Gen. Vallely: Russia ‘Posturing’ on Syria Retaliation Threat

 

Gen. Vallely: Russia ‘Posturing’ on Syria Retaliation Threat

Newsmax TV’s “America Talks Live”

By Bill Hoffmann   

Russia’s sword-rattling at the United States following last week’s cruise-missile strike in Syria is likely a “posturing” gesture and not a true threat, retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely told Newsmax TV.

“It’s just the weight of Russia trying to trumpet some type of reaction to the hits on the Syrian airfield,” Vallely told host Bill Tucker on Monday’s “America Talks Live.”

“But it’s been very well supported, I think, even Saudi Arabia and many of the Arab countries said it’s the right thing to do.”

A joint command center made up of the forces of Russia, Iran, and militias supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the U.S. strike crossed “red lines,” and it would respond to any new aggression and increase its support for its ally.

 

The U.S. fired dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian air base Friday from which it said a deadly chemical weapons attack had been launched earlier in the week.

Vallely said Syria’s use of deadly chemicals is nothing new.

“The 2013 sarin gas attack [killed] all these innocent civilians and children and so on,” he told Tucker. “But nobody would take any action at that time, so I’m glad Trump has finally done it.

“I think they’re planning a Phase II right now because all the aircraft were not taken out . . . Russia’s just posturing now. I think Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson going to Moscow this week … [is a] mission to set up a summit between Trump and [Russia President Vladimir] Putin.

“The key is as we’ve told the Russians – and it’s very true – Assad has got to retire,” Vallely said.

 

Watch interview here

 

 

PAUL VALLELY ON DONALD TRUMP AND THE EXPECTED US MIDDLE EAST POLICY

Retired US Army Major General Paul Vallely, Chairman of Stand Up America Foundation, talks about the evolution of US President Donald Trump from businessman to President and the new role of the United States as it disengages from its previous interventionist role in the Middle East.


 

 

According to Vallely, it will take time for the United States to develop a new comprehensive strategy, in which issues in East Asia and illegal immigration over the Mexican border will play a greater role than the Middle East. He also noted that differences between Russia and the United States regarding Iran are possible to resolve over time.

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Gen. Vallely: Trump-Putin Meeting Could Happen This Summer

Gen. Vallely: Trump-Putin Meeting Could Happen This Summer

 

 

 

(Election Central With Rita Cosby)

By Cathy Burke   |   Monday, 13 Mar 2017 10:16 PM

A meeting between President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin could occur this July — and rival the 1986 summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that ended the Cold War, retired Army Major Gen. Paul Vallely predicts.

In an interview on “Election Central with Rita Cosby,” on WABC Radio, Vallely, in Moscow on March 1 at the Valdai Discussion Club Conference, said he believes the meeting might take place before the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

“When I was in Moscow, one of the messages that I did receive that I can tell you [is] that President Putin understands from his standpoint what’s going on in the United States, and that Trump should be very patient, and that Putin is willing to meet with Trump at some point in time, because… we’re not going to solve the situation in Syria, the Middle East, without working with Turkey and with Russia,” he told Cosby.

The message, he said, was relayed to him through an unofficial channel — a British spy Vallely knows.

“The message is, basically, Putin understands these deceptive things that are going on in the political environment in the United States, and that he’ll be very patient from the standpoint of waiting, and if Trump decides, or wants to, he’ll be willing to meet with him,” Vallely said.

He added that the message suggested “maybe we can do a thing in Reykjavik, Iceland again, as Gorbachev and Reagan had to do when we saw the [Berlin] wall come down after that.”

“So, it’s more positive and I think President Trump understands that it’s more positive to meet with Putin and talk about the issues at hand, rather than trying to be adversarial,” Vallely said.

He said the Trump administration hasn’t responded yet.

“I think they’ve got other things on their plate right now,” he said. “But they know, and it’s something that can occur…. I’d say 90 days, maybe 120. I mean, I don’t know for sure, that’s up to the White House… but… it would be before the G20 conference in July.”

Vallely also revealed the Russians “like” Donald Trump.

“They see America finally with somebody with common sense that they can reason with,” Vallely said, adding that when the Russians “tried to reach back through a number of people to the Obama administration… the Obama administration would not reach back to the Russians at all.”

“And so we’re getting a Reagan-esqe type of approach now with Trump, who takes politics out of it and looks how to solve the problems, and you can only do that when you can make a deal with these people, and that’s what you have to do, bilateral deals.”

