After losing a crucial 2013 parliamentary vote authorizing military force in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron noticeably pulled Great Britain back from global affairs, effectively allowing other countries to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the alarming growth in strength of ISIS.
Last January, President Obama reportedly told Cameron that Britain must adhere to its military spending commitment to NATO or set a damaging example to its European allies. Obama and other U.S. military officials have said that Britain’s failure to hit a military spending target of two percent of its Gross Domestic Product would be a serious blow to the military alliance.
In an about-face, Cameron on Sunday said he hopes to step up his country’s role in the allied air campaign against ISIS while also adopting new tough measures at home to try to stem the rise of jihadist activities.
In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, Cameron said talks were underway in Parliament about what more can be done to allow his country to take part in the U.S. led campaign against ISIS in Syria, as well as in Iraq.
Cameron’s Conservative Party won a surprisingly resounding reelection victory in May, and since then he has been talking about the need for Britain to step up to the plate more in helping the U.S. and other allies halt the spread of ISIS throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Although Parliament in 2013 rejected air strikes against ISIS in Syria, media reports last week revealed that British pilots embedded with coalition forces have been taking part in operations in Syria.
"In Syria we're helping not just with logistics, but surveillance and air-to-air refueling,” Cameron confirmed yesterday. “But we know we have to defeat ISIS, we have to destroy this caliphate whether it is in Iraq or in Syria--that is a key part of defeating this terrorist scourge that we face. I want Britain to do more. I'll always have to take my parliament with me," said Cameron.
Cameron was expected to announce a five-year plan for fighting the terrorist group on Monday, according to The Sunday Times.
"I want to work very closely with President Obama, with other allies,” Cameron said. “Britain is now committed to its NATO two per cent defense spending target all the way through this decade. We've already carried out more air strikes in Iraq than anyone else other than the U.S., but I want us to step up and do more, what I call a full spectrum response,” he said on Meet the Press.”
Until recently, Cameron has sought to steer his country on a centrist path that included tough austerity measures and a dramatic scaling back of the United Kingdom’s military presence overseas. Those policies were only reinforced by Cameron’s strong showing at the polls.
Since the Great Recession, the British Army lost fully 20 percent of its troops--from 102,000 to 82,000 since 2010.
British aircraft and unmanned drones have been used to attack ISIS emplacements in Iraq with more than 200 bombs and missiles, according to a recent report by The Guardian. ISIS targets included 20 buildings, at least two containers and 65 trucks. As the Guardian noted, British air operations are a small fraction of those carried out by U.S. aircraft and drones, which have struck more than 6,000 targets as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to recent Pentagon figures.
The federal government’s total non-defense discretionary spending – which covers everything from education and national parks to veterans’ medical care and low-income housing assistance – equals 3.2% of GDP in 2020, near historic lows going back to 1962, according to an analysis this week from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated this week that President Trump has now signed legislation that will add a total of $4.7 trillion to the national debt between 2017 and 2029. Tax cuts and spending increases account for similar portions of the projected increase, though if the individual tax cuts in the 2017 Republican overhaul are extended beyond their current expiration date at the end of 2025, they would add another $1 trillion in debt through 2029.
Are interest rates destined to move higher, increasing the cost of private and public debt? While many experts believe that higher rates are all but inevitable, historian Paul Schmelzing argues that today’s low-interest environment is consistent with a long-term trend stretching back 600 years.
The chart “shows a clear historical downtrend, with rates falling about 1% every 60 years to near zero today,” says Bloomberg’s Aaron Brown. “Rates do tend to revert to a mean, but that mean seems to be declining.”
Lawmakers are considering three separate bills that are intended to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Here’s an overview of the proposals, from a series of charts produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation this week. An interesting detail highlighted in another chart: 88% of voters – including 92% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans – want to give the government the power to negotiate prices with drug companies.