Is Biden’s Pentagon a warfighting organization? Amid China threat, you have to wonder

In a recent memo, Gen. Michael A. Minihan, commander of the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, said he has a “gut feeling” that the U.S. will be at war with China in 2025. Written to the men and women under his command, it was clearly meant to spur them to “attain higher readiness, integration, and agility” deemed necessary to win in such a fight. Minihan’s blunt talk, aggressive instructions to his troops, and sense of urgency differs starkly from the Biden administration’s approach to the threat posed by China

Minihan has said provocative things before. “Every part of your life is better [when] you can kill your enemy” nettled some. But his prediction of war with China just two years down the road, sent senior officials and national security analysts scurrying to distance themselves from both his forecast and the tone of his memo. 

Pentagon officials said Minihan’s comments were “not representative of the Department’s view on China.” That’s true enough. Their phrasing and word choice has consistently implied that they are more focused on building alliance structures that achieve security objectives peacefully and that do not antagonize China than in driving a military posture that is capable of and ready for combat action should the need arise.

This is a pity and a missed opportunity. 

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Rather than chiding the general for his aggressive spirit, defense officials and national security glitterati should have embraced and leveraged Minihan’s passion for combat readiness and warfighting effectiveness to make the point that the U.S. military is not something to be discounted by the likes of China. Many people today are inclined to dismiss talk of “peace-through-strength” as the fading gasp of aged Cold Warriors. Lost in tut-tutting this trite but true maxim is an appreciation for what “hard power” really is and what it takes to have it not just in material form—tanks, ships, aircraft, and missiles—but also in attitude, posture, training, and focus. 

The federal government is awash in agencies that deal with all aspects of America’s engagement with the larger world apart from military action. There are the Departments of State, Justice, Treasury, and Commerce, and (pseudo-)independent agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency, International Trade Administration, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and more. These organizations presumably ensure that U.S. interests in public health, stewardship of natural resources and the environment, trade, international relations, thwarting criminality, and so forth are addressed.

What none of them do is ensure the U.S. can defeat enemies in combat. That is why we have a Department of Defense and the military services.

With that in mind, you would think we would want military leaders who focus on warfighting and instilling in our troops the mindset that combat is serious business, and they need to be serious about being ready for it. When it comes to the defense of our country and our people, isn’t it better to have military leaders who lean into a fight, who want their people to be prepared for a fight than to have people in leadership positions who are more concerned about carbon footprints, generating statistics for equity czars and gender-confused apparatchiks, and worrying about whether an exercise with an ally might be seen as too provocative by our enemies? 

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Our military prizes the American commitment to civilian control of our armed forces and wouldn’t have it any other way. We do not want a political military or a military that becomes a political power in its own right. But neither do we want a military or military leaders who forget what their sole purpose is: to defend our country and defeat our enemies in battle. With that mindset and ensuring our forces are equipped, trained, and operationally ready to do that, the war they are prepared to win will be the war that doesn’t happen because our enemies will know they will be defeated. That is what deterrence is all about. And it is leaders like Gen. Minihan who create those favorable conditions. 

The most recent example that proves this point? Balloongate, the nationally embarrassing spectacle of a Chinese intelligence collection asset serenely floating across the United States snapping up pictures, electrons, and who knows what else undisturbed by any U.S. intervention until it had completed its task for the Chinese Communist Party. Cleary, Xi Jinping, China’s autocratic leader, believes Beijing can act with impunity even in America’s sovereign airspace. Why is that? Perhaps because China believes it has nothing to fear. And what if others – Iran, North Korea, Russia – have come to the same conclusion?

Our national leaders and senior officials should embrace Minihan and those like him rather than distance themselves from them and making excuses for their zeal. Look to other agencies for economists, trade specialists, law enforcement and public health professionals, and career diplomats. They work to maximize the blessings of peace, liberty, and prosperity. But to create and sustain the peace that enables all the rest, our military needs warriors. 

Preach on, Gen. Minihan! And that’s from a career Marine who appreciates a military leader when he sees one, regardless of service branch. 

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The state of President Biden is weak, thanks to his fentanyl crisis

When President Joe Biden delivers his annual message to Congress Tuesday, we have little doubt that he will once again proclaim—as he has the past two years—that “the state of the Union is strong.” 