“So, it’s more positive and I think President Trump understands that it’s more positive to meet with Putin and talk about the issues at hand, rather than trying to be adversarial,” Vallely said.

He said the Trump administration hasn’t responded yet.

“I think they’ve got other things on their plate right now,” he said. “But they know, and it’s something that can occur…. I’d say 90 days, maybe 120. I mean, I don’t know for sure, that’s up to the White House… but… it would be before the G20 conference in July.”

Vallely also revealed the Russians “like” Donald Trump.

“They see America finally with somebody with common sense that they can reason with,” Vallely said, adding that when the Russians “tried to reach back through a number of people to the Obama administration… the Obama administration would not reach back to the Russians at all.”

“And so we’re getting a Reagan-esque type of approach now with Trump, who takes politics out of it and looks how to solve the problems, and you can only do that when you can make a deal with these people, and that’s what you have to do, bilateral deals.”

 

 

 

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BACK TO NUCLEAR BASICS: DOES UNlateral RESTRAINT WORK?” by Pete Hoekstra

Editor’s Note: From our great friend and regular SUA contributor former Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Pete represented Michigan for 18 years in Congress as chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee and as a leading bipartisan voice on policy and oversight of national security, education, labor, and economic issues.

 

 

 

“BACK TO NUCLEAR BASICS: DOES UNlateral RESTRAINT WORK?”

By Pete Hoekstra

Nuclear weapons are in the news multiple times each day, with unsettling events in North Korea, China, Iran, and Russia escalating the concern that the United States is entering an era of growing instability and uncertainty.

While there are serious and gathering nuclear threats facing the United States and our allies, there is no need to panic, nor believe that doomsday is just around the corner. But we do need to get on with the task of modernizing our nuclear deterrent, enhancing our ballistic missile defenses and working effectively to stop the proliferation of such weapons.

This essay addresses the question of how best to maintain nuclear deterrence. Critics of the current US modernization plan urge the US to exercise restraint by curtailing the modernization of significant portions of our nuclear deterrent under the assumption that if the United States unilaterally stops “arms racing”, our adversaries such as Russia and China will as well.

My conclusion is three fold: (1) recent history shows restraint does not work; (2) nuclear modernization is absolutely required; and (3) a renewed “peace through strength” policy will both reduce nuclear dangers and restore some stability in international affairs.

First, let’s review the facts of the nuclear landscape.

The United States has deployed in its strategic nuclear forces under 1600 nuclear warheads, at least 1000 warheads less than the Russians. [The Russians have to reduce these numbers to the New Start level by February 2018].

Second, the United States has a few hundred tactical or theater nuclear weapons, less than the 2000-5000 such weapons held by Russia.

Third, the Russians are on a pace to modernize at least 90% of their nuclear deterrent force by the turn of the decade, no later than 2021 it appears. By contrast, the US modernization begins with the deployment of a new bomber, submarine and land based missiles no earlier than from mid-2027 through 2031, so US modernization restraint is hardly called for.

Fourth, and just to be clear, current forces are capable but in need of significant investment. Most of the US forces were fielded 30 or more years ago and are at the end of their service lives. They are thus actually way past due for modernization, and that is the only way they can remain credible and capable as the foundation of our deterrent. Four senior USAF and Navy nuclear commanders underscored this point in HASC testimony on March 8, 2017.

In that context, how should we treat calls for major US restraint in rebuilding our nuclear arms? Perhaps it would be instructive to review the impact of US nuclear unilateral restraint just before and following the 1990 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Now to be clear, the US and the Soviet Union and then Russia jointly agreed to the INF (1987), START I (July 1991) and START II (January 1993) nuclear weapons treaties. But unlike in the post 1990 period, we significantly invested in a simultaneous modernization of our entire nuclear deterrent during the Reagan administration while also seeking arms control. Peace through strength worked as we secured major reductions in Soviet-era nuclear weapons and the end of the Soviet Union.

It was only after the collapse of the Soviet Union did our nuclear investments markedly decline. The US went beyond the joint treaties with Moscow and took a large number of additional unilateral actions in both the Bush 41 and Clinton administrations, many of them codified in the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). This restraint included a US nuclear policy which:

“Created no new mission or scenario for nuclear-weapon use and articulated the premise that nuclear weapons play a smaller role in U.S. security today than at any other time in the nuclear age.

“Codified that the United States no longer targets any country with strategic nuclear forces on a day-to-day basis.

