A Discussion with Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos
With the U.S. mission in Afghanistan winding down, and an unknown number forces scheduled to be part of a potential train-and-assist mission post-2014, questions revolve around what is next for the U.S. Marine Corps. And despite concluding the wars of the early 2000s, additional crises requiring American involvement are more or less a given in the years ahead. Further, recent cuts to the defense budget, and more possibly coming in 2016, present other challenges to a service at the forefront of U.S. engagement overseas.
On July 15, the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at Brookings hosted a broad-ranging conversation with General James Amos, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. General Amos has been commandant since late October 2010. In addition to his role as commandant, he has had command tours across the world, leading at ranks from lieutenant colonel to lieutenant general. Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow and director of research for Foreign Policy at Brookings, moderated.
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At the end of the day, as we all know thorny national security issues don’t just involve the military; political-military considerations invariably bleed into them. If the senior military’s leadership views are going to be just constrained to military advice … who is thinking about issues from that broader perspective?
President-elect Bolsonaro has embraced tough-on-crime measures that egregiously violate basic human rights and eviscerate the rule of law. Responding to Brazil’s 63,880 homicides in 2017, Bolsonaro calls for increasing protection for police officers who kill alleged criminals and arming citizens. He calls for further militarizing urban policing, reducing the age of criminal liability from 18 to 16, reinstating the death penalty, authorizing torture in interrogations and imprisoning more people... Brazil’s police are already notorious for being one of the world’s deadliest in the use of force. In many favelas, Brazil’s retired and current police officers operate illegal militias that extort and control local communities, murdering those who oppose them and engaging in warfare with Brazil’s highly-violent gangs and in social cleansing. Bolsonaro is simply threatening to turn the rest of the police into state-sanctioned thugs.