-pakten till minnesdag för kommunismens och nazismens offer. Nedan några utdrag ur Lundells avhandling:

Det [fanns] en idé [om kommunismen] inom socialdemokratin och den påverkade den riktning svensk utrikespolitik fick under kalla kriget. När det året efter inrättandet av Levande historia och lanserandet av upplysningskampanjen om förintelsen av moderaterna föreslogs en motsvarande kampanj om kommunismen, tillbakavisades en sådan av den socialdemokratiska vice statsministern Lena Hjelm-Wallén. Hon tog i en intervju något senare vidare avstånd från en jämförelse mellan nazism och kommunism med motiveringen att det bakom kommunismens offer inte låg någon intention. [Detta] uttalande kan tolkas som en uppfattning om sovjetterrorn som något mindre ont än vad som hände under nazismen, eftersom denna terror ses som ”en oavsiktlig följd av en i grunden god kommunistisk idé”.

Kristian Gerner har skrivit om denna …idés avgörande påverkan på svensk socialdemokrati, vilket han menar ledde till vanföreställningar om Sovjetunionen och andra kommunistiska stater och hade långtgående konsekvenser för svensk utrikespolitik under kalla kriget. Kim Salomon tar också fasta på denna idés räckvidd, då han i en text om den kommunistiska utopin och med referenser till debatten i Danmark och Sverige hävdar att det finns en allmän uppfattning om kommunismens goda intentioner, ”forankret i et liberalt og socialdemokratisk establishment”. Om kommunismen är en god idé, finns det rimligtvis inga kommunistiska förövare och heller ingen anledning att reflektera över skuld och uppgörelse. Inte minst har denna inställning varit förhärskande hos kommunisterna.

En … anledning till en bristande uppgörelse skulle [också]kunna vara att bärande delar i det moderna projektet i Sverige, i det svenska välfärdssystemet eller i det som med en samlingsbeteckning brukar kallas den svenska modellen eller folkhemmet, helt enkelt hör till samma föreställningssfär som kommunismen. Det har handlat om en upplysningsbaserad övertygelse att med rationella, vetenskapliga metoder uppifrån styra samhällsutvecklingen genom högt skattetryck för att kunna fördela resurserna och på så sätt garantera medborgarna frihet, jämlikhet och trygghet. Många av 1990-talets debatter associerade förvisso denna rationella välfärdsstats verkliga eller påstådda skuggsidor med idéer ur den nazistiska föreställningsvärlden, men då var det samtidigt tydligt att det handlade om vad som uppfattades som det potentiellt onda i folkhemmet. Mycket av det som förknippas med folkhemmet betraktas nog ändå som något gott, såsom välfärd och jämlikhet. Om kommunismen nu betraktas som en god idé just på grund av det som gör att folkhemmet betraktas som gott, skulle det kunna förklara motståndet mot en grundlig uppgörelse med kommunismen; det skulle nämligen innebära en omprövning av grundvalarna för det egna samhället.

En [annan] anledning till utebliven uppgörelse [med kommunismen] skulle kunna vara det svenska utanförskapet, att Sverige som alliansfritt och neutralt land stod utanför 1900-talets krig och massvåld. Det förklarar emellertid inte varför Sverige skulle ta på sig så stor skuld för nazismen och förintelsen…Kristian Gerner har för kommunismens vidkommande lyft fram några sådana konsekvenser, då han bland annat har pekat på hur den inflytelserika socialdemokratiska omvärldsanalysen förmedlade en skev och idylliserande bild av sovjetkommunismen, vilket både påverkade många svenskars uppfattning om kommunismen och ledde till att de förtryckta människor i sovjetblocket som kämpade för bättre villkor fick mindre stöd. Aryo Makko har visat att Sverige, trots sitt rykte som stormaktskritiker och förkämpe för utsatta folks rättigheter, verkade passivt i frågan om mänskliga rättigheter i östblocket under den europeiska säkerhetskonferensen (ESK) 1973–75, vilken resulterade i Helsingforsdeklarationen, som har förts fram som en viktig orsak till kommunismens och Sovjetimperiets sammanbrott. Anledningen till oviljan att driva frågan om rättigheter för människor i öst ska ha varit att man inte ville ”pressa Sovjet för mycket kring dessa frågor”…Det går alltså att peka på att högt uppsatta politiker liksom diverse inflytelserika opinionsbildare, även utanför kommunisternas krets, på olika sätt legitimerade de kommunistiska diktaturerna i öst. Att kommunisterna i Sverige legitimerade regimerna är kanske inte så förvånande, inte heller att det främst är mot dessa som krav har riktats på uppgörelse. Kommunisterna har haft säte i svenska riksdagen och kunnat påverka uppfattningen om de kommunistiska regimerna.

