Building a Wall, Trump vs. Intel Chiefs, INF Treaty Withdrawal, Afghanistan Pullout, Pressing Maduro in Venezuela

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This week, Jay takes charge of the show, starting things off with a discussion of the ongoing budget negotiations and President Trump’s authority to declare a national emergency and use the military to build a wall.

Next is a look at President Trump’s seeming disagreement with his intelligence agency chiefs about the greatest threats to the United States. Jay points out that Trump shouldn’t have bought into the media’s sensationalist rendition of events and that, as usual, Trump tweeted precipitously. Mike says that we should focus on the substantive point made by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: Russian and China are the main threats, and at present they’re working more closely together than they have been at any point since the 1950s.

Then they move to the INF Treaty, which the Trump Administration announced the U.S. would be withdrawing from, citing persistent and blatant Russian non-compliance. While Jay is sorry to see the INF Treaty go (he wrote a killer paper on it back in his college days), he and Mike believe that at some point the U.S. has to call Russia to account for its actions in violation of the treaty.

After that, the Guys discuss the potential withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. They agree that this would essentially give the Taliban a victory and make the world less safe. Mike mentions that he’s largely abandoned his former ‘go big or go home’ approach to U.S. military presence abroad, recognizing that we may have to keep small but significant forces in many places around the world on a permanent basis.

The show closes with analysis of the U.S. move to recognize Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, freeze Venezuela’s assets in the U.S., and call on that country’s military to back Guaido over incumbent president Nicolas Maduro. Both Mike and Jay agree that this was the right move, though Mike points out that some on the left are right to be at least somewhat hesitant, given the less than honorable history of U.S. intervention in Latin America.

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