“Specified that U.S. strategic bombers were taken off alert. Further, more ballistic missile submarines now patrol on “modified alert” out of the range of their targets than on an “alert” status. The U.S. airborne command and control posts now operate at a reduced tempo.

“Called for continued reduction of defense expenditures for strategic nuclear forces and in the number of associated personnel. The levels for FY 97 were roughly one-third those of FY 88.

“Terminated U.S. ground-force nuclear capability and training for nuclear missions. By FY 97, the number of U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe was down from a peak of 7,000 to ‘hundreds.’

“Mandated that all nonstrategic nuclear weapons, including nuclear cruise missiles, depth charges, and torpedoes, be removed from surface ships, multipurpose submarines, and land-based naval aircraft bases. The capability to deploy such weapons on U.S. surface ships has now been eliminated.

“Continued the reduction of the overall U.S. nuclear stockpile–a 59 percent reduction from FY 88 to FY 97. Ninety percent of the nonstrategic nuclear stockpile was eliminated.

The NPR also assumed such unilateral reductions were safe to undertake because the Russians would not brandish for diplomatic or military purposes its nuclear weapons. The study further assumed the Russian leadership was intent on fully joining the “international community of market economies”, and that the Russian nuclear arsenal would not pose a serious threat to the United States. Overall, the report generally foresaw a relatively benign future nuclear environment. (1)

What happened?

In fact, after the American unilateral exercise of nuclear restraint, these serious and adverse nuclear developments followed:

  • The Russians in 2000 turned down START II arguing that Moscow would not agree to the treaty’s ban on multiple warhead land based missiles. Russia insisted that all US work on missile defenses had to be contained within the laboratory with strict adherence to the ABM Treaty. Those conditions were not acceptable to the Clinton administration nor the Congress and thus the treaty never went into effect.
  • North Korea worked to produce nuclear weapons fuel in violation of the 1995 Agreed Framework that purported to end Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Eventually, in 2006 North Korea tested an actual nuclear weapon while advancing its ballistic missile delivery systems.
  • Iran went forward with its nuclear work, both increasing its capacity to make enriched nuclear fuel and seeking help to design warheads.
  • The Khan network out of Pakistan, what I have termed the “Nukes ‘R Us” outfit, expanded its work of distributing nuclear weapons technology and scientific nuclear know-how to North Korea, Libya, and Iran.
  • Pakistan and India, as well, exploded nuclear devices and made plans to sharply increase their inventory of nuclear weapons.
  • China, too, expanded its nuclear capability, and began the construction of what appears to have been $50 billion (my estimate) in missile tunnels and train tracks that would come to house mobile land based missiles, as part of a modernization of all elements of their nuclear deterrent.

In addition, Russian aggression in Ukraine and Crimea went unchecked, and China unilaterally seized atolls and reefs in the South China Sea on which it is building military bases.

In just the past decade, Russia and China together have rhetorically brandished nuclear weapons three dozen times, threatening to use such weapons in the conduct of their foreign policy, and rhetorically threatening to push the US and its allies to give up important international security objectives or risk nuclear attack.

Recently, both Norway and Denmark, for example, were added to the Russian nuclear target list said the Kremlin, for the “provocative” one for protecting its territorial sea from the incursion of Russian submarines and the other for planning to put a missile defense capability on its Navy Aegis cruisers.

The gathering nuclear threats today cannot be tied to any notion that the US has not evidenced sufficient restraint, including unilateral gestures of nuclear arms control.

China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, seek to replace a rules based civilized order with one of blackmail, coercion, terror and aggression. Acting with restraint in the fact of such aggression is not a policy but it is a faith based hope. Nuclear dangers arose in part because we exercised excessive restraint, what one senior Air Force official described as a “nuclear procurement holiday”created a security vacuum that over a period of the past two decades the bad “hombres” filled.

President Trump has argued that the United States must maintain its nuclear deterrent forces at “the top of the heap” when compared to our adversaries. He has also repeatedly noted that our forces are in need of repair and modernization as Russia and China fully modernize their nuclear forces.

Here the disarmament advocates appear to trying to have it both ways—the claim nothing is wrong with our deterrent as it still is better than the Russians but simultaneously they argue we need to kill large segments of that same force so the Russians don’t engage in an arms race!

For example, former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former defense logistics staffer Lawrence Korb both advocate a massive unilateral 97% reduction in America’s nuclear assets plus a one-third reduction in our warheads, arguing that maintaining nuclear parity with the Russians is unnecessary.

