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NPR’s National Security Editor Gives Insight into Trump’s Hot Security Issues

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Philip Ewing, National Security Editor for National Public Radio (NPR), gives us his insights into the National Security Council, President Donald Trump’s proposed military budget, the ongoing investigation of Russian ties to the Trump campaign and ISIS.

Ewing has been the National Security Editor since November 2015 but he also has had almost a decade of prior experience covering military and defense issues in Washington.

He echoes the general consensus that Lt. General H.R. McMaster is a wise choice for National Security Advisor. However, Ewing outlines some areas for potential conflict between McMaster and President Trump’s Senior Advisor and political strategist Stephen Bannon.

Ewing suggests that Bannon won the first conflict with McMaster. The National Security Advisor suggested to President Trump that he no long use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” in public discourse. Trump, however, heeded Bannon’s contrary advice and used the term with emphasis in his speech before a joint session of Congress last week.

Ewing states that potential battles between McMaster and Bannon will be interesting to watch as they evolve. They will encompass the internal battle between national security/military interests and political interests and rhetoric.

President Trump’s proposed increase in his military budget amounts to a $54 billion or about a 10 percent jump in defense spending. Ewing, however, notes that there were no details given about how that money is to be spent or in reality, how the money will be raised without a tax increase. The feasibility of the proposal is, therefore, unclear.

Ewing also said that for the next several months or more, Washington will be fixated with the various investigations of potential Russian ties to the Trump campaign. He asserted that the leak about Attorney General Session’s questionable testimony to the Senate about his Russian involvement was timed to take any gloss off of Pres. Trump’s speech to Congress the night before. He does not foresee any quick resolution of these issues.

Finally, Ewing suggests that the national security story to watch in the future is what the Trump Administration will do in its war against ISIS. How will it play out and will it involve a commitment of US ground troops to Syria or other spots in the Middle East?