But that is far from the truth. 

What he’s certain not to mention is the historic crisis at the border that has been raging for two years, created and perpetuated by his and his administration’s open-border policies. Most recently, the crisis has included nine consecutive months where illegal border crossings exceeded 200,000, with the number in December exceeding 250,000—the most ever recorded. In total, the record-breaking influx of illegal immigrants in 2022 amounted to more than twice the population of Montana or half the population of Alabama. 

Admittedly, taking responsibility for anything, let alone the worst border crisis in the history of our country, would be a lot to expect from this president. However, if he cares at all about Americans’ safety, he must start taking this crisis and its collateral consequences seriously, especially how the chaos at the border has enabled a deluge of deadly drugs and a wave of violent crime to sweep into and across our country. 

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During his presidency, Biden has welcomed approximately 5.5 million illegal immigrants onto American soil. It’s nearly impossible to imagine how the United States can absorb such a massive volume of people entering our nation illegally in such a short period of time. While Americans are renowned for their unlimited compassion, we do not have unlimited resources for everyone seeking entry into our nation. Since promising to “secure our border and fix the immigration system” during his 2022 State of the Union address , the border has become less secure and illegal immigration has become more rampant. 

In our positions as state attorneys general, we know that law enforcement officers are insufficiently equipped to protect our residents from such a sudden and severe increase in crime. It’s no secret that violent crime and property crime are skyrocketing across the nation. The situation is desperate and compounded by the fact that the administration has virtually no vetting process in place to prevent criminals from crossing the border . It gets worse. Less than one month into 2023, the Department of Homeland Security released more than 500 illegal-immigrant criminals back into the communities where they were first detained. That’s on top of nearly 1,000 illegal-immigrant convicts released by DHS in December. 

Homicides, assaults, domestic violence, sexual offenses, and other crimes committed by illegal immigrants increased dramatically between 2020 and 2021, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

We also know that the fentanyl crisis is being fueled by the uninhibited flow of Chinese-made chemicals to Mexican drug cartels, and then the unchallenged smuggling of Mexican-made fentanyl across the American border—all of which is being allowed with little interest or action taken by Biden and his administration. Instead, the federal government is directing overworked Border Patrol agents away from intercepting drugs at the border, giving priority to the processing of illegal immigrants. 

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Just two milligrams of the drug can be potentially lethal to any person without a tolerance. In 2022, over 110,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, with more than 68 percent of those overdose deaths being from fentanyl. For perspective, the number of people who died from a drug overdose could fill the home of Alabama Crimson Tide football, Bryant–Denny Stadium, to capacity and still have enough people left to fill the home of Alabama Crimson Tide basketball, Coleman Coliseum, to half-capacity. 

Alabama’s Jefferson County alone reported 316 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in 2021, a 68 percent increase from 2020, with more people dying from fentanyl than from either homicides or motor-vehicle accidents. Statewide, the problem is worse. From 2020 to 2021, fentanyl-related overdose deaths across Alabama increased 136 percent. 

In Montana, fentanyl-related overdoses have increased by more than 1,000 percent since 2017. Just between January 11 and 23 of this year, 28 nonfatal and 8 fatal fentanyl overdoses were reported across 13 different Montana counties. 

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Opioid addiction and overdoses are not “a ‘white’ thing,” as some have described it. Indeed, in recent years, the rate of overdose deaths among Native Americans has been the highest of all racial groups in Montana, and the increase in overdose deaths among African Americans has been the highest of all racial groups in Alabama. Far from such circumstances being unique to our states, they are representative of trends that are being observed nationwide.

It seems that President Biden would like to pretend all these tragedies aren’t happening, and that he and his policy preferences aren’t causing or exacerbating them. Given how much he likes President Reagan’s phrase about the nation being strong, he ought to try listening to the other half of it: “The state of our Union is strong,” Reagan said, “but our economy is troubled.” 

A strong, courageous leader is eager to acknowledge and then tackle difficult realities like a troubled economy, or a border crisis, or skyrocketing crime, or a drug epidemic. A weak, cowardly leader is content to repeat pleasant fictions to himself about the world being great when, in fact, it’s crumbling all around him.

Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our president is weak.