DEN SVENSKA KYRKAN SOM VÄNSTERPROJEKT

March 27, 2017

Ann Heberlein recenserade nyligen på internet idéhistorikern Johan Sundeens bok ”68-kyrkan : svensk kristen vänsters möten med marxismen 1965-1989” (2017). Hon tycker att boken borde vara obligatorisk läsning för alla som undrar över varför det går utför för Svenska kyrkan. De borde också läsa Bernard Smiths ”Lögnens evangelium – Kyrkornas världsråd och politiken” (Pro Veritate, Uppsala, 1979). Världsrådet roll är viktig i förvandlingen av den före detta statskyrkan i Sverige från en lutheranismens fasta klippa till i det närmaste representant för den ateistiska, antikristliga världskommunismen (från 1960-talet till 1989). Under 68-vänsterns härjningar i vårt land inleddes ”den långa marschen” mot makten över Svenska kyrkan. Nedan några citat ur Heberleins recension:

Kanske ser vi konsekvensen av den långa marschen allra tydligast inom just Svenska Kyrkan? Den politisering som präglar svenska kyrkan och tar sig uttryck i politiska utspel från biskopar och ärkebiskop, återkommande upprop i politiska frågor samt märkliga interreligiösa samarbeten saknar motstycke. Dock har resultatet sannolikt inte blivit det förväntade – antalet medlemmar som lämnar kyrkan var av historiska siffror 2016 och fortsätter i oförminskad takt.

Efter murens fall och massakern på Himmelska Fridens torg rannsakade en del av den kristna 68-vänstern tidigare ställningstaganden – men tillräckligt många valde att fortsätta att tro på att Marx var svaret på alla böner.

Per Frostin, [professor i Lund och övertygad marxist], beskrivs av Sundeen som en av de mest tongivande teologerna/aktivisterna i Svenska kyrkan, jämte Martin Lind, KG Hammar och Carl-Henrik Grenholm. De började som ”gerillapräster” och nådde ända fram till professorsstolar – Grenholm i Uppsala och Frostin i Lund – och biskopsstolar. Både Lind och Grenholm uppger att Världskyrkomötet i Uppsala var avgörande för deras framtida gärning i kyrka och akademi…68-kyrkans avantgarde trodde inte bara på kristendomen, utan på marxismen, skriver Sundeen. Av detta följde ett engagemang för proletariatet, stöd till revolutionära gerillatrupper och uppslutning bakom marxist-leninistiska stater i tredje världen. De drog sig alltså inte för att stötta och därmed skänka legitimitet åt totalitära samhällsprojekt.

TYSKA SPD OCH BLOCKET PARIS-BERLIN-MOSKVA

March 24, 2017

Tyskland drabbades på slutet av 1990-talet av en socialdemokratisk kansler vid namn Gerhard Schröder. Denne försökte bygga upp en slags motvikt mot Förenta Staterna. Med Frankrike inom EU ville han skapa ett politiskt block som samarbete med Ryssland. När Putin fyllde 70 år (2014) var Schröder i Moskva. Det var då omfamningar i rysk stil mellan kanslern och ledaren i Kreml. Den förre kanslern betraktar den ryske självhärskaren som ”en fullblodsdemokrat”.

År 2014 var den pensionerade tyske kanslern styrelseordförande i gasbolaget Nord Stream, som kontrolleras av ryska Gasprom. Arvodet lär då ha varit 250 000 euro. Det ryska gasledningsprojektet i Östersjön berör i högsta grad Sverige och Finland.

Efter den ryska ockupationen av Krim och angreppet på östra Ukraina finns det anledning att inför det tyska valet 2017 varna för SPD:s utrikespolitiska arv: vänskapen med Putins regim.

Det finns inom EU en rad krafter som ser ner på Ukraina som självständig stat. En sådan åsikt ligger nära den ryska uppfattningen om Ukraina som en del av Ryssland. I ett kraftigt försvagat EU med ökande kritik från en rad medlemmar i unionen är det betydelsefullt med fortsatt borgerligt styre i Berlin. Drömmen om EU med Ryssland som partner mot USA har kraschat. Idag utgör Ryssland, Kina och Iran/Persien allvarliga hot mot Väst. Mer än någonsin behövs nu ett nära samarbete över Atlanten. Brexit gör det troligt att Storbritannien i allt större utsträckning närmar sig USA.

Den nuvarande ryska geopolitiska doktrinen går ut på att återställa det ryska inflytandet i Europa samtidigt som man i Kreml söker ett närmare samarbete med Kina och Iran. Man bör i de europeiska huvudstäderna betänka Putins varning från 2005: ”Sovjetunionens sönderfall är 1900-talets största geopolitiska katastrof”.

