Trump slams allies; Dems debate natsec; DHS IG on detention conditions; Navy’s electric ships; and just a bit more...

Trump slams allies as he heads to G20. The president used his first hours on the ground in Osaka, Japan, to disparage Tokyo and Berlin as national-security freeloaders, the New York Times reported Thursday. He also complained about India’s tariffs on U.S. goods — which were enacted after Trump raised tariffs on imported steel and revoked a favorable trade status for New Delhi. The U.S. president is to meet with his counterparts of all three countries during his trip.

More false statements about NATO: “As he has consistently done since taking office, Mr. Trump mischaracterized how NATO works and gave a false number about America’s share of the financial burden.” 

And Putin? The president offered “nothing critical about the fourth leader on his diplomatic schedule for Friday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whose government waged a systematic campaign to interfere in American elections in 2016.” Read on, here.

ICYMI: Trump to public on Wednesday, via Politico: “What I say to [Putin] is none of your business.” 

Pompeo: War would be Iran’s fault. “If there is conflict, if there is war, if there is a kinetic activity, it will be because the Iranians made that choice. I hope that they do not,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told broadcaster India Today during an official visit to New Delhi on Wednesday.

UAE breaks with U.S. over tanker attacks. Was Iran behind the recent attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman, as U.S. officials have insisted? “Honestly we can’t point the blame at any country because we don’t have evidence,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Wednesday in Moscow. “If there is a country that has the evidence, then I’m convinced that the international community will listen to it. But we need to make sure the evidence is precise and convincing.”


From Defense One

Democrats Couldn’t Agree on Top National-Security Threats // Kathy Gilsinan, The Atlantic: The candidates’ different answers reflect the Democratic Party’s deeper divisions on foreign policy.

‘End Forever Wars’ is a Sound Bite, Not a Security Policy // Kevin Baron: More and more Democratic candidates are echoing Trump’s pledges to withdraw from conflicts abroad. Few say how to do it, nor how it will make us safer.

America’s Free-Rider Problem in the Strait of Hormuz // Kathy Gilsinan, The Atlantic: “The United States has not been willing to walk away from the Gulf, so other allies may not step up to do anything because they know that if they don’t, the U.S. will.”

We’re Not Playing Acquisition Pac-Man Anymore // Dan Ward: Today’s defense acquisition officials have freedom of movement akin to an open-world game. They need to use it.

It's Today! Our 4th Annual Tech Summit // Defense One Staff: Join us at the Newseum for our annual look at the technology that is shaping the future of national security.

Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief by Bradley Peniston and Katie Bo Williams. Thanks for reading! Subscribe here. Send tips here.


The first debate among leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination didn’t give us a whole lot to go on about foreign policy. Most of the leading candidates made their pitch about Trump. “I don't think we should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at 5 o’clock in the morning, which is what he does,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minn., to cheers. 

The spiciest moment of the night was a tangle between Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, and former Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio. Ryan called for continued “engagement” in Afghanistan, incorrectly claiming that the Taliban "started flying planes into our buildings” prior to U.S. engagement. "Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11. That’s why I and so many other people joined the military, to go after Al-Qaeda, not the Taliban," Gabbard said—before calling for American troops to come home.

It was a telling moment as the Democratic party continues to grapple between a more isolationist wing of the party—of which Gabbard is the extreme poll—and a Joe Biden-esque vision of international engagement. “I personally don’t need to be lectured by somebody who’s dining with a dictator who gassed kids,” Ryan told reporters in the spin room after the debate. “I know what I’m talking about. I’m right, and we can’t let these areas be wide open.”

But neither of those candidates are polling above 1 percent. It’s not clear how long either of them will remain in the race. (Although search traffic for Gabbard did spike during the debate.) The fact remains that it’s still very early in the race, when the focus is going to remain squarely on bread-and-butter primary issues like healthcare and immigration.

Still, keep an eye on how these candidates talk about national security. Asked what the greatest geopolitical threat is to the United States, candidates gave a wide swath of answers. Interestingly, only one low-polling candidate named Trump. Read on, from The Atlantic’s Kathy Gilsinan, here

  • John Delaney: China and nuclear weapons
  • Jay Inslee: Trump
  • Tulsi Gabbard: The risk of nuclear war
  • Amy Klobuchar: China in economic terms, and also Iran
  • Beto O’Rourke: Climate change
  • Elizabeth Warren: Climate change
  • Cory Booker: Nuclear proliferation and climate change
  • Julián Castro: China and climate change
  • Tim Ryan: China
  • Bill de Blasio: Russia

DHS draft report details poor conditions at U.S. border detention facilities. Buzzfeed:“When Department of Homeland Security inspectors visited several border facilities in the Rio Grande Valley earlier this month, they found adults and minors with no access to showers, many adults only fed bologna sandwiches, and detainees banging on cell windows — desperately pressing notes to the windows of their cells that detailed their time in custody.”

DHS Inspector General staff drafted a report to Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan based on visits to five border facilities and two ports of entry during the week of June 10. 

A copy of that draft report found its way to Buzzfeed: “Some adults were held in standing room–only conditions for a week. There was little access to hot showers or hot food for families and children in some facilities. Some kids were being held in closed cells. There was severe overcrowding.” Read on, here.

U.S. asylum officers protest Trump’s migrant policy. Under the administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, some 12,000 migrants (so far) have been forced to remain in Mexico awaiting their U.S. immigration hearings. In an amicus brief filed with the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups challenging the policy, the labor union that represents asylum officers said in court papers that “the policy is compelling sworn officers to participate in the ‘widespread violation’ of international and federal law — ‘something that they did not sign up to do when they decided to become asylum and refugee officers for the United States government,’” the Washington Post reported. 

Pilgrims: The policy “goes against the nation’s long-standing view that asylum seekers and refugees should have a way to escape persecution in their homelands, with the United States embracing its status as a safe haven since even before it was founded — with the arrival of the Pilgrims in the 17th century.” Read on, here.

ICYMI: The reported next acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Mark Morgan, told Fox News in January that he can tell whether someone will join a gang by looking in their eyes. Politico, here.

It’s electric. The U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command has released its road map for the development of warships that will generate staggering amounts of electrical power to be used for propulsion, computing, and — perhaps most futur-y — directed-energy weapons. Seapower has more

“This is very, very, good news,” naval analyst (and former skipper) Bryan McGrath tweeted. “Power generation, distribution, conditioning, and storage are the key to realizing a number of important capability objectives.”

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