If we don’t try to retreat our way to nuclear safety, isn’t the alternative unaffordable? Can we really increase the defense budget adequately to fully modernize the nuclear deterrent?

Again, let us look at the facts. The United States now spends in the neighborhood of 5% of the defense budget on nuclear modernization. At the peak of this effort next decade, we will be spending 6% but only one half of one percent of the Federal budget. That means for every $100 Uncle Sam spends, the nuclear deterrent gets 50 cents.

Looked at another way, this is the equivalent of a household with a $52,000 income—the national per capita GDP average—spending on auto, fire, life, and homeowners insurance $22 a month.

Ok, it may be cheap the critics might admit, but what does it matter if we underfund our defense? What if we simply gamble and spent less?

Well, let’s look at some history.

Prior to World War II and the Korean War, the US defense budgets were dramatically curtailed or sustained at levels incompatible with our security.

We know that the US and its allies were woefully unprepared for both conflicts.

Defense spending in the US was $700 million in 1933; it remained at that level for every year of that decade up to Pearl Harbor.

After WWII, from 1945-50, US defense budgets declined markedly, from near $90 billion at the war’s end to under $10 billion. Just a year prior to the Korean War, the US defense secretary was urging Congress to cut the defense budget down to no more than $7 billion a year.

On December 7th, 1941, and June 25, 1950, respectively, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and North Korea invaded the Republic of Korea. These wars killed a combined 81 million people, out of a world population of roughly 2.4 billion, or three percent of all the people alive at the time.

These wars were fought almost entirely without the use of nuclear weapons, with the exception of the bombing of two Japanese cities which historians agree saved the lives of millions of people by ending the war in the Pacific.

Spending $26 billion annually now on nuclear deterrence, increasing to $35 billion by the middle of next decade, is a prudent insurance policy that will annually cost $9 billion more next decade than today.

These are the projected nuclear investments now planned in budgets approved by Congress.

By contrast, Americans spent $11 billion in 2016 just going to the movies.

Today’s investment is with treasure and yes the amount is a lot of money.

But if we get this wrong, tomorrow will be paid in blood.

Just to save $9 billion a year or $28 for every American living today, think of what we are willing to risk. As the advertisement says, you can pay me today, or you can pay me tomorrow.

World War II and the Korean War were fought with conventional weapons. And upwards of 84 million people perished.

The next war could be fought with nuclear ones. And we are willing to take that risk just to save each American $28 a year?

 

 

 

 

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Paul Vallely, MG USA (ret) RBTH Interview: Trump won’t take a confrontational approach with Russia.

U.S. General: Trump won’t take confrontational approach with Russia

March 3, 2017 NIKOLAI SHEVCHENKO, RBTH

What would Trump’s reaction to Crimea have been, and what will the U.S. President discuss with Russia’s Vladimir Putin at their first, as yet unscheduled, meeting? In an exclusive interview with RBTH, retired U.S. Army Major General Paul Vallely and Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst for the Secretary of Defense, share their views on these and other issues in U.S.-Russia relations.

Trump, Crimea and the meeting

RBTH: General, imagine that Crimea happened today. How would Trump have reacted?

Paul E. Vallely: I think he would have wanted to talk to Putin and say “Hey, what’s going on? What’s happened, there’s got to be a reason for this, would you let me know?” Obama could never do that. If you read Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal, you find out how he does it.

It’s difficult to guess what he would have done, but we know what his thinking is, and it’s very different from Obama’s. Now, if Russia takes some action somewhere, he is not going to overreact. And if it’s not in the interests of the U.S., if it’s not a threat to the U.S., he is going to think very hard about getting involved.

RBTH: What do you expect from the first meeting between Trump and Putin?

Paul E. Vallely: Putin is going to meet with Trump sooner rather than later. That’s very important. A long time has passed since Mikhail Gorbachev met Ronald Reagan and we are in a very different environment now that looks almost like a new Cold War. But this happens because the media and the Democratic Party blame Russia for everything, which is just ridiculous. There is absolutely no evidence that the Russians affected the U.S. elections by hacking or by any other means.

I think Trump and Putin will discuss issues related to energy, economics. They will talk about the situation in Syria, extremism and how to deal with it. Trump is likely to bring up North Korea as a subject of the discussion too. He will see to it if to bring Crimea and Ukraine as part of the discussion, but he will not be fixated on that. In general, I think Putin respects Trump. I know Trump respects Putin. I would say rather sooner than later we will be surprised about the way things happen.


 

Misunderstanding Russia

RBHT: There are many military representatives in Trump’s inner circle. Do they see Russia as a challenge, a threat, or a potential ally?