Austin Knudsen, Vice-Chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, is the Attorney General of Montana.

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Biden’s latest border gambit opens America’s doors to evil child smugglers

Two years ago, the Biden administration unleashed a catastrophic crisis at our southwest border. Since then, it has doubled down on the policies that sparked this crisis, despite the clear national security, humanitarian, and public health consequences.

What often gets lost in the big debates in Washington, though, are the thousands of innocent lives devastated by Biden’s radical agenda—not only American citizens, but the migrants themselves.

Sadly, since Biden has been in the White House, more than 1,700 migrants have died on U.S. soil while trying to enter this county illegally . And that’s just the ones that have been recorded. Many more will never be found in the river or the thousands of square miles of harsh wilderness.

Biden’s latest gambit will only cause thousands more innocent people to needlessly suffer.

Earlier this month, Biden announced that his administration would begin paroling 30,000 individuals from Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua into the U.S. every month. This single policy will bring 360,000 individuals, who would otherwise have no grounds to enter the country, into the United States. As part of their application, they need to prove they have a “sponsor” in the U.S. ready to receive them.

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Additionally, the administration launched a new app that would increase the number of individuals applying for asylum at ports of entry, regardless of whether they qualify.

More than 250,000 children have been smuggled into this country on Biden’s watch already, and this administration has curtailed vetting of sponsors because they are in such a hurry to release them.

It’s all about optics. If there’s “no overcrowding,” Biden can claim there’s “no crisis.”

The administration has also proven to be massively incompetent in the vetting it does perform, as well as keeping track of minors released into the country.

Just last October, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs wrote a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, the department responsible for placing these individuals with sponsors and ensuring they are properly taken care of, demanding to know how HHS was “unable to contact 19,726 sponsors of unaccompanied alien children since January 2021,” referencing a statement by an HHS official from February 2022. 

In other words, in just one year, the Biden administration completely lost track of 20,000 minors they had released.

In September 2021, Axios reported that the administration “has lost contact with thousands of migrant children released from its custody,” with nearly a third of calls to these minors or their sponsors going unanswered. A year later, Reuters was running similar headlines: “Dozens of migrant children reported missing in Houston, raising alarms.”

The consequences of this recklessness are becoming more and more clear. Just a few days ago, DHS launched an investigation into a meat-packing plant in Nebraska, where 50 children, some as young as 13, were illegally employed and forced to endure dangerous working conditions.

Having worked to enforce immigration law for more than three decades, I can say confidently these children were trafficked into the U.S. for the purpose of forced labor.

The Biden administration is inviting this at even greater scale. Hundreds of thousands more would-be migrants are going to apply under these new programs, with no clear or adequate infrastructure in place to properly vet potential sponsors. The result will be mass victimization on a scale we’ve never seen before.

No doubt, many sponsors will be good, decent people. But for thousands of migrants, the nightmare is just beginning. Vulnerable people will seek out sponsors quickly, and many will ultimately be victimized.

Some will be placed with individuals who plan to force them into the sex trade. Others will become the victims of labor trafficking. Many others will be placed with sponsors who simply have no business being responsible for the welfare of a minor.

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Some will be sponsored by smugglers and cartel members who will charge them thousands of dollars to become their sponsors. To be clear, this is alien smuggling, a felony.

This is personal to me. Almost 20 years ago, I stood in the back of a semi-trailer in Victoria, Texas, where 19 migrants—including a 5-year-old boy—suffocated after being abandoned by their smuggler.

The officials implementing these disastrous policies haven’t seen what I’ve seen. They haven’t held that young boy in their arms, thinking of his last moments on this earth. They haven’t seen the bodies of migrants in the desert who were killed because they couldn’t pay the smugglers’ fees. They haven’t interviewed young women and girls as young as 10, the victims of sexual assault on the journey to the border , forever scarred by the evil done to them.

I am fighting against these policies because they empower evil people. Evil is alive and well in this world, and the United States government should be standing up and fighting it, not opening the door to it. 

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Think threat of China’s spy flights are bad? It’s much worse than you think

The boldness of China’s flying of a spy balloon through America’s airspace demanded clarity and swift action, and what it received from the Biden administration was confusion and delayed action. This sends the exactly the wrong message to the American people and the world. That China thought it could fly a surveillance balloon into American air space tells you all you need to know about what Beijing thinks America’s resolve, and where it sees itself on the international stage. None of this is good for America now, or in the future.