Den amerikanske klassiske geopolitikern och Yaleprofessorn Nicholas Spykman varnade för koalitioner på världsön (Europa och Asien) som kunde utmana västligt inflytande. Särskilt viktigt var det att Väst engagerade sig inom randområdet. Både Kina och Mellanöstern med Iran ligger i randområdet runt världsön. Den ökande ryska aktiviteten i randområdesstaten Syrien är ett tecken på att Ryssland nu öppet börjar utmana Väst i det betydelsefulla område som sträcker sig från Sverige i norra Europa via Mellanöstern, Indien, Sydöstasien till Kina/Nordkorea.

Den ryska strävan till ökat inflytande på världsön har nyligen (2016) behandlats i boken ”The Russian Project of Eurasian Integration: Geopolitical Prospects” av Nataliya A. Vasileyeva and Maria L. Lagutina (Lexington Books). I boken presenteras bland annat Moskvas syn på en euroasiatisk ekonomisk union som en del av rysk politik i vad den klassiske brittiske politikern Halford Mackinder på 1900-talet betecknade som hjärtlandet. Boken förtjänar att uppmärksammas i Sverige, som har ett utsatt geopolitiskt läge när Ryssland nu söker återuppbygga sitt imperium i Europa.

REAGAN’S STRATEGIC DEFENSE INITIATIVE – 34 YEARS LATER A REALITY

March 22, 2017

Washington Times on March 20, 2017 published a commentary by Ed Feulner on President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. Reagan had in March 1983 said it was an initiative that would change history. So it has, argues Mr. Feulner. Excerpts below:

His speech [on March 23, 1983] introduced Americans and the world to SDI, a comprehensive, layered ballistic missile-defense program designed to protect the United States and its allies from a threat that had bedeviled it for more than 20 years. It marked a true turning point in our adversarial relationship with the Soviet Union.

The Heritage Foundation was privileged to lay the visionary groundwork that led to Reagan’s historic announcement. The year before the president’s SDI address, the Foundation published its first missile-defense study, “High Frontier: A New National Strategy.” The study proposed a comprehensive system, including laser weapons capable of intercepting Soviet missiles as they were launched or while they traveled in space toward the United States.

At that point, most of the country’s policymaking elite considered Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD, appropriately enough) an acceptable policy to deter the Soviet Union.

Most policymakers believed MAD was enough to ensure the Soviet Union would never attack, and that any missile defenses could upset the delicate balance of assured destruction.

President Reagan was skeptical of the MAD doctrine.

Adversaries and potential adversaries have chosen to exploit U.S. vulnerability and invested heavily in ballistic missiles, as well as programs researching and developing lethal payloads for them. As Heritage has continued to emphasize, the threat from ballistic missiles is only 33 minutes away.

Building on President Reagan’s legacy, the United States slowly woke to the ballistic-missile threat, withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that prohibited missile-defense deployments in 2002, and started an initial missile-defense program designed to protect the country, forward-deployed troops and allies from primarily Iranian and North Korean ballistic missiles.

…a lot more work remains to be done, especially since the program was hampered at times by the Obama administration. The new administration must invest in space-based missile-defense interceptors, as envisioned under SDI. We must develop and deploy directed-energy weapons, building on the research and development legacy of the SDI program.

Thirty-four years ago, Ronald Reagan described a visionary goal to help secure our country. Now we must build on his vision…

Ed Feulner is founder of the Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).

SECURITY ADVISER FLYNN SAYS IRAN IS ON NOTICE

February 2, 2017

Fox News on Februari 1, 2017, reported that US National Security Adviser Mike Flynn said the Trump administration is putting Iran “on notice” after it tested a ballistic missile and Tehran-backed militants attacked a Saudi naval vessel. Excerpts below:

The implications of the warning are unclear, but Flynn pointedly criticized the Obama administration for failing “to respond adequately” to Iran’s provocative behavior.

“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn said, speaking to reporters in the White House briefing and also issuing a written statement.

At a press briefing later on Februari 1 a senior administration official declined to elaborate on how Iran would be held accountable, saying, “there are a large range of options available to the administration, from financial and economic…to pursuing other options related to support for those that are challenging and opposing Iranian malign activity in the region.”

Asked if that would include a military option, the official replied, “we are considering a whole range of options. We’re in a deliberative process.”

Flynn blasted Iran’s “destabilizing behavior,” saying the recent missile launch defied a U.N. Security Council resolution.

“The Obama Administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions—including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms,” Flynn said. “The Trump Administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and … place American lives at risk.”