Paul E. Vallely: We have a couple of guys who do not understand the new Russia. We still have a contingent of old CIA types who regard Russia as a main threat. I have one person in mind. But I don’t want to name him only because of the transition period. If you quote me on that, he is going to say “Why did he say this about me, I’ve been here for only a week.”

RBTH: Is it true that, among the military members of Trump’s team, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has the most influence with the President?

Paul E. Vallely: Yes, Mattis has an upper hand in pushing his agenda with the White House. Mattis certainly has more power than the other military within the Trump team to shape policy.

RBTH: Does James Mattis see Russia as a threat?

Michael Maloof: Yes, Mattis still regards Russia as a threat, but at the same time he says we can work with Moscow. But it’s important that it was Trump who has brought these people in, knowing what their positions are. And he made it very clear that he wants their opinions, but the ultimate decision remains with him.

Paul E. Vallely: And Trump is very positive about Russia. He does not have any preconceptions that Russia is a threat.

RBTH: Some saw former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation as the closure of an opportunity for Moscow. Was Flynn indeed the Kremlin’s window into the Trump administration?

Is McMaster’s appointment as national security adviser bad news for Moscow?

Paul E. Vallely: Flynn indeed was a window into the Trump administration for Russia. And this was particularly important in light of the legacy Obama had left. Obama never knew how to develop a relationship with Russia. Flynn, on the other hand, has been very proactive in engaging Russia. But even though he had to resign, Trump will still reach out to Moscow.

Trump’s line in the sand

RBTH: Trump seems to be under significant pressure on issues related to Russia. Is it true he has been pressured by the Washington political establishment and the military to change his rhetoric on Russia?

Michael Maloof: To a point. Trump has been more forthcoming about expressing the desire to work with Russia than the old Cold Warriors had. And that’s a part of the changes that are happening in the U.S. now. The country is being mentality oriented into a new direction by the new president. And this is pretty hard when you have old CIA types who are still in their positions and the media, which has been very anti-Russian.  But if Trump makes a decision to cooperate with Russia, they will stand up and salute.

Paul E. Vallely: Definitely, they will stand up and salute. An important thing is that the soldiers are very happy to have Trump as president. And this is what is really important. From that stand point we get a new spirit within the armed forces now.

RBTH: If the military has Trump’s ear, does it mean Trump is going to pursue a more assertive policy towards Russia if he fails to find common ground with Putin?

Paul E. Vallely: No, I don’t think Trump is going to take that approach. Trump and Putin will get along well, and they will make a deal. Trump is not going to take a military confrontational approach to Russia at all.

RBTH: In Syria, what does the U.S. military think about a prospect of cooperating with the Russian military?

Michael Maloof: There is already some level of cooperation. They have video conferences. There was one episode when the U.S. bombed Syrian troops. A serviceman left his post on the U.S. side, and that created the problem. That episode helped establish new procedures to be followed from then on. They are trying to make it work, but that’s the level of cooperation for now.

There is substantial internal resistance within the military against cooperating with the Russians in Syria. There is reluctance on part of the military to share the intelligence, because of the perceived notion that Russia remains the primary threat.

But the whole Syrian thing might change this mindset. From our personal meeting with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, we have an impression that Russia is willing to achieve it too. And this is one of the messages we are bringing back to the U.S.

RBTH: Obama was criticized for drawing a line in the sand on Syria and then not acting upon it. Would Trump be more decisive to act in a similar situation?

Paul E. Vallely: I don’t think Trump will draw any lines to begin with. For Trump, if there’s a threat to the U.S., then we are going to go and take it out. If, in the meantime, we have to work with the Russians to eliminate that threat, then we will. That’s the attitude. Trump is not that kind of person who wants to draw lines. He wants to identify a problem and work with everyone he can to solve it.

Paul E. Vallely is a retired U.S. Army Major General, Chairman of Stand Up America, Scott Vallely Soldiers Memorial Fund and NEMO ARMS Inc. He is senior military analyst for Fox News.

Michael Maloof  is a contributing writer for national security affairs for WND and G2Bulletin, a former senior security policy analyst in the office of the secretary of defense, and the author of A Nation Forsaken.

Paul Vallely and Michael Maloof both came to Moscow for a series of events organized by the Valdai Discussion Club, including a private meeting with Russia’s deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

Nikolay Shevchenko is a foreign correspondent for Russia Beyond The Headlines and an editor at the Global Ethics Network.

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