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.
Politico’s Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade drop a blockbuster: “Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. … He would like to serve through Election Day 2018 and retire ahead of the next Congress. This would give Ryan a final legislative year to chase his second white whale, entitlement reform, while using his unrivaled fundraising prowess to help protect the House majority—all with the benefit of averting an ugly internecine power struggle during election season.”
Speculation has been swirling that Ryan could step down once “he’s harpooned his personal white whale of tax reform,” as HuffPost put it.
When asked at his weekly press conference whether he’ll be quitting anytime soon, Ryan chuckled and said, “I’m not, no.”
The finance ministers of Europe’s five largest economies — Germany, France, the U.K., Italy and Spain — warned that the Republican tax plan could have “a major distortive impact” on international trade and may violate international treaties. "The inclusion of certain less conventional international tax provisions could contravene the U.S.'s double taxation treaties and may risk having a major distortive impact on international trade," the ministers wrote in a letter to Mnuchin.
Politico reports: “The White House is quietly preparing a sweeping executive order that would mandate a top-to-bottom review of the federal programs on which millions of poor Americans rely. And GOP lawmakers are in the early stages of crafting legislation that could make it more difficult to qualify for those programs. … The president is expected to sign the welfare executive order as soon as January, according to multiple administration officials, with an eye toward making changes to health care, food stamps, housing and veterans programs, not just traditional welfare payments.”
President Trump signed a short-term continuing resolution today to fund the federal government through Friday, December 22.
Bloomberg called the maneuver “a monumental piece of can kicking,” which is no doubt the case, but at least you’ll be able to visit your favorite national park over the weekend.
Here's to small victories!