Beijing would never have taken such a provocative act if it thought there were real risks or would be serious consequences. Violating our airspace is not the same as sailing a spy ship in international waters, which the Russians were recently found to be doing off the coast of Hawaii. It is an order of magnitude bolder—it is the violation of our territorial integrity, and one that should not be tolerated, but apparently has been by this White House for a full week, and at least three times during the Trump administration according to reports.

President Xi Jinping wants to claim what he sees as his country’s rightful place as world leader. This means undermining America’s position and global leadership and working to strengthen its armed forces and deploy them further afield. China is working to modernize its nuclear arsenal, develop and deploy next generation weapons, expand its navy, and secure bases around the world. The risks of conflict with Beijing are real, and rather than reduce the risks from a position of strength, successive White Houses have shown weakness toward China by acting only belatedly, or not acting at all.

Allowing these balloons to transit our country’s territory is a sign of weakness, and one that allows Beijing incredible opportunities to gather intelligence and map our capabilities. Who knows how much sensitive information was transmitted to Beijing and is now being meticulously sifted through by the Chinese Communist Party.

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Our country’s handling of this crisis, and China writ large, should concerns Americans. It has been neither decisive nor purposefully restrained, but some hodgepodge of idleness, panic, indecision, and confused signaling that demonstrated nothing more than how poor our country’s decision-making is towards Beijing. Where there should have been decisive action, there was an egregiously delayed downing of this most recent balloon, and only after the country’s rightful outrage was registered. Where the country should have been reassured by the White House, it received a jumble of mixed messaging and dithering. It’s difficult not to believe Biden would have taken no action at all had the public not been made aware.

Downing the balloon should have been the president’s first action, not something he dithered on doing. It would have sent a signal to the American people and, more importantly, China, that such behavior would not be tolerated and that Washington could act decisively. Cancelling Secretary of State Antony Blinken ’s visit to Beijing was neither decisive nor purposeful. It was the bare minimum expected of the White House, and something China almost certainly anticipated.

If this is how the White House handles a surveillance balloon, I shudder to think what will happen when a real crisis with China emerges. How would this White House have handled the 2001 collision of a Chinese fighter jet with an American surveillance aircraft (which was in international airspace)? How would the White House have managed the 1995-1996 Third Taiwan Straits Crisis? How might President Biden deal with a Chinese invasion of Taiwan? If the balloon is anything to go off of, not well, not well at all.

American needs to project strength at home and abroad. At home, Biden needs to reassure Americans that the White House, Department of Defense, and all elements of the federal government are prepared to defend the homeland. A balloon is most certainly not a bomber, but to Americans, they are both threats, and if one can get through our airspace, what’s to say that the other can’t do the same?

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This administration should use this crisis as a clarion call for the country to realize the challenge that China faces. To rally the country and focus its attention. The threat that China represents is not just balloons.

It’s TikTok and its widespread data collection on Americans. It’s Beijing’s efforts to develop an alternative to the U.S. dollar to undermine the strength of our financial system. It’s China’s bullying of its neighbors and threatening of our allies. It’s the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to dominate international institutions and ensure policies that favor its authoritarian regime are advanced. It is the country’s manipulation of supply chains and ambitions to ensure that ‘Made in China’ is the only option available to American consumers. The American people need to understand just how big a threat China is, and that our country needs leadership to stand up to it.

Doing so will better align our country’s focus and priorities, reassure our allies, and signal strength and resolve to Beijing, both of which are urgently needed now, and in the days to come.

The country and the world need clarity and leadership on China, and right now it has neither. The spy balloon may seem like a lot of hot air, but it shows just how un-tethered the administration is from the challenge China represents and the perilousness of our current situation. 

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Jill Biden for president? It’s more real than you think

Soon after he delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Joe Biden is expected to announce that he will seek a second term as president. Americans should demand to know: is Joe the candidate…or is Dr. Jill?

Jill Biden, who goes by “Dr.” by dint of a Ph.D. in education, is reportedly an increasingly important presence in the White House and is expected to serve on the campaign trail as the president’s surrogate and adviser. That’s right. The woman who last year had to apologize for comparing Latinos to “breakfast tacos,”, has, according to Bloomberg, become the most influential person in the West Wing. 

