December 20, 2014

Former Senator Talent makes it official: he won’t run for old job

Former Senator Jim Talent says another run for the United States Senate is not for him. His announcement leaves several other party big names free to start beating the drum for their own possibilities. Former state party chairman Ann Wagner, who failed to get the national chairmanship earlier this month, is saying she’s seriously interested. So is northwest Missouri Congressman Sam Graves. The former chief of staff for Governor Matt Blunt, Ed Martin–the loser of a congressional race last fall to Russ Carnahan–is talking about himself. Southeast Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson has been making calls.

Former Treasurer Sarah Steelman has been running for several months.

Talent says he’d rather keep working on national security issues.

Former Sen. Talent says US neglecting vital parts of defense (AUDIO)

A former United States Senator from Missouri, who served on a panel reviewing military planning, says the nation has been neglecting vital parts of its national defense.

Congress appointed former Senator Jim Talent to the bipartisan panel that evaluated the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review and found it came up short. [Read more…]

Former Senator Talent says two positions similar (AUDIO)

Former United States Senator Jim Talent holds two high-profile positions on evaluating our nation’s defense and he tells the Missourinet that while they might look different, they are very much related.

Even as former Senator Jim Talent, a Republican, serves as vice chairman of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, he serves on the independent panel evaluating the Defense Department’s review of US military might. Talent says that while Defense works to win in Afghanistan and prepare for possible conflicts with countries such as North Korea, it cannot overlook terrorist cells which don’t respect borders, presenting a different type of foe.

“It is a war, though. I mean, this is not some kind of criminal syndicate. These people are organized to engage in a very high-level conflict with us,” Talent tells the Missourinet. “So that is something the (Defense) Department has to deal with at the same time as it’s dealing with rogue nation-states like North Korea and high-end powers like China.”

In both roles, Talent is pushing preparation prior to outright conflict, which he understands can be a difficult sell.

“This is the way to prevent all these flash points from becoming infernos and we need to do it now, while we have time,” according to Talent.

Talent served on both the House and Senate Armed Services Committee during his time in Congress.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP3]

Talent says Defense Department must look beyond current conflicts (AUDIO)

Former Senator Jim Talent has been appointed to an independent panel assessing how well the Department of Defense is planning for the future.

Every four years, the Department of Defense is to look ahead, to try to foresee the military’s needs five, 10, 20 years from now. It’s officially called the Department of Defense’s Quadrennial Defense Review. Congress has charged an independent panel of 20 to assess the department’s planning; to determine if the Pentagon is ready for the military challenges of the future. The Secretary of Defense appoints 12 of the members. Congress appoints eight. Talent is among the eight appointed by Congress.

Talent says he worries that our naval fleet is shrinking to numbers not seen since 1916.

“There’s just no urgency about that fact in the Department of Defense and that is a huge thing,” Talent tells the Missourinet. “None of us have lived in an era when American naval power was not present in every important part of the world and we are headed for that kind of an era.”

America must invest more in its weapons, according to Talent, who notes that the country continues to fly 50-year-old bombers with no plans to replace them.

Talent has met with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who he says is understandably focused on the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, Talent says long-term planning is needed, such as in Asia where a strong American presence has kept equilibrium among the Koreas, Russia, China and Japan.

“In the absence of something like that, you end up with what we got in the 1940s, when you had a rising Asian power that had nationalistic ambitions and we don’t want that to happen again,” Talent says. “And it’s just my feeling that the department is not focusing on that at all and it needs to.”

Talent says flexibility is the key. He says the United States must be ready both with methods to fight terrorists and with the power to confront military regimes. Talent says the US must keep a wary eye on China, who he says isn’t a military opponent at this time, but must be persuaded that becoming one would not be in its best interest.

The panel delivers its report next month.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:20 MP3]

Two prominent Missouri Republicans chair new think tank

Two prominent Missouri Republicans are leaders behind a new think-tank that they hope will give them a voice outside of the political arena.

It’s called the American Freedom and Enterprise Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting free market solutions to the country’s problems, based in Missouri.

The brainchild of former Missouri Senator Jim Talent, the foundation has lured former US Ambassador to Luxembourg Ann Wagner as honorary co-chair. Wagner says this gives her and Talent a platform to talk policies outside of politics.

“This is going to be a non-partisan foundation that really serves the people,” according to Wagner, “providing them information and ideas and, hopefully, solutions that need to be addressed for the American public and certainly for the people of Missouri.”

Wagner says the foundation will address a wide range of issues.

“Right now, our focus is going to be about the policies coming out of Washington, D. C.,” Wagner says. “We’re going to address those and try and be very specific and solution oriented. We’ll team up with other experts.”

Even as Wagner works with the foundation, she has her feet firmly planted in politics. Wagner, who served as co-chair of the Republican National Committee and chair of the Missouri Republican Party, is serving now as chairman of Congressman Roy Blunt’s US Senate campaign.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP3]