A defense official said this week that the missile test ended with a “failed” re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

The attack on a Saudi vessel, meanwhile, was carried out by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.

Two Saudi sailors were killed and three were wounded. Fox News reported earlier this week that, according to two defense officials, the attack may have been meant for an American warship.

In audio heard on a video of the attack, a voice narrating the attack shouts in Arabic, “Allahu akbar [God is great], death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory for Islam.

Comment: US allies in the area have with growing concern noted the lack of American response to Iranian subversive activities. The reaction in Israel is naturally one of relief. The growing influence of Iran in the Middle East threatens not only the Jewish state.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SHOULD WORK WITH IRAN OPPOSITION

January 16, 2017

Fox News on January 15, 2017 reported that former top U.S. government officials have urged President-elect Donald Trump to work with Iran’s opposition once in office. A letter signed by 23 former officeholders calls on Trump to consult with the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The group has called for free elections and freedom of religion in Iran, as well as an end to what it calls Tehran’s “religious dictatorship.” Excerpts below:

…the NCRI’s network of supporters in Iran helped the U.S. with intelligence during the Iraq invasion. The group also helped expose Iran’s nascent nuclear weapons program.

“Iran’s rulers have directly targeted US strategic interests, policies and principles, and those of our allies and friends in the Middle East,” the letter reads, in part. “To restore American influence and credibility in the world, the United States needs a revised policy.”

Last month, Fox obtained a letter to Trump from a group of Iranian dissidents that urged the president-elect to follow through on his campaign promise to revisit the nuclear deal between Iran and six global powers, including the U.S.

Comment: There is a real threat of Iran to Western interests. Persian nationalists want to create a Greater Iran while building up the military strength of the new empire. Also they are forming a front with the Syrian regime together with Lebanese as well as Sudanese terrorists. To the east Iran seeks to merge Middle East and South Asian conflicts and wants to undermine and bring down Turkey.

US DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE GEN. JAMES MATTIS WARNS OF HISTORIC THREAT TO THE WEST

January 13, 2017

Fox News on January 12, 2017, reported that Defense secretary nominee Gen. James Mattis issued a grave warning at his Senate confirmation hearing, saying the established world order is under its “biggest attack” since World War II as he called for boosting military readiness and America’s alliances. Excerpts below:

Citing Russia’s aggressions and other concerns, he said: “I think [the world order is] under the biggest attack since World War II … from Russia, from terrorist groups and with what China is doing in the South China Sea.”
To address this, Mattis testified, “deterrence is critical.”

His assessment came as he called for strengthening “military readiness”…He said U.S. forces must be the “best led, best equipped and most lethal in the world.”
“If you confirm me, my watchwords will be solvency and security in providing for the protection of our people and the survival of our freedoms,” he said.

The question of budget restraints at the Pentagon is a critical one for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Senator McCain warned at Thursday’s hearing that the military can’t proceed with “business as usual” as he ripped “arbitrary” congressional caps on spending.

Mattis’ testimony falls amid a packed week of confirmation hearings for top Trump Cabinet nominees, including Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Rex Tillerson for secretary of state.

In prepared remarks for the hearing, Mattis expressed unqualified support for traditional U.S. international alliances.

Mattis is a former leader of NATO’s transformation command, in charge of efforts to adapt the alliance’s structure and capabilities to 21st century threats.
In his testimony, he spoke about the importance of the alliance, calling for the U.S. to maintain “the strongest possible relationship with NATO.”

On the Iran nuclear deal, Mattis said he would not have personally signed the pact, but said that when America gives its word, we have to “live up to it.”

Mattis, 66, is one of three recently retired senior generals selected by Trump for top jobs in his administration.

After retiring, Mattis joined the Hoover Institution, a conservative-leaning think tank. He also is a member of the board of directors of General Dynamics, the big defense contractor.

He has remained outspoken in his concerns about Iran. In remarks last April at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mattis called Iran “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.”

Mattis is best known as a battle-hardened combat officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he also has worked behind the scenes with senior civilian officials at the Pentagon.

Comment: Gen. Mattis will most likely be confirmed by the Senate. It is of great importance for the West as a whole that the United States will have an experienced military leader as Secretary of Defense. Mattis made clear during the Senate hearings that he regards Russia, China, and Iran along with terrorist groups to be greatest present challenges to the West. The passed 8 years have weakened the position of the United States in the world. Increased military spending is of great importance. European NATO member countries need to spend at least 2 percent of GNP on defense during the coming years. The strategically important non-aligned Sweden with defense spending of 1 percent of GNP (lowest spending in Europe) endangers NATO’s Baltic Sea area security. The present government in Stockholm refuses to increase defense spending.