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 White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”