Key Points

Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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Although the president has extraordinarily capable people serving the country in acting capacities in a number of departments and agencies, including Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the United States must have a confirmed defense secretary without delay. Perception is a significant part of effectiveness in office, and being formally confirmed by the Senate for a permanent appointment gathers legitimacy, authority, and gravitas. The president should nominate a defense secretary without delay. Two months is far too long. Our country needs swift action now.

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By definition, Trump’s foreign policy at midterm remains a work in progress. As I’ve tried to argue, he’s gotten some very big things right but is running major risks in other areas that could prove extremely detrimental to U.S. interests. The question now is whether he has the competence, maturity, and depth to build on and effectively execute those parts of his agenda that are working, while appropriately modifying those that aren’t. For Trump’s detractors, the question answers itself. Let’s hope that they’re wrong.

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Some may suggest that we should wait before investing in a third site since Iran cannot yet field an ICBM. However, that kind of thinking put the U.S. in the position of playing catch-up when it comes to the North Korean ballistic missile threat. In light of Rouhani’s comments this week, we should not make the same mistake with Iran.

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As U.S. and other diplomats meet in Warsaw, they would be wise to set aside disagreements regarding the Iran nuclear deal and focus on ways to more effectively address Iran’s ballistic missile program.

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EVENT: Implementing the National Defense Strategy

January 28, 2019 | 12:00

EVENT: Losing a War in Afghanistan: Countering the Taliban and Understanding U.S. Policies

November 15, 2018 | 12:15