The departure of longtime adviser and Chief of Staff Ron Klain has created something of a power vacuum in Biden’s close circle, allowing Jill considerably more sway. 

Jill Biden has been described as the president’s closest confidant and has influenced not only his decision to run again but also policy decisions and key hires, such as his choice for Secretary of Education. She is fiercely protective of Joe, though it is not clear what exactly she is protecting him from.

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She weighs in regularly on the president’s schedule and presentation and has frequently been caught on camera steering Joe away from pesky reporters. 

An embarrassing video recently captured yet another instance of the president refusing to address questions from the press – on this occasion about the FBI searching Biden’s home. It occurred at a Lunar New Year event, where Jill hustled Joe away from questioners and guided him onto the stage, holding his hand and issuing instructions. 

Before we get too accustomed to our president being led like a trained Bassett hound on a leash, please try to envision Hillary Clinton manhandling Bill or Melania telling Donald where to go and to whom he should speak. No, you cannot.

Should voters assess not only the capabilities of Joe Biden heading into the 2024 election but also those of his wife? If over the ensuing four years the president’s mental acuity declines rapidly, will Jill Biden take the reins?

Such an event would not be unprecedented. After President Woodrow Wilson suffered a massive stroke in October 1919, leaving him paralyzed, his wife Edith effectively took over, concealing his disabilities from Wilson’s staff, his cabinet and Congress. Edith Wilson ran the country until the end of her husband’s term in March 2021. 

Could something like that happen again? It is unlikely, given the prevalence of the media and the public requirements of a president in our era. However, it is entirely possible that if Joe Biden’s decline accelerates, Dr. Jill might play an ever-grander role in the affairs of our country. Indeed, it appears she already is.

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Some are taking notice. Offended by yet another instance of Joe Biden brushing off inquiries from the media, former GOP Rep. Doug Collins told a Fox News audience that “This has really gotten concerning because nobody, frankly in all fairness to the first lady, nobody elected her to answer questions for the president on issues that the press may have questioned.” 

Dr. Jill has apparently become more assertive. According to an NBC News analysis last fall, Jill has carried Joe’s message to more places more frequently than Joe himself. NBC reports she wields “unparalleled influence” in the White House. 

Last year she burst into a meeting of Joe’s top aides, furious that they had allowed him to take questions at a news conference for nearly two hours. She evidently does not think Joe can stand up to two hours of inquisition.

Most likely, she worries that Joe will make yet another embarrassing goof that the White House will have to spend days correcting, as when the president appeared to condone Russia making a “minor” incursion intro Ukraine or hinting that U.S. GIs were poised to fight on Ukrainian soil .

These are not “gaffes”, which Webster’s dictionary defines as a “a socially improper or unsuitable act or remark.” These are drastic misstatements which could put the country at risk.

In his first year in the Oval Office , Biden held fewer than half the number of press conferences as his predecessor and one-third as many as President Obama. He also granted far fewer interviews. His second year was worse. 

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Americans should ask: how can we re-elect a president who is not trusted by his wife or top staffers to hold press conferences? If he is not capable of meeting the media, how can we let him represent our country in sit-downs with rival leaders like Xi Jinping ?

Last fall, polling showed that almost two-thirds of the country is “somewhat” or “very” concerned about Joe Biden’s mental fitness, including more than half of Democrats. Given the large number of videos showing the president looking disoriented or lost, the concerns are understandable. 

Joe Biden will be 82 starting his second term if he is reelected. There are plenty of octogenarians who are sharp as a tack; the president is not one of them. Voters need to know Joe Biden’s mental condition.

There is an easy way to resolve these concerns, and to make it clear that Joe is in charge, and not his wife; Biden should take a cognitive assessment test and release the results. 

Unfortunately, this is something he has refused to do. In an interview in 2020, Biden got downright testy, telling reporters from the Association of Black Journalists, “No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test?” He added: “Come on, man. That’s like saying you, before you got on this program, you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?” 

Donald Trump took the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and passed with flying colors, getting a perfect score. Why won’t Biden take the 10-minute test? 

Maybe Jill won’t let him. This should concern us all.

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